Diving the Sea of Cortez!

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Diving the Sea of Cortez!

October 14, 2017

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In March I attended an SSI conference in North Carolina. Met a lot of great people. One of them was Tonia Foster of El Mar Dive Center in Mesa AZ.  At one point she was discussing she also owns El Mar Dive Center in San Carlo Mexico. They take monthly trips there to dive the Sea of Cortez .   Oh look a bucket list item!

After I returned home I check their calendar against mine and found out October would be the best time for me to go. Called the shop, booked a seat, the October trip was going to be bus trip, they do bus or car caravans several times a year, October was the bus trip. . Booked a flight.  I was ready to go.

Flew to Phoenix the night before. Grabbed a hotel for the evening, Early the next morning Ubered to the shop in Meza. Meet Tonia there, she was not going this month, but she had an outstanding crew of dive professional leading the trip. 

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Once everyone was loaded up, we headed out. Along the ride and the trip, I got to meet some great people.  We stopped just north of the border for a pit spot and to pick up lunch. 

The crew from El Mar had this process down. They let everyone know what to expect when crossing the border, what to expect from Mexican customs. How to act and behave to quickly and efficiently move through the check point.

We arrived late in the afternoon and checked into the hotel. The views where amazing, the pool view was from my balcony. Moving around that part of San Carlo was easy. Most everything we needed for the weekend was within a short walk.

On Friday morning we headed for the boat. They have a Newton, which has become the standard for group diving.  The boat crew was from their local shop, again seasoned professionals.  The dive site was San Pedro Nolasco Island, off the coast of San Carlo. The island is protected resource and a home to lots of sea birds.  No worries for us we were there to dive.

All weekend the sea was calm and flat.  Dive conditions where excellent. I dove in a 3 mm suit, when I go back I think will take a 5 mm. The water temps where just on the edge of needing a thicker suit. 

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The island is the reef.  All manner of sea life is attached to the exposed base below, Respectable sizes of small and medium schools of fish swimming around.  Lots of sea urchins, I had not seen them before, sections of the base where covered with them.   

First day we did two dives on the south side of the island, the second day we did two dives local, just outside of the cove where the marina, the third day, on our way out to the island we saw a whale, well we got a glimpse of a whale as it surfaced for a breath, still very cool.  We did three dives that day.  What made the day spectacular was the sea lions, they also live on the island, a few of them decided to swim with us. It was such a blast. They are fast. They will swim by and tap you on the head with fin.  They will just keep out of reach and put on a show of movement and speed, they darted in out of our group as we dove.  It was such a fun dive. 

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Sunday night we had a group meal a Charly's Rock across the street from the hotel. We had a great time. Good People.

The next day we make our way north back across the border, That was a bit crazy, we had to stop at customs take out all of our bags, go in to the building, run  our bags through airport style scanners, that was after it was check by dogs, the bus had to go off to be inspected separately. Then we loaded up again, 10 miles up the road at another check point armed border agents, looking more like military, did a walk through the bus. 

By evening we had arrived back in Mesa.  I had a great time on this weekend trip.  Now I have to see if I can get a group of my dive buddies to join me for a return trip.

 

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Solo Diver Cert for Me

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Solo Diver Cert for Me

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It was time, not that I am ever lacking for a dive buddy to go diving with. I figured it would be good information and education to add to my skill set.  A group of divers took the course in 2016 from Len our resident SDI/TDI instructor I had found out about it after they had finished their training. 

I asked Len if he was going to hold a course this year, he said: " if you are asking, I am holding it."   Later I was telling Lee that I was taking the Solo course and mention that he wanted to do it too. He too had missed the course last year. 

We both signed up for the online course. SDI/TDI had a very good online educational system. Completed the coursework and met Len at the quarry to do our classroom and in water exercises. In short order the classroom work was done, we were in the water being put through our paces both on the surface and underwater.  Once we were done Len waved bye-bye, Lee and I swam away on our own paths to explore the lake as solo divers.

I was diving with my 72 cu.ft. sling that I use for tech diving it was way too bulky.  Lee had borrowed Tige's 40 cu.ft. pony bottle for his dives.  We did two dives to complete the cert.  Lee was heading out I asked to borrow Tige's pony bottle for my next dive.

 What a difference.  It tucked in on my left side and felt the way it should;  like it belonged there.   Add a 40 to my list of gear I have to purchase. I completed three dives for the day.

 Solo Diving is fun to do but when you are used to having a dive buddy it is a little weird, there is nobody to talk to about your experience. 

My goal as a Solo Diver is to complete a series of dives then get my Solo/Independent Diver Instructor Cert to add to my skill set and offerings.

Now, what color do I want that 40 cu. ft. pony bottle in...

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Dive Club Weekend - July 2017

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Dive Club Weekend - July 2017

Well here it is the end of the month again, so it must be time for our month dive club outing at the lake.  This month we had a good turn out. More divers is always more fun.

The last weekend of the month is Virginia Scuba's monthly dive club outing at the quarry.  This month we had a nice turn out. Good people having fun.   Finally Carl got his objective met, a sun rise dive.  Brian and I join Carl on a in-the-water at 6 AM dive. The sun was just coming up as we started the dive. When we got back on shore the Thornberg's made mountain man breakfast, two dutch ovens worth.  A good way to start the day.

 

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Boat Diver

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Boat Diver

Our goal when Ruben and I went to Deerfield Beach back in May was for him to complete both his Boat Diver and Waves, Tides and Currents Certs.  Friday's boat ride was a bit bumpy, Ruben decided to sit the second dive out. Leaving him one dive short to complete his boat cert.

Since Lake Phoenix added a boat to there offering of services this year I figured that would be a great way to completed this course for him. We got on site, arranged to use the boat, they provided a divemaster for us, nice touch.  We had a minor false start with an equipment issue which we quickly resolved,  Did a quick adjustment and rest our plan and off we went.

As expected Ruben did great!  Once he completed the first dive of the day he was certified as a Boat diver.  Since we were there we did our next dive for fun.  

Congratulations Ruben beside getting  Boat Diver he now has enough certs and I think enough dives for the Master Diver Cert, need to check when I get back to the dive shop!

Ruben on our 2nd dive of the day.

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Back to the Bahamas!!

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Back to the Bahamas!!

At DEMA last year Stuart Cove's was giving away a weekend dive package for three days of morning dives for two people. You had to get there and get your own accommodations. All in all, not a bad deal.

I figured I would ask my daughter Meg if she wants to be my dive buddy for this trip while at dinner one night in January. Naturally, Steven, her husband, had joined us for dinner and said: "I always wanted to learn to dive." 

Later that month we all got together for a family dinner. We told the group of our plan. Chris said he wanted to learn to dive. Patti and Robert would be happy to spend the weekend in the Bahamas, just couldn't dive this trip someone had to hang out with my granddaughter.

There you have it,  a family weekend in New Providence. 

Worked at finding a place that we could all be together that would not break the bank.  Patti had recommended looking at AirBnB.  After a bunch of searches, we found a place on the edge of Nassau a block from Junkanoo beach and two blocks from downtown. The shuttle bus from the Stuart Cove's picked up from across the street it could not have worked out better.

The plan:  the divers would do two-morning dives;  the rest of the group would head to the beach for a morning of fun or find some other adventures to explore.   Then we would all get together for lunch and explore Nassau for the rest of day.

Flying in on three different airlines with three different arrival times. Meg and Steven arrived early in the day and spent some time on the beach.  Chris and I arrived early and found that Patti and Robert had just cleared customs so we meet them outside of customs.

Our AirBnB host offer to pick us up at the airport with a quick stop at the grocery store. Then our host gave us a tour of the place we were staying.

Once we got the sleeping arrangement sorted and some dinner we reviewed the plan for the following day.

The divers were up and out early Friday morning to meet the dive shop bus.  Which took us to the other end of the island to Stuart Cove's.   Checked in, found our boat, they have a bunch of them.  In short order we setup up our gear, boat captain briefing done, we headed out.    A short ride off the to the south west of the island to the wreck of the David Tucker.  It sits in 60 ft of water with ledge a short distance away.   

Top of the ledge was at ~60 ft the bottom was estimated around 3000 ft. 

Hearing there was a ledge that looked into the abyss, Steven and Chris wanted to go there first.  After the divemaster briefing, I give our crew an additional briefing about ledges, up-wells, walls and monitoring depth.  Since this was their first ocean dive we did not want to go too crazy with first. 

Little to no current, good, not great viz.  We were moored to the stern of the wreck. Once we all got in the water, weighting sorted out, we headed to the down the line and out to the edge.  To be honest diving ledges is in my top five favorite types of dives, there is usually so much to see.  Today was me making sure of dive group safety.  Everyone did well on the ledge and yes they pushed their depth limits, I stayed below them and told them not one goes deeper than me. I was at 75 feet so they all came to join me at one point so I eased our way back to 60 feet. We found a natural break in the reef and swam back to the top of the reef then did a tour around the wreck.  Everyone's air consumption was very good, we reach our dive time completed our safety stop and headed back top side. Ending a great first dive for the weekend and a great ocean dive 1 for Chris and Steven. 

Conditions as we are heading back to the dock after our second dive of the day on Friday on Elk Horn Reef

The second dive was to Elk Horn reef a great 25-35 ft shallow dive, great viz and no current. A good healthy reef with a good mix of fish.  A nice hour long dive then back to shore.

Oh yeah, I had planned my dives this year so I would hit my 900th dive during this trip.  Check another accomplishment off as done, this dive was #900.  Next goal Dive #1000 hoping to get it by the end of 2017 but we will see.

 

The Queen's Staircase Nassau Bahamas

 

After the bus drive back to Nassau we meet up with the rest of the group.  We walked through town and made our way to The Queens Staircase.  Since Patti and Robert had recently been to Nassau on a cruise they knew the best way to approach the stairs was from the top and walk down.  We did our tour through town so we would end up at the top. 

Impressive structure considering it was all cut by manual labor.  Lots of old structures and having been a fan of the "Black Sails" series TV I wanted to see downtown Nassau. This is my fourth trip to downtown Nassau but this would be my first time to really walk around town. 

I had to walk around a little the first time I was here in 1998 or 1999 just as Atlantis was opening, From what I can remember a lot has changed. Not all of it for the better. There was an old-world island feel to the place, now it is gear toward the cruise ships.  I understand progress but it is not the same.

Day 2 the divers head out early hoping for different part of the sea to explore but we ended up on the wreck of the Tucker again.  I mention it to the crew and they offered to change the 2nd dive to a different location.  That was nice since it was a full boat.  Today the guys wanted to do a quick dip off of the ledge then back to the wreck to explore.  The David Tucker is the model boat as the Austin Smith further down in the Exuma's. An old coast guard patrol boat, once it was decommissioned it was sunk as part of Nassau’s artificial reef program.  The boat is just the right size to explore the exterior at this depth. The was a bit more surface current on this dive then what we had yesterday but no big deal. Another good dive.

The second dive was to the Hollywood Bowl,  A sandy spot on the lee side a reef outcropping that creates a bowl shape, and as you would guess this is where just about every underwater movie scene in the  Bahamas is shot.  Due to the clear water, shallow depth,  easy to get to by boat from shore. A very fun dive. You can explore the bowl then work your way back into the shallow breakers, Great shallow dive.

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Met up with the rest of the group, they went to the Zoo for the morning and had a great time. We headed back downtown to see the sites. Today we walked the waterfront, all geared toward the cruise ship population.; There were three ships in port today. We figured most of them must have been downtown in the morning because it was not that crowded.  Those of legal aged sampled the adult beverages as we strolled. For the record that was not me. heat and adult beverages are not a good mix.

We did stop for lunch at the Pirate Republic. The beer was good, the food was okay but very pricey for what you got. In the end, it is the location. Can't fault anyone for trying to make a buck.
 

 

Heading out of Stuart Cove's dock for some more great diving.

Day 3  our last day of diving. One cool thing about today's dive, we were on a flat top boat. Once the boat was secured and you got the all clear to dive you just step to the edge of the deck and did a giant stride in. The crew told us they use this boat when film crews are in town,   Allows a lot of people to get in the water quickly.

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Today had its challenge and the challenge was the current. My new divers were not expecting it.  We had discussed the possibles and options,  but when you encounter it, it makes it real.  It was a strong two knot for the most part.  We were on the wreck BBC and there was another wreck beyond the BBC but we did not make it that far.  We got our dive crew to the lee side of this listing tug.  I attempted to swim around the bow and head to the other wreck the current was strong enough after about five kick cycles of me going nowhere I let them know we are going to stay here and explore the lee side of the tug,  out of the current.  We checked out the wheelhouse, the deck, we could get to the screws and rudder but could not get much further.  Others from the boat seem to sail past toward the other  wreck  but my group was content to explore this area  Coming up the line and for our safety stop we looked like flags on the line due to the current.  It added a level of respect for the power of the sea even at 2 knots for my group.  I have done drift dives in a 3-4 knot current, you are basically flying through the water. But fixed location dives are a challenge with the stronger current.

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Our shore crew spent the morning at the beach.  Once we were all together we caught a ferry to Atlantis, we stopped at Margaritaville for lunch then over to Atlantis to walk the grounds and check out the aquarium, we divers wanted to our shore crew to share in some of what we saw diving. They did tell us they saw a lot of fish in the water at the beach as well.

That brought our weekend trip to a close. Monday morning we started flying out.  Patti and Robert caught the first flight out. Meg and Steven had a mid-morning flight.

Chris and I had an afternoon fight. We pack up the luggage and put it by the door then headed back downtown to do some last minute gift shopping.

Found our items, went back grabbed our bags, made our way to the airport and our weekend adventure was done.  We had a get time!

Now to start planning our next group adventure.

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Skill up date with Meg!

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Skill up date with Meg!

Our goal when Ruben and I went to Deerfield Beach back in May was for him to complete both his Boat Diver and Waves, Tides and Currents Certs.  My youngest daughter, Megan. Did a Discover Scuba back in 2004 or 2005. She was hooked.  Quickly went on to complete her open water cert and several specialties during her high school years. At one point was considering and starting working on her Divemaster she was, at the time hoping to complete her Divemaster for her 18th birthday.  Boy's, cars and life got in the way of the goal. 

During her high school years, Meg dove a good bit.  It helped that Dad needed a buddy he knew who to call. Wreck diving off North Carolina, reefs off the east coast of Florida Meg was there.   As well she is a good diver.

Like I said life got in the way, finishing high school, college years, job hunting, marriage all managed to move diving into the background.   As part of my requirement for our upcoming trip to Bahamas Meg had to do a skills update, she had been out of the water too long just jump into the ocean and go.  Refreshing her skills and sorting out any gear issues is much easier to do in a pool near home instead of the middle of the Atlantic.

To make it more fun we were doing this Father's Day and Chris,  who just earned his open water cert, joined, for more underwater time and to be Meg's buddy. 

Meg did a great job running through the skill set, it was like she had not missed a beat since her last dive. With her skill update done the dive crew is ready for our Bahamas trip at the end of the week.

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My Sister becomes a Doctor

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My Sister becomes a Doctor

Not a diving thing but a family thing.  On Monday June 12 my sister Kathleen earned and received her Doctorate from Drexel University.  I am very proud of her. She worked hard for the last several years while working full time and moving three times for work to achieve this life goal.   The following day we went to the beach to celebrate! 

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Since we where in Philly we had to get pretels

Since we where in Philly we had to get pretels

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Diving with Carl again, ah hail!!

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Diving with Carl again, ah hail!!

Just another fun weekend of diving with Carl.  Had a great series of dives and as has been usual Saturday late afternoon dark clouds roll in. Summer is coming to Virginia, pretty typical. Usually they look menacing but blow over.   Feeling confident it would pass, we  had our camp setup and headed out to dinner.

Decided on the Nottoway Restaurant for some grub. The skies got darker the wind picked up as we entered the restaurant.  As where eating the skies let loose.  Rain, straight line wind and hail.  Leaves, tree branches, thunder and lighting.

As we are eating Carl noted the back of my Jeep was open,  I said yeah I was not really worried about the I was more worried about the fact I had left the flaps rolled up on my tent.  So we finished dinner.

Upon returning to the camp sites my concerned was realized. Thankfully the tents where still standing, But with the flaps rolled  up my wet sleeping bag and mat where floating in a puddle that was the floor of my tent.  

With the fading evening light I drained my tent set it back up and attempted to call it a day. A sleeping bag that was too moist just did not make for good sleeping. After a few failed hours  trying to get some shuteye, I gave and move the front passenger seat of the Jeep to complete some semblance of sleep. 

I guess did I have worse nights sleep.   The storm was over, the sun came up and we had another great day of diving.  Lesson learned.

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Open Water with Chris and Steven

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Open Water with Chris and Steven

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We are getting down to it, our big Bahamas weekend is at the end of the month! 
No more time to mess around got to get these two to become certified divers!

Off to the lake we went, could not ask for a better weekend. Top side it was a great spring weekend. In the water, since I was just here on Wednesday doing a Dry Suit class I knew it was  64 degrees.   Our dives at the end of the month will be in the high 70 or low 80's  so this was a good way to start.

These two are always fun when they get together.   Steven was apprehensive, could not figure out why, he did great, look great in the water. He is an athlete so this is another sport for him, with all the sports he does, I expected he would take right to it.

Chris surprised me, we have long history. But he is grown up now, I was more than impressed. after working though some initial equipment issues and the 'everybody is awkward'   the first dive and a half.  Watching him during dive 4 and 5 this guy is a natural. His is looking like he has been doing this for years. Could not have been prouder.

Next up Bahamas for the group at the end of moth, Can NOT WAIT! This will be a blast.

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Dry Suit Training as an Assistant

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Dry Suit Training as an Assistant

Jerry just bought a new Waterproof D1 Dry suit and Lee has had a DUI for a while, both needed training.  The shop is closed on Wednesday so what better way to spend hump day than diving.  

We all got in the shop van early and headed to southern Virginia.  Midweek we nearly had the lake to ourselves.  

End of May the water is getting warmer 64 degrees 30 feet, not bad for this time of year.

My task was to assist with the class as I am interning to teach Dry Suit instructor with the shop.  Tige gave me a few pointer and observations that will help with the next class I assist with.

A couple of dives working on their skills, a few tours around the lake so they could get used to the changes in buoyancy and the effect of pressure at depth.  Yeah, they got this.  Two more dry suit divers, done.

A good day of diving. A few minor trickles of water in the suits between the four of us. All and all a go way to spend a Wednesday.

Midweek Dry Suit Training.

Lee working his buoyancy

Lee working his buoyancy

 

 

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Photos courtesy of Virginia Scuba

Photos courtesy of Virginia Scuba

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Deerfield Beach May 2017  TIGER SHARK!!!

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Deerfield Beach May 2017 TIGER SHARK!!!

This was the second annual trip to the southeast coast of Florida of the new era.  During the winter months, the shop runs up to two trips to the Florida Springs area. I am trying to revive the summer time southeast coast trip.  The shop used to do this trip twice a season and we would get 6-8 divers per trip.  The long weekend trip, arrive on Thursday evening, either fly or drive, dive Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, then leave Sunday afternoon if driving or late Monday morning if flying. Good weekend getaway and great diving.

This year we did the trip in May and it was just Ruben and I.  Ruben did his open water cert with me about two years ago. He dives when he can. 

Our plan was to dive out of the Deerfield Beach area Friday but conditions in the area where keeping the local boats in port.  Started calling around to find out who and better conditions either north or south of Deerfield Beach.  Found Florida Scuba Charters out of Palm Beach was going out Friday morning. So we got up early and headed north. 

I won't lie the ride out was rocky. Big rollers, some we were at the bottom of the swell and your were looking a good way up at the crest of the wave.  They have a smaller boat it a bigger than a six pack, they said they can take 15 but don't normally book more than 10.  We were 9 and 10 that day. The captain headed north toward Jupiter Inlet.   Our first dive as Area 51. Sun was shining the sea was getting claimer, water a bit cooler then what I am us to for Florida.  Great dive, the best part was the tiger shark that came to check out about halfway through the dive.  He was much closer on the first pass. Ruben was so excited he almost forgets to turn had Go Pro on. Here is what Ruben recorded from the second pass as the tiger shark swam away.  The real highlight of the trip.  Also, a dolphin swam with him as he was on the line to get back on the boat.  At first, he thought it was the shark returning was glad to see it was a dolphin just take a look to see what he was doing.

The second dive Ruben sat out, the roll of the ocean got to him.  We had moved to the Amphitheater dive site good deep drift dive saw a really big Grouper but not much else.

Saturday the weather was perfect the sea was not, no one was going out that I could find. So we spent the day exploring Deerfield Beach.

Sunday's weather was perfect and so water was nearly perfect.  We were going diving!  Using our favorite the Lady-Go-Diver boat. The boat had about 15 people on it, it can handle up to 29, 15 was just about right.  The first dive site was the Sea Emperor, wreck to reef project. One of my favorite 50-60 ft dives in the area always good stuff to see.   Although I did not see the resident eel nor did I see the giant grouper. Others said they saw the eel.  The grouper is legendary in size and lives in a hollow under the wreck. A great dive with so few people no one was on top of each other plenty of room to spread out and explore.

Second dive site and last one of the trip was a drift dive along the Deerfield Ledge.  Good viz just enough current in the 50 ft range to just meander along the bottom. A great way to end the weekend. Lots of fish, a good reef with places to looks for sea life, lots of sponges and critters in the larger sponges to check out.  Another great dive.

Ruben completed his Waves Tides and Current cert and started Boat which we will finish when we get together again in June.


Lots of fun looking forward to next years trip in May. We may go here again or we may head to Key Largo, Tige is pushing to change it up.  It's Florida diving, I am good either way, both locations are excellent. 

 

 

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Open Water Class - April 2017

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Open Water Class - April 2017

The water temperature is going up a few degrees each week. Amanda was ready to finish her certification. Off to the lake, we went. A slow weekend at the lake not many divers.  Sunday morning we had the lake to ourselves and the bluegill decided to come say hello in mass at the end of our first dive of the day. 

While I did have several other student divers scheduled to join us this weekend, only Amanda could make it work with her schedule.  Carl who is now a Dive Master Candidate assisted with the class.  We had a great time, Amanda did a great job and now is a certified Open Water Diver! Congratulations!

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Drew and What's Next?!

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Drew and What's Next?!

Spring is here and divers in this area want to get back in the water. Yeah, the lake is still cold but yeah ya got to go dive!

Drew wanted to complete Virginia Scuba's What's Next?! program.  A weekend of diving completing 3 certifications and 6 dives. The week before we did Drew's coursework for Enriched Air Nitrox so he could do all of his dives on Nitrox, While at the lake during surface intervals we would cover the coursework for Navigation and Perfect Buoyancy. Then do the dive for the certs. Great diving, crappy weather rained (poured) most of the time.  Lee was also there with Joe doing  Joe's Open Water Cert with Jerry as his DM.

Cold and rainy but we made the best of it. Had a lot of fun.  Drew did a large Nav around the lake as his final task brought us right back to where we started.

Congratulations Drew!  You are now that much closer to your goal of Master Diver!

 

 

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April Dive Club weekend - Diving with this Guy!

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April Dive Club weekend - Diving with this Guy!

Or a better title would -

You have a goal for this year. funny so do I!

Carl, this everybody, Everybody this is Carl.   Carl received his Open Water Cert during our Florida Spring Trip in 2016 and he was hooked.  So hooked within a year he did five specialties and 50 dives which earn him his Master Diver.  Then he started his career as Dive Professional currently a Dive Guide and soon to be working on his Dive Master looking to Dive Control Specialist/Assistance Instructor this summer. Yeah, that hook set deep.

We were sitting around the shop last week and he asked me if I was going diving this weekend.  I told him not if I don't have to the lake is cold.  To which he responded, "going diving this weekend?"  I relented, Even though I just did my dry suit cert last weekend I chose to use my wetsuit.  Since I could not dive the entire weekend due to other plans on Saturday, we dove on Sunday. 

During one of our surface intervals, we got on to the subject of personal dive objective for the year. I started the year diving in the Bahamas with dive number 831. During the course of that dive I remember thinking could I get to dive 1000 this year, what would that take.   After doing the math figured, okay, dive 1000 might be a stretch but it could be done, but dive 900 was well within reach. I decided dive 1000 was the overall goal for the year with dive 900 as the short term object.  Now how to do it.  I needed dive buddies and to make the time.

I explained this to Carl and he said it just so happens he is trying to get to his dive 200 this year, he is currently at dive 58. He as a well has short term goals dive 100 and dive 150 knowing that dive 200 was ways  out there. 

Since it was Sunday we only did three dives towards our goal. Traffic on 95 North on Sunday afternoon can be real pain  Beach traffic north of Richmond, then the entire section between Fredericksburg and Woodbridge where the top speed averages around 10-20 mph after 1 PM you didn't hang around long at the lake after 12 PM if you wanted to make it home at a reasonable hour.

We agreed if either one of us needed a dive buddy to let the other know.  Let's see how we do!

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Dry Suit Training

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Dry Suit Training

I bought my dry suit over a year ago.  I have an Aqualung Fusion Sport. The delay in training was Tige and I could not come up with a weekend to do the training.  One of us was either teaching or could not get two days together to make it happen.  So we decided on April 1  and 2.  No other students had signed up for classes, the quarry opens for the season that weekend and the water temp was in the mid-40s. Not great for an Open Water Class but great for Dry Suit.

We started out Saturday in the pool covering the basics. I took my full face mask knowing it would be cold in the open water. A fun class to take. Completly changes your buoyancy, have to lean and work out a new set of skills.

As luck would have it we remember to bring the camera into the pool.  At the quarry, we forgot them in the gear bag so no photos from Open  Water.  It was fun, undergarments are the key, dress for the environment you are going in to. The deeper you go the suit changes it characteristics add a little air to the suit, move it around, life is good in cold water.   Buoyancy is going to take several dives to work out the correct amount of weight than to manage the necessary amount of air in the suit. Just a reason to dive more!!!

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February Pool Fun

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February Pool Fun

Chris and Steven did there run through Try Scuba to see if Scuba Diving was for them back in December.  Now it was time to step up. Time to get the certification underway. Amanda and Paul joined the class as well for their open water cert. Jerry was the Dive Control Specialist for the class.

All of them did great, they had fun. Now to wait for the quarry to open and the water to warm up a bit to complete the Open Water dives, For Chris and Steven then it is on to the Bahamas!!  That is the goal a family trip to Nassau NP Bahama.

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Shark Feed!!

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Shark Feed!!

January 4 2017
While not a fan of the practice, it is still a thrill to see a shark feed.  What trip on Blackbeard's wouldn't be complete without stopping by the wreck of the  Austin Smith to provide a morning snack to the local population?

Since I was here last in October 2015, Hurricane Matthew blew through the Bahamas during the late summer of 2016. The storm actually spun the wreck bow to stern and broke it into three part. Talk about power.  The bow is broken off and set apart from the rest of wreck, midships is broken from the stern.  The shark feed still happens on the stern it is now just the other way from what I remember.

Austin Smith Jan 2017

Austin Smith Oct 2015 these are the best shots I have of the ship whole. The video below shows how it looks now.

The sharks are always impressive

The video shows the state of the wreck and the feed.  

 

 

 

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Danger Reef - AWESOME.

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Danger Reef - AWESOME.

January 3, 2017
Southeast of Cistern Cay is Danger Reef. The top of the reef is about 25 the sand is about 60 ft. Huge boulder shape reef clustered together. Far too much to see even on the two dives on we did,

At one time this area was a shark feeding site so there are still a lot of sharks.  The reef could take days to explore and would be well worth it.

Watch the Black Group to the left at the start of the video, if you wanted to know where the shark was, look where they were looking. They never took their eyes off of him.

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Feeding the Swimming Pigs!

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Feeding the Swimming Pigs!

January 3 2017
The Swimming Pigs of the Bahamas, what could be more fun!

Okay, today we were there early and they were not swimming. But I have seen them swim in the past.   The crew saved a slop bucket which we brought ashore for the pigs to feed on.  On days the pigs are in the water they take apple slices for them to feed on while they swim as well. 

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Smugglers Plane Wreck

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Smugglers Plane Wreck

January 1 2017

During the 1980s Norman Cay was a drug smugglers haven. At some point, someone missed the 3000 ft runway all together and crashed a Douglas C-47 in the waters west of the cay.

IIt is now known as the smuggler's wreck,   January 3, 2017: We did a dusk and night dive on it on.  Actually, I just did the dusk dive. Fun wreck to dive never dove a plane before.  In a grassy area with nothing else around.  Since it was dusk the dive was shallow and the sun angle was low made for a great dive. A lot of smaller fish. The crew said the site is active night but I was not feeling it. 

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