Jun

24

Most diving on the gulf coast is done from day boats that leave and return on the same day.  These dive charter boats can carry as few as 6 divers, called a “Six Pack” or as many as dozens of divers.  When diving on a dive boat, you must follow a few rules of etiquette:  Show up to the boat with your gear in an appropriate gear bag.  Not a huge travel gear bag or plastic Rubbermaid box.  These equipment carriers take up a large amount of room on the boat and will insure dirty looks from the other divers who have to trip over your box all day.  Mesh bags can be folded up and hidden out of the way to keep the deck clear for entry and exit.

Show up for the trip :30 min. before departure.  Most posted trip times are departure times.  Make sure you understand the “show time” and “go time”.  There may be check in procedures and forms to sign, plus gear loading.  So it is important to be on time.  Many dive boats run multiple trips in a day so they have a tight schedule to keep at the dock.  Don’t be surprised to find an empty boat slip if you show up late for the trip, and “No” there usually isn’t a refund because you missed the boat.  Remember they could have put another diver in that spot you missed, so it costs the boat money to reserve your empty spot.

Listen to the boat briefing.  The dive master does this every day so listen to what they have to say.  They want you to have the best experience as possible so listen to their suggestions.  Rarely do they need any comments or summary from you, so keep your ears open.  Even if you dove this boat and site yesterday, there are others on board who are hearing it for the first time. So be respectful of others and helpful to the less experienced divers, but wait till the dive master has done his job first.

Respect the Camera Bucket.  This is a fresh water bin reserved for camera gear ONLY.  It provides a jossle-free ride for expensive camera gear to the site and a fresh water rinse after diving.  It is not for washing regulators or dipping masks.  I guarantee you’ll get many hateful glances if you rinse defog in the camera bucket that can easily have $10,000 worth of camera gear soaking.

Please tip the crew.  Always tip something, in cash.  $5-$10 per diver/day should be considered the minimum.  Tips should be more if someone set your system up, changed your tanks, retrieved your lost gear or saved your life.  Some boats have a tip jar.  If there is a tip jar, put the entire tip in it.  Also, tip every every day since the crew and dive masters may change daily.

Keep your gear picked up off the deck and in the proper place.  Decks get small and gear gets broken when you leave mask, fins and weights sliding around on deck.  It is hard enough to keep your footing when shuffling on a pitching deck while wearing dive gear.  You don’t want to contribute to the danger with slip, trip and fall hazards.

Nobody wants to be “that diver” on the boat.  If you listen to instructions, use common sense and dive often, you will get the boat etiquette and routine down and be the diver the dive master’s love to see return for another fun day on the water.  For information on boat diving on the gulf coast call Gulf Coast Divers @ (251) 342-2970.

Jun

13

MYTH: The ocean is full of dangerous animals like sharks and barracudas.

TRUTH: Most divers actually consider a shark sighting to be a special and memorable occasion, since it is rare to see them. While such critters as sharks and barracudas should be respected and treated as wild animals, the vast majority subsist on a diet of things considerably smaller than a scuba diver. In fact, most sharks and barracuda are somewhat intimidated by divers; with our long fins and other equipment, we appear big to them … something they don’t want to mess with! Besides, it’s a myth that sharks are perpetually hungry or are always on the attack. It’s not uncommon at all for a shark to go two weeks without hunting, and in one documented case, a healthy shark did not eat for better than a year.

MYTH: It’s very cold underwater.

TRUTH: Many divers choose only to dive in warm water in Florida, the Caribbean, Hawaii or in the South Pacific, where water temperatures may soar to more than 80 degrees F (27 degrees C). But with the proper thermal protection a diver can do plenty of diving in the cooler months. I am a real “wimp” when it comes to cold water and I dive year ’round.  You just dress for the temp.

MYTH: You cannot see anything underwater if you normally wear contact lenses or corrective eye glasses.

TRUTH: Many divers use gas-permeable contact lenses when they dive allowing them to see quite normally. To prevent the accidental loss of contacts, (or for those who don’t normally use contact lenses) many divers use a mask with prescription lenses built right in. There are even high quality dive masks available with corrective “readers” built in for close-up viewing of tiny critters (or the settings on your digital underwater camera)!

MYTH: It’s expensive.

TRUTH: When you put it up against other leisure activities, such as owning a quality mountain bike, golfing, boating, or skiing, diving compares very favorably. And the more you dive, the more true that becomes. Dive gear, for instance, is very durable and can last for years and years; after a short while, the cost of your gear can work out to just a few pennies per dive.  I know many divers that dive regularly and safely with 15 year old equipment.  The key is servicing and maintaining your equipment.

MYTH: Diving is a very dangerous activity.

TRUTH: When done within the guidelines you’ll learn about in your open water certification course, diving has an extraordinary safety record. Diving is an exciting activity that combines all the thrills of exploration and adventure, with a safety record that compares favorably to sports such as bowling.

MYTH: I live too far inland, there’s no place to dive around here.

TRUTH: There are dive sites in every state in the United States – even the ones in the heart of the country. Not all diving is done in the ocean. Lakes, rivers, quarries and freshwater springs are all regularly used by divers as places where they can enjoy their sport and keep their skills up. We can help you find great locations to dive locally, and you could find yourself diving every weekend, or even during an extended lunch time!

MYTH: All that equipment is going to weigh me down and I won’t be able to get back to the surface.

TRUTH: Actually, scuba divers are usually dealing with the opposite issue – how to make the gear heavy enough to go comfortably underwater. Most divers need ballast, in the form of lead weights, in order to comfortably submerge and stay submerged.  And if floatation is ever necessary, this weight is designed to be instantly droppable at the pull of a buckle or a release.

MYTH: I tried going underwater and I can’t, it hurts my ears.

TRUTH: Most likely you were experiencing discomfort because you hadn’t been taught how to equalize the pressure in your inner ear with that of the surrounding water (a procedure similar to making your ears “pop” on an airliner). This is a very easy-to-learn technique that will be taught early on in your open-water scuba course.

MYTH: I’m physically challenged, so diving is something I will never be able to do.

TRUTH: Many dive instructors are very proficient at teaching people with physical restrictions. It’s no longer unusual to see a person in a wheelchair boarding a dive boat. In fact, diving is so accessible a sport that it is sometimes used as a therapeutic activity for people who’ve lost limbs during their active duty in military service.

For those with physical challenges, any individual who can meet the performance requirements for the course can qualify for certification as a scuba diver. Check with your professional instructor or retail dive center for additional information if needed.

MYTH: I’m very petite, the dive gear will never fit me.

TRUTH: Dive gear is available now to fit individuals as small as pre-adolescent children. The piece of gear that smaller people view as a potential obstacle is the tank, but since people of smaller stature generally don’t consume as much air, they can comfortably dive with the smaller tanks that many dive centers have on hand.

MYTH: I have a medical condition that precludes diving.

TRUTH: While it’s true that there are some medical issues that are incompatible with scuba diving, the list is shorter that you might think. Ask your local dive center for a set of guidelines that you can take to your family doctor so he or she can evaluate your fitness for diving. You might find out that what you’ve believed all along isn’t actually the case.

Jun

6

Well divers the long awaited and highly anticipated Lavacore suits are finally here.  This highly engineered thermal system was introduced at the trade show last year and it is awesome.

Lavacore uses technically advanced fabrics that have been designed exclusively for watersports which require the ultimate in thermal control, comfort and environmental protection.  The unique construction closely matches the feel and comfort of the older Polartech, but has the thermal protection of 2mm of neoprene.  However Lavacore remains neutrally bouyant so you don’t need to add any weight to compensate.

*Wind proof, insulative thermal INNER layer provides anti-wind chill properties

*Waterproof, breathable INTER membrane

*Ultraflex Durable, water resistant OUTER layer facilitates fast water run off and quick drying

The unique combination of these layers is what makes this fabric float between definitions…with wetsuit properties, lycra skin properties, and advanced wicking and wind/ waterproof features it is part everything.  Part neoprene, part lycra, part thermal…Call it what you like but this system has to be worn to be believed.

Come get in our pool and design the combination of pieces (shirt, hooded vest, full suit, socks) to find the unique combination that will give you the thermal protection you desire, with maximum comfort, movement and range of motion to fit your diving style. Oh, and by the way, there is no need to bring more than a few weights because you will be warmer than traditional neoprene with the fewest weights you’ve ever worn underwater.

Those divers who dive regularly with me know I am cold-natured and tend to wear more than what everyone else is wearing.  The temp. around 100′ is still 70F which is 2 piece, 5mm water for me.  The past 2 weeks I’ve been diving the Lavacore skin with 3mm jumpsuit and been toasty; and diving with 4lbs!  Call the equipment consultants at Gulf Coast Divers (251) 342-2970 to be the first of your buddies to have the new Lavacore system.