A woman is never sexier than when she is comfortable in her clothes

Did some diving over Beaver Lake AR this past weekend. I woke up early and went down to the lake at 6:00am. I was able to watch the sun rise, which looked super cool due to the smoky haze from the California fires. However stepping out of my car, the air temp was a brisk, 55 degrees.



I really didn’t want to think about getting into the water with those air temps. However the water was 77° much warmer than the air. I dislike wearing wetsuits when I am going to be in the water for long periods of time. I believe I should have been born in the Caribbean, but sadly I wasn’t. I do love diving though so it was time to “suck it up buttercup”.

I have been working the past few years on layering exposure protection for diving. The thicker the wetsuit, the more it is buoyant and the more weight required to sink. I think I finally perfected my layer for the lake and cold water diving.

My base layer is the Scubapro Everflex 1.5, 2 piece top & bottom. This comes in 2 colors for women, teal & black, grey & black. This is a very comfortable layering garment warm and stretchy. I was able to wear this at the water comfortably while waiting to dive, keeping the chilly wind off me, as well as when I actually started to dive.

Link: Scubapro Everflex 1.5mm

I often use my Scubapro 2.5mm hooded vest over the Everflex 1.5, while I am in the pool teaching as well as on trips. In the past I have layered this with the Scubapro Everflex 3/2 wetsuit. This worked great when I am teaching at Beaver Lake and need to complete the PADI Advanced Open Water deep dive with students below the 2nd thermocline. My vest is so faded and worn as I wear it weekly.

Link: Scubapro 2.5mm Hooded Vest

This past May we were supposed to go to the Red Sea and dive on a liveaboard. Water temps in the desert run about 72°-76°. A thicker wetsuit besides being buoyant, is also cumbersome to pack. I have been experimenting with options for travel, training and diving.

My camera system is very bulky for travel, so I try to streamline my dive gear when I can. This weekend I perfected my cold water travel/dive style!

• Base Layer – Scubapro Everflex 1.5mm top & bottom
• Scubapro 2.5mm Hooded Vest
• Scubapro 5mm Hooded Vest (hood cut off)

This set-up gives me the option of 9mm total on my core keeping me toasty, without adding a bunch of weight to overcome the buoyancy during diving. Additionally, this is less bulky in my suitcase. Added bonus, I have options in case the water is warmer I can reduce layers.

I was in the water for more than 4 hours both Saturday & Sunday at a time without getting out. I stayed comfortable and toasty.

I topped off my cold weather kit with my Scubapro Boat Coat and my Scubapro Dive Beanie. These 2 items were a lifesaver during the surface intervals.

If you need help preparing for those cold water temperatures. Stop by the shop and I can hook you up! We still have more dive weeks ahead.

Upcoming is our Annual Underwater Pumpkin Carving. You should join us!

Link: Underwater Pumpkin Carving

Leave me comments below on your cold water kit. How you stay warm in the spring / fall months.

My Buddy “DAN”

One of my favorite dive buddies I don’t want to be without is DAN.  DAN goes on every dive I trip I make whether it is international or domestic. DAN is with me on every PADI Open Water course I teach.  DAN is even my luggage buddy and watches over my Scubapro Dive Equipment when I am traveling.  DAN has an international phone number in case I am out of the country.  DAN is also buddies with several of my regular travel buddies.  Learn more about DAN by watching the video.  If you have a story to share about your dive buddy “DAN”, leave it in the comments below!

 

To learn more about DAN and sign get Dan as your dive buddy visit:

Divers Alert Network (DAN)

How to reduce the risk of your Scubapro dive computer getting stolen

I had a customer come into the shop a few years ago for the first time after buying a Scubapro Galileo Sol dive computer from a pawn shop.  He mentioned to me, he thought the computer was stolen.  Sure enough I fired the dive computer up and on the screen it showed the owner’s information.  Not only was it stolen, I had originally sold the computer and taught the original owner how to dive and knew the owner quite well.

We work hard every day to make a living and enjoy hobbies in our down time.  You need to protect your investments.  Watch our video on how to reduce the risk of losing your Scubapro dive computer.

 

Private Scuba Certification – Pamper yourself

Many people want to add SCUBA to their bucket list, however many of those same people live in areas where a lake is black water at the worst or maybe 10 foot of visibility at best.  This can be very intimidating leading to apprehension and discourage a potential student to learn to dive.

We have the solution for you! Clear waters, private instructor, a week in the Caribbean.  Learn more:

 

More than just a service tec…Netflix star!

Meet Mr. Bill. Bill is the Senior Service Manager at the Playground. He is retired Navy submariner / diver / chef. Bill has spent much of his life as a rescue/recovery diver while in the navy and back home with Lee’s Summit Underwater Recovery. While working with LSUR, he was contacted by Unsolved Mystery’s and the FBI for a cold case episode.

To learn more about Mr. Bill check out our video below:

Unsolved Mystery episode No Ride Home

As the service tec, he recommends thorough cleaning your scuba gear after each use and please make sure you bring it in for service regularly.

Use only cleaning products designed for scuba gear. Other cleaners can damage or degrade dive equipment. Rinse your mask, fins and snorkel after every use and allow them to dry completely before storing to avoid mildew growth. Use fresh, clean water and rotate any moving parts to remove salt, sand or other debris.

Masks, Fins, Snorkels
Inspect all the straps on your fins to look for fine cracks in the rubber straps on open-heel fins, and make sure the connector is attached. Next, examine the silicone of your mask skirt, the flexible hose of your snorkel and the snorkel’s mouthpiece for any tears. The most common failure area on a mask is the feather-edged seal on the skirt. This can become imperfect or irregular in shape with time and heavy use, and that irregularity can create leaks. Finally, check all the buckles, which can crack, split or become clogged with debris that can interfere with how they function, and check the frame of your mask for cracking, chips or other obvious signs of wear, especially in the areas immediately adjacent to the glass lens.

Regulators/Guages

It’s a good idea to take your gear in several weeks before your next trip to get it inspected, but at the very least, connect your regulator to a tank when preparing your gear for a dive trip. Take a few breaths from the regulator, a few breaths from the octopus and check the gauges for an accurate reading. Visually inspect all regulator hoses to ensure there are no cracks, make sure there are no holes or tears in the mouthpieces and check the metal fittings for corrosion. I like to replace my hoses every 3 services or 6 years to be proactive on hose failures.

If you use hose protectors, slide them away from the first stage to check beneath them. At the same time, look for corrosion on the metal first stage. If you see a blue/greenish color around the components, this is often a sign there is corrosion. Cracks in the hoses or obvious corrosion on any of the regulator’s components require professional service from our qualified technicians. Next, disconnect the regulator from the tank, replace the dust cover, inhale on each regulator forcefully and hold a vacuum. Each regulator should let in either a very tiny trickle of air or no air at all. Also check each second-stage housing for cracks, and if you have analog, oil-filled gauges, make sure they aren’t leaking any fluid.

Dive Computers

Most divers now use computers, and although these devices rarely fail, a dead battery can cut a dive day short. So check the battery indicator on your computer or bring it in and we can check it for you. If you have an analog compass, rotate the housing to ensure that the compass bezel moves freely and the compass doesn’t stick.

BCD

Check your BCD inflator by connecting it to a regulator that’s hooked to a tank. Shoot a few bursts of air into the BC, then release the inflate button and listen for air leaking into the BC that would indicate a stuck inflator. A technician must repair any leaks before you get in the water. Next, inflate your BC until the pressure-relief valve pops off and let the BC stand for about 20 minutes to see if it holds air pressure. While the BC is inflated, check the cummerbund, waist strap, shoulder straps, tank band and all the buckles for excessive wear. If your BC has metal buckles, check them for corrosion, which will weaken the metal structure and eventually cause the buckle to fail. A buildup of a white chalky substance or green powder in addition to rust are all indications of corrosion. Minor corrosion can generally be cleaned with a stiff brush and a little white vinegar–be sure to rinse the item afterward so the vinegar is thoroughly removed–and a quick spray of food-grade silicone will help prevent future corrosion if routinely applied after your equipment is clean and completely dry.

Diving locally, a great trick is to use a tote to transport your gear back and forth to the lake. On the return journey home, you can add your fresh water and Sink the Stink or other cleaner to the tote and you have an agitated cleaning station as you make the drive home.

Leave us a comment if you have other tricks you use for keeping your dive gear ready for the next dive.

I know what you did last summer…

I was always fascinated at the beginning of every Star Trek show, “Captain’s Log, Star Date….” and how it went into the episode where you had a visual representation of the Captain Kirk’s journey for that day.

I have never been good at steady blogging or writing in a diary, however I have tried really hard since I have been diving to log my dives.  I really love the stamps and stickers I can pick up at the exotic destinations where I travel.

Check out this video to see why I think it is important, and leave me your comments below, including the number of logged dives!

Scubapro UPF Collection – Because Knowledge is Power

THE UPF COLLECTION TECHNICAL WORKSHEET

BY SCUBAPRO

Pick up your UPF today at The Playground Dive Shop

PROTECT YOURSELF
We all know why we should protect ourselves from the sun. At its most basic, a sunburn hurts. And then it itches, and then it unattractively peels. But there are far more serious long-term consequences to exposing your unprotected skin to the sun.  Start with premature skin aging and wrinkling. Also, UV (ultraviolet) radiation has been identified as a proven human carcinogen by both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization, and it is considered the main cause of numerous skin cancers. What’s more, UV radiation can suppress your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off disease.

Divers Need Even More Protection
So if you’re going to be outside, you really need to protect yourself. And this is especiallyUPF 80 Walking true if you’re at the beach, or in the water. The sun’s rays reflect off water, as well as off beach sand, and even off the tiled surfaces of a swimming pool deck. Also, when you’re in the water you often don’t feel the heat of the sun on your skin, so you might not realize your bare skin is burning. You can avoid damaging your skin by being sun-safe. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends limiting UV exposure by wearing special sun-protective clothing. This is clothing that is designed specifically to prevent UV radiation from penetrating the fabric and damaging your skin.\

T-SHIRT OR T-FLEX?
You’re in the tropics, going diving, the sun is shining, and your arms and shoulders are beginning to burn. You can reach for a T-shirt, but that’s really no protection. That’s because not all clothing is created equal. The tightness of the weave, the weight, the type of fiber, the color and the amount of skin the clothing covers all affect the amount of protection a garment provides. What the clothing is made of matters. Fabrics such as unbleached cotton contain special pigments called lignins that act as UV absorbers. High-luster polyesters and even thin, satiny silk can be highly protective because they reflect radiation. Even if the piece of clothing has a good UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor), what you do while wearing it can also make a difference. If the fabric gets stretched, it will lose some of its protective capability because it becomes thinner and more transparent to light. And once it gets wet, it can lose up to 50% of its UPF.

The smarter solution, for protection from the sun and for fashion-forward styling, is to wear a SCUBAPRO rash guard.

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UPF COLLECTION: Designed to Perform
The Best Fabrics: when it comes to blocking UV rays, T-shirt-type cotton is among the worst, while polyester and nylon are among the best. SCUBAPRO’s UPF Collection rash guards are made from a choice of polyester, nylon or a nylon/spandex blend.
The Smartest Designs: The more skin you can cover, the better. SCUBAPRO’s UPF Collection rash guards come in short sleeve, long sleeve and also full-body styling, with high collars to protect the vulnerable neck area.
The Highest UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) Rating: UPF ratings measure the amount of UV radiation that a fabric blocks. SCUBAPRO’s UPF Collection rash guards have been tested for their effectiveness at blocking UV rays. All are considered to be in the “Excellent” protection category.

Boat UPF 50
UPF Ratings: What it Means
The sun produces two primary UV rays that are problematic for your skin: UVA and UVB. UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin, UVB rays burn the superficial layers. Both damage skin cells, contribute to premature aging of the skin, and cause skin cancer.

UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) and SPF (Sun Protection Factor) are both standards used to measure the effects of the sun on your skin. However, they employ different approaches.

SPF ratings are indications of the level of skin reddening; they are used primarily to measure sunscreen.

UPF ratings indicate how much of the sun’s UV radiation a fabric is able to block, and, in turn, how long a person wearing UV protective clothing can remain exposed to the sun without suffering skin damage.

A typical T-shirt has a UPF of 5 to 7 when dry, and less than half that when wet. Your average rash guard designed with UV blocking properties normally has a UPF rating of 20 to 30 when dry, and less when wet.

All of SCUBAPRO’s UPF Collection rash guards have a UV rating of UPF 50 or above. A garment with a rating of UPF 50 blocks 98% of UV radiation. However, even these specially designed UV-blocking rash guards lose a bit of their sun protection when they get wet.

That’s what makes SCUBAPRO’s new UPF 80 T-Flex rash guards so special. These top-of-line rash guards not only block out 99% of both UVA and UVB radiation, the highest UV protection rating available in the industry, they provide this protection whether they are wet or dry.

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How Clothing is Tested
To determine the UV protection of dive wear, standardized measuring methods are used, normally on dry and/or new gear. UPF ratings above 50 are considered to be in the “Excellent” Protection Category. All of SCUBAPRO’s UPF Collection are rated 50 or above.

• UPF 50 equates to 1/50, which means only 1 unit of UV out of 50 is able to penetrate the fabric, or 49 out of 50 are blocked. 49 is 98% of 50. So SCUBAPRO’s UPF 50 rash guards block 98% of UV.

073A0491Going Above & Beyond
However, SCUBAPRO’s new top-of-the-line T-Flex rash guards take UV protection to the next level. This category of dive wear is tested using the UV Standard 801which tests fabrics in their “worst-case” scenario. In other words, in real world conditions of use – wet and stretched — two stress factors that can adversely affect a fabric’s protective qualities. Garments that pass these stringent tests are labeled with a coveted UV Standard 801 UPF 80 tag, assuring users of the ultimate in quality and UV protection. This means, wet or dry, you have the peace of mind knowing we’ve got you protected.

• UPF 80 equates to 1/80, with only 1 unit of UV out of 80 able to penetrate the fabric. Or, 79 of 80 units are blocked. 79 is about 99% of 80. So SCUBAPRO’s UPF 80 T-Flex blocks about 99% of UV.

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So How Does All This Translate into Time in the Sun?
• Skin Types differ, but if we focused on a diver with Skin Type I (very fair skin, blonde/red hair, blue eyes), wearing no protection, she could remain in the sun for only 5 to 10 minutes before starting to burn.
• If this person was wearing a basic T-shirt (UPF 5), she could stay in the sun for between 25 and 50 minutes before starting to burn.
• If she were to switch to a basic rash guard (UPF 20), her safe in-the-sun time could be extended to approximately 1.5 to 3 hours.
• However, if she were to wear a SCUBAPRO UPF 50 Rash Guard, her time in the sun could be more than doubled, up to approximately 8 hours.
• Even better, wearing a SCUBAPRO UPF 80 T-Flex Rash Guard, wet or dry, she would have the peace of mind knowing her skin was protected for up to approximately 13 hours.

Clearly, what you wear makes a difference.
T-shirt: 25 to 50 minutes of protection.
T-Flex: 13 hours of protection – wet or dry.
When it comes to your skin, which are you going to choose? Pick-up your UPF at The Playground Dive Shop.

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Snapped – Journey as I learn U/W still photography.

Part 1: Caught a bug because of a slug.

This is a series of blogs, Snapped, portraying my journey into underwater photography. I hope you find it interesting and informative as you join me on my journey into underwater photography.

$_58I bought my first underwater camera in 2006, a Sealife Reef Master film camera packaged in a bright yellow Pelican case from the dive shop Cape Fear Divers.  I was about to do my first ocean dive, and the sum of my prior dive experience being 4 open water check-out dives at Beaver Lake. Soon I would be taking the plunge off North Carolina’s shark infested coastline and dive the Hyde & Markham wrecks.  I was super excited and nervous as I climbed aboard the ship with all my rented equipment except the mask, fin, snorkel, boots and new camera.

 

Having attached my camera to a lanyard, hooked on the rental BC,  I descended down the mooring line on our second dive. The sediment opened up about 35 feet down and below me, spread out on the ocean floor, was the Hyde shipwreck.  Cruising around the rusty metal ship carcass were 3 sand tiger sharks.  Seeing I was in no danger I reached for my camera and it was floating above me still attached by the lanyard.

 

In 2007, I was headed to Turks and Caicos and 2 weeks before my trip, my land camera bit the dust. Shooting film was difficult because you were not able to see your images right away so I decided to invest in a new camera.  Digital photography cameras for underwater were becoming more reasonably priced. I had Best Buy opened in one web browser and Ikelite in another.  I found the best camera I could afford and housing to go with it. My upgrade was a Canon Elf with an Ikelite Housing.

Related: Ikelite

The point-and-shoot Canon did a fantastic job until I forgot it was in my life jacket a year so so later and I went swimming without the housing.  The Elf never recovered.  I purchased my 2nd Sealife camera,  DC1200 w/strobe.  The result was much better for underwater images when I learned about white balance and using the strobe for light-until I blinded a seahorse because my strobe was turned up too high and he screamed in pain!

Soon there was a new craze in the dive industry.  It was called the Gopro.  Never intended for diving, Gopro created a waterproof camera for racing, biking, skiing.  Diving caught the company off guard and became a huge market source for their powerful video cameras.  It took several months before Gopro products and accessories before market and after market could catch-up to the dive industry needs.

After waiting a while to see how performance of the Gopro would turn out, I got on the Gopro bandwagon.  My purchase was a Hero 3 Black and later I added the touchback screen.  This camera served me well over the next 3 years.  I added underwater filters to bring color and contrast back into my underwater videos. These colors are lost as we descend in the ocean, starting with red, which is why these filters are red (blueish water) or magenta (greenish water).

Through practice my underwater videos were improving immensely.  I started to get addicted making underwater adventure video’s using the Gopro Studio Software.  I also learned how to pull still images from the video clips which is a huge benefit over shooting a still when you are underwater.

Related: Playground Dive Shop Video Channel

turtle

On a past trip to Cayman Islands, as I dove with my Gopro, I met a group of photographers who had professional cameras.  I saw my first Painted Elysia. At a size range from .5-1 inch, these slugs were amazing and beautiful.  My Gopro would never capture such image.  The desire for macro photography started to build from that moment on.

RELATED: Painted Elysia

Due to the fact I was a dive instructor, I was unable to take any type of photography equipment with me as I taught.  Recently however, as our shop has grown and our instructional staff is also growing, I decided it was time to chase my passion.

Coming Soon: Snapped Part 2, An arm & a leg