Underwater Wreck

Underwater Wreck

If tales of hidden treasure and undiscovered riches get your blood flowing, then there’s a chance you might be a wreck diver. Diving a wreck is kind of like visiting a museum that’s reserved for the select few who are skilled enough to find their way there. Well, them and the plant and marine life that has taken up residence in the space. Ultimately, underwater wrecks are like museums with a pulse. They change, grow and evolve with every passing moment.

But wreck dives can also be dangerous. Take the Andria Doria site, for example. Relative to the size of the ship, there weren’t many casualties at the time of the collision, but they continue to mount as more daredevils attempt to conquer this “Mt. Everest of Wrecks.” Does the element of danger add to the thrill? Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean you should arrived unprepared for a wreck dive.

Here’s a look at some of the scuba gear you’ll need if you want to go wreck diving:

High-Performance Regulator – The standard regulator that you’ve used for every recreational dive probably isn’t going to cut it on a wreck dive simply because most wrecks are found deep in the ocean. Your scuba gear must be able to handle just about anything.

Bail-Out System – As with any deep-sea dive, you’re going to want an emergency backup in the event that you run out of air. This system should include a scuba cylinder, regulator, pressure gauge and a mounting system.

Cutting Instruments – Wrecks can be extremely unpredictable, and it can be easy to find yourself tangled or otherwise stuck. That’s why it’s crucial to carry a dive knife with a sharp blade and some sort of cutting device that can cut wires and cables. It may be boater’s scissors, sidecutters or linemen’s pliers.

Dive Light – Why go through all the trouble of getting to the wreck if you can’t see all the pockets of beautiful marine life? Look for a weighted light with long burn time and a weight to prevent it from floating away if you need to set it down.

Wreck Reel – This piece of scuba gear acts as a navigational guide when you’re exploring inside a wreck or when visibility is poor.

And there’s one more thing you should have before you go exploring any wreck site, but it’s not scuba gear. If you’re going to go wreck diving, you should first take the Wreck Diver and Deep Diver  courses, so you know you’re prepared for the experience.

Diving without Scuba gear

The sport of scuba diving has come a very long way, and it’s not just thanks to advances in scuba gear. Gone are the days when anyone is diving with a barrel, unless they’re doing it for fun or nostalgia. Instead, divers opt to don the latest wetsuits, regulators, buoyancy compensation devices and oxygen tanks. But even with all that advanced equipment, most dives are done within about 60 feet or less – because that’s where the coral reefs are found. Of course, scuba gear helps divers stay under water and enjoy the view, but any experienced free diver can reach those depths and then some.

What is Free Diving?

The name makes it sound loose and fun, but make no mistake about it, free diving is an extreme and very dangerous sport. Free divers take one very deep breath and dive hundreds of feet below the water’s surface – without any of the traditional scuba gear. The sport has been around so long that there is even evidence that Homer and Plato wrote about its existence. As extreme as it is, most free divers choose to forgo the gear because they want to experience the underwater world without any interruptions. No gurgling from an oxygen tank. No tubes to tie them down.

The Free Diving Experience

Imagine taking a deep breath and diving as far as you could into the ocean. Without experience and a free diver’s knowledge, your natural buoyancy would probably keep you from getting very far. But then again, so would your need for oxygen. Now, imagine staying under water for more than four minutes. Let that sink in. That’s two hundred and forty seconds. Can you hold your breath that long? Most people can’t. It takes training, practice and a great deal of discipline.

The Records

You might be wondering why anyone would put themselves in such intense conditions. What’s the benefit? Much like any extreme sport, free divers do it for the love, and possibly for the adrenaline rush. But unlike most other sports, free divers are rewriting history. How deep can anyone dive without scuba gear? Truthfully, we may not have a definitive answer on that yet. What we do know is how deep people have dived without scuba gear so far. Just five years ago, the world record was 80 meters. On April 10, 2011, William Trubridge broke through as the world champion by reaching a depth 121 meters without traditional scuba gear.

It is truly an exciting time to be a free diver, but it is equally as dangerous. We all want to know exactly how deep a human can dive without dying or losing any mental capacity, but really, there’s only one way to find out. Each attempt at breaking the previous world record for deepest free dive is truly a death-defying act.

Underwater Camera - Keep on Rolling

Underwater Camera – Keep on Rolling

It may feel like time stands still when you’re a few meters below the water’s surface; your movements slow down; the hustle and bustle of the world is silenced. But life doesn’t stop happening. Not by far. There are many interesting things that can, and almost certainly will, happen during a dive. Just ask Rick Coleman. During a night dive last week, Rick happened to have his GoPro underwater camera rolling when an unexpected guest hopped into his kayak. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Unexpected guests in the middle of the ocean might be frightening, but this one couldn’t be cuter. This baby sea lion was intent on hitching a ride back to shore in Rick’s kayak. See the footage here, and I dare you not to smile:

Let that be a lesson to you: Keep that camera rolling. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your underwater camera.

Shed Some Light – If you’re under water or at the surface at night, you’ll need the light on at all times when filming. For underwater shots taken during the day, just be sure to keep the sun at your back.

Spend Some Time – Before you plan to use your underwater camera, spend some time getting used to all the features, specifically, how to focus. Most of the time, auto focus will be fine, but when you’re shooting long distances, you may want to opt for a manual setting. Spend some time playing around with the settings.

Steady Does It – Even if you want to capture something that is moving, try to hold your camera steady for at least 10 seconds at a time before moving it on to another area. This will help the underwater camera focus.

Try Not to Zoom – Even with the best underwater camera, pictures and video that have been taken with the zoom function aren’t as good as others. Although, zoom does prove to be helpful for getting a better look at something, so don’t write it off altogether.

Float on By – Instead of swimming with the camera on, try floating or gliding through the water. Swimming can cause a great deal of jolting, which doesn’t translate well with video. If you see something really cool, it can be tempting to swim after it, but it’s probably better to get a shorter high-quality image than a longer, choppy shot.

snorkeling set

snorkeling set

You probably have heard that there are many fish in the sea, but have you actually seen them with your own eyes? If you’re a snorkeler or a scuba diver, you’ve certainly observed your fair share. What’s that, now? You’ve never done either? Wow, are you in for a treat. It’s time to buy your very first snorkeling set and take in all the wondrous sights of the mystical world below the water’s surface.

First item on your to-do list is to get the right snorkeling gear, and the best place to start is with a snorkeling set. Here are a few tips to help guide your decision:

  1. Get only what you need. You might be surprised that all snorkeling sets don’t contain the same parts. That’s actually a good thing, though. This way, you don’t have to get an extra gear bag if you don’t need one. Choose a set that has only the components you’ll need.
  2. Know the essentials. Although some kits contain unessential components, most will have the basics. When you don’t have anything, start with a kit that includes a mask, snorkel and fins, at a minimum. These are the things you’ll absolutely need on your maiden snorkeling voyage. Of course, if you already have fins, you’ll be looking for a kit with a mask and snorkel only.
  3. Fit is of the utmost importance. If your mask doesn’t fit right, it could take in water, which is obviously not ideal. It should be easy to adjust and snug but not uncomfortable. The mouthpiece should remain in place without applying too much force.
  4. Decide on your snorkel type. Did you know there are different types of snorkels? If you’re going to be in rough waters (if you’re a beginner this isn’t recommended), you definitely need a dry snorkel. Dry snorkels are designed to keep water out, even when they’re submerged. Your other options are semi dry and open snorkels. Once you make this decision, you’ll need to look for a snorkeling set that includes your desired snorkel.
  5. Set a budget. In your search for a snorkel set, you’ll find that prices definitely vary. So does quality. It’s great to find a good deal, but just make sure you don’t have to sacrifice anything. It’s not a great deal if you spend $10 less but have to end up buying a new snorkel set in a year instead of in five. Still, it’s a good idea to shop around and then decide on a price that you think is fair for your budget. 

A Very Scuba Valentine’s Day

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, we’d like to think that romance is too. Heart-shaped candies and a dozen long-stemmed roses might seem trite to you, but it’s romantic to someone out there. Romance is in the eye of the beholder.

Considering an underwater proposal for an avid skydiver? Eh, you could probably do better. You see, when you’re planning a grand romantic gesture, it’s important to know your audience.

But when you know your lover is also a lover of underwater treasures, the gift ideas start flowing like a raging tide. Sure, scuba gear isn’t everyone’s idea of romance, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t romantic to the love of your life.

Here are 5 scuba gift ideas that are sure to send his or her hear aflutter:

  1. Prime Scuba Gift Certificate – Nothing says “I love you” quite like a shopping spree at her favorite scuba shop. You’ll be in her good graces for sure as soon as she sees the endless array of scuba gear that she can buy to enhance her next dive.
  2. Adopt a Coral Reef – What do you get for the scuba enthusiast who has everything? How about a coral reef? He probably doesn’t have one of those. Through the Nature Conservancy, you can buy a gift that will help preserve, protect and restore some of the last greatest places on this good earth. Give the gift that makes a world of difference.
  3. Underwater Camera – With her new underwater camera, she can preserve the most cherished memories of her time spent under water with you. What is more romantic than that? And you may even have a gift for next year too. Just take the best of those underwater photos of you both and put it in a nice frame.
  4. Buoyancy Compensator – Your love may have him floating on cloud nine, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when you’re diving. Because he’s so head-over-heels when he’s with you, he might need a weight or two to keep him from floating above the water’s surface. You’re only looking after his best interests after all.
  5. Scuba Regulator – If you really want to show her that you care, a high-quality scuba regulator is the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift. You care so much about her that you don’t want to have to worry about a malfunctioning regulator. You want to breathe easy knowing that she’s breathing easy. If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.
Should you wear a snorkeling vest?

Should you wear a snorkeling vest?

Sometimes you’ll see a group of snorkelers with vests; sometimes you’ll see a group without. The decision to wear a vest is a personal one, and although some may think it’s related to skill level, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a few things that a person should consider before they decide to leave the snorkeling vest in the boat (or on the shore).

Here are the top 5 reasons why you might want to wear a snorkeling vest:

  1. It’s a leisurely excursion. You intend to spend the entire time just floating at the water’s surface. This time, it’s about putting forth very little effort and simply enjoying the scenery. In this case, you could either rely on your body’s natural buoyancy, or you could wear a snorkeling vest. With the vest, you won’t have to worry about a thing – just float along and admire an underwater paradise.
  2. You aren’t as buoyant as you’d like to be. Some people are natural floaters. Their bodies seem to be more buoyant than others and they can float around for hours without a vest. If this does not describe you, you may need a vest.
  3. You can’t swim. If you’ve never learned how to hold your breath under water, and cannot swim above a poorly-executed doggy paddle, you don’t have to rule out this sport altogether. You can enjoy the water as long as you have a snorkeling vest to help keep you afloat.
  4. You’re planning a long excursion. If you see a snorkeling instructor wearing a vest, she’s probably doing it for one of two reasons. She may be trying to set a good example for the novice snorkelers in the group. Or, she may be heading out for a lengthy snorkeling adventure. Master snorkelers will often explore as much of the water as they can, which means extending the excursion until they are physically incapable of carrying on. With a snorkeling vest, though, they can carry on for much longer. The vest will keep these snorkelers afloat when they no longer have the strength to swim.
  5. You’ll be prepared for just about anything. If you’re going out on your own, it’s always good to be prepared for anything. Maybe you’ll venture farther than anticipated and will be too tired to swim back – but not with a snorkeling vest. Even if you’re with a small group, it’s easy to get distracted and lose your way. A snorkeling vest helps ensure that you’ll make it back to shore safe and sound.
Blunt Scuba Knife

Blunt Scuba Knife

Not every diver carries a knife, but many of the smart ones do. It’s always a good idea to have a little backup when you’re underwater because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s not to say that you’ll be battling man-eating sharks (despite its name and appearance, this piece of scuba gear is not actually a weapon), but you may find yourself in a situation where a knife would really come in handy. What else would you do if you were stuck in some old fishing line and running out of air? But even though many divers carry knives, they don’t all carry the same style. It’s up to you to decide which is right for your excursions. Here are five tips to help you figure that out:

  1. Safety First – A blunt blade is the choice for most divers because it’s safer. There’s no way you can accidentally stab yourself or puncture an air hose if your knife doesn’t have a tip.  On the other hand, if you’re going to be spearfishing, that’s another story.
  2. Crocodile Dundee Wouldn’t Make a Great Diver – In some cases, “the bigger the better” applies. This is not one of them. Recreational divers only need about a 4-inch blade to help cut themselves free in the event they tangled. A larger blade could be cumbersome and dangerous, so unless you absolutely need a large knife, keep it small.
  3. Consider Your Budget – If money is no object, you’ll probably buy a titanium blade. It won’t rust and it’ll keep a sharp edge longer than stainless. If you have to buy a stainless knife, keep in mind that the lower the number of the metal alloy, the more rust resistant it will be. So, a 300 alloy will be less likely to rust than a 400 alloy. The caveat here is that the lower alloys need to be sharpened more frequently.
  4. Get a Grip – Just like with the rest of your gear, it is important to get the right fit with your dive knife. Try out a few and see which feels the most comfortable in your hand. It’s true that you won’t be using it often, but when you do pull that knife out, seconds could make a difference.
  5. Get Attached to Your Dive Knife – In the past, where to attach a knife wasn’t a question. The dive knife was always mounted on the leg. Now, with new gear emerging, things are changing. It is becoming more popular to mount the dive knife on a buoyancy compensation device for easy access. Still, the choice is yours. Do what feels comfortable to you.