Seriously. We don't want to sell you some THING. You must think we're crazy since Submerged is a store and stores always want to sell stuff. Well, we do like selling stuff, but not when "stuff" is sought out as a solution to a training problem.

Have you ever said to yourself “I want to improve my personal diving skills but I don’t want to get into technical diving or become an instructor, I really just want to be a better at diving.” Or maybe your thoughts are, "I kind of enjoy diving, but I don't feel in control and I'm moving around so much that I scare everything away or I'm using up so much of my gas supply that my dives are short and I'm labeled an "air hog."

Don’t worry, numerous people in the diving community are in the same position you are. Divers like yourself are constantly trying to find the “thing” that is going to get them better personal skills. Divers often look towards gadgets to fix or enhance personal skills (better buoyancy control being at the top of the list of skills they want to improve.)

Spend enough money on dive gear trying to solve a problem and
you'll soon become wary of the next scuba salesperson because the last 5 gizmos didn't work. At some point divers revert to the advice that some instructor along the way provided: "Achieving good buoyancy control takes time. It takes practice. Just keep diving and it'll get better." The problem with this so-called strategy is that divers don't know where to start, what to practice, or how to practice, and they have no method for getting feedback. Or sometimes they think they have to just take another class and they'll "get it." Next thing you know, they're divemasters or instructors themselves and they're still trying to figure things out. (That in itself petrifies me, but it's a topic for another day.)

The solution to developing better diving skills and habits is to get better dive training, not more dive training. It's not your fault that your first breaths off a scuba regulator were done kneeling on the bottom of the pool, and that very little emphasis (if any at all) was put on proper weighting, balance, trim, and propulsion. It's not your fault at all. But you can certainly do something about it! Get an Extreme Scuba Makeover! The Extreme Scuba Makeover program was designed for divers of ALL levels from ANY training agency with ANY amount of experience (we've even taught this to instructors).

We'll strip you down to the basics - and down to your bathing suit - and start where you should have started all along: with a thorough understanding of neutral buoyancy, balance, and proper trim. You won't even be in scuba gear for the first part of the class as we develop your buoyancy skills. You will NEVER again be on your knees in scuba gear. We'll teach you how to use energy efficient propulsion techniques, and how to position yourself effortlessly (even kick backwards). You will learn how to weight yourself properly so that buoyancy control is easy. You will leave the Extreme Scuba Makeover with the right knowledge and the tools needed to really make a difference in your diving experiences.

If you are ready to develop the diving skills you have been desiring all along, then sign up for an Extreme Scuba Makeover. Call 301-881-2831, email info@submergedonline.com or come by the store!
Some common questions:
Q: Do I need any special gear?
A: No. Bring what you currently dive with. Just please no split fins. If you don't own gear, we will outfit you with gear for the class. If you own gear, but want to try some of ours, that's fine too!

Q: Are there any open water dives?
A: No. Just classroom and pool. The class is done in a single day. There is a video program that you will review at home prior to the class and pool training so you have a preview of what we will be doing, and you have a reference for future use.
 
 
Submerged just celebrated our 5th Christmas Party! We had a great turn out and had a great time with everybody. We had some awesome raffle prizes this year including Scubapro regulators and dive computers. All of our club members who came to the party took home a special club-member only present, too. We had a huge spread of food, and the Christmas goodies filled everybody's sweet tooth (those delicious little pecan bites of goodness only come around once a year!) Below are some pictures from the party. Thanks to all who joined the festivities. It was great seeing everybody! Congratulations to our raffle prize winners. Merry Christmas!!
 
 
When it comes down to buying a regulator, whether you're a brand new diver or a seasoned bubble blower, you must decide whether to get a "piston" or a "diaphragm" first stage. Everybody asks, "What's the difference?" We help our divers choose the right regulator by first asking questions about what type of diving they typically do.

Sometimes it makes no difference which kind you choose and simply comes down to brand recognition, style, price, or other non-performance related attributes. Sometimes it does make a difference - cold water performance, ease of breathing, hose routing options, balanced vs. unbalanced. Here we will help you understand why you might want one type over the other for your diving.
What does a 1st stage do anyway?
A regulator first stage has two functions. It has the big job of reducing the gas pressure in the tank down to just 145 psi, and then distributing that gas to the second stages, pressure gauge, and inflator hoses. It's a big job because it has to be able to move enough breathing gas to supply as many as two divers (in case of air sharing) at depth and at any tank pressure.
Record set in 2013 - 135 divers breathing off of ONE Scubapro MK25 (a piston 1st stage)

Piston First Stages
In a piston first stage, gas flows from the tank and passes through a hollow metal piston into a secondary chamber (where the low pressure ports for your 2nd stages and inflator hoses are located). As air pressure in the secondary chamber increases, it pushes against the piston head on the opposite side of the shaft. When pressure in the chamber reaches an intermediate pressure of about 145psi, the piston is forced against the seat, and high pressure air from the tank stops flowing. This process repeats with every breath we take.
Picture
Diaphragm First Stages
Diaphragm first stages have a diaphragm, pin, and heavy spring that operate the valve between the two chambers in the first stage. When pressurized, air flows through the regulator and pushes the diaphragm outward until an intermediate pressure of about 145psi is reached and the seals a high pressure seat against an orifice causing air to stop flowing. When you take another breath, air flows again and the process repeats.

Diaphragm first stages come in "environmentally sealed versions" too, meaning they are completely sealed off from the water. This feature makes them particularly good for cold water diving as they are more resistant to freezing.
Picture
So which one is best?
Well it depends on your needs. Let's look at some of the things that divers should consider.

Cold Water performance - Historically, diaphragm regulators are preferred for diving in cold water due to their resistance to freezing. However, major improvements in cold water performance have been made to piston regulators over the years, and most modern piston regulators have great performance in the temperatures that most divers are diving. If you're going under ice, well, you may want to stick with the environmentally sealed diaphragm first stages... This year, Scubapro came out with the MK25 EVO and the MK2 EVO which are 30% more resistant to freezing than their non-EVO predecessors.

Hose routing - for recreational divers, either style really does the job, since most recreational divers only need  ports for their two second stages, a low pressure inflator hose, and a pressure gauge. Both piston and diaphragm regulators have sufficient low and high pressure ports for this job. Sidemount divers and technical divers lean towards piston first stages because of the additional hose routing options available on piston regulators with a swiveling turret and a 5th low pressure port on the bottom (e.g. the Scubapro MK25 regulator). The swivel turret is great for deco regulators, and the 5th port makes for the perfect set up for backmount doubles.

Balanced vs. unbalanced - In a nut shell, if a regulator is balanced, it means that it makes no difference what the pressure is in your cylinder - the regulator will "breathe" the same (well, until the tank runs out of gas, but that shouldn't be happening anyway...)
If it's unbalanced then as tank pressure drops, intermediate pressure drops, and breathing performance drops with it, especially at depth. Balanced first stages are little bit of a higher price tag, but with that comes performance, too. We'll go into a bit more detail about balanced vs unbalanced regulators in a future blog post.

Price - There's a whole range of prices out there in the world of regulators. When considering a regulator, look at features and how those features meet your needs. Also consider the post-sale support for the equipment you're buying.
Is there a dealer nearby who can provide the periodic servicing that every regulator needs? Will parts be available for years to come? Sometimes a "great buy" isn't so great if you need to send it away to some remote location every time it needs service.

Buying a regulator is a bit of an investment, but it's a piece of equipment that can last you a really long time if you take the time to choose the right regulator from the beginning. At Submerged, we want you to spend your hard earned money enjoying diving and training, not replacing a regulator because you out-grew it or it didn't meet your expectations. Our pledge to everybody who walks through our door is to spend the time guiding them towards the perfect selection based on their interests, goals, and budget. It's not beginner gear or technical gear or professional gear - it's dive gear - and we want to make sure that our divers feel good about their gear choices when they walk out the door.
 
 
The most important part of any piece of dive gear is fit and function – these go hand and hand. Fit is how the item sits on you and what it feel like when it is on you. Function is often thought of as a simple thing – does it do the job that you need it too. This is actually more difficult to answer than most people think, but we will address this later. Once these two requirements are met, we can then evaluate other requirements of the gear but often everything else fall into place.

A buoyancy compensator device (BCD) is possibly the one piece of scuba gear you can buy that will impact your enjoyment (or not) of diving the most. BCDs come in a few different varieties – “jacket” BCDs which inflate all around, “back inflating” recreational BCDs which have an air cell only in the back, and the less-well known backplate/harness/wing BCD. At Submerged, we train all of our divers in a backplate/wing configuration – it’s not because we want to be different, but because of the major benefits it provides for divers of all levels of diving from beginner through advanced technical diving.

When divers come in to the shop looking for a new BCD, sometimes they’re a little unsure of the backplate/wing because it’s less familiar. So let’s help you get a little more familiar with them, and hopefully you, too, will try one out and realize how great they really are!

Fit
BCD jackets or even back-inflating BCDs only come in generic sizes like Small, Medium, Large, X-Large. They are designed to fit a range of body types and sizes – you snug the Velcro cummerbund around your waist, cinch down the straps, and you’re in. But does it really hold you securely, and move with you, or are you literally “swimming” in your BCD?

Alternatively, a backplate and wing system is infinitely adjustable to fit any size diver regardless of sex, weight, or height. The harness is made of one continuous piece of webbing. So no matter how big or small you are, a backplate/wing BCD is CUSTOM SIZED to you. When it’s sized to you, it fits you perfectly. Not kind of closely…. simply perfectly. When you have this custom fit, your gear moves with you. You are “diving” your gear, not letting your gear dive you – you are in control.

Function
Why do we use a buoyancy compensator? What does the buoyancy compensator do for you in the water?  Buoyancy compensator devices have two jobs – offset the negative weight of the gas in your cylinder and keep the cylinder on your back. The job of a buoyancy compensator device is NOT to keep you floating vertically at the surface or to be used to move you up and down in the water column.  

It’s really confusing when divers say to us: “I prefer jacket style BCDs because it’s easier to stay upright when on the surface.” Honestly, how much time are you REALLY spending on the surface? The majority of a dive is spent underwater, so let’s go for a BCD that’s going to help you be streamlined, be in good horizontal trim, and move efficiently through the water! You’re only on the surface when you’re waiting for your buddy to enter the water at the beginning of the dive and then when you’re waiting to climb up the ladder at the end of the dive. That’s really a small amount of your time. Why would you want to spend the majority of your time in a piece of gear that is really good at keeping you in the wrong position in the water - vertical?

If your BCD is pushing you into a vertical position, you will be expending extra effort to remain in trim, and thus using more gas and expending excess energy, leading to a shorter, less comfortable dive. Proper positioning reduces the effort necessary to propel yourself in the water. When you wear a heavy weight belt or put lots of weights in your integrated weight pockets around your waist, your center of gravity is near your hips while the lift is up around your chest, pivoting you head-up.

With a backplate, the weight of the plate is directly above your lungs, a major source of lift, so these forces help counteract each other. The backplate itself serves as a majority of your weight, eliminating the need to shuffle bricks in and out of your BCD pockets. Also, placing your center of gravity directly above your lungs, the body’s internal source of buoyancy, has the same effect, keeping downward force parallel with upward force

Some users of back inflating BCD’s claim that they are being pushed face down on the surface. That’s simply because they overinflate the BCD that never fit them well and the bladder lifts off their back (towards the bottom of the BCD) and pushes their face down. The backplate, harness, and wing doesn’t do this because it fits you correctly. Also, a little trick on the surface to stay upright in a backplate/wing or back inflating BCD on the surface is to just lean back a little and not over-inflate the wing. That’s really all it takes.

Durability:
A backplate/harness/ wing is as durable as it gets.
  • The backplate is made of solid metal – it will never break.
  • The harness is a single, continuous piece of webbing.  It might wear out over several years, but it’s cheap to replace. You replace the nylon webbing – try that with a BCD!
  • The hardware (buckle and d-rings) are stainless steel – again, not going to break.
  • The wing is a separate item that gets bolted to the backplate. Wings usually consist of a heavy duty polyurethane air cell covered by a strong protective Cordura cover to protect them from abrasions and tears. This part is just as prone to damage as the air cell on a jacket style BCD. The difference is that if it’s damaged, all you need to replace is the wing. If you damage the air cell on a jacket BCD, you have to replace the entire BCD. Also, keep in mind that traditionally, divers buying “wings” were headed into tougher environments, so they are made to withstand those harsher conditions.

Weight and Buoyancy of the BCD
This is a really interesting characteristic of buoyancy compensator devices, no matter the type. BCDs, like everything else, weigh something. Let’s say a BCD weighs 10lbs out of the water. A stainless steel backplate/wing system is made up of a 6lb SS backplate (1lbs if Aluminum), a SS single tank adapter that weighs about 2 pounds, the harness with all the hardware, and then the actual wing itself, so probably all said and done, the systems weighs about 10lbs also. The real difference is the buoyancy characteristics of these two types of BCD once we get in the water. A stainless steel backplate and an empty wing are going to sink. An empty jacket style BCD, however, will float. This is because the jacket BCD displaces a lot more water since it is a lot bulkier and has a lot of extra unneeded “features”. All of that extra material – the pockets, the padding, the integrated weight systems – it adds bulk which adds positive buoyancy.

So what? You could just add more weight to your weight belt or put it in the integrated weight pockets, right? Of course you could. But why would you want to? Why not dive a system that is naturally more negatively buoyant (or neutral)? Now it can accomplish three jobs instead of just two - it can provide some of the ballast that you need to sink! Instead of wearing a 10lb weight belt, you could get by with just 4 lbs, for example. That’s AWESOME!! You see, with a backplate you have weight integrated into your system automatically, so no need for anymore heavy weight belts.

Price
The initial cost of a backplate/wing BCD is very comparable to other styles of BCD. Depending on exactly what you purchase you might be spending a little bit more initially, but the overall durability and longevity of the system will far outlast any other style of BCD you could possibly have. In the long run you will spend far less on BCDs if you start out with a backplate/wing BCD.

Scalability (modular) and Consistency
A backplate/wing BCD can grow with you from your Open Water class through any level of diving that you could ever possibly want to do. If you start with a jacket BCD, you will need to learn a new type of gear if you get into technical, or cave, or rebreather. With a backplate and wing your training and your gear stays consistent throughout your diving career. Even if you stick with recreational diving forever, it’s still the best type of BCD to use. If it’s good enough for going deep into a cave, it’s certainly good enough for enjoying a 30ft reef!

Comfort:
This is possibly the biggest hurdle to overcome when talking about backplate/wing BCDs. They don’t LOOK comfortable, especially if you’re used to the super deluxe padding on those jacket BCDs. All of that padding is really good at looking super comfortable and adding a ton of bulk to the BCD. All of that extra bulk adds buoyancy, as discussed above, so you’re trading function for unnecessary padding that actually makes you LESS comfortable.

If you think about it for a second, your gear is supposed to be weightless in the water, so why do you need all that padding on your back anyway? For the 2% of the time that you’re not in the water? You also have some padding with your wetsuit, so it’s really not a big deal.


So hopefully you give a backplate/harness/wing style BCD a try so you can see for yourself how it can really make a huge positive change in your diving comfort and enjoyment.
 
 
Last month we traveled to Mexico with some students and fellow UTD instructors for some cave training and cave diving in Mexico. We've been traveling down to Tulum for several years now, and I don't believe we will ever get enough of the cave diving there. Tulum is about an hour and a half south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, and there are caves EVERYWHERE! There is something exhilarating about entering these systems that were formed thousands of years ago, and that few people can ever see. It's so serene and so beautiful. There is also something appealing about the technical aspects and the precision needed for cave diving - so that we can have fun and be safe while we're exploring these underwater systems.

In the Yucatan Peninsula, we enter the caves through "cenotes" (pronounced si-NO-tay). A cenote (a sinkhole) is formed when the limestone collapses, exposing the underground water. Ancient Mayans often used cenotes as sacrificial sites to make offerings to the Mayan gods. Even today artifacts are still being discovered. The cool thing about these cenotes are that they are just the beginning. There are hundreds of miles of underwater cave in the Yucatan!

Here's a video that was put together following the February cave diving trip by fellow UTD instructor, Brian Wiederspan. Have a look and check out the incredible things that you can see in these awesome underwater cave systems!

Yucatan Underground 2015 (Part 1) from FKD (Frog Kick Diving) on Vimeo.

Highlights from our cave dives in U'Ku' Cuzam and Tortuga Cenotes in Tulum Mexico in February and March 2015.

Footage was taken using a Gopro Hero 4 with 2 UTD 50W Vision video lights and a UTD 35W Video head.


So how were these caves formed?
Millions of years ago the Yucatan was a much different place. The sea level was higher, so the jungles that we see today were actually a reef under several feet of water. This explains why we see coral fossils while we're walking to the cenotes in the middle of the jungle, far from the ocean. We have even come across coral fossils several thousand feet into some cave dives.

During the last ice age, the sea level dropped significantly and the reef was exposed. The coral died, and the jungle that we see today grew over the limestone platform that the coral reef had formed. So how did the CAVES get there? Well, over millions of years, this porous coral limestone substrate was slowly dissolved by slightly acidic rainfall. As the rainfall seeped through and dissolved the limestone, stalactites and stalagmites formed. Some of them joined together to form columns, some are thin like a pencil and some are massive, thick formations.

Roughly 10,000 years ago, after the last Ice Age, the water level rose again and these limestone caves filled with water. Now there are hundreds of miles of flooded underground caves in the Yucatan. Some of it is freshwater, some of it is seawater. Where the seawater that seeps in from the ocean meets the freshwater from inland in the jungle, the water forms a halocline and creates some pretty neat visual effects.
Every system is different in terms of the formations, and the challenges that they present to us to dive and navigate them. It's certainly not for everyone, but it's an incredible experience if you're up to the challenge!! Are you??
 
 
Picture
1.       All sharks are man-eaters with massive teeth

        Not all sharks are large, bulky, and torpedo-shaped like the ones we see in movies. There are nearly 400 different species of shark and they are significantly diverse in terms of size, habitat, behavior, diet, and morphology. Not all sharks have a mouth full of large pointed teeth for tearing flesh. The basking shark has tiny teeth that it doesn’t even use for feeding, and the horn shark also has molar-like teeth that it uses to crush hard-shelled prey. Sharks have evolved a variety of teeth shapes in order to best suite their targeted prey. Sharks range from about 6 inches long, like the cigar shark species; up to about 45 feet long like the whale shark. More than 50% of sharks are 3 feet long or less; more than 80% are under 5 feet. Of the 400 different shark species, only 3 have been involved in a significant number of human fatalities.


2.       Shark attacks are common

        Your chances of being attacked by a shark are very slim, even if you are involved in water activities (like surfing and diving). To put it into perspective, people are 250 times more likely to be killed by lightning than by a shark. That is not to say unprovoked bites don’t happen, there are about 70-80 reported each year, but these are usually out of curiosity and are rarely fatal. Within the period of 1999-2009 an average of fewer than 5 people died from shark attacks in the world. When you consider the millions of people involved in water activities during that period, you will realize that shark attacks are not as common as they are made out to be. You are 10 times more likely to be bitten BY A HUMAN in New York City than you are bitten by a shark worldwide! Even falling coconuts kill 150 people across the world each year. You are more likely to be killed by a dog or a falling vending machine than you are a shark. Yet, I never see people shudder in fear as they approach a machine for their bag of chips.

3.       Sharks Can Detect a Single Drop of Blood in the Ocean!

        Sharks are often portrayed as having an almost supernatural sense of smell. However, reports that sharks can smell a single drop of blood in a vast ocean are greatly exaggerated. While some sharks can detect blood at one part per million, that hardly qualifies as the entire ocean. Sharks do, however, have an acute sense of smell and a sensitive olfactory system - much more so than humans. Sharks' nostrils are located on the underside of the snout, and unlike human nostrils, are used solely for smelling and not for breathing. They are lined with specialized cells that comprise the olfactory epithelium. Water flows into the nostrils and dissolved chemicals come into contact with tissue, exciting receptors in the cells. These signals are then transmitted to the brain and are interpreted as smells.

        Because of the extreme sensitivity of these cells, as well as the fact that the olfactory bulb of the brain is enlarged, sharks can detect miniscule amounts of certain chemicals. This varies, of course, among different species of sharks and the chemical in question. The lemon shark can detect tuna oil at one part per 25 million - that's equivalent to about 10 drops in an average-sized home swimming pool. Other types of sharks can detect their prey at one part per 10 billion; that's one drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool! Some sharks can detect these low concentrations of chemicals at prodigious distances - up to several hundred meters (the length of several football fields)—depending on a number of factors, particularly the speed and direction of the water current.

        Predation is not the only behavior in which olfaction plays a crucial role. Evidence exists that this keen sense of smell is also instrumental in sexual behavior. Males are able to detect pheromones produced by females, even in low concentrations, helping them locate potential mates.

4.       Sharks can’t see well and often mistake surfers & divers in wetsuits for prey

        A shark’s most well-known sense is definitely their smell but they also have an excellent visual system as well. Behind a shark’s retina is a reflective layer called the tapetum that magnifies light signals for night-active sharks that live in the deep. Scientists believe that sharks can see as well below the surface, as humans do above it. Great whites are one species of shark that are very sharp sighted. They can even see in color. It is unlikely that a shark would mistake a human for prey. Sharks are curious and investigative animals. What people don’t realize is that when a shark is unsure about what something is, it takes a bite in order to investigate. Whether that unfamiliar object is a person or a crab pot, they are looking for tactile evidence about what it is.

        Think about it, if you observe a great white attacking a seal as compared to when they bite a human or an unfamiliar object, it further proves the point. When attacking what it thinks is prey, studies have shown that a great white would likely rocket to the surface from depths and pulverize their prey with incredible force. On the other hand, these sharks usually approach humans and other objects with leisurely or undramatic behavior. It takes a lot of energy expenditure to hunt in this fashion so a shark would not waste this energy unless it was attacking prey. This shows it is unlikely that a shark would mistake humans or other objects as prey. What’s more likely is that the shark’s action was not predation but merely curiosity.  

5.       Sharks aren’t important. Who cares if they are all killed?

In The Ecosystem

        As apex predators, sharks play an important role in the ecosystem by maintaining the species below them in the food chain and serving as an indicator for ocean health. They help remove the weak and the sick as well as keeping the balance with competitors helping to ensure species diversity. As predators, they shift their prey’s spatial habitat, which alters the feeding strategy and diets of other species. Through the spatial controls and abundance, sharks indirectly maintain the seagrass and corals reef habitats. The loss of sharks has led to the decline in coral reefs, seagrass beds and the loss of commercial fisheries. By taking sharks out of the coral reef ecosystem, the larger predatory fish, such as groupers, increase in abundance and feed on the herbivores. With less herbivores, macroalgae expands and coral can no longer compete, shifting the ecosystem to one of algae dominance, affecting the survival of the reef system.

In The Economy

        Sharks’ control over species below them in the food chain indirectly affects the economy. A study in North Carolina showed that the loss of the great sharks increased the ray populations below them. As a result, the hungry rays ate all the bay scallops, forcing the fishery to close. Without scallops to eat, the rays have moved on to other bivalves. The decline of the quahog, a key ingredient in clam chowder, is forcing many restaurants to remove this American classic from their menus. The disappearance of scallops and clams demonstrates that the elimination of sharks can cause harm to the economy in addition to ecosystems. Sharks are also influencing the economy through ecotourism. In the Bahamas, a single live reef shark is worth $250,000 as a result of dive tourism versus a one time value of $50 when caught by a fisherman. One whale shark in Belize can bring in $2 million over its lifetime.

Picture
6.       We should fear sharks

        In the past, sharks have killed worldwide: in 2005:4 people; 2006: 4 people; 2007: 1 person; 2008: 4 people. With these statistics, they are labeled as the most feared and biggest predators of our Oceans. On the flip side, humans kill an estimated 73 million sharks a year, mainly through fishing. That translates to more than 8,333 killed every hour! As many as 100,000 sharks die as a result of bycatch every year. Shark finning, however, is the cruelest practice that kills millions of sharks a year. So are we really the victims here? Or is it safe to say sharks aren’t the fiercest predators of the seas, but it's us humans? I'll let you decide.  

- Chris L.                                                                                                                                              


 
 
People ask us why we practice valve drills and valve failures so much. Here is a failure that occurred during a training dive to a student. This is not a simulated failure - this is a real hose failure that occurred on a training dive. By the time the diver closed the valve (16 seconds) he lost about 900psi. Watch the short video to see why we practice skills...
 
 
Here is a short video from Andrew explaining what makes UTD unique. Enjoy the video and safe diving!
 
 
Grand Cayman is known for its amazing wall and reef diving. People from all over the world visit the small island to escape their hectic schedules and relax on this easily accessible Caribbean Island. Cayman is known for its incredible wall dives. It's quite incredible to venture over the edge and hover above the abyss. Most divers, though, never venture past 100’ (30m), but this was not the case for some Trimix students on our most recent trip to Grand Cayman. Since Grand Cayman has these incredible, sheer walls that drop down to 6000' or more, and since there is support for technical diving on the island (mixed gases, doubles, and deco bottles, etc.) what better place could there be for a Trimix class?!
It all began with an intensive training schedule here at Submerged in Rockville, Maryland. The students spent many hours practicing the basic skills required for the upcoming dives to 250’ (75m) like bottle passing, bottle rotation, and stage switching to name a few. Once we were all on the island, the critical skills (failures training) dives began. These dives were conducted on various mini walls around the island. One great aspect of Grand Cayman is the easy access shore diving allow you to spend lots of time at many different sites around the island. So they weren't rushed to keep up with a boat schedule.
A particularly awesome shore diving site happened to be right out front of the condos at which we were staying - Coconut Bay Condos in West Bay, just north of Seven Mile Beach. The marine life on the main wall was spectacular and was home to a number of sea turtles and huge green moray eels. During every dive we had sea turtles swimming all around us, almost guiding us around the reef. Yes, all of this on training dives so imagine what the experience dives were like…
To round out the week, multiple experience dives were conducted on the deep wall observing the sponge belt at an average depth of roughly 220’ (65m) to 250’ (75m). Your first thought might be, “Sponges, why do I want to see those?” This region of the wall was some of the most interesting reef/wall diving we have ever done. The marine life was extremely healthy and the sponges were HUGE! You might be thinking that the sponges were boring shapes or colors but we were astonished with the diverse colors and growth patterns these sponges had. One very interesting sponge almost looked like a Christmas tree. This area of the wall was truly unique and worth the trip. One awesome factor that was truly appreciated was that all of the decompression was conducted around the reef which gave us something to look at besides just the blue abyss and your team.

All of the hard work paid off as we all had a great trip and some amazing dives.
Bill during deco at "Sand Chute," near the wreck of the Kittiwake.
Congratulations to Bill for completing his Trimix 2 course.
To view other photos from this trip or past trips, visit the Photo Gallery.
 
 
We're really excited about heading to Grand Cayman early next year. This trip is perfect for new and experienced divers, as the beautiful blue waters on the west side offer everything from easy reef diving to deep technical dives.

We also are sure to set up trips to destinations where our non-diving family members and friends can have a good time while we're out diving in the morning. Read more details on our travel page about what the trip includes and then give us a call to save your spot! We look forward to diving with you in Grand Cayman!

Visit our travel page to see the Grand Cayman trip details