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Everybody Loves Miami April 27, 2016

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Shipwrecks.
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That may be true, but the airport is a bit confusing. Due to scheduling conflicts my ride from Miami to Key Largo wasn’t happening, and Geoff, who arrived about an hour before me, was in the same predicament. No getting our groove on for the night this time. So the two of us found each other in the terminal and went off in search of transportation to our destination.

Our first idea was to rent a car at the airport and drop it off at Key Largo. So we took the automated train over to the rental car terminal and waited in line for a considerable time for an Avis representative. We were told that it would be no problem dropping the car off anywhere in Florida but further into the transaction we found out that the Key Largo Avis closed at 1pm and wouldn’t be open until Monday. There was no drop-off while the location was closed so we would have to rent for two days when we really only needed two hours.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car told us we could drop the car off the same day, but there would be a $125 drop-off fee – basically worse that Avis. So we declined and went downstairs to the Greyhound station. There we were told we’d have to wait 1h 15m for the bus, which was a depressing enough thought without the delay. So we decided to go for the Keys Shuttle.

That meant we had to go back to the train, back to the terminal, walk through the terminal all the while getting incorrect advice about where we were supposed to go. Advice: don’t ask anybody where things are, just use the Internet or call them. The problem was that when the word “Shuttle” is in the question, any shuttle seemed to be OK. We were advised by one person to go to the departures level door 10. Fortunately I saw the shuttle one level below us loading up, and called to the driver that we would be down shortly. So for future reference it across from door 8 on the arrivals level.

The shuttle is $60 one-way. A trip for two, though, was only $70. So for $40 each including tip we got a reasonably friendly and comfortable ride right to our Motel. Shortly after we arrived the gang went to Hobo’s Cafe for dinner, looking forward to diving the next day.



On the Road Again April 23, 2016

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Shipwrecks.
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So I’m on the way to Key Largo once again to dive the big wrecks. I think this is my fifth trip. So far I’ve not tired of the big underwater playground, especially the Spiegel Grove, and because I missed last year’s trip due to work it should be even more fun.

Lately in my blogging activities I’ve taken to using taking my titles from songs – so thank you Canned Heat. Not that this post has anything to do with the lyrics of the song, thankfully.

At this moment I’m waiting at YYZ (another song title) for my flight which leaves in 75 minutes. I arrived in plenty of time and for the first time in a long time all the queues were short. It was also the first time I had my boarding pass on my phone, and along with being able to get into business pass class using some of my frequent flyer miles accumulated years ago, made the airport experience almost pleasant. Let’s hope my bag arrives safely.

My regular dive buddy Rob is down there already with dive shop owner Jody taking a rebreather course. Depending on what wrecks we’re diving and what we plan to do on them, especially in the overhead environment, we’ll have to figure out how we can support each other as a dive team with a combination of open circuit and rebreather divers working together. I’m especially interested in bail-out as I understand that will be a limiting factor, and while I will be carrying lots of air and nitrox, they won’t.

I’m looking forward to hearing all about their experience. Off to the gate!

Buoyancy and Bowling Balls January 17, 2015

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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My favourite on-line comic strip is becoming quite famous, not in the least because of the “What-If” series of far-out questions and answers. This one, I thought, would be of interest to readers of this blog, as it deals with buoyancy, especially negative buoyancy. Of interest is the rate at which a negatively buoyant object descends. Using the example of a bowling ball, which, being a much simpler shape than, say, a diver, is easier to predict, it relates descent rate to density. The relationship is non-linear, as doubling the density doesn’t double the descent rate.

At any rate some of you might find it interesting or at least discover an interesting new web comic.

Spam Never Sleeps September 6, 2013

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Uncategorized.
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I’m really miffed right now with China Telecom, especially their GuiZhou operation. They are hosted a site that phishes with fake Dr. Oz emails. Apparently those are rampant. I wouldn’t have anything to do with the real Dr. Oz program, much less a fake one, but that’s not the complaint.

The problem is that China Telecom is impossible to contact by email. The email address published in the whois databse doesn’t work, and the tiny little box in their “contact us” web page doesn’t work either. 

If China Telecom wants to be a respected and respectable organization, it needs to do better. A lot better.

Trouble with a Hollis Harness July 25, 2013

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Uncategorized.
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This started on Hollis’ Facebook Page. The first 3 messages here were consolidated soon after into an email sent on September 4th, 2012.
Email from my dive team member
Hello Hollis,My HTS rig almost killed me this weekend.I was on a 180′ deco dive in the St Lawrence on the Oconto, and my top wing nut mount came completely out of my harness and freed the top of my twin 98cuft Faber tanks on ascent to deco@40.If I was not diving Hogarthian with my long hose around my valves and neck I would have lost my tanks completely in the strong current. I then would have shot to the surface for you to read about in the dive blogs with my tec team ranting about Hollis for the rest of their lives.

My concern is this:
After looking at the rig very carefully with several PADI tec-50+ instructors and divers, we discovered that the material around the grommet holes is thin and shoddy. A simple heavy ring of Danier or even rubberised material to prevent the ENTIRE grommet assembly from tearing completely out of the harness without notice.

We, as a safety concious tec-team, are considering creating a fix and contacting all of our known Hollis distributors and suggesting our beliefs of this concern and how to rectify this possibly serious safety concern.I often leave my kit set up for weeks at a time so excessive wear can’t contribute to this or I will have to say that a 150 dive limit tech harness is a complete waste of money and would obtain one from a different manufacturer to preserve my life and extend my dive career.I am a PADI divemaster/tec-50 diver who has had that HTS on for 183 dives. I work within a dive group who has trained more than 10000 Padi certs in 14 years.I would like your assistance with returning my harness to active duty without having to engineer my own backyard fixes.


First Reply (on Facebook)
Hollis Gear
Rob, feel free to email us directly at info@hollisgear.com. We are first thankful that you are OK. Second and only question we have would be on configuration of your system as this is not typical. Were you using the HTS stabilizer plates for diving doubles? The grommet and immediately surrounding material are not load bearing when using this accessory. It is the only way to dive doubles with the HTS harness. Please email us so we can get your harness repaired and back in the water. Thanks!
Rob Responds
Hello Hollis,
I sent an email from your website outlining the same info.Here’s my set-up;
Twin 98’s on a Hollis steel plate, with the wing (85BAC) bag over that then the harness over that. I use brass wing-nuts and stainless 2″ washers to keep the grommets from separating from the kit.I’ve asked two Hollis suppliers (here in canada) and neither of them are aware of these ‘HTS stabilizer plates” or at least they were not notified by the Hollis rep at the point of sale, to whom which I have a few choice words to unleash.On your website there is only the HTS2 and NO MENTION of the HTS stabilizer plates until you dig down into the accessories. I would think that something this vitally important would have a place on your HTS page on your website. Please consider making this change.

Please contact me as to how you would like me to proceed on this matter.

Best regards,

Rob Follows Up (September 7th, 2012)

Upon further investigation, those HTS stabilizer plates are shown to be used when no back plate is being used. as far I can find, there is no indication that I should be using those plates with a backplate.


I should mention that Hollis resolved this issue more than satisfactorily for my friend. It is great to see companies standing behind their products even for someone purchasing the product used without access to the instructions.

Back in the Pool February 9, 2013

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Training.
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It’s been a while, maybe almost a year, since I did any pool training. I could have done some of the small things a bit better, but overall it went great and we were pleased. The students were all great and none had any undue anxiety.

Maybe there’s more instructing in the cards for me this year. For once I feel like doing it again. Or maybe it was just the energizing effect of the Nitrox I was breathing (although those effects are not proven, of course).

We had 10 students, two instructors, 3 divemasters, and 3 divemasters in training. Made it easy, even though the DMiTs were doing some of their own exercises.

Diving in the News, October 13, 2012 November 12, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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Unfortunately the weather has turned cold and I have to content myself with writing about other people’s diving for now…

A UK Diver received a bravery award at Buckingham Palace for rescuing another diver in trouble. No doubt that he saved his fellow diver’s life. The people that I dive with wouldn’t hesitate to do the same thing, and every one of us has done some “minor” rescue of a fellow diver, rendering assistance before they got themselves into real trouble. I’m glad I dive with people like that.

Also in the near miss category is another diver drifting away in Florida. This one was rescued by a fisherman. The diver had a safety sausage with him. That’s a good idea when diving in the ocean. A little further South from Juno Beach we dove in some fierce currents on the offshore wrecks. If you’ve got a decompression obligation you could end up surfacing several miles from where you started if you had nothing like the wreck or a line to hold on to.

My first glimpse of this story revealed the name “Amigos Del Mar” and I immediately thought of the dive operation in Cabo San Lucas with  the same “Friends of the Sea” name. It’s probably a pretty common name for dive shops in the Spanish speaking world, and this one is in Belize. An employee of the shop was killed by an exploding scuba tank while filling it. While these incidents are rare, they are mostly preventable with good maintenance. The article speculates about faulty gauges and faulty compressors putting too much pressure in the tank, but I doubt it. If a gauge consistently read low, people would start to notice when they attached their regulators to tanks that had been filled at that station. A one time sticking gauge might have been the problem, but more likely it was a fault in the tank caused by daily use in a salt-water environment with insufficient attention to inspection and maintenance. Tanks also have burst discs that blow when they are overfilled, which is supposed to be below the pressure used in their hydrostatic tests.

Diving in the News, Oct 27, 2012 October 27, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Emergencies, Fitness and Nutrition, Miscellany, Training.
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A La Jolla, California diver died in hospital after losing consciousness on a boat dive. It seems that everything that could have been done was done to save him. The cause appeared to be a medical problem, and the diver appeared to be over 40. From the news at least it seems that the most common cause of death among divers is medical problems with older divers. Fitness would clearly be a good thing, but so might better training and skills. Diving should be relaxing, not physically stressful. I’ve reported on fatalities in La Jolla before. A solo diver died there in September, and a man died on his first solo dive at 155′ a few years back.

Diving in the News, October 20th, 2012 October 20, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany, Shipwrecks.
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The Hindustani Times ran a first person article about panic while learning to dive. I felt compelled to correct the reference to an “Oxygen Tank”.

Instructors and Dive Shops should take note of this report on a dive shop which failed to provide a medical questionnaire before training. Even though the former student had died on a holiday, they were found responsible, fined, and expelled from PADI.

After the Costa Concordia disaster I thought it might end up as diving destination. It already has, with looters stealing what they can from the wreck. Sometimes, often actually, I’m truly embarrassed for our species. Meanwhile there are plans to refloat it, so the thieves will be the only ones besides police and search and recovery divers who get to dive it. In the “it’s a small world” department, the woman who cuts my hair was once a hairdresser on the ship.

The world record for longest cold & salt water SCUBA dive has been broken in Ireland. Kudos to the diver and support team for raising money to support families of children with cancer, in memory of his two year old nephew. If any of my dive buddies who are reading this want to give it a try, I’ll happily be your support diver, but as I don’t have a pee valve in my dry suit I’m not about to do it myself. As I reported earlier the definition of cold in this case is below 15 degrees Celsius (59F).

A 68 year-old diver died in the Great Barrier Reef (hardly a week goes by without at least one diver death). I’m not counting, but it seems like a lot of fatalities are older divers. Of course, this proves nothing unless you also adjust the stats for a some variables, like the number of divers in each age group, etc.

Let’s be careful down there.

Diving in the News, October 6th, 2012 October 6, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Emergencies.
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I’ve taught Search & Recovery as part of the PADI Advanced Diver Course. We couldn’t get a lot of interest in the full course from new divers. This search course at the San Diego Harbour Police looks challenging, and fun. I mentioned before that in the early eighties my NASDS course we lifted a car (a Vega, I think) in our advanced driver training. We’re a little less ambitious with today’s courses.

I didn’t know there was good diving in the French Riviera. If I win the lottery I’m definitely going to swing the yacht by every once in a while. I’d have to buy a ticket of course, which I never do.

It’s hard to glean the truth out of news stories, especially those about diving fatalities. This article describes the death of a diving instructor in Lake Mead, and says he ran out of air at 350′, with another short article saying he was diving a Hoover Dam relic. Diving on air at 350′ isn’t sensible (in both senses of the word), but the reporter seems to have got it wrong. He shared “air” up the ascent line and was separated from his “dive partner” and made a free ascent to the surface. From a little Google searching Xavier was an accomplished diver, and has been described as an technical dive instructor in this article, which also says that were separated when he attempted an emergency ascent – a small but critical difference in the description. The article quotes Jill Heinerth, who was associated with Xavier on the “We Are Water” campaign, which included this video. He was 48. A post on Scubaboard corrects the news reports to say he was diving on mixed gas.