Regulator breathing wet? Free flowing? Power inflator won’t deflate? Venturi lever won’t budge?
There’s a list of things that could be going on (annual service time, perhaps?), but often the culprit is sand. As innocent as the beach looks, those little tiny grains can wreak havoc on your equipment.
In your regulator's first stage, it can get tangled up with your main spring and do all sorts of bad things with your intermediate pressure. In power inflators, sand and small rocks can get in the way of your dump button and not allow you to remove air from your BC. With your second stage, sand is particularly evil. It can get between the o-rings that allow it to be water tight, which will let water in with every breath. It can get between the seat and the crown and prevent a seal from forming there, which will give you freeflow. And it can get between the Venturi lever control and the box of your second stage, which will prevent you from adjusting Venturi and/or ease of breathing.
So how can you prevent all this from happening? I mean, sand’s everywhere. We’ve all come back from the beach and found sand in places we didn’t know we could get sand four days later. Thankfully, there are some easy things to keep most of this stuff on the beach.
1. Octo Keepers
I’ve had enough sand come out of an octo (your alternate air source) to make a replica of Kalama Park on the bench! Securing your secondary is not only a great way to keep it available in case of emergency, but it keeps it off the ground as you’re setting up and off the coral and sand as you dive. As you break down your gear, if you can’t find a non-sandy place to set down, keeping your octo in its keeper until you’re ready to completely unhook your regulator can keep it from dropping into the sand as well.
2. Gear Wash
Rinsing your gear is great for keeping corrosion at bay and for keeping that inevitable batch of silty sand out of your stuff. Be sure to rinse out the spring compartment of your first stage (unless it’s environmentally sealed), as well as your second stages. If you’re at the beach park and there’s a shower, you can fill up your second stage through the mouthpiece as you stand there, swish it around, and dump it out. Just be sure not to press the purge button as you do this, as it will let water into your nice clean reg hose. You can do the same if you wash your gear in a bucket. Same move, less showering.
3. Care while Swimming Near the Bottom
Power inflators love to drag in the sand if you’re cruising along close to the bottom. The mouthpiece acts as a great shovel and you can end up amassing an amazing amount of gunk (and damaging a lot of reef!). If you use your left arm to streamline it across your body as you get up close and personal with that urchin, you can save your gear and the reef.
4. Regular Service
As best we try, the environment always wins. Keeping your gear serviced keeps it clean, happy, and functioning properly (and of course can maintain your warranty)! We are always available for questions and tips, so come on in...and bring your gear!
Are you seeking attention and notoriety? Does the world, in fact, actually revolve around you? Do you crave the experience of having others point at you while carrying on hushed discussions behind their hands? Maybe you just like living on the edge… In any case, we’ve got three tips just for you!
1. Lug your oversized hard case full of dive gear (and everything else but the kitchen sink) on board five minutes before departure and stake out some prime real estate. Doh! First off, you should always wait to be invited aboard by the captain or crew. Next, bring only what you need and stay away from those solid box type of bags. Yes, they are great for protecting your camera equipment, but there’s no room on a dive boat for one – leave that in the car. If you must bring an equipment bag on board, it should be a flexible one that can be folded up and stowed out of everyone’s way. Once on board, you should always be sure to keep your area tidy and contained. Finally, remember to show up at the proper check-in time, not the departure time. All boats will have you fill out release forms and will also need to set up equipment, brief you, etc. If you’re late, it can delay things for everyone who arrived on time.
2. Leave your c-card at home (gotta travel light, right?). Everyone will be able to tell you’re a certified diver just by looking at you and if they ask, you’ve got your number memorized anyway. Okay folks, I think anyone can make up any number they want and tell the dive crew that's their certification number. Will that work? Nope. You got certified for a reason (well, probably lots of reasons), and your c-card is PROOF of that. And guess what? You need to provide proof of certification to go diving. Bring it with you – this should be an easy one. Plus, the dive crew will totally dig getting to look at your 1971 moustache and beard or your 1982 Aqua Net poofy bangs. Let’s start the day with a little humor, shall we?
3. Chat with your newfound dive buddies seated next to you during the briefing; you’ve heard all this before anyway. Wrong! Every boat is a bit different, and the boat briefing contains information that could actually save your life (like where the throw rings are and where the marine head is)! You’ll also want to note procedures for getting off and back on the boat again, as well as learning where your dry items will be stored during the trip. In addition, divers and passengers should remain seated during take off and landing, uh, I mean when the boat leaves from and returns to wherever it’s docked. During that time, the crew will usually need to scurry around the vessel, throwing out bumpers, securing lines, and other such tasks and they’ll appreciate being able to get this done without tripping over their customers.
Well, as you can see, this ended up being a post about how NOT to be "that person", but we hope you enjoyed it anyway. If you're interested in not being "that person" aboard the Maui Diamond II, just give us a call for the latest in trip availability and destinations! And, of course, if you've got any tips of your own, feel free to share them here!
p.s. We used two photos in this blog, and one of them contains a boat no-no that wasn't specifically mentioned. Can you figure out what it is?
...always double check your job description!
Two months ago, I took what I thought was a job as a SCUBA technician. It was something I'd been doing for 3 years and was thinking I'd be doing annual services, quick repairs, and rental equipment upkeep. An accurate assumption, but not a compete one! In addition to finding sand in places I never thought possible, as a technician I have:
1. Become a professional mask fitter.
You can make any mask fit with enough determination, but it takes talent and finesse to find the mask that is yours. I thought I knew everything about getting the right person to the right mask, but, man, was I wrong. It's an art form. Luckily, everyone here has set me straight and I'm on my way to obtaining my Mask Fitting Certification card.
2. Mastered multi-tasking (kind of...)
There is something of a herd instinct that makes people want to come to the same place at the same time. The dive shop is no different. So while you may want to focus on writing that blog you've been meaning to get to, the phone's ringing, someone is wanting to buy a mask, a group of 3 wants to book a dive, the sink's overflowing, the sonicator is done, and there's a suspicious hissing sound coming from that tank in the front. Lots of sticky notes and prioritization have been helpful!
3. Written blog(s)
Generally speaking, as someone in SCUBA, I don't do a whole lot of writing. Outside of bookings, those previously mentioned sticky notes, and service details, writing is not on my normal to do list. As such, it has taken an inordinately long period of time to get these few paragraphs typed out! So, not only is Maui Dreams giving me more experience on the bench, but I'm also getting to derustify my ability to put a coherent sentence together. Such job diversity!
4. Acted as a wetsuit model
Author, booking agent, model. Things I have never seen myself as being, and yet, here I am. This was definitely not listed in the original job description (that, now that I think of it, I don't think I've actually seen…). If I'd done my Facebook homework before taking the job, however, I would have seen that all employees must show proficient product showcasing, and would have been fully prepared! So, alas, this one is all my fault.
So, if you're considering a job in the world of SCUBA, be prepared to be flexible, adaptable, and able to wear many, many hats!
When I was a new diver, my Scuba Instructor, Wells Martell, gave me my first dive computer. As it turned out, the first time I used it was on a night dive. It is never a good idea to use unfamiliar equipment at night! I had always used my depth gauge as a navigation tool, but with my new computer, I could not tell which number was my depth! So when I followed that cool squid…I got disoriented! Fortunately, I eventually figured out where I was and got us all back to shore safe and sound. Lesson learned…
Recently, a couple of situations have come up that reinforce the importance of being familiar with your dive equipment. The first was when one of Jon's students forgot how to purge his alternate air source which was attached to his inflator hose. Jon was able to get the student back on his primary air source immediately and then reviewed how to use the alternate properly.
The second instance was when two certified divers asked me about practicing some skills on their own, which I agreed was a great idea! I asked them if they had alternate air sources attached to their inflator hoses. They both said yes. So I recommended that they practice the alternate air skill by giving up their primary and then going to their alternate air source. I also recommended that they practice the skill on land first and then try it in shallow water.
The next day, they came back to the shop and said they had done the practice session. The first diver said the skill went great and she now felt confident that in the event of an emergency she could safely use her alternate air. The second diver said that there was something wrong with her equipment, and that it only worked when she held the button in continuously…then she showed me her manual inflator hose, with no regulator attached! She had done the skill by trying to breathe off the air in her BCD! She did not realize that this was not an alternate air source.
My recommendation to divers everywhere is to practice your skills regularly. It's one thing to learn skills during your initial certification courses, but what about when you get new equipment and/or those skills aren't so fresh by the time you need them? Our instructors and divemasters are always available for skills practice sessions and we find that divers really enjoy refining their skills and gear familiarity. Ready to brush up with some skills practice? We're ready to help! Aloha, Teri
The first time I went to Fiji, I had the most magical experience when I dove with seven large, beautiful lionfish. They glided effortlessly along the bommie wall. I have looked forward to seeing them again every time I have returned to Fiji. I never imagined that lionfish would be considered a menace.
However, according to Reef.org, invasive lionfish have become a huge problem to local fish species from North Carolina to South America. Part of the problem comes from the reproductive capability of these lionfish. They can become sexually mature within one year and produce over 2,000,000 eggs per year during a 15+ year life span. Whew, that is a lot of lionfish! It is reported that they have fully invaded the Caribbean in less than three years! Pack that punch with a few of the other quick facts I found on their website:
1. Venomous spines deter predators
2. They eat up to 56 different varieties of fish
3. Heavily populated areas can consume 460,000 prey fish per acre per year
4. They live from the shore all the way down to 600’
In other parts of the world (where lionfish are considered an invasive species), there are now lionfish cookbooks, fishing derbies, and hunting courses, and specialty certifications, all centered around eradicating these predators who have turned up in an ecosystem that does not know how to handle them.
However, here in Maui waters, lionfish have a very different story…
John Hoover’s excellent book, “The Ultimate Guide to Hawaiian Reef Fishes”, tells us that we have the endemic and unique to Hawaii nohu pinao (Hawaiian name for dragonfly) which are separated into two species Pterois sphex (layman’s name=Hawaiian Red Lionfish, also known as the Turkeyfish) and Dendrochirus barberi (layman’s name=Hawaiian Green Lionfish).
The Red Lionfish grows to about 8 inches and generally eats small crabs or shrimps. The Green Lionfish grows to only 6.5 inches and hunts small fish and crustaceans. Many of these lionfish have been collected for the aquarium trade, which has made lionfish a scarcity on our reefs. Throughout several thousand dives that I have done in Maui, I have always become excited when I have spotted even one!
Since the invasive explosion in the Atlantic and Caribbean, we have had many visitors ask us about killing the lionfish here in Hawaii where they are infrequently seen. Contrary to popular opinion, we actually need to protect our beautiful and precious Hawaiian lionfish. So please enjoy them when you are lucky enough to see one!
We'd love to hear your thoughts on lionfish (whether experienced here or elsewhere) and if you've got a great photo to share, please post it on our Facebook page!
This one's for all you "Type As" who want to know exactly what's going to happen and when!
First off, you’ll meet your instructor at the dive shop at 7:00am and we’ll review your Discover Scuba Diving forms. Prior to your dive day, you will have had ample time to review these forms and obtain a physician’s release if needed (hey, we’re divers, not doctors!).
Next, we’ll fit you with gear, making sure you’ve got the right sizes for everything, including wetsuits and masks. If you have some of your own equipment and you know it fits you and works well, please feel free to bring it. If you’re not sure, go ahead and bring it as well; we’re happy to lend our expertise and if we have something that will work better than what you have, we’ll bring that along. All rental gear is included in the cost of this activity.
After the paperwork’s done and gear has been fitted, you’ll follow the instructor to the dive site. Typically, this is Ulua Beach, but sites can vary depending on weather conditions. This means that you will need a vehicle, and you should bring things you’d normally bring to the beach like a towel, sunscreen, and water (tip: don’t slather the sunscreen on your face as the oils in that can keep your mask from sealing). Also, we know this might seem obvious, but come wearing your bathing suit.
Once we arrive at the dive site, we’ll educate you on the physics (and finesse) of diving with a briefing on how to use the dive gear, how to control it while in the water, and how to care for the environment while you’re doing all that. We’ll also fill you in on commonly used underwater hand signals and describe some of the sea life you can expect to see. During this briefing, please feel free to ask questions at any time! We do this all the time, but realize it’s all new to you and we’ll want you to feel as comfortable and well-prepared as possible.
Your instructor will help you into your scuba gear and lead you into shallow water so that you can easily stand up if you have any questions. While you’re kneeling in the sand and breathing underwater for the first time, there are three skills that we’ll teach you: how to clear water out of a regulator, how to recover your regulator if you should happen to drop it, and how to clear water out of your mask. These skills are the first steps in making you comfortable underwater and familiar with your equipment. You’ll also practice reading your gauges and communicating with your instructor.
From there, we’ll go out for a dive! At first, we’ll cruise over sand while swimming right next to the reef. There are no sudden drop-offs at Maui dive sites, so we’ll get deeper very gradually, giving you plenty of time to get used to equalizing your ears and controlling your position underwater. Once we get to about 20 feet deep, we’ll start swimming over the corals and all the life they contain. You can expect to see turtles, eels, butterflyfish, and even our Hawaiian state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Say that one time fast!
Your instructor will be right there with you to help you learn to control your buoyancy and to point out and identify the neat critters that you’ll see underwater. Our maximum depth will be 40 feet and we may or may not get that deep; it just depends on our pace and what grabs our attention along the way. Your instructor will remind you to monitor your air and will head back towards shore with plenty of air still left in the tank. We’ll normally swim right back into shallow water and ascend right there!
We only take four divers per group, so you will not be diving with a crowd and will get plenty of attention from your instructor. Dive times vary based on lots of factors including your comfort level, lung size, and our dive depth. Most of our introductory dives from shore last anywhere from 45 minutes to 60 minutes. We do not set a time limit; we will dive as long as you are warm, comfortable, and have plenty of air.
It is common to feel nervous at first – you’ve never done this before!! Holy moly, we are going to be breathing underwater!!! Be patient with yourself and take a couple of nice deep breaths with even longer exhales when you first get down there. This will really calm you and ready you for the next steps. The bubbles may tickle your face at first or you may have a giggle at the Darth Vader type of breathing sounds your gear can make. It’s all good!
After a rest, most of our divers are ready to get back in and do it again! Getting all the kinks of learning to ‘fly underwater’ out of the way on the first dive allows you to really relax and enjoy the aquatic life on the second dive. Most people choose this option, which is just $20 more, and say they are so glad they did. On the second dive, you know what to expect and we don’t have to spend the time at the start of the dive learning any new skills, so off we go!
If you thought THAT was fun, good news! You have what it takes to enroll in our Open Water scuba class, and in fact, day one of class is very similar to what you’ve just done on your Introductory Dive. Give us a call or stop in at the shop and we can fill you in on the details of what is involved in becoming a fully certified Open Water Diver.
Night diving is...well, amazing! The darkness of night reveals all the critters you rarely see during the day and these fish and (mostly) invertebrates are often slow moving and easier to get a really good look at after dark.
Sometimes you'll see fish you see every day, but they'll look different or exhibit a different behavior. For example, at night we still see as many Hawaiian Whitespotted Tobies as we do during the day, but at night they're often pressed against a coral head trying to sleep and be invisible. Butterflyfishes display muted colors, the white spots on our endemic damselfishes shrink, and many red pencil urchins appear light pink at night!
A typical night dive in Maui will yield many surprises, from squids in four feet of water to sponge crabs lumbering along or munching on urchins. We find lobsters (look for the glowing eyes) and shrimps of every variety, some in the sand, some on the reef, and even some floating through the water column!
Night dives tend to move at a very slow pace just because there is so much to take notice of. I can think of several times that I have checked my dive computer and been amazed to see that an hour has passed and I haven't even reached the end of the "first reef" at Ulua (a distance covered in just minutes during the day)! Since at night you mainly focus on what's inside your light beam, the colors are vibrant and you become attuned to even the slightest movements, enabling you to notice life you'd drift right over during the day.
In the dive shop we often hear divers express anxiety about diving at night. I remember my first night dive and I was nervous too! But discovering all of the "sci-fi" critters I'd never seen before made it worth it. Once I got over flashing my light in every direction and just focused on the reef, I became engrossed in all the colorful life right before my eyes. And I had one of the longest dives of my life! To top that off, we emerged from our dive under moonlight and stars that we could see even before we surfaced - magical.
The above paragraphs barely scratch the surface of what night diving has to offer, and whether you're interested in going on your first night dive or earning the Night Diver specialty
, we invite you to come on out with us! We offer night dives
most nights of the year and if you're really
the adventurous type, you can even request a pre-dawn night dive around 4-5:AM! Instructor Curly assures us that there's nothing quite like watching the sunrise from underwater!
Tell us about your first night dive!
I lost one of my favorite pieces of gear the other night, my Sola 1200 dive light!!!! I never dive without this little goody. It just fits right on the back of my hand and I use it to look in pukas during the day, to guide me at night, and it also often doubles as a strobe or video light for my camera. On my most recent night dive, I had attached it to my strobe to use as a focus light.
Actually, I had not even realized that it was missing yet when someone called me the next morning to tell me they’d found it! “Hello, is there a Domingo there?” (I put my last name and phone number on just about everything). “Ummmm, yes, this is Rachel…” “I just found your light at the beach”. My mind did some frantic figuring…what the heck was this lady talking about? What light? But there could be only one light – my Sola!
Ten minutes later, it was back in my possession.
Is that one of the best stories ever, or what?!!
The moral of the story here? Label your dive gear! Yes, just like your mommy labeled your stuff for you when you were little, label your own stuff now that you’re a big kid. Hmmmm…although I’m not sure how I would ever have lost some of the stuff she labeled, but still!
There are lots of great ways to label your gear, from the subtle to the obvious. Available products include paint markers and “scuba goop” (we use this on our wetsuits), and even silver sharpies! When you label your stuff though, you need to think about what you hope to achieve with your method of labeling.
Are you marking your gear simply to keep your black Apollo Bio Fins separate from everyone else’s on the boat? I know people who have walked off with one of theirs and one of someone else’s. Believe me, when this happens to you, you never take two of the same size! Anyway, if this is your goal, something as simple as a colored stripe, a cable tie, a symbol of some sort, or an initial or two will work. My dive buddy Christine has “tattood” the back of her BCD with this pretty hibiscus design. Rob Zombie of the Maui Diamond II simply writes “Rob” on everything, and my friend Kris put some kind of turquoise adhesive on each piece of his equipment. Divers Ed and Judy re-colored the Aqualung logos on their BCD’s with a color combo unique to their gear.
You may also be labeling so that something that is lost can be returned to you once it’s found. If this is the case, better make sure you get your phone number or at least full name on the item. For me, this means that all of my dive lights and camera equipment have my name and phone number on them. If I lose a lens or camera (or a light), I want them back! One more tip: relabel as necessary. Most labeling products fade or smudge over time, so it’s really important to make sure that you don’t create a “finders-keepers” scenario because someone can’t read your info.
Working in the dive shop, I often chat with divers who have lost items (weights and weight pockets seem to be the most common). When you lose or leave behind a piece of rental gear, you get to pay for it, and that’s what happens in these situations. However, I cannot tell you how often we end up refunding people we’ve charged for lost gear. More often than not, another diver returns a lost item to the shop a day or two later…because it was labeled – woo hoo!
So for all you folks out there who think people never return things, think again. Remember, I just got my $699 dive light back (whew! And p.s. I did lay some “reward” money on that nice lady). Now, has anyone found the mask I just lost? I confess it wasn’t labeled!
p.s. I'd love to hear YOUR lost and found stories - post them below in the comments section!
Before the 2012 Holiday Season comes to a close, while we are all so busy with family, friends, working (dive industry!), I wanted to stop and take a moment to count our blessings here at Maui Dreams Dive Co.
A couple of months ago, I was just beginning dinner at a lovely Maui oceanside restaurant with visiting friends and family, when I opened my cell to take a photo and saw that I had five messages, all from the previous ten minutes. Hawaii had just received a tsunami warning.
Our Captain Chris, who was in route to our dinner with his wife Carleen, had turned around and headed for Maalaea Harbor to move the Maui Diamond II out to deeper, and safer waters. Don and Rachel were in a rush trying to round up their cats and a few precious be
longings and heading to higher ground. My party said our goodbyes at dinner and left to pick up my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Bill to deliver them to our house above the danger zone, followed by a rush with Dale and Uncle Bill to Maui Dreams to evacuate the shop.
The evacuation process has gone like this three times in the last few years:
First, we unplug all electronics and move them to my car along with all paperwork. We lift all inventory several feet off the floor, except for tanks and weights. We then take photos of everything! While all of this is going on we can hear the tsunami warning sirens going off every ten minutes, along with the police and fire department bellowing over loudspeakers “You must evacuate immediately!” All the time I am concerned that, while I can always run up the hill, my car may be stranded due to a traffic jam. It is quite a harrowing experience!
All of this intense activity takes about an hour at most, followed by the rush home, being met along the way by authorities warning us to evacuate. Then we wait…
So far, we have been extraordinarily fortunate. One time there was some wetness along our doorways where I had placed towels, but other than that we have had no ill effects from Mother Nature.
So, when we witnessed the destructive force of Hurricane Sandy last October/November, we couldn’t help but be moved by this life-changing event for millions of people thousands of miles away. Rachel asked around until she found a PADI dive center in New Jersey that had been devastated in the hurricane. We again understood how fortunate we are at Maui Dreams…after each tsunami evacuation we have come back to work with our wonderful little dive shop fully functional, and especially with all of our excellent staff together as a family, and our homes and loved ones safe and sound.
Our shop has had our best year to date, and this and other factors enabled our store to send some assistance to a dive shop in need during this Holiday Season. We're all in this together, and we know how lucky we've been.
I hope these thoughts remind everyone to take a moment to reflect on how fortunate we are.
Happy Holidays and here's to a great 2013!
'Tis that time of year once again, and we thought we'd take a few minutes to share some of our cheap and easy stocking stuffer ideas for the scuba diver in your life! Some of these items are fun toys and some are just serious fun, but they'll all fit into a stocking (well, depending on how big the stocking is!)
Tire Inflator Keychains are available in four colors. Need air in your tire? Attach the keychain to your inflator hose and to the tire, and fill 'er up. Of course, you need to have a tank handy too! That said, this little gizmo has come in handy on numerous occasions, usually as a help to other divers at a dive site. $9.50
And while we're on the subject of cool keychains, check out this little tank keychain - this is a must have save-a-dive item. It contains o-rings and the pick needed to remove your bad o-ring...nice! This baby is also available in silver and blue. $10
Next up is the brand new Scooblite. This cool new product is the latest to come out on the market for night divers and we're excited to try it ourselves. Other marker lights are one-time-use only or else need continuous battery changes. The Scooblite is charged by the sun (or any other light source) and can be used over and over again. Though the application on our minds is for night diving, these could also be used for camping, power outages, and more! $12-$16
Ready for some diver bling for all the scuba chicks you know? Well, pink colored items are always in demand! We've got keychains, strap wrappers, hibiscus drink bottles, and even pink mouthpieces! We've got pink flex hoses, masks, snorkels, and keychains. With all of the black equipment our sport clads us in, girl divers really appreciate a spash of color! $10 and up...
If you need more ideas, we've got a bunch, including inexpensive whale tail necklaces, the brand new scuba mouse, wind up scuba diver toys, 4G diver memory sticks, retractors, snappy coils, noise makers, and of course, GIFT CARDS! Heck, if you come on in and tell us what you want, we just might whisper that in your dive buddy's ear for you!
And last but not least, we just got these cool bracelets in. We got about 50 designs, so we're only showing a few here, but these are adjustable and at only $5, they will make a perfect little goody for lots of people on your list!
Got something you're hoping to see in YOUR stocking? Tell us what it is!
p.s. Are you curious about what the Scuba Mouse is????? See the photo on our FB page.