TDI Diver News

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In Defense of Diapers

by Richard Taylor:
diaper defense
If, like me, you have read the last couple of TDI Newsletters you will have been following the discussion on the use of P-valves for Dry Suits, with two great articles, each written from a different perspective. The first was the domain of the male diver, with the usual highlights on size, strength and “stick-ability” (yep… us boys never change!), whilst the second was a fascinating insight from the female perspective. As an older male diver I never cease to be amazed at the lengths ladies seem to have to go to… to… literally, “go”. For guys it’s easy… we are traditionally like dogs – the world’s our toilet! But girls, in some aspects – you got the short straw.

Now, whilst both these points of view have been humorous and educational, they both took the position that there is really no acceptable alternative than to rip open a hole in your expensive, brand-new dry suit, have some creative and sometimes painful methodology of cementing a plastic tube from an intimate and sensitive part of your anatomy to some sort of valve, and spend hours in the water happily swimming around relieving yourself into the mighty blue within which you are floating (sort of like peeing into a very big bath if you ask me). Believe me… I, like probably most, enjoyed the imagery! However, and this may come as a surprise to many, there was an alternative long before p-valves, and there will be one long after you have hung up your last dry suit. It’s one of those “D” words divers don’t really like talking about… Decompression, Dehydration, and Diapers!

When we talk about Diapers, let’s make sure we understand a few things. Firstly, we are not talking about swimming around wearing elasticized plastic pants sloshing around in a bath of our own wee! If you want to do that please keep that in the privacy of your own home. Secondly, we are not talking about wrap around nappies with huge plastic safety pins and regulators that look like dummies (pacifiers) with honey on them. If you want THAT then you need to go back to an early issue of that great 90’s tech diving magazine AquaCorps (some images just will never go away!). We are talking about wearing Adult Diapers for comfort.

Okay… I appreciate that many people go “Yuck” and “Eeww” and suchlike when they think about using Diapers, or Adult Nappies if you wish. But, let’s be honest… not every man is built like Dumbo and most don’t improve in the cold. And as for you ladies, not everyone wants to share all their glory with a minimum wage beautician, most don’t like hot wax and pain down there and, to be real… how many of you really want to go through life looking like a pre-pubescent 8 year old (we won’t all be in our 20’s & 30’s forever and many European girls don’t even shave under their arms). So, let’s have an honest look at the alternative and some of the pros & cons!

Firstly, ”No-one wears those”! I am sure most of you have come across the Adult Diaper section of the Supermarket or Pharmacy. But have you ever wondered why they are on the shelves and not hidden away in some private unmarked cupboard? Simply… there are lots of people that use them. The global market is worth over $8 billion and it is growing at 8%, higher than any other toiletry market (including toilet paper!). Over 25 million Americans buy them every year.

Secondly, ”I’m not going to wear them”! HA! Boy do I have news for you! One in 3 women over the age of 18 suffers from some sort of sensitive bladder or incontinence. 50% of Seniors have some form of “urinary weakness” whilst 80% of people who wear adult diapers are female, mostly caused by the joys of childbirth. That means that unless you are either going to be childless, have babies only by Caesarean or be a grumpy old man with wet pants, then odds are that you are going to be visiting the Adult Diaper section of the Supermarket long before your days are through. So get over it!

Thirdly, ”I don’t want to sit in my own waste for hours”. Let’s break this one up shall we!

“…for hours”…! Not all of you are going to be Explorer Club Divers spending 3 hours decompressing from a 250’ cave exploration dive in the middle of Guatemala! Most of us are doing this for fun! Most of your students are going to be doing this for fun! Yes, we all want to channel our own inner Sheck Exley or Lloyd Bridges, but the reality is most boat trips, most cave dives, and most shore dives are a couple of hours max.

“…my own waste…”! Okay, Nappies/Diapers are there to absorb and contain our waste. (yes, you can get diapers for “number twos”, but as a p-valve doesn’t go there then we don’t need to either!). I am not too sure how many of you have ever picked up a baby with a wet nappy, however it doesn’t shower wee down its legs or have a pool of liquid inside. Diapers are designed to take the liquid away from the body and have it absorbed in gel type pads, leaving the body relatively dry. And if nappies weren’t a clean and sanitary option for their baby, do you really think so many moms would use them? And babies will use them a lot more than we ever will (well…for a few years anyway!).

Fourthly, ”But I pee SO much after just 30 minutes!”. My goodness… how much are you drinking before you go diving? It amazes me the number of people I see who are literally guzzling down drinks before a dive! What’s worse, half of it is either a Grande (or Venti) coffee or super-sized Coke! Have you people never heard of diuretics? These things make you go to the toilet! Add to that the high sugar drinks I see being drunk and you have to wonder whether they have ever heard of diabetes, let alone blood glucose levels!

So we need to talk about hydration. You pee because your body has produced excess fluid waste… the darker it is the more dehydrated you are becoming. We used to say 64 US fluid ounces per day, or just under 2 litres, equated to about a recommended 6-8 tall glasses of water a day. Now days, it is considered more appropriate to consider 6-8 cups per day, or just under 1.5 litres, in addition to a balanced healthy food intake. Your kidneys process about 4 cups an hour, so when you drink more what do you think happens to it? Right… hello bladder! The best method to hydrate your body is a constant intake of small quantities of water. Yes… WATER! Slowly! ALL THE TIME! Sip it! Don’t guzzle. This will keep your body hydrated and avoid excess fluid being directed immediately to your bladder! You will still wee… but your wees will be regular and smaller.

Yes, we dehydrate more when we dive… we all know this! Anecdotally it is said we dehydrate just over 1 litre of the body’s water (33 US fluid ounces) for every 88 cuft of dry compressed air we breathe. How precise that is who knows, but the principle is pretty right. Our rate of dehydration increases when we dive for many reasons, the dry air being one. So we need to compensate for this. The best method is of course by fluids while we dive (water filled camel packs anyone?), but having a well hydrated body before we dive is the most practical. This means being hydrated before we dive, not guzzling a gallon of caffeine before we hop in our dry suit and apply that nice tight weight belt or harness strap over our bladder! And if you are diving a CCR… what on earth did your instructor teach you about one of the benefits of “the warm moist air” anyway?

The net result is that if we are well balanced and hydrated before the dive, have gone to the toilet regularly and have not drunk copious diuretics, our wee requirements will be smaller. Now there is no problem with doing a huge wee in a diaper. Most babies don’t “control the flow”… they just let it go when they need to go! Well, using an Adult Diaper we need to learn the same. Don’t hold it in… just relax. The first time you feel like you need to go… go! This is how babies and all those incontinent mothers and seniors go… all the time!
Now, I know many of you are sitting there going “No Way”, “Not Me” and “It’ll spill into my dry suit”! So, don’t take my word for it… test it! Get hydrated, limit the coffee and sodas and go try it out in the shower! That’s how I was taught to get used to them… and that’s how I tell my students to try. If at first you don’t succeed, then just relax… and tackle it slowly. Oh, and if your partner asks why you are dressed in the shower in a nappy just smile and invite them in… their reaction will be priceless!

Let’s be honest, Adult Diapers are not for everyone. But neither are sticky condoms, lasered genitals and waxing! It is a discussion many divers need to have, and regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, it is one that every instructor needs to have a balanced look at. Of the many technical divers I have taught over the years, most of the ladies have tried them and many of the instructors now discuss this subject equally along with p-valves. As professionals, we have an obligation to be able to discuss both sides fairly. It is, after all, the diver’s choice!

Ohh… and lastly… don’t forget the benefits.

One – they are simple to use and require little “personal preparation” (and just because you wear them doesn’t mean you’ve used them)!

Two – they are available in most Supermarkets or Pharmacies around the globe!

Three – odds are you will have to use them one day so you may as well get used to them now!

And number Four – think of the potential of enjoying the Super Bowl without having to get up and lose your prime spot in front of the TV or having to move from your seat at the game! (Though, to be honest, I still haven’t convinced my wife on letting me test these applications!).

Safe diving… and a dry and comfortable one too!


By Richard Taylor
SDI/TDI Instructor Trainer. Member since 1995.
taylor.richardb@gmail.com

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Keep Your Cool: What to Do in a Dive Emergency

by Josh Norris:
dive emergency
There is no way to tell what your reaction will be during an emergency until you actually go through it. For all of you out there who believe that knowing CPR and going through a three day rescue course has you prepared to face some of the horrible things that could go wrong in scuba diving, you are incorrect. Let us be honest for a moment. The rules of CPR seem to change more often than some of us change our shirts. Many people believe that giving rescue breathes in the water while dragging someone out is simply a waste of time, and there will be someone there to tell you all about the things you did wrong even if you pull someone to safety. Despite the many opinions out there, there is no way to predict when something will go bad. The only thing we can do as divers is try to be as prepared as possible for when they do. Believe it or not, under the water is not a natural place for human beings to play around. So how do you keep your cool and stay calm during an emergency situation?

Man the Hell Up!!

There are certain moments in life where you realize the universe is giving you an opportunity to prove yourself. Seeing a loved one, or regular dive buddy, trying to hold onto life while you desperately attempt to help them could be just the opportunity for you to step up and knock it out of the park. While this is obviously not an ideal scenario, the world is simply not an ideal place. After all, no one made you get in the water to begin with. The adrenaline rush and sense of adventure is what drove many of us into diving in the first place. Without that basic need to push further and further, there would be no use in wreck diving or all of cave country. We could all be satisfied by seeing the pretty reefs at 40 feet. However, no one actually watches a NASCAR race to see people drive in circles. The wrecks make it worth it right? Just like no one wants to watch a soccer match for nine hours just to see people faking knee injuries every twenty seconds. The point is that because we push further into caves/wrecks and because we dive deeper and deeper, the chance for some really bad stuff to happen increases exponentially. Finding the inner beast to do what needs to be done may just mean the difference to someone. Dragging someone out of the water half dead may be better than pulling them out a few days later and trying to collect from your dive insurance.

Do Not Hesitate!

Once you make the decision to intervene with someone to help, you better not stop until that individual is safe, killing you, or dead. There is no room for a half measure when it comes to emergencies. Wrapping your head around this notion is necessary in staying calm in the midst of something chaotic. Once you make the conscious decision that you will not stop, everything else becomes easy. Either you will succeed or you will die trying right? Either way, no one has time for you to second guess yourself. If you were wrong and misinterpreted the actions of your dive buddy as a sign of distress, then fight it out on the surface or at the bar. Maybe they should not have been acting erratically while diving to begin with. When it comes to dive professionals, there is a big line in the sand it seems. When should a pro get involved with someone? What if that person is not my student? What if the other Instructor ends up hating me? Who cares? If someone is in trouble, or you think they are in trouble, then you should probably go ahead and help out. If someone sees me stroking out in the water, please send me to the surface and help me get out of the water. I promise that I will not hate you for ruining my dive. All of that said, DO NOT be the guy who has to stick their nose into everyone else’s business at every turn. There is still a learning curve in diving and some take a bit more time to learn than others.

What is the Worst that Could Happen?

So you may have found yourself in an emergency situation, and your mind is racing with all of the information you could possibly remember. Take a moment and think about this though; what is the absolute worst case scenario for you? I always tell my students, in a very matter of fact way, that “Josh is gonna be alright.” In essence, I will go through hell trying to save you but if it comes down to it; I will walk away and be just fine. Any time there is a diving incident, there are so many people who want to point to the Instructor or dive operation and scream that it is their fault. Whatever happened to bad things just happening sometimes? No one expects for a high pressure hose to explode under water 200 feet down or 7,000 feet into a cave, but it happens sometimes. Good luck trying to sue the Chinese guy who made it. Sometimes bad things just happen. Ironically, bad things seem to happen to the nicest of people. So when you are handed the chance to help out, think about how bad it could possibly be. Try to do the right thing and everything will be alright.

So basically, there is no magic answer to staying calm during an emergency. I would say that all you need to do is pop a couple of Xanax before your dive and you will be calm no matter what. However, there are so many things wrong with that. As long as you understand that the longer you stay in diving, the more likely you are to run into a bad situation; you will become more and more prepared. That does not mean that you should bust out the red cape and start a new superhero scuba trend. All it means is that no matter what, you should have a basic understanding of what is right and what is wrong. As long as you stay on the “what is right” side of things, a bad situation will work out one way or another.


– Josh Norris
Owner/Instructor – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

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These Boots Were Made for Diving: Warm and Cold Water Boots

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
warm and cold water boots
Divers of all types often worry about thermal protection and water temperature. No one wants to be cold when they hit the water. This fact is especially true if a diver is planning a long dive. Temperature is definitely something that can cause a diver to complain. The surface weather may be too hot or too cold. The water temperature may drastically change as a diver crosses thermoclines. Despite these issues, divers will still brave the elements and hit the water.

One thing divers rarely complain about is having feet that feel too warm. The truth of the matter is that no one likes cold toes, but warm and cozy toes in the water can make for a pleasant dive. Every day in dive shops around the country, divers often buy the standard boots that the shop has on display. What many people do not realize is that there are more boot types out there than you can really count.

First

First, you have standard neoprene boots. Just like wetsuits, they come in different thicknesses based on what a diver prefers. Just like a wetsuit, the thicker the material the more thermal protection a diver will get from the boots. A secondary thickness factor that many divers do not think about is fin sizing. I do not mean the size of your typical recreational fins for warm water, but instead, the size of the fins a diver would wear with his or her dry suit. In many cases, wearing a thicker boot for wet diving will help fill the space in a pair of larger fins worn with a dry suit. Remember that dry suits often call for a diver to wear a shoe size larger than normal. This space allows for added insulation layering if needed. I have discovered that if I wear 6mm wet boots with the larger fins I use with my dry suit, I only need one pair of fins for both types of diving (dry or wet).

Second

Second, dive boots may come in low-top or high-type design. Remember that the objective of any item used for thermal protection is to trap water against the skin creating a pocket of water at body temperature. High-top boots often provide more thermal protection since the boot is constructed to sit higher on a diver’s ankle. Simultaneously, if a pair of high-top boots is too tight, calf cramping may ensue. Any boot that is too tight can cause foot cramping. High-top boots may also have zippers or fasteners to allow the diver to put on the boot with greater ease. Low-top boots are better designed for warm water and minimal thermal protection needs. Low-top boots are designed for comfort, foot stability, and to provide support while wearing open-heeled fins.

Soft or thin

Soft or thin soles are found on many typical inexpensive booties used for scuba. These soles are glued or stitched to the neoprene foot pocket. This type of sole provides basic foot protection, but more than anything provides traction beneath a diver’s foot. Most low-top booties and some high-top booties are designed with thinner soles.

Hard or thick

Hard or thick soles are one boot factor that a diver should consider if you have to trek any considerable distance to the water, or will spend any time on uneven ground. For instance, if a diver is carrying cylinders through the wilderness to a dive site, and is forced to make multiple trips, foot protection is critical. Similarly, if an entry point is located on a rocky beach, like many entry points in Bonaire, hard soles can prevent stone bruises. Essentially, hard soles are more like the ones you find on a typical shoe. They provide a higher level of protection and support, but also cause boots to be more rigid.

Over-boot

Another type of boot that many divers use is an over-boot. Not all dry suits come with mounted boots. Many individuals purchase dry suits with soft feet so that an over-boot can be worn over the soft foot pocket. Over-boots may be made of many different materials. Some lace up like tennis shoes and some have different forms of straps. The goal is to choose what is most comfortable and suits your needs.

There are many different types of boots a diver may choose to wear. Different boots are designed to provide different values and even to be worn in different environments. When you purchase boots for diving, you should look at where you will be diving, and what needs may be prevalent. Then look for a boot design that meets those needs.


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

tecfest

A Recap of the TDI Try Dives & Intro to Tech Success at TecFestNZ!

by Richard Taylor:
TecFestNZIn May 2015, sixty eager technical divers, instructors, and members of the New Zealand Dive Industry met at Lake Taupo for the 3rd Annual TecFestNZ. An annual celebration of diving’s camaraderie, TecFestNZ is the key place for New Zealand’s keen and growing number of technical divers to meet, share stories, and try new gear and plan travel & training for the next year. For the third year in a row TDI has both supported, and been supported by, the event with an ever growing number of people undertaking Try Dives or completing their TDI Intro to Tech program.

This year’s TecFest included two half days of Try Dives with divers getting the chance to try a range of equipment including twin tanks, sidemount, full face masks, scooters and rebreathers. An afternoon of dry workshops and two evenings of presentations ensured a busy but relaxed atmosphere and allowed all participants to mingle, discuss diving and get some valuable tips from the many TDI instructors present. This year’s presentation theme was Dive Travel with talks on the great tech diving at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve off the north coast of New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, and Scarpa Flow as well as a taste of technical diving in Australia, Vanuatu, Truk, Wakatobi and Sri Lanka.

As part of TecFest, TDI Australia again provided free Intro to Tech programs for interested participants, with 10 divers taking up the offer and starting their technical dive training adventure. TDI Instructors ran various dives for the group with stage tank use, twin tanks, sidemount, buoyancy, fin techniques and SMB deployment skills covered. As in previous years the interest to proceed further with additional TDI training was strong with many of the divers keen to talk about the next step.

Rebreathers are no stranger at TecFest with Inspirations, rEvos, JJs, KISS and an ISC Megaladon and Pathfinder being dived. CCR Try Dives was again on offer for the KISS, ISC and JJ units with the OC Tech Divers talking to instructors about courses and unit availability. Add to this the dry suits, scooters and other tech hardware on show and available for dives and it really showed the benefits to the supporting manufacturers in attending the weekend’s events. Boat dives were offered for attendees with many undertaking decompression, extended range, and CCR dives at some of the deeper sites available at Lake Taupo.

Organised by Go Dive Marlborough’s Owner, and SDI/TDI Instructor Trainer, Brent McFadden and Dive Wellington’s TDI Instructor Chris Clarke, TecFest is without doubt New Zealand’s premier Technical Diving Event. The strong supporting TDI Instructor group included NZ based SDI/TDI IT Richard Taylor, Go Dive Marlborough’s Instructor & the Mikhail Lermontov’s Sidemount Guide Brent Robinson, NZ Diving’s SDI/TDI IT Neil Bennett & SDI/TDI Instructor Philip Walker, Global Dive’s TDI Tech & Cave Instructor Jamie Obern, TDI CCR Instructor Sean Muller, NZ Sea Adventure’s TDI IT & CCR Instructor Tony Howell and SDI/TDI IT & CCR Instructor Paul Trainer. A fantastic collection of some of New Zealand’s most experienced technical trainers and a great opportunity for those attending TecFest to engage with and learn from them in a relaxed and social environment.

A great video run down of the weekend by Frontline Photography is available for view on vimeo at https://vimeo.com/127451915

TecFest 2016 is already set for 06-08 May next year and all details & booking information can be found at www.tecfestnz.com.

With a small but expanding number of cave diving sites, impressive dives at the Poor Knights Islands and the world famous Russian cruise liner the Mikhail Lermontov, New Zealand offers the technical diver a wealth of opportunities, and is the perfect place for both a diving holiday and a tour of one of the world’s most beautiful countries. More than just the home to Hobbits and Middle Earth, NZ diving includes sub tropical reefs, numerous wrecks and great spearfishing. Add game fishing and hunting for the adventurous, or hot pools, geysers, world famous wines and some of the best food, beer & coffee you could find. Mixed in with bungee jumping, jet boat trips and 5 star spa lodges, New Zealand is truly a magical place to visit, and with TecFest2016 already set for next year now is the perfect time to plan your stay!

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So You Want to Become an IT?

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
become an instructor trainer

Many people around the world hold hopes and dreams about accomplishing big goals in life. For some, the idea of becoming a doctor or lawyer is the ultimate objective. For others, becoming an educator is the greatest goal to achieve. Education has many realms. These realms include academic settings such as classrooms, wondrous facilities such as museums, the natural outdoor world, and various others. As children, many of us remember the class trips to the park, the beach, the mountains, or even some swamp somewhere to look at plants, natural formations, or regional “critters.” For a few people, leaving this outdoor experience was not an option. This group of people may have consisted of individuals who chose to become park rangers, researchers, or environmentalists. All of these job positions allow people to educate others on the outdoor world.

For one small niche , there is nothing better than sharing the underwater world with others. The underwater realm is one that consists of a massive variety of flora, fauna, natural formations, and unique experiences. This realm may include the oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, submerged caves, and any other place where a person can get below the surface. The idea of sharing these experiences with people is something that never gets old. Those who choose to become scuba instructors may travel the world teaching, or simply stay in a local home-town region and share experiences with friends, locals, and family members. Some may even take on very unique teaching capabilities that allow them to train public safety divers to help keep others safe, or to venture deeper, or farther into overhead-type environments.

For a very small number of dive professionals, there exists one final step to take. That step is to become an Instructor Trainer. Instructor Trainers (IT) are individuals trained to teach new instructors. Essentially, an IT gets the opportunity to mold the instructors who may train the divers of the next generation. Becoming an IT is no small task. Candidates must have a strong teaching history as an open water instructor, and then attend an intensive eight day training program put together by an examiner under the direction of International Training Headquarters.

As an IT, you can train new instructors, conduct crossover programs for instructors coming from other agencies, and staff future Instructor Trainer Workshops with the examiners from headquarters. At the same time, becoming an IT means you have reached the top of the training side of the scuba industry. You may get the chance to help develop new programs or work with experts from around the world on improving the scuba industry.

For some individuals working to reach the pinnacle of training capability is the ultimate objective behind becoming an IT. For others, the ability to “teach the teacher” makes the IT educational pathway worthwhile. The one thing to remember is that education never ends. IT professionals may still have the opportunity to move up the technical or public safety food chains and continue to earn diver, instructor, and even IT certifications in those advanced educational areas.

During the Instructor Trainer Workshops held in Jensen Beach, Florida, all students get the opportunity to interact with headquarters staff members and see how International Training operates. At some point in each program, the executive team at headquarters takes time to sit down with candidates and discuss the future of diving, International Training, and dive education. This event means that every new IT gets the opportunity to sit face-to-face with Brian Carney to discuss what is coming, what may need to be improved, and what he or she hopes to see in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the IT program contact International Training World Headquarters. The next Instructor Trainer Workshop will be taking place from October 25th through November 1st at the headquarters facility in Jensen Beach, Florida. A second Instructor Trainer Workshop will also be held this year in Assenza di Brenzone, Italy from November 14th through November 22nd.
As an Instructor Trainer myself, one of the most rewarding experiences comes with the opportunity to return to headquarters and assist staff members with running future Instructor Trainer Workshops. Sharing knowledge and watching new Instructor Trainers learn to evaluate and train new instructors can be incredibly enjoyable. Similarly, the ability to return home and help other shops, educators, and organizations grow can make your home town region become a more active dive community. As IT professionals, one of our goals is to promote diving, help other instructors, and grow the scuba community as a whole.

Remember that becoming an educator is not an easy task. Furthermore, becoming a teacher of other educators can be even more challenging. Despite the effort, as an educator you must take pride in successfully helping others learn how to bring the underwater world into the lives of future students. If you choose to become an IT, make an effort to lead by example and help the scuba industry grow to become even better than it is today. The goal for any IT should be to shape the educational world for future divers, thereby making it a safer and more exciting place.

For immediate information on becoming an Instructor Trainer follow this link:
https://www.tdisdi.com/diver-instructor-trainer-workshop/


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

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4 Common Sense Rules You Can Apply to Wreck Diving

by: Joshua Norris:
wreck diving
As we all know, the scuba world is filled with many different types of diving. There are caves to explore, reefs to play on/near (don’t touch anything for God’s sake), diving in springs or a quarry to relax for a while, and almost anything else you can think of. Wreck diving has always been a popular activity. There are a few things to consider prior to entering a wreck in order to stay as safe as possible. However, this is not your normal “do” and “do not” list. These four discussion points are simply things to take into consideration. The ultimate decision is going to be left to you, the diver, and your buddies (if you have any). This brings us to our first discussion point:

  • – Personal responsibility

    The dive industry sometimes seems to be riddled with a lack of personal responsibility these days. When a dive pro is quick to take a picture of someone making a mistake, but never engages with the individual to perhaps shed some light on the problem, the entire industry looks petty and foolish. The old saying of “praise in public, and punish in private” has seemingly gone out the window. Instructors speaking poorly of other instructors, divers pushing their limits far beyond what is actually safe based on nothing more than something they read about on social media, and that feeling of “I forgot to bring X, but that will be no problem,” are situations that many need to do a better job of fixing.

    If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to dive down to a 150 feet on a wreck, but you have not been certified to that depth or given proper instruction on decompression procedures, should you continue with that dive? Well why not, right? Normal air is good to “180ish” feet and your buddy may just throw you an O2 tank and you can decompress at 20 feet until your computer clears itself. With that knowledge, what is the issue? You went out on a great dive, got an adrenaline rush because you broke the rules like a badass, and came home safe at the end of the day. No harm no foul… The issue with this is that the minute one little thing goes wrong your personal decision to go have a little bit of fun has successfully put the lives and jobs of both yourself and others at risk. Take some personal responsibility and explain to others your personal limits and perhaps you do not feel comfortable diving beyond that limit. Unlike prom night, you should not attempt to go as far as you can with everything in life.

  • – Forgot your computer, no big deal

    How many times have you forgotten your dive computer? For those of you who would never do such a thing and feel the need to explain with no less than 500 words how stupid someone must be to “forget” their computer, please feel free to do so in the comments section. To all of the others, like me, who have arrived at a site and discovered that they were missing something fairly important; this is for us. There is seldom a worse feeling than to be arriving at a dive site and realize that you have left something at the house. Now what do you do? You likely are not going to drive all the way back to retrieve it. You may be on a plane heading towards that vacation you have been waiting on all year. In any event, the fact remains that you have not properly packed your bag in some way. The best outcome for you is to admit defeat and find a suitable replacement for your missing item while conducting your dive(s). There is no reason to put yourself at risk simply because you do not want to rent a computer for an extra $20. If you happen to find yourself in a location that does not have that option, should you scrub your entire dive based on not having that particular item? I guess that just depends on what that the item is and what diving you would like to do. Again, as a diver you should do your best to take personal responsibility and remember that the safety of yourself and your dive buddies is paramount.

  • – It’s pretty much like cave diving in some ways

    Like many of you, I think I just heard all of the heads in Cave Country explode as a collective. Think about it though. If you are going to penetrate a wreck, it may be a great idea to carry extra gas, reels, lights, etc. This goes hand in hand with cave diving. The point is that if you don’t know what you are doing and are not fully prepared to enter the wreck; simply do not do it. Poke your head inside and look around if you like, but don’t go so far that you turn around and no longer realize just what you have done to yourself. There are a few videos online of folks lucking out and finding an exit. This is what we call, “one time learning”.

  • – Don’t over think it

    It happens all of the time. A group of new students will be standing, waist deep in the water, to do their very first open water dive. You and your buddy, a bit more experienced, see them in the water discussing their dive plan as you two are assembling and testing your gear. As you walk by them in the water, they continue to outline their plan in more detail than The Lord of the Rings. You conduct your 45 minute/1 hour dive and return to the entry point. What do you find? The same group of students discussing the same dive plan. Fast forward this into wreck diving and you will likely find some of the same attitudes, but perhaps in a different way. Meticulous planning of the wreck dive itself is not a bad thing at all. The problem comes when those who planned the dive with such great detail run into a situation for which they did not account. Perhaps the wreck moved since the last time you were there. Hurricanes have a tendency to blow things around a bit. Perhaps you had an equipment malfunction and did not plan for each and every thing to go wrong. From there, the horrible tradition of problems compounding themselves may begin. Just remember to plan your dive out, but also just go with it. Diving is not unlike other things in life in that curve balls will be thrown from time to time, and you must learn how to adapt quickly to potentially terrifying situations in an overhead environment. Educate yourself on how to deal with issues and practice until you can remain calm and take corrective measures when necessary.

These are some of the common sense approaches to take when preparing for a wreck dive. Things will go wrong, computers will fail, your buddies may call the dive leaving you in an awkward situation; just don’t be the diver that goes in and doesn’t come back simply because you rushed into it. I can guarantee that no one will care if you missed the wreck dive in five years. If you injure yourself or someone else though, that scar may never fade away.


– Joshua Norris, Air Hogs SCUBA

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What’s Your Life Worth?

by Sean Harrison:
water rescue
In a previous life when I did not have as much at stake, an opinion that did not make my parents very happy, I road motorcycles… any kind of motorcycle. After a number of years of riding used motorcycles, I decided it was time to buy my very own, brand new, road bike. While picking out my bike and looking at all the other goodies that could go along with it (can’t have a brand new bike and a bunch of old accessories) I looked at the helmet display. Up until this point I thought a helmet was good for keeping the big bugs and rain drops from hitting my face, just hearing the splat on my face-shield was proof enough they would hurt. Near the display I saw a sign which had a very powerful message from a company named Shoei and it read, “If you have a five dollar head, wear a five dollar helmet”. Now, even in my early 20’s, that message struck home. In pretty much every course I have taught in the past 20 plus years, I have found a way to use this line. Not very hard really, helmets are a safety device; dive gear is life support… close enough. The point is, when it comes to your life or the life of a loved one, don’t take the cheap route.

For the past 15 years a big part, and not the best part, of my job has been reviewing and analyzing diving accidents and fatalities. These reports span the globe, and cover all ages, genders, and disciplines of diving. Two unfortunate themes are reoccurring: basic skill failure and cutting corners on servicing.

Basic skill failure transcends all levels of diving from the basic open water diver to the best trained diving professional. This is a problem that boggles my mind because there is an unlimited amount of resources out there to prevent this from happening. A term was recently coined “Normalization of Deviance” and it is very fitting for what I have seen in diving. In short, and this is a very abridged interpretation, there is a correct way of doing something, but if you deviate from that correct way and nothing goes wrong, you find yourself continually deviating. This, in time, is going to catch up with you. Basic skills should be practiced on every dive, and at bare minimum a refresher should be conducted every year for divers not diving regularly. You may be asking – what kind of basic skills are you talking about? I am referring to: turning on a cylinder, removing a weight system, monitoring your gauges. Sound basic? They are, and taught in every open water course, but have seriously injured many and claimed the lives of even more.

Going cheap on servicing is another one that gets me. Most equipment can be serviced for less than $200 per year; the more sophisticated the equipment, the higher the cost. This is of particular interest when it comes to rebreathers. I have at this point, lost count of the number of accidents that have involved out of date cells, and scrubber canisters with expended scrubber materials. I am grouping scrubber medium in with servicing since it is an expendable item that needs to be “serviced”. O2 cells can be, and must be (by most manufacturers) replaced every year, for around $300.00.

So what are we talking about here? Depending on what type of equipment you are diving and how actively you are diving, $200 – $700 per year. Is your life worth less than that? I don’t think so and neither do your loved ones. The really sad part here is that you won’t realize the cost and the value until it’s too late. No, diving is not an inexpensive sport but it pays itself back many-fold by the places you go, the people you meet, and things you get to see that few others have or will. Just the therapeutic value alone is worth thousands!

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Girls Pee, Too

by Shirley Kasser:
drysuit female

“You just need to get some adult diapers.”

Huh? Seriously? Before the advent of the She-P, such was the extent of the advice to female technical divers facing longer and/or colder dives who didn’t want to, or just couldn’t, hold it. Like many others, I had no desire to stew in my own juices, so to speak. In addition, I had my doubts about the capacity of those things. I pee a lot. Listening to the guys complain about their cath removal woes garnered zero sympathy from me. At least they could go!

While still diving wet, I began to do some research. Some products on the market for female hikers looked like possibilities, with some modifications. The solution seemed to be just there, dangling off into the middle distance. Yeah, I said “dangling.” Feel free to snicker.

Then, out of the blue, well… out of some wonderful Dutch folks, came a new term to our tech diving vocabulary, “She-P.” Looking a bit like a tubby black stingray after a trip to the country buffet, this little gizmo was the answer to all of those cross-legged, wiggling-dance prayers. My order for a new drysuit was placed on the same day as my order for one of these beautiful new pieces of art.

Having read lots of advice from the inventors and their then soon-to-be North American distributor, Laura, online, I was ready when the package arrived. I’d already installed my p-valve and completed the necessary landscaping. It was time to pee!

Now, let’s not skim over that landscaping bit. This device covers a wide swath of your girly bits. You think waxing sounds painful? Try ripping off a nicely glued She-P without having done the necessary hair removal preparation. Paramedics may be required. Have fun explaining things to them.

Shaving, and the stubbly regrowth, is nearly as bad as diving in a wet diaper. Waxing leaves a nice result, but if you’re diving a lot, the needed regrowth of hair before being able to wax again leaves much to be desired (refer to the previous paramedics note). Laser hair removal is the trick. It’s expensive, but worth every single curly-hair-removing penny.

With landscaping done and p-valve installed, we are ready for arts and crafts time. Get out the glue. There are multiple types of glue available, and some fairly detailed videos, so we aren’t going deep into detail here. However, like anything you want to be good at, you have to practice. Glue that baby on and slug down a Big Gulp. Depending on where you live, go outside and pee on a tree. Write your name in the snow. Or, if you live in the city, you might just want to practice in the shower.

Be patient with the gluing process. It takes practice and is no place for shyness about your body. The spray adhesive works, but I’ve found that the brush-on glue allows for easier repositioning when I miss. Did I mention, be patient? Ask questions, but ultimately, you have to experiment to find the right positioning for your body. Once it’s properly glued in place, I often forget it’s there. It warms up and becomes a part of me. It’s best to get glued up before heading to the boat or dive sites, but I’ve successfully glued up standing in the corner of a truck door. Practice makes perfect. Complacency and hurrying make for leaks. Don’t rush this bit.

This beauty attaches to a standard p-valve with no modifications required. A barbed fitting or quick disconnect work great. The choice is yours. Most kits come with tubing for you to cut to size. Keep in mind, you’ll be peeing out of that tube whenever you’re not suited up, so make it long enough to comfortably hit your target and connect into your p-valve. A bonus is that you can now use the urinal in the port-a-potties instead of having to drop trou and hover above that disgusting seat.

But wait, there’s more! Really need to pee but do not want to go to the marine head after that burrito-eating beer-drinking buddy has just had his morning constitutional down there? She-P makes peeing over the rail or into a bottle a breeze! Hiking the woods searching for that one special cave? Take a spot at a tree next to the guys without having to come out of your suit. The world is now your urinal.

WARNING: This device has been known to turn middle aged professional women into 6 year old boys, considering anything and everything a potential target for their new skill. You have been warned.

Have fun. Be patient with yourself. Ask questions. Keep trying. And DIVE DIVE DIVE!

Go to http://she-p.com/ and http://www.diverlaura.me/ for information, education, entertainment, and dealer locations.


– Shirley Kasser – Shirley@shediver.com

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The P-Valve Struggle

First things first, if you don’t know exactly what a P-valve is, it’s pretty basic. Essentially, it’s a tube that has a valve on one end that vents to the outside of your dry suit that allows liquids to pass from the inside of the suit to the outside.

 
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Cave diving 101: Avoiding Entanglement

by Steve Lewis:
cave diving 101
Scuba diving seems to make an appearance on just about every sports writer’s list of the most dangerous recreational activities; and my guess is that when asked, every single one of the men and women compiling those lists would rank cave diving the most dangerous form of scuba diving. For example, Forbes, the venerable business magazine famous for listing things like the world’s richest person, most expensive car, or blingiest wristwatch, puts cave diving right up there with bull riding, base-jumping and surfing monster waves. With respect – and with a nod of the head to the personal bias resulting from being an avid cave diver – I feel we should temper any belief in the accuracy and relevance of these lists with the knowledge that they are put together by writers happier conforming to uninformed generalizations, than researching primary data and supportable statistical evidence… but let’s not go there right now.

Let’s say instead that although cave diving presents divers with an alarmingly long list of potential risks, those risks are well-managed and suppressed to a perfectly acceptable level by following a few quite simple rules. Sure, cave diving has the potential to be dangerous, but when we follow best-practice guidelines, the stats reflect a totally different perspective: in short, the level of danger is inversely proportional to how closely we stick to well-established guiding principles!

Paramount among these principles is having the relevant instruction, up-to-date experience and practice with the appropriate kit and skill set, and staying within personal limits.

For example, let’s consider entanglement… and the steps cave divers learn to reduce the dangers entanglement present.

Even if you have never been inside a cave, you may already know, those dived on a regular basis have a network of permanent lines and navigational markers in them. These lines (usually color-coded kernmantle), are fixed in positions that make them easily seen, and not easily tangled in fins or other gear. This helps to make getting snarled up in them unlikely: especially compared to divers who penetrate wrecks, which often have a horde of cables, nets, wires, and ropes ready to reach out and grab at passing dive gear. But cave divers are also taught a few skills to further ensure any interaction with lines is visual only.

The first step in the process of managing entanglement risk is to streamline one’s personal dive gear. This is part of the process that every Cavern/Intro Cave/Full Cave student is walked through with his or her instructor usually well BEFORE diving in an overhead environment.

Chief culprits are the “danglies”: any accessory, any piece of harness, any clip, reel, spool, light, or regulator second stage not tucked away either out of sight in a pocket or pouch or “hidden” making contact with permanent lines improbable.

Another step in the streamlining process is to “trim the fat” from one’s dive gear. This means to take only what’s needed, and to leave behind what’s not. For example, some divers like to adorn themselves with every piece of kit they can pick up and carry to the water. It’s not unusual to see divers (even cave divers) with five or six additional reels and assorted spools attached to their harnesses. Make no mistake, every member of a cave-diving team MUST at all times carry a safety reel or spool, but taking “three or four or five extras just in case” is overkill. Especially when the dive plan calls for no deviations from the main line or gold line. OTT (Over-The-Top) accessorizing is unnecessary and encourages the Christmas Tree approach to kit configuration!

With this in mind, we can segue to the topic of “line traps”, places on a diver’s kit or person that a line might get pushed into, making removal difficult, time-consuming, or darn right dangerous. Classic line traps include manufacturer’s standard fin and mask straps (which are either taped or replaced with better options); swing-gate boat clips (which are sometimes called suicide clips and typically replaced with bolt snaps); anything behind the diver’s back such as a doubles manifold or a tangle of reels and spools clipped to the diver’s butt; or a side-slung stage, bailout or decompression bottles (which should be pulled in tight to the body’s lateral line a la sidemount configured tanks). Most of these can be managed or eradicated completely using a little creativity, judicious gear selection and editing, and common sense, but some simply have to be accepted as inevitable (the behind the head paraphernalia for anyone diving backmounted doubles or a rebreather for example), and dealt with accordingly.

And this brings us to what is perhaps the most important skill, and certainly the one most difficult to acquire: positional and situational awareness.

Cavern and cave diving students learn that they should strive to develop complete control of their buoyancy and the ability to maintain their body in an attitude best suited to the conditions: often, but not always, horizontal trim. As these skills begin to develop and become finely tuned, a diver’s awareness expands to provide them uncanny feedback regarding the exact position of their hands, feet, fins, body, equipment, accessories, etc. relative to their environment. This makes it possible for them to maneuver through restrictions, glide past snags, over, around and under lines without coming into contact with anything.

Most of all perhaps, the seasoned cave diver understands the Zen-like concept of being in the moment… and being in no rush to get anywhere. Yes, the most common mistake made by new cavern and cave divers is to behave like a puppy at the beach… or perhaps more like a bull in a china shop. Slowing down, taking one’s time will certainly be helpful, and will help avoid entanglement. And in the cases where something does become snagged, the Stop, Think, Act response taught in basic SDI open water classes, remains the best advice.

So, go out there and have fun, and if you should bump into that writer from Forbes, take the time to explain that cave divers are not nutcases with a death wish!