Room full of luggage

How to lighten your load not your pocket book (Part 2 – Packrat)

How to lighten your load not your pocketbook Part 1: Research

Part 2: Getting Rid of the Pack Rat

Vacation is just around the corner and it is so exciting to envision yourself on the beach with palm trees and the ocean lapping at your feet until you realize it’s time to start packing.  What should I take?  Traveling to exotic destinations is not like living in your local suburb where there is a Wal-Mart on every corner and plenty of Dollar Stores everywhere.  Time to really focus in on the ‘nitty gritty’.  Most people over pack.  When carrying your personal dive gear you may find the 50 lb. limit on your luggage fairly quickly but you want to make sure you have equipment tailored to you and you’re familiar with-after all this is why you invested in your gear.

This past year I have seen new equipment coming out and I hope to focus a future blog on purchasing travel gear but for this blog my focus is on the packing portionstop.  I am assuming you have read Part 1 – Research, if not stop there and read it before proceeding.   If you are still reading I know you’re ready for step 2.  Getting rid of your inner pack rat. I consider dive gear in two parts – dive gear and dive accessories.  The first part of the blog will focus primarily on the dive gear you need to take and how best to pack and carry it. It is focused on a single diver, but if your packing as a couple double the numbers.

Invest in a small portable luggage scale.   You can find them on Amazon as low as $10.  Weigh your luggage so you now have a baseline for packing. Layout on your floor or bed the following items:


  • BCDluggage-scale-550x402.png
  • MASK
  • FINS



Take the time to inspect all the items to make sure there is nothing malfunctioning.  Replenish all items that may have been used previously in your Save-A-Dive kit.  Charge all electronics the day or night before you leave if possible. If you have any other suggestions, let me know what they are.

Somehow it is easy to get the dive gear but more complicated when deciding what clothing and toiletries we place into our suitcase. Most resorts have towels, shampoo, soap –  no need to pack them.  Check with your travel mate / roommate and split some of the items. Here is my suggested list for packing:


  • SWIMSUITS (2-3)
  • SHORTS(2)
  • T-SHIRTS / TANK TOPS (2-3)
  • WALKING SHOES /SOCKS  (1) /BEACH SHOES (1)   choose one for the travel day~less to pack
  • LIGHT WIND/RAIN JACKET (1)  ~ consider wearing this on the plane if you get cold easily
  • UNDERWEAR (3-4)
  • HAT (1)
  • SWIM COVER optional (1)
  • TOOTH PASTE (1 per room)
  • IMMODIUM (1 per room)
  • ASPRIN / ADVIL (1 per room)
  • ALOE / BURN RELEIF (1 per room)
  • DETANGLER (1 per room)
  • HAIRBRUSH (1) / HAIR TIES  (3)
  • RAZOR (1)
  • LIP Balm (1)
  • Bug Spray (1 per room)

This list may be significantly limited to what you normally pack but in my opinion it is very generous.  First off, ladies you are on vacation and a dive vacation at that.  You don’t need a lot of make-up.  Simply waterproof mascara and eyeliner will go a long way.  Most people purchase souvenir t-shirts while on vacation which is why I recommend only 2-luggage stuffing3 max shirts to take with you.  You will also have the clothes available you wear down during the week.  Remember you will be in the water almost all day so utilizing a few items previously worn will not hurt. You can wash out your clothes in the sink and wear them again as needed some places have laundry service too.  Figure out what shoes are best for your airport trip and what you don’t wear to the airport pack in your suitcase ~ tennis shoes are much heavier in your luggage and are very bulky so consider wearing them.

In your carry-on bag pack the following:

  • Regulator/Consoleatm
  • Mask (if prescription)
  • Camera / batteries
  • Log book /cert card
  • seasick medicine
  • flashlight / batteries charger
  • immodium
  • asprin / advil
  • hairbrush

Basically anything you may need on the first day after you arrive, you want to carry with you in case your luggage doesn’t show up.  I have lately begun to pack my regulator but for years, I always carried it with me.  Lithium batteries should be carried on and anytime you are traveling with batteries, try to keep them in a closed and secure package preferably unopened.  Some countries won’t let you carry them on if they have been opened.

In your checked bag pack the following:

  • bcd
  • fins

    Make sure your passport is with you for all parts of your travel. Also most places require the passport be current and not within 6 months expiration.
  • snorkel
  • boots
  • safety sausage w/reel
  • wetsuit
  • boat bag
  • rashguards
  • dive socks
  • drybag
  • reef safe sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • save-a-dive kit
  • swimsuits
  • shorts
  • t-shirts
  • underwear
  • sleepwear
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • make-up & remover
  • aloe/burn relief
  • detangler
  • razor
  • deodorant

Use your fins as support side walls for your luggage to protect everything inside.  Next place your BC in the bag.  I would advise unbuckling shoulder straps to allow it fold down smaller.  Roll up all clothing items and you can use it to pad sensitive areas in your luggage such as the AIR2 on your BC.  Any liquid items I try to put in a ziploc including bug spray and sunscreen in case of leakage. You can store your dive boots or rolled clothing items in your fin pockets too.

To conclude my travel list I want to stress a few things.  #1 Packing during the summer 3_19_1months vs winter months will create a bit of a change because you are most likely leaving a colder climate for a warmer climate.  Pack in layers and leave big bulky coats, gloves and boots back in your c

ar.  #2 One thing I take everywhere I travel is my water bottle.  Once through security lines, you can fill it at a water fountain. Many places you travel, the water could be unfit for consumption, so it is nice to have your own refillable water bottle.  Make sure you have one with a clip to attach to your backpack or carry-on bag.  Bringing snacks and cards for lengthy airport waits is also advisable.

Packing for serious dive photography is a whole other ballgame.  A great blog from one of my diver friends is here with tips on traveling with bigger cameras.

Related: Photography Travel

Scuba Jenn Photograph by Doug George

Following these steps you will find your bag is streamlined and your pocket book is not dented from the excessive baggage fees.  Let me know what other suggestions you may have that work for you.




How to lighten your load not your pocketbook

Part 1: Research

Learning to scuba dive opens a whole new world and exotic destinations you can explore. Traveling to dive resorts can represent challenges when trying to figure out what to take and what to leave behind. Airline baggage fees are expensive and can result in a nasty surprise when you go to check-in and find you owe another $75 for your luggage being 5 lbs. overweight.  This past dive to Cozumel I received a compliment from our taxi driver how light my dive buddy Krista and I packed for a week long trip:  1 bag each plus a back pack we used for a carry-on.  This is part 1 in a series on scuba travel and how not to over-pack.

Best place to start when you have a dive trip planned is personal research.  Are your dive skills fresh?  Did your regulator make a whistle or was hard to breath last time you dove? Please have your gear checked at least a month prior to your trip and make sure you have followed the manufacturers service guidelines.  Scubapro recommends your regulator to be serviced every two years or 100 dives to maintain the warranty.   If possible contact the Playground Dive Shop to see about a review/refresher course to both refresh your skills and test your dive gear.

The week prior to leaving, your next step to packing is with your computer by researching. Google the destination and find out local dive conditions, water temperatures, current/upcoming weather patterns and/or even contact your resort for recommendations on wet suits, attire at the resort etc.  Also research your airline to find out size and weight restrictions.  I carry the Delta American Express Sky-miles card which costs $90 annually but I get 1 free checked bag each way up to 9 persons on my itinerary.  On a recent trip to Cozumel this saved our group $450.

Related: Delta American Express

Once you have researched your data for the trip, the next step is to choose the gear best suited for your dive destination.

My next part will cover the perfect gear to pack for your dive trip!



What I Learned in Cozumel June 2016

“Winter is coming”, not just for Game of Thrones fans.  First trip to Cozumel during the summer.  Expecting things to be extremely hot and humid.  Little did I anticipate the rainy cooler season with temps in the 70’s while back home Kansas City was a blistering 95+ degrees.   But I am jumping ahead of my trip and need to step back a bit to the traveling to Cozumel.

My traveling has increased the past several years both domestically and internationally.  I took some friends suggestions (thanks Duane & Lisa) and signed up for TSA Precheck.  Well as luck had it, bad or good you decide, Delta Airlines had some software glitches when I tried to check in the day before flying to Mexico and it wouldn’t let me. The rest of the travelers on my itinerary, nine of them to be exact, also were not able to check in the day prior, but were able to use the local kiosk at KCI airport.  Sadly I was not

Scuba Jenn Made It!

and it was required to see the agent.  Even though we arrived at the airport with plenty of advance time, the line at the special agent was extremely slow, non-moving  due to the software glitch.  After an hour and half the agent called me forward and she too couldn’t get my ticket to print.  She did manage thirty minutes later to print the ticket for the first part of my day’s travel. Running to the gate I tried to get in the pre-check line but it too was long. While the TSA agents wouldn’t let me get to the front, the nice passengers did let me cut till I got closer.   The rest of the flights were uneventful and I was able to get the second portion of my ticket printed in Atlanta between connecting flights.


Lesson 1: Get TSA Precheck

Arriving in Cozumel and taking the taxi I had set-up for our group was easy.  Once at the hotel, they encouraged us to eat while lunch was still being served.  Our group, that wasn’t hard to convince us.  Checking in after lunch, is where I learned my second lesson:

Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to ask for help with taking your dive bag up the stairs.

13511980_928706640573558_8082695095574789379_nMost places I have stayed, typically offer to haul the bag upstairs.  Sometimes I can be a bit chintzy and want to save a buck or two in tips, but when I saw the wonderful room we had up at the top of the 2 flights of stairs, I decided a couple of bucks are worth it.

I didn’t even hesitate when it was time to check out.  I know my USA dollars are well spent to boost the Mexican economy-let alone the price of a massage or chiropractor upon returning home.

What non-divers don’t realize is, most divers take all the dive gear when traveling.  In fact my dive buddy Krista and I did get a compliment as we were leaving Cozumel about us being girls and only having one bag for all our belongings. I will soon do a blog on packing for dive travel.

Related: Packing for your dive travel (added July 11, 2016)

Lesson 3: Ascot not just a French thing but good for diving too.

Will, one of our divers had some chafing on his neck from the BCD.  He purchased a Scuba Good Hood from the local dive shop and wore it around his neck.  We teased him all week about his “Ascot” and for the rest of the week he talked with a French Accent.  I learned a few years ago about the comfort of rubbing and chafing when  on dive trips.  I am a firm believer of Scuba Tube Socks, Coco Big Oh’s and Scuba Do Rags.  From blistered feet to chafing necks, comfort is paramount while on any vacation.

Shop: Scuba Socks

Lesson 4: Checking the current has alternate meanings

Our dive guides were very thorough and safe during our daily dive adventures.  Before the13533143_928707020573520_5107147648509767718_n “pool’s open” our guide would jump in first and check the current.  We quickly figured out after many bottles of water before during and after diving and the long boat rides back and forth to the dive sites, what checking the current was really all about.  So all of us divers started to check the current.  You know there are two types of divers…

Lesson 5: Electronics are not able to withstand Mexican Tile – make sure you have extended warranty

I am addicted to video and picture editing and it is my favorite past-time while on a dive adventure.  But when my Surface Pro 3 tablet was updated to Windows 10, my Micro-SD card didn’t register.  While in Mexico on the limited WiFi updating drivers was a nightmare.  I fell asleep and sometime during the night the Surface Pro crashed onto the tile floor and shattered.  Luckily I did have the extended warranty and was able to replace the Surface Pro once I returned back to Kansas City for the low cost of $50.  However I am still trying to work through all the videos.

Lesson 6: There is a Giant Moray Eel

I don’t pretend to be an expert when it comes to the underwater world but at times I am surprised at new discoveries I witness.  This time one was the Giant Moray Eel.  It was huge.  Most moray’s are long and slender.  This looked bloated and fat compared to what I had seen before.  I tried to get video from it, but it was hiding under a coral reef overhang and the video isn’t as clear as I would have hoped.

Giant Moray Eel

Lesson 7: While diving in groups, the dynamics or dive buddies may change.

Diver Dan picked up a new “Dive Buddy for Life” due to air consumption.  John and Dan were similar on air and it worked out on the dives for them to buddy up.  Doug and I swapped occasionally with the new divers Shantay and Kriss so we could have different experiences.  However much I swap dive buddies, Krista and Mary have to be top favs!  I think it is good to dive with different buddies because you can pick-up on new techniques, and not get complacent. However you dive, make sure you and your buddy have good communication and signals, as well as familiar with each others equipment.

Pictures courtesy of Doug George Photographer

Lesson 8: Make sure you heed the seasick warning

I have been blessed to not have a weak stomach but that wasn’t the case for two of our group members during the Whale Shark Swim.  My first time swimming with the whale sharks but not the last.  It was long full day of adventure.  Not sure what to expect, it was a challenging and very rewarding day.  Catching the 5:45 ferry to Playa Del Carmen then a taxi ride up to Cancun, we boarded a fast boat to the open Caribbean Sea.  When I say fast boat and open seas, I mean it.  I love the swells and hitting the waves but its not for everyone.  We had to hunt the whale sharks and ended up finding 4 of them.  Next time I will take a wetsuit.  I did rent one because it was required from the operator to either be in wetsuit or life jacket.  They did feed us Ceviche and  home made guacamole – well those who could stomach it.

Whale Shark Video

Lesson 9: Loved Scuba Club Cozumel

First time I stayed at the Scuba Club Cozumel and I will be back.  It was the best trip I have had in all the years I been to Cozumel and the best place I have stayed.  Catering to divers with a small number of rooms and food that is simply amazing.  With views on the ocean and hammocks on the beach you can’t get a better resort for diving.  The shore diving was13428523_925518700892352_8885169456166408608_n.jpg incredible for afternoons and night dives.  I was able to conduct Advanced Open Water dives during the week.  Other dive groups were friendly we met and hope to dive with them again.

If this trip sounds amazing to you, please don’t feel left out.  We have a trip coming up to Cayman Brac August 28-Sept. 3 with room for 2 more couples and 1 single male diver.  Not a diver?  Not a problem, we have non-divers that often go with us.  See our upcoming dive trips on our travel page.  Remember no matter what time of the year you go to the islands make sure you pack a light jacket.  Hope to see you soon!

Upcoming Dive Travel Trips

Innovative New Dive Gear

Life After Scubapro Platinum Meeting San Diego March 2016

sp logo

I am always amazed and overwhelmed with ideals whenever I return from a Scubapro Platinum meeting. Scubapro designs these meetings with the intention of creating a stronger network of Scubapro teams to change the dive world.

The Playground Dive Shop is 1 of 50 scuba shops in the United States who hold the prestigious title of being a Scubapro Platinum Shop. A Platinum Scubapro Shop has made a commitment to sell Scubapro line only. This is a huge benefit for our customers for several different reasons. Mainly we are the subject matter experts for all things Scubapro.

WEBSITE: Playground Dive Shop

Why Platinum? Our mutual dedication has created a stronger retail center for our divers.  We are the leading experts in Scubapro gear, how to properly maintain and use the gear.  Our staff is better educated with our razor sharp focus of one brand. Scubapro has been in the dive industry for 50 years.  This heritage can only be accomplished by producing quality products.  High quality doesn’t always mean high in price.  Scubapro offers a full line of products with different features to fit any budget while not compromising the quality.

Join our Newsletter

Why Scubapro?

– Innovators – Scubapro has been an innovator in the dive industry for over 50 years.  That is huge!  Innovation is not just a thing of the past though.  The designers and R&D of Scubapro are constantly working to better the Scubapro line of products.

– Scubapro Cares – new packaging and product design from Scubapro are leaving a greener and cleaner footprint for our world.  Many of our products now come in reusable packages.  Products materials such as wet suits are being made with water based glues for cleaner environment and petroleum free neoprene.

– Scubapro Women – “Shrink it and pink it” is not the way Scubapro reaches out to the ladies who dive.  We offer dive gear built around a woman’s lifestyles and interests.  Diving is now fashionable as well as fun.

– Scubapro Wet suits – New wet suit technology is far improved and superior over other competitors. Scubapro’s Everflex is produced with X-Foam neoprene, an exclusive Scubapro formula.  Scubapro was the first in diving in 2012 to introduce X-FOAM blend neoprene as part of our ongoing effort to better protect divers and our environment. All Scubapro neoprene is X-FOAM. Higher insulation for better heat retention.  Only formula that complies to to P.A.H. tests ensuring fewer pollutants.

Wet suits are subjected to Thermal Performance Classifications in Europe. This is where suits are rated for use in one of the four water temperature categories, also called classes, as described below:

Class A
Water temperature between 7°C/45°F and 12°C/54°F
Class B
Water temperature between 10°C/50°F and 18°C/64.5°F
Class C
Water temperature between 16°C/60.8°F and 24°C/75.2°F
Class D
Water temperature > 22°C/72°F

Scubapro’s wet suits are CE Certified:7/5 mm steamers are Class A; 5/4 mm Class B; 3/2 mm Class C.

– Scubapro BCD’s – Enter Scubapro’s newest wonder of the diving world. A technological breakthrough in BC design and construction.  Scubapro premium quality plus performance and features never seen before.  It’s 2 BC’s in 1.

  • Travel Friendly
  • Instant Dry
  • Lightweight & Compact
  • Moulds to your body
  • Extreme Comfort
  • Stability
  • Customizable colors
  • Modular System allows customization to your torso
  • Interchangeable travel straps included.

What could this incredible BC be? Hydros Pro

Video: Hydros Pro

We do have a limited supply on order to be delivered in June you can pre-order yours today.


Pre-order Hydros Pro

– PYROFLEX what is it?

PYROFLEX 1.5MM long sleeve rashguards are made from 100 percent pure neoprene. So unlike other rashies,  don’t just provide protection from scrapes and stings, they provide bona fide thermal protection.


Sporting a revolutionary design and featuring high-tech materials ideal for tropical diving, snorkeling, or pool training, PYROFLEX rash guards are made with special water-repellant, high-stretch Everflex X-Foam neoprene on the outside and a combination of fleece and plush on the inside. They offer lots of warmth, comfort and range of motion, plus they dry quickly and great for layering.


Scubapro and Platinum Dealers work side by side in choosing color, design, styles to better serve our combined customer base.  Together we are team Scubapro.  You too can be part of the Scubapro team.  To find out more visit our website or stop by for a visit.  You can also subscribe to our blog.



Top 6 Reasons To Join The Playground Dive Shop’s Scuba Olympics

Did you miss Scuba Olympics this year?  Well mark your calendar and make plans for next year’s event.  The Playground Dive Shop’s Scuba Olympics is always the first Sunday in March.  We have compiled this fun list as to why you should go ahead and make your plans to be an Olympian. Make sure to sign-up for our newsletter to assure you don’t miss any important upcoming events.

1. Money raised from Scuba Olympics goes to Missouri Special Olympics

Everyone knows how awesome divers are, but once a year The Playground Dive Shop sponsors an opportunity to let divers join together to help out those in our community with intellectual disabilities.  By participating in The Playground Dive Shop’s Scuba Olympics, you too can be a part of a growing movement of divers impacting the world in a positive way by using your dive skills to help others.  Missouri Special Olympics is the local group of Special Olympics who for 40 years, has been spreading the message: people with intellectual disabilities can – and will – succeed when given the chance.  As a diver your entry fee and rental fees go toward helping special people to succeed.

RELATED: Missouri Special Olympics

2. Gets you diving in the winter.

Everyone knows we divers dream daily of warm tropical destinations, turquoise water, andrun schools of Blue Tang & Angel fish while we live our rather uninteresting life in landlocked often cold Missouri during the winter months. The Playground Dive Shop’s Scuba Olympics allows you to dust off your dive gear and blow out the cobwebs from your regulator for a chance of Bubble Therapy.  Pocket books and work schedules may not allow for a dream vacation but you can still get wet with a short drive to Blue Springs YMCA. The indoor pool stays a steady temperature of 79* year round and visibility is great!

3. Improve your dive skills.

Newly certified?  No problem. Divers newly certified as well as those of advanced level are all welcomed to participate in Scuba Olympics.  Olympic events are designed to delight all skill levels to build confidence in dive skills and to provide a fun filled way to learn more about your dive equipment and the underwater environment. Speed, strength, agility is not required to participate and be successful for the Scuba Olympics. Success is better attained by slow thoughtful team work.

Video: Scuba Olympics 2016

4. Meet new dive buddies.

Every year new Olympians join our event so don’t be afraid of being inexperienced or feel out of place if you don’t have a dive buddy.  We do put 4-5 divers into teams and we try to keep couples and families together (if they want too) within those teams.  This allows divers to meet and dive with new people in a fun filled atmosphere.  We encourage and foster healthy competition but cheating is not allowed. Diving creates an enormous appetite so we conclude our ceremonies and hand out awards over a late lunch at Legends of Asia buffet.

5. Refresh dive principles.

Most of the Olympic events are centered around dive principles you were taught in open water.  Buoyancy in diving is one of the hardest but most important skills to master and many of our events let you practice the skill.  Trying to control a positive object like our “egg” while competing in our “egg race” can challenge even the most advanced diver.

Maintaining close contact with your dive buddy is also important in the dive environment and we bring this to a new level by our “3-Finned Race” and our “Buddy Buoyancy” race.

The “Bucket Race” reinforces atmosphere and pressure principles when diver teams swim cups of air to the deep end of the pool and empty them into a bucket filled with water.

Proper air management is mandatory when competing in the “Underwater Tug-O-War”.  This by far is the most tank draining event the Scuba Olympics.hoop

6. Have fun.

Last but not least the Playground Dive Shop’s Scuba Olympics event is a not-so-serious way of having a great time of diving.  Diving is usually fun but we make it exciting and entertaining at the same time!  Silly events like the Tug-O-War, 3 finned Race, Oh Buddy Where Art Thou, bring an exhilarating new experience in diving.

Olympiad Winners 2016

I realize you are sad and jealous to have missed this past event, but what is imperative is to not miss any future events.  Sign-up now to assure you are one of the first to be notified of important dates.





Next Generation

Here in the Midwest, as much as we would like to, we can’t always dive.  Doesn’t mean we don’t have fun.  In fact I believe divers are some of the most diverse interesting people I know.  Diving is more then just a sport though.  It is a bond.  A fellowship of other divers.  When you’re out on a dive vacation or even during your weekend check-out dives, you have things called surface intervals and down-time in the evenings when you learn about the other divers in your group.

As a dive shop owner and instructor I get the privilege of meeting 95% of those walking through the door to #PlaygroundDiveShop.  My background of sales and marketing plus the twenty-something years of street theater at #KansasCityRenaissanceFestival,

has given me the ability to interact with complete strangers.  The bonus is when people walk through our doors, I usually get to converse about diving.  This has increased my circle of friends especially close friends to an amazing level.  Even more importantly for me, I now have girlfriends.  As a tom-boy I have always had trouble fitting in with other females because I like to do stuff the boys liked to do.

With our diver friends, we often get together and do interesting stuff.  Last night was one of those nights.  With a little advanced planning and diving into my arsenal of gaming material I hosted a Murder Mystery party.  I have participated in a few of these but it had been ages ago.

The funny part of this was the theme.   If you couldn’t have told from the title or pictures it was Star Trek, The Next Generation.  Yes among the group of divers we have some Trekies.  I carefully selected the divers to see who best could play the crew of the Enterprise.  There were eight of us on the away team: Will, Beverly, Deana, Geordi, Worf, Data, Ro and Guinan.

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In true spirit of 5000 year old Guinan the selection I chose was very fitting.  I was super impressed everyone gave it their all to dress-up.  Even beyond the costumes we had extra props and memorabilia fitting Star Trek including: blood wine (the jello added to it made it coagulate), tricorders, and most impressive of all, Dr. Crusher brought Star Trek TNG – medicine to treat the various sickness that could invade the crew.

RELATED: Medical Database

To make the evening more interesting, the boxed game was a bit old and required some ancient tool called a cassette player.  The one we had wasn’t working, so Data had one in his “shuttle”. During the required listening sections we would march outside to the “shuttle bay” to listen to the recordings as needed.  I am sure the neighbors loved that!

As the night progressed the character interactions started to flow more naturally.  To liven it up a bit, as I chose character placement weeks ago, I split couples up to change the dynamics of the group.  This got to be quite interesting as play progressed.  Each round led to more accusations until the final climatic end.

It is times like this as we spend more time together outside of the normal activities that relationships build.  As our Klingon friend Lt. Worf fa fa could attest we all bring our own strengths to the table and our differences blend to form a truly unique diverse culture.

Much like the underwater world we explore – diversity is celebrated and part of God’s greater plan of existence.  Where clown fish aerate anemones and the anemones give protection to the clown fish – different species are bonded together to maintain their existence in what we call symbiosis.

RELATED: Symbiotic Relationship

As our “away team” prepared to end the night’s adventure everyone chipped in to clean up the Enterprise banquet room we utilized.  Mission being accomplished we journeyed back to our own worlds.  Events of the crazy fun evening slipping into our memories-a star date in Jean Luc Picard’s diary.  The bonds formed and the jokes told will forever unite us and keep us giggling until our next adventure.

To cold to dive in February? Perhaps but its never too cold to continue the mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.



Chilly for Breakfast

The alarm went off early this morning. Somehow it seemed wrong on a Sunday to have to wake so early.  Laid in bed another 7 minutes wishing I could doze back off, but no such luck.  Today was a special day.  It is the 3rd Sunday of the month of February.  While to most people not significant, to those few members of our dive team and the forefathers of LSUR, it meant time for a monthly training.

No matter that Fox 4 morning news reported it was 34*, we had committed ourselves to this purpose.  Yes, once a month we get together all year long no matter the weather.  Are we mad? Perhaps. Some people think we are when we inform them about the compensation package a Public Safety Diver (PSD) gets.

I put several layers on to combat the early cold and Bill and I worked our way on the sacred pilgrimage to Quik Trip.  Here in the KC area, almost all PSD’s begin every operation/training/meeting at their local QT.  Hot coffee or cappuccino is always a warm welcome prior to a morning of brisk outdoor work.

Arriving at HQ we were able to see the progress Jackson County had made installing the 12717429_1037358446286248_7001454256788466864_nnew gas pumps in our attached parking lot.  By now the sun’s blazing warmth was heating up the day quite nicely.  Since we had arrived early, I decided to enjoy the natural beauty of Fleming Park from our picnic table on the side of HQ.  However, the natural beauty was short-lived when the smell of the nearby porty-pot turned the beautiful morning into a nasty blast on the nasal cavities.

Not much later the rest of the dive team arrived, the training details put forth, the boats were hooked up and we rolled to Lake Jacomo.  Today was to be boat training, trailering and while time allowed for those in Big Jack, some simple Lowrance Sonar Training.

RELATED: Lake Jacomo

I had the pleasure of starting Behemoth, our 22 ft aluminum boat to back her off the trailer.  The motor was sluggish and spitting smoke from her 2 cycle engine as she was shaking off the months of inactivity.  Was a kindred feeling to where I was just a couple of hours earlier trying to get out of bed.  Steering and throttle are both very tight and difficult to maneuver with Behemoth which is unlike our other boat, Big Jack, which so much easier to drive.

12717658_1037358462952913_4908877292693807761_nI picked up my boat crew and we set off across the lake into the bright morning sun.  The trees were still barren with spring still weeks ahead.  Running across the open water, we spotted America’s greatest symbol, a bald eagle, out for a morning work-out.  It’s wingspan soaring across the glittery water perhaps hunting for fish or as it drew closer to shore, a field mouse.

The spray of chilly water would occasionally shower the boat driver as we got up on plane with the boat.  The temperature of the water was 45 degrees.  We were so glad to not have to dive in it.  Faces were being tinted a lovely shade of red from the wind whipping across the bow as we turned north toward the dam.

We cycled all the new team members through an introduction to each of the two boats.  Let them practice the slide turning maneuvers that flat bottomed boats have.  Tight turns were discovered as figure eights were drawn on the surface.  The boats were as graceful as an ice skater’ dance in the rink.

12715637_1037402129615213_5505957900135684861_nWe were able to empty one of the gas containers for Behemoth which surprised one of our new guys as he increased the throttle only to find it sputter and die.  Teasing him a bit, we changed out the fuel and continued our cruise of the lake.

After a few hours, as the sun was heating up the beautiful winter day, we finished our training session by letting the new guys trailer the boats.  Luckily the wind wasn’t too strong but unless you’re a trained pro, it can be difficult to put the boats on trailer.  Was a few attempts to get them on and straight.

Back to HQ we went, filling up the gas on the way.  Parking the boats in the bay is also a tricky task one can learn when on the dive team.  While not my favorite activity, the years I have been pulling a dive trailer have helped me immensely with the awkwardness of backing a trailer.


The day was another successful day of training for the team members of LSUR.  Team training is so important in many different ways.  You learn the strengths and weakness of your dive buddies and work at improving those weaknesses.  Working together as a team and developing the nuances of team work and personalities is paramount.  The comradery of a dedicated group such as LSUR is priceless.