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August 2016 Edition

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In This Issue:

Barbados - A Hidden Gem

--by Dr. Dan Baeza

The Active Divers Association just completed a week long dive trip to Barbados. If you are a fan of the various dive magazines and journals that grace our daily lives, you'll find several articles alluding to the "top dives sites" in the world. Often, the "top" site is defined narrowly, either by the kinds of fish you will see, or the corals, or the water clarity, whether it's family-friendly, or some other parameter. These are all important considerations, but it is a rare location that has it all: fish, corals, exotics, climate, good lodging, good food, friendly people, and reasonable prices. Barbados has all that and more.

Located about 1,600 miles southeast of Miami, Barbados has a unique position in the Caribbean. Its climate is very temperate for the Tropics, with an average temperature that rarely exceeds 86 degrees. It rains nearly every day, but doesn't last long. The combination of rain and sun makes for a lush paradise with many flowering plants and green grasses.

The people who call themselves "Bajans" are warm and friendly and, owing to their British heritage, it was a British Crown Colony until 1966, are somewhat proper. The Bajan economy is very strong and based on sugar production, tourism, and manufacturing.  Most of the tourists visiting the island are either from the United Kingdom or from former UK subject countries. They drive on the left and have interesting accents that can best be described as a cross between Jamaican, Creole, and British.

Diving in Barbados was phenomenal. The seas rarely exceed a few inches and visibility was usually 60 feet or greater. Water temperature ranges from 81 to 84 degrees in the summer. The reefs are healthy and the tropical fish life is abundant. We typically saw at least one, and sometimes several turtles on every dive. There is an ongoing conservation research conducted by the Barbados Sea Turtle Project (see: http://www.barbadosseaturtles.org/). On several occasions, researchers went diving with us and brought up juvenile sea turtles to tag and measure. At right, you see a hawksbill turtle looking up from a tastey meal. When you leaf through dive magazines, there is relatively little coverage of Barbados. Diving in Barbados is not heavely promoted nor wildly popular. There are only a handful of dive operators on the island. Indeed, our nine ADA members made up the bulk of the divers on every dive trip, and we rarely saw even one other dive boat on each of our reef trips.

Next month, we will publish an extensive article on ADA's trip to Barbados, including impressions from some of the participants. Be sure to look for it.

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Memories of My First Night Dive

--by Connie Crowther, Master Scuba Diver

Back in the late 1980s, fresh out of the PADI Open Water certification, I knew that to be a REAL diver I must get my Advanced Diver certification. Critical new skills I would add with this certification included navigation, deep diving, wreck diving, search and recovery, and night diving.

NIGHT DIVING!!??! I was excited about all the other aspects of this course, but was terrified of doing a night dive. Don’t sharks forage and feed at night? This could be the dealbreaker in my dive education progress and my desire to one day be a Master Scuba Diver, about 15 challenging courses ahead of where I was.

My dive buddies coerced me to sign up for the Advanced Diver course with my Open Water instructor Jane Schmitt, captain of her six-pack dive boat Lady Go Diver. She taught the courses at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables and on dive sites off Miami Beach and Key Biscayne.

ADA to Offer Night Diving Course September 12

For divers who may share some of my original concerns about night diving, and divers who haven’t ventured on a night dive in a while, the Active Divers Association will offer free night diving instruction September 12 right before the club takes a night dive with Florida Keys Dive Center in Tavernier. It's fun, easy, and free. The cost of the dive includes the instruction. 

ADA’s thorough instruction and orientation night diving mini-course will cover all the basics of night diving, including dive lights, underwater communication, hand signals, diving differences day vs. night, natural stressors, equipment requirements and site selection. 

If you are ready to try your first night dive, or need a little reorientation and renewed confidence, call Lon Von Lintel at 305-251-4975 to reserve a space for the September 12th night dive and special instruction.

Even as I started the course, I had no idea how I was going to pluck up the courage do a giant stride off the boat into the black water at night. I purchased the cheapest version of a Pelican underwater night. “I don’t need a good light. I will use it only once, to get my certification,” I insisted to my fellow Advanced Diver hopefuls.

I thoroughly enjoyed and excelled on the more technical aspects of the course, navigation, search and recovery and deep diving. Jane promised to stick close to me and my buddy, Jim Naro, on the night dive. Together we would run through the skills tests, then I could ascend and leave the water.

The afternoon before the feared night dive, I prepared by doing two full circuits of high-energy Jazzercize, to put me in the best possible physical condition to face the black water.

On the boat ride out to the dive site, the simultaneous sunset in the west and the moonrise in the east were exhilarating. Perhaps this was a good omen. Conditions were perfect: flat seas, calm and quiet. Our dive site was the Biscayne wreck off Key Biscayne, 65 feet deep.


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Diving With the Three Stooges....
--by Carol Cox

As a dive master, you try to make sure everyone has a great dive and returns safely. Sometimes, you end up with the three stooges of diving. I ended up diving with Larry, Curly and Moe since they were on their own and the other divers on the boat were a group. I knew before we hit the water that this was a disaster in the making. They couldn't find their equipment, they didn't know how to put a regulator on a tank and they generally had no idea what they were doing. I asked one of them “when did you get certified” “Certified?” “Yeah, you know that little plastic card you pulled out of the Wheaties cereal box? When did you get yours?” “Oh that! Uh, last month.” (Oh no, why me?) I grudgingly helped them get their tanks together since I was in no mood to practice rescue diving.

They couldn't find their fins, one guy left his wallet in his car, their regulators leaked, their masks kept fogging up, you name it. We were doing an advanced dive so I made sure they all had whistles and mirrors in case we needed to be rescued as a group.....I can only rescue one diver at a time. This was a drift dive, so we all went in together. Curly immediately lost his fin. Larry swam over, retrieved it and smacked him on the head with it (I was waiting for a 'nyuk nyuk nyuk' from him but he had his regultor in his mouth). This was supposed to be a negative buoyancy dive to the bottom to drift along a wall. These three apparently thought they were butterflies floating in the breeze because when I looked up to see where they were, they were just drifting along about fifty feet above me enjoying the blue water. At this point, I decided to just leave them up there – less distance to cover when we have to surface.

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New Member Spotlight

--by Roy D. Wasson

This is the first edition of a new feature in the Mouthpiece that will help our members get to know one another. This month’s issue introduces three of our newest members: John Fernsler, Claudia Fernandez, and Braulio Aparicio, all of whom joined ADA on May 16th.

John FernslerJohn Fernsler grew up in the Northeast Florida coastal community of Jacksonville Beach where in his younger years he was a competitive swimmer, surfer, ocean lifeguard and life-saving instructor. Trained as an architect and city planner at Tulane University and the University of Pennsylvania, John relocated to Miami in 1975 to open a Miami office of a Philadelphia-based architectural firm, a practice from which he is retiring at the end of 2015. Almost immediately upon his arrival in Miami, John became a certified diver and has been diving since then throughout South Florida, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. John is married to Christine and they have two grown children, John and Alison. All are divers, and on July 18, Alison also joined ADA with the July 18, dive at Islamorada. In addition to diving, John enjoys sailing and recreational flying as a private pilot.

John’s most memorable dive was a dive off Harbour Island, Bahamas many years ago. The divemaster had John and his wife fill their pockets with hot dogs which they were to break into little pieces and hand feed to a gathering of large groupers and goliath groupers. The moral of that story is be prepared to surface when the hot dogs are gone, as grouper don’t understand “no more” and cannot distinguish hot dogs from fingers.Claudia Fernandez

Our next new member is Claudia Fernandez. Claudia has been diving since she was 14 years old. Claudia heard about the ADA through her husband Danny, who is a member as well. She was born and raised in Miami and have always loved the ocean. Claudia is employed at Florida International University and is currently working as an instructional designer designing and developing online courses.

Braulio AparacioBraulio Aparacio is the third of this month’s new members in the “spotlight.” Braulio has been a PADI open waters diver since 1988. He describes himself as “52 years young,” and is currently single. Braulio lives in Southwest Miami-Dade. He is the father of two children: his daughter Sarah son name Abram. Braulio has worked for 35 years as a plumber, and now practices that trade at Jackson South Hospital. His hobbies and interests other than scuba, include fishing and traveling. Braulio’s favorite dives are night dives, drift dives, and diving in the clear waters of Caribbean islands.

Please join me in welcoming John, Claudia, and Braulio to our club.

If you are a recent member within the last three years, and would be willing to tell us about yourself, please contact the author at roy@wassonandassociates.com.

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Where in the World Do You Want to Dive in 2016???

--by Daryl Johnson

ADA just finished a spectacular dive trip to Barbados ( more on this in another article ) that will be hard to beat next year, so we need to start planning for 2016 now. Listed below are some possibilities and we would like to get your input on where you want to go. Feel free to suggest some that you want that are not on this list or simply vote for as many of these as you want. Send your votes to me at diverdaryl@bellsouth.netand I will use the votes when Dan and I start shopping the deals for next year. It’s always possible that the best deal is not on this list but rest assured, whatever we pick will get a lot of research before we book the trip.

  1. Aruba
  2. Bahamas
  3. Barbados
  4. Bonaire
  5. British Virgin Islands
  6. Cayman Islands
  7. Grand Cayman Island
  8. Little Cayman
  9. Cayman Brac
  10. Curacao
  11. Dominica
  1. Grenada
  2. Guadeloupe
  3. Puerto Rico
  4. Saba
  5. St Eustatius
  6. St Kitts and Nevis
  7. St Lucia
  8. St Vincent and the Grenadines
  9. Tobago
  10. Turks and Caicos
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The Heaviest Shark I've EVER Seen
--by Lon Von Lintel

The heaviest, (many teeth) I ever saw was an unidentified species located at the Gauntlet Pass inPulau Sangihe, Indonesia. I was diving in Indonesia in August of 2001, an area famous for numerous unique adventures. But due to the convergence of the South China Sea, the Java Sea, and the Indian Ocean, it is also infamous for wicked currents.  Names like the Washing Machine, (currents and coral heads cause a violent agitation and on a previous dive, one diving couple, despite holding hands, were separated, the man lost at sea, later rescued) vividly describe the danger.

Our live-aboard had ventured into the South China Sea to a cut between two small islands.  This was the site for their shark feed.  We were instructed to drop in upcurrent, drift to a designated spot, and hunker down in one of several depressions.  The guide would toss fish heads into the water column, ripping at 4-6 knots, and the frenzy was on!  Several well behaved, average-sized, indigenous sharks cruised through for a bite.  Then the mood changed, as a large unidentified monster came slashing through, causing panic and chaos among the other sharks.  It was only (ONLY?) about 8 to 10 feet long, but had the girth of a 20 cubic foot refrigerator!  Weight unknown, species unknown, but not the streamlined form we admire on most sharks. It was the heaviest looking shark I have ever seen.  It was so dominant and disruptive, so threatening and erratic, we terminated the dive.

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My Buddy from Hell –

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go!

--by Rachel Davis

According to my log book it was nearly seven years ago – 7/26/08. I was living in Miami at the time and I had just started diving with ADA. The dive was scheduled for West Palm at Jim Abernethy’s. Looking outside that morning as I packed the car there was beautiful sunshine and no wind, so I assumed the dive would be on. I didn’t bother to call Lon for the weather check because the weather was so beautiful. So, after a 2-hour drive up north I arrived dressed and ready to dive. When I showed up at Abernethy’s to check in for ADA the lady behind the desk looked at me strangely. “Did you know they moved the dive?” she said. She explained that the transmission in the boat went out so ADA arranged the dive with another operator. I asked her where they went and she had no idea.

I was so frustrated because I really wanted to dive and I had all my stuff. So I drove to the marina and hooked up with the first dive charter I could find that had space on their boat.

It was a terrible experience. They paired me with the divemaster who carried the flag through the swift current. But rather than letting the current carry us, for some reason she felt it necessary to kick against the current the whole dive. I quickly became exhausted and couldn’t keep up without overusing my air. It was a frustrating situation to have to choose between losing my buddy or losing my air. Needless to say, I lost my buddy. I ended up surfacing alone after she drifted away so thank goodness I had my safety sausage. I floated out there for quite a while alone until the boat finally found me. It was awful. A very unsafe diving situation.

Moral of the story: Always call Lon or the Safety Officer between 9-10 a.m. the morning of the dive. Don’t assume the dive is going as planned just because the weather is beautiful. Lesson learned. Eight years and hundreds of ADA dives later, I have never failed to call and I have never missed the boat!

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Grouper versus Ray
--by Carol Cox

A few years ago on an ADA dive, we came upon an unusual scene playing out under a ledge. What first looked like a deformed grouper turned out to be a grouper trying to swallow a spotted ray. The grouper couldn't swallow the ray because of the barb on the rays tail, obviously stuck seriously into the top of the groupers mouth. The grouper spat the ray out, grabbed it again and again, to no avail.

I took a few photos then put my camera on video mode when I realized this grouper was not going to give up easily. The grouper tried several more times to swallow the ray but kept spitting it out due to that barb. We had to eventually move on since air was getting low but what a sight to behold ….and one we may never see again.

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What Makes a World Class Dive?
--by Dr. Dan Baeza

There are many so called "World Class" dive sites in the world. enter that phrase in your search engine and you will receive recommendations on hundreds of destinations. In reality, a dive site is good if it has one or more of the critters, corals, or structures you are seeking. I have put together a list of some of the things that make the dive for me. In other words, if I saw one or more of these sights on a dive, I would consider it a success. Here is my list:

  • Sharks (all kinds)
  • Stingrays (all kinds, but especially Manta rays
  • Turtles
  • Seahorses
  • YGoliath Groupers
  • Octopus
  • Whale Shark
  • Moray Eel (swimming)
  • Health corals

Take a look at my list and tell me what turns you on during a dive? What would you like to see that would make the dive unforgettable for you? Please email your responses to me at dmbaeza@bellsouth.net.

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Fish Identification Series - Venomous vs. Poisonous
--by Jerry Kosakowski
Information from Redag Island Rendevous

A creature is considered poisonous if it contains toxins stored in special tissues or organs that cause harm when eaten. A creature is considered venomous if there are specialized mechanisms to physically deliver the toxins through bites, spines and stings. For example, a pufferfish is poisonous when eaten but is not venomous in that it does not bite or sting in order to deliver the toxins present in certain organs in its body. Well look what I learned. Yep, I thought I was poisoned by that lion fish but that is definitely not the case. Well, that’s a relief. By contrast, a stonefish is venomous as it has pressure-sensitive glands and spines that help to deliver its toxins when stepped on.

Marine creatures within the reef ecosystem have evolved different types of predatory and defensive mechanisms in order to survive such as venomous stings, spines and bites. Many of these are among some of the world's most venomous creatures. In Animal Planet's 'Most Extreme: Venom' program, marine creatures made up half the list of the top ten most venomous creatures. These include the box jellyfish stonefish, blue-ringed octopus, cone shells and sea snakes. All of these, other than the box jellyfish, can be found in Malaysian waters including those around Redang. Glad I haven’t dived that location. In fact I haven’t dived anywhere but South Florida. I have travelled extensively but diving is not on my list of travel things to do. I usually visit museums and determine I don’t like what I am looking at.

Fortunately for us, these creatures are not naturally aggressive toward humans and do not go out of their way to attack us. But somehow I find them anyway. It is only when our presence and behavior threatens and provokes them that they act in self-defense. Yep, it’s the blame the victim, as always. Most unpleasant encounters and injuries are caused by people accidentally touching them, stepping on them, trespassing onto their nesting sites, harassing them or handling them roughly. Avoiding physical contact is one of the best precautions we can take. Gee, you think I’m trying to get hurt?

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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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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

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Newsletter Delivery Options

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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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 Lon at (305) 251-4975 or 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 or via email at lon@diverlon.com to make a reservation. If via email, you will receive a notification whether space is available. 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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