It’s that time of year again….and we have some great Black Friday weekend specials for you from various manufacturers:
Beginning Thursday November 28 through Monday December 2, 2013 Henderson Thermoprene wetsuits will be on sale for 20% off This sale is on Thermoprene products only.
For the weekend, all DiveAlert Lifelines are on sale for $30 off regular price! Plus the special holster for them is also on sale!
Between now and Tuesday, December 2nd, for every 2 piece Arctic or 1 piece Arctic purchased you will receive a pair of Arctic socks (MSRP – 36.95) and a xerotherm beanie hat (MSRP – 20.95) FREE!
Aqua Lung and Suunto are offering a FREE transmitter (a $450 value) with the purchase of any wrist top air integrated Suunto dive computer!
Take advantage of this great offer from now until December 31st and treat your favorite diver, or yourself, to a new Suunto dive computer this holiday season.
The Suunto Wireless tank pressure transmitter gives you current tank pressure and remaining air time with just a glance at your wrist and is compatible with all Suunto wrist top air-integrated dive computers, including DX, D9tx, D6i, D4i, D9, Vyper Air, and HelO2.
*Buy any* Zeagle BCD (some exclusions apply) and receive a free Octo Z with your purchase.
Promotion does not include Ranger Jr. or the Scout.
When you purchase a set of any Oceanic Mask, Snorkel and Fins from any of our three locations, you’ll get a credit for the entire amount applied towards the purchase of an Oceanic life-support package. WOW! That is a substantial savings!
This is a limited offer. Your life-support package must be purchased within four (4) months of the original purchase of the M/F/S set and both purchases must be made at the same store. A life support package must include the following: dive computer, buoyancy compensator, regulator and alternate air source or octopus. Each package must be exclusively Oceanic.
Qualifying Oceanic products:
Regulators: EOS, Delta 4.2
Octopus: Any Oceanic Octopus or Air XS
BC’s: Probe, Excursion, Hera, Flex, Biolite
Computers: VEO3.0, Geo2, OC1, OCi, ProPlus3, VT4.1, Atom 3.1 and Datamask
This is a great way to get started with your own gear or to update your existing gear!
First off, let me preface this report by saying this was our second trip to Wakatobi, the first being in October, 2009. I'll try to describe some of the differences from four years ago compared to the recent trip and give the reader some idea of what to expect when they travel to this fantastic place….
I had booked this trip in the fall of 2011 at our annual trade show. This is pretty much the norm for Wakatobi, as the resort gets booked up quite quickly, especially for groups. We had 12 in our group, which turned out to be a really good number, as you will see later.
Our itinerary was planned so that everyone in our group met in Los Angeles the day before we left, simply because of flight schedules, and to ensure all baggage made it. We flew from LAX to Singapore via Singapore Airlines on the new Airbus A380 double decker planes, with a stop in Tokyo. The LAX to Tokyo leg was a little over 11 hours, then from Tokyo to Singapore was about 7 hours. We landed in Singapore about 2am, and had reservations at one of the airport transit hotels, a welcome chance to sleep horizontally for a few hours and get cleaned up after the long flights. Our next flight from Singapore to Bali left about 930am, and was only about 3 hours flying time. Now is where the trip really begins!
Upon arrival in Bali, we were met by representatives from Wakatobi, who collected our passports and visa fees, then proceeded to whisk us past all immigration and customs lines at the arrival hall. A nice service, considering we had been in airplanes for way too long at this point! Once we were through customs and immigration, we retrieved our bags, and were again met by more representatives from Wakatobi, who had arranged porters to help us get our bags to our waiting prearranged transfer van to the hotel in Bali. Wakatobi requires everyone to arrive at least one day before going to the resort, to ensure all passengers and bags arrive. We had arranged for an evening at the Kartika Plaza hotel, located right on the beach in Kuta, a major tourist area. The Kartika is beautiful and with all the amenities one would expect in a higher end business class hotel.
After one night's stay in Bali, we were transported back to the airport by the same van and driver from the day before. This time, however, we were taken to the domestic departure area of the airport, where once again, representatives from Wakatobi were waiting outside the terminal to give us entry passes to the airport, and to help coordinate our bags with the porters. Once inside, we were led to the domestic counter, where we were given special luggage tags with our names already printed on them to attach to our bags. The Wakatobi staff also zip-tied all our bags' zippers for extra security. After we had done all the baggage tasks, we were led to a private departure lounge where we witied until the time came to board the private charter flight from Bali to the airstrip on Tomia, a neighboring island near Wakatobi.
The private charter flight takes about 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on weather, and flies over some very picturesque areas of Indonesia. The airplane used was a smaller jet, large enough to take all the passengers plus all their bags with room to spare. In 2009 the plane was a prop style, and was quite small, but roomy enough for passengers.
Upon landing, we disembarked the plane and of course, representatives from Wakatobi were present to greet all the passengers and lead them to the waiting vehicles for transportation to the marina where the boats were waiting to take us to the resort. If you haven't guessed by now, everything ran smoothly, without any hitches or problems. Frankly this is exactly what happened to us in 2009, and what one would expect from Wakatobi. Well coordinated, friendly, welcoming and efficient service. Many resorts claim to have good service, but Wakatobi is head and shoulders above everything else when it comes to making their guests feel welcome.
Once everyone was on board one of the 70 foot dive boats used to transport guests from the marina to the resort, we headed off for the 15 minute boat ride to the resort itself. There is nothing quite like rounding the point on the island where the resort is situated and seeing the famous resort in the distance. The first thing you see is the long jetty where the bar is located and where the dive boats tie up depending on the tides.
During the time we were at the resort, we took advantage of a behind the scenes tour and one of the most interesting things about the resort is the jetty. Because of the environmental sensitivity of the resort, the jetty took 7 years to complete, because work was only done at ultra-low tide, so as not to damage any of the pristine coral reef structures around the resort. Another great feature of the jetty are the sunsets that can be enjoyed while sipping an adult beverage!
So, we finally arrived at Wakatobi! We were shown to our bungalows which were situated right on the beach and got a quick orientation to the room and schedule by one of the Wakatobi staff. In the past, this was done as a group, but on this trip, a staff person guided us to our room, showed us all the amenities and explained the schedule and resort layout. Locally constructed out of teak and mahogany, the bunglows are beautifully appointed with crisp linens, thirsty towels in the outdoor shower, a small stocked fridge and lots of closet space.
All of the bungalows now have a spacious front porch area which is ideal for afternoon naps on the huge couches, working on your logbook, or just watching the water. In addition, each of the bungalows has a small foot shower near each of the steps to the bungalow, as it is customary in Indonesia to not wear shoes inside your bungalow. For many, this is an interesting twist….you don't wear shoes for the entire time you are at Wakatobi, unless you have sensitive feet, or if you do the village tour.
Before I go further and describe the diving operation and conditions, a word needs to be said about the food! In a word, the food is spectacular. Breakfast starts at 6am, which seems extremely early, but many of the guests are awake very early in the morning after the long flights. Lunch is from 1230pm to 230pm, and dinner is from 7pm to 9pm. All meals are served buffet style, with lots of variety, including western options and local fare. The desserts are to die for. You will not lose weight on this trip!
OK, now on to the diving…..there are three boat dives done every day, with the exception of arrival day and the day before departure. The dive boats are 70 feet long (yikes!) and only 12 divers are allowed on each boat. As you can imagine, this allows for lots of space for gear and cameras. The boats are staffed with a captain, three crew members who help you with your gear, changing tanks, and securing the boat on moored sites. In addition, there were three guides for the group of 12 divers. This is where I mentioned earlier 12 is an ideal number for this trip, as each guide would only lead 4 divers. Each morning your gear is set up for you, and all you need to do is grab your camera from the air conditioned camera room and board the boat. Your wetsuit and gear is rinsed and hung to dry every evening. Dive briefings are done right on the boat either while the boat is docked or at the dive site. The guides do an excellent job of drawing the dive site profile, describing what one can expect to see, and they also go into detail on safety procedures and hand signals. On many of the dives, the current woud pick up a bit, and the guide wold turn the dive from a standard reef dive into a nice relaxing drift dive. No reason to work hard here!
If you decide you'd like to try some shore diving, the resort can accommodate you easily! All you need to do is let your guide know and they will arrange to have your gear brought off the boat and hung in a special area on shore near the dive shop. When you are ready for your shore dive, the land crew members will help with whatever you need…they will carry all your gar, cameras, fins, etc.right into the water and wait for you to end your dive, and then they come out to the water to help you with exiting the water. The service level is almost ridiculous in its efficiency. You literally don't have to lift a finger.
As far as diving conditions, well, let's just say they are varied, as is the topography. Some dive sites were current-free while others had some current and as mentioned above, we never had to fight any currents. The guides would always be aware of conditions and modfied the dive plan to ensure everyone was safe and had an easy dive. This is where the group of only 4 divers really helps. Water temperatures were a consistent 81-83 degrees, and most everyone was comfortable in 3mm suits. Dive times ranged from as little as 45 minutes on some of the deeper dives, to well over 80 minutes on some of the shallower sites. Tanks are AL80 with a few AL100 tanks available. Nitrox is available and was a consistent 31-32% with always 3000-3200 psi in each tank. After each dive, we were helped back to our place on the boat, where a crew member would take our tank and switch it out for the next dive, and all we had to do is put our fins and masks in our basket located under the seat. Easy! Every diver was also issued a nice aluminum water bottle which was filled with water, hot chocolate, or hot tea, brewed or made fresh right on the boat. Even though the air temperature was in the mid to upper 90s, after a long dive, something warm to drink was appreciated. Snacks on the boat consisted of small finger sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and sometimes candy. Remember, you won't lose weight here! Once we were served our beverage of choice, the crew would come around with hot mint-scented hand towels….a nice touch, to be sure. At the dive shop was posted a list of the planned dive sites, along with recommended lens choice for the photographers…wide angle or macro.
Marine life is also varied, from the smallest pygmy seahorse to large turtles and a few sharks and eagle rays. Clouds of fish, especially on the shallower parts of the dives. Tons of colorful nudibranchs and acres of pristine hard and soft corals. Lots of anemone and their associated fish friends. Sensory overload to say the least. The guides are great when it comes to spotting interesting creatures. In most cases, they will identify a creature using their magnetic slate. First, they will write out the common name, make sure everyone sees it, them they will erase the slate and then write out the scientific name. This was especially true when they saw nudibranchs. Impressive!
Some additional highlights:
- Everyone knows your name within a couple of hours after arriving at the resort. Don't ask me how they do it…we suspected they look at pasport photos when we arrived.
- Overpack on memory cards for your camera, and underpack on clothes. Leave the diamond tiaras at home. Laundry service is available for a fee, and on both trips we had some articles laundered and they came back beautifully clean and pressed.
- WiFi is available, but is relatively slow………remember, you go to Wakatobi to get away.
- Snorkeling off the beach in front of the resort is fantastic.
- The camera room is really nice…air conditioned and with both 220 and 110 volt charging stations
- There is a well stocked boutique at the resort with Wakatobi apparel, and some toiletries.
- The soap, shampoo and conditioner provided in the bungalows are really, really nice.
- The bungalows numbered in the upper teens to twenties are situated on the island where there is more of a breeze during the day.
- Bungalows have in-room safes and phones to contact other bungalows or the front desk.
- Spa services are also available.
So, this is definitely a bucket list trip, and one every serious diver needs to plan on doing at least once. From the efficient service, warm welcome, great food, excellent diving, and friendly staff, one would be hard pressed to find a better overall experience on a dive adventure!
We’ve invited Matt Mulryan our Sealife camera rep to come to the Delafield store on Wednesday, December 11 at 6pm for another of his informative seminars on underwater photography with SeaLife Underwater Cameras. Matt will be bringing samples of the new Sea Dragon underwater lighting systems designed for the DC 1400 camera. In addition, Matt will be showing the SOLA line of lights for diving, photography and videography. For this one day only, you can save 10% on any SOLA light purchase. We’ll have refreshments available, and please RSVP to the Delafield store at 262-646-8283
Another DEMA Show has come and gone, and the planning starts for next year's show in Las Vegas.
Today was spent at the last of the DAN seminars, walking the show floor one last time to ask questions that weren't answered during the last few days, and doing some final thinking on travel destinations for 2015 and beyond. This is really the nice thing about coming to this show; you get to talk to the stakeholders and operators of the various resorts and liveaboards so you know you are getting honest information, rather than relying some website somewhere.
Today's DAN seminar was entitled “Myths and facts in diving physiology” and was given by Dr. Pollock, who is the director of research for DAN.
He started his talk by discussing the fact that myths and misconceptions can be found in all fields.
He gave some basic rules for evaluating claims, and they included
- Look for data
- Look for bias
- Never lie to yourself to yourself!
In the scuba industry he spoke about a couple of the most common things he hears when asking why someone does something a certain way…..
- I've always done it this way
- My instructor told me to…..
So, after the preliminary discussion he got right into some of the most common myths. First up was the concept of decompression stress
Myth…..Dehydration is the number one cause of DCS
Reality-Pressure profile is far more important
Hydration is important for general health
Urine color is irrelevant. Use the color of the first sample of the day. As your urine will change color over the course of a day.
Myth …..Following your dive computer will keep you safe from DCS
My computer said it was ok
“This was an undeserved hit”
Reality-DCS is a probabilistic event….random
Myth…..Deep stops improve decompression safety
Available evidence is equivocal and unconvincing
Deep stops are inconsistently defined
Half the max depth or half the max pressure? Think about that one!
Excessive deep stops can increase inert gas uptake
Myth…..Venous gas emboli equals DCS
Reality-vge more common than DCS, but vge are likely not to be found after every dive
Myth…..Nitrox is safer than air
It depends on how it is dived
Nitrox has less decompression risk if used with air tables
Myth…..Nitrox makes me feel better than air
Placebo effect can be real and powerful
Less decompression stress will be experienced with conservative absolute profiles
Be happy if it makes you feel better!
After going through a few more myths, he asked the audience to tell him some of the things that they had heard, and he took the time to discuss each myth thoroughly and dispelled any misconception of things like how much exercise we really get while diving, why some diabetics can indeed learn to dive, and other such topics. But by far the best discussion of the morning dealt with temperature while diving. He basically summarized the discussion by referring to a US Navy study that showed that if you are warm at the start of the dive, and cold at the end (which is typical for most divers) you are actually at a greater risk for DCS, due to the fact that because you are warm on the descent phase of the dive, you have good perfusion, and consequently you are absorbing nitrogen at a greater rate. Then at the end of the dive when you are cooler, you have less perfusion, and because of that you will not off gas as efficiently. The best combination of temperature was to be cold at the start of the dive, so you won't absorb as much nitrogen, then warm at the ascent phase of the dive for best off gassing. He discussed the new heated undergarments that have recently come on the market, and the suggestion was to keep the system on a low setting at the start of the dive, then increase the temperature at the end of the dive for the reasons described above.
Once Dr. Pollock was finished, another rep from DAN came in to talk about the various resources DAN has available to divers and dive clubs…..did you know you can take online seminars for free if you are a DAN member? There is a host of topics including diving with diabetes, ears and diving, decompression theory, medications and diving and many more. This is a great resource for divers who want to improve their knowledge of various dive safety topics. Now that the weather is turning colder and the local season is coming to a close, why not take the time and educate yourself from the experts at DAN? To find out more, just go the the DAN website at www.dan.org
When you are out for a dive, do you have an EAP, or Emergency Action Plan? If you do have an EAP, are you sure it is as complete as it could be? These were some of the topics covered today during one of the DAN seminars I attended.
When you are putting together an EAP, consider what information is most useful
You'll also want to think about preparation, training, and communication during and after a dive accident, and how you will implement your EAP.
The purpose of the EAP is to act as a template for response in an emergency
Here are some of the quick notes I took during the presentation:
- Have a checklist for gear and supplies
- The contact numbers for EMS, DAN, a local diving medicine physician are important to include
- The idea of knowing where the nearest chamber is located Is pretty useless. As there are over 1200 hyperbaric facilities in the US, only about 100 actually take emergency cases. So, even if you know there is a chamber close to your location, it may not be available or may not accept emergency cases
- Derermining what constitutes an emergency can be subjective
- You want to be objective with your assessment
- Be prepared for diving emergencies, obviously, but also be prepared for non-diving emergencies
- Think about the individual's condition, not just the event. For example, a dive computer alarm may be meaningless
- Not all symptoms indicate a dive injury
- Not all dive injuries require chamber treatment
What to include in your EAP:
- Location information
- Directions to closest hospital…not for EMS, but for family members who may not know how to get to the receiving hospital
- If you are traveling internationally, where is nearest embassy and what are the contact details for the regional DAN office
- Is cell service available at this dive site…if not, is there a backup landline?
- The EAP should be completed in advance
- Be sure to leave a copy with an ndividual not in the group
- Include a copy with emergency supplies
Divers need to provide:
- Emergency contact info
- Permission to treat form for minors
- Color copy of passport for international travel
- Personal medical info in a sealed envelope
- “Keep it with you packet” for personal information is available from the CDC here
Consider several small first aid kits rather than one large kit
A short pencil beats a long memory…be sure you have a writing implement and paper or a slate
Avoid terms like near miss and close call
So take a look at your personal EAPs and see if there are ways to improve them or add important information to them….and be sure to consider what could happen before every dive.
The second day of our annual trade show found us doing research on new travel destinations, checking out some new accessory vendors, new partnerships, sitting in on some Diver's Alert Network seminars, and of course catching up with old friends!
Let me start out with some of the new accessory vendors I discovered today walking the show floor. The first one was a company called Splash Bag, and they are a vendor of custom made mesh dive bags. They can make a bag for you in almost any color combination for the mesh, strap, end panels, etc. These bags are really distinctive and would make perfect gifts for the diver who wants a custom designed bag. Here's their website
The next cool idea came from a company called YourBagTag.com . These folks will custom make a luggage tag, a tag for your BCD, regulator or almost any other piece of dive gear. They even make wetsuit zipper pull lanyards with your name on them, so when you travel and your need to hang your suit in a gear locker, you'll always know which suit is yours! What a neat idea! Again, a sweet gift idea for the diver who has everything.
Next up I spoke with an organization called “Ocean Classrooms” and they are an online educational portal licensed by high schools to introduce students to the wonders of the marine world by incorporating scuba diving into an applied science curriculum. They have an ambition to reach the nearly six million private high school and homeschool students throughout the US.
Finally the DAN seminars were some of the best I've ever seen at a DEMA Show. The first one attended was entitled “Marine Life Toxicology” and dealt in detail with venomous and dangerous marine animals, the physiological aspects of injuries from these animals, details of how to best treat injuries and how to identify and avoid injuries from these animals. The presenter was Dr. Matias Nochetto, who specializes in hazardous marine life injuries, based on his background in poisons and toxins.
The second seminar was presented by Dr. Neal Pollock, who besides working with DAN, also is instrumental in the physiological research of astronauts for NASA. Dr. Pollock's talk was about measuring decompression stress, and covered things like defining risks of DCS, how to manage these risks, what should be considered when discussing decompression safety, and how research is done on DCS.
Some of the more interesting sections of his talk dealt with thermal issues while diving, the use of heated undergarments while diving, exercise before, during and after diving, hydration issues, and in some cases, predisposition to DCS.
A couple of memorable quotes from the seminars today:
When discussing marine life injuries, Dr. Nochetto referenced wounds that sometimes will bleed…..and someone asked if bleeding will stop. His comment was “all bleeding will stop eventually” LOL!
The other comment that really hit home when Dr. Pollock was discussing dive computer algorithms was “we've never treated a dive computer for DCS.” In other words, the computer is just a tool….and we can't put all our faith in one. Critical thinking and conservative diving is always appropriate.
Well, we are here in Orlando for our annual trade show, the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association, better known as DEMA. During the four day run of the show, there are representatives from almost every imaginable aspect of the scuba industry: certification agencies, equipment manufacturers, resort destinations, and dive travel agents. In fact, there are even small companies whose sole niche in the industry is to sell zippers!
Anyway, today was the start of the show, and from all appearances it should be successful. Before the show opened at 10 am, there were huge crowds of attendees waiting to get into the show floor, to see the latest gear. Meet with reps and network with old and new friends.
Some of the big highlights included the revised Open Warer Diver course at the PADI booth, along with some new gear we are planning on getting into the stores as soon as available. For example, Oceanic has revisited the Omega regulator and those who have been around a while remember this regulator as a side exhaust model that was known as an extremely easy breather and one that had a very lightweight second stage. We've got some of these on order and they should be in store by the early part of 2014.
Light and Motion, makers of the famous Sola line of dive and photo lights unveiled their new GoBe line of lights…rechargeable handles with interchangeable light heads that can be used for almost any type of diving, including standard lighting, fluorescence diving, or even video and still photography.
Probably the most exciting thing we saw today was the new video light and strobe from Sealife. The new strobe and video light are about half the size of the old models, but still packing the same light output! Plus they have developed a new arm system that can be expanded and is made of a newer materials that doesn't squeak when trying to reposition the light or strobe.
The photo on the left shows just how small the new strobe and video light real are. We were amazed at how light, compact and easy to expand the system was, and how this will be a big selling point for traveling divers who need a strobe or video light, but don't want a lot of bulk. To go along with the new lighting systems, Sealife has also developed a new travel case for the camera and strobe combo…again, much smaller than previous models.
These new strobe and light systems will be shipping in early December, and we will have some in stock for Christmas.
Of course, no DEMA show would be compete without seminars put on by manufacturers or certifying agencies or Divers Alert Network. We attended a couple of seminars DAN pressnted today, and they were very informative. In one, the DAN medic discussed how divers sometimes don't apply critical thinking when there is the possibility of a diving accident or fall victim to “Internet induced decompression sickness” a term that describes someone who thinks they may be bent based on what they have read online without checking for accuracy or medical opinion.
The second DAN seminar we attended today dealt with the pathophysiology of immersion….in other words what happens to our bodies when we are submerged, and what some of the little known risk factors we subject ourselves to when diving.
So, lots to see and do at the show, lots of educational opportunities and still more to come in the next three days, so stay tuned for more updates!