Oceanic Professional Program – Up To 30%

Oceanic Professional Discount

You’re a professional diver, and you depend on your equipment when teaching, guiding or working.

Oceanic and Hollis recognises the commitment and effort you make towards the industry and wants to reward you with discounted equipment.

You can select from a wide range of products from Oceanic & Hollis, including regulators, bcds, wings, sidemount and drysuits. You can select multiple items across different groups. We’ll even give you free service parts for life and register your product for you.

How does it work?

1. Download the application form below

2. Select which products you want; one from each category, complete your details

3. Send us the form and we’ll ship your product to your choosen Oceanic dealer.

4. Visit your local Oceanic dealer, pay for your product and collect them.

The Professional application form is available for download from here.

Remember: this promotion runs for the duration of 2013 and is open to all renewed Professionals in the UK industry, including Divemaster / Dive Leader and above. Full details of the process are available in the application form above.

FREE Oceanic Transmitter!!

Throughout June, July and August 2013 Oceanic are giving away free transmitters with all wireless air integrated computers in their range. This includes the OC1, new OCi (3 gas, 3 transmitter system), Atom 3 and VT4 (4 gas 4 transmitter) systems.

Get your free transmitter worth £250.00!

Get your free transmitter worth £250.00!

Get Fit For Scuba, Are You Serious? Why?

After about 30 years of age, life gives each of us an important choice: use it or lose it.

Those of us who choose to “use it” can maintain or even increase our fitness levels for decades.  The rest of us fail to provide our bodies with enough activity to stave off the debilitating influence of Father Time.

For example:

• Our fitness potential peaks in our mid-30s, then gradually declines until we have no need for it, at the point when you get a free wooden overcoat :0)

• The average person gains about 1 kilo per decade starting at age 20 if no exercise is taken.

As we live with our body’s every minute of every day you don’t really see how significantly your body changes, until one day we wake up and suddenly realize that the ‘pot belly’ has grown to a state that you find it difficult to pull up your socks!

Does this mean that diving becomes automatically riskier as we age?  No.

Scuba diving is usually described as a moderate level activity. Scuba diving by itself does not lend itself to the maintenance of physical fitness.

In most cases scuba diving is a seasonal sport and as such our ‘scuba fitness’ follows suit. Every year I hear people saying after their first dive of the season “I really need to get scuba fit”.

For those divers who already pursue a program of physical fitness, well done!

To keep a year long fitness regime is not easy. In the summer you want to enjoy the sun and getting fit is not that attractive. In the winter the weather is miserable and does not provide you much incentive the ‘get out’ and ‘get fit’.

In both cases the draw of easy food in the form of fast food, comfort food, pub grub and drinks with friends can just be too much of a temptation. Especially with the high stress lifestyles that people lead these days.

Life also often throws a spanner in the works here and there. I certainly feel the aches and pains more these days now that I am over 40!

Over the last decade since I stepped over the 30 years of age mark I have been keeping fit on and off. I have seasons where for whatever reason I train like a madman to the tune of ‘Eye of The Tiger’ blaring in the background.

I have tried all sorts of keeping fit. From boot camps, joining a gym, running, yoga, squash, Zumba and many more.

They all have one thing in common for me, they get boring, repetitive and I loose interest at some point. That was until I found Crossfit!

Since joining the brand new Crossfit gym in Maidenhead (http://www.crossfitmaidenhead.com/index.php) I found a new lease of life and a place that provides the same atmosphere as diving, a group of friendly people that get together, have a great time and get fit as a result.

The crossfit instructors are there at each session to make sure you are ‘working at your best’ and the other crossfitters help to keep each other going.

Why Fitness?

I believe it is important for divers to have a ‘good’ level of fitness. Becoming physically fit, will in turn can help to prevent illness, injury and just improve general well being.

For me, being physically fit provides me with benefits such as:

  • Improved transportation of oxygen to muscles
  • Helps reduces the amount of air used
  • This in turn would help extends dive time
  • Increased physical endurance helps reduce fatigue
  • Reduces the risk of decompression sickness (DCS)
  • Improves agility
  • Improves comfort and movement on the surface and underwater
  • Improves muscle efficiency and diving performance
  • Helps you to maintain a healthy weight range

Gas Exchange

VO2max is the most relied upon benchmark of both cardiovascular fitness and effective decompression.  While the average person experiences a 10% decline in VO2max per decade, recent studies suggest that maintaining high activity levels can halt this decline entirely.

Heart stroke volume decreases with age, along with a decrease in the capillary-to-muscle fibre ratio and arterial cross-sectional area.  This means that less blood is flowing to the peripheral tissues (fewer capillaries), and the speed with which gasses cross into the bloodstream is reduced (which is a function of vessel cross-sectional area).  Thus, tissue off-gassing is slowed, and oxygen is less effective at accelerating the decompression process.

That said, an active 65 year old has a higher level of cardiovascular function than a sedentary 30 year old.  This difference can come from pursuing 30 minutes of focused exercise every day- hardly the schedule of an elite athlete. 

Muscle and Bone

Absolute muscle remodelling rates slow down with age.  However, even 90 year olds experience the same relative increases in strength and endurance as younger adults.  One study showed that men in their 70s who strength trained starting in their 50s had muscle size and strength equivalent to the 28 year-old researchers.

Training to achieve maximum peak bone mass when younger may reduce the effects of age and inactivity later.  This is known as the “bone battery” concept.  In other words, the higher the maximum bone density you achieve, the longer it will take for aging to lower that density below a safe threshold.  This is regardless of genetic predisposition to degenerative diseases like osteoporosis.

Flexibility often decreases with age but can be improved with stretching.  Again, the percentage gains achieved from a consistent stretching program remain the same across age groups.

Well I hear you say, that is great had I know all of this at the time!

It’s Never Too Late To Consider Your Fitness, You Only Get One Chance As Life Is Not A Rehearsal!

There is no age at which exercise is bad for you, whether you’re just getting started or have been doing it your whole life.  There are no exercises that are unsafe based purely on age, either.  A 70 year old can follow the same program as a 30 year old with adjusted baseline parameters, correct coaching and advice.

Everyone should discuss with a suitably trained individual about their exercise programs, though even with significant health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, etc., almost anyone can safely increase their activity with proper guidance.

If you do have a known condition then please don’t just jump in at the deep end and go and seek the advice of a physician.

 

 

 

 

 

Gas Analysers – How Important?

Probably nothing is more important to divers than their breathing gas. Whether they use compressed air, nitrox or some exotic mix, having sufficient breathing gas ranks high on divers’ predive checklists. But just as important as the quantity of gas is its quality. While breathing gas contamination is considered rare in recreational diving, it does happen. Even trace amounts of contamination can lead to incapacitation, unconsciousness or even death.

Contamination of breathing gas takes a variety of forms and can be caused by a wide spectrum of conditions. The most common cause of breathing gas contamination involves the compressor system. In other cases, contamination can occur right in a diver’s cylinder. Improper gas mixtures can also be considered a form of contamination.

While there are quality standards compressed breathing gases must meet, divers should still take responsibility for ensuring the quality of their own gas. Happily, there are several options available to divers when it comes to analyzing gas mixtures.

The Sniff Test

Perhaps the simplest technique of air quality analysis is the “sniff test,” wherein the diver opens the valve and smells the escaping gas to detect suspicious odors. This crude test is effective to the extent that gross contamination in the form of oil, diesel fumes and other combustion products can sometimes be detected by odor and/or taste. However, since carbon monoxide (CO) is both colorless and odorless, breathing gas can pass the sniff test and still be contaminated by CO. A more accurate solution to analyzing is the use of a portable sensor.

CO Detectors

Color-change sensors are often used for measuring CO levels and include both qualitative and quantitative devices. Qualitative devices use a color-change element that gives divers a go/no-go indication. Be aware, though, the color change indicates only that the air sample exceeded acceptable contamination limits; it doesn’t indicate by how much. Quantitative color-change sensors use a small pump to draw a measured quantity of air (usually 50 cc’s) through a calibrated color-change tube. The CO in the air sample reacts chemically with the sensor material in the tube, causing it to change color. A scale on the side of the tube measures how much chemical has changed color and reports the actual concentration of CO.

Electronic CO-monitoring devices subdivide into two categories: metal-oxide detectors and electrolytic detectors. Metal-oxide detectors utilize sensors containing, not surprisingly, metal oxide. In the presence of CO, the metal oxide gives up its oxygen, changing to a pure metal and generating heat in the process. The amount of temperature change can be correlated to the CO level in the sample, and the result is displayed by the device.

Electrolytic CO detectors work like tiny batteries, with platinum electrodes dipped in an electrolyte. The presence of CO increases the generation of electrical energy, which can be correlated to the concentration of CO. These are perhaps the most sensitive and accurate types of CO sensors, but they are also more expensive and use more power to operate.
When choosing a CO monitor, give careful thought not only to price, but also to the type of diving you enjoy and the logistics of taking the measurements.

The growing popularity of nitrox has undoubtedly done a lot to improve the state of oxygen-monitoring technology for divers. Though the gas analyzers commonly seen in dive shops and on dive boats are often called “nitrox analyzers,” it’s equally accurate to call them “oxygen sensors,” as what these tools are really monitoring is the level of oxygen in a given nitrox gas mixture. Probably the most common type of oxygen sensor uses a galvanic fuel cell that generates a weak electrical current proportional to the concentration of oxygen. Although monitors using this technology can usually measure oxygen content to within a 0.1 percent margin of error, they can be fooled. The monitor may provide a reading in “percent oxygen,” but it is actually measuring the partial pressure of oxygen. Change the pressure, and the oxygen reading changes, too.

A simple to use accurate oxygen analyser is essential in these modern times.

A simple to use accurate oxygen analyser is essential in these modern times.

Changes in temperature will also affect the rate of the chemical reaction in the fuel cell and, consequently, the reading of the monitor. While nitrox analyzers typically have temperature-compensation circuitry, problems can arise when a cold monitor is suddenly taken into warm conditions or vice versa. Always allow your nitrox analyzer to reach ambient temperature and calibrate the monitor to a known standard, typically compressed air at 21 percent, before putting it into action.

Yet another problem that divers should be aware of is poor sampling technique. If the monitor is not properly used to make sure it is reading only the gas coming from the cylinder, it might be measuring a diluted mixture of ambient gas as well as the gas coming from the nitrox cylinder. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you’re getting accurate results.

Maintenance Matters

Taking proper care of your gas-analyzing equipment is of critical importance. Always store your analyzers in a cool, dry place. Avoid rough handling and exposure to seawater and other wet conditions. Analyzers usually require a power source, so make certain yours is fresh. When on the road, spare batteries can be a lifesaver. Remember that many sensors have a limited life, so track the time and use of your analyzer, and carry a spare when traveling. Of course, dive operations and liveaboards that offer nitrox will have their own sensors. Whether you choose to use your personal nitrox analyzer or use those on location, understanding the concept and the proper use of gas analyzers will help to make you a safer diver.

Bad gas is not a likely hazard for recreational divers, but the consequences of undetected contamination can be a serious matter. By using portable gas analyzers, divers can limit the risk and enjoy a greater level of safety while diving.

Know the Symptoms

NOTE: If you experience any symptom associated with gas contamination, abort the dive and exit the water. 

General contamination: Contamination of breathing gas can come in a variety of forms. Some of the most common symptoms are an oily taste, oily smell or other foul odor.

Carbon monoxide poisoning: The most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. High levels of CO in the breathing gas can cause loss of consciousness and death. Unless suspected, CO poisoning can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are common to a larger spectrum of maladies.

Oxygen toxicity: The most common symptoms of central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity include tremors, ringing of the ears, nausea, tunnel vision and seizures.

 

Information talen from Alert Divers Online

BCD Maintenance – Top Ten Tips

I have a mantra when it comes to purchasing Scuba diving equipment, “buy right and buy once”. Sound advice, especially when it comes to life support equipment.

Purchasing a BCD is one of the most expensive components most recreational scuba divers will make. It is also one of the most overlooked pieces when it comes to cleaning and maintenance.

BCD's fare an important part of your scuba equipment

BCD’s fare an important part of your scuba equipment

It’s a common occurence to stand next to someone suiting up for a dive, look at their BCD and see “salty crud” stuck to the outside. You can only imagine what infestation lives inside of it. This “lack of maintenance” is not only financially fool-hearty, it is also a safety issue. There are many components of a BCD that need to be clean and well maintained in order to properly and safely execute a dive. Think about it, nothing scares me more than a stuck inflator button and a rusty low pressure inflator hose that needs to be disconnected in a hurry before an uncontrolled ascent.

Some tips to keep your gear in good working order:

1. Have a professional Scuba technician maintenance your BCD regularly and at least according to the specifications outlined by the manufacturer.

2. Make sure it fits correctly and you are properly trained in using the equipment.

3. Disconnect all hoses after finished diving. Inspect and clean all hoses including the corregated hose for damage, cuts, slices, and splits. Remove and inspect weight pockets. If velcro weight pockets, then inspect velcro and clean with toothbrush. Don’t leave any dirt in the velcro. If they are locking weight pockets, make sure they snap back into the BCD with a loud snap. Weak snaps may mean a loose connection. In either case, make sure pockets release easily – but not too easily. Remove all knives and empty pockets. Clean independent of BCD.

4. Soak outside of BCD in fresh water after every day of diving. The longer the better, but don’t get crazy.

5. Fill BCD with water and air. Rinse the inside thoroughly. Shake vigorously with air and water inside the bladder. Repeat at least twice.

6. Make sure water runs through the Inflator Valve (inflate BCD with water and air and empty through inflator valve by holding the hose low and deflating). Use toothbrush to scrub around the inflator and deflator buttons. Repeat at least twice.

7. Fill bladder up with air and fresh water. Use dump valves to empty bladder. Make sure fresh water runs through dump valves. Remove and inspect dump valves. Look for rust on springs. Replace if rusty.

8. Inflate Bladder to full. Hold underwater. Inspect seams of bladder for leaking air. If leaking air, bring to Scuba Technician.

9. Hang Dry. Do not lie on the concrete floor.

10. When Dry, inspect thoroughly. Look for salt stains or dirt. If you find them, spot clean or repeat completely.

Sending Up A Sausage! – How to safely and effectively launch a DSMB

DSMB’s, or Delayed Surface Marker Buoys, are a diver’s best friend. Used for communication with surface crews or boats while the diver is still at depth.

They can be used to signal the need for a boat pick up, as a distress signal, a marker of a location (maybe of that sunken treasure you found?), or to indicate the need for additional air on long decompression stops.

Basically, they are tubular buoys made out of PVC or similar materials, and attached to a line reel or spool. They are typically orange, red, or yellow, sometimes with various colors used to communicate various messages.

DSMB's come in many different forms.

DSMB’s come in many different forms.

At many dive spots you’ll see them vary in colors and manly be used to signal for passing boats, before divers accent.

It’s one of those safety items commonly used, and often required, during boat or drift dives, where they are used to signal a diver’s or dive team’s position as they surface, and are typically launched during the safety stop.

Launching one can be a bit tricky, though, as they influence your buoyancy, but also due to the risk of getting tangled up in the line and getting pulled to the surface by the DSMB. This guide will teach you the basic steps to launching a DSMB safely.

SETUP OF A DSMB

First things first, setting up your DSMB.

Here you have to main options.

  1. Attach your DSMB to a spool.
  2. Attach your DSMB to a reel.

Using a spool or a reel both have pro’s and cons:

The spool is lighter and smaller, meaning the whole setup takes up less space in your configuration. Second, a line reel will have some form of locking mechanism that can potentially jam, sending you the surface if it jams as you launch the DSMB.

Finger Spool / Line Spool

The reel provides a more stable platform to launch your DSMB, it is easier to wind as you make your ascent but does require a lot more space to store. As above most reels have some form of locking mechanism which is great for stops but can, in some cases catch as you deploy the DSMB if you are not paying attention.

Dive Reel

 

DEPLOYMENT DURING SCUBA DIVING

When it comes time to launch it, here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. As DSMB’s are often launched during safety stops, that means you most likely need to launch it mid-water, so make sure your buoyancy skills are up to spec. When it’s time to launch, find your perfect hover point, and expel a small amount of air making yourself just a tad negative in the water.
  2. Take out the DSMB and unpack it, taking care not to drop the reel. As it has no lock it will run out its full length of line before stopping, which will be a mess to coil up again once you’re out of the water.
  3. Holding the DSMB and line spool / reel in your left hand, use your right hand to pull open the bottom of the DSMB.
  4. Tilt your head slight, bringing one of your regulator exhaust valves close to the opening of the DSMB, taking care not to get the line entangled with your regulator or regulator hose.
  5. Take a moderately deep breath, hold the opening of the DSMB over the valve, and exhale. Your exhalation gas will run from the exhaust valve and into the DSMB.
  6. Repeat this once or twice as needed, until you feel a strong tug from the DSMB (use your breathing to counter the positive buoyancy of the DSMB or release a small amount of air from your BSC), then release it, holding the line spool / reel in your right or left hand and allow it to un-reel line as needed.

Once the DSMB breaks the surface, reel in a bit of line so it is taught and the DSMB stands straight up on the surface, making it as tall and visible as possible.

Remember to check your depth and dive computer from time to time. Rather take a minute longer deploying your DSMB than you accidentally pop to the surface.

There are of course DSMB’s on the market that has a crack bottle fitted, such as the DSMBCi from AP valves. This requires no tilting of the head, keeps the line away from you regulator. It does make for an easier deployment but comes at a price.

TRAINING IN THE DEPLOYING

Many agencies now provide a DSMB training course. These courses take you through the whole DSMB process and give you a safe environment to practice deploying your DSMB.

Many divers will tell you to use your alternate second stage to fill the DSMB, but there are several advantages to the method described above, where you use your exhalation air instead.

First, filling air into a DSMB makes it positively buoyant. By using your exhaled air, there’s no shift on your overall buoyancy. Second, this method allows you to fill your DSMB even if you’re diving with a technical setup, where your secondary second stage is stored in a necklace around your neck.

Practice makes perfect, of course, so make sure you practice this before needing to do it for real, and keep practicing from time to time to keep your skills honed.

A pool or a local dive site is perfect for this. But make sure to let any shore based bystanders know that you’re only training, so they don’t misinterpret it as a distress signal and start calling the coast guard.

MAINTENANCE

Yes! Your reel, line spool and DSMB do need some basic maintenance to make sure that you have years of hassle free operation.

On every weekend diving there is always someone that has a problem with their reel. Line snagging, reel jamming and so on.

My question is always ‘when was the last time you serviced you reel & line?’.

The answer, 99% of the time is ‘service?’.

  1. There are a few quick and simple steps that you can do that will prolong the life of your reel and line. It will help to prevent reel jams and line tangles.
  2. Pop your reel into a fresh bucket of water, leave it over night.
  3. Reel out the line completely, you can do this in a number of ways, I put mine around patio furniture. This help you to check the quality and the state of the line (abrasions, rotting etc).
  4. While you have the line completely off take the opportunity to grease, tighten and clean the reel itself.
  5. When it is all dry wind on the line taking your time to make sure the line is evenly spread and suitably tight.

It’s not rocket science but it really will help with all those niggles!

Information source: DiveStyle Diving limited and Dive-In Magazine