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  • Regulator Hoses | ATA/BAR Divers

    When the Best Deal is Not: Know Your Hose Bottom Line : 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. 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 Amazon.com . 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 Scuba.com 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 Amazon.com 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 (miflex.com ) is in Italian. Strike one. How about the XSScuba.com 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 Scuba.com 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 Amazon.com 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.

  • 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 ATA/BAR DIVERS took the challenge and became PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors . 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. 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 YouTube postings 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 IDC preparatory distance learning if you need additional help before you tackle your IDC. Utila Dive Centre Another treasure-trove of online learning resides on the Utila Dive Centre’s YouTube channel . Andy Phillips, the late course director at Utila Dive Centre, has a multi-part series 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. Scuba Nashville Having a problem with your dive tables? Check out Scuba Nashville’s YouTube video series and you will be up-to-speed on complex RDP use in no time at all. A great resource. 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 here for a full explanation if you need clarification) to be eligible to sit for the PADI Instructor Examination (IE). Our IDC instructor was PADI Course Director Perry Boyer. (Visit Perry’s Facebook page, RUADiver, 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: CoCo View Resort | ATA/BAR Divers

    Review: CoCo View Resort Bottom Line CoCo View Resort is a well-oiled, all-inclusive dive center where nothing is left to chance. The grounds are beautifully manicured; rooms are spacious and comfortable; buffets offer ample, tasty food at every meal. Shore dives, dive spots, boats, and staff are all exceptional. This place has a loyal following, and for good reason. The Longer Story During the Fall of 2016, a group of eight California divers made their first trip to the revered CoCo View Resort on Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras. A shuttle van transported us about 20 minutes from the Roatan Airport to a small dock where we took a two-minute ride across a waterway to CoCo View Resort (CCV). We were warmly greeted dockside with the question, “Have you stayed with us before?” It became apparent that those of us that hadn’t were very much in the minority. Other divers aboard our shuttle boat quickly disembarked and began exchanging pleasantries and hugs with CCV staff members in the vicinity who welcomed more than a few of these newly arrived guests by name. In this YouTube video , CCV claims to be the most returned to dive resort in the world. That is an awfully tall claim that none of us newbies readily accepted at face value, but by trip’s end, we few naysayers were believers that this claim was well-deserved and very, very accurate. The grounds of CCV are beautifully maintained and manicured. Upkeep on a place like this is a never-ending process. During our stay there was renovation to a overwater walkway and what appeared to be new construction to an outlying area of the resort. Rooms were roomy and beds comfortable. Housekeeping made daily visits to keep the rooms tidy and exchange used linens. If you are traveling with your significant, consider the overwater cabanas. Quiet, spacious, and well, over-the-water… Need we say more? The screened-in dining hall is large and comfortable, and offers a nice view of the water and shore dive entry point. The full service bar is reasonably priced. Live entertainment is offered on alternate days during the week and proved to be popular with the guests. Food is served buffet style and is very good. Menu items are not repeated during the week. Kitchen staff is friendly and very helpful. The dive boats are staffed by exceptional crews, many of whom have worked at CCV for decades—and that fact alone speaks volumes about this place and how it’s run. Our group was assigned to the CoCo III boat. Our crew was captain Jorge and Divemaster Eddie. Both gentlemen were knowledgeable and helpful. Eddie was particularly adept at spotting macro life; his English speaking skills and knowledge of local sea life were both superb. Our group thoroughly enjoyed our time with them. As testament to CCV’s repeat customer base, our boat had one diver who had visited the resort over 30 times since 2004. At the conclusion of our week’s stay, resort management recognized a number of returning guests and those who had attained “CocoNuts " status—five trips qualifies you to become a “Nut,” and your tenth trip is free. There was talk at the resort about one particular guest-family that spends every other week at the resort yeararound! And we can completely understand why. CCV has been in business for a long time; it is truly a well-oiled machine. No matter the activity or the scenario, there is a procedure established for guests to undertake that makes perfect sense. This is not to say that CCV is stodgy or inflexible. It means there is nothing left to chance, from conducting shore dives or night dives to drop-off dives onto the house reefs (Newman or CoCo View walls). Shore dives from CCV offer quick access to the house reefs and the nearby scuttled wreck, the Prince Albert, a 140-foot tanker sank as a dive destination. Make sure to take in one or more night dives during your stay. The resort has its own dive operation, Dockside Dive Center , its own resident underwater photographer, and a registered nurse/DAN medic whose services are regularly accessed by divers who find themselves with various ailments during the trip. There are many dive sites that CCV frequents. The boats leave for the morning dive after breakfast and the afternoon dive after lunch. Some divers on our spacious boat became bored with the “drop-off” dives that followed each of the morning and afternoon dives of the day. In essence, CCV schedules two boat dives per day. On the way back to the dock, the boat will drop divers off alternatively on one of the two house reefs, either Newman Wall or CoCo View Wall. While these sites are fine, they do become long in the tooth by week’s end. Considering that most Bay Island dive operators offer three or four true boat dive destinations per day, we would have been happier with fewer drop-off dives and more actual dive destinations accessed by boat. With that said, our group gives CCV high marks in all categories and most of us plan on a return trip as soon as next year… And it would be no surprise at all if a few of us go “Nuts” like so many guests before us. ​ 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.

  • Saving Soles | ATA/BAR Divers

    Saving Soles: The Harsh Reality of Bonaire Beach Entries Bottom Line : 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. There is a lot of buzz about diving Bonaire … 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 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 TUSA DB-4000 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. 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 Scuba Pro , Aqua Lung , Mares , Seac , and XS Scuba . Ocean Enterprises has a huge selection of hard sole boots to choose from. 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.