Dutch Springs weekend trip, classes and Shark Week

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 33

This week finds us making our final preparations for the trip to Dutch Springs. It looks like we should have some pretty decent weather over the weekend. We are looking forward to diving. Also, I hope everyone is enjoying Shark Week!

We continue to leverage our virtual capabilities. We started in March with a virtual PADI Equipment Specialist class, then partnered with DUI/OMS to do a couple of seminars. We have since conducted several staff meetings, virtual Nitrox class and incorporated a virtual session into our open water course. As we look toward the future, we are in the process of clearing out some space on our warehouse side and setting up a more workable video production studio. I’ll keep you updated on our progress.

I came across an article out of Florida the other day that emphasizes the importance of a dive flag. Turns out this had a good outcome although it could have been a problem. A woman was diving for lobster from a small boat and drifted about a half mile away. The people on the boat called 911 since they didn’t know where she was. They dispatched a helicopter and search crews. Fortunately, she surfaced, okay. If she was carrying a dive flag, the boat would have known where she was. This could have been a problem.

There was an interesting article in the Hartford Courant op ed section by Heather Takle that discusses why renewable energy is not getting a fair shake in Connecticut. You might find this article interesting.

Until next week. Thanks for tuning in,
Jeff

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Dutch Springs trip, traveling to Rhode Island & Shark Week 2020

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 32

I trust that everyone made it safely through the tropical storm Isaias. I finally figured out how to pronounce it – let’s hope we don’t see Josephine in these parts. Also, to really make things strange, we’re watching hockey in August!

We are getting all set for our first trip this year to Dutch Springs next weekend. We have four advanced open water divers set to gain their certification and we expect to see some folks come down for the drive and dive. As of right now, we don’t have any restrictions in coming back from Pennsylvania – at least not yet. If you can make it down – we’ll be there starting Friday, Aug. 14 through Sunday, Aug. 16.

We were surprised by the quarantine order for travel to Rhode Island. So at first I was concerned about our open water dives later this month. However, the quarantine is only necessary if you spend more than 24 hours in the state. For us, we are usually only there six hours, so we will be able to come back to Connecticut without any issue. Doc. Fauci says Connecticut is in a good place. Let’s keep it up.

And – who’s ready for Shark Week 2020? This year’s main event – Mike Tyson vs. Jaws. As Mike says “Shark Week is hard.” Hard to believe it has been going on since 1988. Who was your favorite host? Shaq was pretty good.

Once again, I want to thank everyone for your continued support of Scuba Shack during this very unusual year. It makes our day, when you come by or reach out to us.

Thank you from all of us,

Donna, Matt, Monty and Jeff

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Confined water success & PADI Rescue Diver

100th Edition Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 31

Scuba Shack Weekly has reached another milestone – this is the 100th edition of the weekly blog. It has been 100 consecutive weeks that I have published this weekly update. When I started way back in September 2018 I didn’t know where this would go. I hope to continue to keep you updated each week about various activities at the shop and other interesting topics that might come up.

Speaking of things going on at the shop, we completed our first confined open water training program since the pandemic lockdown. Marissa, Amanda, Matt, Scott and Alec are now ready to finish up with their certification dives in Jamestown in August. The format worked well as we followed the steps we designed to keep everyone safe. Thanks also to Ron and Lizzy for helping Monty, Matt and me with this new open water class.

Our PADI Rescue Diver class is now set up. We will be conducting the class on Oct. 1 – 4. We will be using PADI electronic learning for knowledge development, then on Thursday. Oct. 1 we will conduct a virtual class for introduction, orientation and information. On Saturday, Oct. 3 we will shift to the pool at the New Britain YMCA for a three-hour training session and then on Sunday, Oct. 4 we will go to Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, RI to conduct our open water rescue scenarios. As a reminder you must be an Advanced Open Water Diver to participate. Why not make it your goal in 2020 to become a PADI Rescue Diver?

By the way, I attended another REEF Fishinar this week. It focused on fish found on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. It was really enjoyable. You can check out the archives on the REEF website.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Open Water Classes restart, Scuba.Digital and Manta Rays

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 30

Has it been hot enough for you yet? I think we topped out at close to 100 degrees on Sunday. Hope some of you got to go diving or found a nice cool place to relax.

This week marked a milestone for us on our way back. We started our first Open Dater Diver class since we had to shut things down in early March. Our first session was a virtual zoom meeting where we covered a lot of material including the ATA chart, the Recreational Dive Planner and the dive computer. With our three-camera set up in the Scuba Shack TV studio, it went really well. We will be completing gear familiarization on Thursday followed by our pool sessions this Saturday and Sunday. We are very fortunate here in Connecticut to have access to the pool for training. We heard from our PADI Regional Manager that there are a lot of dive shops on the East Coast that can’t get to a pool for training. Great job Connecticut.

Our next open water class starts Aug. 4 and we still have some spots open. Please pass this along.

What is Scuba.Digital? Many of the scuba trade shows have been cancelled this year. So the next best thing is Scuba.Digital. This online digital scuba show will take place Oct. 23-26, 2020. You can attend keynote addresses from the main stage, attend workshops, visit with exhibitors or have one-on-one conversations.

On this week’s episode of The Fish and Things I’ve Found Underwater, I relive one of our more memorable dives. It was about 10 years ago and we had the great fortune of diving with manta rays for almost an entire dive while out in Hawaii. They are magnificent. Check them out on our YouTube channel. Also, it is real easy to subscribe.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Open Water, Rescue Diver and DAN courses scheduled

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 29

It was really great to get back into the water over the weekend at Fort Wetherill. The weather was quite warm and the water felt really good. We had a very good turnout (13 divers in the water) and enjoyed Jamestown. Our season has started.

We have locked in our class schedule for the next couple of months. You can check out our course calendar for the specific dates. Our Open Water class next week is full and our early August class is filling up fast. Classes are limited to six students. If you know someone who is interested in becoming a scuba diver – now is the time to enroll.

With our trips to Dutch Springs in August and September, we hope that people interested in Advanced Open Water make the trek down to complete this important step in your diving education. Then you will be ready for our Rescue Diver class in the early part of October. You can close out this very challenging year by becoming a PADI Rescue Diver. Details on this class will be out soon. Keep it on your radar.

I recently have gone through several electronic learning courses with Divers Alert Network. They have a pretty neat course for entry-level divers, those wanting a refresher or individuals who want to learn more about the fundamentals of diving limits. The course covers air consumption, impacts on your ears, buoyancy control, ascents and your personal responsibility. If you are interested in taking this class, please send me your email address by using the “Contact Jeff” area below. Best of all – IT’S FREE!

Don’t forget about our tank order. If you are in the market for a new scuba tank, please get in on our semi-annual purchase by July 22. Tell us what you want, put 50% down and pay the balance when you pick up your ready to dive scuba tank.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Pool training, diving Jamestown this weekend & Dutch Springs in August

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 28

Hope everyone had a nice 4th of July holiday. Donna, Matt and I were in Pennsylvania to visit with my Mom and the rest of the family. We had a nice small family picnic at my brothers.

Breaking News – It looks like we will be able to begin our open water class pool sessions after July 20 at the New Britain YMCA. We are looking to lock in dates very soon. Details will be provided on our website shortly. The class will consist of four sessions (Tuesday night virtual zoom session, Thursday night at the shop for gear familiarization and Saturday/Sunday afternoon at the pool). We hope to get several classes scheduled with a maximum of six students per class.

We do need to get back in the water, so we are going to be doing a Drive and Dive this Sunday, July 12 to Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, Rhode Island. The plan is to meet there around 8 a.m. and look to do a couple of dives. If you are thinking about joining us, please let us know and we will be on the lookout. Hoping the weather and visibility cooperates on what will be a late start to our diving.

We are also planning to go to Dutch Springs in August. We had to make a slight adjustment from our original calendar. The trip to Dutch will be Aug. 14-16 (Friday through Sunday). Please check out the Dutch Springs website for details on getting your tickets, the protocols in place, and the waivers. Also, remember there is no camping this year, so you will need to make hotel reservations. We will be running the Advanced Open Water Class this weekend and can also fit in other training. Please contact us at the shop to let us know if you plan to make the trip and want to get in some training.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Dutch Springs opens next week – Do you need a new tank?

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 27

Happy Fourth of July everyone. That kind of snuck up on us. It looks like we will be having terrific weather this weekend, so please enjoy responsibly.

Last Sunday Mike and I were at Plymouth Reservoir working with the Region Five Dive Team. We completed dry suit certification dives for several divers on the team. The water was quite warm and not too deep. Visibility wasn’t good (well it was pretty bad). It did however feel really good to get back in the water.

Dutch Springs now has an official opening date of July 9. The details are provided on their website. We will be evaluating our schedule, plus discuss our comfort with the travel down there. There is a lot to consider when you think about having to stay in a hotel and then go to restaurants for meals. As soon as we decide what we are doing we will be letting everyone know.

We are also in the planning stage for our semi-annual tank purchase. We are hoping to get an order in by the second part of July. So if you are thinking about some new tanks, please give us a call and we will get you on the list. We try to bulk buy to save on the shipping costs.

Stay tuned to Scuba Shack Radio tomorrow (July 3) for a very special broadcast. I had a chance to connect with Amy Lee from REEF and chat. Amy is REEF’s Engagement and Communications Manager, 2019 DEMA Wavemaker award winner, and taught Scuba Shack all we know about conducting fish surveys when we were in Key Largo last year.

Finally, this week’s fish on The Fish and Things I’ve Found Underwater is the Indigo Hamlet.

Enjoy the 4th,

Jeff

Video

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Trip Report – Ambergris Caye, Belize Feb. 2020

A group of 12 divers and one non-diver from Scuba Shack flew to San Pedro Belize on February 22 for a week of diving on Ambergris Caye. We stayed at Sun Breeze which was conveniently located near the airport in San Pedro and on the beach. The village of San Pedro, full of restaurants and shops was just steps away. The hotel staff and service were excellent. We sampled several local restaurants. The onsite Blue Water Grill was one of the better eateries on the island. 

The on-site dive shop, Ambergris Divers took great care of us all week aboard the Baby Catherine. All of the dive sites are located on the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef stretching from The Yucatan Peninsula to Honduras.  The dive sites we visited included San Pedro Canyons, Tres Cocos, Mermaids Lair, Sandy Point, Esme Garden, Mayan Princess, Tackle Box, Cypress Garden, Bottom Time, Esmeralda and a Monday night dive at the Hol Chan.  Rather than provide a description of each site, I will let the accompanying video tell the story.

We had a fun group including a few folks new to diving with Scuba Shack. We also had a number of milestones on the trip. George Keech completed his Open Water and Nitrox certifications on Monday morning. A few hours later he was on his first night dive at Hol Chan, a nature preserve in a natural cut in the barrier reef.  What a great first night dive!  We saw lobster, eels, basket Stars, octopus, stingrays and Spotted Eagle Rays!  The next morning was our deep dive. I managed to get a picture of George and most of the rest of the folks in the group coming thru a swim through at 100 feet on Esme Garden. On Wednesday, Joe White went on a real adventure.  He took a 3 hour bout ride each way to Lighthouse Reef and the Great Blue Hole. That’s definitely a “bucket list” dive. The squeezed in a couple more dives on the reef after the Blue Hole where they say more reef sharks.

We managed to see lots of animals big and small. I don’t recall every seeing so many nurse sharks.  We also saw a couple of reef sharks.  There was a mother dolphin with a calf on the first day.  

Unfortunately, I was too far from them to get a decent shot with the camera.  The weather cooperated for the most part.  There were a couple of choppy days but not enough to interfere with our diving.

Ambergris Caye, Sun Breeze Hotel and Ambergris Divers were wonderful hosts for the week.  I would not hesitate to visit them again in the future. 

Trip Video

SECONN swap meet, Belize video, and the Maldives

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 26

With Father’s Day in the rear view mirror we are now officially into Summer 2020. Connecticut is making outstanding progress in battling the coronavirus and it seems like we are on track for phase 3 re-opening. I feel like CT has really stepped up.

Matt and I made the trek down to Pawcatuck, CT for the SECONN annual swap meet. The event was at the Cottrail Brewing Company. The weather was spectacular, we met quite a few people and sold a few items to some lucky divers at great prices. This was my first time at the swap meet and enjoyed the day. Great job, Ryan and the rest of the SECONN crew.

Also heard from a couple of our divers – Ivan and Maggie that they did make a trip to Fort Wetherill on Saturday and that it really wasn’t that crowded – maybe all the divers were at the swap meet – probably not.

The other day, I posted a short video on our YouTube channel from the Scuba Shack Belize trip in late February/early March right before the lockdown. That was just the appetizer. Here is the main course. (See below.) Joel has put together a great trip video that highlights all the activity. It really looks like everyone had a great time and the diving looked to be spectacular. Sit down and take a look at this really cool review on Scuba Shack TV. The video is below.

And don’t forget to subscribe to Scuba Shack TV.

I also published another episode of Scuba Shack Radio this past weekend. It was a special edition dedicated to Your Next Dive where I sit down with Peter Katz to talk about his adventure to the Maldives. Peter also got that one in just before the shutdown back in March. It sounded like a fantastic trip. It was fun to hear all about his trip aboard the Emperor Explorer.

Hard to believe that next week it will be July!

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

Belize 2020 Trip Video Report

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Planning our training, Dutch Springs to open in July, the lionfish purr

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 3, Number 25

First off this week I want to wish all the Dads out there a Happy Father’s Day. Enjoy the great weather this weekend and have a great day.

It has now been just about a month since we were able to reopen the shop. I want to thank everyone who has stopped by and given us support and encouragement as we start to bounce back from the lockdown. I know this has been difficult on a lot of people.

On Saturday we welcomed all our dive professionals to the shop for a discussion on what we think it might be like to teach given the current situation with coronavirus. The weather was spectacular and we set up the tents in our parking lot. There was some great discussion and everyone is committed to getting back in the water and teaching – just as soon as we can get to a pool for basic training. We’ve got a good set of protocols to ensure we stay safe and still have fun. We are also hoping to get some of the advanced training organized where we don’t need a pool.

We did see that Dutch Springs is planning to open again in July although there is no date just yet. They will only be doing scuba this year and will be limiting the number of people. We will be looking to schedule a trip once we have a hard date on their reopening. You can get all the scoop on their website.

Last night I attended the REEF fishinar update on invasive lionfish. Did you know that lionfish purr? Well, they talked about some interesting work they did trying to see if lionfish respond to a call. Also, there was some great information on how they travel. Really – they have been tagging lionfish, and they believe there are now some predators – like nurse sharks going after the lionfish. I enjoyed the update.

Finally, this week’s episode of the Fish and Things I’ve Found Underwater features the stoplight parrotfish.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

Fish & Things #11

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