Mar

16

Introducing the Atomic BC1

SCUBA boards online have been buzzing with rumors and chatter about Atomic Aquatics’ first BC for more than ten years now. That’s how long it has taken the luxury brand to perfect the first BC worthy of the Atomic name.

Atomic Aquatics doesn’t rush anything. They prefer to take their time and carefully craft the toughest and most user-friendly dive gear on Earth.

Just as they redefined regulators, masks, and fins with careful attention to design details, Atomic re-examined every BC feature to create the most durable, long lasting, and high performance model the market has ever seen.

We are excited to say that the long wait is finally over; the new world-class Atomic BC1 BCDs are here.

The Atomic BC1: the BCD worthy of the Atomic name is finally here

What makes Atomic Aquatics BC1 so special?

Revolutionary tank cam and pad

The ratcheting tank band design sets a new standard for easy and always secure BC mounting.

Atomic engineered this completely different mounting hardware using principles from ski boots and snowboarding to create an easy to use system featuring a tightly locking, over-center buckle band.

This is simply the best and most user-friendly tank cam system ever.

In addition to the ratcheting buckle band, there is also a tank positioning strap and a non-slip, molded tank pad built in to the back of the BC, complete with CNC-Machined Stainless Steel hardware. This system eliminates the pesky rubber non-slip strip found on other tank bands.

These features combine to make mounting easier than ever before while also ensuring the end of slipping tanks, repeated adjustments, threading buckles, and the usual trouble of changing cylinder sizes. No existing tank cam band has even come close to the ease of operation of the BC1.

We think this game-changing feature alone makes this the BCD of choice, but that’s not all. The high-performance BC1 introduces several other new features that set it apart:

Water resistance

The state-of-the-art matte fabric is laminate coated on both interior and exterior and as water resistant as a raincoat. Yet it is remarkably soft to the touch. It’s something you’ll have to feel for yourself.

Other BCs promised to be quick drying; the Atomic BC1 never seems to get wet at all.

The laminate layer is thicker on the outsides to increase durability by protecting against rips, tears, and leaks.  It’s so tough that it will accommodate nearly double the pressure of other BCs.

Sand and corrosion resistance, too

The large accessory pockets feature zippers that are self sealing to prevent sand from filling pockets or gunking up zipper teeth.  Mesh pocket interiors drain easily.

D-rings are conveniently placed inside these oversized pockets to secure things. Keep your stuff securely attached while using it, without having to undo and reattach.

All D-rings are 316 Stainless Steel and coated with PVD Titanium to resist salt water corrosion. Atomic generously  and strategically placed these for convenient attachments. For example, The D rings along the bottom edge are tucked neatly behind the pockets, rather than dangling from your BC.

EZ-LOK weight release system

The EZ-LOK weight system is another feature that you need to see and experience for yourself to fully appreciate how much Atomic has improved what a BCD can be.

Atomic fins are favorites because everyone loves their EZ-LOK fin straps. The BC1 uses this exclusive patented system to eliminate any struggle with integrated weights.  They are secure, easy to release, and loading the weight pockets into the BC is a snap.

Weight pouches glide in smoothly, snap to lock in place, and easily release with a tug on the handle. They are so easy that you can operate them using just one finger, but they snap securely into place, so you’ll have no worries about accidental release.

The weight system on this BC is versatile and super easy to use: each pouch holds up to ten pounds of hard or soft weight. The pouches that come with the XL will hold up to 14 pounds.

There is also a pair of additional, non-releasable, integrated weight pockets in the rear. These hold between six and ten pounds each, depending on jacket size. The placement of these trim pockets significantly improves diver profile underwater.

Maximum comfort and adjustability

The BC1 features a large area of elegant diamond-quilted back padding and an adjustable lumbar pad, making this the most comfortable BC available.

There is also a convenient carry handle.

It offers three planes of adjustability for a custom fit.  The BC1 includes torso, sternum, and waist straps with impact resistant easy side release buckles.

It also has an adjustable cummerbund for added comfort, security, and fit.

Patent-pending exhaust pull dump technology

The two Stainless Steel Dry Glide pull dumps have extra long cords and patent-pending Anti-Float Pull Knobs for easy reach.

Inflator options

The Atomic inflators are sold separately. This gives you a choice of high performance options.

Your choices:

You could choose Atomic’s innovative corrosion resistant Ai power inflator, which comes in both Stainless Steel and premium Titanium options. These are the best and most diver-friendly power friendly inflators in the world.

Or you could ditch your octopus and opt for the Atomic SS1 in Stainless Steel or Titanium. This revolutionary device couples a power inflator with a secondary regulator that breathes like a primary. It features ergonomic controls, a low-profile design, and incorporates Atomic’s patented seat-saving orifice that prevents problems and leaks, as well as doubling the service cycle from annual to two years. It also has an integrated purge cover, a lifetime warranty, and more.

While some may balk at the Atomic price, the BC1’s rugged durability, elegant design, and user-friendly features offer tremendous value that will outlast and outperform any other BC on the market.

We invite you to come by the shop to check out this beauty for yourself. We’re here 9am-6pm Mon-Sat.  Bring your swimsuit and take it for a test dive in our pool.

Dec

10

Even though the modern personal dive computers are very reliable and rarely malfunction, the possibility still exists.  Looking down at your computer in the middle of a dive and seeing a blank screen can be stressful sight.  Most computer issues are battery related or caused by flooding.  The flooding usually follows an improperly sealed battery compartment or a crack in the housing caused by trauma to the computer.  The problem is the crack was probably suffered in your gear bag during transport and you don’t even realize it until it is too late.

Because of the possibility of a dive, or entire dive day, being ruined because of a computer issue, most divers dive with 2 personal computers.  Oceanic’s new B.U.D. (Back-Up Dive) computer is the perfect addition to your dive kit.  It clips to your B/C and tracks all your dive info. and can be used as a primary computer, quick-glance status, back-up or spare.

The B.U.D. is small enough to clip to any d-ring on your B/C and you will hardly even know it is there, but has an easy to read display.  It has full computer functions, including nitrox compatibility.  Economically priced at $329.00.

Oct

15

The power went out a couple of mornings ago which sent me searching for a flash light. Showers can be awfully dark at 5:30am. The only flashlight with good batteries I could lay my hands on was a crevice light from my dive bag.  Like many divers, and every dive instructor I know,  those new household lights must do double duty as dive lights.

You might think buying a new light would be very simple, but there really are a lot of things to consider. There are hundreds of lights to choose, so you will have to do some weeding out to come up with the one that is right for you. To get started you should set up a list of criteria, that will, hopefully, sort  the scores of lights available and bring you down to your ultimate choice. Here are few considerations to get you pointed in the right direction:

  1. Type of diving you do (day, night, cavern, cave, wreck)
  2. Lights you already own (crevice, full size, canister)
  3. Type of bulb (Halogen, Xenon, LED, HID)
  4. Battery type (standard, lithium, rechargeable)
  5. Size/ Power (1.5W- 15W)
  6. Price ($15-$1000)

If midday dives are all you do, you might be thinking you don’t even need a light. My personal feeling is, if you aren’t diving with a light on every dive you are missing out on more than you realize. Virtually every dive site is loaded with nooks and crannies that hide strange and fascinating creatures just waiting to be discovered. Without a crevice light all you see when you peer into that crevice is darkness. A small crevice light, that easily fits in the pocket of your BC is all you need to reveal all of those hidden critters. In addition, since reds and oranges are filtered out of natural light at very shallow depths, most dives appear blue-green. You will be surprised how colorful that “green” reef really is when you shine your light.

Night dives require something more than your small crevice light, although that light can be a sufficient back-up. With the advances in LED technology your primary night light selection is no longer limited to huge honkin’ light cannons. Technology has contributed to more light in a smaller package. Before the advent of LED light technology, brightness and power depended on battery size. The really powerful dive lights held (8) D cell or lantern batteries that you really needed to consider part of your weight system.

Light gloves are becoming very popular with divers seeking hands-free illumination.  Whether a canister light (separate battery pack and light head) or traditional light, I recommend having a back-up, if you rely on it.  Cave divers and night dives require light to dive safely, so a minimum of 3 lights is standard.

Whether it is hand held, clipped on your BC, head mounted or attached to a speargun, it has to work.  Check your batteries the day before you dive, so you have time to purchase new ones if they are weak.  I have robbed batteries out of radios and household lights to power a dive light at the last minute.  I don’t like rechargeable batteries because they discharge while being stored and give little warning before dying.  Traditional batteries become weaker as they discharge which dims the light.  This is my warning to deploy a back-up or plan on replacing batteries soon.

Dive lights can be as little as $15 and go to over $1000 on some canister lights.  Call Gulf Coast Divers (251) 342-2970 and talk to a light expert about the best light for your diving style.

May

26

As instructors we hear the following question almost daily: What piece of equipment should I buy first? I usually respond by asking a few questions to get an idea what kind of diving they expect to do. The equipment demands vary depending on whether the new diver expects to limit their diving to shallow water, deep diving, spearfishing, cavern/ cave diving, beach diving or travel only. Many pieces of equipment are application specific and others can be configured for different diving conditions.

The short answer to the above question is, “everything”. If you want to be a comfortable, confident diver, then you need to learn to dive on your own gear. I don’t know anyone who is learning to dive, so they can go underwater and fiddle with their equipment. Ideally you want to don your system and then forget about it. Your BC and most of the things attached to it are out of sight when you are wearing it. You want to be able to locate important pieces by feel. That means those items need to be in the same spot all the time. It is similar to the comfort level you have when driving your car. Think about the last time you turned your blinkers on: Did you look for the lever first? How about any of the last 100 times you turned them on? Now think of the last time you drove an unfamiliar vehicle. Everytime I drive my wife’s car (which I’ve driven 100’s of times) it feels less comfortable than my truck, because things are in different places, I can never get the seat adjustment perfect, even my perspective on the road and the view in the mirrors is different.

As divers’ we rely on learned, conditioned responses to react to underwater situations, the less you have to think about the “proper” response and the more you develop and rely on muscle memory, the quicker your response time. This comes in handy when reacting to changing conditions such as grabbing your light to get a quick glimpse of a moray dissappearing in a hole, or grabbing your knife to cut monofilament away. These conditioned responses can even contribute to your safety by being able to quickly respond to another divers “out-of-air” signal.

Comfort and performance work together to contribute to relaxed diving. It is critical to have a scuba system that is sized and styled for your body shape. Most of the innovations in BC’s over the past 10 years have addressed the unique demands of female divers. Weight integration in the vests has become the mainstream design in men’s and women’s BC’s. But it originated with ladies seeking a way to get the dive weights off their hips.

I often hear occasional divers say, ” I can’t justify having my own gear because I only dive once or twice a year.” Most dive professionals will respond, “That is why it is more important for you to have your own system!” The more experienced and comfortable a diver, the less important changes in equipment become. Experienced divers can quickly adapt to whatever gear they are wearing. Novice divers spend their precious few dives a year, just trying to relax and get their mind off gear and into the scenery. If you only get the opportunity to make several dives a year, it becomes more important for you to use the same gear everytime, so some degree of familiarity exists. Plus, many divers don’t totally trust unfamiliar rental gear that you don’t know the service history on or who had it in their mouth last. YUCK!

The added bonus…Divers who own their own scuba system dive more often. This may be because they are more comfortable, therefore, enjoy the dives more so seek out more opportunites to dive. It may be because they have the visual reminder of a gear bag in the garage, that is saying “Let’s Get Wet”. Maybe even a little guilty feeling that they spent the money, so I want to get the most out of my investment.

Whatever the reason, our dive charter captains like to see your initials on your gear, not the dive shops rental number. Ask any divemaster and they’ll agree…Divers who dive with their own, properly fitted gear are better divers. Relax and Enjoy your underwater experience.

Call Gulf Coast Divers @ (251) 342-2970 and speak with a system consultant before your next dive excursion.

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.