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  • 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 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.

  • Scuba Tips & Tricks | ATA/BAR Divers

    Scuba Tips & Tricks We love to dive, and our goal is to share information about dive-related items of interest. The opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the founding members of and do not reflect the opinion of dive operators we may be affiliated with. Our orientation is a positive one that promotes the good things in diving; we do not dwell on the bad. Experiences can be different depending on the divers involved. We offer you our opinions on our experiences; we do not offer a forum to voice differing opinions on our postings. We welcome you to post differing opinions at other sites. ATA/BAR Divers Toxic Sunscreens Harm Coral Reefs Did you miss the news? The sunscreen you are using might be killing sea life like coral reefs. Read the ingredients label! "Reef Safe" sunscreen is no guarantee. Visibility in or Under the Water Being visible in or under the water is rarely a bad thing. Here is an idea to help make you a standout diver whether on or beneath the water's surface. Breathe Like a Diver Breathing like a diver unnatural and can be challenging for new divers. Follow these tips for out-of--water for extra practice to hone this skill. Buddy Checks: BWRAF When it comes to buddies, this pre-dive safety check should never be considered optional. Snorkel Clips (Keepers) Just a little piece of plastic? If you're a student diver, spend some time making this purchasing decision. Why Keep a Dive Log? Think of your dive log as an important diary of your experiences underwater, and there are reasons to keep yours current. A Solution for Swimmer's Ear When you are diving at a remote destination and medical care is nowhere to be found, check out this ear remedy that worked wonders for us. Computerless Diving If you don’t use a dive computer, you must calculate your dives the good old fashioned way to avoid the dangers of DCS... But why would you do that?? A Case of Bad Gas? Some air tank contaminants are impossible to detect without the help of technology. Make sure the air you breathe is as fresh as a morning breeze. Saving Soles on Bonaire Some destinations may surprise you went it comes to beach entries, and Bonaire was one such surprise for us. Know Your Hose: Regulator Hoses Sometimes, the best deal is not. Bubbles, leaks and problems with online resellers and their warranties. Magnifying Glass Brings Focus to Dive Eyes of any age diver can benefit from a simple magnifying glass. Add a one to your dive kit and bring your underwater adventures into focus. Travel with Dive Gear... Or Not? There are three types of dive travelers: The PACKERS, The RENTERS, and The LIGHTWEIGHTS. What kind of a dive traveler are you?

  • Regulator Hoses | ATA/BAR Divers

    When the Best Deal is Not: Know Your Hose Be wary of online scuba resellers as what looks like the best deal available probably is not. What you think you are purchasing may not be what you get. Determine online resellers warranties before purchasing. Reputable resellers should cover products for one year or more. Bottom Line : Generic Kevlar Nylon Braided HP Hose vs. MIFLEX Carbon HD Braided HP Hose Let’s be honest—the sport of scuba diving is not exactly cheap. If you’re like us at ATA/BAR DIVERS, you’re always on the hunt for great deals when it comes to equipment, training, and travel. Unfortunately, the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is frequently far too accurate. In January 2015 it was time to purchase a new high-pressure hose for one of our regulator set-ups. First stop—as it is with pretty much any purchase for anything these days—was . We found a “33-Inch Kevlar Nylon Braided HP High Pressure Hose for 1st Stage Gauge.” At the time it retailed for $35.98 and was the best deal we could find. Now the bad news: In August 2015 a leak formed near the SPG connection. We contacted the Amazon resellerfor details on the warranty for this product. Their response: “We are sorry to inform you that the item is no longer covered under our 30-day return policy. Best regards, **** Team” Best regards, indeed. With that answer, it was off to the local dive shop to purchase the XS Scuba MIFLEX MHP36-CN for $52.00. (This same product is available from for $45.95.) We were familiar with the MIFLEX brand name. It was only upon returning home with the MIFLEX product that we discovered the hose purchased at through an reseller was a no-name brand. After the purchase, we wondered what the MIFLEX warranty was. There was no information on (or in) their nifty packaging. Off to the Web we went. As MIFLEX hoses are made in Italy, it should be no surprise that their website ( ) is in Italian. Strike one. How about the site? They seem to be the U.S. distributor for MIFLEX…) Negatory; and strike two. With one pitch to go, we reached out to online retailer for warranty information. Within a day, their response was: “It comes with a one year warranty.” …Just as it should be. There is no reason why equipment of this type comes with anything less than a full-year warranty against defects. With only 43 dives on the hose purchased from this undisclosed reseller, it is pretty clear the workmanship on their no-name product is far less than what can be reasonably expected. Lesson learned. Sometimes the best deal is not. We highly recommend you fully understand who the manufacturer is for your scuba equipment, and don’t assume that every Kevlar- or carbon-braided hose comes from a reputable source. And when dealing with online retailers, ask what their warranty is on equipment up front. We didn’t, and that was a mistake we won’t make again.

  • Review: Indigo Industries Defiant XT | ATA/BAR Divers

    A Fine Fin The DEFIANT XT from INDIGO INDUSTRIES Bottom Line The Defiant XT from INDIGO INDUSTRIES has replaced my venerable pair of SCUBAPRO Twin Jets. These are the only set of blade fins that do not cause pain from excessive midfoot flexion. I loved my . For the last 15 years, they have been my only set of fins, and for good reason. Besides being uberly-cool bright yellow in color, they were the only fins I could wear that allowed me to dive pain-free. I have tried many other fins to no avail. The blade pressure created by conventional (non-split) blade fins on my (clinically known as posterior ) causes intolerable pain with any amount of midfoot flexion. That is until I tried out the from . SCUBAPRO Twin Jets funky foot tibial tendon deficiency DEFIANT XT Indigo Industries ​ UPDATE: Check out our review of INDIGO INDUSTRIES' . TAC Non-Military fin ​ Maybe you have haven’t heard of this company yet. You might have missed the many positive reviews in most of the popular dive magazines over the last couple of years. It’s non-traditional, modular fin design is an eye-catcher on dive boats. ​ Describing the fit of this fine fin is easier said than done, but here is my experience to date: The structure of the Defiant XT provides a booted foot with a solid platform (officially called the ) to work with. With its comfortable but firm foot pocket grasp, my foot and the Defiant XT become one. power transfer plate The Defiant XT is negatively buoyant in salt water. The Defiant XT fins weigh one pound less than my venerable Twin Jets (4 lbs v. 5 lbs weight respectively for each fin set). The blades are about five inches shorter than the Twin Jets (∼20” versus ∼25”). The Defiant XT uses different muscle groups in your lower legs, so don’t be surprised by a little muscle soreness to start. Power is not a problem. Dolphin kicking at the surface seems to be particularly effective. Reverse fin kicks are impossible with split fins. Finding the reverse gear with the Defiant XT is pretty easy. Conventional rubber fin straps are an absolute pain in the . Run—don’t walk—to buy a pair of spring straps for your Defiants. (FYI: Indigo is poised to produce their own spring straps in the near future.) bootie Not any spring strap will work; chances are your local dive shop won’t carry the right brand. I purchased the spring strap from . These straps come in four sizes: S-M-L-XL. For my size 15 feet, I use a size large. They work great. EZ Recreational Diver – Comfort Grip Innovative Scuba Concepts Used regularly with the hard-soled , the foot pocket fit is firm and tight—which is exactly what I need. Getting the fin off this boot can be a challenge at times, but I’m okay with that. Henderson Molded Sole Gripper Boot Three fin “stiffeners” are available with the Defiant XT. I used the “soft” stiffener. and stiffeners are also available. Sizing information is . Medium hard available here I have yet to try the optional full foot pocket, designed for bootless diving.

  • Breath Like a Diver | ATA/BAR Divers

    Breathe Like a Diver Practice Wet Breathing Without a Pool Bottom Line Breathing like a diver is an unnatural process and can be challenging for new divers. If you have limited experience wearing a mask, breathing with a snorkel, or can’t stand the thought of water going up your nose, or if water in the back of your throat makes you cough, choke or panic, these drills can help you master the skills associated with breathing like a diver. By design, humans are primarily nose breathers—and for good reason: Noses connect to sinus cavities, and it is in the sinuses where filtering, warming and humidification of inhaled air occurs. Our lungs would not do well if they were regularly abused by cold, dirty, and dry air. That is why prolonged breathing through the mouth is abnormal at best and potentially harmful at worst. But then there is scuba diving… Unless you are a full-face mask diver, mouth breathing through a regulator is how scuba divers survive. If you are a new diver, you might find mouth breathing awkward, but adding a little bit of water to the mix can turn an uncomfortable experience into an overwhelming one, resulting in uncontrolled coughing, choking, and a panicked ascent to the surface. “Wet breathing” is a way of life for scuba divers because there is no way to avoid water in masks, snorkels and regulators. Practicing “breathing around” this water is the only way to reduce the physical stress associated with water in the airway (throat, nose and sinuses). With experience, you’ll quickly realize that a little water up the nose or in the back of the throat is not that big of a deal. Beyond inhaling slowly to breathe around water, how you cope with wet breathing (e.g. blocking the back of your throat with your tongue to avoid a choking response to water in the airway) is a personal choice that will develop through trial and error. If you think wet breathing might be a problem for you, practice will certainly help. These drills do not require a pool or any specialized equipment beyond a mask, a snorkel, and a little bit of water: INHALE-EXHALE EXERCISES: NO MASK OR SNORKEL Inhale through your nose and exhale from your mouth until comfortable. Inhale through your mouth and exhale from your nose until comfortable. Switch between breathing techniques with each breath. Breathe in from the nose and out from the mouth; next breath, in from the mouth and out the nose. Repeat 10 times (20 breaths). MASK-ON BREATHING Breathe through your mouth while wearing a mask. You can do this while doing pretty much anything (like watching TV) for 30-50 minutes—the average length of a scuba dive. MASK & SNORKEL BREATHING Same as the Drill #2 except add a snorkel to breathe through. Because snorkels represent additional “dead air space,” you must learn to breathe past the snorkel to get fresh air into your lungs. This requires deeper breaths as the snorkel will essentially store some of your last exhaled breath, and this air contains carbon dioxide that you must breathe “past” by inhaling deeper, but not faster. Practice as long as you feel comfortable then work to increase your tolerance for snorkel/mask wearing times. You goal should be 50-60 minutes. Advanced Skill Challenge Do some light exercise (similar to swimming) while wearing the mask and a snorkel. Mow the lawn (and get some odd stares from neighbors), vacuum, mop, get on the treadmill, etc. BREATHING WITH NOSE IN WATER Fill your mask halfway with water. Put it on with your face pointing downward. Slowly raise your head to the normal position which will cover your nose with water. Gently press the mask skirt against your face to reduce water leakage. Breathe normally through your mouth. Practice as long as you feel comfortable then work to increase your tolerance up to about 3 minutes. Be cautious of water leaks during this exercise. Have a towel nearby. Advanced Skill Challenge Tilt your head back to further test your ability at airway control. SNORKEL BREATHING WITH NOSE IN WATER Same as Drill #4 except add a snorkel to breathe through. Advanced Skill Challenge Tilt your head back to further test your ability at airway control. As instructors, we have given students “homework assignments” than included watching an hour of TV with mask and snorkel in place. These no-water, non-threatening practice sessions can go a long way in bringing confidence to students who lack any appreciable experience with mask or snorkel use. Encourage students to text you a pic while practicing! , additional practice sessions are available and easy to do. Your imagination is the only limiting factor to possible drills to reduce fear of water in the airway: IF A POOL OR OTHER BODY OF WATER IS AVAILABLE Partially or fully flood mask and breathe through mouth Partially or fully flood mask and breathe through regulator Swim in various body positions/angles to determine tolerance for water in airway Submerge face without mask and breathe through snorkel Nose-pinching is allowed in the beginning but students should be able to do this skill without having to block nostrils

  • Videos | ATA/BAR Divers

    Images Contributed by industry professionals, these are some of our favorite underwater images from the around the world. Each image is copyrighted by its respective photographer.

  • Snorkel Clip Tips | ATA/BAR Divers

    Keepers: A Student Diver's Guide to Snorkel Clips As a student diver, consider the design of the snorkel clip (keeper) when you purchase your snorkel and make sure the keeper is compatible with your mask strap. A closed snorkel keeper design (as seen in Image #3) will keep your snorkel where it belongs—on your mask and off the ocean floor. Bottom Line : As a new Open Water Diver student, part of your mandatory dive equipment is a snorkel. This article is not a pro or con debate on snorkels but rather an observation of what student divers purchase when it comes to that small little piece of seemingly insignificant plastic attached to your snorkel, the snorkel keeper, also known as the snorkel clip. PADI Those of us at like snorkels, and we like to keep the snorkels we buy. What we frequently see are student divers with snorkels that won’t stay clipped to their mask straps. Two of the biggest problems with snorkel purchases are ill-informed salespeople or the students themselves as they wade through a sea of snorkel options and styles. ATA/BAR DIVERS There are many different keeper designs on the market that can be grouped into two broad categories: Open and Closed Designs. The open design keeper (as seen in Images 2, 4, and 6, above) allows divers to easily slip the keeper onto and off of the mask strap. The closed keeper design (Images 1, 3, and 5) has a loop that stays on the mask strap. The clip depicted in Image 3 is designed to stay on the mask strap and allows the snorkel to be easily removed using an interlocking device. Not surprisingly, a snorkel that easily disconnects from your mask intentionally will also become disconnected unintentionally at the most inopportune times—and this is why we do not recommend open keeper designs similar to those depicted in Images 2, 4, or 6. —patented by Tusa as the — snorkels Image 3 shows the fully-closed keeper design of the Tusa line of snorkels, which we recommend. This keeper Platina II Hyperdry Comfort Swivel allows for snorkel swiveling and a quick-disconnect from the mask; it is also available with Hyperdry Elite II . For more information, visit the . Tusa website Something else to consider is the compatibility of your mask strap with your snorkel. The two are not always made for each other, especially considering the very narrow mask straps seen with today’s new masks. Some straps are only ¾”-wide, which is probably great for mask-wearing comfort, but not so great for supporting the weight of an attached snorkel. Make sure to try on the two together to ensure their symbiotic relationship is sound. Are you in love with your Tusa snorkel with its fully-enclosed design but HATE changing the keeper between masks and are too cheap to buy another snorkel for that other mask you own? You can purchase an extra black ( ) or white ( ) snorkel adaptor (and other snorkel parts) from Tusa directly at . Comfort Swivel TC-507 TC-506

  • Review: Beyond Diving | ATA/BAR Divers

    Review: Beyond Diving Dive Center - Riviera Maya, Mexico Bottom Line Every accomplished diver should put on their underwater destination bucket list, and offers exceptional service and support to make your diving-centric stay on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula an enjoyable one. cenotes diving Beyond Diving Dive Center The Longer Story In April 2015, a foursome of couldn’t resist a last-minute trip Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We stayed at the and transport from the Cancun Airport was handled by . That was the easy part... Our biggest task was finding a local dive operator that would cater to mature, experienced divers who loathe the whole dive “cattle boat” experience that is more a rule than the exception in this part of Mexico. ATA/BAR DIVERS St. Martin Boutique Hotel Cancun Transfers USA ​ Based on Google and searches, emails to a handful of dive operators went out, and Erik from “Beyond Diving” was the only one who immediately replied. What followed was a volley of messages as we designed an itinerary for our small group. Our original plan was a custom blend of local, cenotes, and night diving, with two private boat trips to Cozumel, but the weather during our four-day stay put the kibosh to our highly anticipated “Plan A.” In the face of this major meteorological disturbance (which included strong onshore winds that closed the nearby port each day) is where Beyond Diving really shined. After enduring a red-eye flight, we were not in the mood for schedule changes, but within an hour of our arrival, shop owners Erik and Sandra, instructor Steve, and shop (canine) mascot “Piggy” scrambled to put together some spectacular cenotes diving. In short order, we were on our way to our first dive destination. Their “Plan B” activities likely exceeded what we had originally scheduled. The Beyond Diving crew were all delightful and did everything possible to make our stay enjoyable. ScubaBoard ​ With our itinerary change to primarily diving cenotes, we squeezed in a day trip to Cozumel for drift diving, which Beyond Diving arranged for us. We took the local ferry from Playa del Carmen and were picked-up by for a day of diving the reefs aboard a six-pack boat staffed by an able captain Pingo and Divemaster Eric. Whether you are looking for concierge-like dive services at cenotes, local diving destinations, small boat direct-access to Cozumel dive sites from Playa del Carmen, or instruction in open water or cavern/cave environments, we recommend . The shop is a couple block's walking distance from a small dock in the less touristy area of Playa del Carmen and about a 10-minute walk from our hotel and the popular downtown area of Playa del Carmen. Opal’s Dream Dive Shop Beyond Diving ​ View a YouTube video of cenotes diving with Beyond Diving . here ​ This review is solely the opinion of ATA/BAR DIVERS as a product consumer and is provided without compensation, affiliation or consideration of any kind.

  • ATA/BAR Diver | PADI Enriched Air Diver Specialty Course

    PADI Enriched Air Diver Specialty 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.