Monday, December 13, 2010

Great 100th Dive

Two awesome dives in Monterey at the weekend. 

First one was at the breakwater, with a friend who's getting back into the water after a break. 

Great diving.  Visibility is the best it's been in a long time this month in Monterey.  Almost like being in a swimming pool.  We could see the anchor (*1) as we swam past it, a good 20 feet away.  Played around on the sandy bottom doing mask exchanges in 25ft.  Hardly felt the cold, got sea water in my eyes, didn't hurt in the least (*2).  Played around in the shallows, rocks and reef, towards the center of San Carlos beach, on the swim back to the beach.

After a short surface interval we were heading back out, to play some more on that same reef, when we had a mask problem, so I bailed on that dive.  It would have been my 100th dive (*3).  Disappointed I had to skip it, but I was happy to see my buddies make the dive.

Did an internship in a rescue class after that.  Rescue classes are fun.  Especially when you're the one being rescued!  That kept me busy from about 10am to 2pm.

After a few hours of being rescued I managed a dive out to the Metridium FieldsYeah!  100th dive!  Metridiums were not the best, but the views of Mola-Mola, Jellies, rock fish was wonderful. 

I learned after we returned to the beach that there are two fields of metridiums, and we've been diving the wrong ones!  Oh well, I look forward to find the the right ones sometime soon :)

First dives using Nitrox too this weekend.


(*1) There's an anchor in the sand just off the breakwater in about 15ft-20ft of water.  Not going to tell you how to find it :)

(*2) I'm sure someone will point out that getting sea water in your eyes is a bad idea as you could get some kind of aquatic infection.  I seem to remember someone saying that in the past!

(*3) I've already exceeded the 100, but I didn't have 100 logged.

Breakwater/San Carlos Beach, Monterey

View Larger Map

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Nautilus Lifeline

Introduced at DEMA 2010, this Nautilus lifeline radio will revolutionize diving safety.

-The LED display shows your actual Latitude and Longitude to an incredible 1/10000th of a second (or about 20 feet)

- Chat button allows you to chat with the boat on a regular transmission channel

- The Boat button connects you to channel 16 to allow you to hail the boats in the area

- Depress the Distress button for three seconds and your coordinates and an emergency message are transmitted to every commercial vessel within 8 miles

- When closed the unit is water resistant to depth of 425ft allowing most divers to opportunity to take it on every dive

- When open the unit is resistant to a depth of  3 - 5 ft making it usable at the surface of the water

- The unit is charged via a USB port that also allows the user to interface with a laptop and download coordinates and change settings.

- These units are currently in production and will ship to stores in March of 2011

More - Nautilus Lifeline

Monday, November 1, 2010

Chapter 5 was a bitch!

Encyclopedia Of Recreational Diving

Finally finished reading the lengthy chapter 5, which allowed me to finish the remaining chapter in the Dive Master Manual.

All my knowledge reviews are now done! Inching my way closer to DM!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Started the Dive Master Mapping Project

Started the mapping project last weekend. Decided to do McAbee beach, as I like diving there.

Didn't go a smoothly as we had hoped, but actually I was satisfied overall. I think we made a reasonable start. Going to take a lot of trips to Monterey to get it finished though (IMHO).

As far as I can tell (using compass navigation and fin kicks), we actually mapped the area under water indicated by the smaller red dots on the image below.

McAbee Beach Satellite View
Click image for larger view

Shopping for Dive Gear

I didn't realize just how much dive gear you can get via!

There's a lot of stuff I would still want to buy from my local dive shop, to try for fit and check-out how it works, etc. But things like reels, floats, flags, etc., I'm sure is OK to buy online and save a few bucks.

Shop for Dive Gear on

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heavily Modified Equipment

Fingerless Gloves

We learned that diving with "heavily modified" or "improvised" equipment could be dangerous. We should be cautious of people who use heavily modified equipment and we shouldn't encourage people to use it. But I think my adapted gloves are probably OK.

I tried these out in Monterey at the weekend (McAbee Beach, 50F/10C). Didn't feel any colder than normal - not after the first few minutes. It was great to have to dexterity to actually operate clips and camera buttons.

The one thing I might do different next time is limit the modification to thumb and first two fingers. I was very nervous whenever I touched the bottom, or any rocks, that I might get stung, envenomed, grazed, etc.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blue World TV -- "Hey Kids, SCUBA is Great!"

This guy got a mention in the PADI magazine.

It's targeted at kids - to get them excited about "The Underwater World". I enjoyed watching the webisodes!

Both seasons are available to buy on DVD. Get them from the or from Amazon

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can you eat a banana underwater?

I was reading this article about someone attempting to stay underwater for 5 days, which got me wondering how you eat underwater!

I suppose you can survive on smoothies and other 'suckable' food-stuffs. You know, things that will go through a straw. But would it be possible to eat real food?

Then as I read further through the article, it sounds like the lake he's in isn't the type of fluid you'd want your food stuffs to come in contact with! Maybe sticking to a liquid lunch is the right way to go.

Then there is the issue of "waste disposal". Does he plan to wear a diaper for five days? Surely he would need to change it once a day to avoid nappy-rash, which presents a floater risk. I'm not sure he's sufficiently thought this thing through.

I applaud his efforts to promote environmental stewardship though. Good luck Allen!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Take a tablet people!

I have to admit, I'm crap when it comes to boats! I get sick at the slightest bit of choppiness.

So it was a guity pleasure on that recent boat dive when I managed to not hurl during the dive. I didn't even feel slightly queasy! I was even able to pig out on the food provided on the boat!

What was really satisfying was seeing so many of the other divers having such a rough time and chumming the water ;)

At one point there were so many divers hanging lifelessly off the back of the boat, I felt like I was in a scene from some 'lost at sea' movie. I wondered how many weeks we'd been out there and who I would need to eat first.

All props to the Dramamine. One 'Less Drowsey Formula' tablet an hour before getting on the boat. I have to assume this is what saved me.

Take a Tablet People!

SCUBA Radio!

I really like SCUBA radio
 - lots of great dive site information
 - great interviews at resorts and dive operators
 - reasonably funny banter while they're in studio

However, I have noticed that every time they're at a dive resort they always describe it as the best diving they've ever done.  Now, either [a] they've got really bad memories (due to the amount they drink when they're on the road, or narcosis!?) or [b] you have to take what they say with a pinch of salt!

I realize they can't really say "this is the best diving I've ever done, at least since we were in Domilica last week", it would be a little unkind to the resort owner they're talking to at that time, but they can't simply say every new location they go to is the best ever!

Visit, or subscribe to the podcast through MediaFly, or your other favorite feed-reader.  It's probably on iTunes too, but I don't use that Apple crap!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wreck Diving in San Diego

This time last year I didn't even know we had wreck dives in California, but now I know there are four wrecks within 15mins boat ride of the shore.

I believe "wreck dive" was the PADI specialty of the month this month, which explains why the shop was running a trip to SD to dive off the Yukon.

I didn't bother doing the specialty class, but I did go on the dive. Of course, this limited me to the outside of the wreck, but as I'm more into diving for the fish than anything else, that wasn't much of a limitation.

The Yukon is a great wreck to dive. 366ft long and still intact, you get to 'fly around the boat', although the affect is slightly wrong as the boat is on it's side, not upright.

For me the best thing to do was 'fly' over the top of the bridge, past the crows nesty thing and to the smoke stacks, which you can peer into (but can't see far).

The crows nest was great as it's covered in little white anemones, making it look like a snowy winter's day.

From the crows nest you really get to see the whole layout of the ship. Wish I'd done this profile for the first dive, not the third.

Next best area, probably, was my close inspection of the life boat booms, and their covering of strawberry anemones.

Anemones seem to be the main inhabitant, there are many Metridium, Sheephead and Sinorita fish. I also think I saw a leopard shark, though it may have been a big Lingcod! Thinking about it, it was stationary in the shadows of the hull, which doesn't sound very shark like. Either way, it was a really big fish. At the end of the fourth dive we saw a very big bizarre jelly, just ahead of the bow, in about 90ft of water.

Greenling on Anemone
Painted Greenling

Finally it was nice to swim up to the top and the radio mast and see the stars and stripes next to the jolly roger. Wish I'd got a picture of that.

Besides the Yukon, we also did a dive on a smaller boat called the 'Ruby E', and a dive on a sunken radio tower. Tower was a bit of a jumble. I'm told it's also a nice site for looking for lobsters and eels. The Ruby was a nice little boat and totally covered in various shades of Anenome.

Photos are at

Bloosee Map

BlooSee - HMCS Yukon

Monday, August 30, 2010

Started Dive Master Training

Well, a few months earlier than I originally wanted to do it, but I've signed-up as a DMC, over at Diver Dans.

Supposedly I need to get finished within a year! Hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew!

First on my to do list:
- complete knowledge reviews for chapters (1) and (2) of the DM manual
- DEMP training - technically not a DMC prerequisite, but Tom wants me to do it

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Oceanic Personal Safety Device (P.S.D.)

Diving is definitely a hobby that falls in the "expensive" category. Seems every time I go to the dive shop for an air fill I spend a hundred bucks.

But there's one accessory that I bought recently that is a no brainer!

The Oceanic Personal Safety Device (P.S.D.), otherwise referred to as a "Signalling Tube".

Oceanic P.S.D.
Buy Online

I was encouraged to buy a few month back, while doing my Rescue Diver training. You're supposed to have one incase you get stuck out in the water and you need to make yourself more visible for rescue services.

Sure you can get other emergency signaling tubes for about $10, where as this one costs about $40. But I was recently lucky enough to be snorkeling up at Lake Tahoe (not a dive trip at all) and I took my PSD with me. It worked great when my son and I were floating around in the water. We could use it to rest on, we hung our masks on it, I even used it as a lift bag at one point! I was snorkeling around and I saw a 5lb dive belt weight on the lake bed and I used my PSD to carry it back to shore, hence doing a bit of lake clean-up.

It's great that it rolls-up to the size of a coffee can, and it only takes two or three breaths to inflate, but it's buoyant enough to support 250plus pounds (based on our experience).

While a lot of your dive gear will costs you hundreds of dollars, this is something that costs just $40. It's a "safety" product, so it's not immediately sexy, but that fact that I could also use it to make a fun snorkeling trip safer and more stress free means it's one safety product that you can buy without thinking "This is something I don't want to buy, I'll never use it and I don't want to buy it, but I have to".

Using my PSD while snorkeling

Thursday, July 15, 2010

McAbee Beach Diet

I lost 8 pounds at McAbee Beach. Not sure how it happened, at no point during the dive did I get over buoyant, so I have to assume it was during the ascent or on the surface swim to shore that the weight pouch got dumped.

Anyway, if you find a weight pocket for a chute II next time you're diving McAbee, Monterey, there's a $30 reward in it for you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hitch Safe

This is a great idea for keeping your vehicle keys safe during you're beach dive.

A small safe, with a combination lock, that is secured into your tow hitch.

Don't risk taking your key on the dive and donating it to Davy Jones' Locker. Leave that key securely on dry land!

Looking for a good price, they seem to be running $50-$100 online ($70 on Amazon right now).

Hitch Safe


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Oxygen as a hangover cure

The research also attempted to identify a cumulative effect by having subjects consume several oxygen-heavy concoctions over the course of an evening. The result: fewer hangovers in the morning, as the body was better able to break down the alcohol and eliminate it from the system.

Oxygen as a hangover cure

I'm wondering if breathing nitrox while drinking would be another low-tech way to achieve the same result!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Point Lobos Dive

Did two dives at Point Lobos last Wednesday (Feb 10).

Conditions were good, the visibility was above 20feet. water temp was a little low (52F). waves were small and coming in from the West, so the cove was calm/sheltered. Surface conditions were OK. somewhat overcast, with patches of sun. Temp was probably in the low 60s.

I've only been to Lobos once before and to be honest, I didn't think it was a good dive that time. On that occasion I think we dove Cannery Point.

This time we dove in two spots. First dive was Cannery Point, second was Middle Reef.

Diving at Cannery Point means entering the water from the boat ramp, then turning left (as you face the water) to swim North, parallel to the parking lot.

We swam out as far as the first rock. at that point the surface waves were buffeting us quite a bit (foot or two). In this area you start to get out of the protected area of the cove.

We dropped down and swam out on about a 350degree barring. I had the intention of turning left, taking a 270degree, once we got to deeper water, but every time I tried to go West, we encountered rough surge against the rock wall. I repeatedly did North to West, to North, to west turns, but eventually conceeded that we were not going to get west around the cliff.

There wasn't as much wildlife on this dive as I expected. We saw a couple of large schools, and several Nudibranchs. I saw one larger rockfish, didn't see it long enough to get a picture, it disappeared behind some rocks.

The second dive, along Middle Reef, required a surface swim out to the middle of the cove. we swam away from the boat ramp on a North-East barring then once at the middle of the cove took a parallel tack to the parking lot wall. Before we got to the end of the cliff we dropped down. Vis on the surface was terrible! couldn't see the bottom, but we had started to encounter some light kelp, so I took that to mean we were over a rocky bottom.

Once we dropped down (it was about 20ft deep) the vis really opened up.

The bottom where we submerged was still pretty sandy, so I was worried that my assumption (i.e., kelp means rock) was bad. however, I then saw, out 15ft to the north, the start of the rocks (the 'reef'?!!).

We took the same approx barring as the last dive, 350degree (ish). It was a very easy out/back pattern.

This dive was great. there was so much to see. several very large rockfish (Vermillion?), crabs, shrimp, nudibranchs, a big Lingcod. Lots of swimming between rock pinnacles, so plenty to see on the rock walls. A lot less surge and swell on this dive, due to the more protected position in the cove.

The depth ranged down to 45ft, but due to the undulating nature of the reef most of the dive was below 30ft, meaning a good 50minute dive - even for an air hog like me!

Overall a successful dive trip. The second dive was one of my top five Northern Cal dives, possibly even my favorite.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Great dive at the weekend

It was great to get back in the water at the weekend for a couple of dives.

First trip out with my new Atom 2.0, so it was a simple dive down at Monterey's Breakwater. We considered McAbee, but there was quite a swell there and the waves were washing very high up the beach, and quite large I should add!

Took a swim out to the Metridium fields (bloosee link). Visibility was quite good out there - for Monterey at least - we had about 20ft vis'. Found the Metridium field quite quickly, they're in about 50 ft of water.  Then we swam off on a 270degree barring and hit one of the old sardine pipes, which run from shore out to where the boats would unload (more info).

Second dive was along the wall of the breakwater. I know what you're thinking, diving at Breakwater when you've been diving 10+ years, sounds like a bit of a joke. But I have to say, there was a lot to see there. Great selection of crabs, decorator crabs, nudibraches, barnicles, rock fish, stars, the occasional seal and sealion. Another great thing - staying at 30 feet for the whole dive meant I didn't blow through my air in 35minutes, unlike the first dive.

Didn't take a camera, as I was focusing on the new computer, sorry no pictures to share.  Next time eh!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Atom 2.0 Dive Computer

I got myself the Atom 2.0 as a Christmas present.

Link to Oceanic website

The Atom is a fully integrated dive computer from Oceanic. It is a watch-style wrist mounted computer. Air is integrated via a wireless link to the transmitter 'dongle' that attaches to the first stage of your regulator.

I have to say, I'm loving the thing. I didn't realize how much easier diving would be with the computer mounted on the wrist.

Previously with gauges and computer on the hose on the left, I was juggling inflator, gauges, compass while diving. Now things are a lot more evenly distributed. Checking air and depth is just a quick flick of the wrist away, without needing to drop inflator or compass from the left hand.

Given the new found freedom of my left hand, I have taken the opportunity to move my compass to a retractor on the left. This also makes life easier - given my age! Checking direction can be done without focusing on a dial 9" from my face now (which I had to with the left wrist mounted compass). On recent dives, I hate to admit, focusing up close on my wrist compass was getting near impossible.

Definitely worth the money.