Fill Out Your Profile to share more about you. Learn more...

Calling all SCUBA divers!

Options
1235»

Comments

  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited April 2021
    Options

    MinusTwo - yes, I wore the scop patch in the water. It didn't work for me today though, the water was too rough and/or I ate too much at breakfast. I horked on the surface interval, and then again when we were dropped back at our dock. Hopefully tomorrow is better. The diving here is great btw! And the employees here are much better about wearing their masks than the tourists (obviously here it is mostly Americans, but you hear plenty of different accents from the maskless).

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Thanks so much hapa and panout!

    I got impatient and went shopping at LeisurePro :) I got a 3mm wetsuit that fit perfectly - it was on sale but still $150, and a pair of 1mm "socks" that I should be able to wear with either a full foot or an adjustable fin. And... the thing I'm most on the fence about... I spent $400 on a dive computer. It was an open box, so I saved about $80, but still that's a lot of money. It's an Atmos Mission One. The reviews seem good, the woman I spoke with at the shop says it's the one she's been using the last few years and she really likes it, and I love that it has a compass. I barely have a sense of water on land and I love the idea of starting to build up a better sense of where I am under water. BUT I did triple check and I have 60 days to return it for a refund in case I decide to be responsible and go for something cheaper, or just rent for now. So that's my shopping story and I'm even more excited for summer.

    I do have a mask and fins, but the fins are travel size and I'd rather use the full size ones, so I think I'll keep renting those, as well as the BCD/regulator for now. It's not only for traveling - I live in a tiny Brooklyn studio apartment so storage is an issue too. Also I feel like maintenance would be very shleppy. I don't love my mask (I do get some water in) but I don't hate it either and I'm happy to continue with it for now.

    I'm interested in this patch! I take meclizine very liberally for travelling. I'll even take it when I have to spend time in cars (which is not a normal part of my every day life). It worked great for me for flying and on the boat. But I'm curious about the patch also and will try to read more about it.

    I'm also curious if anyone has used EarShield or EarPro eardrops? I was definitely getting water in and it only got worse over the course of the trip. I used to get lots of ear infections as a kid so the idea of something I can use before that would just... stop it... sounds great.

    Hapa, looking forward to hearing more about your Cozumel trip!

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,076
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Salamandra - if you have the least problem with nausea in a boat (or airplane) - do check out the scopolomine patch. Not sure if it's still prescription, but your doc could easily write an Rx. I'm in Houston and originally learned about this patch years ago in regards to astronaut training. When my son was in college, he took potential/beginning astronaut trainees up in a small plane to do rolls & loops & zero gravity stalls so they'd get some idea. Not for me thanks - but I've never had a problem on the water. (knock wood)

  • panout
    panout Member Posts: 33
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Salamandra - congratulations on your new gear!! Leisure Pro is a decent web marketplace and I've purchased a few wetsuits from them because of their easy return policy. As for your mask....you should be able to put it on your face, inhale through your nose and it should stay on your face after the inhale. If it does not stay, make sure you don't have any hair caught underneath the mask skirt and try again. If it still does not stay, get a new mask that fits your face. A constantly leaky mask can really suck all the fun out of a dive and make you really uncomfortable when you are trying to gain experience. A mask is a piece of equipment you should DEFINATELY "try on" before buying as our faces are all shaped a bit differently.

    Later when you have a ton of experience, clearing your mask dozens of times won't be a big deal and you'll clear it without even thinking about it....but beginner divers have a lot to keep track of (air in vest, clearing ears, watching air gauge, etc) to be excessively clearing the mask. As you get more dives under your belt, you'll develop a "feel" for how much air to put in your vest, so you make much fewer adjustments, your air consumption will decrease as you are more relaxed and you'll find your pressure gauge doesn't move as much and you'll need to check it less, and you'll also get a "feel" of when to clear your ears (so you do that more efficiently and less times). That's the point when diving stops being work and really is just FUN. This tends to happen somewhere between dive 25 to 50 or so.

    I can't wait to hear more of your adventures!!

  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Alright, got back from Coz last night! It was a great trip!

    Salamandra - $400 is NOT too much to spend on a dive computer. My husband bought a cheapie Mares puck when we first started diving and he has since replaced it with a ~$400 Oceanic Geo 4.0 because the Mares had such a bad algorithm that he was always the first one up. I think the ~$400 range is where you get the best bang for your buck.

    Cozumel was a great time. I think they have some of the best diving in the Caribbean. The only drawback is how far it is to the reefs from the town and resorts. If you're staying in town, it's sometimes an hour boat ride to get to your first dive. We stayed a bit down the beach but it was still 20-30 minutes to our first dive every day. The coral formations were incredible. Just huge formations with lots of little crevasses and swim throughs to check out. It's almost like you're fish swimming around in there! We saw lots of turtles, both hawksbill and couple loggerheads. Lots of rays, though no spotted eagle rays unfortunately, and also lots of lobsters, some of which were HUGE! Saw some crabs, some nudibranches, one baby shark and of course tons of fish. I was surprised at how many dive boats were out in light of the pandemic, but Mexico does not require a COVID test for entry and most of the resorts offer a free one at the end of your stay since you need one to get back into the country. So maybe they're pulling business that would normally go elsewhere. We did the all inclusive thing was was great for the first few days, not having to worry about where to eat every day, but the food got pretty repetitive by the end of the trip. If we were to go back I'd stay in town. San Miguel is a pretty decent town, lots of restaurants and shopping, and large grocery stores if you have a kitchen.

    I used the scopolamine patch for sea sickness and it mostly worked but I did still throw up one day. I have to say, I am not a fan of the side effects. I had massive dry mouth the whole time and was always thirsty. If dramamine worked well enough I'd stick with that. Plus, insurance isn't going to cover the doctors visit or the prescription so the patch is a whole lot more expensive.

    Edited to add: Salamandra, check out the forums on Scubaboard if you want more input on dive gear or dive destinations. There's a wealth of information on there!

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Welcome back Hapa! And thanks for the reassurances about the computer. I've started playing with it and I like it so far. But the compass is showing me a different heading than my Apple Watch so I need to figure that out. I wonder if it's because I've been trying it out in my small apartment and I should try in the great outdoors?

    Do your dive computers have the connection to the air tanks? Do you think that's worthwhile paying extra for, or not really?

    I actually started obsessively reading Scuba Boards last week, and signed up for an account today. I used the same user name as here actually :) I've also been watching YouTube videos. Well the fact is that I am pretty demoralized and disgruntled with work at the moment (I am a teacher) and I think I've been trying to mentally escape. But still. All scuba distractions are very welcome right now!

    That is kind of surprising to hear about the boat rides 30min to an hour from the resorts! I don't even know how good I had it at, staying in Roatan with a Dive Shop literally in the hotel complex. But it sounds amazing. Maybe I will try to do another trip at the end of the summer, and it could be good to find a flight that is cheaper and direct. Do you think Cozumel would be good for a solo traveler? Did you feel like you got to meet and make friends with new people? That is another thing I am a little concerned about.

    Thanks Panout! I'm actually pretty good at clearing my mask, and I think it might be because it's not the greatest mask so I practiced it many many times in the water! I was so thrilled to learn that skill. Plus it kept fogging up and I kept trying to wipe it. Finally the dive shop helped me by lighting a match to it and burning off some layer that should have been burned off three years ago.

    I was reading on Scuba Boards about a different way to fit a mask, something lying down. Maybe I will look into that. Now that my mask isn't fogging up any more, the main thing I didn't like about it is that it felt like the lower skirt sometimes hurt my upper lip or even got practically into my mouth. I don't exactly have a small nose but maybe it is something about my face shape.

    I was also reading on Scuba Boards about a better way to equalize, with swallowing or moving my jaw, instead of blowing out, and also that you should start equalizing the morning of, even hours before your actual first dive! So much to learn :)

  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Salamandra - Roatan was my first dive trip too, and the five minute boat rides to the reef are hard to beat! I don't know about your compass. Usually they will align using the earth's magnetic field, and electricity also produces magnetic fields so it's possible that your dive computer could be getting interference, even from your watch if you are wearing both at the same time. I feel like as an engineer I should know more about this, but I don't. So yeah, take your dive computer outside and don't bring anything that runs on a battery with you. I can't see myself ever using a compass diving anyway, even though I took the PADI navigation course.

    I think diving is a great way to meet people when you're traveling, and even though my husband is certified I've been on several solo trips. It's best to stay in a dive resort because then hopefully you'll be diving with other people from your resort. I spent two weeks solo in Utila and though the average age skews pretty young, there are TONS of single divers there. I think single divers are more common than people with buddies. A lot of people go there to get divemaster and scuba instructor certifications, but there's a decent number of recreational divers too. If you're traveling alone it's probably the best place. I think I was 38 when I went there. Huge party scene but not everyone is there to get wasted, and even those that are tend to go to bed early enough to make the morning boats. I dove with Utila Dive Center and stayed at some apartment, resorts aren't really a thing there. A lot of divers just sort of hung around the dive center all day.

    My first trip to Cozumel was a solo trip and for that I stayed at Blue Angel and dove with their house op. It's not a terribly luxurious resort but it has it's charms. The early risers would start gathering in the lobby around 5 to drink coffee. Truth be told I'm a hardcore introvert so I didn't tend to socialize a whole lot, but anywhere you go in Mexico people are friendly so I wound up striking up conversations with strangers all over the place and occasionally hung out with some of the divers at the pool or in the restaurant. There are a handful of other hardcore dive hotels in Coz - I think octogirl recommended Scuba Club Cozumel which is another one. I do not recommend going to an all inclusive resort type place, as they tend to attract couples and families moreso than divers. But almost every dive boat I've been on I've met some solo divers so you certainly wouldn't be out of place diving by yourself most places.

    The other thing you can do is join a trip with your local dive shop. They often will have solo divers that want a roommate. If you don't want a roommate or if they can't find one for you, you'll usually have to pay a supplement. But you'll be traveling with a group and a lot of times the shop will have a core group of people that go on a lot of their trips. No reason why you can't be one of those core people. If you're more extroverted then I suggest going this route. I did one trip with a LDS and it was frankly a little much for me, diving and eating and traveling together the whole time. Liveaboards are another option, but again you'd either need the to find you a roommate or pay a supplement, and on a liveaboard the supplement would be pretty big.

    One place I would NOT suggest for a single diver is Bonaire, or really any place where most of the diving is shore diving. You won't have a dive master or a boat and you'll have to find your own buddy every dive. I've never been there but it seems like it would be difficult at best and unsafe at worst for a single diver.

    I do not have a tank connection on my computer. I feel like the low-tech gauge is more reliable. And I make electronic sensors for a living.

  • panout
    panout Member Posts: 33
    edited April 2021
    Options

    I'll weigh in on the air integration to the dive computer. Whether it's "worth it" or not depends on what kind of diving you do, your preferences, your budget, and how geeky you are. If you only do a couple of dive trips a year, all in open water... it's typically no effort to just look at a connected air gauge on a hose. If you are the forgetful type and NEED alarms to remind you when you are getting low in gas, the extra money for the air integration could save your life! The analog are more reliable, but the AI are very solid too. I've done about 300 dives on my sensors and I only had an issue prior to one dive (when my batteries were low). I just put in new batteries and it was no problem.

    I have two sensors, and I wish my dive computer would support 3, so I could know the gas in each of my tanks and my decompression gas. My main reasons for choosing the integration were:

    1. Removing that hose from the stuff on my harness. As a technical diver, I carry reels, safety reels, lights, two backup lights, arrows, cutting device, and extra bottles....everything that comes off my harness is a blessing!!

    2. I'm a super data geek, so being able to track my gas consumption more precisely is exciting for me. Since the pressures are downloaded to my logbook with each dive, it also helps me remember how much gas I have in my tank...so I can decide what needs to be filled or not. (I don't always top off my tanks before a dive)

    As for dive computers, what you'll like is very individualized. Again, if you are only ever going to do single-tank dives, you don't need to worry about how many gasses it will hold, but try to decide what will be easy for you to use. Choose a few different models and then peek at their instruction manuals before you purchase. Ask others (on scubaboard) if they like that model, what works well. Many years ago, I really thought I wanted a specific computer, but when I did a test dive with it, I realized the logic on the menus didn't make sense to me and I hated it!! Also ask whether the computer is liberal or conservative and if you can modify this setting. Because I used to dive an Oceanic computer, I know those are very liberal, and I'd be the last one to get into deco. My main computer now allows me to choose a "medium" conservative setting, and I have my backup computer set to a liberal setting.


  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited April 2021
    Options

    Panout - You're doing way more technical stuff than I am. Re: the oceanic algorithm, our DM in Coz agreed with you that they have a very liberal algorithm. I have an Aeris (which I guess was bought by oceanic?) that I got circa 2013 and my computer has the same algo as my husband's (which is why he chose that computer) and we would always have ~20-25 mins of no deco time and the DM would be like "bye" and have to go do a safety stop to get five more minutes of bottom time, lol. We never ran it down to the wire, I think we'd run out of air first.

  • maxineo
    maxineo Member Posts: 199
    edited May 2021
    Options

    Hello fellow scuba divers! I'm a 10-year BC survivor and haven't spent a lot of time on these boards in recent years, but when I had a question about scuba, I knew I could find answers here! I've read through the wonderful posts, and I envy these tropical dive trips!

    Most of my diving is for work, and all of my diving has been in the Midwest USA – primarily Great Lakes. My experience since BC: I have minor LE in my left arm but have had no problems with my wetsuits (3mm, 5mm, 7mm, 7mm+3mm shortie, drysuit); all of my doctors have lauded the advantage of compression on my arm. I need plenty of help lifting my gear and I snap my left arm into my BC (ha! BC has 2 meanings on this thread!) with the quick release to avoid having to really maneuver it uncomfortably - this isn't always possible but definitely preferable. I remove my gear in the water so I don't have to lug it up the ladder. I have a left silicone breast implant and have had no issues with it.

    Here's my question: does anyone dive with a breast form? My implant isn't shaped quite right, so in addition to my implant, I wear an external breast form on my MX side in my bra. I know it sounds vain, but most of my diving is for work, so I end up sitting around in my wetsuit on the boat with co-workers; my chest is quite lopsided without the breast form and I feel very self-conscious.

    Thanks for any advice or input. Happy diving!

  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited May 2021
    Options

    I don't use a breast form, but if I did, whether or not I would dive with it would depend on what it was made of and how well it sits in my suit. If the form is foam, it may compress under water and may shift or move, and it may also affect your buoyancy. If you put the form in water, does it float? Does it absorb water like a sponge and give off air bubbles when you put it under water? If it's silicone you should be fine; silicone has about the same density as body tissue. Basically, if there is air inside I would be concerned about it compressing and shifting at depth. If not, it's probably fine. If there's air but it gets displaced under water like a sponge, then it's going to be dripping when you come up.

  • maxineo
    maxineo Member Posts: 199
    edited May 2021
    Options

    Thanks so much, hapa! It is silicone, so it shouldn't absorb water, but i don't really know a lot about the silicone material and impacts compression might have on it.

  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited May 2021
    Options

    Compression only happens on gases. So unless your form has air bubbles in it (which would be weird for a silicone form) it should be fine. I assume it's a gel-like substance or a liquid? Neither of those would compress. Should not be any different from wearing it on land, which I would try or maybe just give it a go in a pool or at a beach to make sure your movements don't cause it to shift.

  • hapa
    hapa Member Posts: 613
    edited January 2022
    Options

    Hey y'all!

    Thought I'd make a quick trip report on my recent excursion to Roatan! I went with my husband for a week from Jan 1- Jan 8, stayed at Hotel Chillies and dove with Native Sons. I'm pretty well out of chemo and no changes/surgeries since my last trip so nothing to report cancer-wise. I'm just here to give my opinions about the island, the reef, and the dive shop.

    This was my second trip to Roatan. My first trip was my very first dive trip after certification about oh...seven or eight years ago? Time flies. That time we stayed at a resort in West Bay but found it kind of boring and isolated so this time I wanted to stay in West End. We were trying to keep costs down, and Hotel Chillies had a studio with kitchenette for less than $400 for the week (booked on Priceline), and they had an onsite dive shop with gear valet service and a little food stall. This seemed ideal, as I always like places where I can roll out of bed and onto the dive boat. The hotel was actually very peaceful in it's third world way, just some cabins with bathrooms and a shared kitchen under a jungle canopy, plus the Mango House (where we stayed) with two kitchenette suites. The main building had some three-bed hostel-type rooms and two private rooms with shared bathrooms. We really liked the hotel, it was just what we needed and it was a great place to relax and forget about our lives at home.

    I think Roatan on the whole is a very relaxing island. For me, as soon as we left the airport in our taxi I started to feel my stress melt away. The scenery and weather were just so beautiful and relaxing! I think of all the islands on the meso-American reef, this one is my favorite. I wish it were easier/cheaper to get to. Honduras did not require any covid testing for vaccinated folks, which was great. On the downside, our taxi drivers both to and from the airport were coughing, and during our 7 day trip, three divers on our boat had to sit out due to illness! Very little masking was happening aside from employees - none of the tourists, local or foreign seemed to be wearing masks, and I had to ask the taxi driver to put on one on our trip back to the airport. I found the covid situation a bit concerning considering we were in the middle of the omicron surge. Obviously we had booked our trip before omicron hit, and I had been considering cancelling, but we went ahead and though it all turned out ok I'm not sure that was the right decision.

    The first dive of the day was at 9, with dives leaving the shop at 11 and 2. I liked the late start, and also really liked that they returned to the shop after each dive so you could join or skip any dive without having to commit to more than one dive. They did all three dives every day even if only one diver was interested, which was also really nice imo. What I didn't like is that you had to wade out to the boat, which was tied in chest deep (on me, at 5'3") water. So I was always dripping wet when we got back to the hotel. I also didn't like that they had only one boat, so everybody was on the boat; divers, snorkelers, discover scuba divers, divers taking classes, so obviously this sometimes limited where we could go for the dive. There also seemed to be a high proportion of idiots on the boat, which of course the shop can't control but perhaps a larger shop with multiple boats would reduce the likelihood of this happening. Often the dives would be cut short when a diver would run low on air, and twice during our week-long stay people had to air share with the DM to make their safety stop. Some dives we'd only spend 20 minutes on a wall and then proceed to spend the next 30-40 minutes swimming around in the shallows, which I assume was done to head off the possibility of one of said idiots running out of air again. Some of the dives were great though, it just kind of depended on who all was on the boat.

    So it being January, there was rain on several days/nights of our stay. It always stopped before diving and never started until the third dive finished, but it did impact visibility a bit. And the water was a bit cold for just my 3/2 full except on days when it had rained the night before which seemed to warm up the water. Topside temps usually got up to high 70s/low 80s during the day and low 70s at night, with partial cloud cover most days. Overall, January probably isn't the best time to visit, but I knew that going in. Just FYI.

    I don't know if it was the bad weather, time of year, or if I'm just getting spoiled and jaded but there seemed to be less life on the reef than I remember from my first trip. Maybe it was just bad vis + my aging eyesight, who knows. We did see some turtles and rays, lots of lobsters, a few crabs, fish of course, and one spotted eagle ray. Moray eels out there have gotten kind of aggressive from dive shops feeding them lion fish, and one charged our DM even after she put her fins up - she had to whack it in the head before it turned away!

    All in all, not the best dive trip I've ever taken. I didn't love the dive shop, but I did like the hotel and loved the convenience factor from using their shop plus the three dives a day schedule, so I might use them again anyway and just hope for less idiots. But diving is like pizza, even a bad dive is pretty good, am I right? For the money we spent (~$2k total, 15 dives for me and 14 for my husband plus food, taxis, tips, and hotel -- got our plane tickets with points which saved us ~$3k!) it was totally worth it and I would go again. In fact, I already am looking at flights for August, and I think I still have enough points for tickets again!

    Anybody else been diving lately?

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,076
    edited January 2022
    Options

    Oh Hapa - thanks for the report. So great to hear that someone is diving - where & how. Really appreciate the story & the review. And you're right - like pizza.