Oktoberfest, public safety diving, and Loksak

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 3

Welcome to Fall in New England. Although summer is behind us (and it was a hot one), we still have plenty of dive season ahead as the water will be warm and visibility should improve. Don’t stop diving just because football has started. After diving, and stopping by the shop, celebrate the fresh Autumn weather by visiting our good neighbors over at Still Hill Brewery for an Oktoberfest brew. 

We are back in the pool this week with our latest open water class. The first night on scuba is always an exciting time for both the students and the staff. We love this stuff. Last week we got a welcomed surprise visit from a southern New Hampshire fire department. As it turns out they have been searching New England for a full-service dive shop with the right Public Safety credentials. After five hours of gear check out, questions, and consultation they left with the knowledge that we fit their bill. Scuba Shack is very excited about working with another Public Safety client.

Scuba Shack is also now a retail dealer – only one in Connecticut – for Loksak water tight plastic pouches. They are depth rated to 200 feet, and during testing stayed nice and dry at 90 feet at Dutch Springs. Great for cell phones and tablets. They offer full use of the touch screen. You can keep your stuff dry when camping, diving, swimming, out in the snow or many other places. Check out our variety 4 pack at the shop. 

I had a chance to watch Mission Blue on Netflix while we were traveling to Ireland. It is essentially a documentary following the life of Dr. Silvia Earle. I did not realize just how much she has done in her lifetime and all the things she is doing to protect our oceans. A fascinating life with so many accomplishments. Her passion and commitment are something else. If you have the chance, it’s well worth watching! 

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – you never know what we’ll come up with.

Finally, we want to make it easy to provide feedback. Just click on the form and let me know what you think.

Thanks for tuning in!

Contact Jeff

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Diving India, Training and another scuba-related podcast

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 4

I am writing this week from India. Business has taken me half-way-around the world and scuba diving is alive and well here. Dive India is actually pretty close to where I am working.

Even though I am out of town technology allows me to stay very connected to all that is going on at Scuba Shack. Facetime, email, text, and Facebook keep me up to date and connected. October is proving to be a very busy month for us. Matt and Marla just completed an Advance and Navigation course at Dutch Springs. Our Open Water class is half way through and now it is on to Rescue class. Monty and Chris are in full swing with the Public Safety Division with ongoing training for three dive teams in Connecticut and Massachusetts. We are also finalizing some plans for a November Open Water course that will be a little different. Keep checking us out or give a call.

Last week Monty and I attended the Boston Sea Rovers monthly meeting. Scuba Shack will be doing a lot at the 65th Annual Show in March 2019. Get the dive season off right and plan on attending or helping us out.

In my quest to find scuba diving podcasts, I came across another one that proves to be quite entertaining (at least I find it that way). It is called The Great Dive Podcast – TGDP as they like to call themselves. The podcast is hosted by James Mott, a Unified Team Diving International instructor, and Brandon Schwartz whose background includes being a DAN instructor as well as a former GUE instructor. They are passionate and as I said entertaining – maybe even a little irreverent. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Our 2019 travel schedule is rounding out. Cozumel in February, Nassau in May, and Little Cayman in October. Cozumel is on the website and we are finalizing all the details for Nassau and Little Cayman and should have those available soon.

As a former mayor of NYC used to say “How my doing?” Let me know.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

The Great Dive Podcast

Contact Jeff

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Spectrum full face mask, scuba training, and the “gear replacement” discussion

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 4

My travel schedule is going to be picking up quite a bit from now until the end of the year but my goal is to continue to provide a weekly update (wish me luck). I am off to India again this weekend – not for diving however.

Our first pool session last week was fantastic and everyone is excited about breathing underwater. We have an incredibly dedicated staff who make training fun, safe, and meaningful. Just to recap, we had nine open water students in the pool being trained by one PADI Course Director, one PADI Master Instructor, two PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainers, one PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, and two PADI Divemasters. Seven professionals for nine students. That allowed me to go have some fun in the cold pool.

Matt and Marla are off this weekend to Dutch Springs for another Advanced Open Water and a Navigation course.

I was able to take my new OTS Spectrum full face mask to the pool for a check out. I have never used a full face mask before and was pleasantly surprised. It fit very well, was comfortable and provided good vision. The Spectrum is designed to use your own regulator which keeps the cost down. It is made of silicone with a double seal which is important if you plan to use a communication unit. You can also get an ambient breathing valve for the mask. We have a fully configured Spectrum on display at the shop. Come by and check it out.

Our new Scuba Shack Dive Team T-shirts are now on sale. Check them out – we tried to keep this one affordable at $15.95. We went for simplicity.

As we all know, investing in quality scuba gear can be expensive and we want to use it as long as we can. That being said, equipment does wear out, gets old, or may no longer be safe. It is difficult to have the dialog about the need to replace older gear. In the latest addition of Divers Alert from DAN there is a short article on replacing dive computers and BCDs. Some good information to consider.

As always, please let me know what you think.

Thanks for tuning in,

Jeff

Contact Jeff

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Hebron Harvest Fair, A Plastic Ocean and DiverSync

Scuba Shack Weekly – Volume 1, Number 2

We had an incredible four days at the Hebron Harvest Fair. Who can forget the pig races, Dock Dogs, Axe Women of Maine and most importantly the FOOD (Lions Club fresh donuts – UMMM). It was fantastic to speak with so many people about scuba diving. We hope that a little bit of our enthusiasm rubbed off and we see some of our new friends underwater soon. Also, I want to thank our volunteers for manning the booth and for creating the buzz.

Our latest PADI Open Water class starts on Sept. 13. Matt and Marla will be teaming up to teach this class. The final exams for this class will be in Jamestown on Oct. 20 and 21 and promises some great late season diving in New England. We also just got back a number of used tanks from hydrostatic testing and are getting them ready for sale – give us a call to and get a good deal on a used tank.

Scuba Shack has made its first donation to 100% Aware. We issued 21 certifications in August from Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Divemaster and Instructor – a check we are proud to write. Finally, around the shop, Scuba Shack is now certified as a Connecticut Small Business Enterprise with the designation as a Veteran-owned Micro Business. Go Navy, Monty.

If you stream Netflix you might want to check out A Plastic Ocean. If you aren’t concerned about the amount of plastic we dump into the ocean maybe you should be. The footage is incredible and depressing. I’ve been trying to think about what I can do to help but it seems too overwhelming. It seems like everything I touch is plastic. We are pretty diligent in how we recycle but I can’t help but think it’s too little too late. I wonder how I can make a difference. If you have any thoughts please share!

Have you been searching for a good scuba diving podcast? I have. So, I was talking to Ray at the fair on Thursday night and he told me about a DiverSync.com. I checked it out and liked it. The discussion from the August 31 podcast was about gas management. The podcast is done by Rich Synowiec who owns Divers Inc. out of Michigan. Give it a try.

As always, I appreciate your taking time to read and welcome you feedback.

DiverSync Podcast

A recent episode discussed health for scuba divers as well as doing a better job of gas planning.

A Plastic Ocean

This Week’s Photos

Introducing Scuba Shack Weekly

Volume 1, Number 1

There is no doubt that we live very busy lives and we use information we get online to help us sort things out. Sometimes we are looking for specific data, or a recommendation, or just perhaps a little bit of an escape from the realities of our busy life. As scuba divers we aren’t any different (well we are a little different) and very often look online for specific information, reviews, or just to fantasize about our next dive adventure. So, by introducing Scuba Shack Weekly I hope that I can fill a part of that thirst for information about diving, the places we go and the environment we dive in. 

First up is what is going on at the shop. This week we will be at the Hebron Harvest Fair. We will be out talking to people about the incredible experiences of scuba diving and offering special opportunities to try our Discover Scuba Diving this fall. If you are going to the fair be sure to stop by and say hello. We love talking diving. Nitrox class with Marla is happening on Saturday, Sept. 8, and our next Open Water class with Matt and Marla starts Sept. 13.

The latest edition of Alert Diver from Divers Alert Network arrived this week. This magazine is outstanding and is packed with so much great information. The publication alone is worth the price of your membership. Want to learn about Kona, Hawaii, basking sharks, commercial mixed-gas diving and so much more – check out Alert Diver – The Magazine for Divers Alert Network. A cover-to-cover must read. 

There is an interesting article in the July/August Dive Training on lionfish. I was always under the impression that the lionfish hunts had very little effect on controlling the devastation caused by this invasive species in the Caribbean and Atlantic but it turns out there may be some benefit. While I’ve never actually been on a lionfish hunt, it might be something to consider given it may be helping. Roatan is having its first Roatan International Lionfish Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 13 if you happen to be down that way.

Finally, feedback is a gift. I would love to hear from you. If you have any thoughts, ideas, or want to know a little more about Scuba Shack please contact us by email.

Another great Dutch Springs weekend

Scuba Shack was back at Dutch Springs this past weekend (Aug 17, 18 and 19) with three jammed pack days of diving. The water was a little higher than normal given all the rain happening in the Northeast this summer. While the algae kept visibility down a bit, the hot summer has warmed Dutch to a balmy 70+ all the way to the platforms. The pit of misery however is still in the upper 40s – perfect for the deep dive.

First up was setting up base camp on Friday, followed by a check out dive with Marla prior to the Instructor Exam. Matt and Marla successfully completed the PADI Instructor Exam on Saturday and Sunday. They are now proud Open Water Scuba Instructors for Scuba Shack. Congratulations Matt and Marla!

Keith and Mike successfully completed their Advanced Open Water certification with Jeff. We did the buoyancy, navigation, and wreck dive on Saturday, followed by the deep dive along with the search and recovery dive on Sunday. Congratulations Keith and Mike!

Jill and Chris from Scuba Shack staff ran a fantastic drive and dive taking DJ, Marion, and Mike on five different dives exploring various attractions at Dutch Springs.

We had a really nice dinner at Copperhead Grill on Saturday night with some great dive stories and other fish tales.

The plan is for at least one more trip to Dutch Springs the weekend of Sept. 28 – 30. The visibility will be really great that time of year and temperatures will still be comfortable.

See you there.

Photos from the weekend

Dutch Springs weekend report

Scuba Shack just wrapped up an awesome weekend of training and diving at Dutch Springs in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Some great mid-summer weather allowed us to complete a full agenda over three days (July 27, 28 & 29) that included Instructor Development, Divemaster training, Advanced Open Water and a Drive and Dive.

Dutch Springs was a happening place for scuba diving. We were prepared for the crowd by staking out our prime spot on Friday afternoon. Our location was right behind the Wounded Warrior project and the brave veterans experiencing the freedom of scuba diving.

Matt and Marla were put through their IDC paces by Course Director Monty, assisted by Steve and Ron, while Emily completed her Advanced Open Water course with Jeff assisted by Alex and Ray.

Ray also did several dives with Adam down for the Dive and Drive. Karta and Amrit also made the trip to Dutch for a couple of days of diving.

Visibility came in at about 10 to 15 feet with temperatures on the platforms in the mid to upper 60s while in the mid 50s at depth. The water will continue to get warmer as we move into September and visibility is expected to improve when the nights get a little cooler.

Our next trip to Dutch Springs will be August 17 – 19 when Matt and Marla go through their Instructor Exam and we will hold another Advance Open Water course coupled with another Drive and Dive.

Come join us!

Photo Gallery

Remembering – The wreck of the Metis

One hundred and forty-six years ago this month, a steamship sunk off the coast of Watch Hill, RI. It made the headlines of newspapers around the world.

About 5 a.m. on Aug. 30, 1872, the Metis, on an overnight journey from New York City to Providence, R.I. in high seas, was in a collision with the Nettie Cushing, a schooner out of Thomaston, Maine.

Initially, thinking there was no damage to the steamship, the captain searched for the schooner for about 20 minutes before realizing that his own ship was taking on water.

According to Page 1 of the Aug. 31, 1872 issue of The Hartford Courant, it was an appalling disaster. With many of the passengers on the upper hurricane deck, the ship steered for shore, but about 4 miles out, the hull plunged to the bottom, leaving the hurricane deck drifting in the ocean.

In rolling waves and strong winds, it was about an hour before the floating deck and its clinging passengers, most dressed in their night clothes, approached the crashing breakers of East Beach in Watch Hill.

The residents and visitors of Watch Hill, numbering about 150, woke to the sight of the deck and a couple of lifeboats approaching land and gathered on the beach waiting to help the passengers when they reached shore.

But when the deck touched the shore it immediately broke apart in the surf which was rolling mountain-high. The lifeboats were capsized and passengers were tossed about by the waves.

A group of young men visiting from Hartford, rushed into the surf with ropes about their waists and rescued many of the nearly drowned. They were later awarded with Medals of Honor for their heroic actions.

Forty-two additional survivors were rescued in the next six hours by the Revenue Cutter Moccasin, some as far away as Block Island. Many were plucked from the water floating on mattresses and bales of cotton, cargo from the Metis. The Mocassin also recovered 18 casualties.

The schooner A.H. Beldon pulled in to Newport, R.I., with two additional drowning victims of the sinking.

Back in Watch Hill, many of the passengers on the deck could not swim and perished in the breakers. Their bodies washed ashore in the strong waves.

Among the recovered bodies aboard the Moccasin, was a woman thought to be the wife of G.W. Howard, married just two days before in New York. They were on their honeymoon. Identified by the initials N.A. on the ring she wore, her body was sent by train to their hometown of Sharon Springs, N.Y., where funeral services were to be held.

Upon arrival in New York it was discovered that the Metis victim aboard the train was not the wife of G.W Howard. One of the two Newport victims was later identified as the real Mrs. Howard. Both women wore rings with the initials N.A.

The following are Special Dispatches that were published by The Hartford Courant, in the days and years following the wreck. From the Hartford Courant Sept. 3, 1872.

An Account of the sinking
by Wm E Sheridan, of the Globe Theatre, Boston

Wm E Sheridan, whose wife was among the missing and presumed dead, stated “I rushed out, to find the steamer sinking; I hurried my wife into a lifeboat; there were too many of us in the boat; we proceeded nearly to land, when a rough sea caused the boat to tip over; all were thrown into the water. It was a terrible moment; there were few of us who could swim. Only eight or ten succeeded in laying hold of the boat. My poor wife was not among them.”

Sheridan here became much affected; his face was buried in his hands. In a moment he resumed, with broken voice. “I have no physical trouble; my grief is elsewhere. I have telegraphed to Providence to learn if my poor girl is among those taken there by the cutter.”

“Our boat capsized close by the shore, and it was a sad sight to us when we had gained our lives to struggles of those unable to withstand the terrible undertow. They were drowned in our sight. Their upturned faces and sparking looks will haunt me to my dying day.

Sheridan also said, “Among the pathetic incidents of the disaster, I remember the death of two children. All evening they played about the saloon, prattling gayly with the passengers, seemingly wrapt up in each other. When bedtime came, one of them said: “Tiss me, Mamma; tiss me for I am going to sleep.” And I saw them no more alive. This morning their bodies washed ashore on the beach, clasped in each other’s arms. They were beautiful as in life; their countenances bore a placid smile, as if their death was painless.”

A follow-up article appeared in the Hartford Courant on Aug. 29, 1915.

Wreck of the METIS at Watch Hill
by Lois Willoughby

In the lobby of the Colonial hangs a cross-shaped segment of the steering wheel of theMetis. In the office of H. E. Burdick, one of the rescuers, is the quartermaster’s stool from the pilot house. And over in the Larkin cottage by the bathing beach is an icebox, still in service, on which one lucky traveler rode in to shore in safety.

Lewis Stanton recalled the rescue:

A crowd gathered on East Beach and waited for the hurricane deck to land. For an hour they watched it, dashed nearer and nearer by the tremendous surf. At times it was thrown up as high as sixty feet to crash down, and then up again – over and over the same wild experience. As the life saving boats fought their way toward the floating wreck, it struck the beach and turned completely over. With the smokestack as a lever, the big timbers snapped like kindling and the crashed wreck went back again with the surf into the sea.

There was no official manifest or headcount for the number of passengers and crew, which was thought to be about 150. Based on the number of survivors, the Metis fatalities are estimated to be about 70, with only 22 victims identified. Approximately 48 others are thought to have perished aboard the ship as it sunk.

The twin girls were identified as the Girard Twins but no record of their birth has been found so their first names have been lost to history. Their father, Frederick, was a Blacksmith living in Providence in 1877. Their mother, Mrs Girard, initially thought to have perished, was listed as a survivor a few days after the wreck occurred.

The wreck of the Metis is located a few miles off the coast of Watch Hill, and was discovered by Scuba Shack’s former owners, Tom Misenti and Bill Roe in 1981. It sits upright in about 140 feet of water. Over time, Tom, Bill, current Scuba Shack Divemaster Dave Lockrow and a few others salvaged several items – brass portholes, brass knobs, coins and one of two safes.

In 1994 Tom and Bill raised the anchor belonging to the Metis from the ocean floor.

Maybe you have seen it? The anchor has been on display at Scuba Shack for more than 25 years.

Scuba Shack is 100% AWARE!

As divers we are fascinated and in awe of our magnificent oceans and the underwater world. I can still remember my first dives in the Florida Keys & Hawaii, thinking about how lucky I was to explore this unique environment. My first trip to Nassau was another major turning point as I first encountered reef sharks. I wasn’t afraid of them. I respected them and marveled at their beauty.

So these oceans and everything that lives within them need to be protected. So how can one person, one dive shop in central Connecticut possibly help?

Here is how we will start to make a difference. Scuba Shack is now a proud participant in 100% AWARE. What does that mean? Well, with every PADI certification we issue, we will donate $10 to Project AWARE.

Project AWARE connects the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation.

We want to make a difference. This is just one small step that we can take right now. 70% of the planet is blue! Let’s keep it that way.

 

Staff Review: Aqua Lung i300C dive computer

As part of our commitment to improving our training, Scuba Shack has invested in a fleet of Aqua Lung computers. Our main training computer is the Aqua Lung i100. We also added an i300C. Both computers are an outstanding value for the functionality.

I thought I’d take a minute to tell you about my recent experience with the i300C while at Dutch Springs earlier this month. The i100 and i300C have pretty much an identical menu structure, display and model. The i300C provides a backlight (which I rarely use, but is nice to have). The i300C also has two buttons versus one on the i100. Two buttons made cycling through the menus a little easier.

Setting up for 32 percent Enriched Air Nitrox was simple. The underwater display is big enough and readable even at 85 feet in 43 degree water. The buttons are easy to manipulate with 5 mm gloves. I left deep stops on, and at 42 feet I got a two minute hold. The safety stop starts at 20 feet with a nice count down timer showing minutes and seconds remaining – for the impatient bunch!

Both computers can be downloaded to your computer with an interface cable and placed into the DiverLog application. Pretty neat.

The i300C has an additional really cool feature – Bluetooth. With the DiverLog+ app on my iPhone, I was able to synch the dives into my phone and update my gas usage, weights, gear bag and other dive info. The app then calculated my SAC. Way cool. But there is more. I can actually set the computer from the phone.

We’re impressed with the Aqua Lung line of affordable, reliable and safe dive computers. Stop by and check them out. The i100 is a great deal for either a primary or backup, while the i300C provides that added technology that a lot of folks like.

And hey – you can replace your own battery!