Manta Divers August 2009
Have you ever watched one of those cooking shows where they demonstrate a recipe? In the end, the creation goes together flawlessly and is a work of art. What we often fail to think about is the reason the process seems so easy is that the chef has done a great deal of preparation. They have all the ingredients measured out, the bowls, utensils, mixers and pans ready, and the oven heated. This same prep work should be applied to dive trips to ensure smooth sailing and happy diving.
First, choose your destination. Check out what flights are available to the destination and how long your travel day(s) will be. Look at dive resorts and decide if you want the convenience of an all inclusive, or the freedom of exploring the location and sampling the local cuisine. While it is prudent to take over-the-top (negative or positive) reviews with a grain of salt, it is still a good idea to get on the web and read a few reviews about the resorts you are considering. Research the dive sites, the temperature of the water at depth, remembering that all “tropical” locations do not necessarily have warm water year round. In addition, bear in mind that warm to one diver may not be warm to you. Since water temperature definitely impacts what thickness suit you will pack, it is a good idea to try to e-mail some of the local dive operations to get the inside skinny on average dive depth, current, boat size and facilities available.
Once you've settled on a destination, it is time to check your gear. Orally inflate your BCD until is is full and let it sit to see if it holds air. Check all the clips and buckles for wear and clean the hook and loop to ensure tight closure. Next, take a look at your regulator. If it hasn't been inspected by an authorized dealer in the last year, bring it in immediately! If you are keeping up with your regulator maintainance schedule (Smart!),you should still inspect your hoses for wear, especially under any hose protectors and at spots where the hose connects to the first or second stages. To avoid discovering that your mouthpiece is chewed through after you enter the water, inspect it at home and replace if necessary. Give yourself plenty of time to get any repairs or replacements to avoid last minute panics. In spite of the best planning, some equipment failures can still occur while you are on vacation. The best way to prepare yourself for these occurances is to take the Equipment Specialist class. This class is particularly recommended if you are planning dives in remote places that may not have parts and or expertise readily available to you.
Well, you have your dive gear ready, but what about your accessories? Underwater camera housings and flashlights depend on O-rings to stay water tight. Using an O-ring tool, carefully remove your O-rings and inspect them for cracks, wear and compression. Remove any granules of salt, sand or hair from the threads. Assuming they are in A-okay shape, lightly grease O-rings with silicone grease and replace them in the instrument, or store them according to manufacturer's instructions until use. Batteries can be expensive in the least, or unavailable at the worst in some remote areas, so be sure to bring fresh batteries for your camera, strobes or flashlights. It is a good idea to have an authorized dealer replace the batteries in your dive computer.
Don't forget the defog. Defog that has been in your BCD pocket for the last year may be waterlogged, diluted or contaminated. If you cannot remember the last time you buy defog, pop the $4.99 to get a fresh bottle and don't be that diver who always has to "borrow" everyone else's defog!
If your dive bag was becoming difficult to zip and unzip on your last trip, chances are it is worse now. Invest in some zipper cleaner and lubricant and apply it to all zips on your dive luggage. Next. run the zipper back and forth until it slides easily. This avoids the aggravation of having to duct tape your gear bag shut for the long trip home!
Finally, you may need to add a few things to your dive bag, depending on your plans. For example, it is good practice to have a dive light and a back-up if you are doing a night dive, so you may want to pick up a small light for use during the day that can serve as your back-up. Will you be diving areas where there is a lot of fishing? A scissors or dive knife could be a real life saver. If you don't already have one, a "save a dive" kit that includes spare mask and fin straps, mouthpieces, zip ties, O-rings and a multi-tool would round out your dive gear package nicely.
In the end, in both diving and cooking, good preparation yields predictable results. Careful planning and preparation for a dive trip is truly a recipe for success!
In Other News………
The deadline to reserve your spot on the Roatan trip at the advertised price is August 31. We can still accept reservations after that, but at the market price.
There are only a couple of weeks left to save $50 to $100 on a new Aqualung regulator, so stop thinking about it and jump on this great deal.
Congrats to our new Rescue divers, Megan Murdock and Neil Badham, new open water diver, Christine Radulescu.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Haigh Quarry trip September 12 and 13. We don’t know how long the weather will stay nice, so this may be one of the last really nice weekends for diving!