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How To Get Up Alone

May 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Posted in Technical Diving Discussions by CraigW on May 3, 2011

Whats the minimum equipment necessary to get a solo diver to the surface from depth?

Equipment failure, lost buddy, solo diving and underwater videography are areas where divers may be subject to a greater likelihood of experiencing problems they are unable to handle.

Through the years I have spent working in the recreational and technical diving community we have always known and taught the principal of team diving.  For the open water students from day 1 they know they need to dive with a buddy.  I would like to discuss the reasons behind this procedure including the possible dangers of ignoring this concept.

Recreational diving equipment does not have any redundancy:

Does recreational equipment need redundancy?  Well if all the rules are followed no.  The equipment is designed for no decompression diving with a buddy in an environment familiar to that during training.  However once divers start building confidence and developing new skills they may be inadvertently put into situations they are both unequipped and untrained to handle.

How many times have we seen equipment problems either on the boat or under water such as: tank o-ring burst, HP hose burst, LP hose burst, 2nd stage falling off, SPG Burst, corrosion from inside the tank plug the first stage?  If you have never seen an equipment problem you probably haven’t been diving for long.  I have even seen the A-clamp screw strip out allowing the first stage to pop off the tank!  There is obviously no excuse for improper maintenance or neglecting the need for repairs.  I am lucky my dive school has a professional team to ensure any reported problems are repaired immediately.  The point is, if your working under water year after year you will at some point experience some sort of problem.

Whaleshark at Chumphon Koh Tao

The dive school I work for does not allow solo diving, we all say we don’t solo dive but how often do we see these rules broken?  I commonly see situations where videographers, photographers, instructors and divemasters turn a blind eye, just that once, just for that one shot.  Unfortunately eventually complacency usually overrules and this becomes a regular occurrence.  It’s not that these divers are not good divers, they are just lacking the equipment and training to conduct these activities safely.

We are primarily concerned about two types of problems: those that will cause you to loose all your gas or those that will render you out of gas immediately.  One of the worst case scenarios for any solo diver would be to have to make an emergency ascent while out of air.

There are several ‘bail out’ options on the market.  Some of these can actually get you out of the water with a safety stop where other ‘Air Spare’ options don’t even have a capacity to get you up from 18M with a controlled ascent, never mind 30M!  If we are going to back ourselves up we might as well do it with enough gas!

*All calculations based upon 20L/min breathing rate (likely breathing rate of stressed recreational diver)

Amount of gas in litres to make an emergency ascent from:

* 30M = 320L (230L with no safety stop)

* 18M = 222L (132L with no safety stop)

-Spare air model 300PKYEL
maximum capacity = 85L

-Spare air model 170PKYEL
maximum capacity = 48L

Why carry something that can’t get you to the surface while following a safe ascent rate? There are other options available, whether it be a 2L back mounted redundant air supply with its own reg or a stage cylinder side mounted, some sort of back up equipment must be used.

To properly understand the fundamentals of solo diving I would highly recommend the following program:

This course is designed to train divers about the proper procedures and hazards for solo diving, upon certification students may engage in planned solo diving activities.  This course includes procedures for diving with a secondary air source capable of providing sufficient gas to safely abort a dive with an equipment failure or related gas supply emergency.

Redundant air supply use, understanding breathing gas requirements, independent equipment checks and advanced emergency procedures will be covered.  Becoming one of the standards for independent diving practice, the solo diver program teaches experienced recreational divers how to safely dive independently of a dive buddy or strengthen your buddy team skills.  The course stresses on:

  • Proper dive planning
  • Personal limitations
  • Accident prevention
  • Benefits, hazards, and proper procedures for diving solo

The student must:

  • Be a minimum age of twenty one(21)
  • Have a Minimum certification of Advanced Open Water Diver or equivalent
  • Minimum of one hundred (100) logged dives.

PADI Sea the change

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Sea the Change

People like you are doing things large and small to protect the underwater world you care about. That’s why PADI created a conservation contest to let you see and share what fellow ocean lovers are doing to help.  Be part of the change. Submit a video. Vote on your favorite videos and send to your friends. Help ignite a viral conservation effort.

PADI Sea the Change Conservation Contest

Prize Details

Do you love the underwater world? Would you like to see it better protected?

Put your conservation into action and you could be the $5,000 USD grand prize winner, plus PADI will donate an additional $5,000 USD on your behalf to Project AWARE Foundation.

Simply grab your video camera and upload a short clip about what sea life you love and what you’re doing to make a difference. Every little action counts. By sharing what you’re doing, you may inspire others to take action. Be part of the change and help ignite a viral conservation effort. Submit a video. Vote on your favorite videos and send to your friends.

Contest Instructions

Yes, cash is nice and the public will vote for a grand prize winner. But, every video submitted spurs people to help our beloved aquatic life. That’s why you are permitted to upload as many video entries as you want. A beautiful ocean for generations to come is WAY better than cash, right? So, take a few minutes to submit a quick video—it doesn’t have to be a polished, professional looking clip. You’ll feel better knowing you did your part to help. Plus, you might see your video featured on the PADI blog at www.padi.com/blog where interesting conservation messages are shared often.

Contest Starts

March 08, 2011 @ 12:00 am (PST)

Contest Ends

December 15, 2011 @ 11:59 pm (PST)

Need more Details?

Read the Official Rules

About the Company

PADI: Professional Association of Diving Instructors Welcome to the World of Scuba Diving. PADI is the world’s leading scuba diving training organization. With more than forty years experience, over 133,500… [more

What should you make your video about?

We want to wake people up! We all know the ocean (and lakes, rivers, quarries) need our support.  But exactly what type of support?  How can one person affect change and actually see it happen?  You have to combine what you’re passionate about with what you’re good at.   Ask yourself these four questions:

1. What do YOU love about the underwater world?
2. What do YOU do to protect it?
3. How do YOU make a difference locally or otherwise.
4. If you’re a PADI Diver, how has scuba diving changed YOUR view of the environment?

Remember, your message is most important.  A handheld, quick video snippet is extremely compelling to spur people into action…so don’t worry about trying to make a slick, professional video. This is NOT a video contest.  It’s a conservation movement!  You can submit as many video entries as you wish.


Yes, cash is nice and the public will vote for a grand prize winner. But, every video submission spurs people to help our beloved aquatic life.  A beautiful ocean for generations to come is WAY better than cash, right?  So, take a few minutes to share what’s going on in your part of the world and see the change spread globally. Vote for a few videos you like. Share with friends. You’ll feel better knowing you did your part to help. Plus, you might see your video featured on the PADI blog where interesting conservation messages are shared often.

Consider these ideas on how to help:

Have you ever:
– picked up trash while scuba diving?
– participated in a beach cleanup?
– taken part in a marine research project?
– completed a mission trip focused on aquatic conservation or protection?
– started a local conservation initiative in your community, school or business?
– helped a local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop with caring for aquatic conservation?
– raised awareness with your local news channel about a marine animal initiative?
– launched a petition that successfully impacted underwater conservation?
– raised donations for Project AWARE Foundation or other non-profits affecting change for the sea?
– helped establish a protected marine park or preserve?
– helped run an eco-tour?
– helped clean-up pollution of our ocean, lakes, or rivers?
– published an article, book, website or video raising awareness about protecting aquatic life?
– shared beautiful underwater imagery to wake people up about “what’s down there”
– trained or certified divers who work together on an underwater conservation project?
– ignited a group of people to take action of any kind to better the aquatic world?

What skills are you using to turn your passion into action to help the underwater environment become better protected?  Are you into underwater photography? Are you a strong writer, organizer, influencer, doer or promoter? Of course there many ways you can do your part, so get creative. If you’re 13 years or older, then make a video and submit it.  Anyone around the world can participate (from non-divers to scuba professionals), so start recording, sharing and voting!

Take action and share

Even if you’re not ready to submit a video today…if you just spread the word about this campaign, then you’re doing something good for the environment. Every little action counts towards change.  Wake someone up. Tell them about this conservation effort:

– Share the links from these inspiring videos with your friends
– Comment about your favorite conservation efforts on the
PADI blog
– Share the
PADI blog with your friends on Facebook or Twitter

PADI FORUM 2011 KOH TAO style

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

PADI rocked Koh Tao few weeks ago during their IDC Staff Instructor update and Member Forum.  Tony and Colin were on the Rock that day updating Instructors and fielding questions, mainly on the new changes to the Divemaster Program that will be manditory as of July this year.  It’s an exciting time for us here at Ban’s with one of the worlds largest Divemaster Programs with over 50 participants and already 15-20 certs for 2011.

The day started with an update lead by Colin Melrose from PADI’s Head Office for Asia Pacific.  The update looked at the the Divemaster course as well as a lot of PADI’s new Online programs including Online DM and theory classes.  This new online programming is a fantastic way for travelers to save their precious holiday time for the beach in a classroom and get alot of their theory accomplished before they even arrive.

Later that evening Tony, the Regional Manager for Asia-Pacific, opened the floor to all the members in the first members’ forum for 2011 here on Koh Tao.  Our attendance was great with a lot of Ban’s DMT’s showing.  This event may not have been as formal as forums from other places in the world but was done in true “Koh Tao Style”.  Tony had lots to give and many questions were asked.  One new event that PADI was looking at is creating a PADI PRO NIGHT! but that’s info for another day.

DMT’s Back-to-School

March 14, 2011 1 comment

During our last Divemaster Meeting at Ban’s we had a request from a local school on the main land to come over and introduce ourselves to the kids!  They wanted us to come over and show the children what it is we do and what we learn as a scuba diver.  The request was given to us just before the start of our meeting.  By the meetings’ end we had a handful of volunteer Divemasters-in-Training and off they went that evening on the night boat to Chumphon a small city 4-5 hours away by night boat.  Once they arrived they were greeted by the schools’ staff and given an area to set up.  By the end of the day Ban’s Divemasters were the number one story at the school, getting over 12 classes in in just one afternoon.  The children were able to ask all the questions they wished and with the help of some awesome interpreters some of the kids even had the opportunity to try on some of our gear.  The day was such a success we were immediately invited to come back and do it all again.  Just wanted to give a shout out to all that helped in the planning, transportation and overall involvement in this event.  We put it together in less than a few hours and it went off better than if we were to plan it for days!  Thanks again!!

Here are a few pics of what took place….

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Why Dive with OCEANREEF Full Face Recreational Mask

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment
Oceanreef connecting divers

Headed to BAN's for 2011

Why dive with an Oceanreef Full Face Mask? Well if you asked those at Oceanreef, they’d ask you why not!  With many benefits and features that adds to every dive,  the stereotype that full masks are just for the elite diver has been finally crushed by Oceanreefs  G-Divers Full Face Mask.  Their user-friendly design is perfect for the entry-level or recreational diver.  By using a full face mask a diver is able to breathe easily through their mouth as well as their nose and since most people breathe through their nose more often than their mouths, you should find a full mask even more natural than a traditional regulator and mask setup.  Just breath… It’s that easy!  So if people try to tell you that full face masks are just for professional divers or that it’s too complicated to use, know that these new recreational G-Divers masks increase visibility, are more comfortable than the traditional mask and reg setup and can even help you communicate with your dive buddies and the surface! Oh yeah AND you can get them in some pretty cool colors too!  So if you have the chance take one of these new recreational full face masks for a test drive.   Yes, there is a little training you will need, but it’s really fun stuff and can even count toward another speciality rating!

Come check them out at Ban’s Diving Resort, coming 2011!

Ta’ Da!!! DEMA Pre-Show 2010

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Finally arrived in Las Vegas!  Wow what a mess getting here “here’s looking at you US Airways, can’t wait to see if I get home lol”.  But I’m here and ready for DEMA 2010!!

Ta'Da! Joel Zeff

The first event started a day before the doors even opened.  TA-DA!  Featuring a return of last years keynote speaker Joel Zeff.  His one of a kind business education style, which has been honed through his background in Journalism and Comedy, created a fantastic vibe to start off DEMA this year.  Through his uses of improv and audience participation, he was able to bring across relevant ideas, concerns and winning strategies to get all Padi members through 2011.   His messages were strong and yet kept everyone in great spirits, a fantastic open to this years  show.

Drew Richardson was also there with a strong stage presence, to kick everything off, introducing a few new mission statements and themes for 2011, by putting together an expert panel, no… “Town hall” in hopes to lead this years Padi members, no… “Our Tribe”  through a strong economic recovery year looking to grow all Padi business on a global scale.  Many of the head “Tribal” members were there including Kristin Valette, James Morgan and Nick Jenny followed by the key-note speaker Joel Zeff himself.

Padi DEMA 2010

Kristin held a town hall that included Ron Sciarro, Lucy Kreiling, Carter Cary, Valerie Elliot and Jon Daane.  Their main focus was to look at new ways of obtaining growth in the market by getting an increase of new divers in this harsh economic climate.  I found their talk to be very strong and supplied all Padi members in attendance a true vision of the work ahead this year to make it just not a profitable year but a fun year for all Instructors and new divers alike.

After this James took the stage with such Padi leaders as Jeff Fafoglia, Dan King, Allen Aboujeib and Mike Hollingshead.  They also talked about the year ahead, but through the eyes of divers that have been diving for some time now.  Taking a look at what it takes to keep your diving ability sharp and up to date through continuing to have fun but also growing your diving knowledge at the same time.  Other things they touched upon is the new Boy Scouts program and what way is better to have a little extra fun in diving than to bring along a whole tribe of kids to experience something new.  There are many ways to keep yourself challenged in the field of diving.  Even after many years in the sport I find new avenues to explore and things to try on a daily basis.  So if you’re new or been around for many years now, challenge yourself and try something new!

Something new might be as simple as going down to your local dive shop or to see me at Bans 😉 and find out about all the great new things that were new this year at DEMA.  Some of the new equipment was astounding. Every piece seems to be getting better in design, simpler to care for and lighter to travel with.  These were all covered be Nick Jenny and his “Town Hall” consisting of Sales Managers from Scubapro, Sherwood, Oceanic and of course Aqua Lung.

After all this Joel took the stage with a few games and reminders to all Padi members oops sorry “the Tribe”, that sunk in for me I know.  And it could be summed up as simple as the evening events name “Ta’ Da!”  Ta’Da is meant to reflect that feeling of accomplishment that maybe you get from trying something new for the first time or maybe it could be as simple as a boy tying his shoes on his own for the first time.  And the message for the Tribe was that no matter how many dives you go on, no matter how many trips you have taken people on… not to forget that feeling of what it was like to do it the first time… keep that thought with you and help it direct how you run your business and entertain with your clients … Live a little more in the moment and don’t forget to let yourself enjoy your accomplishments every day “Ta’Da!”

To help with this and to close this pre-show event Drew presented awards to a hand full of recipients in the North and South American markets as well as the Caribbean.  What a great way to help them remember their own “Ta’ Da!”

After the event was over everyone stayed and it turned out to be a great “Tribe” social we had a chance to meet lots of fellow Padi professionals and had the opportunity to visit with many of Padi’s Head Office execs too.  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store! Cause we haven’t even started yet!

What’s PADI scuba diving all about anyway?

November 5, 2010 2 comments

Discover Scuba Diving Bans ResortEver wanted to try scuba diving?  I remember my first experience with diving.  My class consisted of  mates that were almost all in their late twenties to early thirties(think I was 13 at the time) and as I remember they all looked quite awkward sitting in a classroom.  I doubt any of them had set foot in a classroom in some time.   Class that was held every weekend over the course of a few months in a little classroom in the basement of a dive shop located in my home town.  Then finally the time came to get the gear on and give it a try for the first time.  My anticipation grew over the duration of the classroom portion of the course (if you think I’m an impatient person now I could only imagine trying to deal with me as a  13-year-old HA!). As soon as you go under for the first time your surroundings change immediately, everything goes quiet except the sound of your own bubbles and for most people just the feeling of being weightless is enough for them, to keep them coming back for more and more.  In warmer areas the colors in the ocean are like nothing you have ever seen before, vibrant yellows and red with a blue background that seems to go on forever.

Bans Diving Resort Koh Tao

Discover Scuba Diving Course

Most people have heard of the company PADI or Professional Association of Diving Instructors.  It’s the worlds largest Diver Training Organization, which was started about 44 years ago.  There are many different levels of diving, most people think that an Open Water diver is the first level.  However, there are a few levels you can obtain even before this.  You can try a Discover Scuba Diving Course (DSD) or become a PADI Scuba Diver if you are not sure if you’ll enjoy the sport of not.

I never even thought about “trying” diving.  I knew from the minute I saw it on television as a kid that I’d be doing that some day.  But for the individual that maybe just wants to try it once or if you’re not too sure, a DSD is the perfect way to see if your up for this new challenge!  When you sign up for a DSD here’s a very rough idea of what you’ll do.  It’s usually a one day course.  First, you’ll meet your instructor and get a little bit of diving know how and theory (not too fun to do when on a holiday I know, but I promise its worth it).  Then not unlike the certifying diver course (Open Water) you’ll be taken to the pool to get comfortable and confident in your new self-contained breathing apparatus (ok ok for short lets just call it s.c.u.b.a equipment 😉 )  for a swim in the pool with your new equipment.  During the certification course Open Water you may dive on your own with a buddy and you’d go through 20 different skills in the pool but because you’re just there for the day and wanting to “try” diving, you will only be asked to do the minimum 5 skills and gain some confidence and comfort in your scuba equipment.  Some people at this stage get soo excited they just decide “to hell with this!” and take the full course (but that’s another story).

That very afternoon you’ll be taken by your Instructor on your first “ever” dive!  This is an experience you’ll never forget.  Now you might be asking yourself, even though I never took this course to get my diving life started, how do I know this to be true?  Because I see them everyday at the resort coming up from their first dive and asking “WHATS NEXT??!!”

The more you get into diving the more you start to see that it’s chalk full of possibilities.  As soon as you think you have learned all there is to know you find a whole other unexplored avenue to try.  Everything from deep-sea diving, commercial diving, technical diving, being an underwater videographer, being a Divemaster or even teaching!  The possibilities are endless!

So if you’re looking for that new hobby, sport or a whole new career, give diving a try.  It’s a big Ocean out there and who knows where it may take you.

** Next week we’ll take a look at what makes up an Open Water Course.  Until then if you have any comments or questions I invite you to ask us.  Don’t hesitate to contact us. www.divemastersintraining.com