Instructor Exam, Open Water Dives, Nitrox and more

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 20

I hope that all the Moms out there had a really nice Mother’s Day even if it was wet. The wet spring is certainly making for some really green scenery here in Connecticut. It really makes us feel like getting out and doing some diving, and we are.

Monty is back from another weekend in Dutch Springs having completed all IDC work with Ron, Alex and Lizzy. Mike, Ray and Marla assisted Monty in getting them ready for their Instructor Exam this weekend. We know they will do well and wish them good luck as they embark on their PADI Instructor career.

Yes, Lizzy is home from University of Florida and is back at the shop for the summer. Her experience from the past two years will really help us out as we move into our busy time of year. We are very happy she is back at Scuba Shack for 2019.

We also completed a Nitrox class last Saturday. The combination of e-Learning, classroom dialog, practical work with the dive computer, a tour of the shop and finally finishing by analyzing a Nitrox mix gives you all you need to ensure you gain all the benefits of Nitrox while minimizing any risks. It is time well spent.

I recorded another episode of Scuba Shack Radio #5. Take a listen to my review of the Thermalution heated vest and the Fourth Element X-Core vest.

This weekend also marks our first open water certification dives at Fort Wetherill. We have 13 students signed up so far to complete their training and join the Scuba Shack dive team. If you happen to be at Fort Wetherill this weekend, stop by and say hello.

Finally, next week we will be having two orientations at the shop. On Tuesday we will be having a Rescue Diver orientation and then on Thursday we will conduct a Divemaster orientation. If you are interested in either or both, please call the shop and let Donna or Lizzy know you are coming.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Dutch Springs recap, Anesthesia impact on global warming, and a lot going on

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 19

We are back from our first trip to Dutch Springs for the 2019 dive season. We got to Dutch around noon on Friday and we set up our base of operations for the weekend. Phil, Ray, Karta and I got in a nice dive around the platforms and dialing in for the rest of the weekend. Visibility at the platforms was about 20+ feet with water temperature at about 48 degrees.

We started bright and early on Saturday with our Advanced Open Water and Dry Suit classes. Ian, Dave and Mugar joined us rounding out our dive team at eight. When we went deep below 60 feet the visibility opened up a little more to around 35+ feet but the temperature dropped to about 43 degrees which kept our dive time a little shorter.

The dive team met up at Copperhead Grille for our traditional Kentucky Derby dinner and watched all the controversy. Even with the rain on Sunday we still had a lot of fun and are already planning for our July drive and dive.

Joel and Peter also completed another weekend open water class with four more students starting on their diving adventure. Monty will be back at Dutch Springs this weekend for IDC preparations with Ron, Alex and Lizzy. We also have a Nitrox class this Saturday. A lot going on at Scuba Shack these days.

I will be recording another episode of Scuba Shack Radio this weekend. Tune in to catch my review on the two undergarments that I tested at Dutch Springs (Thermalution Yellow and Fourth Element X-Core).

I came across an interesting article from NPR that discussed how anesthesia can impact global warming. Apparently, there are two common types of anesthesia used – sevoflurane and desflurane. They both work pretty much the same but desflurane is a whole lot more impactful on the environment. It traps 20 times more heat than sevoflurane and lasts 14 years in the atmosphere while sevoflurane lasts 1 year. Interesting fact is that using desflurane is like running 12 army Humvees for the duration of the operations while sevoflurane is equivalent to ½ Humvee. Sevoflurane is also cheaper. Interesting reading.

By the way, you will find a photo of our Scuba Shack trip to Cozumel in the latest edition of Dive Training Magazine.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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UW Naturalist, Project Seahorse, Flotovoltaics

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 18

May is here. Let’s hope the rainy weather in April is behind us as we really start up our Scuba Shack New England dive season.

Monty and I are off to Dutch Springs this weekend. I have some new gear to check out including the new Fourth Element X-Core vest (made from recycled material like ghost fishing nets) and a Thermalution heated vest that is good for both wet and dry suits. I will look to do a review on these products on the podcast in a few weeks.

We are just about a month away from the Underwater Naturalist – New England edition class. We will be meeting at the shop on Wednesday June 5 and then doing our two dives at Fort Wetherill on Sunday, June 9. If you are interested in getting this PADI certification, please give us a call or shoot us an email. This is a very nice complement to our Project Aware Specialty and Fish Identification offerings.

A short video from our Key Largo trip. Enjoy.

Who doesn’t like to spot a seahorse when diving? I can remember finding my first seahorse in Curacao. Unfortunately, seahorses are under pressure like a lot of species in the ocean from overfishing, illegal fishing, habitat loss and destructive fishing practices. Project Seahorse is a marine conservation group dedicated to securing a world where marine ecosystems and healthy and maintained. It was founded in 1996 by Dr. Amanda Vincent and Dr. Heather Koldewey. Check it out and if you spot one in the wild you report it through iSeahorse.

I never realized that there was such a thing as floating solar farms. Here is a short article that talks about them. They are called floatovoltaics. Very interesting. They are cheaper to install and don’t take up valuable real estate.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Deepwater Horizon, REEF Fishinars, 2020 Travel, Become a Citizen Scientist

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 17

I hope you had a Happy Easter and are ready for the rest of Spring and a rewarding dive season. I know we are ready. Key Largo was a great spring training for us.

Monty and I attended the kickoff session with the Boston Sea Rovers for the 2020 clinic on Thursday night. It does take a full year to pull it off. Our pool session on Tuesday night was full with discover scuba, dry suit familiarization and pool practice. This weekend Phil and Ivan will be conducting our latest open water class. Dutch Springs is only a couple of weeks away. Please let us know if you are coming down to dive. Right now, we are conducting Advanced Open Water and Dry Suit certification.

On April 20, 2010 an environmental disaster unfolded with the explosion of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig. I can remember watching the nightly news and the battle that was ongoing with both stopping the oil from gushing into the ocean and the massive clean up associated with this disaster. Ocean Conservancy recently did a little piece to remind us of what happened nine years ago.

I just finished my REEF Level 2 survey test and am now officially a novice fish surveyor according to REEF. It was a little bit of a challenge (pesky schoolmaster). If you have a desire to learn about the fish in the Tropical Western Atlantic (or TWA), REEF is doing a four-part Fishinar starting April 30. I have done quite a few of these in the past and they really are excellent.

We have been working hard to develop our 2020 travel schedule. It is now set. Scuba Shack will be heading to Belize in February, Key Largo in April, Nassau in May and Bonaire in October. It is never too soon to start thinking about you dive travel.

Scuba Shack Radio will be back on the air with a new episode this weekend. In the meantime, check out our latest video spot on becoming a citizen scientist.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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New wetsuit options, travel bags and World Ocean Radio

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 16

Our trip to Key Largo was fantastic. My only regret is that it took me 15 years to get back to diving there. Our goal is to make this an annual trip for some early season diving. The weather was great with bottom temperatures between 77 and 79 degrees. We certified two new open water divers and completed two specialty classes while down there. Also, it was refreshing to see the Stream2Sea sunscreen being sold in so many places and used on the dive boats as well as the paper straws provided in most restaurants. You can hear a little about our visit to REEF and the fish surveys on Scuba Shack Radio – Episode 3.

Some great news on the retail side of things at the shop. We have recently become authorized dealers for both Henderson Wetsuits and Osprey Packs.

The Henderson line gives us some more options to provide high quality wet suits with more sizes and compliments our Aqualung and Akona line. Henderson has an outstanding reputation and has been in business since the 1960s. They are based out of Millville, N.J. very close to the original Henderson Boatyard where the company was founded and got their name. We are very happy to have added the Henderson line to our offering and they should be in the store soon.

Osprey now offers some really great dive bags. We had a chance to check these out while at Boston Sea Rovers and Beneath the Sea. Osprey are top quality and have a great warranty. Our first order is in the works and we hope to have the new bags in the store by the end of the month. Stop by and check them out.

I have become a bit of a podcast junkie over the last year. I have been searching out different podcasts about diving and ocean conservation. Podcasts come and go. Sdly one that I really liked called My Ocean recently ended.

Some are good, some are not what I expected. Here is the latest one that I have started to listen to. It is called My Ocean Radio, produced by the World Ocean Observatory. It is a weekly series of five-minute audio essays on a wide range of ocean issues and have been around for 15 years. You might consider listening.

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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Dutch Springs, Apeks VX1 Mask, Right Whales

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 15

By the time this weekly update gets posted, Monty and I will be in Key Largo getting some early season dives in some warm water. Stay tuned for a trip report on Key Largo on Scuba Shack Radio when I get back.

Our open water weekend training continues to be working nicely. I completed four more students this past weekend with help from Ivan. Our last four classes have been full and bookings continue to be strong and the service department is keeping very busy.

We are less than one month away from our first trip to Dutch Springs. The visibility at Dutch is fantastic early in the season. Last year we had 30+ feet. We will be conducting an Advanced Open Water class along with a dry suit class. Please come down to Bethlehem, PA on May 4 and 5 and have some fun diving with us.

When we are down at Beneath the Sea, we stopped by the Aqualung/Apex booth they had the new Apeks VX1 mask on display. I was impressed. It is a really comfortable mask. It is a single window mask, comes in black or white with quick release buckles, a neat protective case and an additional neoprene strap. It is not yet available and pricing hasn’t been established. As soon as it is available, I will let you know. Check out the VX1 at the Apeks website.

It never ceases to amaze me how little regard people have for the creatures that make the ocean their home. It is not bad enough that we are polluting the ocean with plastic and sewage, we are now polluting it with noise from seismic testing. One species particularly vulnerable are right whales. WGBH in Boston raises concern about the right whales.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

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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,

Jeff

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Scuba Shack Radio, reefs at risk, and swimming with whales

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 13

March has proven to be a very busy month here at Scuba Shack and it is really exciting to see the dive season getting into full swing.

The repair and service department has been working at full throttle. Monty, Dave and Mike are working diligently to get regulators, tanks and BCs ready. They have been doing a lot of full-face masks for our public safety customers. We also completed our latest practice pool session with two ReActivates, two Discover Scubas, one Drysuit familiarization and one diver in for practice. Also, our fourth weekend Open Water Diver class wrapped this weekend under the guidance of Monty, Alex, Jill and Ray. Finally, I wanted to thank all who came out to the staff meeting on Monday night.

I did want to let everyone know that I am now doing a bi-weekly podcast called Scuba Shack Radio. The first episode is up and you can listen to it right here. The podcast has been something that I have wanted to do for a very long time. I am hoping that it will be an extension to this blog and provide a little more information in support of Scuba Shack’s mission. I am having some fun with it and hope you are able to listen and enjoy.

There is no doubt that coral reefs are at risk and in particular the use of sunscreen is a major contributor. I have written about this several times. Well, one more time cannot hurt. I was looking at the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory website. You can read their mission and watch a powerful video called Reefs at Risk. Check it out.

Ever wanted to swim with whales? There are actually more than 70 known species that can be spotted around the world. You just need to be in the right place at the right time. For years we spent time on Maui at the height of whale season. Unfortunately, I never was able to dive with the humpbacks. Here is a short article from Dive News Wire about swimming with whales.

We are off the Beneath the Sea– America’s largest consumer and dive travel show – in New Jersey on Sunday. Stay tuned for an update.

Thanks for tuning in,
Jeff

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Color of the Year, Tiger Sharks, Where is the ice?

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 12

Hope you all had a happy St. Patrick’s Day. We are now ready for spring especially with the longer daylight hours.

Joel and 16 other divers recently returned from Cozumel. The feedback from the trip was fantastic and everyone is looking forward to more diving. The Little Cayman trip in October is full however if you want to get on the waiting list give us a call. We also have spots available for Nassau in May. Dive travel is certainly popular. Give us a call to discuss options.

We completed another great open water weekend with our four students (Sarah, Kelsey, Steve and William) having completed all of their confined water training. They are now ready for Jamestown in May. We also have another class starting this week with four more students and our early April class is also full. We are excited about having such a great interest in folks wanting to learn how to scuba dive. The feedback on our new format continues to be very positive.

The latest edition of Alert Diver Magazine from DAN is out. Did you know Pantone’s color of the year is Living Coral? Check out the article discussing the selection.

The latest edition also features diving in Grand Cayman with the cover photo showing the wreck off of Sunset House reef. Brings back a lot of memories.

Ever think about diving with tiger sharks? You can do it at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. Will Smith recently did this as part of his Facebook Watch series, Will Smith’s Bucket List. He was able to do this with Stuart Cove.

Will Smith's Bucket List: Swimming with Sharks

To Will Smith, nothing is more frightening than the ocean… well except for maybe the creatures that live in it. Join Will as he checks off another item on his Bucket List that may have been better off unchecked: swimming with sharks.

Posted by Will Smith's Bucket List on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Even though winter is hanging on here in New England, the effects of climate change are being felt in the Artic. There just isn’t as much sea ice as there has been and the overall trend is towards warmer and warmer water in the artic. Where is the ice? Here is an article published on the Ocean Conservancy site discussing the fact that the ice sort of disappeared rather quickly this year. Yes, I do believe there is such a thing a climate change.

Thanks for tuning in,
Jeff

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2019 Boston Sea Rovers recap

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 2, Number 11

We are back from a jam packed weekend at the 65th Annual Boston Sea Rovers Clinic held in Danvers, Mass. It was a fantastic way to kick off the 2019 northeast dive season. Plenty to see and do.

Monty and Scuba Shack took the lead on re-establishing the Boston Sea Rovers professional day on Friday, the day before the actual clinic. This public safety workshop featured lectures by our own Chris McCarthy, Sergeant Patrick Foley from the Massachusetts State Police, Rick Simon from Manta Industry, and Pete Nawrocky from DUI/OMS. A tender demonstration at the pool was conducted by Portland Connecticut Fire Department Lieutenant and Scuba Shack staff member Dave Lockrow.

On Friday night Monty, Matt, Donna and I had the opportunity to attend the Sea Rovers black tie intern dinner as well as the cocktail reception. We had the great fortune of having dinner with Bob Ballard and Joe Romeiro. It was a great experience and an honor to be a part of this side of the annual clinic.

On Saturday Scuba Shack ran the Discover Diving event and had 31 people experience scuba diving for the first time. Many thanks to our Scuba Shack family – Joel, Katie, Ron, Alex, Ian, Karta, Jill, and Chris along with our friends from Dive On IT, Chris and Allison. We received some really nice complements on our professionalism, smooth operation and the fun.

On Saturday night we attended the film festival with master of ceremony Brian Skerry. There are always some incredible videos presented and this year featured Bob Ballard, Sylvia Earl, Joe Romeiro and Roger Munns. After the film festival several of our team attended the post film festival party for some photo opportunities with Sylvia Earl.

Did I mention that the Boston Sea Rovers like to party!

Our booth had a great deal of activity where we unveiled our new Scuba Shack mission.

Scuba Shack’s mission is to empower individuals with the knowledge, ability and experience to venture underwater in pursuit of their aspirations and to advocate for ocean health and sustainability.

We are proud of this mission and will strive every day to live up to it.

Finally, as friends of Boston Sea Rovers we are looking forward to continuing our relationship with this world-renown dive organization.

Thanks for tuning in,
Jeff

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