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,


Contact Jeff

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Christmas break, reef-friendly sunscreen & travel

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 16

Five days to go until the big man does his thing and delivers all those wonderful presents under your tree. Don’t forget the milk and cookies.

We are wrapping up 2018 here at the shop. Businesses have a lot of year end activities and we are no different. We are however going to take a little three-day break for Christmas. The shop will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year. The last day that we will be open before the holiday is Saturday, Dec. 22.

Science is a wonderful thing and keeps us moving forward. We have been carrying a brand of sunscreen at the shop for a number of years with the goal of helping protect coral reefs. This topic of “reef safe” sunscreen is hot (no pun intended) and we are now seeing laws that ban sunscreen that is not “reef safe”. Needless to say there is some confusion so I did a little research and as you know we like to keep things simple here at Scuba Shack. Here is the low down – avoid sunscreens that have oxybenzone or octinoxate and use one that has zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

There is more – ensure that the minerals used are non-nanotized – that means the particles are not too small to be absorbed by the coral. Our new choice at the shop is Stream2Sea, arriving this week. Another great benefit is that the tubes are not plastic – they are made of sugar cane resin. We continue our commitment to the health of the ocean.

We have finally gotten the remainder of our 2019 dive travel up on the website and trips are now open for booking.

Nassau is the same great price and value as last year. The Little Cayman trip in October (all inclusive, air, hotel, diving, meals, airport transfers) is filling up fast. Last count we had 10 already signed up with a maximum of 24 divers. Little Cayman is extremely popular and your trip leaders will be Jeff, Donna, Monty and Matt – yes, we are all going.

Our spring trip to Key Largo is also posted. Come join Matt and me on this fly and dive. Check out all the travel details on our web site.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Scuba Shack.

Thanks for tuning in,

Contact Jeff

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Boston Sea Rovers, Frozen Fin, and REEF (Key Largo)

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 17

Welcome to the last edition of Scuba Shack Weekly for 2018. We all trust that you had a Merry Christmas and are looking forward to a Happy New Year. Bring on 2019!

Last week Monty and I attended the December Boston Sea Rovers meeting. With just a little more than two months before the 65th Clinic, the preparations are in full motion. Scuba Shack will have a lot going on this year with Monty running a Public Safety Professional Workshop on Friday, March 8. Scuba Shack and Dive On It handling the Discover Scuba on Saturday, March 9 and we will also have our booth set up on the exhibitor floor Saturday and Sunday, March 9 & 10. We hope you will be able to make it up to Danvers, Massachusetts for the show this year. Get your tickets online.

Before that however, we are getting all of our preparations completed for starting up our 2019 training beginning with tank inspections.

We will also be at Green Harbor Beach in New London for SECONN’s 54th Annual Frozen Fin Dive on Jan. 1. Who knows who will be getting in the water. Come down and find out.

In preparation for our Key Largo trip in April, I have been doing some research for the PADI Fish Identification specialty that we will be conducting. We will be doing this class in the hometown of REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation). REEF’s mission is to conserve the marine environment by protecting biodiversity and ocean life. I have been a member since 2010 and as part of the Fish Identification class we will be conducting a REEF survey where you will identify, count and submit a survey of what you find.

Additionally, I hope to incorporate a visit to REEF HQ. If you are interested in this specialty class in April give us a call to sign up and check out the Key Largo logistics on our travel page.

REEF also puts on what they call “Fishinars”. In preparation for Key Largo, you might want to view the May 10, 2018 Fishinar titled Diving the Florida Keys.

As we close out 2019, I’d like to thank all of our Scuba Shack family and friends for your support in 2018 and looking forward to seeing you soon.

Thanks for tuning in,

Contact Jeff

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NFL Playoffs, diving Lake Champlain, and diving is therapeutic

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 2

Well you know it is January when the NFL playoffs start. My Philadelphia Eagles made it in and made it out of Chicago. Now St. Nick will be taking on the Saints this Sunday in New Orleans.

Our training has started for the year. We’ve already gotten in our first pool session with a Scuba Review this week and we are only a couple of weeks away from our first weekend open water class. We will also be conducting a Nitrox class on January 19. There is still time to sign up and get this critical certification under your belt. Our training calendar is up-to-date, check it out. The service department is very busy with regulators, full-face masks and quite a few tanks.

Last week I introduced the Project Aware Specialty course in February. For anyone who is interested in just what Project Aware accomplished in 2018, here is a link to a short video. We can make a difference!

The latest edition of Alert Diver Magazine has an article written by Ethan Gordon about diving in Lake Champlain. Ethan is the current president of the Boston Sea Rovers. Hopefully you’ll run into Ethan when you are at the show in March. At the end of the article is a video that complements Ethan’s information.

We all know how good we feel to get in the water and dive. Anticipating the giant stride and descent to a beautiful coral reef or an amazing wreck. Everything slows down. We relax and take in everything the ocean provides us. Back on the boat, we enjoy the sunlight and have great discussions about the dive and what is next. Diving is therapeutic. Here is an article for Dive Training Magazine confirming what we know.

Let’s get out and dive. You’ll feel better.

Until next week. Thanks for tuning in,


Contact Jeff

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Wrecks, Dive Training Magazine and more

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 3

Well the Eagles came up a little short in New Orleans and the Patriots came up really big in Foxborough. By this time next week, the Super Bowl match-up will be settled.

Scuba Shack has started our latest IDC. Two more of our Divemasters have started their journey towards becoming PADI Instructors and will be completing the instructor examination in May at Dutch Springs. We
are back in the pool on Thursday night Jan. 24 at New Britain YMCA. If you want to get in the water and practice or are interested in a refresher course, please call the shop to register.

I know that a lot of our divers like wrecks. All kinds of wrecks both the artificial wrecks sunk for our enjoyment or what we call real wrecks caused by weather, war or some other cause. The Chester Poling off of Cape Ann, Mass. is one of our favorites. I recently read this article on eight different wrecks around the globe. I have done two – the Kittiwake in Grand Cayman and the Carthaginian in Hawaii. How many have you done?

While I am on the subject of wrecks, here is a short video on a new wreck found in the English Channel. Strange story. (The original story is at the KTVB website.)

The latest edition of Dive Training Magazine has arrived at the shop. As usual it is filled with all kinds of great information. If you’d like a copy to take home and enjoy please stop by the shop. We also have some back issues available.

Also, I have a little more detail on our Fish Identification course. Here are the details. I am really looking forward to working with REEF. Call and let us know if you are interested in coming down to Key Largo and doing something a little different.

Boston Sea Rovers is less than two months away. Come up to Danvers, Mass. and you won’t be disappointed.

We have a lot of new things in the pipeline for 2019. Stay tuned.


Contact Jeff

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Scuba trips, Boston Sea Rovers and the Goliath Grouper

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 4

The weather got a little interesting this past week here in New England. Our satellite dish was frozen over for several days with no live TV. It is winter after all, but we must remember that we are only nine days away from Ground Hog Day. What will Chuckles predict?

Last Thursday night we had our trip meeting for Cozumel. Joel gave a great presentation and our divers are excited about getting to some warm weather diving. We even had three more folks sign up for Little
Cayman in October. The resort is now full and we were able to secure a couple of more rooms. If you want to come with us to Little Cayman, sign up soon. Don’t get locked out. Also, we started our first open water class of the year and have a large contingent for our monthly Thursday night pool session. A lot going on at Scuba Shack. Our next open water class starts February 21 and we have one spot open.

Donna and I had a chance to attend the Boston Sea Rovers holiday party last Saturday night. Yes, we ventured to Burlington, Mass. in the storm. We had dinner with last year’s BSR intern and his family and got to hear a little about his adventures. Also, the chairman of Boston Sea Rovers gave a nice presentation on the history of the club. It is really amazing how deep a history they have with the great leaders in scuba. We are looking forward to the 65th clinic in March.

I recently came across an article on DiveNewsWire discussing some research, education and conservation going on in Little Cayman. The Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) is celebrating a 20-year anniversary.  Let’s win this battle.

Florida has a great deal of fish diversity however there was the possibility that one species could have been lost. Action however was taken in the 1990s to protect the Atlantic Goliath Grouper. They are making a comeback which is great news. Some people feel like it is time to end the protection. I don’t think that would be wise. They are impressive and interesting and fun to photograph. I am hoping to get to see this grouper in April when we are down in the Key Largo. Here is a recent article with some great shots of the groupers.

Thanks for tuning in,

Contact Jeff

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Balanced Regulators, Pirates and Undercurrent

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 5

We are about to turn the calendar over to February. The days are getting longer and our dive season is picking up.

We finished up our first Open Water course for 2019 on Sunday. Phil and Ron did a great job conducting all confined water dives. Congratulations to our two future divers for finishing up their confined water course and good luck as they head to some warm water for their certification dives. We are very pleased with our new format and we are seeing a great deal of interest in the weekend class. The format also gives us a lot of flexibility in working with very busy schedules.

We often talk about a balanced regulator. We recommend both a balanced first stage as well as a balanced second stage. Balanced regulators translate into easier breathing at all depths and throughout the entire dive regardless of the amount of gas you have left in your scuba tank. Here is a short article that describes a balanced regulator.

Thomas Tew, William Kidd, Samuel Bellamy, Paulsgrave Williams, Edward Teach, Stede Bonnet, Charles Vane, Edward Low. All notorious pirate captains who terrorized America and the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. Scuba divers are often intrigued by pirates. Perhaps it is because we like going to the places where they flourished, like Nassau and the Cayman Islands. I just finished a book by Eric Jay Dolin titled “Black Flags, Blue Water – The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates.” The book is well written, engaging and an easy read that provides some interesting information.

We are always on the lookout for information related to scuba diving. One of the sources that has been around for a long time (since 1975) is Undercurrent. What use to be a mailed newsletter every month is now totally online but following the same format that gives a great deal of information related to dive resorts, dive operators and what is going on in the world of scuba. Scuba Shack now has a pro subscription which means we can print out articles to give to our customers. We cannot put them in our newsletter or widely distribute, but we can give you specific information if it is available. Check out their website.

Until next week, thanks for tuning in,

Contact Jeff

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A lot of training, traditional fins, and risk

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 7

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. A day for flowers, chocolates, cards and dinner but we will be at the shop if you’re thinking of some non-traditional Valentine’s gift.

This past week we worked on our full 2019 schedule for training, diving and travel. We have put four trips to Dutch Springs on the calendar where we will be teaching Advanced Open Water, Dry Suit and Deep specialties and running a doubles class. We will be conducting a Rescue Diver class in October. In addition to the two upcoming Open Water classes, we added 12 more that takes us through September along with five Open Water certification weekends at Fort Wetherill.

Finally, we also have added 12 open pool sessions for refreshers, discover scuba, and practice. There is at least one pool session each month through October. We will be busy – and that is how we like it.

The latest edition of Undercurrent is out and there is a short article titled “Traditional” Fins Are Making a Comeback. The article discusses how the industry moved away from the hard rubber fins to the lightweight technopolymers. Then how they went into the split fin design. The article also discusses the effectiveness of these lightweight fins compared to the “old” style like our RK3. Not quite sure I agree with some of the dialog around the main reason being that they are heavier and tech divers need them because they wear dry suits. For me, the RK3 fins are essential for propulsion. It is great to see however, that our “Traditional” fins are being recognized.

As with a lot of things in life, scuba diving involves risk. We also do a lot to mitigate as much of that risk as we can. Our equipment helps to reduce risk but also there is risk associated with equipment failure. That is where redundancy comes in. We like to dive with two computers – one on each wrist. Even if we have an air integrated computer, we still have our brass and glass submersible pressure gauge. Risk and redundancy are discussed in an Alert Diver article from Fall 2018.

Finally, if you are thinking about some early season diving, you might consider our Nassau trip in May. Below is a video from our trip in 2016.

Thanks for tuning in,

Contact Jeff

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Cozumel, Key West sunscreen & Florida’s Nasty Nine

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 8

Welcome to the latest edition of Scuba Shack Weekly. Hoping that you are finding this weekly update interesting and informative. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

It was certainly busy here at the shop this past weekend. We are thrilled that so many people are interested in scuba diving. The gang is also busy in the service shop getting everyone’s gear checked out for the upcoming dive season. Joel and 16 Scuba Shack divers will be heading to Cozumel on Saturday. We hear that our friends from Dive On It in Rhode Island left our team a little present at Blue Angel. Thanks Chris and Allison.

In December I wrote a little piece about sunscreen. Most sunscreens have ingredients that are extremely harmful to coral. Last year Hawaii banned certain types of sunscreen and I have read about more places as well. The latest location is Key West, home to a large barrier reef system. Ignorance is no excuse for continuing to use sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate. Here is a link to an article about the Key West ban from Sport Diver.

While I am speaking about Florida, I recently came across a report published by the Ocean Conservancy about the “Nasty Nine” biggest threats to Florida’s coasts. Click here to read the post.

The newsroom article is a quick summary of the report. There is also a link to view the entire report. There is some great information about Florida in the report. Glad to have read it before we head to Key Largo in April.

We are expecting a big turn-out for our Project Aware specialty course. Next week, I will dedicate most of Scuba Shack Weekly to fill you in on how it went.

Thanks for tuning in,

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Scuba Shack fleet, the Narwhal, and Lighthouses

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 14

We are back from Beneath the Sea. This was my first time attending the show and I would classify it as a mini DEMA. Enjoyed it and will have some additional information here as well as on the podcast – Scuba Shack Radio.

Scuba Shack Radio is now on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Android and Blubrry list. I published episode 2 on Saturday. Feedback is important and I would very much appreciate if you give it a review. Thanks.

We are starting another open water class this week with four more students. I will be teaching this one and Ron will be helping me. Two of these students will be coming down to Key Largo to complete their open water certification dives. This should be fun and we are hoping to be able to offer this option for early season certifications in Key Largo every year.

If you’ve been around the shop lately you will notice a new addition to the Scuba Shack fleet. Monty has procured a trailer to support our diving. With Mike’s help they are working diligently to get it ready for the season. With my white van, our trusty old Scuba Shack van and the trailer, we have a lot of options now for hauling gear.

Anyone ever see a narwhal? What a unique sea creature. I came across an article on the Ocean Conservancy website that discussed the narwhal and specifically about its most unique characteristic – the tusk. Enjoy the read.

I have always been interested in lighthouses and we certainly have our share here in New England. There is a rich history of lighthouses starting from the earliest days of America. I recently finished a book by Eric Jay Dolin – “Brilliant Beacons – A History of the American Lighthouse.” It was very informative and provided some great insights into these amazing structures and the people who managed them. Here is a short video on the book.

We are off to Key Largo.

Thanks for tuning in,


Contact Jeff

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