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Manta Divers, July, 2015 Underwater Navigation Specialty

Greetings Divers!

  We just came back from a fun weekend at Haigh Quarry in Kankakee, IL.  There were a total of thirteen divers in the Manta group, most just out to have some fun and log a few more dives.  The others were taking classes. During the course of the two days, we certified two new open water divers and a brand new navigation specialist. It is always nice to certify new divers, but it is especially gratifying to have divers come back and learn some more, pushing themselves beyond open water level.  Like the Rescue Diver course, the Underwater Navigator course is one of the more challenging, but once a diver masters this skill, all waters are open to him. I now turn the newsletter over to Mike to share what it takes to become an underwater navigator.

Underwater Navigator course consists of an evening reviewing the course manual followed by at least three open water dives.  As Lisa stated the Finding a landmarkcourse is challenging but in the end you can dive with confidence knowing where you are and where you’re going.  In the classroom, we review the Underwater Navigation Manual.  You may recall what was learned about navigation in the Open Water course, and how you upped the ante in the advanced Open Water class, but there is much more to learn. In the Under Water Navigation Manual, we get deeper into distance estimation, natural navigation techniques, underwater patterns, compass navigation, site location and navigational aids. The classroom review and discussion really fine tunes the understanding of the skills needed to be a great underwater navigator.  Then we go to the open water to apply what we’ve learned.

I like teaching the underwater navigation at Haigh Quarry because the facility offers interesting opportunities to complete tasks associated with dives one to three. For instance, on dive one, we have to do distance /time-estimation swim, navigate straight line /reciprocal using both natural and compass navigation as well as navigate a box pattern underwater using your compass.  For the distance /time estimation, we used the underwater wooden platform just north of the roadway at Haigh. There are marking on the rope that connects the platform to the rock crusher that indicates 100 feet. My student counted fin kicks on the way out and timed on the way back.  To practice natural navigation, we moved to the aluminum training platform from the wood platform, keeping the big rocks to the left at a depth of 20 -23 ft. My student hit the aluminum platform dead on.  To demonstrate navigating in a straight line and back, we moved to the center of the north side of the aluminum platform.  From there, my student set a heading  of  0 degrees and took me out to Porta-Patty ( a dummy diver in a pota-potty)  and then took me back to the aluminum platform. Again, she was dead on with her navigation.  She did this in 3 ft. visibility! In those conditions if you are 4 ft. off at the target, you’ve, missed it.  For the reciprocal natural navigation my student took navigated right back to the wooden platform keeping the big rocks on her right.  To finish the first dive, my student took us down off the road way at a 180 degree heading to the archeological site at 20 – 25 ft.  She then took us back to the south dock at 20 – 25 ft. keeping the wall to her right side. She noted that the thermal cline was at 20 ft.: A good benchmark for depth. 

On dives two and three the big tasks involve navigating distance involving multiple headings while maintain accuracy. Again, Haigh Quarry is a location that is rich in navigational opportunities.  For example,  for one of her remaining dives, my student mapped out the following course:

  1. From the South dock 30⁰ to the Flamingo
  2. From the bow of the Flamingo 0⁰ to the Tube
  3. From the exit end of the tube 330⁰ to the archeological field
  4. From the Archeological field 0⁰ over the road bed down to the wooden platform.
  5. From the wooden platform 270⁰ to the aluminum platform
  6. From the center of the aluminum platform 0⁰ to the port-a-patty
  7.  From the port-a-patty 330⁰ to the red and white rope.
  8. Follow the red and white rope to the rock crusher.
  9.  From 6 ft. off the East side of the rock crusher my student set a heading of 180⁰. This heading runs parallel to the rope between the crusher and the wooden platform and should bring us to just off the East side of the platform. I was between the student and the rope but I couldn’t see the rope. I was worried the I might not see the wooden platform as the vis was so bad. My student nailed it. We came up to the platform three ft. off the east side.  That’s about 400 ft. of NO VIS travel, trusting the compass .  She then took us over the road, down 180⁰  to 20 ft. and turned right using natural navigation she brought us home to the south dock. That’s what it takes to be a navigator.

Points to remember in Navigation;

  • Slow and steady keeps you on course.
  • Always trust your compass, even when you “know “ you’re heading the  wrong the direction, compass is right.
  • Hold compass with both hand square to your body. If it’s not square to your body you are off course.
  • When changing your heading, Stop, turn, obtain your new heading, and then proceed.
  • Be observant as to what’s around you.
  • If you believe you are way off course, the surface is straight up. You can navigate to the surface by following the bubbles and take a look!


 In Other News…………….

One lucky person can get the last spot on the Munising, MI wreck dives, August 7 & 8.  Call the shop today!

Be sure to check the calendar to make sure you can get all your diving in this summer.  There are still plenty of outings coming up! In particular, we will be up at Lake Wazee August 29-30.  This a perfect weekend to finish your Advanced Open water or a specialty course.

 Don’t hesitate to get your deposits in for Team Manta’s 2016 Adventures.  We are heading to Grenada in February and Belize over Easter.  (In fact, we are down to 4 spots for Belize!)  Check our Adventures Page for details.

Congratulations to newly certified Open Water divers, Jonathan and Kevin Metz, Rachel Ritchhart and James Ritchhart, and our fantastic Underwater Navigator, Sue (Lucille) Bailey.

Manta Divers, May, 2015 Caribbean Explorer trip report

 Greetings Divers!

 I am the first to admit that I was a little nervous about planning our first live aboard trip.  I mean, what if we get sea sick? Will we go stir crazy staying on a boat for a week? Will I want to keelhaul anyone at some time during the trip?  (For that matter, will someone want to keelhaul me?) ICaribbean Explorer II am happy to report that Team Manta’s adventure aboard the Caribbean Explorer II was a great success with everyone getting their fill of diving and no one being keelhauled.

Our itinerary called for us to meet up with the boat in St Maarten, cross over to Saba, dive there for a few days, cross over to St. Kitts, dive there a few days, and then catch a flight home from St. Kitts. So, in the early morning of April 4, 2015, we headed down to O’Hare to start our journey to St. Maarten. After a long day of travel through various airports, we arrived at the marina. Once given permission to board, we stepped on with our bags and met our crew.  There was Captain Bob Magilligan, DM’s Anouk Stroes, from the Netherlands, Josh Farmer from Virginia and Brett Lookhoff from Louisiana. Our chef, and e-book author, was Dave “Tuna” Tunnicliff from Liverpool and our engineer, who worked like a dog the whole week making certain everything was tip top, was Terrence Lavia.

Brett-Anouk-JoshAfter the introductions, and a tour of the boat, we quickly set to work assembling our dive kits.  It would be the last time we would assemble them for the week.  After each dive, we disconnected our first stages and the crew filled our tanks right in place from the whips that were above each spot. When it was time to dive again, we analyzed our nitrox, signed the log and reattached our first stages. Good to go!

Once my kit was assembled, I made my way to Mike’s and my room for the week, cabin number one. It had a queen sized bed, a small amount of storage (our bags fit under the bed)and a private bath. One thing you need to understand about live aboard diving is that you need to pack light.  A couple of swimsuits and a cover up to wear to meals are about all you need.  I also suggest bringing a light jacket, like a Chammyz (Check ‘em out at the shop.) to help you warm up in between dives, though you can do without even that, since fresh, clean towels are provided by CEII staff after each dive. The Caribbean Explorer supplies shower soap, conditioner and shampoo in each cabin, so you don’t need to pack that stuff either. We found that with such tight quarters it was better for one of us to get out of the room while the other was getting up or getting ready for bed. Travel on the boat was most turbulent when crossing from St Maarten to Saba and Saba to St. Kitts, so crossings were always at night.  Note! Be sure to be in bed during the crossing because you do not Relaxing between diveswant to have to navigate the stairs or hallways during this time. Except for the crossings, I thought the boat was very stable.  It really did not take long to get my legs and become confident walking around the boat. I loved sleeping on the boat.  Our bed was comfortable and, by the end of the week, I wondered if I was going to be able to sleep without the gentle to and fro I had become so accustomed to.

Another fact about liveaboard diving is that you must take your anti sea sickness medication about an hour before you get on the boat.  People do not die from sea sickness, but if you get it, you may wish that you would.  Don’t worry about feeling tired from the medicine, as when you need it most, during the crossings, it will be bedtime.  As the days pass, if you are taking oral medication, you can try cutting the dose to decrease the fatigue.

So we were there to dive, and dive we did! There are five dives scheduled daily. Our day was literally, Rise, eat, dive, snack, dive, lunch, dive, snack, dive, supper, dive, bed and repeat. Passengers, of course, choose to do as many or as few dives as they desire. Our group did opt for a land tour on Saba in lieu of one dive, but otherwise, kept to the schedule. The water surrounding both Saba and St Kitts was a consistent 80F.  I had been in the habit of taking a 5mm suit on dive trips because with the number of dives I usually do, I would get cold.  This trip I opted to use a 3mm jumpsuit with a sharkskin hooded vest.  I was very comfortable and the bonus was that packing a lighter suit helped me stay well within the airline’s 50lb. limit for my baggage.

  Our first days were spent diving around Saba, a huge monolith rising out of the ocean. If you are familiar with the classic King Kong movie, you may recognize this island.  On several of our dives, we spotted reef sharks, southern rays hidden beneath the dark volcanic sand and eagle rays cruising by.  Moments into our first night dive, a large nurse shark joined us, following us the entire time, using our lights to find his next snack.  We witnessed the demise of several lobsters and a hapless tang. The night dives were all fantastic, but one nice touch from the staff of the CEII made them even better. As we each returned from the dive and started to peel off our wetsuits, the staff was waiting with a warm dry towel fresh from the dryer, and an offer of hot coca or a hot toddy.  One of my favorite dives on Saba was her signature site, Third Encounter. This is a 110ft dive around an isolated pinnacle rising up out of the depths.    It was breathtaking to see large schools of creole wrasse raining down and around this colorful, coral covered pillar.

RemoraAfter fourteen great dives around Saba, it was time to make our way to St Kitts.  While Saba is a public body of the Netherlands, St. Kitts and Nevis is a two island federation which is a commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.  In contrast to Saba, St. Kitts is a lush, green island. My favorite dive was the River Taw wreck.  We dove this sight twice during the day and once as a night dive.  I loved watching the jaw fish rise out of their holes like genies from a lamp.  I was lucky to successfully spot the resident octopus on all the dives, and was awestruck by the size of the lobsters living inside the wreck. One guy was so big, I wondered if he could get out from the inside of it or if he had just grown too big and was now stuck.

Aside from the reef sharks, my favorite critter sightings were a flying gurnard, a yellow seahorse and a crazy remora that seemed to have a crush on one of our divers, Terese. The Caribbean Explorer II and her able staff really sold me on live aboard diving. It is so easy: No transferring gear from one tank to the next, no worries about finding a good restaurant, no worries about what to wear.  My fears about everyone getting along for the week were assuaged as well.  The Team Manta members were, of course, their usual fun selves, and even the couple who took up the last cabin was great, but on a live aboard, if someone is getting o your nerves, it is never a long wait until you can get away from them underwater!

 In Other News...........

There is still time to get in on the Rescue Diver course.  Just sign up for the PADI online course, associate yourself with Manta Divers and start working! The open water rescue skills development and scenarios are scheduled for July 11 & 12 at Haigh Quarry.  Call the shop for details

You just heard how great our last tropical adventure was, so don't you want to make sure you are not left out next year?  Drop off your deposit for Team Manta's trip to Grenada, Feb. 20-27, 2016.  See the tropical adventures page for details.

There are only a few spots left for the August 26 Lake Michigan charter to dive the Milwaukee Car Ferry. Payment must accompany reservations.

Manta Divers is proud to announce that Mike has successfully completed his training and is now a certified Scuba Pro regulator technician! We invite all of you proud owners of fine Scuba Pro regulators to bring your regs to Manta Divers for service!

Congratulations to Rosie Herrera and Yanaka Hoffman on their Advanced Open Water and Peak Performance Buoyancy certifications, Josh Parker on earning Night Diver and Deep Diver specialties and our overacheiver, Sue Bailey on earning Advanced Open Water, Night Diver, and Deep Diver specialty certifications.

Finally, Congratulations to Anouk Stroes and Josh Farmer for earning their Solo Diver certifications!

Manta Divers March, 2015 Talking Scuba with Kids

Greetings from Mook!

What? More snow and cold?  How have we angered the weather gods? I am so looking forward to leaving next month for our week on the Caribbean Explorer. We are flying into St. Martin where the temperature seems to always be in the 80s.  That’s only 72 degrees warmer that it was as I am writing this newsletter.  It can’t come soon enough for me.

trying scuba gearRecently, I was invited to Frank and Roosevelt Elementary schools to talk to 2nd and 3rd grade students about traveling the world and diving. The teachers wanted me to show the kids were Kenosha was in the world in relationship to where we have traveled.  Lisa helped me out by putting together a great power point presentation with maps, pictures and videos.  It was a fun outing and really an education for me.

The power point started by showing Wisconsin, then the U.S., then North America, then the world.  Most of these young ones never gave much thought to Kenosha as a place in a much bigger world.  For example, the kids who had made trips up north in the summer were surprised that the 6 hour drive only took them a half inch on the world map. I went on to talk about the fact that 70% of the world is water and some of it is fresh and some of it saltwater.  I talked about the places we dive. It was fun to explain what a quarry was and why were there school busses and airplanes on the bottom. They all loved Therese Rutkowski’s picture of the paddle fish.

Lisa included comparisons of freshwater to ocean fish. Not surprisingly, they loved the pictures of the turtles, octopus and squids.  I even brought a kid-sized gear set up with a plastic tank so a volunteer could be outfitted as a scuba diver.

After the presentation the top 5 questions were,  have you ever seen a shark, how deep have you gone,  have you ever seen a blue gill, do all quarry’s have school busses and how old were you when you started diving. (I must look pretty old to little kids)  It is always a thrill to share diving with little kids. I guess they liked it too, because I am working on answering 22 follow up questions!


Frank school kids

In Other News………….

Emergency First Response course is scheduled for March 21 at 11am.  If you earned your Rescue Diver or Divemaster certification more than 2 years ago, it is time to renew your EFR.  A clear advantage for all busy people, this course will be completed in one day. This course is open to anyone, diver or not, who would like to be able to do more than just stand by when accidents and medical emergencies occur.

Once you get through the EFR course, why not go for Rescue Diver?  This is a challenging, but truly fun course that will leave you more confident as a diver and rescuer.  Academic sessions will be April 30 and May 1 at 6pm in the classroom, open water skills practice and scenario evaluations will be scheduled at the time of the classroom sessions, so be sure to bring your calendars.

If you were unable to make the January Buoyancy Clinic, I still have 2 spots left in the March 22 session.  This course is for anyone who wants to improve their air consumption, decrease diving effort and learn to be more relaxed underwater.  It is also a favorite of photographers who want to practice hovering while holding a camera.  It’s fun, too! Spots are reserved when the course fee is received.

Where do you want to dive this summer?  Join us at the shop Saturday, March 28 at 4pm for our Summer Planning Meeting? Come and share ideas for dive events and get our calendar filled in for the summer.  This is your chance to make sure that we are going where you want to go when you have time off.  We are also vetting ideas for a road trip and some lake charters.



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