Sidemount Confined Water Training

Jeff hoveringThis past weekend we conducted the Sidemount Confined Water training at one of our favorite pools, the Suwon World Cup Pool.  This pool is setup for some great dive training.  If you haven’t been here it is a 5m deep 50m x 50m pool.  It has several hula hoops at varying depths for buoyancy practice as well as mirrors for each diver to self-correct and fine tune skills.

Our  day started out with a drive through the Korean summer vacation traffic…and there was PLENTY of it.  It took nearly double the time to get to the Suwon pool because Koreans were off enjoying their vacations.  Once we arrived at the pool we went over equipment setup and tank rigging.  This is one of the most important parts of the course, no instructor should over look this portion.  Everything minute you spend on setup will greatly pay off during the dive.  I would recommend that instructors compliment their instruction with some sort of video that explains various setups and use.  The one that I like so far is Jill Heinerth’s Sidemount Scuba Diving.

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 20.52.31Once our equipment was setup and prepped for entry we went over an orientation brief to explain entry methods, weighting and brief the skills for the day.  With the briefings out of the way we pushed off the entry point and verified weighting and descended down to check out Jeff’s trim.  This is another critical place that instructors can’t take too lightly and where students will greatly benefit…GET THEIR TRIM RIGHT!  Spend the time to ensure equipment is setup correctly and streamlined.  This may be difficult if the student is useing loaner/rental gear but it is still important.  It is CRITICAL if the student is diving their own gear, this will be a great starting point for them to take note of.  Rarely will a diver again get so much personal attention to work out kinks and perfect their trim in the water.  Once Jeff’s gear was adjusted he knocked out skill after skill and we were able to surprise Jeff with multiple simulated emergencies as well.  Great job today Jeff! We definitely earned those Chili’s meals.

It wasn’t only the divers that got some fun in today…our shore support (wives) decided to tour the Suwon castle and downtown area while we were in the pool.  One more reason that we like this pool, lots to do for divers and non-divers alike.

If you are not familiar with the Suwon World Cup pool here is some information:

Confined Water Training

Scuba Cleanup

What did you accomplish this weekend? Katie and Dan did some confined water training and have begun their journey to becoming PADI Open Water Divers.  Dan and Katie tackled their Knowledge Reviews, Quizzes and Final Exam like champs, both scoring exceptionally high on all…well done guys!  With the book work out of the way they were fitted for equipment for their Confined Water Training.

Saturday was filled with hands-on learning and practice.  Dan and Katie did excellent once again knocking out skill after skill.  Hardly any skill proved difficult for this couple, once again well done guys!

Sunday morning began with a more thorough cleaning of dive gear to rinse off and clean everything.  We can’t say enough how important this step is…clean well maintained gear is critical in scuba diving.  Not only will it make your gear more reliable it means less service repair bills during annual or manufacturer recommended servicing.

Annual Regulator Service and Video Editing

final cut pro editingThis past week and weekend was extremely busy indeed.  As you know we have been going non-stop these past weekends with a trip to Ulleongdo and Dokdo, a wedding on the East Coast all followed up with rebuilding regulators and servicing gear.  Each event means pictures, blogging and video editing.  Most of this is done at night after work long into the night.  Scrubbing video footage and marking our favorite clips and pics.  Once that is done we add in our logos, splash and end page as well as any effects and or transitions.  Needless to say not a quick task despite us 2015-07-16 00.04.49doing it all the time.
Once the wedding video, pre-wedding dive video and finally Ulleongdo video was finished it was time to service gear.  Carefully inspecting the regulators, hoses and all other attached items ensures that we have a good idea of what kind of condition the gear is currently in, and it will help to identify any troublesome areas.

Once inspected as a whole the main components are tested to give a benchmark then each piece is broken down into the simplest component and each thoroughly inspected one-by-one.  Then comes the careful cleaning of 2015-07-15 01.01.57each and every piece, to include hose ends, hose o-rings and even transmitters and SPGs.  A thorough rinsing and drying is needed followed by replacing all the parts that were discarded as per manufacturer recommendation.

Now comes the meticulous re-assembly noting some parts are lubricated while others are absolutely not.  Torque specifications are strictly followed and careful application of new parts and o-rings.  Order and attention to detail is critical.  Once the equipment is roughly 98% complete each piece is tested using the guidelines laid out by the manufacturer.  The 1st stage needs to perform between a certain IP (intermediate pressure).

2015-07-15 20.59.15Once the 1st stage is calibrated the 2nd stages must be calibrated.  Each second stage must be calibrated to manufacturer specifications.  This might even mean that you must use a separate 1st stage to conduct these tests to achieve the proper IP pressure for 2nd stage testing.  The tests for the second stage are critical to achieve maximum performance from the regulators.  First set the IP to spec, then adjust the regulator to hear a very minor leak…then turn slightly back to stop leak.  Once more turn adjustment knob slightly and viola the reg should be very close.  Finally the 2nd stage is validated with a cracking test (officially called the Inhalation Effort Test).  This test simply measures the force needed (or difficulty) to breath from the regulator.  For this you need a Magnehelic gauge.

Ultimately repairing your own inhalation effort testequipment will give you the satisfaction of knowing the job is done right and you can fine tune your equipment for you.  The downside is that the equipment to get started gets pricey quick.  It will cost the average person around $500-$1000 just for the specialty tools and calibration equipment.  This won’t even cover the cost of attending the manufacture’s training so that you can buy the parts and have access to the repair manuals.  There are places that you can save some money while still getting some great test gear.  For example the single item that I would recommend is the DUAL PRO 2015-07-15 23.46.53STAND, 0-3 MAGNEHELIC, IP GAUGE, FOUR SPINON ADAPTERS.  Just like it says it is a dual gauge that verifies IP and breathing effort (inhalation and exhalation with this model).  As you can see it is nearly $400 once you add in shipping.  That is half of a high-end DIY’ers budget.  Now you can see why shops charge so much for servicing gear.

If you are a DIY’er look no further than Scuba Tools for each and every tool you may need.  This company is a small business that supplies even the large manufacturers with tools and customized equipment. They are great to deal with as well.

Pohang Diving – July 11-12, 2015

Congratulation to Nick Pappe, our newest 38th Parallel diver who completed his PADI Open Water certification and Enriched Air Diver (EANx/Nitrox) certification on July 12 at AquaBelle Dive Resort Pohang,  Korea. We were able to complete 4 amazing boat dives off Josa-ri (Beach). The water was a warm 20c, plenty of fish and around 6 meters of visibly.  Great conditions to learn and enjoy the dives, way to go Nick can’t wait to dive with you again.

Wedding Day Diving

July 11th, 2015 two of our club divers were getting OK signal on descentmarried on the beach where so many of us met.  The day and night before was filled with exciting events.  Some of these events were price changes on the cake, a cake mishap and even a flat tire on the way to the event.  Needless to say we all needed a bit of a stress relief and were looking forward to getting into the water.

Saturday morning came extremely early for me because I was the one that got a flat tire in the middle of the night on the way to the resort.  We arrived around 0130 early Saturday morning and woke up around 0700 to start preparing for the dive day.  Despite waking up a bit later I was the first one up and around getting our tanks ready laying out gear.  Jeff was the next one to arrive.  We were lucky to get on the first boat dive (which is usually the best dive of the day) and it was going to be a deep dive.

38th Parallel Divers going to dive siteJeff needed to reach 100′ for some future course pre-req’s so we planned to dive down to 100′ and swim around the base of the Steel House (dive site) structure and then slowly return focusing on his drysuit skills and getting use to his new ANTARES dry gloves.  On the way out to the site we met a new diver who dove as part of our team.  The dive went almost as planned and we were rewarded with some good visibility and water temps (9 C).  I say almost as planned because on my giant stride entry into the water I quickly discovered that my drysuit zipper was not 100% sealed…yep you guessed it, I got soaked.  Once I felt the water I closed the suit and continued the dive since there wasn’t enough water in the suit to be a danger, just an annoyance.

Austin ready for ascentAfter we got back from our first dive many of the wedding guests (bride & groom included) had finally woken up and were slowly getting ready.  The bride and groom joined us on our 2nd dive which was another deep dive and this one would be the bride’s deepest dive to date, congrats Mandy!  This dive site was 30 – 34M deep and the descent line ended on concrete cubes with small sealife and growth on it.  Jeff, Austin and I descended to the bottom in one team and the bride and groom made up the other team.  The visibility on this dive was even better however it was much colder at 5 C.  Once our computers were nearing our no decompression limit we all returned to the surface making a very slow and deliberate ascent.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 14.02.59Once we returned from the second dive we cleaned and dried gear and began preparing for the wedding ceremony and reception.  With the gear drying and time closing in we had to go and pickup 2 more people from the bus terminal and on the way back we ate some great Kimchi Jiggae and got to meet everyone that has traveled from around the world…wow what a crew indeed.  We met some great people this weekend and some very talented musicians!

Running a bit late we all drove back to the hotel to finish getting ready for the wedding.  Showers, getting dressed, doing hair, wedding picturesetting tables and food and of course bride pampering…oh yea and LOTS of up and down the stairs…we were finally ready just as the final moments of day were getting ready to come to an end.   With the bride in my car and the groom waiting on the beach Eric walked Mandy down and gave her away to George.  The ceremony was shared by close friends from Hong Kong, Fiji, Korea and the US and many 38th Parallel Divers too.  Vows and rings exchanged, a kiss and an introduction the newly married couple was ready to begin their lives together.  Congratulation Mandy and George!  We are honored to be part of this day.

Now bring on the reception and make Laura Kenny sing another song…I will happily plug her music (on iTunes).

Ulleongdo and Dokdo

38th Parallel Divers Ulleongdo

This past weekend we went to the “Mysterious Island Ulleongdo” and Dokdo to take in the beautiful sights of a less populated Korea.  This has to be one of the most beautiful places in Korea…hands down.  Ulleongdo is an amazing place that is barely touched by tourism and people.  It has enough infrastructure to make it an enjoyable trip but not too much as to take away from the raw natural beauty of the island and surrounding clear fish-filled waters.  Most of our posts are purely revolving around diving.  It would be an injustice to only talk about the diving on the amazing island so please bear with me while I talk about some of the other things that this island has to offer…plus these are good negotiation points for those family members who are non-divers…just saying.

The Trip

Ulleongdo Tourist MapIt is no small feat getting to Ulleongdo and Dokdo.  Our Trip looked something like this:

Trip To (starts Thursday night):

  1. Drive – Thursday night drive to the east coast immediately after work, 1800 – 2130 (3.5 hours)
  2. Sleep in a hotel Thursday night
  3. Friday morning drive to port and park car, 0800
  4. Ferry – Mukho Port (Donghae) to Sadong Harbor (Ulleongdo), 0900 – 1200 (3 hours)

On a separate day (total trip takes roughly 4.5 hours with load/unload times etc):

  1. Ulleongdo to Dokdo, 1.5 hours
  2. Dokdo to Ulleongdo, 1.5 hours

Return Trip (Monday late night):

  1. Ferry – Sadong Harbor (Ulleongdo) to Mukho Port (Donghae), 1800-2100
  2. Drive – Donghae to Home, 2130 – 0100 (3.5 hours)

The Food

Tiger Cow 칡소

Ulleongdo is know for seafood especially squid, what most foreigners don’t know is that there are 3 other amazing foods to eat on the island… 1. tiger beef (칡소).  The tiger beef is so delicious thanks to some great marbling that give wonderful juicy flavors throughout.  The only downside to this beef is that it isn’t cheap…for a portion of beef slightly smaller than what one could get on the mainland we had to fork over approximately 50,000 krw each.  Definitely not a meal for those who might be budget minded.  

The other hand-down amazing MUST EAT dish are the special shrimp that are only found in this region.  I have eaten tons of shrimp and prawn in my lifetime and nothing (yes I mean absolutely without a doubt NOTHING) comes close to the amazing taste of these shrimp.  So much so that I recommend that everyone try them despite their high price.  Before I tell you the cost let me explain what these shrimp are.  The first shrimp are called chicken shrimp and they have a sharp pointy shell that takes some care when pealing apart.  The second shrimp is called flower shrimp and has white stripes that go the flower shrimplength of the shrimp.  Many westerners don’t eat the best part chicken shrimpof the shrimp, the stuff from the head area…do not miss this delicious part.  Mainly because it is wonderful but also because the store owner will yell at you and wonder why on earth you left this behind.  The shrimp is cooked in a very simple manner…it is boiled in plain water, no seasoning required.  Now for the bad news.  For only 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of shrimp the cost is about 80,000 krw.  

The Diving

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 22.56.08We dove with a great dive shop that truly catered to us and were excellent hosts.  The shop was Ulleong Dive Resort and they spoke enough English to get us everything that we needed to log 2 beautiful dives.  The shop has a large boat equipped with a sun shade roof, lots of room, plenty of power to speed you out around the island and even a small bathroom.  The dive shop met some of our divers at the port to pickup their gear and take it to the diveshop.  They kindly let us store our gear at the shop until our dive day.  They also let us pick the time to dive so we didn’t have to rush or operate on anyone else’s schedule.  This was another great point of diving with Ulleong Dive Resort.

Since we dropped off our bags they noticed our eye-catching emblem on our dive bags and looked up our website.  When we arrived at the shop to dive they told us they watched all of our videos and were amazed to see how much we have dove in South Korea.  They were excited to dive with us!  Ulleong Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 22.59.03dive resort did Ulleong Fishnot disappoint and for our first dive they dropped us off near the
north eastern tip of Ulleong-do .  This dive site started at 20 meters and sloped off to about 40m and then sharply dropped off into a very deep shelf.  The water was cloudy to about 17 meters and then cleared up greatly around 30 meters.  We saw small schools of fish which included many different varieties.  The water temperature was a beautiful 16C with an average visibility of about 15 -20 meters…extremely ice compared to our normal east coast diving.

Ulleong FishScreen Shot 2015-07-08 at 23.06.31The second dive site was Juk island (Juk-do).  This was basically a beautiful long safety stop that allowed us to see parrot, trigger and many other fish to include a very odd translucent fish.  At first we all thought it was a jell fish but one of us accidentally touched one to discover it was hard like a fish not a jelly.  Looking closely we could see clear bones, a moving mouth and internal working organs…definitely one of the strangest creatures I have ever seen.  After a beautiful 45 minute warm (relatively) dive in clear waters we ascended from our 11m – 5m shallow dive…all bearing giant smiles.  We got back on the boat and snapped some pictures with our new friends taking the opportunity to get some pics with our new banner to represent our club.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 23.06.59Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 22.58.09Once back on shore we cleaned our gear and hung it to dry.  We walked around the area looking at beach entry sites for training and night diving…yes there is plenty of night diving here!  The waters around the dive shop have plenty of shallow areas to conduct shallow training dives as well as deep dives only a short swim away.  Simply put this place was amazing…and we will definitely be arranging a group trip back.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 23.01.24

Dive Sites:

  • #1: Gwaneumdo(island) – pyeong bawi(flat rock)
  • #2: Jukdo (island)

Costs:

  • Basic Room at dive shop 50,000 krw per room per night (floor sleeping)
  • Dive/Boat fees: *90,000 krw per person per trip (2 dives)
  • Air only (no nitrox)

*price can be more depending on number of person on boat trip.  Usually there is a minimum amount due to fuel costs.

Dokdo

Many westerners don’t know about Dokdo.  Dokdo (island) is contested by the Japanese for ownership.  However it is currently occupied by Korea’s police and there is also a couple that lives on the island.  It was no small feat the we actually were able to set foot on the island.  There is no proper dock for the ferry to offload/load passengers.  The police and crew assist passengers getting on and off the ferry by holding a small ramp that rocks wildly in the waves.  The weather held out long enough for us to touch down on Dokdo however we weren’t allowed to climb the top due to time constraints.  The waves were knocking the ferry around and we were called back to the boat early.  Thankfully we were able to take a few snap shots (even with our banner) to make this amazing event.  Especially since we traveled 1 hour and 50 minutes from Ulleongdo to get there.  The water were amazingly clean and clear.  People were scurrying about to snap photos of their pilgrimage.  After 15 minutes or so we were getting back o the boat and headed back to Ulleongdo.

So much to do

There is so much to do for non-divers that everyone had fun even on dive days.  The minimum amount of time needed to log some dives and sightsee is a 4 day weekend.  First and last days being half travel days, 1/2 day of diving, and 1 1/2day dedicated non-diving (to include Dokdo)…this is enough to scratch the surface.  When we go back we will be focusing on diving and logging many dives in the area.

The only downside…

The only and yes only downside to Ulleongdo is that if you do not like Korean side-dishes or seafood you need to bring your own food supply.  Everything has seafood in it here, which is good but it is nice to have some western friendly food…for us we like at a minimum to have a western breakfast.  We really like eggs sandwiches.  I will say one caveat…the hotel we did stay at had a great coffee/breakfast shop and the lady did let us know that if we told her in advance she would have made us egg and toast for breakfast (for a fee of course).  The shop did serve fruit and nut yoghurt which was great but didn’t quite fill us up for all the walking, hiking and diving we did.  We will definitely take the lady up on her offer for western breakfast.

Simply put if you need non-seafood or western meals we suggest you bring some brats/hotdogs or peanut butter and jelly.

More information…

However if you are interested in what else we did besides diving (along with pricing information) please check out the BackpackBees Blog (post pending).

Memorial Day & Buddha’s Birthday 2015

Post-Dive Picture 38th Parallel DiversPADI Drysuit Specialty diver and PADI Divemaster were the two certifications earned this weekend.  There is no doubt that we made the most of a 3 day weekend. For the American’s it was Memorial Day weekend and for the Korean’s it was Buddha’s Birthday. Needless to say the dive shop and hotels at the coast were packed!  We got to meet some of our South Korean Facebook Followers and dive with some new friends as well…welcome to the 38th Parallel Divers Club Dave, glad to log some dives with you.

Despite some pretty strong winds the waters on the east coast were amazing.  This weekend probably ranked in the top 5 weekends for visibility in the past 5 years.  Definitely nice to jump into the water with conditions like this.  The ocean was super flat all weekend and little to no surge or current, even at the dive sites.

New Divemaster Dan with Instructor LarrySince most of us have been steadily knocking out certifications of students we decided to take this weekend for ourselves and make is a calm, lazy fun weekend.Congratulations to Dan on finishing his Divemaster certification (we know this was a long time coming), welcome to the pro ranks!  Congrats to Divemaster Jeff on earning his drysuit specialty as well.

We did several beach dives at Namae-ri Beach as well as several boat dives.  Our first boat dive was at Steel House.  Steel House is a 10m tall structure that rests in 30m of water.  Great for buoyancy practice swimming through all the beams.  We also dove Concrete Cubes, and just like the name says it was a Jeff and George Safety Stopbunch of concrete open cubes that allow for divers to swim in-between and around.  We saw a nice school of smaller sized fish and lost of small growth.  West Ridge was another dive site that we were able to log some time onto.  This site offered a natural rock formation and minor wall to swim around.  A nice dive to see rock formations and small growth, even some nudibranchs.

It would be an understatement to say the shop was packed.  Namae Scuba had extra staff on hand and both boats in the water for divers.  They also shuttled divers back and forth to the beach for shore diving.  There were several clubs diving with 38th Parallel Divers as well as 80+ college girls from the Suwon Women’s college.  Most of the girls were doing PADI Open Water Diver with some finishing up Advanced, Rescue and Divermaster.  Namae’s resident Course Director was also conducting an IDC (Instructor Development Course) for a few future dive instructors.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 16.29.53Despite all of this going on we can’t say enough how great their staff is.  They always make sure to keep us informed on dive conditions and dive times.  Namae staff also makes sure we have everything we need and make every attempt to help us work out any minor equipment issues anyone might have.  These guys are a great operation indeed…thanks Namae Scuba!

Hollis 500SE Regulator Review

Hollis 500SE Regulator profileWith every new regulator launch comes new “hype”, most of the time I have noticed that most of the improvement is in the visual design.  The new version looks cooler, it’s black and features aggressive characteristics to portray the “Tec” image.  Well this new design isn’t really new at all.  In fact it is quite old.  If I would have seen this a few years ago I might have passed it up for the newer looking round regulators…and I would have missed out big time.

Benefits of the Hollis 500SE

  • Pneumatically balanced servo valve system
  • Patented Orthodontic Mouthpiece for comfort and reduced jaw fatigue
  • Standard with 30″ maxflex hose
  • Easily disassembled without the use of tools and underwater if necessary
  • Left or right positioning – no upside down
  • Boltsnap tie point (Hollis.com, 2015)

Hollis 500SE Regulator backsideHollis has brought back an old design with a modern look and features.  Hollis highlights these features on the regulator’s website (http://www.hollis.com/500se-dc7), the ones listed above.  Of those bullets I feel that there are 2 that need to be mentioned again.

First the statement, “Easily disassembled without the use of tools and underwater if necessary” is an understatement.  I was a bit skeptical when I read this but wow this regulator is unbelievably easy to disassemble.  All you have to do is twist off the plastic nut that holds in the hose and pull the interior of the regulator out…done!  That is seriously it.  This is amazing for cleaning or removing debris.  To go hand-in-hand with that, the service kit is minimalist due to the simple, but reliable construction of the 2nd stage.  I would like to thank Hollis for this design because it makes yearly overhauls simple and time saving.

Hollis 500SE Regulators on BCDSecond, “Left or right positioning – no upside down” design makes for great application during stage/deco/bailout bottles, sidemount setups and finally air-sharing.  Students no longer have to worry about regulator orientation and an air sharing exercise can be done in the blind.

One of the most important features of the regulator (for me) wasn’t highlighted by Hollis and it definitely needs to be mentioned.  For those of you who know me know that I primarily dive a PRISM 2 eCCR.  The CCR is probably the greatest tools for underwater videography because there are no bubbles that ruin your shots, no giant distortions covering your subjects…just clear water.  This is where the 500SE makes it’s money.  For the divers out there that can’t afford to dive a CCR and want to minimize bubble intrusion in your videos this is the single greatest option…and at a fraction of the cost.

This past weekend I shot tons of video underwater (which I am still scrubbing through) and the 500SE’s performance related to video was fantastic.  At almost no time did the bubble ruin a shot or distract from the video.  I didn’t have to think about breathing during my scene captures…simply amazing as far as I’m concerned.

Hollis 500SE RegulatorSo how did the 500SE perform in the water?  Excellent, and I am sure that didn’t surprise you.  The 500SE breathes extremely easy and I didn’t have any issues with free flows during any dive, ascent/descent etc.  The mouthpiece is very comfortable and I didn’t endure any sort of jaw fatigue or feel any pull or push…the regulator rested perfectly in my mouth and was barely noticeable.

Drawbacks of the Hollis 500SE

I honestly could not find a downside to this regulator.  These regulators have now retained a permanent home on my gear for all my OC dive setups.

Summary

Would I recommend this regulator?  YES! Who would I recommend this regulator to?  This regulator makes deco/bailout tank streamlining a breeze.  It is also great for beginners who want a high-performance regulator that can meet recreational and technical diving demands as well as feel comfortable in their mouths during long dives.  Finally and without a doubt I would highly recommend this regulator to every open circuit videographer out there, especially those non-professionals that implement multiple cams like GoPro cameras on helmets.

Was there a question that I didn’t answer?  Still want to know more?  Feel free to comment below, I love to hear our feedback.

Dry Suit Confined Water Training

There is not much that can prepare a diver for the feeling of their first drysuit dive.  This is true whether it is in a pool or in the ocean.  The closest feeling would be to put your hand into a plastic bag and put it in the kitchen sink or bathtub.  No matter how many times we describe this to new students they are always amazed at the initial feeling (as we were).

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 13.44.35This past weekend we got in the pool to do some PADI Drysuit Specialty Diver training.  Once introductions & paperwork were done we watched a few videos on drysuit repair and care.  Next we tried on equipment and went over gear setup and donning/doffing the drysuit.  We conducted final kit checks and got into our drysuits for a short drive to the pool.

At the pool we went over the required skills as well as some additional skills that are always good to keep well oiled. Jeff did an excellent job in the pool and we are looking forward to getting in the ocean.

2015 Scuba Diving Season Opening

The 2015 scuba diving season opening was truly amazing!  Namae Scuba (남애스쿠버리조트) hosted a great event which had approximately 50 people from around the world.  We haven’t ever seen a season opening quite like this one.  This was 11080708_10205605854738993_7921584519513355727_ojust one more reason why we come to Namae Scuba for our diving.

Many of us traveled out to the east coast Friday night to beat any traffic.  Some stayed at the dive shop and some stayed at the Moby Dick hotel just a few hundred meters away.  If there is one thing that we can say for sure is that no matter where you stay when you dive with us either location is nice.  Both have ocean views and a sunrise that can’t be beat.

11000913_10205605884339733_8179115059511011257_o11149773_10205605877259556_7342950561719160330_oEveryone woke up early on Saturday morning and headed down to the dive shop where we cooked up some eggs, bacon and cheese sandwiches for our divers.  We even had some espresso brewing from our Moka pot.  We come prepared and know how to cook some good food.

IMG_3217Once everyone had some food to eat we started preparing our diving gear. Catching up with some friends we haven’t seen in a while and meeting new dive buddies is always one of the best parts of any dive trip.  This trip we met up with a club member we haven’t seen in a few years and had several new divers join us.  It was definitely a great group.

At 1000 AM Namae Scuba Resort had all divers gather around to pay our respects to the ocean and any ancestors that were lost due to the ocean.  ThisIMG_3244 was a humbling experience because for many of us (myself included) we had never participated in this type of an event.  Sure we may have seen Koreans bowing and making offering but we haven’t had the opportunity, until now, to do this.  We were extremely honored when we were asked if we would like to come up as a dive club and bow to show respect.  Our club members were happy to participate, we walked up kneeled down and assumed a praying position twice; once we rose we deeply bowed, once again showing respect.

IMG_3223The table was decorated with a pig’s head, candles, fruit and makgeolli.  The staff from Namae Scuba had a nice speech prepared to open the season and they were also nice enough to ensure we understood what was going on as well.  They really do take care of us, and it is greatly appreciated.

Once the opening event was concluded we finalized our gear setup and buddy checks and waited for everyone to load the trucks.  The opening dive required two dive boats to get everyone into the water.  At the docks we loaded the boats at motored off to “West Ridge” Dive site.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 17.49.50Sadly the conditions were not ideal, and nothing like the last time we were at the east coast.  Water temps were around 6-8 C (43-46 F) and visibility was only around 1.5-2 meters.  This didn’t stop us from having fun though.  George led a nice dive around the site and got us back to the blocks where we could shoot a DSMB and slowly ascend.

Eagerly looking forward to lunch (and some warmth) we ordered some fried rice, jjampong (짬뽕) and jjajangmyeon (짜장면).  Jjajangmyeon is simply black bean sauce noodles and they arevery delicious and filling (most westerners like them).  Jjampong is Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 17.56.15 a spicy seafood stew mixture that usually has squid/octopus, mussels, crab, shrimp and other seafood and noodles in it.  Both are absolutely delicious and inexpensive.

After lunch several of us prepared to test out new equipment and do a shore dive.  two divers got in and completed a short shore dive while I had to correct some equipment malfunctions (my drygloves became separated from their rings and I couldn’t get a seal).  Oh well…it was now time to clean equipment for the day.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 18.03.17IMG_3286 As everyone was finishing cleaning gear and warming up Namae Scuba was preparing multiple BBQ pits for us to grill on.  For the season opening they offered a great package…for ₩25,000 each diver got a t-shirt, participated in the opening event and was provided an amazing BBQ.  The BBQ started off with normal side dishes (garlic, peppers, dipping sauces), kimchi jjigae (김치 찌개) aka Kimchi Stew, and lots of Hwey (회).  Hwey is raw seafood, most westerners know it as sashimi.  Let me just say now that the food was phenomenal and boy did anyone miss out if they weren’t there…sorry.  As everyone snacked on those dishes we were brought pounds and pounds of pork to grill along with sausages.  Each table also was provided severalIMG_3288IMG_3279 IMG_3293bottles of soju, cola and juice and there were 2 kegs of beer on tap.  Definitely not a bad deal at all.

As everyone was finishing up our food the staff thanked everyone for participating in the 2015 season opening and made sure to come around to each table to say “thank-you”.  This was simply amazing because this type of customer service is rarely seen outside of Korea.  Everyone raised their glasses and gave a loud cheers.

Most of us sat around for a few hours after the BBQ to catchup with long time friends and pull new club members into the fold.  Everyone clicked well and was quickly pulled in to the IMG_3304club friendship, not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.

Sunday morning came quick.  Most of us slept well and welcomed the warm air and beautiful sunrise.  My wife and I were able to take a walk together in the early morning and enoy the quiet and each other’s company before the world woke up…this was one of my favorite times of the weekend.  For this reason we encourage all divers to bring their non-divers girlfriends/boyfriends/spouses to enjoy a truly amazing part of Korea.

11115907_10205605854778994_4100724866199033786_oAfter our beach walk we cooked breakfast and made some espresso for everyone.  Everyone opted out of diving on Sunday in favor of enjoying a relaxing slow paced wake-up and preparation for the trip home.

I want to personally thank everyone who came out with us this weekend.  This was truly a great weekend.  The 38th Parallel Divers club was organized because of weekends like this!  We met some new friends and caught up with others.  I look forward to logging some dives with those that came and those that will dive in the future…thank-you for a great weekend!

*several images without 38th Parallel Divers copyright courtesy Rob Burton