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.

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!

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.

Guest blogger for PA-DivingIDC / IDC Thailand

2014_11_08-09_006_1

I was recently asked to write blog for a friend/mentor’s website related to diving here in South Korea.  He was not only a friend and mentor but also my (and our other instructors’) Course Director during our IDC and Specialty Instructor Course, none other than Camille Lemmens from IDC Thailand.net & PA-DivingIDC.com.

You can check out the blog post here.

PADI 38th Parallel Diver Specialty

38th Parallel Marker38TH PARALLEL DIVERS

IT’S OFFICIAL!

Very few people can actually say they have dove north of the 38th Parallel in South Korea, and even fewer can say they hold the PADI 38th Parallel Diver Specialty card (zero as of this posting).  If you are looking for something truly unique to add to your logbook this is the certification.  The 38th Parallel Diver Distinctive Specialty signifies that divers have conducted a dive north of the 38th Parallel as well as completed the remaining course requirements.  This is a great specialty that empowers divers to get more time in the water here in South Korea.

Many divers have conducted dives with us north of the 38th Parallel so I am sure those divers will be asking, “Can I apply for the specialty?” The answer unfortunately is no, you would have to conduct the course from today forward in order to earn this certification.  We apologize however we need to make sure we adhere to standards.

Dive Against Debris Specialty

Dive Against Debris with Project AWARE

What’s New? ANOTHER FIRST FOR US!!

We will be doing a Dive Against Debris in the upcoming weeks:

How is this good for you?  We will be giving away some 38th Parallel Diver Swag to participants.

More Good News? We will also be requesting that you ask family, friends and local businesses to help us by donating dive’s and other support.

Dive Against Debris

How are 38th Parallel Diver’s Supporting the effort?  38th Parallel Diver’s will be donating the processing fees costs associated with the Dive Against Debris Certification to each diver who meets the criteria for the specialty (for our 1st Dive Against Debris dive event only)… It get’s even better for those that are trying to earn their PADI Master Scuba Diver rating because this specialty counts toward the Master Scuba Diver specialty requirement.  This means a free specialty!!

Our interest started because many of our divers recently helped out with a beach clean-up (hosted by Aquatic Frontier last month).  We pulled a few hundred pounds (many kilos) from the harbor water and beach.  At first it doesn’t seem like much fun to spend a dive (money and time) in 1-5 meters of water getting pushed up against rocks in poor visibility.  However realizing that a few of us can actually make a difference does help.  At first I think many of the Koreans were wondering what type of animals we were stealing from their waters because they kept inspecting our bags as we came ashore.  After a few rounds they discovered we were  pulling tires, plastic, fishing line and other abandoned debrisfrom the environment.  Seeing the looks on the locals’ faces as the foreigners cleaned up their

2014_11_08-09_035waters was reward enough.  This small gesture let’s the local Korean’s and local divers know that we are a friendly and positive impact on the environment and local dive community.

This good feeling left most of the dive club wanting more; this made our instructors want to be able to contribute a bit more to the local community as well.  But how?  Thankfully I attended the 4th Quarter update and listened to the brief overview of the PADI Dive Against Debris Specialty.

Still not convinced?  Check out the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris Website

 This specialty contributes in a few ways:

  • Instructor application fees go directly to Project AWARE
  • Dive Site Survey pre and post Dive Against Debris Cleanup, assists with monitoring the local environment (is it improving or declining)
  • Student Processing Fees assist Project AWARE
  • last but most important…less debris in your local waters

This is a 1 dive specialty that teaches divers the importance of local conservation, it is a great practical follow-up to the search and recovery and/or navigation diver specialties.  This is because navigation skills are critical to survey the area accurately and search and recovery skills may be required to lift certain objects safely from the bottom.

Self-Reliant Diver (aka Solo Diver) Specialty

533738_433563626756751_1314033518_n

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