Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Sidemount Rebreather Class in Gilboa Ohio

Friday, June 20th, 2014

This was a very busy week in June.   After packing the truck with five rebreathers, ten tanks, two drysuits, one wetsuit, camping gear clothes, sleeping bag and many spare parts, I headed out to Gilboa Quarry in Ohio.    The week included two classes; one a GEM Semi-closed sidemount class, and the other a full CCR sidemount rebreather class.

On arrival, half of the gear was unpacked and setup for the next days class.    The first class was SCR using the GEM Sidekick sidemount rebreather.  Balance, trim and proper buoyancy were some of the biggest issues.  The rebreather operation was not as much a concern as proper position and weighting for the best work of breathing.  I prefer to use an aluminum 80 for diluent / bailout.  However the students were more accustom to steel tanks which required more weight to counter balance.  We tried several different side mount harness during the class.  Each had pros and cons.  By the end of the class the divers were feeling much more confident and the buoyancy and trim were dialed in.

The next morning started the CCR Sidekick class.   After classroom work and gear configuration we hit the water for more trim and buoyancy work.   After a few dives and skills we were circling the quarry and starting our decompression dives.

On the next weekend we set up all of our rebreathers side by side to allow divers to go on demo dives.  Divers tried out several different units.  Others just stopped by to ask questions.   All in all a great week of classes and diving.

Intro To Technical Diving

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

Diving season is around the corner, and we’re getting requests for classes.
Drop a line if you are interested.
DavidAOldham@gmail.com
609.226.0570
The TDI Intro to Tech course is the perfect course for divers who have heard about technical diving and want to find out more about this exciting branch of advanced recreational diving. This course walks students through the special techniques, planning procedures and skills that set technical diving apart from traditional sport diving. It will show them how to improve their dive planning methods, in-water skills and streamline their existing gear configuration, in a non-threatening and fun learning environment. The specific skills this course will highlight are:

  • Advanced Buoyancy Control
  • 
Gas Management
  • Situational Awareness
  • Trim
  • Gear Configuration and Selection
  • Many More!

TDI’s Intro to Tech course is a useful stand-alone course for the diver who wants to become a more skilled, more proficient diver regardless of if he intends to move on to technical diving. The course may also be used as an introduction to the TDI Advanced Nitrox course and the TDI Decompression Procedures course. And finally, it is also a good refresher for certified technical divers who may want to refresh their skills or have them re-evaluated by a TDI technical instructor.

This time I brough the camera!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Nuidbanch

Nuidbanch

Too often, I’ve had some fantastic diving experiences but can only share them with words.  California is one of those experiences.  I have sworn to myself that I will never again dive without a camera.

Here on the east coast our shore is composed of white sandy beaches.  Great for sunbathers, but not much to look at for divers.  Other coasts have rocky shores.  On rocky shores, fish have places to hide, plants have places to take root.

The west coast enjoys these rocky shores.  Kelp anchors to the seabed, and a variety of sea life thrives in it’s shelter.  While east coast diving is all about shipwrecks, west coast divers can simply drop in the water and enjoy diving the kelp beds.

Last week I had another opportunity to dive California’s underwater forests.  On my first trip to CA, my 35 mm film camera failed me, and I came home with only memories.  My last trip, I was involved in  some intensive training, and did not bring the camera.  This time, I was taking pictures one way or another.

The reason for the trip revolved around training, again.   This time I was working on an instructor cert on the new KISS GEM pSCR.   After diving the unit for many weeks in our local quarry, I felt comfortable in it’s operation.  Now I had to teach others.  My IT set up the class that involved system operation, buildup, pool and open water.  The first portions went quickly, and we were soon discussing open water.

Point Lobos

In the Monterey area, there are many options for open water dives.  After a few discussions, the decision was on Point Lobos, a small peninsula south of Carmel.  The area is mostly state park with some fantastic vistas.  Shore entry is in a small lagoon with a facility for divers.  Upon arrival we were greeted by local divers, and quickly discussed conditions prior to their second dive.  Our entry was uneventful, and we were soon swimming through the kelp beds.  There is no comparable feeling in Northeast diving.

The next day Alan borrowed a friends boat, and we headed to the Monterey marina breakwater.  I’m sure there are better placed to dive, but on my last visit we saw many Rainbow Nudibranchs close to the breakwater.  We have no such creatures here in the Northeast, so I expressed my fascination, and desire for a picture.

While preparing the boat and gearing up, we observed a number of large red jellyfish floating near the surface.  I gathered as many photos as I could on the surface, and anticipated seeing them in the water.  After a quick boat trip and back roll entry, we headed down to find the anchor a few inches from a line Alan placed a few years earlier.  Over on the breakwater we heard the Sea Lions barking above us and the shrimp crackling in the rocks.  Between drills and sea lion fly byes, Alan helped me snap a few shots of the abundant flora and fauna.

After the class, I spent my preflight surface interval photographing the topside environment.  Seals, sea lions, pelicans, … all posing for the tourist.  It was a great trip with lots of things to learn.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend getting wet.

Spring in the Pool

Saturday, June 25th, 2011
OW Class

OW Class

When our local shop asked if I could lend a hand with classes this spring, I had no idea what I was in for.

Lately, I’ve only been teaching technical and CCR classes.  These students usually have many dives under their belt, and are looking to take the next step beyond recreational diving by honing their skills, learning new ones and expanding their dive planning and preparation.

It was fun working with newer students that were just learning their dive skills.  Since I was assisting where needed, I had the opportunity to work with a number of classes; Open Water, Advanced, Specialties, Rescue…  Then, to top it all off, the shop had nine Diver Master Candidates this spring.

I must admit, to having a lot more fun than expected.  There are always some new students that struggle with simple skills like mask clearing and U/W gear donning.  However, they’ve never done it.  We all struggled with those skills.  Once we learned how it’s done, and had some time to practice, our fear faded.  That’s when we can relax and enjoy the adventure of diving.  This is exciting to see and be around.

Technical diving involves more complicated skills that are much more demanding.  Some of my Tech students joke that I enjoy torturing them.  Not so.  The skills are required by the standards.  Once learned and practiced they become second nature, and can get you out of a bad situation.  Again, that’s when we can really enjoy the adventure.

To all those students that kept me in the pool and up at Dutch, dive safe, practice your skills, and look me up when you need a dive buddy!  Now I’m off to go diving!

Diving Bonaire

Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Flamingo snail

Flamingo snail

After a few weekends of being snowed in, I had the opportunity to work through my piles of photos and relate some memories (and pictures) of past trips.Val and I visited Bonaire on two separate trips. I’ve attached some shots of resort (Buddy Dive), and added a new gallery.

For those of you unfamiliar with Bonaire, it is 50 miles north of South America (Venezuela to be exact). The island part of the Nether Antilles. This location of the Caribbean is constantly swept by easterly trade winds. The east side of the island is subject to rough waves and the shoreline is rocky. The western side of the island is protected in the lea. Here is some of the best diving of the Caribbean.

Sunset over Kline

Sunset over Kline

The shore diving really is about as easy as it gets. The dock at Buddy Dive is only a few feet from the dive shop, and the reef is only a few fin strokes away. I spent the first day draining tank after tank poking around the reef. I was working with a new still camera, and practicing with the video housing. Surface intervals were only a quick stop for fresh tanks, batteries, or tape. The top of the reef is about 20 ft deep An Al 80 lasts quite a while at this depth, and decompression is impossible, especially on Nitrox. After 6 tanks, my wife dragged me out of the water for dinner.

The next day we got a map of the island and headed out in our pickup truck (provided with the suite). The west side of the island is rimed with a seemingly continuous reef. In some places it is a double reef with sand in between. On the shore, there are areas where you can park a your truck, gear up, and make an entrance. Some areas have docks and with ladders to facilitate access. These entrance sites have names, which are both on the map, and written on yellow stones along the side of the road.

xxx

Clearner shrimp on a butterfly

Our package included boat a few boat dives. These were mostly spent visiting Kline Bonaire. This is an uninhabited island to the west of Bonaire, also protected from the trade winds. Many of these dives were deeper as the slope to Kline was much steeper.

Many sections of the reef hold different microcosm and wild life. There are many web sites describing, so I’ll just point out some of the highlights. The Hilma Hooker is a shipwreck in the sand between a double reef. It’s a nice dive, and if you’re one of the first there, you will find a few large Tarpon hiding in the holds.

Salt Pier is where the dried sea salt is loaded onto ships. The structure of the pier seems to attract schools of fish, and event the shallows are full of life.

Fish to look for:

Eels: this is the one of the first times I’ve seen eels out hunting during the day.

Frog Fish: Another first for me. They are hard to spot, as their camouflage is nearly perfect.
Tarpon: They are huge, and will follow you on a night dive.

Sea horses: Ask your Dive Master where to find them.

School of fish: There are so many fish, that sometimes you feel like one of the crowd

Spotted Eagle Rays: These majestic rays swim effortless and leave you breathless if you try to follow.

Dolphins: I’m not sure how often these appear, but on one day we got snorkel with them on the surface interval.