by Jill Smith
Good morning, Divers!
Three more sleeps until the Adventure Sports gang head out to the Florida Keys for some amazing diving.
I am very excited to tell you that Dana has graciously agreed to update us on this blog about her experiences in Florida, along with some pictures of her adventure.
Dana grew up in a family of avid scuba divers, lived in Australia for 5 years, and has traveled around south east Asia! She will be working on achieving her PADI Advanced Open Water Certification, and start working towards her Divemaster! Dana's all time favourite animal is the manta ray, so hopefully she gets a chance to dive with them very soon.
Because I am not going to be with this fun group of happy divers (this time), I am very happy that I can live vicariously through Dana over the next week! I'm sure some days she will be very tired, and we may have to wait until she has the energy, and stops having an awesome time for a moment to give us an update.
So please check in often, and find out what this scuba bunny has been doing!
I hope you have a wonderful time Dana - good luck with your Advanced certification. Safe and happy diving!
Note to our Florida peeps: If you wish to send me 4-6 of your favourite images per day (I just can't manage 500), I will add them to the "Florida Keys 2014" photo album on Flickr, so that you can share them with your fellow divers (and us sad, land locked folks at home can enjoy them too). Your dive buddies can download pictures from the album if you do wish to share. Up to you!
Send them to: email@example.com
Flickr Album link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/asn_scuba/sets/72157643518714283/
of course, there are no photos in there yet (save the one dummy one I used to create the album and get it started). The rest is up to you! :)
Safe travels! Safe diving! Have a great time!
MYTH: Scuba diving is for tropical climates only.
TRUTH: Well, diving in the tropics IS pretty phenominal; you just can't beat that weightless and peaceful feeling as you glide over a colourful garden of coral and marine life. Unless, of course, you are drifting through a kelp forest with a pod of sea lions. Or, perhaps exploring the beautiful Arabia in Tobermory, Ontario, sunk in 1884, and preserved in the deep, cool waters of Lake Huron, or the shipwreck of the Wexford, sunk 100 years ago (1913), claiming the lives of 23 souls during the great storm of Lake Huron. Further to that, you can find flooded quarry's and mineshafts in the most unlikely places!
The point is, there is a world of rich history, and great geological beauty waiting to be discovered beneath the waves pretty much anywhere in the world!
That is without even considering the amazing people that divers are. You will never meet a friendlier or more open bunch of happy blokes anywhere. After your diving, there is likely BBQ, refreshments, and great stories to be shared! We don't just do that under a palm tree, the fun and laughter run rampant everywhere!
Have tank, will travel.
MYTH: Sharks will eat me; I saw Jaws, you can't fool me!
TRUTH: Well, if Hollywood put that out there, it must be true (insert sarcastic font). The truth is, sharks don't want to be bothered with you; you are chewy with all that gear on, the metal cylinder on your back makes them fart, and you just don't taste as good as a fish. They will make every effort to avoid you.
In all seriousness though, it is very rare to have the opportunity to glimpse these amazing creatures on a dive, and such an experience would definitely be a happy highlight for any diver.
These days, dive operations now guide groups on shark dives, and sharks have learned that a group of divers equals a free meal of fish. Caution is advised; you want to make sure you follow your guide's instructions to the letter. Never forget that they are wild creatures, not domestic pets. Many divers have enjoyed being able to see and witness sharks in their habitat - the oldest, and most efficient marine predator on earth - at close range, citing it as one of the most rewarding dive experiences they have ever had.
FACT: More people die each year from falling coconuts than from shark attacks (shark attacks can often be attributed to mistaken identity. Surfers on boards may appear to be a nice fat sea lion floundering on the surface of the water from below).
MYTH: I have to buy all the expensive equipment just to learn how to dive.
TRUTH: New divers require 3 personal pieces of scuba equipment to begin: mask, snorkel, and fins. Make sure your Adventure Sports Associate helps you to fit these correctly. Ill-fitting equipment will detract from the joy of your dive, or may even cause you to have to abort your dive altogether.
You may rent all other gear for your dives. Try the equipment offered at the dive shop. Is it comfortable? Easy to use? If and when you decide you wish to add a piece of scuba gear to your scuba arsenal, you will be better prepared to make that choice. You will already know what you like about some gear (weight belt vs. integrated for your BCD, for example), and what you don't like. It's up to you how much you wish to invest.
MYTH: You have to be a muscle-bound competitive swimmer to scuba dive.
TRUTH: A person with an average fitness level can scuba dive. You DO have to know how to swim and tread water. You do not have to be Michael Phelps. If you are not a strong swimmer, it may be necessary to increase your swimming skills so that you have confidence, and can move more easily in the water.
To get your PADI Open Water certification, you must swim 200 yards non-stop. It is not a race, and you can take the time you need to do it.
MYTH: Diving is a man's sport. Women don't dive.
TRUTH: Diving may have been a predominantly male sport in the 1950's, but that has changed. We not only have some impressive female divers in our club, but we have some rockin' lady divemasters and instructors too; I don't know what our club and classes would be without them!
We hope to add a "Women's Dive Club" branch to our Tank Jockeys club in the near future - not with the purpose to exclude men, but to encourage women to gain confidence and competency in the sport with the guidance of other women who are very proficient and experienced. More women needed; Dive Like a Girl!
MYTH: Diving will hurt my ears
TRUTH: It can, if you fail to equalize as you descend; if you feel discomfort in your ears, you should ascend a little, equalize, and then continue your descent. SLOWLY, while equalizing often.
Wearing scuba hoodies in cold water can make equalizing a little more challenging, so be aware that you must take a little extra time, and pull that hoodie away from your ears frequently as you descend and equalize.
How do you equalize? Swallow, wiggle your jaw side to side, or pinch your nose, close your mouth, and blow. You will feel your ears equalizing the pressure.
So just don't believe all the dramatic myths that cross your path, come in and talk to an Adventure Sports Associate; they can answer all your questions and hopefully put you at ease.
There is good reason that Scuba diving is one of the safest sports; divers are responsible, conscientious, and detail oriented sports enthusiasts. They take their diving seriously and help others to dive safely too. Come in and learn more!
PRE-DIVE SAFETY CHECK!
B W R A F
With our Florida Keys Dive Adventure trip looming in the near future (YAY!), we thought it may be a good time to review our knowledge of safety and diving.
Jody will be working with all of you to make sure you all have a buddy to dive with; do advocate for yourself and make sure you have a partner.
Plan your dive and dive your plan; Jody and the Captains will outline the dive plan for the group to a large degree, but feel free to ask questions or to clarify anything that is unclear before you enter the water.
Do a pre-dive safety check with your buddy; the extra pair of eyes and ears really do help!
B - BCD - Check that it's fitting properly, inflates, deflates, low pressure inflator connection is secure, and cylinder is firmly buckled in the band. Most of your entries in Florida will be from the boat; likely requiring your BCD to be partially inflated before you enter the water. Confirm this and ensure you are both ready.
W - Weights - Check for proper weighting, and that the quick release system is clear for ditching.
R - Releases - Make sure you're familiar with your buddy's releases and how they work. Check each other's to ensure they are secure, and you can easily find them.
A - Air - Yup! You are going to need that! Confirm that you both have ample air for your dive, that your valves are open, and that regulators and alternate air sources are working. Ensure that you both know where to find and how to use each other's alternate air sources.
F - Final Okay! Give each other a final inspection looking for out of place equipment, dangling gauges, missing gear, etc.
Smile and have a great time! The rest of us left behind are positively GREEN with envy, but look forward to hearing the wonderful scuba diving stories that are sure to follow this trip; please remember everything! Keep a journal! :)
One more thing. We have created a Flickr photo album for this Florida trip. It is for any and all to contribute if they wish. Any photos you wish to share will be added to the album for all to see, and fellow divers can download photos as they choose.
If you do wish to contribute to the album, I would request that you send me your chosen 5 or 6 pics per day(or whenever, but I can try to keep it updated over the week for our Florida divers to enjoy), and I will add them to the folder at my earliest convenience.
Jody will be setting me up an email just for this purpose, so the email address will soon follow.
Keep hydrated, and don't drink and dive!