Mar

29

Spear Tips

There are two types of shafts in common use today.  The first is a “flopper” shaft.  These shafts are a shaft- tip combo with a rock-point end and floppers, or wings riveted on the shaft.  These flopper shafts come in two styles, Hawaiian or Tahitian.  If the wing lays down on top of the shaft when it is loaded in the gun it is a tahitian.  This style is considered the most streamlined, but if the wing gets bent or stuck, it can obstruct the hunter’s view.  If the wing hangs down when loaded in the gun, it is called a ‘Hawaiian flopper”.  The flopper is pushed up against the shaft with the forward motion thru the water.  The simplicity of this system makes it popular with some hunters, especially free shafters and is more economical up front.  However a bent shaft or tip requires replacment of the entire shaft.  Also, the tear-out rate is higher with some big fish because you are relying on one wing to hold the fish.  Shot placement is more critical with this type system.

Threaded shafts are far more common on the gulf coast, because they allow the hunter to choose the appropriate shaft size and tip for the targeted species.  It is easier to change tips as they get dulled or change the style for the targeted species.  The 3 common tips are fixed, break-away and slip-tips.  Fixed tips can be solid or spinners.  The solid spearpoints are more economical but can be spun off by a fighting fish.  The rotating design allows for 360 degree spin, providing greater holding power and minimizing the chance of your tip unthreading from the shaft as a result of a fish “rolling” in battle.  The 3 common type of fixed tips are rock point, arrowhead and tri-cut.  Rock points are designed to perform even after impact on rocks and reefs and are the most common tip for free-shafters.  They are more foregiving after rock impacts but don’t penetrate as well as the sharpened points, having to “punch” their way into the flesh.  The arrowhead has a broadhead design expanding the cutting surface and actually cutting it’s way into the flesh resulting in better penetration than rock points.  The  rotating tri-cut boasts 3 cutting edges combined with a precision point. 

All three styles (rock, arrowhead and tri-cut) are also, available in breakaway styles.  The breakaway design allows the tip to release from the shaft but stay connected with a multi-braid stainless cable.  These tips hang on no matter how hard the fight while minimizing damage to your spearshaft.  The connecting cable will allow you to grab the shaft but the fish can still twist and turn without having a firm purchase to pull against.  The result is fewer tear-outs and bent shafts. 

The slip tip is the ultimate in breakaway designs. Also called a tournament tip,  this design penetrates the fish and  turns sideways for maximum holding power.  Although the best in holding power, the drawback to a slip tip, is it can be difficult to remove the fish while underwater.  If the tip penetrates fully, you can feed it back through the wound channel.  If the tip turns inside the fish, however, it requires alot of cutting to reseat and push through or remove.  The slip tip isn’t the best choice for shooting multiple fish on a dive.

For advice on tip selection bring your speargun by the store and talk to Lawren or Todd about your target species and diving style.  Happy Hunting.

Mar

22

Cozumel, Calica, Progresso are mystical sounding Mayan sites and Mexican destinations with beautiful reefs.  Imagine being at work on wednesday and dreaming of diving Mexican reefs on friday.  Too good to be true, no way.  This is exactly what dozens of divers do every week.  The cruise ship Carnival Elation departs weekly from downtown Mobile to the Mayan Riviera and several great diving destinations.

Cozumel is a well-known diving destination and home to the world famous Palancar Reef, which gives divers and snorkelers the opportunity to view thousands of brilliantly colored fish. Non-divers can kick back on a sun-drenched beach, kayak, swim, shop in colorful marketplaces, dine in an open-air café, or hiking mayan ruins.  All this starting around $300.  A 4 day western caribbean cruise including a full day of diving is cheaper than a long weekend in Destin!

Carnival Cruise Lines should continue the weekly cruises from Mobile until october this year, so book you trip soon to save the drive to New Orleans.    The 3-4 day cruises have become very popular with busy famalies.  It is easier to fit a couple of 3 day cruises into the kids soccer schedule, than to block off an entire week for summer vacation.  Call us at (251) 342-2970 for advice on what to see and do on the Mayan Riviera this spring.

Mar

15

It’s mid-march, the waves are minimal, there’s a light cool breeze coming onshore from the northeast and the sun is setting…perfect!  The best diving is about to begin and from the looks of the deserted beach, we have the whole reef to ourselves.  While the majority of divers are breaking out the boat drinks or showering off the beach salt, we’re headed out with a fresh set of tanks.  Most of the divers that have put their gear away for the day don’t realize what they are missing.  A beautiful transformation takes palce under the surface after daylight fades into dark.

We don our gear with the help of moonlight and small back-up lights.  After our buddy check and dive plan review, we do an easy shore entry into the small surf.  Our movements create green, sparkling trails as we disturb small bioluminescent creatures in the water.  After a short surface swim we decide it is time to drop down.  We grab our primary lights and with a flip of a switch, the dark mysterious water lights up.  The day-time reef with it’s colorful tropical fish swaying in the surge, is now bustling with it’s night-time inhabitants.  Brittle stars, crabs, lobsters and many other nocturnal critters are now active and out of their dens.  The filter-feeding invertebrates are fanning the slight current for their dinner as an octopus slips around gracefully, exploring the reef on his evening hunt.  The question I always ask myself is, “Why would any diver want to miss this awesome kaleidoscope of color?”

Whether in a lake, spring, or the gulf, the night brings out an abundance of sun shy critters.  Also, by shining your dive light you see all the true colors that are filtered out by the water when diving by sunlight.  Old daytime sites become a fresh, new experience.  Maybe it is time to revisit one of your favorite old dive sites…at night.

Call us at (251)342-2970 for next night diving class, advice on night lights or directions to cool night dive sites.  See ya’ on the water.

Mar

8

We are asked about Spare Air systems weekly from customers,  and my “knee-jerk” reaction to this question is, “Why are you asking?”  The most common response is, “My buddies are, “Same Gulf, Same Day” divers.  For those that are unfamiliar with this real-world diving style…it means that most divers in the water are on their own.  This diving approach is most common with underwater hunters and photographers.   These diving genres both lend themselves to a solo diving style.  Spearfishermen tend to migrate away from each other to increase their chance on harvesting “the big one”.  Photographers spread out to not interfere with another’s shot.  I’ve had photo buddies that “camped-out” on a cool subject for the entire dive to get the perfect shot.

When someone asks us about a redundant air system, it is usually a post-experience conversation.  The desire for complete equipment self-reliance can contribute to a more relaxing dive, especially if you suspect your buddy might hit the water and take off.  I am not going to preach about training or responsibility…this article is about the realities of diving and personal responsibility.   Bail-out bottles are also common with divers that find themselves with lots of different buddies.  On a  charter boat, you may only meet your dive buddy minutes before spending an hour underwater with them.  Reviewing your buddy’s equipment and out-of-air procedure is an important component of any pre-dive buddy check, however, it is often not done as completely as it should be. 

I recommend diving with the largest volume emergency air system that you will make a permenent part of your diving system.  The difference in price between a 13 cu.ft. and 30 cu.ft. system is only $40.00.  Because of the minimal price difference, divers respond with, I’ll take the “big-un”.  Here is where I say, “Are you sure?”.  What happens with larger bail-out systems is we hear divers say, “I’m not gonna carry it on this dive…I don’t think I’ll need it”.  This justification may lead to you leaving that bail-out air on the boat, when you most need it.  Nobody PLANS to run out of air!  Your emergency air system needs to become a permanent system component to “be there” when you or your buddy needs it.

If you are lucky enough to have a well trained, responsible diving buddy, I congratulate you on your choice of dive partner.  But when your assigned “buddy” doesn’t give you that warm, fuzzy feeling, then an alternate air system may be just the piece of equipment to allow you to relaxe and enjoy a stress-free dive.

 With the overwhelming options in size, price and mounting styles, the right Emergency Air Source for your diving style may be hard to determine; Come talk to one of our equipment professionals to find out if a redundate air source or bail-out system would complement your diving style.

Mar

5

Regulators waiting on service

Since the sun has peeked-out and warmed us, we have been getting a flood of pre-season service work and calls for excursions.  Don’t get left on the beach because your gear isn’t ready to jump in.  Every dive manufacturer recommends regular service intervals regardless of use.  Just because you didn’t use your gear much last summer does not mean you can skip servicing. Most manufacturers require annual service or 100 dives, which ever comes first.  O-rings go flat, parts corrode,  and rubber dries and cracks, especially if the gear was not stored with care.  All regulators have dynamic parts that require lubrication to work properly.  As regulators sit in storage, these silicone lubricants dry-out, causing o-rings to roll and tear instead of glide…the result…leaks and free flows.   

NOW  is the time to get your regulator in line for it’s tune up. Our “To Be Done” service wall in the repair room is already overflowing with the regulators and BC’s of the divers that are going to make sure the 2011 diving season does not pass them by. Incoming service orders are increasing daily and will only increase as summer approaches. 

You can start by pulling out all of your gear and giving it a comprehensive check. Look for cracking straps and other deteriorating parts. Clean with warm water to dissolve hidden salt crystals and only use cleaning solutions designed for scuba gear.   I recommend “Sink The Stink” or “MiraZyme” for wetsuits, boots and gloves.  Diver’s Choice B/C Cleaner will freshen, clean and condition the inside of your vest.  Also, replace  batteries in computers, lights and camera gear.  Pull all of your tanks out of the garage and check certification dates and inspect valve outlet for debris (ie. dirt dauber nests).  Most divers will drain stale air and refill with fresh air, even if all inspections are current.  Your scuba system is your life support when underwater, so don’t skimp on your safety.

If you have any questions regarding service call 251-342-2970 and ask for service department, you can speak to one of our full-time service technicians, or bring your gear by the store for an estimate.  When you return to pick up your gear bring your swimsuit and towel and dive in our 15′ deep in-store, heated pool for a skills review.  You don’t want to be “that diver” on the boat who sets his system up backwards, up-side down and twisted.