Labor Day Waterlust Scuba Diving
| September 7, 2015 |
This weekend, the only time I was indoors was during my sleeping hours. Although the weather was not pristine, intermittent rainfall did not dampen (hah, pun intended) my plans. One of this weekend’s main missions (besides having fun and quality time with friends) involved scuba diving and purchasing my first scuba gear. Being that I have been PADI Open Water Certified for about three months, I am not entirely satisfied with the number of dives I’ve been on. Honestly, the expense of boat diving is steep. Prior to today, the only gear I possessed was a waterlust attitude, which meant renting everything for a dive in addition to paying boat fees (I have not yet been on any beach dives!). What does this include, you ask? All of the following: Mask, fins, snorkel, BCD, regulator, alternate air source, LPI, dive computer/compass, wetsuit, booties, and oxygen tanks. Thats a lot of stuff, huh? Well, in my previous snorkeling trip to the Florida Keys, I purchased a Speedo mask/fin/snorkel kit from Target containing a great mask/snorkel combination, but terrible fins that resulted in blisters, cramping feet, and lack of power with kicks. I decided it was time to purchase some scuba gear. I figure owning the basics is the first step towards more frequent dives and more comfort in diving.
Between the dive shop that certified my friends and I (Gold Coast Scuba – HIGHLY recommended!) and Divers Direct in Fort Lauderdale, I gained a ton of information about various gear specs and features. The mask/fin/snorkel combination is undoubtedly useful to any diver (or snorkeler!) and became my priority purchase. With guidance from many divers/shops and online research, I decided to purchase the following gear:
- ScubaMax Aria mask
- ScubaMax Semi-Dry snorkel
- Mares SuperChannel full-foot fins (+) EVO 1.5mm thickness socks
Trivia Moment: What does the acronym SCUBA stand for? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out later…
Overall, the gear was affordable and appeared to fit my needs. Next step was to put it to the test in the water! This Labor Day, I was blessed to join a good friend of mine on his family’s boat in a scuba adventure. My dive buddies/partner in crime/future roommate (Suzie) also joined, with this being her first dive after getting certified with me in June. The three of us discovered mutual awesomeness and waterlust at a recent Kickball Mid-Season Party (yes, I am on a kickball league and it certainly does include elementary school style fun). We determined it was necessary to plan a dive together, and waited no longer than a week to do so. The boat’s captain (my friend’s father) is a retired Dive Master and scuba instructor, so having his guidance on this trip was invaluable. As a new diver, I find all tips and information to be vital. Scuba diving is certainly a technical adventure sport, and I am thoroughly enjoying the learning process.
We took the boat out to Barracuda Reef off the coast of Dania Beach with the following goals in mind:
- Find a lobster
- Catch it
- Eat it
- And… Test out our new gear!
Unfortunately, we had NO LUCK with lobsters despite looking under EVERY rock possible. However, we did meet a squirrel fish and a bunch of angel fish! We practiced neutral buoyancy and achieved it without much effort (thus, the amount of weight on our belts were appropriate). Also, Suzie and I had an impressive run with our oxygen usage. Starting at 3000psi in an 80-cubic-foot tank, we spent about 45 minutes at the bottom (average depth of 30 feet) and we both surfaced with approximately 1250psi (Suzie actually had almost 1600!). Our friend was diving with a smaller tank (and, therefore, less air), but was impressed with our air usage as he is a more experienced diver.
Despite our dismay with the lack of lobster (and the weather change, which prohibited a second dive), we were entirely satisfied with our triple-buddy dive! Plus, I got a good feel for my new dive accessories. A quick review:
- ScubaMax Aria mask: I had to clear it a few times due to water accumulating at the bottom of the mask, but overall it did not fog and allowed for decent field of view. After speaking with more experienced divers, it’s possible I made two errors with my mask on this trip. 1) I did not have the top strap over the crown of my head (noticeable as the straps kept hitting into my ears). 2) I was wearing sunscreen. This being said, I will be trying the mask again in my next scuba trip. I actually have a relatively narrow face, and perhaps may benefit from a different mask overall. We shall see after my next dive!
- ScubaMax Semi-Dry snorkel: No complaints here! Easy to purge the water out, and not too much splashed in!
- Mares SuperChannel full-foot fins (+) EVO 1.5mm thickness socks: Honestly, this felt incredible compared to previous rental equipment. I never felt the booties fit me well, so wearing adjustable (open-foot) fins did not seem like a good fit for me. Instead, I went with the full-foot fins (+) sock. Unfortunately, the EVO socks were slipping down on my right foot and I had to adjust them twice during the dive (I also have narrow feet, ugh). The fins overall allowed for a decent push through the water, and I was able to use a variety of finning techniques (link). The best techniques were certainly flutter (no surprise) and modified flutter, with a frog kick seeming quite inefficient.
After my dive, I decided to look into getting a wet suit. Since Divers Direct was having a sale for Labor Day, I decided to stop by and check out their selection. Somehow, I ended up leaving the store with a purchase of an EVO Elite Women’s 3mm Scuba Wetsuit, which fit perfectly! It comes in black/purple for females, but I figured the black was more sleek and would not look ridiculous with other colored gear (yes–you could/should think about matching your colors!).
What ALSO ended up happening today is the reconsideration of my fins. Despite being satisfied with the Mares SuperChannel, I will be trying the Atomic Aquatics BladeFin to compare quality/power. Overall, this is a much more expensive option if you are looking to purchase equipment. Next weekend, we will put the price tag and claimed quality to the test! The other difference between the fins is the open foot versus full foot style. The difference in essence:
- Open foot: adjustable straps in the back, require use of booties (scuba shoes)
- Full foot: non-adjustable straps (slip in), use with bare feet or socks for protection/warmth
SCUBA DIVING (MAGAZINE SITE)
LEISURE PRO: DIVER EMPORIUM
And now what you’ve been waiting for – the Trivia Moment answer!
I hope you had the day off on this Labor Day, or at least had a fulfilling weekend! Until next time, fellow waterlust adventurers.