Diving Family Vacation

Scuba Diving in Nuevo Vallarta

On Wednesday MJ and I went on a 2-tank dive trip.  We dove with Scuba Steve out of Nuevo Vallarta.  Scuba Steve is a PADI certified shop running out of the Paradise Villa Hotel.  We went out to the Los Arcos dive site, just south of Puerto Vallarta.  Both dives were reef dives.

The first dive was along an underwater wall.  The top of the wall was around 70-80 feet.  The wall dropped to a depth of 1600 feet.  Our max depth was 80 feet with a total duration of 35 minutes.  We saw a bunch of moray eels, zebra eels, angel fish, puffer fish and many of the typical reef fish.  Due to the max depth we reached, we did a 3 minute safety stop at 20 feet to help our bodies off gas excess nitrogen.  I believe this dive was one of MJ’s deepest dives to date.

I used a GoPro Hero4 to capture the video and pictures.  On the first dive I used a red color correcting filter to compensate for the loss of light underwater.  During the first dive I realized that there was considerable green in the water.  So on the second dive I used a magenta color correcting filter which compensates for both the loss of reds and the excess green color.

First Dive Video:

The second dive went to a max depth of 60 feet and a duration of 45 minutes.  We came across a pipe fish, a spotted eagle ray, and an octopus.  While we were at a depth of 50 feet and motor boat passed directly over our heads.  The octopus was a rather large one, about 12 inches across.

Second Dive Video:


Rescue Diver Course

Recently I completed the PADI Rescue Diver Certification.  I’ve been wanting to take this course for quite some time.  In taking the Scouts to the Florida Sea Base I had really wanted to have this certification before the trip.  While I ended up taking the certification after the trip, at least I was motivated to make it happen.

I found the course to be very physically demanding. We had to learn how to control a panic diver on the surface and under water.  How to prevent a diver from having an out of control ascent.  We had to learn how to bring an unconscious diver up from the bottom and provide rescue breaths.

To complete the course we had to demonstrate all the skills in open water.  The most challenging scenario was to find a missing diver.  We had to perform an underwater search to find our “missing” diver, which was a blue fin weighted to stay on the bottom.  Once we found the “missing” diver, the fin turned into a real diver, Mike.  There were three of us acting as “rescuers”.  We had to bring the unconscious diver up from a depth of 55 feet.  Then we had to start providing rescue breaths and get him out of his diver gear. We had to tow him into shore all the while providing rescue breaths.  After we successfully carried him onto the grass, Mike magically turned into CPR Annie.  Joe and Patrick, the other two students, started CPR while I got the O2 started.  After this scenario, all three of us were physically drained.

BSA Troop 110 Diving

Sea Base Adventure

This past summer we travelled with the Boy Scouts to the Sea Base High Adventure Camp in Islamorada, Fl. for a full week of SCUBA diving.  We were there from July 31st to August 7th with 8 scouts and 4 adults.  The scouts were between the ages of 14 and 18.

We did a total of 11 dives during the week.  All the dives were coral reef dives on the Atlantic ocean side of the keys.  The divers were to a depth of 20 to 30 feet.  Water visibility was anywhere from 80 to 40 feet, depending upon the weather conditions.    The scouts got to dive both hard corals and soft coral reefs.

The abundance of sea life was just out of this world.  We got to see tons of reef fish.   Just about every dive we saw at least one barracuda.  On the night dive, we saw the barracuda schooling over the reef. We saw a couple of nurse sharks.  On one dive some of the boys got to see some black tip reef sharks.  The nurse sharks were great.  They were between 5 and 6 feet in length and we were able to swim with them for quite some time.  We saw some grey spotted eels and several moray eels.  On one dive we swam with a sea turtle that was about 3 feet in diameter.

All the scouts and two of the adults had to get PADI certified in SCUBA diving before going on the trip.  The scouts did their certification in May & June.

Dive Log:

Dive Date Location Depth Time In Time Out Dive Time
1 8/1/11 Alligator Reef 23′ 1:58pm 2:41pm 43min
2 8/2/11 Long Key Reef 25′ 12:13pm 12:55pm 42min
3 8/2/11 Pillars of Atlantis 25′ 1:45pm 2:30pm 45min
4 8/3/11 Ham Reef 36′ 10:36am 11:35am 59min
5 8/3/11 Capt Grumpy Reef 27′ 12:00pm 12:50pm 50min
6 8/3/11 Alligator Reef 24′ 7:37pm 8:31pm 54min
7 8/4/11 Boink Reef 39′ 9:41am 10:30am 49min
8 8/4/11 Labyrinth Reef 29′ 11:02am 12:03pm 59min
9 8/5/11 South End of Alligator Reef 25′ 11:09am 12:11pm 58min
10 8/5/11 North End of Alligator Reef 21′ 12:32pm 1:26pm 54min
11 8/6/11 Landing Strip Reef 34′ 9:34am 10:26am 54min
BSA Troop 110 Diving

SCUBA Certification

This summer we’re taking a group of scouts to the BSA high adventure sea base in Florida.  We’re doing the SCUBA adventure program down in the Florida Keys for one week.  The program is awesome.  The scouts get to do 11 dives on the coral reefs in some of the most pristine water. We have 8 Scouts and 4 adults going on this adventure.  The scouts are between the ages of 15 – 18.

One of the prerequisites is that everyone, adults included, must be certified SCUBA divers.  We started the certification class 3 weeks ago.  The boys have another 2 classes and then the 4 open water dives to become fully certified.  I’ve attended parts of the class and the pool sessions.  It is pretty cool to see how they are progressing.  Last week they practiced out of air emergencies and equipment failures.

The instructor, Tony from Dosil’s, is great.  The man has the ability to teach the scouts in a way that keeps their attention.  He also has unbelievable patience.

BSA Troop 110 Diving

Discover SCUBA

A few weeks ago we had the Scouts who are going to SeaBase this summer participate in a Discover SCUBA at Dosil’s Dive Shop.  I’ve always been skeptical about the program and wondered “does anyone really get anything out of it”.  After seeing the Discover SCUBA program I’m hooked.  If you are thinking about getting certified in SCUBA diving, you really should try the Discover SCUBA.

The concerns I had with the Scouts is if they would be able to clear their ears and would they be comfortable underwater.  The program answered both questions for me.  It also lifted the boys spirits and got them excited about this summer’s trip.

The whole program took about 2 1/2 hours.  Tony, our dive instructor, took the boys through a series of drills like clearing their mask, clearing the regulator, how to surface and how to work the buoyancy compensator. After each Scout demonstrated that they could perform each of the tasks, they were allowed to go into the deep end of the pool.

In all told the Scouts were in the deep end of the pool for about 45 minutes.  They are all looking forward to the certification classes which we’re going to begin around the end of April.



Dutch Springs

Last Sunday I got to Dutch Springs for a day of diving. Both Mark and Rich dove with me. This was my first time to Dutch Springs and we got 3 dives in for the day. Needless to say it wasan awesome day. The first dive was out to the underwater platform to practice our skills. Then we went to the school bus for a nice swim through. All of the underwater objects have been made completely safe for divers. There are ropes leading to most of the objects, making navigation a no brainer.

The second dive was out to the Cessna and then to the Sikorsky helicopter. From the Cessna to the helicopter we used our compass to navigate. On the first pass, we missed the helicopter. Rich and I had to surface to get our bearings. The helicopter is suspended by large floats about 20′ off the bottom. You can easily swim through the structure. On this dive I had my 135 cubic inch tank with me. It s a high pressure tank, 5250psi.  I’m calling that bottle my never ending tank. I bought it specifically for the deeper dives. I got tired of having short dives with the 80’s cubic inch tanks. Well it did just nice. At the end of a 45 minute dive to depths of 50-60′, I still had 1900psi in the tank.

The third dive Mark & I tried to navigate to Hellcat plane by compass. We did find the Hellcat. Although in true fashion, Mark & I had several laughs underwater. Especially when I flip-flopped the compass heading and took us straight into an underwater cliff.


St. Lawrence Seaway Dive Trip

Instead of creating a series of blog entries to try to capture my recent trip to the St. Lawrence Seaway, I created a series of pages.  So much happened within the span of a week, that it was easier to link to everyone’s websites or blog’s.  The diving was superb.  The people on the trip were fabulous.  I’m looking forward to next year’s trip!!


Get Ready, Get Set for St Lawrence

We had the group meeting for the dive trip to the St. Lawrence River this past Monday night. Before then I wasn’t really getting excited about the trip. It was still a week away and I still had a lot to do at work. Well, once we walked through some of the dives and what to expect for conditions, it was hard not to be excited.

We’ll be diving some steel hulled shipwrecks as well as 200 year old wooden wrecks. Because of the cold fresh water, the wooden ship wrecks are still largely intact! Some of the wrecks are in the shipping channel, which poses their own special requirements. We’re actually staying in Brockville Ontario. Most of the dives are in Canadian water, however a few are in US waters.

We’ve been told to expect water temps in the 70-73 degree range. That’s way to warm for the dry suit, so I’ll be diving wet. The visibility is usually in the 20 to 40 foot range. No where near Caribbean visibility, but it is much better than what I’ve gotten accustomed to off the coast of NJ.

There will be10 of us travelling up to Brockville this Sunday. Hopefully a few of my fellow divers will have underwater cameras. I want to take a laptop and camera with me. I’m hoping that there will be a wifi access point so I can blog each night about the dives and have some photos to share.


Manasquan Wreck Dive

We tried to dive the Manasquan wreck today. It is an unidentified wooden shipwreck that became grounded and the surf broke it up. The wreck is about 1000 feet off the coast in front of Pompano Ave in Manasquan, NJ. It’s reported to be in about 30 feet of water.

When we arrived this morning, the fog was so heavy we couldn’t see the landmarks to navigate to the wreck. So instead of wasting a tank of air when we knew there was no hope of finding, we went to our alternate dive site – the Pt. Pleasant RR Bridge.

Upon arriving at the RR bridge, there was a class of students prepping to enter the water for one of their open water dives. In talking to one of the instructors, we discussed our approach to the dive so we would stay away from the class. It was a good dive, although both of us were disappointed that we couldn’t get off shore today.

If the weather cooperates, we’re going to try the Manasquan wreck next Saturday.


Diving with your Blackberry

I picked up my Dry Suit with all the new seals.  Of course, I couldn’t wait for the next dive.  So I spent an hour getting the seals cut to fit me perfectly and eagerly put the Dry Suit on.  I had Cathy zip it up, purged the air out and threw on my weight belt.  Without hesitation, I jumped into the pool in the backyard and went snorkelling around for 45 minutes.

As I was getting out I felt a familiar vibration on my hip.  Instinctively I reached down to pull out the Blackberry.  It was at that moment I realized I had left the Blackberry on my hip when I put the Dry Suit on.

Thankfully the Dry Suit seals worked.  Both myself and the blackberry stayed dry!

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