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What's so cool about rebreathers? 
Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 06:48 PM
Posted by Administrator
Rebreathers are the future of diving! With the significant improvements that have been made in safety and user-friendliness over the past few years, rebreathers have become practical for the recreational as well as technical diver. They are more expensive and more complicated than open circuit scuba, so why would you be interested? Here are my thoughts:
• The silence: One of the reasons that some of us got into diving was to get away from the hubbub of everyday life, and to enjoy the solitude of underwater exploration. I’ve always thought that scuba should be a zen-like experience, communing with nature and exploring the exotic underwater world. Unfortunately, we have to listen to the sound of our bubbles blowing out in front of our faces. I recall diving several years ago off Maui during the season when the whales are migrating through the area. We were able to see the whales from our dive boat, but we didn’t see or hear them underwater. It wasn’t until I was snorkeling that I could hear the whales calling to each other. It would have been a wonderful experience to hear them while diving. If I had been diving with a rebreather, I would have heard them, and maybe seen one during the dives.
• The long bottom times: When you think about it, what we are paying for on dive trips and charters is bottom time. The more time we get underwater, the more efficiently we have spent our diving dollars. Because of the lower gas usage, the rebreather will allow you up to three hours of bottom time. Plus, since it is constantly blending an optimum enriched air mix at every depth, your no-decompression time is much longer.
• The compact gear: Last summer I did a dive trip to Isle Royale in Lake Superior with my Poseidon rebreather. The others on the trip were diving open circuit. I came on board the live-aboard boat with my rebreather and two 23 cu ft tanks and a 40 cu ft bailout bottle, about 50 pounds of gear. The others had two large steel tanks plus deco bottles, probably about 120 pounds of gear. Besides that, while they had to refill after every dive, I only had to refill my tanks every other day.
• The lack of bubbles: Don’t you hate having all those bubbles coming up in front of your face with every exhaled breath? It doesn’t happen with a rebreather. When your depth is constant, you have no bubbles at all. You do get some bubbles when you ascend, as you vent the expanding air out of the counterlungs.
• The close up interaction with marine life. No bubbles means no noise and no distractions for you or the marine life around you. While I was doing my instructor training in Mermet Springs (a diver quarry in Southern Illinois), we had spoon billed catfish swimming over our heads as we knelt on a platform. That wouldn’t have happened if we had been on open circuit with streams of bubbles heading to the surface.
The bottom line is that rebreathers make diving a more enjoyable, interactive experience. I encourage you to try one.

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Diving with a Buddy! 
Tuesday, August 13, 2013, 03:33 PM
Posted by Administrator
William Brezina
Some people have asked me if I ever lost my dive buddy while diving in some of the local lakes with low visability. Never...but they have lost me on several occasions :>)! It is actually pretty easy to lose sight of a dive buddy underwater, but follow a few simple rules to get together again.

1. Stay calm. If you have a flashlight, shine it a full 360 degrees and watch for a flashlight gleam. A flashlight beam travels farther than you can easily see underwater and can reach someone who may be just out of sight.

2. Don't forget to look above and below you.

3. Search for your buddy for about 1-2 minutes underwater, then do a normal ascent to the surface. Your buddy may be there already, but if not, look for their bubbles or dive float.

4. Wait a couple of minutes on the surface for your buddy, but if they don't come up, follow the bubbles/line back down to find them.

It is always good to have pre-arranged procedures & signals if/when you get separated.

Stay close and dive safe
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Only fish can breathe water… 
Friday, May 17, 2013, 04:31 PM
Posted by Administrator
A few days ago a friend was reading this blog and said, “I thought you were kidding. I didn’t know this was for real.” Absolutely, this is for real. I am learning to scuba dive, and having the time of my life. And, yes this week the ab workout as a result of uncontrollable laughter continued. My buoyancy issue continued, and this week, I struggled with the problem of turtling. My head and feet were above water, but my torso was arched and I was floating around like an upside down turtle. Actually I was sort of dog paddling to keep my head afloat. I started to laugh and couldn’t stop. The two dive masters, Kim and Tom, I think just shook their heads and thought I must be incorrigible. It’s OK, I am.

As I paddled around trying to find some semblance of sanity, I was reminded of the time when I took my oldest daughter for swimming lessons as an infant. She, much like me, couldn’t stop laughing. The difference was, she didn’t have to. It was her time to play in the water and just learn how the water felt and explore it. I, on the other hand was supposed to be learning the skills of a diver. I was supposed to be learning how to dive safely, to switch from snorkel to regulator and back, swim correctly using my fins, take my mask off underwater and put it back on, and make sure I kept an eye on my buddy. I think I did everything pretty well. At least I didn’t drown. I only took on water a couple of times when I got water in my nose and down my throat. Dive master Tom to the rescue. And, more silliness as I tried to get my fins underneath me.

I do take all of this very seriously, don’t get me wrong. I know just how easy it is to drown or to get into trouble in water. I’m a swimmer, and been through the rigorous Lifeguard training. As a half century old diver-in-training, with buoyancy issues, I am enjoying the laughter and the learning. It’s all in great fun. It just takes some getting used to hearing – “how is you weight?” and and realizing it doesn’t have anything to do with my waistline. So I do laugh – a hardy laugh, and stuff more sandbags into my BCD, so I can sink to the bottom of the pool.

Thanks to Aquatic Adventures of Michigan for a weekly belly laugh and an ab workout like no other. Laughter is the best medicine and anyone who hasn’t tried something like this, I highly recommend it. It is a gentle reminder to take life with a grain of salt, don’t sweat the small stuff – and everything is small stuff.

For more of Denyse's Adventures:
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Maybe it should be mis-adventures… 
Thursday, April 25, 2013, 06:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
My ab workout is complete. I think I laughed more in the pool trying to sink than I have all week. When my feet – in my fins – popped up out of the water as though they had their own buoyancy, the giggles began. Then, when I couldn’t get my feet back under me, and my rear wanted to float on its own, I thought I’d fill my goggles with tears I laughed so hard.

I’m sure the instructors we had tonight, a nice man named AJ, has seen it all before, but for someone like me to hear “let’s get some more weight on you,” I nearly wanted to crack. I have never been one who needed more weight anywhere. I know the rules of buoyancy though. The more muscle you have the less you float. It stands to reason that I would float like a rubber mattress, and in a wet suit and fins, all of my personal flotation was packed into a zipper-locked container.

It only took about half an hour to get me to sink, get the weights to stop falling out of my BCD and go through the exercises. We learned the hand-signals for all kinds of underwater communication, including OK, watch me, up and down. And, we had to learn what to do if our regulators got away from us. I did OK as long as we practiced the exercise where the regulator was within reach, but it was the over the shoulder stretch that had me thinking about my limitations. It was all good – no problem, except when I couldn’t reach far enough or fast enough, and started to want to laugh again. It’s not a good idea to laugh without a regulator in your mouth, or even with one in for that matter, especially when you’re under water.

Finally, everything seemed to come together. I was swimming. Swimming with my fins on for the first time was great! I have to say I don’t think the pool is big enough. Flashbacks to swimming lessons and those first long swims across the pool holding my breath under water came back to me. Of course, no holding my breath in scuba diving class. And, if I don’t pay attention to the instructor now, I don’t just have to sit on the edge of the pool for 20 minutes.

As I swam along the bottom I had those same thoughts I had as a – that I could have stayed in the water forever. If it weren’t for getting cold and having to admit I was a little tired, I thought as the water enveloped me, just how peaceful it was. I thought about how I’d always wondered what it would be like to breathe under water – like a fish – and there I was doing that for the first time. I’d never worn fins before, and I kicked my fins – like a fish – (albeit a wounded fish at times) for the first time. It was a break from reality.

When I got out of the pool and stowed all the gear, I looked back and at the surreal moments of the whole thing. From laughing myself to tears over my buoyancy issue, to finding a peace and serenity under the water.

Back to the real world.

For more of Denyse's blog go to:
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Mask – check, fins – check, math? 
Friday, April 19, 2013, 06:39 PM
Posted by Administrator
Open Water Student Blog Session #2

Into every puddle a little rain must fall. At least in order to make it a better place to swim, right? Well, that’s the way it is with learning something like scuba. I get the fun and excitement of getting into the water and being in an element where I feel so free, but in order to do it, I have to learn some basic principles. And, those principles involve numbers. I am not afraid of the water – never have been. So why am I afraid of numbers?

Phobic, is what I’m told. I’m not as phobic of numbers as I am of bees or tornadoes, but for example when i see the number 33, I don’t see a number exactly. I see twin misshapen bodies that seem to have lost their limbs and heads. They don’t know where they belong because they don’t have eyes and can’t follow directions. They don’t understand that in the world of words, numbers take on a meaning all their own and they’re disillusioned creatures who belong in the nether reaches of some cavernous beyond.

Please don’t think I need to be brainwashed or have some kind of mathematical immersion therapy. It just takes a little longer to get the concepts into my right brain. In our first chapter homework we needed to learn about depth, pressure and air volume. I know certain things, but when there are too many numbers and the sequences get out of order, my writer brain needs a breather. It’s a good thing the PADI Diving Society puts out a textbook on how all of this works. The book is pretty concise and people like me (I know I’m not alone) can go back over, and over, and over it until I get the numbers to act like numbers.

It took reading and rereading the chapter, watching the video segment, then having the instructor go over the table, but I think I finally have it figured out that at 20 meters or 66 feet, the pressure is 3 bars or atmospheres and the air volume is 1/3 the density.

Now that we’ve gotten that first quiz out of the way though, it is a good time to learn how to use the fun stuff. I got the mask, fins, boots, gloves and snorkel to get started with. Then we got into class and found out the pool was too cold for our dive practice tonight. Darn! A bunch of numbers floating around in my head and no where to wash them out.

On to chapter two and hopes that next week the pool will be repaired. I can’t wait to see how our little class fares remembering the steps in the process of putting together the gear.
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