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.

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).

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.

1000 PLUS LIKES on Facebook

2014-11-09 18.39.07WOW!  We recently blew past 1,000 likes on our Facebook page!! We are very lucky to have our fans, readers and especially our club members.  We couldn’t have done this without you all.We would like to thank everyone for helping us get 1,000 plus “likes”.

Please stay tuned for what we have coming up in the future.  Don’t forget to join us on the East Coast 25-26 April 2015 for the Namae Scuba 2015 opening.  The 2015 dive season looks like it will be amazing…so please join us.

Guest blogger for PA-DivingIDC / IDC Thailand

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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.

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