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  • Review: Indigo Industries TAC Fin | ATA/BAR Divers

    Do These Fins Even Work? Indigo Industries proves—once again—that a small fin can do big things underwater. Meet the shorter and lighter TAC Non-Military fin. Bottom Line How short and light can a scuba fin go and still maintain a high level of performance? INDIGO INDUSTRIES pushes the envelope and delivers with the fins. TAC Non-Military Bigger is not always better, and a scuba gear company you may not yet know is out to prove that very point by pushing the boundaries of conventional scuba diving equipment with their latest offering: The . We have written about and their innovative fin, the before. If you are not familiar with our backstory on the Defiant XT, please . TAC Non-Military fin INDIGO INDUSTRIES Defiant XT, check it out here Figure 1. Twin Jets (left), Defiant XT (center), and TAC Non-Military (right). Indigo Industries TAC Non-Military Maximum Length: 18.5 inches Maximum Fin Width: 11 inches Centerline Length: 17 inches Weight: 2 lb 2.2 oz each fin with Indigo spring strap Scubapro Twin Jets Maximum Length: 24.75 inches Maximum Fin Width: 10 inches Centerline Length: 24.75 inches Weight: 2 lb 12.5 oz each fin with third-party spring strap Indigo Industries Defiant XT Maximum Length: 20.5 inches Maximum Fin Width: 10 inches Centerline Length: 19 inches Weight: 2 lb 7.5 oz each fin with Indigo spring strap We've been diving the Defiant XT since its introduction to the dive market, and for reasons described elsewhere, we love them. Then came along the TAC... We had to try a pair out. ​ When the TACs arrived, our first impression was "Do these fins even work?" The TAC fins are two inches shorter, one inch wider, and five ounces lighter (per fin) than its older sibling, the Defiant XT. Compared to the venerable Scubapro Twin Jets, the TAC is over six inches shorter and 10.3 oz lighter (per fin). ​ INDIGO INDUSTRIES fins get some interesting looks on the dive boat and underwater, and for good reason: We can't think of another dive fin on the market that casts a similar shadow. Indeed, INDIGO's fins have broken the mold when it comes to what a dive fin can look like while still performing like its larger counterparts. ​ The TAC and Defiant XT perform similarly. Propulsion and maneuverability are comparable. The TAC fin is negatively buoyant but its lighter characteristics were immediately noticeable; a quick modification in body position addressed this difference easily. ​ We found the bottoms of the new TACs to be quite slippery on the boat deck. For this reason, we suggest roughing the bottom up across the boat deck, concrete, asphalt, or some other surface in order to remove the slick sheen. ​ INDIGO's new spring straps worked well. The strap holds the fin firmly in place. ​ Used with a size 14 , we found the TAC fin pocket to be tight, which is helpful when avoiding unnecessary midfoot flexion. But we could not get the foot pocket to fit a new pair of size 14 . Henderson 5 mm Molded Sole Gripper Boot ​Henderson 7 mm Quick Dry Aqualock Boots ​ We will continue diving with the TAC Non-Military fin and look forward to trying out one of INDIGO's latest offerings: The . Bionic AF Omin-Directional Carbon Fiber Standard fin Figure 2. Defiant XT (left) and TAC Non-Military. Figure 3. TAC Non-Military with Indigo spring strap.

  • PADI & HSA Scuba Training | ATA/BAR Divers

    PADI & HSA Scuba Training Members of ATA/BAR Divers are certified diving professionals (instructors/divemasters) with (Professional Association of Scuba Diving Instructors) and (Handicapped Scuba Association). We offer instruction in the area of Ventura County, California, in association with our partner dive shop operators. Our PADI Professionals offer instruction in English, French, Hungarian, Korean, and Vietnamese. PADI HSA ​ Our typical course offerings include the following: ​ PADI Open Water Diver PADI Advanced Open Water Diver HSA multi-level diver certification based upon abilities in the water PADI Enriched Air Diver PADI Night Diver PADI Deep Diver PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy PADI Underwater Navigator PADI ReActivate® Scuba Refresher Course PADI Search & Recorvery Diver PADI Rescue Diver Emergency First Response® (First Aid/CPR) Instruction We pride ourselves in thorough instruction at all levels. Scuba training should never be a speed learning course, but that is what it has become at many dive locations around the world. We are committed to making you a successful and safe diver, and we take our time to make sure you get the most from our courses. We expect you make a similar time commitment of your time, preparation and attention. ​ For example, in a typical Open Water Diver course, plan on spending up to four hours in the classroom, up to 10 hours in the pool, and two full days (up to six open water dives) diving the beautiful Channel Islands. If this level of commitment is not compatible with your schedule, we suggest you seek training elsewhere. ​ about their learning experiences with instructors affiliated with ATA/BAR Divers. To find out about upcoming courses, please . Read what our former students have to say contact us

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  • Review: DGX Rio Gauge Reader Mask | ATA/BAR Divers

    Inexpensive & Effective The vision-correcting DGX Rio Gauge Reader Mask Bottom Line If you are grappling with the close-up vision limitations of being a mature diver, there is an inexpensive and effective solution for your older eyes underwater. Check out the DGX (Dive Gear Express) Rio Gauge Reader Mask. The time had finally come. Reading instructor slates—let alone the beloved (in spite of its big and bright display)—had become too difficult for these 50-something year old eyes. Similarly-aged dive buddies had nothing good to say about stick-on reader lenses, and custom-built prescription scuba mask lenses were unreasonably expensive, so the decision was to just deal with it… until it became impossible to do so. Shearwater Perdix AI ​ Stumbling upon vision correcting masks at ( ) was a fluke. The real shopping mission was to purchase long, double-braided flex hoses. Being a past DGX customer, I felt comfortable with the quality of their gear portfolio and am regularly pleased with pricing, so I examined their mask offerings closely. Dive Gear Express https://www.divegearexpress.com/ ​ It didn’t take long to review and settle in on the . The term “gauge reader” escaped me until I wore the mask underwater. Just like DGX states, the corrective lenses allow you to “read your SPG but offers clear sight at distances.” In other words, you won't be reading a novel underwater with this lens design, but a glance at a gauge or computer is what they are designed for. Indeed, the corrective portions of the mask lenses have a distinctively low profile, which is contrary to most stick-on lenses that tend to distort distance vision and is a chief complaint among new users. their line of corrective vision masks DGX Rio Gauge Reader Mask ​ How does the Rio work? Quite well actually. The lenses are all-but-unnoticeable during regular viewing of distant objects. When it’s time to focus on a computer screen or gauge, a downwards glance brings the formerly fuzzy digits of my Perdix and back-up SPG into crisp focus. Instructional slate reading? I found using a single eye (focusing downward and outward) works best, but that might change with additional use and experience. The mask fit is comfortable for my larger face. And with a price of $49.95 (as of this writing), the mask is a reasonable deal, corrective lenses or not. ​ If you are not familiar with Dive Gear Express, you should be. DGX offers good products at exceptional price points.* They also have some great “Tek Tips” throughout their site, including on the Rio Gauge Reader Mask product page , where the company discusses how to order the right prescription lenses at length. (Ever wonder if a black dive mask is best? They have a Tek Tip on that too!) Finally, if you are getting out your scrounging up a cigarette lighter, toothpaste or Soft Scrub in anticipation of “prepping” your new DGX mask, and review the . Just like the company says, you won’t have any problems with mask fogging with a simple rinse of baby shampoo or other defogging agent before your dive, so . think again DGX warning here no "mask prepping" required ​ * ATA/BAR DIVERS are not compensated spokespersons for DGX. We are just happy customers.

  • ATA/BAR Divers | PADI Open Water Diver Course

    PADI Open Water Diver Course — — As a courtesy to local diving enthusiasts and potential scuba students, we offer this list of scuba class courses and schedules. These links reflect the latest information available from the noted PADI training facility on each class page. does not make or accept training class reservations. Please call or visit the respective PADI training facility to sign-up for classes. Prices subject to change ATA/BAR Divers and classes subject to cancellation without notice.

  • Saving Soles | ATA/BAR Divers

    Saving Soles: The Harsh Reality of Bonaire Beach Entries Before traveling to Bonaire (or other destinations with rugged shorelines), consider some solid footwear in order to make a safe and pain-free shore entry. Bottom Line : There is a lot of buzz about diving … and for good reason. It is truly the island for DIY (do-it-yourself) Diving, where most dive operators include a rusty (but trustworthy) pick-up truck with your accommodations, along with an unlimited supply of air or nitrox tanks. Dive when you want, where you want, and how much you want at any of the 86 recognized dive sites in the . Bonaire Bonaire Marine Park What you may not have read about is the composition of nearly every beach entry point. Tenderfoots beware! Your standard-issue dive boots will not withstand the harsh reality of Bonaire’s cobbled beaches, which are littered with billions of coral chunks that will definitely imperil your soles. The stacks of heavy-duty dive rental booties at one scuba shop (pictured above) were a late clue that the locals do not mess around with their coral-strewn beaches. After four days of unrelenting sole torture, we broke down and purchased a pair of heavy-duty boots, which proved very effective at neutralizing any coral-induced pain. But we can’t say we are completely in love with this boot because of its zipper design. TUSA DB-4000 The Tusa boots come unzipped far too easily while in the water. Only now do we realize there is not a Velcro zipper “keeper” on the Tusa DB-4000 that can be seen on other manufacturer’s boots (see images, below). There are many purchasing options when it comes to hard sole dive boots. Simply Google “heavy duty dive boots” or “hard sole dive boots” and you will see models from top manufacturers like , , , , and . has a huge selection of hard sole boots to choose from. Scuba Pro Aqua Lung Mares Seac XS Scuba Ocean Enterprises While the ultimate brand of heavy-duty boot is an option, purchasing a pair for your trip to Bonaire is not. Save your soles; your feet will love you for it.

  • Review: Olympus TG-4 | ATA/BAR Divers

    Olympus TG-4: Simply Add Water for Stunning Aquatic Imagery Every once in a while we run across a product that we want to tell everyone about. So is the case with the Olympus TG-4 camera and the Olympus PT-056 underwater housing. Bottom Line : We love our but they do have a purpose. Think about it: When was the last time you saw a GoPro TV ad featuring still images? Exactly... It was this lack of still photo chutzpah that made us venture out to find a reasonably priced, smallish underwater camera to take good ol' photos with. GoPro cameras ​ If you've done any recent research on this topic, no doubt you have run across countless reviews of the (MSRP $380). One review in particular caught our attention: gave a glowing review that is almost too good to believe: "For the price, the TG-4 is unbeatable..." Could it be true? The answer is a resounding The TG-4 is an amazing camera. Olympus TG-4 Backscatter's Jim Decker YES! ​ With about 20-seconds of "preparation and training," i.e. "How do you turn this thing on?," these images (Figures 1-3) were taken during a recent dive trip. Visibility was particularly poor with turbulent sea conditions that put lots of floating junk between the camera lens and intended subjects. Channel Islands ​ Figures 1-3 were literally point-and-click photos, so the results were not expected to be much. We were stunned by the clarity and detail in the photos. Native resolution for the TG-4 is 4608 x 3456 and files average about 3 MB each. ​ The camera, housing ( , MSRP $300) and external light source ( , MSRP $600, may be out of production) were configured for these photos as depicted in Figure 4. As full list of hardware (tray, handle, clamps and mounts) were purchased from the helpful folks at and will be detailed here later. Olympus PT-056 Sola 3000 Backscatter ​ The TG-4 also takes video in *.MOV format using an color auto-correction (replacing reds at depth) with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080. Does it compare to GoPro video quality? We have to say again. YES! Underwater video examples include: Socorro Island, Mexico Anacapa & Santa Cruz Islands, California ​ We agree with Jim Decker: The TG-4 is an amazing and simple camera for underwater photo enthusiasts who aren't enthusiastic about spending $10,000 for a camera rig. ​ Figure 1: 1/200s, f/3.2, ISO 100, Focal Length: 5.1mm Figure 2: 1/400s, f/2.8, ISO 100, Focal Length: 4.5mm Figure 3: 1/125s, f/3.2, ISO 125, Focal Length: 5.1mm ​ Additional Equipment Shown in Figure 4 An external light source can be mounted to the PT-056 underwater camera housing by using a , but we found the camera, housing and Sola light a bit unwieldy to handle using the camera housing itself... so we added a real handle and tray to our rudimentary rig. We will likely add a , another handle, and a second light to balance the lighting out. A cold shoe mount tray extension ll items were acquired through : Backscatter.com ​ Sola Ball Mount Kit Ultralight Mount Clip Ultralight Tray Tray Handle T-Bolts and Washers for Tray ​ This product review is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS as a product consumer and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind. Figure 1. Cropped, unretouched photo of a Garabaldi damselfish taken with the TG-4. Figure 2. Cropped, unretouched photo of a green anemone taken with the TG-4. Figure 3. Cropped, unretouched photo of a kelp bass taken with the TG-4. Figure 4. Olympus TG-4 + PT-056 housing + Sola 3000 video light with Backscatter tray, handle, clamp and mounts.

  • Going Pro | ATA/BAR Divers

    Going Pro: The Road to PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI) Have you considered becoming a PADI scuba professional? Becoming a PADI Pro is not a difficult process so long as you prepare yourself properly. If you think you can “wing it,” or take shortcuts to proper preparation, you might be sorely disappointed. In 2015, a few of us at took the challenge and became PADI . We are not going to discuss what the IDC or IE is or what it was like; instead we offer a list of resources we found particularly useful in our successful completion of the PADI scuba instructor curriculum. ATA/BAR DIVERS Open Water Scuba Instructors Study Groups We believe that a key to your future success with the IDC and IE is finding like-minded divers with common goals. Forming an IDC study group was a crucial component to our eventual success. We studied individually for months and spent several weekends together in our study group reviewing material and discussing formulas. Steve Prior We do not know Mr. Prior, but we feel like we do—he’s been “in our lives” for well over a year. Steve is a Platinum Course Director with PADI, and his are literally a buffet for your scuba knowledge-starved brain. He makes confusing subject matter like dive physics and physiology incredibly simple. We highly suggest you subscribe to his YouTube channel—you might want to consider attending his IDC too. If Egypt isn’t around the corner for you, Mr. Prior also offers if you need additional help before you tackle your IDC. YouTube postings IDC preparatory distance learning Utila Dive Centre Another treasure-trove of online learning resides on the Utila Dive Centre’s . Andy Phillips, the late course director at Utila Dive Centre, has a on the PADI Divemaster and Instructor “24 skills circuit,” among other excellent training videos. As part of the IDC and IE, you must be able to demonstrate all 24 required skills, and this is a great way to hone these necessary instructional techniques. YouTube channel multi-part series Scuba Nashville Having a problem with your dive tables? Check out Scuba Nashville’s and you will be up-to-speed on complex RDP use in no time at all. A great resource. YouTube video series IDC-Guide.com This site is supported by a number of IDCs, some of which have already been mentioned here. Some very good study materials and sample IDC tests. Instructor Development Course As assistant instructors, we needed to complete OWSI training (OWSI is a subcomponent of IDC, but referred to as “IDC” here—click for a full explanation if you need clarification) to be eligible to sit for the PADI (IE). Our IDC instructor was PADI Course Director Perry Boyer. (Visit Perry’s Facebook page, RUADiver, .) here Instructor Examination here Perry brought all of the PADI concepts into focus. He oozes enthusiasm for diving and the greater scuba industry. The OWSI class was conducted over five consecutive days with classroom, confined water, and open water sessions lasting over 13 hours (not including homework) on most days. Although the class was grueling at times, our journey to the IE at PADI world headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita would not have been as successful without his expert tutelage. We could not offer a more positive endorsement for Captain Perry Boyer.

  • Review: Dryrobe | ATA/BAR Divers

    Dryrobe: A No Privacy Solution to Cold & Wet Dive Gear Every once in a while we run across a product that we want to tell everyone about. So is the case with the Short Sleeve Towel Dryrobe®: A solution to changing out of cold, wet gear when few privacy options are available. Taller divers be aware of short hemline. Bottom Line : You’re done with your last dive of the day. You are soaked and cold and just want to get out of your sopping wet dive gear but privacy options are limited. Either your shore dive entry point has no places to retreat to or your dive boat has a line of equally saturated and frigid divers waiting at the single door to the head. There is an option: The ®. Short Sleeve Towel Dryrobe Dryrobe® is more than a traditional dive parka and much more than a beach towel. It is a simple product that gives you complete privacy while you slip out of your soaked gear and into a dry change of clothes while doubling as an absorbent towel to dry off with and a means to warm yourself much like a zippered jacket would. Those of us at were early adopters of the Dryrobe®, the product of a UK-based company of the same name. With its unfitted, roomy sleeves, the Dryrobe® is well suited for women who must deal with apparel on the top-half of their bodies, and such changes can be done in privacy among divers and others on the boat deck, beach, parking lot, or roadway shoulder. The Dryrobe® proclaims itself as The Outdoor Change Robe™. ATA/BAR DIVERS When we purchased our Dryrobes in 2015, the international shipment was received from the UK. Their - and websites appear to have expanded their product line since that time. US UK-based The robes are made from thick, supple, and absorbent terry material that holds up very well with machine washing and drying. The Short Sleeve Towel Dryrobe® always garner comments on dive boats. And as far as our conventional dive jackets and parkas? They are getting plenty of rest on their respective hangers in our dive gear closet. We do have a couple of observations for potential buyers: (1) If you are taller than the average diver, you may be disappointed with the Dryrobe’s length, which is 3'7" long from shoulder to hem, according to the . On an exemplar 6'2” [188 cm] male diver, the hemline rests several inches short of the kneecaps, and that is with no bending or other contortions normally associated with a clothes change (see Figure 2). With taller users, this hem could easily result in an inadvertent "bum spotting," or worse! Dryrobe® website ​ (2) Make sure to initially wash the Dryrobe® separately in cold water to avoid damaging other clothes in the same wash. In short (no pun intended), we are big fans of the Dryrobe® and we think you will be too. Dryrobe® and The Outdoor Change Robe™ are the respective registered trademark and trademark of Dryrobe. ​ This product review is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS as a product consumer and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind. ​ Figure 1. Short Sleeve Towel Dryrobes. Figure 2. Hem length on 6'2" (188 cm) male.