Safety stop – Equipment provided by the dive boat

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 13

Black Friday is over. Small business Saturday is behind us. And the Christmas commercials are a little overwhelming. I wonder just how many cars people really buy at Christmas time.

We are in full maintenance mode here at the shop. After a very long and busy dive season, we now have a several weeks to get all of our gear serviced and ready for 2019. The van has been unloaded and all of our tanks will be inspected. Our regulators will be serviced as required and all BCs inspected and made ready for the new season. And that’s not all. The maintenance shop is also very busy servicing full-face masks and regulators from our public safety clients.

One of the skills we teach during our open water course is the giant stride entry. We do this because most of our dive adventures start from a boat. By the end of the course everyone is fairly comfortable with the giant stride. We also talk a lot about safety stops. During the classroom we discuss the various equipment that the boat may provide to make our safety stops easier and less stressful.

On our trip to Turks and Caicos I was able to capture some pictures of what this equipment looks like underwater. First there is a hang bar that is off the side of the boat at approximately 15 feet. Just make a slow ascent and “hang out” for three minutes. Dive boats also typically have a line off the stern with a buoy ball and suspended from the buoy ball is a line with weights on it. This is another place to hold on if you need to steady yourself.

A final safety measure provide by the boat may be a regulator (also called a hooka reg) at safety stop level should you run low on gas. This equipment is there for safety but one of the best safety options is to dial in your buoyancy and relax on your safety stop.

I came across a short article on Dive News Wire about a new book called The Airplane Graveyard. I would call this a coffee table book that combines military history and scuba diving. If anyone has it, I would be interested in your thoughts on the book.

Hopefully we will see you around the shop in December. Come by for “hot stove” scuba any time.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Scuba wetsuits and backplate BCDs

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 15

Christmas is now less than two weeks away. Hope you are ready.

On Monday night we had our year end staff meeting. Many thanks to everyone who came out. We had a quick recap of 2018 and started setting the stage for 2019. We will be back in the water training at Loomis in mid-January and we are already signing up new divers for our weekend class the end of February. The Nassau trip is now posted and open for sign up. Little Cayman will be opening up very soon. We are working hard to get the all the details finalized.

At Scuba Shack we believe that exposure protection, regardless of where you are diving is vital for your comfort and safety. Wetsuits as we know come in various thickness, so we often get questions about what wetsuit should to buy. The answer is – it depends. I just came across this article from Sport Diver that talks about exposure protection. It provides some good information and can help you decide. A 5mm wetsuit is a very versatile option.

The latest edition of DAN’s Alert Diver came about a week ago. Again, it is a cover-to-cover read. This edition’s article related to gear is about backplates. Our philosophy related to the backplate and wing is grounded in well over 15 years of training and experience with this type of BC. Just don’t take our word about the value of this rig, check out what DAN has to say. 

Let’s stay warm out there and get ready for the next dive season.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Nassau trip, Nikon W300 & Project Aware

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 14

Wow. It is December already. Just where did 2018 go? The shop is now decorated for the holidays. Our first Christmas in the new location.

I guess you know it is December when we start working with Peter on the Nassau trip. He already has that twinkle in his eye. We are pleased that we have been able to keep the cost of the Nassau trip with Stuart Cove in line with last year. We are just as excited that the scooter dive which was extremely popular last year is also still a part of this year’s trip. Scuba Shack’s long and successful history in working with Stuart Cove has allowed us to continue to have an awesome trip to the Bahamas. None of this however could even be remotely possible without the energy of Peter Katz. If you haven’t been on a dive trip with Peter – put that on your bucket list. You won’t be disappointed.

Over the years I have had a lot of underwater cameras, starting with the disposable film type. Remember how awesome we thought it was to take pictures underwater. I have done HD video tape, a variety of different digital cameras with their associated housings, and the GoPro.

My latest little underwater camera is the Nikon W300. It is small, compact, rugged, and waterproof to 100 feet without a housing. I took this to Turks and Caicos, took photos both above and below the surface and I thought they came out great. A little white balance of the underwater photos was all it took. The camera is small enough to fit in your pocket, has optical and digital zoom, built in wifi, and Bluetooth. The camera retails for about $390.

I’ve included some of the pictures taken while we were out with Dive Provo. Check out this camera online.

Finally, we continue to support Project Aware by being 100% Aware. That means we donate $10 for every PADI certification issued by Scuba Shack. Our latest donation was for nine more certifications in November bringing our 2018 results to $440, and we started in late July. When you certify with Scuba Shack you are also helping protect our oceans. Thank you.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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November diving, new classes & recovering a scuba regulator

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 11

I had planned on writing this weekly update from the DEMA Show in Las Vegas, however we needed to cancel our trip due to some unforeseen circumstances. We will be rescheduling appointments with all our key suppliers to review their DEMA update soon.

November diving in New England can be tricky and we were fortunate to get in one last Open Water weekend at Fort Wetherill in Jamestown. Cold and breezy on land but the water was still in the upper 50s. Visibility was a bit of a challenge but hey, we can handle it. Congrats to Adrienna and Joe, our newest hearty Scuba Shack divers. Also, thanks to Ron and Donna for helping me make it all happen.

We are starting to firm up our 2019 training schedule beginning with our annual class at Loomis Chaffee. The classes are on Sunday morning starting January 13. There will be four sessions finishing up on February 10. We take Super Bowl Sunday off (actually the school is closed). We will be running both a PADI Open Water class along with the Scuba Shack Core Principles class. Discover Scuba and refreshers are also available. These classes tend to have a lot of interest, so give us a call now to sign up.

As I mentioned, visibility in New England can sometimes be a challenge and a critical skill for divers is the regulator recovery. Correctly executing this skill is extremely important in finding your regulator should it become necessary. Don’t panic, think, and remember what you learned. Here is a nice article from Dive Training Magazine on regulator recovery. Take a few minutes to review. It is worth it.

Hard to believe next week is Thanksgiving. Hope you enjoy the holiday with friends and/or family. We here at Scuba Shack are very thankful for our good fortune and great clients. Talk to you again on Black Friday.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Black Friday edition

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 12

All of us here at Scuba Shack trust that you had a pleasant Thanksgiving holiday. Hope you stayed warm with the record cold. We certainly have a great deal to be thankful for as we come to the end of 2018. Now our attention turns towards Christmas, and then it is on to 2019.

Speaking of 2019, our training calendar for the first half of next year is complete. We begin with our Sunday morning Loomis classes (Open Water, Core, Discover, Refresher) on January 13 that will run for four sessions.

New for 2019 we will be offering a weekend open water course. This class has been developed for busy lifestyles where the traditional six-week curriculum is difficult to schedule. In addition, we will also be running weekend core classes. Nitrox certification classes are scheduled. We are very enthusiastic about these new options in addition to our normal training curriculum. Our website calendar is up-to-date with all of our activities listed. 

It has been a while since I checked in on the Ocean Cleanup project out in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This project has been developed to trap and clean up plastic. The latest update is that it is now in operation and trapping plastic. Next milestone will be to start bringing the plastic ashore. We can only hope for outstanding success.

Our Cozumel trip has proven to be very popular with a number of our divers signed up for the late February getaway for some warm diving. Here is an AlertDiver article from earlier this year on Cozumel.  If you are still interested in heading down there with us, the trip closes out in just two weeks on December 7.

Finally, if you are interested in getting a new tank, we have a couple of brand-new aluminum 80s in stock. Additionally we have several used aluminum 80s available.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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November training, DEMA & scuba regulators

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 10

So, the mid-term elections are over, we will be getting a new governor in Connecticut and I heard a forecast for some mixed precipitation early next week – certainly dry suit season. 

The first weekend of November saw us still doing quite a bit of training. The Rescue class completed their open water scenarios at Beach Pond in Rhode Island while we finished three intense days of confined water and classroom training for Open Water Scuba Diver. Monty and Chris conducted a public safety hull inspection class in Greenwich this week. While our plan is to conduct the open water dives this weekend at Fort Wetherill. Fingers crossed for some good weather.

Next week the shop will be open on Monday, Nov. 12 and then we will be closed Tuesday, Nov. 13 through Saturday, Nov. 17 as we head to the Dive Equipment Manufacturing Association (DEMA) Show in Las Vegas. Stay tuned for an update from DEMA.

Demand lever, piston, diaphragm – all parts of a regulator. We use our regulator on every dive. Do you need a quick review of how a regulator works? There are lots of references out there. I found this one on the DAN website that is worth a quick read to re-familiarize yourself with how your regulator works. Worth a look.

Finally, we got a couple of pictures from Turks and Caicos from one of our divers. Thanks Bob for sharing these nice shots of a grouper at a cleaning station along with a couple of French angelfish and a friendly turtle.

Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. We’ll be around, so stop by and let’s talk diving.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Scuba trips, travel and Apeks Tech Shorts

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 9

Welcome to November to all of our Scuba Shack family and friends. Thanksgiving in just around the corner and soon we will be bombarded with Christmas commercials on TV.

The Scuba Shack trip to Turks and Caicos wrapped up Saturday. Our dive team did some outstanding dives and the weather was spectacular. Nice breezes, calm seas, water temperature around 82 to 84 degrees, tropical fish, sharks, rays, eels and turtles. It’s why we do this! Many thanks to Alan, Claire and the entire Dive Provo team.

Chris wrapped up his public safety advanced course in South Hadley. Congratulations to the team and thanks for trusting us with your training. We are also starting a weekend open water class this weekend. Three intense days of pool and classroom training. Let’s hope the weather holds for open water dives in Jamestown on November 10 and 11.

It is always great when we hear from our Scuba Shack divers about their dive trips. We recently got some news from two of our newest Open Water Scuba Shack Divers. Nancy who was certified in Jamestown recently headed out to Fiji for some diving (lucky Nancy). She let us know how great an adventure it was and that she is now in love with scuba. Will finished up his confined water here in Connecticut then headed for Bonaire for his certification dives (lucky Will). He had a great week of diving with his father-in-law and is now ready for more. Thanks Nancy and Will for sharing your experience.

As we all know diving is a gear intensive sport and we like to take a lot of gear with us on a dive; a spare mask, surface marker buoy, whistle, spool, emergency beacon to name a few. Where can we put all this when we are wearing a 3 or 5 mm wetsuit? One option is a pair of Apeks Tech Shorts. I used these shorts in Turks and Caicos. The fit was great and the pockets provided ample room for all the gear I wanted to bring along. I thought I might need to add some extra weight but that wasn’t the case. If you are like most of us and want to carry all of our safety gear without it dangling off the BC, consider a pair of Apeks Tech Shorts.

On a final note, if it has been a while since your regulator has been serviced, now is a great time to bring it in.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Back in the USA, XS Scuba Dive Light & Kodiak Queen

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 6

I returned from my trip to India early Saturday morning after a 14-hour flight from New Delhi. It is good to be home. I thought there would be more fall color after being gone for a week, but it is still pretty green and warm.

Training continues to go strong in October. The Open Water class is in its fifth week while our public safety open water has moved to the dry suit phase. Chris and Matt initiated public safety training for a team in Massachusetts. Rescue class has started their pool phase and we’re not stopping there. We are putting the final touches on a new open water weekend class. It is being developed to provide an intense training weekend that fits busy lifestyles where our traditional six-week class proves difficult to accommodate work and family commitments. Keep an eye out for more details on the web site.

One of the key pieces of equipment we have in our gear bag is a dive light. There are a lot of them on the market and it is always a difficult choice. One of our choices is the XS Scuba LT100 dive light. It is compact, light-weight, bright and runs on 3 AAA batteries. Retail price is $60. Check it out.

I came across a very interesting documentary about the Kodiak Queen. You may have heard about the ship sunk in the British Virgin Islands with the sculpture of a Kraken on it. The ship was a former US Navy vessel that survived Pearl Harbor and then went on to Alaska before ending up in BVI. This documentary is a Rob Sorrenti film narrated by Kate Winslet. Give it a view.

Donna and I will be headed to Pennsylvania this Saturday to spend some time with my Mom for her 85th birthday and then it is on to Turks and Caicos for the dive trip.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Turks & Caicos, Cousteau and our annual Nassau trip

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 8

Another week has gone by and our weather has turned from summer to late fall really fast. New England can be tricky this time of year. We will try to get as much diving in as we can.

The Scuba Shack trip to Turks and Caicos is well underway. There has been some great weather down there and mother nature is making for some fantastic diving – trip report to follow. Over the past weekend we certified seven new open water divers. Great job to all our students. Chris and Matt completed several advanced open water dives for the public safety team from Massachusetts. The final touches have been worked out for an open water weekend class in early November. It is great to be busy and more importantly keeping our traditions alive.

I recently listened to an interview by Fabien Cousteau on the podcast Unphiltered (embedded below). Fabien talked about the things that are threatening our oceans, some things that we can do about it, and some of the things his foundation is doing. The interview is about 35 minutes and hopefully will give you a little inspiration towards making a difference in the health of the oceans.

As we continue to plan out our travel schedule for 2019, we are working with Stuart Cove for our Nassau to have the same options as last year which included the afternoon 2-tank SeaDoo (DPV) option. Feedback from last year was that this was an extremely popular added feature. The details will be finalized in November when we meet with Stuart while at DEMA (Dive Equipment Manufacturing Association) Show in Las Vegas. Peter cannot wait and has already made his plane reservations at a very good price. This Memorial Day trip is our most popular trip.

So, in closing out this week, just remember – there are only two months to Christmas. Scuba gear makes a great gift.

As always, thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

 

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Surface signaling devices, Plastic Bank & Pennsylvania trip

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 7

Donna and I are back from a quick trip to Pennsylvania to celebrate my Mom’s birthday and catch up with our family. We also met my great-nephew, Lucca for the first time. He is now 10 months old – a little too soon to be diving.

The final confined water pool session is this week and the team will be heading to Fort Wetherill this Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 20 & 21) for their open water certification dives. Rescue diver is finishing up their pool scenarios and getting ready for their open water scenarios in early November. The dry suit class is also finishing up their pool work this week.

Our Cozumel trip in February is filling up – already have half the rooms booked – so give us a call and sign up now if you want to reserve your spot.

Several weeks back I wrote about the video A Plastic Ocean. In that video, they spotlighted an organization called Plastic Bank. I did a little more investigation of this organization. Their story is pretty compelling and from what I can see, they are really trying to make a difference with Social Plastic. One of the founders, David Katz did a really interesting TED talk. You can also find a lot more on their website.

Last week we had our trip meeting for Turks and Caicos. One item of discussion was the need for each diver to carry their own surface marker buoy. In fact, the only time that we had to deploy a surface marker buoy (safety sausage) was on a trip with Dive Provo in Turks and Caicos. We missed the up line due to a very strong current. Knowing that we had missed our target, we deployed the surface marker buoy while on our safety stop. Once we surfaced, about 200 yards from the boat, we could very clearly see that the boat had spotted us and was on their way for a safe recovery.

In addition to having my surface marker buoy and whistle, you can bet I will also be carrying my Nautilus personal locator beacon. Safety is always paramount.

Finally, I am in the very early stages of planning a trip to Key Largo around April 10 to 13. It will be a great way to get some early season diving in, complete certifications or other training. Let me know if you think this is a good idea.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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