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.

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

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

2014 Labor Day Weekend Dive Trip

This weekend we took advantage of the 3 day weekend that most of us had and we headed to the East Coast for some fun diving and training.  Our newest instructors (George, Larry and Mike) had multiple students and certifications to conduct.  We had Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Deep Diver Specialty, Peak Performance Specialty and the AWARE Specialty.  This was definitely a great way to kick off our first weekend training event post-IDC.  We also linked up with some fun divers and students from Aquatic Frontier’s group who got some of our swag.  Thanks guys!  It was great diving with all of you as well.

Mike cooking the bacon for the egg, cheese, bacon sandwichesWe started Saturday morning off by cooking our divers breakfast making sure to feed the grumbling stomachs and fuel the divers for a busy day.  We broke out our cast iron skillet and our Korean portable stove and went to town on some thick cut bacon and eggs… and even some turkey bacon for those health focused people out there.  With bellies fed we started into our dive shop orientation and dive briefings for the skills.Sunrise on the Korean East Coast

Saturday we had excellent warmth and visibility.  Saturday finished up Michael’s Peak Performance Buoyancy and half of Mandy’s Advanced Open Water (AOW) and JuJu’s Open Water (OW) courses respectively.  Our students had such a great day we were honored with requests to add additional specialties to their trip.  Sunday finished up Mandy’s AOW, JuJu’s OW and all but one dive of Michael’s Deep Diver specialty.

Sunday evening after diving we headed into Sacheon beach for some great Pat Bing Su (Red Bean Shaved Ice with fruit and ice cream) and coffee’s.  After that nice treat we headed back to the dive shop to start the grill to grill up some cheese burgers and some adult beverages. We finished up an AWARE Specialty at dinner time too.  After we were fed and ready to head to bed we met up with some new instructors form the recent (finished that day) graduates of the Korea IDC/IE.  We went over to congratulate them and they invited us to have some food and drinks with them.  It was a great night to sit around the table with people from all over the world and share this love of diving.  Congrats new instructors and thank-you for sharing!

Mike and Larry before the Deep DiveMonday morning came early…we had one last dive to conduct for our Deep Diver Specialty, a 30M dive!  We woke up around 7am to fire up the stove and get some food on the skillet (eggs, bacon and hashbrowns). Now that we were fed it was time to gear up to dive briefings and pre-dive checks.  Once again we had some great visibility and warm waters this time we had a strong current.  For this dive we had all the new instructors, the shop owners, most of the shop workers and even the Course Director go with us.  We had a great dive, it was awesome getting a chance to dive with everyone that always makes sure we have great trips…the crew at Namae Dive Shop is amazing!  With that dive complete our final student of the weekend finished his Deep Diver Specialty…congrats Michael!  You did some great diving this weekend, it is great to see the improvement you have made since our first Scuba Tune-up session, stay wet.Seorak Mountain View

Since we were traveling back on a Monday versus a Sunday we decided to take the scenic route back.  We drove through Seorak Mountains and were able to take our time and enjoy the beautiful weather.  What an amazing weekend.  Thanks again to all of our students that we had as well as the new friends we met from Aquatic Frontier’s group.  Hope to see everyone in the water soon!

Most people think that Labor day (beginning of September) signifies the end of the summer…for us (38th Parallel Divers) this marks the beginning of the best diving in Korea.  From now thru November-December the water is warmer than any other time of the year.  The ocean is generally more clear and better weather.  So come join us…check out our Facebook Event page for more details.  We have an Open Water course starting shortly (confined water 13-14 Sept / Ocean 20-21 Sept) AND an Advanced Open Water / Specialty Diving weekend 27-28 September.

Video for Aquatic Frontier


Diving was cancelled on the east coast due to “poor weather” so we came back last night. We decided to help out our friends over at Aquatic Frontier and make use of some down time. We linked up with them at the Camp Hovey Pool in Area 1. They were conducting Confined Water training for some new scuba divers and they also had skills demonstrations for Divemaster Candidates.

Aquatic Frontier has come a long way since we took our first course with them a few years ago; since then they have expanded services from Recreational only to now offering Technical Diving (PADI DSAT TecRec 40, 45 and 50) as well as Assistant Instructor courses and setting up Instructor Courses (IDCs) and arranging for Instructor Exams (IEs). They also recently acquired the Busan Aquarium Shark Diving from Scuba in Korea.

We were glad to help them out and showcase them in action.