Feb

3

Give the gift of adventure with a Gulf Coast Divers Cash Card!

Load it with any amount and give it as a Gift Card or use it yourself as your scuba shopping card.  Our Adventure Gift cards were a popular stocking stuffer at Christmas, but y’all came up with another use that we didn’t anticipate.  Divers are buying Adventure Cards and reloading them each payday as a way to save towards a new piece of equipment.  “If I keep the cash, I’ll spend it and regret it.  If I put my extra dollars on my gift card, then it is like I am saving towards my scuba system,”  explained Mike.  Great idea, dude.

The Adventure cards can be used to purchase new gear, training, a dive trip, anything…it is like cash. We know how hard it is to buy for a diver, why not make it easy and let them choose what they want? Or encourage friends and family to come and contribute to your Adventure Card rather than buy you a pair of socks that you are going to return to Target anyway.

Christmas, birthdays, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Arbor Day, Just Because Day…any event is a good time to ask for dive gear.

Jan

25

New divers are surprised to learn that diving along the gulf coast takes place year round, not just during the heat of the summer. Believe it or not, the beaches don’t close in the winter, the Gulf of Mexico still has water in it when all the leaves have fallen from the trees and there are a lot of dedicated divers getting wet all winter.

If you want to keep diving in the winter months, but are not one of the fortunate few who can slip off to some warm and exotic location while the rest of us sit around watching our breath freeze in the air, read on and learn the basics of winter diving on the gulf coast.

So just what are the alternatives for winter diving and what can you expect for conditions? Obviously colder temperatures, both in the water and out, but not so cold that you can’t go diving. That doesn’t mean you have to gear up for an arctic expedition. Back in December we published a blog article about the importance of staying warm which provided many suggestions for dealing with winter temperatures.

Water temperatures in the gulf are a little cooler than what you are used to in the summer months. You can expect water in the low-mid 60’s at times.  Also, most of the high tides during winter months, fall at night. This is great news for the spearos that target flounder.

These tidal differences are not as much  a consideration offshore but they will affect beach dives like Perdido Pass, Fort Pickens, Destin Jetties and St. Andrews Park.  We have some of the lowest tides of the year during winter months and the strong north winds can make for especially low tides.

The local springs are virtually unaffected by winter temperatures. In other words springs water temperatures stay the same year round. The same 68 degrees that seemed cold and maybe a little forbidding in the summer is now warm and toasty.

One big consideration, just as important as staying warm during the dive, is keeping warm before the dive and getting warm between dives.  Bundle up and stay warm before you get in the water and certainly bundle up between dives. Bring a thermos of hot tea or coffee to warm you from the inside and stay out of the wind.  A misconception with inexperienced winter divers, is they will stay warm if they keep their wetsuit on between dives.  You will only make this mistake once!  The water evaporating off the suit is taking heat with it, chilling you very fast.  You will stay much warmer by getting out of your suit and dressing in warm clothes.  The more common method is to peel your wetsuit top off, dry off, and put on a jacket. Many divers exit the water, quickly peel their wetsuit off and climb back in their vehicle for a toasty, warm surface interval.

Recently my phoned chimed, announcing a text message from a dive buddy headed to the Pass for a night dive. Sorry I couldn’t make it Joe, too many work and family commitments, but it reminded me, many people are getting wet this winter and you should too.  Call Gulf Coast Divers at (251) 342-2970 to learn more about winter diving.

Jan

19

Masks

To minimize mold and algae build-up, rinse your mask with fresh water after each dive and allow it to dry completely before storing.  Store your mask in a hard case to protect it from dirt, abrasives, trauma during transport and roaches.  Yes, roaches…not only does the thought of bugs crawling in my mask give me the whillies, but roaches will nibble on the silicone skirt.  You need to pre-clean new masks with a mild abrasive to remove the silicone leeched from the mask skirt and other factory residues on the lens.  We’ve found Soft Scrub to be the best pre-cleaner, but toothpaste or some of the commercial mask scrubs will work, too.

Drysuit seals

With exposure to sunlight, saltwater, and chlorine, synthetic gaskets degrade over time.  This degradation is due to the loss of structural oils called plasticizers.  Proper care should include treating the latex with Seal Saver and inspecting all seals prior to use.  Minor repairs can be made with Aquaseal but require careful preparation, treatment and drying time.  Drysuit seal replacement is a critical repair and should be left to a professional suit technician.  If a seal completely fails then the suit will flood which can lead to a dangerous situation.

Zippers

Regular cleaning and lubrication helps zippers last the lifetime of the gear.  Dirt, sand and salt deposits are harmful to zippers and can cause them to jam and corrode requiring expensive replacement.  Use Zip Care to clean and pre-treat zippers and Zip Tech to lubricate and protect watertight zippers.  Whether on a wetsuit, drysuit, booties or gear bag, the zipper is the most abused component.

Neoprene items

Wetsuits, booties, hoods and gloves need regular cleaning with a suit shampoo and conditioner.  Regular cleaning maintains suit suppleness, keeps colors bright and eases suit entry.  To remove residual odors and bacteria from your suit add 1/2 oz. of MiraZyme or Sink The Stink to 5 gallons of water and soak your suit, then hang on proper hanger. Do not rinse. It is important to hang gear so it will dry completely and is properly supported so the weight of the suit doesn’t crush the neoprene.

Watch this blog and follow us on facebook for more installments in this equipment care and maintenance series.  You can also, call Gulf Coast Divers @ (251) 342-2970 and speak with an equipment technician.

Dec

14

Materials: The quality of a wetsuit begins with the base material.  High-quality neoprene will resist fading and deterioration from salt, chlorine, UV exposure and compression at depth. Cheap neoprene will compress at depth and permanently lose the suit’s insulation and durability. Fit is the most critical aspect. Instead of opting for a thicker suit, most divers on the gulf coast stay warm by layering thinner neoprene. Layering insulates better and gives you more flexibility, because the pieces slide along each other instead of having to stretch. Having several thinner wetsuit pieces allows for versatility for changing water temps.  On the gulf coast, our water temperature can change almost 30 degrees throughout the year. Having the proper thermal protection for the season means, versatility.

Undergarment: To stay warm, a suit traps water against the skin which your body heats up, acting as a thermal barrier. Using a dive skin as your base layer and layering several wetsuit pieces over this will increase warmth.  This layering technique will increase the efficiency of your suit by more effectively trapping water in the suit.  It also makes your suit more versatile by allowing you to adjust for seasonal changes in water temperature and match your thermal protection to conditions of each dive.  Using a base layer, like LavaCore, will boost the insulating capability because it adds the equivalent of 2mm thermal protection without added bulk or buoyancy.

Skins: A smooth-surfaced “skin” in cuffs, necks and flaps behind zippers help reduce water movement in/ out of your wetsuit.  These water barriers reduce the cooler water flushing in as you swim and keeps warm water trapped inside the suit.  A dive skin worn as a base layer will reduce water movement and take up space inside your wetsuit.  This reduces the amount of water in the suit, which means less water you have to heat up, resulting in less heat loss.

Texture: The #1 killer of wetsuits is tears, from knee abrasion while kneeling on the bottom or tears from struggling to pull on a suit that isn’t stretchy enough to slide on.  The simple solution to address abrasions from the environment is to practice good buoyancy control.  Stress from tears can be avoided with a super stretchy material that is easy to put on and smooth nylon coatings that allow the suit to “glide” on.  Dive skins also allow the suit to slide on more easily, and make the suit more comfortable.

Come talk to our suit professionals about designing a thermal system that is right for you.  Whether you are hot or cold natured we have a wetsuit combo for you. Not sure, jump in our 15’ deep in-store pool and try it out. Gulf Coast Divers (251) 342-2970.

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.