First Open Water Certification Dives of 2017

Scuba Shack conducted its first Open Water Exams of the year at Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, Rhode Island on May 19 & 20.

We had a very successful day with 14 divers completing their certifications. Great weather, great students and great assistants made for a terrific weekend. Thanks to all who made it such a great day.

Congratulations to everyone for a job well done!

The instructor’s after-party….

New Owners for Scuba Shack

Longtime Scuba Shack owner Ed Hayes has moved on to open a new adventure park called Carolina Adventure World located in Winnsboro, South Carolina.

Ed will continue as Scuba Shack’s Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) instructor and Public Safety Division consultant. Ed, Gina and Bella will be missed and we wish them all the best of luck in this new venture!

The good news is, like in the past, Scuba Shack ownership has stayed in the Scuba Shack family. If you spend time at the shop then you already know partners Jeff Cinciripino, Donna Cinciripino, Matt Cinciripino and Monty Fitzpatrick who are proud to take over the stewardship and legacy of one of the oldest dive operations in the Northeast. Forty years of continuous operation. Great customer service and unequaled training will continue to be Scuba Shack’s motto.

Jeff Cinciripino has been an instructor at Scuba Shack since 2006 and often lends an extra set of hands during Open Water weekends. Jeff will be involved with the recreational side of Scuba Shack and also taking care of all things financial.

Donna Cinciripino has been a Divemaster with Scuba Shack since 2006, working several classes and Open Water Weekends each and every year. Donna will be in the shop to help you select the classes, gear, and travel you need for a great dive experience.

Matt Cinciripino, a diver since 2004 and a Divemaster since 2016, has been a familiar face around Scuba Shack for the last two years and is most often “the guy on the other end of the phone.” Matt knows all the ins and outs of Scuba Shack, all the best items and where to get them. Matt can take care of your continuing education, special orders and will join Scott running the Service Department.

Monty Fitzpatrick has been affiliated with Scuba Shack in several capacities since 1994, and is Scuba Shack’s resident PADI Course Director and Public Safety Instructor Trainer. With many years of commercial and public safety diving experience, Monty has most recently been active evaluating and expanding the training offered to police and fire departments through the Scuba Shack Public Safety Division. In his capacity as a PADI Course Director, Monty is also responsible for training the instructors who teach scuba and the many new and expanding specialty courses available through Scuba Shack.

Not new, is Scott Reis, whose knowledge has been invaluable to the new ownership group as they continue to “get their feet wet” learning the retail end of scuba. Scott will be with Scuba Shack for a couple more months before taking the ultimate plunge – marrying his fiancé Julia in May.

If you are in the area stop in anytime to say hello and meet the new owners. Look for more information about our upcoming Open House and 40-year Anniversary celebration in the next newsletter.

A note from Ed Hayes…

A bit more than 10 years ago, I started quite an adventure. I was a passionate scuba instructor running the training division of Scuba Shack, looking for another new challenge. That year I purchased Scuba Shack from Tom and Alicia Misenti, and committed myself to ensure Scuba Shack would be the most recognized and respected dive center in Southern New England.

The entire crew at Scuba Shack has ensured we’ve been able to provide fantastic experiences, top-notch equipment and the best scuba education opportunities to recreational and public safety divers in the area.

Scuba Shack has always been a family-run operation, and I’m thrilled part of our current family have taken the reigns. Monty Fitzpatrick, along with Jeff, Donna and Matt Cinciripino are the proud new owners of this great dive center, soon celebrating its 40th anniversary.

My next project and adventure takes me to Carolina Adventure World in South Carolina. I’ve partnered with other owners to bring new activities to this fantastic adventure park. I’ll also continue to teach as a GUE instructor, consult with Scuba Shack, and explore the other 71 percent of the planet precious few get to experience.

A grateful “thank you” to all of my loyal students and customers for their trust. I look forward to seeing you all in the water, or at the more than 100 miles of trails and adventure we have for you to check out here in South Carolina.

– Ed Hayes

Fall PADI Rescue Diver class photos

In mid-November, five divers participated in the Open Water Rescue Scenarios at Brownstone Discovery & Exploration Park. All divers were students in Scuba Shack’s Rescue Diver Program which started in September.

After many classroom and pool sessions, divers were put through live rescue scenarios including panicked diver, lost diver and injured diver using multiple rescue techniques and included emergency oxygen therapy, AED, first aid and CPR.

Special thanks to Matt and Shannon who donated their time to be in water accident victims. The class was led by Scuba Shack instructors Nick Civitillo and Gary Woods.

Rescue Dive Photo Gallery

Dive Trip Report – Scuba Shack visits Bonaire

In mid-October, 23 divers including four instructors and three divemasters left on Scuba Shack’s Dive Trip to the beautiful island of Bonaire. After a long day of travel we arrived at the Divi Flamingo Resort. The hotel was very nice and located right on the water within walking distance to downtown Kralendijk. The resort featured two nice swimming pools, two ocean front restaurants; Chibi-Chibi and Pure Ocean, a casino and beach bar that had its grand re-opening on Friday. There was also a sandy beach and four nice docks stretching out into the water for swimming or sun bathing.

After a mandatory dive briefing on Saturday afternoon from the on-site dive center, Divi Dive, we had some much needed dinner and a good night’s rest to get ready for the big adventure on Sunday morning.

The dive operations, run by Serge De Groote, were exceptional! Dive lockers right on the boat dock made loading and unloading gear a breeze. Ed managed to get all 23 of us on one large dive boat and even with a big group; the dive trips were smooth and easy.

The trip package included a two tank boat dive every morning and unlimited shore diving. Many of us chose to do an additional afternoon boat dive which was offered at a much discounted price. The boats were clean and roomy and the divemasters and captains were as nice and as helpful as you could ask for.

The diving was especially good with water temps reaching 84 degrees and the visibility between 50 and 100 feet. Lots of fish, beautiful coral formations, octopus, turtles, tarpon and eels were to be found on most dives. Some of the more notable dive sites were The Salt Pier, Small Wall, Windsock and the wreck of The Hilma Hooker. The house reef was also very nice with many divers doing afternoon and night dives right off the boat dock.

Thanks again to all who participated for making this another fun and successful dive trip. Hope to see you all again on a future Scuba Shack dive vacation!

Underwater Photo Gallery from Gary Woods

 

Milford Fire Department trains with Scuba Shack

Earlier this month, Scuba Shack’s Public Safety Division was at the Milford Fire Department in Milford, Connecticut teaching a Public Safety Dive Course. Eight members of the fire department’s Dive Rescue Team received all-day training both in the classroom and in the local high school swimming pool.

Buoyancy control, propulsion, weighting, equipment and body control were all covered in detail. Class was conducted by instructors Ed Hayes and Gary Woods.

Diving Bonaire – Photos

Wondering what the landscape – both above and below the waterline – is like in Bonaire? Here are some photos from Scuba Shack instructor Gary Woods.

The Bahamas scuba adventure continues!

And the adventure continues! May 25, 2016 and the stalwart Scuba Shack Tribe descended upon Nassau, New Providence Island, the Bahamas. Once again led by Scuba Shack instructor Peter Katz, our group of 20 assembled for the annual Memorial Day weekend of diving and fun in the sun. The weather gods were kind to us, since it rained each day but never interfered with the diving or the eating. I am happy to report that two of our divers successfully completed their Open Water certifications, including 10 year old Nikita, her enthusiasm and excitement were contagious.

scuba-shack-nassau-201605-11The diving was superb; sharks, rays, eels and all the usual suspects were out and about. We did walls, wrecks, shallow reefs and Hollywood movie sets. Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the safari to the “Lost Blue Hole”. It was a shorter boat ride than the usual trip to Exuma, which was appreciated. But the dive was electric. The Blue Hole was formed when the roof of an underground limestone cave collapsed. It is approximately 100 feet in diameter with a depth of 300+ feet (no one dove down to check), which made exploration of the perimeter as interesting as probing the depths. We located the cavern located on the north side at 80 feet and I watched as fearless Elena explored the hidden recesses. Outside of the hole we observed Caribbean reef sharks, sharp nosed sharks and a good sized loggerhead turtle entering and exiting the hole. On the perimeter, numerous southern rays foraged in the sand. Lobsters and eels were found hiding in the numerous coral heads that encircled the opening. It was a more exciting dive than I experienced at the Blue Hole in Belize.

The Lost Blue Hole was followed by a second dive on the north side of Rose Island, a shallow reef system that was filled with tiny critters requiring patience and good buoyancy. While we were diving, the crew was setting up our lavish picnic lunch. Once back on board, they anchored the boat close to shore and the party started. Great food, some adult beverages and a lazy afternoon of sun, beach, and water. Our shore excursion over, we navigated the rest of the way around Paradise Island and New Providence Island giving everyone a wonder sight-seeing excursion.

Without a doubt, the trip would not have been as successful without the outstanding efforts of Stuart Cove and his staff. Right from making the reservations and dive arrangements with Pam Christman to our reception and easy check in at the Dive Shop with Liz and her staff. Elison in Fin Photo made sure we had an experienced photographer to record our adventures. Our dive staff; CleeJ our captain, Terri and Gigi our dive leaders were spectacular in their never wavering energy and excitement. They made sure our nitrox was on the boat, all the details for the Safari and the daily dives were well attended to as well as certifying our new divers. I know of one young lady who was very sad to have to say goodbye to her new found friends. As for the rest of us, we know we will be back for 2017!

But it wasn’t all diving, we had great times at Capriccio’s, Café Matisse, and Luciano’s. The food consumed along with a few glasses of wine and the stories told of the day’s adventures made for memorable evenings. Judy and her staff were on their A-game for the traditional barbeque on Sunday evening. I really think they out did themselves in the quality and preparation of the food. It is my humble opinion that Judy is the only person I know who can make the Caribbean lobster taste good, it is usually tough, chewy and tasteless. Her recipe was tasty and tender.

Fortunately, I was able to stay an extra night which allowed me to try dinner at Mahogany House located at Island House Resort and I have to tell you it was excellent. Now I have a dilemma, too many great restaurants, not enough nights. Perhaps we will extend next year’s trip by one extra night.

Trip Photo Gallery

Video & music from trip to Nassau

Scuba Shack staff visit Maui, Hawaii for diving

Recently Instructor Jeff Cinciripino, Divemaster Donna Cinciripino, and Matt Cinciripino, shop staff, visited the beautiful Hawaiian Island of Maui for some easy diving on Ka’anapali Beach. Dive spots included the Marriott Reef and a night dive at world famous Black Rock.

Fish life was plentiful in warm 75 degree water, including a host of Hawaiian endemic species such as the Hawaiian Dascyllus, Psychedelic Wrasse, Elegant Coris, and Saddle Wrasse. Also seen were several large Green Sea Turtles, a Gold-lace Nudibranch, Red Reef Lobster, Sculptured Slipper Lobster, a Sleepy Sponge Crab, and an amazing Harlequin Shrimp. Throughout the dives the songs of the Humpback Whales, who frequent the area during the winter months, could be easily heard.

Surface intervals provided great opportunities to watch the whales breaching, Spinner Dolphins doing their acrobatics, or simply lazing about in the hammock.

Let us help plan your escape to paradise today. Contact Scuba Shack if you’re interested in traveling to a dive destination. We can arrange trips for couples, families or groups!

Jan. 2016 Turks & Caicos trip report

In January, twelve Scuba Shack divers escaped the Connecticut winter just ahead of winter storm Jonas.  We headed for the warm, tropical setting of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands for a week of sun, fun and of course, diving.  We stayed at Sibonne Beach Hotel on Grace Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Sibonne is a small, simple hotel perfect for divers with an awesome location.

Scroll down to see the extensive photo gallery from this trip!

We dove with Dive Provo Sunday through Friday.  Our dive masters and captains — Justin, John, Kate and Pablo — took great care of us the entire week aboard the Provo Conquest, a 36- foot Newton.  All of the dive sites on Caicos banks are wall dives of one sort or another.

The  wind and waves were coming from the north and west the first three days so we took an hour boat ride to the south across Caicos Banks to French Cay, a very small, uninhabited bird sanctuary about 20 miles to the south of Providenciales.  This remote location consisted of numerous pristine dive sites.  On Sunday we dove Wreck Bay and DAK’s Canyon.  These two sites were the farthest east of all the sites we did. At Wreck Bay we saw the first reef shark of many we would see that week.  We also saw the only nurse shark of the week at the same location.   We did Half Mile Reef (a half mile south of French Cay) and Rock & Roll Reef on Monday, where we saw hawksbill turtles. On Tuesday, we did G-Spot (one of my favorites over the week) and Rock & Roll again.  G-spot is a “G” shaped formation on the wall. The point on the wall was covered with large gorgonians and sea fans. Schools of horse-eyed jacks circled in the sunlight on the point.  Rock and Roll presented more turtles.

With a change of wind direction on Wednesday we were able to head west to Sandbore Channel, where we did Ragged Ledge and the aptly named Tons of Sponge. We saw reef sharks within minutes of entering the water.  We also saw more turtles.

On Thursday we headed to West Caicos, which is just a few miles south of Sanbore Channel.  The first site we did was Elephant Ear Canyon.  We found a pair of green morays about 15 feet apart.  We also were greeted by another large hawksbill turtle. The next site was Gulley, which was a great swim-through starting at the edge of the sand and ending on the wall at about 85 feet.   When we popped out on the wall we were greeted by two reef sharks.

We wrapped up the week at Northwest Point.  Our dive master Kate led the dive at Amphitheater, which is a large indentation on the wall with impressive hard and soft coral formations (and not to mention, a couple of turtles!).  For our last dive, John led us on a dive that covered two sites.  We headed south from our mooring to an adjacent site called Thunder Dome.  The site contained the remnants of a metal sphere that was used in a French reality TV show that is now home to schools of juvenile french grunts, yellowtail snapper and a large crab. From there we headed west to the wall where we were again greeted by a couple of reef sharks. We traveled north along the wall to a vertical swim-through called Chimney that brought us back to our boat.

We dined out nearly every night at some great restaurants.  On Thursday we went to the Fish Fry, a weekly event held at a nearby park, to  mingle with locals and enjoy a variety of food, libations and live music. We had a great group and great fun!

Trip Photo Gallery

All photos copyright Joel Toohey, displayed here with permission.