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Diving Curacao

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August 2014 Edition

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B is for Bonaire: Dive Life at its Best

-- by Rachel Davis

Thirteen ADA divers spent seven idyllic days on the beautiful island of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles from July 19 through the 26th. Our fearless leaders Daryl Johnson and Dan Baeza organized the journey, enjoyed by ADA members Roger Bach, his sister Lenora, her husband Charles and daughter Juliana, and family friend Tara Greenberg; Rachel Davis and her husband John, Randy Sonntag and his wife Cindy, Shel Seidman, and Jay Abbazia rounded out the field.

The Divi Flamingo Beach Resort and Casino is a diver’s dream. Bonaire is the shore-diving capital of the world, and no other place boasts as many beautiful dive sites easily accessible from the beach. At the resort our lockers were set out on the dive dock, steps from an endless supply of tanks we could take out whenever we liked 24/7. Five steps from your locker and a giant stride off the dock, and you’re in Calabas Reef, the resort’s “house reef” with  turquoise crystal clear water and an amazing variety of marine life.

Our days consisted of two morning boat dives from the dock, many of which went to the neighboring island of Klein Bonaire. Back in the 1970s the government of Bonaire started protecting the reefs and the marine life has abounded since, making for rare quality and abundance compared to the rest of the Caribbean. Favorite boat diving sites included Bon Bini Na Kas, also known as Mushroom City for the incredible mushroom-like coral formations, the colorfully named Bloodlet on the northern end, and the awesome Hilma Hooker wreck.

Afternoons consisted of beach diving. Dan and Daryl suggested we rent Toyota pick-up trucks to drive around to the various dive sites, complete with unlimited tanks provided by the resort. Our favorite shore dive sites were Alice in Wonderland, an aptly-named wonderland of marine life, and a night dive to the Salt Pier, an eerie experience featuring the largest open basket stars I have ever seen firmly attached to the pylons, octopi, and a massive green moray eel hungrily devouring a blue tang right before our very eyes and cameras.

Couple all this fantastic diving with charming Dutch-European ambience, natural wonders including cactus, goats, donkeys and friendly locals, and you have what is perhaps the best ADA dive trip in recent years. Rumor has it that Barbados is next up for 2015, so it had better be great because we are all really spoiled and Bonaire has set the bar very high.

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See Food, Sea Food - It’s Time To Cook Lobster!

--by Daryl Johnson

Now that you can start catching lobster again (check past newsletters on how to catch them), it’s time to think about how to cook them. My favorite way is to split the tail lengthwise and marinate them in minced garlic and olive oil. You can use the minced garlic that comes in a jar in a pinch, but I recommend getting the fresh peeled garlic and putting it in a small blender with fresh EVOO (Rachael Ray’s term for extra virgin olive oil) to create a marinade with a ratio of two parts EVOO to one part of garlic. Place the split tails in a baggie (be careful, you may want to double bag them since the spines have been known to pierce the baggies!) with the marinade and store in the refrigerator for about two hours.

They can be cooked in an oven set on broil for about 3-5 minutes until you see just a little bit of browning beginning to occur. However, you can do a super simple complete meal by cooking them on a grille at about 350-400 degrees surface temperature with some asparagus.  Coat the asparagus in some EVOO, sprinkle them with some coarse salt, and toss them on the grill with the lobster. Both lobster and asparagus should be done at about the same time. While these are cooking, clarify some butter in a small sauce pan by heating it until the milk solids drop to the bottom (don’t boil it!) and then skim the clear liquid off the top. Serve up the lobster and asparagus with the clarified butter for dipping , some lemon wedges for squeezing juice on both of them and enjoy!

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Ever Thought About Diving Curacao?

--by Daryl Johnson and Dan Baeza

As Dan and I were putting the Bonaire trip together, it became apparent that we were going have to go through Curacao to get to Bonaire. It just didn’t seem right to pass up a chance to dive there since neither of us had done it before. So we invited fellow ADA member Shel Seidman along and planned two days of diving there. Most of the local diving resorts did not have very good lodging rates when it came to three people, which made the cost somewhat prohibitive. After a little hotel research, I found that the rate for three-in-a-room at the Marriot Beach Resort and Spa was the same as for two, so a plan was born!

We did not rent a car, so the only choice for a dive operator was the onsite shop. The rates were reasonable for the Caribbean, so we book two days of two-tank diving. When we checked in the day before the dives, we found that both of their dive boats were down for repairs so they were using a smaller borrowed dive boat. While this should have triggered a mental alarm of some sort, we just assumed that everything would be just fine. Did I mention that Curacao is similar to Bonaire in many ways? For example it is windy, the diving is done on the leeward side of the island, and the underwater topology is similar. Unfortunately, the seas were substantially more affected by the wind than Bonaire. Did I mention it was really windy, like 25 to 30 knots???

(Continued Next Page >>)

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Fish Identification Series - Eels

--by Jerry Kosakowski

You are probably wondering why I have a picture of an eel in the fish identification series. Well, it is a fish. A surprise to me, are you surprised? The green morays which are common to our local area are actually brown. They have a yellow mucus over them that make them appears green. They are very slimy and at first glance, scary. But that mouth opening and closing is not to attack you, but rather their breathing method. They also can’t see very well, so may mistake you for food. However, if one does bite, it will immediately release because it knows you aren't a fish. However, as I can attest, the damage is done because your natural reaction will be to pull back, creating a nasty tear. It's a bloody tear to boot, and very painful. Here is how it works: Moray eels' heads are too narrow to create the negative pressure most fishes use to swallow prey. Quite possibly because of this, they have a second set of jaws in their throat called pharyngeal jaws, which also possess teeth (like tilapia). When feeding, morays launch these jaws into the mouth, where they grasp prey and transport it into the throat and digestive system. Moray eels are the only animals that use pharyngeal jaws to actively capture and restrain prey. Of course, none of this helps to deal with the pain. Best advice? Don't get bitten...

Sources: Pictures and information from Wikipedia

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Coral Reef Restoration - 20 11 10 6 Slots Remaining

Since 2007 the Active Divers Association has been supporting and participating in the reef restoration activities of the Coral Restoration Foundation (“CRF”). On Saturday, September 6, 2014, the ADA will once again join our friends at CRF for a day-long program of classroom instruction, hands-on training, and diving to outplant baby corals to reefs at Pennekamp State Park.  Make plans now to join our group for a fun and fulfilling day of restoring the reefs to their former splendor. Click here for more information.

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Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

-- by Dan Baeza

Whether you are a brand new diver or an old, grizzled veteran with salt water in his veins, chances are you have had at least one ear problem to overcome. While clearing your ears continually, especially while descending, ameliorates most ear maladies, you have probably encountered Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) at least once in your diving sojourns. The Eustachian tube is a narrow channel between your middle ear and you upper throat. Normally, the tube is closed, but briefly opens every three minutes or so whenever you yawn or swallow. As you probably remember from Open Water certification training, gently forcing air through the Eustachian tube allows you to equalize the pressure between your middle ear and the ambient pressure. Without properly equalizing, you can experience mild to severe pain, or even an eardrum rupture if you attempt to descend further. So, you’re saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know all about that.” But have you ever completed a dive and heard a “crackling” in your ear, perhaps accompanied by a feeling of fullness in the ear? ETD can occur if the Eustachian tube lining becomes swollen, usually as result of a cold, allergy, or infection, but sometimes caused when salt water accidentally enters the Eustachian tube, perhaps as a result of hanging upside-down to photograph that shy candy cane shrimp.>

What can you do if you surface and have the “crackling ear” syndrome? Not much. Normally, ETD symptoms are mild and last a few days to a week. You can try  periodically yawning and swallowing. If the Eustachian tube is not too swollen, this should gradually relieve the symptoms. If you suspect the problem is due to an allergy or an allergic reaction to some seaborne pathogen, you may want to try an over-the-counter antihistamine. If the condition worsens or lasts more than a few days, consult a physician

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My First Dive
--by Carol Cox

After sorting through 28 log books, I finally found it...Log Book #1. The first entry was dated June 6, 1987 at McAbee Beach in Monterey, California. The purpose of the dive was to practice skills such as partial mask clearing, alternate air source, and neutral buoyancy hovering, leading up to my Open Water certification.

While suiting up in a rented 6 miliimeter farmer john plus a beaver-tail jacket and situating my horse collar BCD, someone further down the beach from us shouted to call the police. As we watched, several divers pulled a fully suited diver from the water, dragging him out of the surf by his arms. They laid him on the beach and we realized then that he was dead. A little while later, police and a medical examiner came with a body bag and took him away in an ambulance.

Apparently, the diver had been certified the previous week and he and his two buddies were making their first beach dive without an instructor. When he turned to see why his buddies were taking so long, a rogue wave caught him and tossed him up against the rocks next to where they were making their water entrance. Search and rescue divers finally found his body wedged up underneath the rocks the next morning, as we were getting suited up. Needless to say, this really made an impression on me – never enter the water until both you and your buddy are ready (and maybe not a threesome for a first dive, as well) and always watch the wave action when shore diving.

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Scuba Tips and Tricks

Got an air leak? To check it:

  • Assemble the regulator on your tank.
  • Turn on your air and observe the pressure gauge reading.
  • Turn off your air and observe the pressure gauge reading.
  • If gauge reading drops quickly, (3000 psi to zero in a few seconds) check fittings, connections.

If no remedy is found, do not dive.

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Have You Moved or Changed Email Addresses Lately?

If so, please email or call us with your current information. you may send an email to: Dr. Dan Baeza, Membership Chair at dmbaeza@bellsouth.net. You can also call Dan at 954-260-8225 and leave a message with your new contact information.

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Newsletter Delivery

Want your newsletter delivered via snail-mail? Contact Carol Cox at ccox911@att.net and request a printed copy. Be sure to put "ADA Newsletter" in the subject.

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Lightning and Scuba Diving
--by Lon Von Lintel

What to do if I am near the end of my dive and I hear and see lightning above?  The NOAA web site states, "If the boat you are in does not  have a safe cabin to be in during lightning activity, then you are safer diving deep into the water for the duration of the storm or as long as possible."  It seems my personal choice of action, somewhat follows this advice.  I plan to stay at 15 feet for the duration of the storm or until I run out of air.  If I am forced to the surface before the storm has subsided, first I will tie my tank/BCD to the anchor line, and then exit as quickly as possible. A metal scuba tank could conceivably attract a lightning strike. But this is my choice and not an official ADA policy. Each diver must make their own decision.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own views and do not constitute a policy by the Active Divers Association, its members, or its governing body.

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ADA T-Shirts For Sale

Show your pride in the best dive club anywhere! Sizes small, medium, large, xlarge, xxlarge. Some tank tops available also. All shirts are $10 each. CALL LON AT 305-251-4975 AND PLACE YOUR ORDER TODAY!. Lon will deliver it to you on your next dive.


NEW DIVERS' BUOY APPROVED
(reprinted from The Fishing Wire, July 2, 2014)

The Florida Legislature voted to approve new protection for divers.  Effective July 1, 2014, divers may tow a buoy that may be 3 or 4 sided, and at least 12 by 12 inches with a diver down symbol on each side, to warn boaters that a diver is under water.  It affords divers the same protection as the original, and still legal, float with a divers down flag extended above the float.

Boaters are required to reduce speed to idle, when within 300 feet of either in open water, and 100 feet when in inlets, rivers, and channels.  The new buoy has an advantage over the float and flag system.  It is more visible if the wind is not blowing and is visible from all directions.  Wind is needed, or a stay, to make a flag stand out, and even then is highly visible only from two directions.

Buoys may be inflatable, which are more compact when deflated for storage, but can lose air if punctured and sink to the bottom.  Solid buoys, such as Styrofoam, are unsinkable, but are bulky to store.  The choice is yours, but always tow eithera "Divers Down" buoy or a "Divers Down" float and flag when beach diving.

Biscayne National Park Proposes New Protections
--by Lon von Lintel

Those of us who have dived BNP for the past 40 to 50 years have been saddened by the decline of fish, corals, sponges, turtles, and large predators. Now there may be new hope. The Park is proposing strict new regulations that will phase out commercial fishing, and end the nightmare of the two day lobster mini-season. Every year, almost without exception, a number of divers and boaters are injured and even killed during the mini-season.  I have witnessed divers tearing the reef apart in their attempt to catch lobster. Shrimp trawlers that have mowed rolling sea grass meadows to the quick and weekend party boaters that scar flats and kill sea grass will be addressed. Other changes include raising catch sizes of fish, outlawing spear guns, establishing no-trawl zones for shrimpers, and making some reefs off-limits for lobster and crab traps. Lobster traps on the reefs are particularly offensive to me. Inevitably the trap ropes get tangled in the reef, and the traps are abandoned. The result is miles of ropes sawing on the reefs with every passing wave. On occasion, I attempt to cut and collect ropes, sometimes to the dismay of my buddy, who would rather not wait for me. The new plan would take about a year to finalize, and I for one, hope it is implemented and funded for enforcement.

Sources: Miami Herald, 6-17-14
Shore Diving in South Florida - Pink House
--by Jerry Kosakowski

This location is known as the Pink House. It is located at Dania Beach. Enter early before the guards arrive (9:00am) or start at the south end and swim north. Recall there is no entry from Dania Beach itself. Locate the pink buildings on shore and swim straight out from there. One of my most memorable dives was at this location. I observed a tarpon, a shark, then two dolphins, followed by a huge Ray.

To improve on an already perfect day, t I caught two lobster. The lobsters are located past the inner reef and before the ledge. The area is filled with nooks and crannies and you will immediately know that this is a likely spot. Start looking under the coral and rocks. But don’t forget to look under the shallow ledges as well. I have caught some very close to shore at this location.

Recall you can exit anywhere along the beach. This is a nice diverse spot and as soon as you note the sand turn into coral, start your dive, because it is all interesting. This will be in very shallow water, which allows for a lot of bottom time. It's a great spot for a follow up dive from Glenn’s Reef (see the May 2014 newsletter).. You don’t have to move the car, just change tanks. Showers and bathrooms are on site.

ADA Guidelines and Policies

ADA RULES & REGULATIONS FOR ALL ADVANCED DIVES
(DEPTHS OVER 60’) ADA DIVERS MUST:

  1. Be current (dive activity within the previous 3 months).
  2. Have the approval of an ADA Safety Officer.
  3. Have a minimum of 25 logged dives.
  4. Carry an alternate air source (octopus), time keeping device and depth gauge

IMPORTANT WEATHER INFORMATION

Before departing for the dive site, confirm weather conditions with the designated Safety Officer. It is the responsibility of the member to call. Because of the large numbers of divers involved we are not able call you with weather information. For morning dives, call between 6 and 10 p.m. the night before the dive. For afternoon dives, call between 9 and 10 a.m. the morning of the dive

HOW TO MAKE DIVE RESERVATIONS

  1. Check this newsletter or the annual calendar for upcoming dives.
  2. Call Lon at (305) 251-4975 to make a reservation. Please do not leave requests on his answering machine, the trip may be full.
  3. We will hold your reservation for four (4) days from the date you call. If we do not receive payment within four days, your space may be given to other members. If you wish to confirm receipt, call Lon.
  4. Ask for details about the trip when you call. Otherwise, details will be given when you call for a weather check. (See “Important Weather Information”)
  5. Make your check payable to ACTIVE DIVERS ASSOCIATION, not to any individual, and mail to:
Jerry Kosakowski 
298 NW 83 Lane 
Coral Springs FL 33071-7439
You may also pay online via PayPal on the "Dive Schedule" page.

ADA GUIDELINES FOR COMPUTER ASSISTED DIVING

  1. Members using dive computers may extend their time 10 underwater minutes beyond the time allowed by the tables.
  2. Computer assisted dives must be well within the NO DECOMPRESSION LIMITS
  3. Members should understand and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  4. If a computer diver is buddyed with a diver using the tables, both must follow the tables.
  5. If a buddy-team is using dis-similar computers, both must follow the more conservative readings

ADA TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE

ADA has created a unique concept in local diving: NO FAULT INSURANCE!! For an additional $5.00, per person, per local dive trip, members can eliminate the worry of losing their dive fees because of an unforeseen change of plans. If, for any reason you are unable to attend a local dive for which you are scheduled and have paid the insurance, ADA will credit your dive fee to another date. The $5.00 insurance is  non-transferable and non-refundable. When you make a reservation, ask for dive trip cancellation insurance.

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE SAFETY OFFICERS’ COMMITTEE

All members are reminded to read the “Rules & Guidelines for Diving Activities” you received with your membership package. Number 16 states, “All divers must be present for the pre-dive briefing”. If the diver is not present for the entire briefing, diving privileges may be revoked for that dive. Please plan to arrive on time - or better yet - a bit early. We thank you and appreciate your cooperation.

CANCELLATION AND REFUND POLICY FOR LOCAL DIVE TRIPS

Because of our contractual agreements with our service agents - dive shops and boat captains, we must notify them - usually seven days in advance - of the final number of spaces we are paying for. Thus, if our members cancel less than seven days in advance, we regret that NO REFUND OR CREDIT can be given, unless trip cancellation insurance has been purchased at the time of the dive trip payment (see next news article!)

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