29 December 2006

Cozumel/Cancun Trip Update

On the travel front everything is still a go for Cancun/Cozumel. I've been doing some research on the internet and I'm getting more and more excited. First I was looking into cenote (pronounced 'say no tay') diving. The Yucatan Peninsula's highest elevation above sea level is only abut 150 feet and it is made up of a porous limestone material. From what I understand there really are no rivers. At least not above ground. All the water runs through underground caverns/caves. Some places in the jungle the ground has caved in to reveal these underground rivers. The Mayans considered the cenotes (cenotes is in fact a mayan word) to be a very magical place. The entrance to the underworld. The underworld was not hell to the Maya's. It is at these points that they can be dived. Although special training is required to dive deep into the cave, "cavern" diving where you are never 50 feet or so from the outside light source is allowed with a guide and a basic open water certification. They are supposed to be very beautiful and from the pictures I've seen they are. Visibility in the cenotes can be up to 400 feet!! Next I was looking online at local dive shops and pretty much all of them will take you to the cenotes. I also found out that there is a dive shop right in our hotel. Blue Caribe. Whoo hoo! Our dive shop will take us on day trips to the island of Cozumel (famous for it's aquatic life, drift dives and visibility up to 200 feet) and we can dive, locally, right from our hotel all day. Their boat leaves for 2 tank dives in the morning and single tank dives in the afternoon. Topside between/after dives we will visit the mayan ruins.

Leisure Pro Final Update

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Leisure Pro finally credited us back for the octo that I didn't like and returned. It took them a week to do so after they received it. I had called them a few days after they received it and they said it can take up to 2 weeks. All & all dealing with them went smooth and I probably would use them again. However I think I'm going to try to do all my scuba business locally from now on.

28 December 2006

The Last Dive

If you like the book, Shadow Divers, read this. I'm just about to the last chapter of the book, The Last Dive, by Bernie Chowdhury. Both books take place in the same locations with much of the same people. A true life story of a father and son's fatal descent into the ocean depths. It follows their lives and how they got into scuba, tech/wreck/cave diving, and the terrible end. Chowdhury also probes into some very interesting stuff like the evolution of scuba and tells of his own experience getting severely "bent", his trip to the hospital, treatment in a recompression chamber, and recovery. The book makes me throw out any idea I may have ever had about doing a decompression dive, which was none in the first place. I'll stick with my recreational, no-decompression dives, thank you. I highly recommend it to any divers and non-divers alike.

26 December 2006

Dive Training Magazine

I found a new dive magazine in the book store the other day. Dive Training. It had some interesting articles. Their motto on the cover is, "Good divers are always learning." Which I fully agree with. I may subscribe to this one for a year and see how it is.

24 December 2006

Scuba Cat

I saw this on You Tube. The title says it all. Scuba Cat.

22 December 2006

Calypso/Titan Octopus

I stole the truck from Christine today and cruised over to Underwater Sports to pick up an Octopus for to replace the one I returned. I chose an Aqualung Calypso/Titan. Although I've seen nothing in my research saying this reg/octo is cold water rated the guy in the shop told me that unless I was going ice diving this one would be good. As you may remember from my other posts this is the same brand as my primary regulator and first stage. In fact this is the model that Aqualung created specifically for my first stage and reg.

Aqualung's Specs for it are as follows -

  • A mid-sized, feature-rich alternate air source
  • Diver-controlled Venturi Adjustment Switch (VAS) reduces sensitivity to free flow on the surface and provides maximum airflow at depth
  • Equipped with Aqua Lung's exclusive Comfo-Bite™ mouthpiece
  • Equipped with 39-inch yellow hose for visibility

Scuba Diving Magazine had this to say - Although it just missed the cut for the Testers' Choice rating in this category, our evaluation clearly shows this simple, no-frills octopus version of Aqua Lung's Calypso second stage to be a worthy backup breather. It comes with a high-vis yellow 39-inch hose and a large yellow full-cover purge that delivers a powerful burst of air. This makes clearing the octo easy for an out-of-air diver on the verge of panic. A Vane Adjustment Switch (VAS) helps prevent free-flows when the octo is not being used. Test divers found it to be a little small for a gloved hand and not very well-marked, but said it gets the job done. Its exhaust tee is larger than most, which contributes to better-than-average bubble dispersion, but also makes the reg a little harder to stow. All in all, however, the Calypso/Titan is a full-sized octo with full-sized breathing performance. It earned Very Good to Excellent scores on the breathing simulator, and test divers found it to be a smooth, dry breather.

I was going to try out all my new equipment in the pool at the shop but someone was having a refresher course at the time. I did pick up a few more items. Some clips for attaching equipment to my BC and a dive slate.

Update - Although neither I or my buddy needed to use this back up breather I had no problems with is over my Mexico trip.

21 December 2006

Seattle Power Outage/Wind Storm

Well I'm back. Last thursday we had a killer wind storm sweep through the pacific northwest and it knocked out our power for 5 days. Puget Sound Energy (serving the area around Seattle) reported 700,000 customers without power. Seattle City Light reported having 375,000 without power. From what I under stand "feeders" are the poles that transfer power from the sub stations to the neighborhoods. Each feeder supports about 3000-4000 customers. During a typical wind storm here Seattle City Light claims usually one or two feeders are knocked out. This time they had 61 knocked out. Power crews came to help out from all across the western United States.

The first day we stayed here and bundled up. We actually tried to find a hotel but everyone else in the city beat us to them. The second day Christine called around all day for a hotel and finally found one up in Edmonds. We stayed there for 2 days then, since I work for Starwood, I managed to hook up a "hot rate" at the Westin. This worked out pretty well since our holiday party was on the 19th. We just walked from the hotel to the party and back.

During the outage I would come home to see if the power came back on again and feed the cats. I called it the dead zone. No one was around. All the usual noise was gone. No lights in the neighborhood. No heat. No hot water. No phone. For the first 2 days even our cell phones didn't get reception here. It was almost like a ghost town. Many gas stations were without power and lines were getting long at the others. I heard someone say they saw a bunch of people wandering around like zombies in front of a powerless grocery store. That cracks me up. Like the movie Dawn of the Dead.

Lets see, scuba wise, I'm going to go have all my new gear checked out by a local shop, buy another octo and possibly try it all out in their pool tomorrow. UPS shows that Leisure Pro received the octo I returned but I haven't seen a credit back to our card yet.

Oh we closed on our condo.

13 December 2006

Update on the Leisure Pro Experience

My quick release, low pressure inflator hose for my buoyancy compensator (which Leisure Pro forgot to send me) came in the mail today, along with the instruction manual for the BC. This actually made it here in pretty good time so I'll give Leisure Pro a few more points.

07 December 2006

My Experience with Leisure Pro

My order came in yesterday from Leisure Pro. Leisure Pro is an online store for scuba gear. I know, I know everyone recommends buying equipment from a local scuba shop and for this reason I've been wary for a number of years. Then one of my dive instructor friends recommended them to me. So I made my choices and ordered my goods. About a week and a half later they arrived. A side note here, UPS has been in our apartments everyday this week between 1 and 3. The day my stuff is supposed to come they get here at 5:30pm. But I digress. My equipment came packed well and in good condition. I carefully inspected everything, slowly, as I was unpacking. The scuba equipment I chose impressed me even more in my hands then on the internet and I can't wait to use it. Two small problems, however. 1) My Bouyancy Compensator didn't come with a low pressure, quick disconnect, inflator hose and 2) a manual. So the next day I called Leisure Pro. Their phone number was easy to find on their web site. (A plus.) They were polite on the phone and took care of me. (Another Plus.) They are sending me the hose and the manual. In the mean time I downloaded a manual from Zeagle's website. One other issue (this one my mistake) is I'm not happy with my choice of Octo. The octo looks great, (see my blog, Scuba Gear Part III) however I will be doing some diving in cold water and it's not cold water rated. So I wanted to return it. Leisure Pro had no problem with that either and gave me all the information for shipping it back. Over all I give them a good rating. I'll post again how the return pans out and if and when my LP hose comes.

01 December 2006

Scuba Gear Part IIII - The Buoyancy Compensator (BC)

There is yet one more hose attached to our first stage (unless I get a dry suit one day, then 2 more hoses, but I digress). This is the low pressure inflator hose and it, of course, connects to our Buoyancy Compensator (BC) which is where we will be concluding our tour of my new scuba equipment. When I notice differences in equipment I notice them most in the BC. Where the control buttons are positioned are very important to me. I like a 'trigger' style grip as opposed to the buttons being side by side. The Tusa Liberator BC, for example, has one button sitting nicely by the index finger and then one poorly positioned on the side (some Tusa BC's do have the positioning I like however). The size and fit is very important to me. I think for my first 4 dives I had a BC that was to large and was always riding up. And I've decided that back inflation BC's are less bulky under the arms then the jacket style inflation. Also I prefer weight integrated BC's over wearing a weight belt.

I chose the Zeagle Stiletto. Here are it's features as per their web site -

The Stiletto is ideal for the diver who wants a system
for both travel and local diving. It is designed to pack
easily into a lightweight travel system, yet has plenty
of capacity for cold water or drysuit use.
• Zeagle’s most rugged Travel BC
• 35-lb lift capacity heavy duty low profile .
. retracting bladder
• Personal Fit System (PFS)Sizing
• Reinforced 1000 denier nylon construction
• Two zippered utility pockets
• Adjustable elastic waist panels
• Lumbar Pad
• 5 Stainless Steel D-rings
• Adjustable Sternum Strap
• 30-lb capacity Ripcord weight system
• 20-lb Capacity (sewn on) rear mount
weight system

I also like the fact that Zeagle is a family own business and still designs and produces their BC's in their own factory in Zephyr hills, Florida. About Zeagle.

Update - This BC worked great on my Mexico trip. Never felt like it was riding up. Never felt like it was riding funny, no problems, easy to reach and use controls. Although thankfully I didn't need to dump the weights, they were easy to load and unload.