Apr

26

All are invited to join the Gulf Coast Diving Society for dinner at The Mariner Restaurant on Dog River, 6036 Rock Point Road, on thursday, April 28, 2011 @ 6:30 pm. This is a great way to meet new dive buddies, reaquaint with old buddies, introduce someone to the social aspect of being a diver on the beautiful gulf coast. Get the latest news on local trips, international excursions, new equipment or just hang out. Bring your laptop and share some of your pics and videos. This event is FREE, just pay for whatever you eat and drink. Most folks will be bringing the whole family and ordering dinner. For more info. call (251) 342-2970. Please rsvp to the same number, we need to let the restaurant know how many hungry divers to expect.

Apr

25

Mid-Handle vs. Rear Handle

The handle on a speargun can be placed towards the middle of the gun or towards the rear. Mid-handle guns allow for more balance and maneuverability when tracking game. The mid-handle gives the diver a gun support furthur forward on the gun stock to support the weight of the gun. A mid-handle requires an extra trigger release and pushrod to activate the true trigger mechanism at the rear of the gun. Most spearos prefer a rear handle gun which has fewer moving parts than a mid-handle. The rear handle allows the diver to extend the speartip closer to the target and use their other hand on the gun butt for support and aim.

Recoil, Ballasting and Balance

As you increase the mass of the shaft and the power via the bands, you increase the momentum coming out of the muzzle. This forward momentum causes an equal force backwards towards the diver. This recoil can be minimized by decreasing the power in the bands or increasing the mass of the speargun. This is usually done by increasing the size, weight and/or density of the gun stock. Some bluewater models add ballast and lead to increase the guns mass to resist this recoil. When adding ballast wings and lead, one must consider the guns balance. A heavy speargun is hard to swim and aim. They are especially hard to hold level when gun and arms are fully extended in front of the diver.

Experienced divers can hold the recoil of a bigger gun with their bodies by always bracing the gun firmly with both hands extended forward and elbows locked. The photo above shows the most common technique for aiming and bracing a rear handle gun. There are many stories of divers with busted lips or cracked masks because they didn’t properly brace a powerful speargun. Some divers will brace the gun butt against their chest to absorb recoil (as shown below). This style is effective but is very hard to aim accurately.

An over-powered or under-ballasted gun will tend to shoot low because the front of the gun kicks upward, which in turn forces the rear of the shaft upward, tipping the speartip downward. This causes the shaft to fly low and can result in poor shots and missed fish. It is never appropriate to shoot an unbraced speargun.  The diver below is demonstrating an improper one-handed, bent-arm technique.  Poor techniques will certainly result in missed fish and possible injury to the diver.

The best underwater hunters use good techniques every dive, every shot, every time.  This will result in better shot placement and fewer lost fish…which translates into more fish in the box.  Call Gulf Coast Divers @ (251) 342-2970 and speak to a spearfishing professional to learn how to bring home more fish, SAFELY.  Happy Hunting.

 

Apr

15

If you don’t dive yet, some of what you “know” about diving might actually be wrong. A lot of these “myths” are perpetuated in the media and movies, and you might be surprised at what is right and what myths are “busted!” Which one of these myths have you been believing all along?

MYTH: You have to be in top physical condition to dive.

TRUTH: Like any active sport, diving is more enjoyable if you’re physically fit. And you do need some basic swimming skills in order to learn. But it’s nothing extreme; if you’re comfortable in the deep end of a pool, can swim, and you can walk for several minutes without getting winded, you can learn to dive.

MYTH: Learning to dive/becoming a certified diver takes too long.

TRUTH: You can become a certified diver in a very short period of time, or you can take your time and learn at your own pace. Our VIP-PACE training program can accomodate anyone’s schedule, or you can sign up for private sessions. Our Variable Investment Program-Paced According to Capability and Enjoyment says it all.  You’ll be diving in less time than you think!

MYTH: Diving is complicated and difficult to learn.

TRUTH:  Learning to dive is easy today. Our professional diving instructors use all the learning materials and proven strategies to make it simple and fun to learn. Before you know it you’ll be breathing underwater and using all the cool “toys” that make diving easier than ever.

MYTH: I’m too old to learn.

TRUTH:  We regularly hear about people diving, and learning to dive, well into their eighties. In fact one of the most active “groups” of divers is in the age range from 38 to 53. On the whole, this group dives more regularly, travels more to dive, and even takes more classes than most other “groups.”  Repair guru, who contributes to this blog, is 76 years old and logs around 50 dives a year!

MYTH: I have no one to dive with.

TRUTH:  Diving is an exciting and unique experience that many people take up while on vacation or as a life-long activity. Finding buddies with which to dive is as easy as participating in one of our group dives and showing up for the regular Gulf Coast Diving Society social events. You’ll probably have ready-to-dive buddies that you’ll meet during your scuba certification course. Chances are you’ll find that you have lots in common with these other divers, usually more than the diving experience itself!  Plus, you probably have friends now that are certified divers, you just didn’t know they dove.

MYTH: When you dive you are breathing pure oxygen.

TRUTH:  Certified “open water divers” breathe the same air that we breathe on the surface. The air is filtered, the moisture is removed and the air is then compressed into a scuba tank for use by the diver. On television and in the movies, when you hear that the diver is grabbing his “oxygen tanks,” you’ll automatically know the movie dialog is way off base!

By the way, divers CAN easily be trained in the use of breathing gasses other than air, but this involves different training and equipment than you’ll have in your open water scuba course.  The most common alternative breathing gas, called nitrox, is actually safer than air to breath!

MYTH: When you dive you breathe differently than you do on land.

TRUTH: Breathing naturally while underwater is one of the most terrific sensations you’ll ever experience, and one of the first things you’ll learn in your certification course. You will find that about the only difference between breathing air on land and underwater is that you must breathe through the regulator in your mouth – and since today’s regulators are so well made that breathing is made very simple and natural, even this part is easy.  You will be breathing underwater in your very first session, for only $24.

MYTH: Dives are usually between 50 and 200 feet deep.

TRUTH: The limit for most recreational dives is 100 feet of depth, but most dives are far shallower. With most of the light and most of the critters living in less than 50 feet of water, this is the best depth to see the majority of things you’ll want to see while underwater. Divers CAN be trained to go deeper in an advanced-level course, and many find this a rewarding experience once their initial certification experience is completed. Many divers prefer to stay shallow, to get more bottom time.

MYTH: It’s dark and murky underwater and difficult to see.

TRUTH: Most dives do not require a light since sunlight penetrates far deeper than the depth to which most divers go. Even when diving in very deep water, beyond 100 feet, divers can see quite well without any artificial light. Interestingly, colors are absorbed by the water, so while it may be very easy to see, most of the color begins to be absorbed beyond 30 to 50 feet of depth, rendering most everything blue.

Most divers do not dive in water with limited visibility unless they are looking for something special, like a lost wedding ring or an outboard motor from a neighbor’s boat. Some of these locations can give the diver the opportunity to see wrecks or find treasures, and with the proper training, limited visibility is not a significant diving obstacle. When diving from the beach the visibility will vary with the tides, but just a few miles from Mobile Bay, the clearer gulf waters will surprise you.  Or maybe, you are only interested in travel diving on vacation, each can provide their own brand of fun!

Apr

4

Ok, I admit it…I’ve been lost underwater before and it wasn’t fun.  I remember an especially stressful dive with 3 others, following me (the divemaster) and I had no clue where the mooring line was.  It was a fairly shallow dive (40fsw)  in Puerto Rico on Enrique Reef and I was lost.  I had dove this reef several times, but didn’t have a real good idea of it’s geography.   I had a compass but hadn’t referenced it before beginning the dive so I knew which direction I was headed, but didn’t know what  heading was home.  Because of the shallow depth, it was an especially long dive, so we covered alot of ground.  About 45 minutes into the dive I started wandering back in the direction I thought was close.  I thought I recognized several coral heads and large sponges, but wasn’t sure.  Several times I attempted to ascend and look for the boat, but the other divers were stuck to me like glue.  When I began to ascend so did they.  I didn’t want them to know I was lost, so I slipped back to the reef and keep swimming.  We finally made our ascent after 80 min. and we were about 50′ from the boat.  I was astounded and a little proud.  As I ran the boat back to the dock, the pride dissolved when I admitted it wasn’t navigation skill, but dumb luck that got us back without a marathon surface swim.

That dive was 15 years ago and I still remember the stress of not knowing were I was underwater.  I now make navigation a priority on all of my dives and stress it to my students.  Whether you are using natural navigation by remembering distinctive landmarks or using a compass, it is important to insure you return to your predetermined exit point.  Most divers aren’t comfortable with their compass, so tend to hang out close to the anchorline.  This is fine, and preferable to getting lost.  But, if you can confidently swim furthur away from the crowd, you will see more life, have better visibility and usually encounter  less stressed reef inhabitants.

My boat dive briefing stresses that you not venture any furthur away from the ascent line than you can confidently return with YOUR navigation skills, not your buddies skills.  What if you get seperated during the dive and you were just following them?  EVERY diver should take a navigation specialty course to learn to effectively use their compass, then practice your skills on every dive.  The more you dive the same sites, the more confidently you can swim around it recognizing natural landmarks.  For new divers and new sites, I suggest venturing out then come back and find the ascent line.  Then swim in another direction, exploring and return to the line.  By returning to the anchor line several times during a dive, you become very familiar with the immediate area and don’t swim as far away, minimizing your return distance.   Over-confidence in your ability to return may tempt you to swim farther than you should.  Be realistic about your navigation skills.

Some divers use a reel or finger spool to venture away from the ascent line, while heplful in many instances, they can be awkward and create entanglement hazards if not careful.  A line can be helpful in very low visibility, when you can be only feet from the line and not see it,  it is not an alternative to good navigation skills. 

The development of your navigation skills is a must in advancing your diving comfort.  The “take away” from this article is simply, “Get a compass and learn to use it, every dive!”  Call (251) 342-2970 and inquire about our next navigation specialty course.