Video of the Week: Hungry Filefish

This filefish was completely oblivious to our video camera and our bubbles.  We were close enough to touch it!  Saba’s rich, healthy coral made for a nutritious and obviously delicious lunch.  And yes, this was a BIG filefish.  It was definitely a Rec Diving critter encounter to remember!

Why Do We Dive?

There are as many reasons for learning to dive as there are divers. Maybe you’re already a certified diver. If so, you understand that every diver, regardless of experience, has a subtly unique reason for journeying under water.

Some activities seem to be perfect precursors for scuba diving.  Avid swimmers, for example, are “naturals” at diving. Their comfort in the water makes using scuba gear a snap. People who enjoy snorkeling have an advantage. They have already seen some of the dazzling life beneath the sea.

But prospective divers don’t need to spend their days swimming laps, or be competitive swimmers. People who enjoy walking, running, tennis, bicycling, golf, hunting, hiking, snow and water skiing, fishing, and even bridge seem to gravitate to diving. As the folks at Dive Training Magazine point out, with its increasing popularity, scuba has become “chic.”
“Chic?” you ask. Of course. Take a look at an issue of Vogue, GQ, Elle, or any other fashion magazine. Witness the “bodies beautiful” clad in neoprene and wearing scuba equipment. Scuba diving is reaching a pinnacle in media pop culture.

Diving has evolved from an activity for a select few adventurous souls into a universal recreational activity, a neon-clad way to meet interesting people. If the fashion magazines are to be believed, diving is a sexy adventure, an activity to “help put excitement back into your marriage.” At the same time, it’s a sport that conservative church groups tout as “something entire families can enjoy together.” Nearly half of all new divers are women. Diving is used as non-discriminatory therapy for physically challenged individuals. Scuba diving has become “universalized.”

And then there’s the environment. Since the first episode of Capt. Cousteau’s underwater series, scuba diving and preserving the sea have gone hand in hand. In this age of recycling, composting, car-pooling, and receding ozone, saving the planet is a sentiment that is being touted in political speeches, battery commercials, soap ads, and boardrooms.

Age seems to be a non-issue with divers. Reports indicate that record numbers of teenagers are learning to dive. The same reports claim more mature individuals are taking up the sport. And sandwiched in the middle are the ever-present “baby boomers,” who continue to account for a majority of entrants into the sport.
So why do we dive? Scuba Diving is cool.  It is a lifetime activity that we can enjoy with our friends and family, and it never ceases to amaze.

This is a condensed, edited version of an article from Dive Training Magazine.
Pick up your free issue of the education-based magazine at Rec Diving, complements of our award-winning Rec Diving instructional team.

Diving the Great Lakes

Recently I was asked on behalf of Rec Diving to speak about how I approach diving a shipwreck in the Great Lakes. As I have been fortunate to have had many excellent Great Lakes diving mentors, I was happy to share.

Be ready for anything and everything. That’s what I was told when I started diving the Great Lakes. Sure, I was being cautioned about water temperatures that can be frigid, visibility that can be low, and currents that can be swift. But I was also being reminded to tap into my explorer’s spirit because this would be my unique opportunity to observe a time capsule.

More than a dozen years and a hundred Great Lakes dives later, I am grateful for that good advice. I approach each dive like a visit to a favorite museum. Whether it is a schooner more than a hundred years old that is upright and intact, a steel freighter resting upside down with cargo strewn about nearby or a badly broken up wooden steamer, each is a link to the past that fascinates me.

Learning a shipwreck’s unique story is how I start all of my underwater journeys. Then, after finding out the wreck’s depth and position on the bottomland and what artifacts remain, I dive into the fresh water with a cold splash. Sometimes the visibility is so good my buddy and I can see the shipwreck as we make our way down the descent line. Other times I see only my buddy, an arms reach away, until we’re just a few feet above the wreck.

On these dives, I hear only my bubbles. I feel weightless and peaceful. I take in the entire shipwreck, swim around the rail, crisscross the deck and take a peek into a hatch or cargo hold. I consider what remains structurally and at the same time appreciate what is obviously missing. I get excited when an anticipated artifact is spotted and make mental notes of ship parts I don’t recognize so I can look them up after the dive.

It was relatively easy to get accustomed to the extra effort that it takes to dive the Great Lakes. I carry additional lights and safety gear, wear a thick wet or dry suit and often face rough seas. But every open water certified scuba diver could gain the additional training and experience to feel comfortable diving in the Great Lakes. And to get the unique opportunity to go back in time and explore a pristine shipwreck from the mid 1800’s is well worth it.

Dive with Rec Diving in the Great Lakes this summer.  Check out our schedule here.

Video of the Week: Cayman Madness

It was one critter encounter after another for this group of Rec Divers in Grand Cayman.  There is truly something for everyone in what is surely one of the premier Caribbean dive destinations.

Take Care of Your Dive Gear and It Will Take Care of You!

SR_220x300[1]When you go diving, go with confidence in your equipment. When you know it has been routinely serviced and maintained properly, you can totally enjoy your diving experience. After all, that’s why we dive, right? Here are Rec Diving’s tips for the things you should do to maintain your life support system.

Dive equipment manufacturers recommend that the regulator and alternate air source be serviced on an annual basis by an authorized dealer. Between overhauls there are some important care and maintenance procedures to follow. Probably the most important one is to thoroughly rinse the entire system with clean, fresh, water soon after every dive session. Properly done, the first step is to dry the first stage inlet protector and secure it in place with the yoke screw. Rinse the first and second stages thoroughly, allowing water through the mouth piece, exhaust ports and ambient air holes in the first stage body (these holes will not be visible if your first stage is environmentally protected with a S.P.E.C. boot.)

DiverJohn300pngIf you have been diving in salt water, a chlorinated pool, or shore diving where sand or silt is easily stirred up during entries and exits, we suggest a warm water “bath” with a small amount of mild dish soap. The warm, soapy water will allow you to gently pull the hose protectors a few inches away from the first stage. This will allow the metal hose fittings to be cleaned and to have a chance to completely dry. Totally submerge the system and let it soak for thirty to sixty minutes. Follow up the “bath” with a thorough rinse. If possible, at this time, attach the regulator to a scuba tank and turn the air on. Purge the second stage hoses of any water vapor that might have accumulated. Turn the air off, purge, and remove the system. Next, lay the entire system out flat on top of a towel where it will be undisturbed for a day or two. If you have an instrument console that will allow you to easily remove the pressure gauge, compass, and bottom timer or dive computer, then do that as well. Trapped salt water and sand can be harmful to these instruments over a period of time. Run warm water over the compass while rotating the bezel. It should ratchet freely in both directions.

Allow the system to dry completely, and then store it in a cool, dry place. Lay it out flat, away from sunlight, heating elements, furnaces, and water heaters. An empty dresser drawer or closet shelf works well. Do not store your life support system in a sealed, plastic bag or regulator bag. Regulator bags are for transport only!  From time-to-time it is a great idea to slick down all external rubber parts with a clean rag sprayed with a food grade pump silicone product. This will extend the life of these rubber parts as well as keeping them in good looking condition.  Your buoyancy compensator deserves just as much attention. It too should be rinsed thoroughly inside and out with clean, fresh water. B.C. cleaning products are readily available to help keep it clean and smelling good inside and out. Store your B.C. half full of air, fully dried, preferably on a B.C. or large coat hanger in a cool, dry place.  If your regulator system has an octopus as its alternate air source, then most likely your B.C. has a power inflator. Your power inflator deserves annual inspection and/or service, as well. Don’t take this piece of equipment for granted. We can only imagine the feelings you would have after servicing most of your dive gear, arriving at one of your dive destinations, being surrounded by crystal clear water and marine life every color of the rainbow, pushing the power button to adjust your buoyancy and having it stick open, sending you to the surface. All of a sudden, you’re having a bad day in paradise and your dive buddy isn’t happy anymore. Don’t let it happen to you!

Care of scuba cylinders and valves is more basic, but equally important. They should be rinsed with clean, fresh water. Crack the valve open to remove any water vapor that might have gotten into the opening. Always try to store cylinders upright in a cool, dry place. Always maintain positive pressure in the tank. For long term storage, keep the pressure between 300 and 500 psi.

Rec Diving’s recommendation for buoyancy control device, and regulator care and maintenance:

  • B.C. Life by Aquaseal: A buoyancy compensator cleaner and conditioner
  • Food grade Silicone Pump by Trident: A preservative for regulator hoses and outside rubber surfaces

Video of the Week: Tiger Beach

If non-stop diving excitement is what you are after, Tiger Beach is the place to dive. These Rec Divers came within inches of 30+ Lemon Sharks and a beautiful 13-foot Tiger Shark. Spectacular!  Tiger Beach truly offers a diving experience of a lifetime.