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.

First Scuba Trip 2015

So we finally got back out to the South Korean East Coast to log some dives.  It is hard to admit but this first trip wasn’t that easy to get excited for.  The video from this past weekend (except for the first driving video) was all shot with the GoPro Hero 4 Black in 4k resolution.  If you have this camera and are editing video be prepared for some extremely large file sizes and long upload times to get 4k resolution from YouTube.

Namae ScubaA special thanks to Namae Scuba (www.NamaeScuba.com) for once again providing some excellent dive facilities and diving, we wouldn’t have had a great weekend with out you! Preparing for dive trips isn’t hard just moderately time-consuming since you don’t want to forget anything back home, hours away.  This is especially true since this was the first ocean trip for the PRISM 2 eCCR.  We wanted to check everything multiple times to ensure we had what we needed and everything worked correctly.  We also were preparing for testing out the Hollis DX300 dry suit and the 500SE regulator & DC7 first stage.

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 17.22.21Thankfully BOB (bright orange ball in the sky, aka the sun) was out in full effect the days prior to the trip which really helped motivate all of us to start preparing food, equipment and willingness to make the trip.  So was it worth it?  DEFINITELY!  This trip had some of the best visibility that we have seen in a very long time.  Plus we met some new divers Jonathan and Stacey as well as making some new Korean dive buddies (even celebrating a birthday).

Saturday started at a perfect pace, relaxed and fun…we hit the beach to test out new configurations, new equipment and re-familiarize ourselves with our equipment (like the PRISM 2).  Thankfully so because some of us needed to adjust weighting from previous dives and for others this was the first time Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 20.46.26diving in this temperature water.  So many people ask…”isn’t it cold??”  OMG Yes! It was freezing (on the hands) but our dry suits kept (most of) us warm.  The water was a lovely 6-8C / 42-46F…definitely C.O.L.D!  Thankfully that didn’t stop us from hitting a second dive on Saturday to explore the dive site West Ridge (13-24m deep) where we say great viz around the artificial concrete cube reef.  After we got back from the dive we cleaned gear grabbed some coffee and dinner in Gangneung to relax.

Sunday started early with some of us getting up to watch the sun rise and warm our faces…others decided to Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 20.51.21sleep in a bit before our 0930 dive.  This dive is one of our favorites, early morning, very calm and our favorite site…Steel House!  This site has 3 giant 10 meter steel structures that are approximately 25m apart attached by rope to easily find each other.  There are lots of new growth and during the summer months lots of fish around the structure.  As we descended on the steel structure we were astonished by the amazing visibility we had.  The water was simply amazing, blue, clear, and no surge or current…amazing!

After the dive we warmed up and cleaned equipment in preparation for the long trip home.  We thought we Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 21.05.45would beat all the traffic home however there was a huge forest fire that spanned the expressway on all sides which slowed all traffic down to a grind.  It did provide a great opportunity to capture some cool video of 8 or so helicopters gathering water from the local lake to help put out the fire.

For those of you looking for the Hollis DX300 review please check back later this week.  We will post our thoughts on Hollis’s newest drysuit.

Self-Reliant Diver (aka Solo Diver) Specialty

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Why in the world would any diver go into the water knowing that there would be no one around to help them in the event of an emergency?  That person must be crazy, reckless or have a death wish right?  I would say most agencies try to force us into this belief by creating a mentality that solo diving equals death.  This is simply not the case.  I believe the answer to this one simple question will explain why the Self-Reliant diver is a great specialty to hold.  Here is the question:

If you are trained in proper gear configuration for self-reliant (solo) diving and possess the necessary skills to safely recover from an unexpected emergency underwater wouldn’t that make you are more desirable buddy and more competent diver? 

If you answered “NO” then please stop reading and continue to be brainwashed into thinking that you should always rely on another person for you safety; I truly hope that you never become separated from your buddy and your buddy can (and is willing) to assist you with your problem.

If you answered “YES” then please read on, watch Mark Powell’s excellent video and contact us to take this unique specialty.

Mark Powell goes into some great statistics on the buddy system and why “buddy system is not the panacea that some people think it is” (Powell, 2012).  That doesn’t mean that diving alone doesn’t have increased risks, it simply means that we are learning what the risks are and we are attempting to reduce and manage those risks as much as possible.  This is a great video and WELL worth the watch.

How many times have you been on a dive where you are simply teamed up with random people that you have never dove with before (probably EVERY dive if you are an instructor)? cropped-90-feet2.jpgNow on that dive were you within arm’s reach of your “buddy” at all times?  What if your buddy is a photographer….did you wait for him/her to move onto the next subject or did you just bounce between the group figuring that everyone is my buddy?  What if you were traveling between the group and had a low pressure hose rupture at 30m (100′)?  What if it happened and you were the last person in the group in a drift dive?  Could you possibly make it to a buddy? Is this safer than diving with a self-reliant mentality?  I don’t think so.

I have been spoiled early on as I have adapted technical diving even in my recreational dives.  By keeping the “tec” mentality (planning, conservatism and redundancy) I am better equipped and prepared to self-recover.  A great example of this is in sidemount diving.  Redundant gas supplies, 1st stages, 2nd stages and SPGs.  Now add on some other required equipment like reel, DSMB, backup computer and you are on your way to understanding what it 984167_393100834136364_455003793_ntakes for self-reliant diving.

Who wouldn’t want the skills to dive more safely with a buddy?  I would.  I would also love having buddies who were trained to be more self-reliant.  This is even a good choice for instructors because now you are even more prepared for underwater emergencies that could occur.

Want some more information?  Check out the X-Ray Magazine,  Solo Divers and Risk Management.  

The course is designed for experienced divers who want to take their training to the next level and become better, more self-reliant divers.  This is a great course for Photographers too… we all know that the underwater photographer patiently waits for the perfect shot.  Not having a second diver hovering and swimming right next to you should increase the odds of seeing more underwater life.  Looking at Sidemount Diving?  This is a great configuration platform for the Self-Reliant Diver course.

Divernet.com did a rite-up of the Self-Reliant Diver Specialty course.

Prerequisites:

  1. Be certified as a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver or have a qualifying certification from another training organization.
  2. Have a minimum 100 logged dives.
  3. Be 18 years of age or older.
  4. Successfully complete a dive skills assessment by a PADI Self-
  5. Reliant Diver Specialty Instructor.

Equipment Requirements:

  1. Standard dive equipment as outlined in the General Standards and Procedures Guide of the PADI Instructor Manual:
    • Fins, mask and snorkel
    • Compressed gas cylinder and valve*
    • Buoyancy control device (BCD) with tank mount or separate backpack, and low pressure inflator*
    • Primary regulator and alternate air source*
    • Breathing gas monitoring device (e.g. submersible pressure gauge)
    • Depth monitoring device
    • Quick release weight system and weights (if necessary for neutral buoyancy, or if required for skills practice)
    • Adequate exposure protection appropriate for local dive conditions.
    • At least one audible emergency surface signaling device (whistle, air horn, etc.).
    • Dive computer or RDP (eRDPML or Table)
  2. Surface marker buoy, such as a delayed surface marker buoy (DSMB) or lift bag with at least 30 metres/100 feet of line.
  3. Redundant gas source – pony cylinder, twin cylinders with isolation valve or sidemount configuration. Redundant gas supply must be configured so that the diver can access it with one hand.
  4. Redundant depth gauge and bottom timer, or dive computer.
  5. Redundant surface signaling devices (both visual and audible)
  6. Knife/cutting tool (except where locally prohibited)
  7. Slate and pencil
  8. Back-up mask (recommended)

**compass highly recommended

Relaxing but not Dull

This past weekend we were able to get in some good diving despite a typhoon earlier in the week.  We went to the east coast early on Saturday morning (compared to our normal Friday night late night trip to the coast) and were lucky to hit zero traffic.

Namae037We arrived fairly early and were met once again by the friendly staff of Namae Dive Resort and some fellow Korean divers.  This weekend would prove to be an exciting one for sure.  We would be testing some minor tweaks to our Hollis SMS75 sidemount BCD (the addition of the SMS100/SMS75 back weight system).

The back mounted weight pockets (6 pockets in a semi rigid cloth plate) made trim absolutely perfect for the SMS75.  These 2 items should be purchased together by anyone who plans to dive the SMS75 with aluminum tanks or in the ocean.  Hands down perfect trim and extremely comfortable.

We Love Diving!Despite not speaking Korean there is always a common bond that is shared between everyone as the preparations for the dive are underway.  Getting tanks, analyzing gasses, going over equipment checks and pre-dive buddy checks…no matter what language or what training organization they are all very similar processes.  This means that we can easily communicate with having to speak.

Once on the boat we were all ready to get into the water, for some this would be their first dive in South Korea, definitely an exciting time.  As we descend and tweak our equipment we are once again reminded why we love this hobby so much; for me it is the self awareness and relative quiet that this sport offers.

Namae002After 3 fun dives on Saturday (ending the day with a great sunset dive) we were ready to clean gear and BBQ some burgers and roast some potatoes.  Once our bellies were full we headed off to bed for an early morning dive (these are always the best dives of the day on the East Coast).

Sunday morning came early and we started the day off with a nice sunrise and a side of Bacon, Eggs, cheese and English Muffin.  Now that we had some fuel for the day we were able prepare our gear for our dive and get in the water.  One of the best dives at Namae (at recreational depths) are the steel structures (Dive site Red #1).  There are 3 large steel structures underwater that are connected via thick line so divers can easily navigate from one to the other.  What a great way to end the dive weekend.  The only thing that made the trip better was not hitting any traffic on the way
home.

Diving Education & Training During the Winter

Diving LibraryRecently we were asked for recommendations on books, videos and any other educational material about diving.  This weekend we combed over our materials to develop this list of information.  We divided it into four major categories:

Within each of these topics is a short write-up on what we thought of the materials and how we rated it on a scale of 0-5.  Zero meaning we haven’t yet read/watched it (but heard good things so we bought it) thru 5 meaning we recommend this as a MUST HAVE for every diver’s library at home.  We also took the time to link to Amazon (where appropriate).  This does two things:

  • give you a direct link to the product that we have
  • helps us generate a tiny (and yes we mean tiny) amount of revenue to help cover website costs (remember we are a club without membership dues)

So please, if you are going to make an Amazon purchase, use our provided links.  Ok enough our plugging our links.

The second part of this quick blog is once you have the knowledge how does a diver (in Korea specifically) practice any of these skills in preparation for the upcoming dive year?  This is really important for all those warm water divers or divers without drysuits.  We know you want to practice however not to the point of freezing in 4° C waters.

Will he just answer us already…where and how can we practice?  OK. OK.. it is simple continue to check our page (Facebook Events Page) for events for pool sessions.  Any time that we have pool sessions feel free to come along and practice buoyancy, SMB, and any and all other skills related to diving.  If you want to see a specific skill clinic simply ask.  We are more than happy to get in pool with you to assist in developing your skills.