Boat

Boat Etiquette – Basic Boat Operations

Boat etiquette is one of the least appreciated aspects of diving. In the United States, there are  clear laws about how most water, at least on the coast, is owned by the public. As a result we collectively share the water. While it is fantastic that the oceans are held in the public trust, we do have to share the water and locations we communally own. Here is a basic breakdown of how we can work together to enjoy the waters we share. 

Boat Etiquette – Arriving at the Boat Ramp

Boat ramps are crowded places full of other boats getting launched and retrieved. No matter how experienced you are with a boat and trailer there always seem to be a dozen people at the ramp that have no idea what they are doing. The best thing you can do is be prepared and patient. Make sure you have your boat prepared in advance so you can spend as little time as possible at the boat ramp. Just maintain control over what you can and relax about what you can’t. 

Rules of The Road

Once you are on the water you should obey the Rules of the Road. These are the summarized methods of the International Collision Regulation (COLREGS). These are the standards that all boat are expected to adhere. The first thing you should expect is for every boater to completely ignore these regulations. If you expect everyone on the water to be trying to kill you you won’t be surprised when they almost kill you. Just because other people ignore the rules dent mean you should ignore them. 

Approaching Other Boats on a Spot

One of the most common challenges you run into while diving is running into other boats going to the same spots. The best thing you can do is be polite. Remember, you are always an ambassador for all divers when you go diving. You can drop your anchor while other boats actively fish the spot then throw up your dive flag. While that is technically allowed it still makes you a jerk. The appropriate thing to do is to ask your fellow boats how long they plan on being there. Also ask if they would mind if you hop in the water. The best thing to do is do what you would hope the other boat would do to you. Just be respectful to one another out on the water. 

Boat Etiquette – At the End of The Day

Similar to how you were prepared to get away from the boat ramp when you showed up you should be ready to remove your boat from the water as quickly as possible. The trailer determines when the boat is taken out of the water, not the boat. Many boat ramps allow you to tie up your boat away from the ramp and retrieve your vehicle and trailer, you should then get in line, if there is one and quickly and safely remove your boat from the water. Finish anything else you have to do to get your boat ready for the road away from the water. Just remember, there are two groups of people when you are boating. The people in your group, and the morons (everyone else). 

Boat 600

Boat Etiquette – Proper Etiquette on a Charter Boat

No two charter boats are alike so gaining experience with one operation doesn’t fully prepare you for diving with another. Here are a few pointers from experienced charter captains to make your trip more enjoyable. 

Expectation Management

Before booking your charter you should have an understanding of what you expect. A bluewater trip is vastly different than a reef trip so discuss your expectations before booking but understand that weather and conditions can change and, rather than cancel, the destination and goals may change. 

Dive Charter Flexibility

Be flexible. Understand there may be different levels of skill and experience. Unless you book a trip specific to your skill level you may be diving sites shallower or deeper than you wish. 

Be Courteous

Don’t bring every piece of gear you own. You should only bring what you will reasonably need. They appreciate that you have six custom spearguns but you don’t need them all on a 6 hour trip. Be aware of the room you take up on the boat. Pick up after yourself. The captain and crew generally arrive hours before the charter and will be cleaning and maintaining the boat for an hour after you end you day. Don’t stuff your food wrappers and water bottles under the gunnels or throw them in the ice chest for the crew to have to sort. 

Speaking of the ice chest, rule of thumb is if you put your water, beer, sodas (or Whiteclaw) in the cooler then it stays there at the end of the day. If you bring 32 beers and drink 3 then you’ve donated 29 beers to the cause. If you don’t like it then bring only what you need. Water is generally supplied but ASK before drinking anything else that doesn’t belong to you. Take your food home. 

Take Directions From the Crew

LISTEN TO INSTRUCTIONS. The captain and crew have repeated the way they operate their boat a thousand times prior to giving todays briefing so expect to be told once nicely, after that it doesn’t have to be nice. They are responsible for your safety and that of the other clients, the crew, and the boat. It doesn’t matter if you have a boat, you do it a different way on another boat, or you don’t agree. Follow the boat rules. Even on small boats there is a hierarchy designed for the welfare of everyone onboard. The captain is responsible for everyone and everything on the boat so his word is the law. You’ve never seen a suggestion box on a charter boat, take that as a clue. 

Tipping on a Charter Boat

Captaining and crewing a dive boat is a great job most of the time. We take the good with bad and try to provide a safe, fun, and productive trip. It’s a hard job all of the time. Consider that at the end of the day when it comes time to tip. Its difficult to gauge what an “appropriate” tip is but consider what you would give the guy at the air-conditioned steakhouse who told you what a good choice you made, carried your food to the table, and refilled your over-priced wine. Tip accordingly.   

Img 0681

Boat Etiquette – Diving on a Friend’s Boat

Diving on a friends boat is absolutely fantastic. Generally the group has more say in where they want to go and what they want to do. Assuming you are all familiar with the area, everyone on the boat has a pretty good chance of success on the trip. With that said, there is a fair bit of etiquette that goes into diving on a friend’s boat. We will go over some basic boat etiquette and what to expect, and some tips on how to get invited back out.

Who is in Charge – Tradition and Boat Etiquette

The short version is that your friend is in charge of their boat. They may ask advice from you, but it all come back to it being their boat. While they are I charge they should also be responsible, to some extent, for what happens. That means they end up being the trip coordinator for the day. Whoever has the boat is who should organize what should be brought for the trip.

Where You Dive

The person that owns the boat determines where the boat actually goes. Everyone should be part of the decision to some extent. Dive skill of everyone on the boat should be a factor in the decision. The other consideration is when other divers should step in if conditions are unsafe. It is your friend’s boat, but the line is drawn when they are being unsafe. Confrontation is always a tough call when you need to get in a friend’s face about them making unsafe decisions. It almost certainly will result in an argument. 

How Long You Dive

Dive charters are for a certain amount of time on the water. On a friend’s boat that is not the case.  That means you can start earlier and end way later. Every friend group is different, but usually people go out and burn all that gas to try and fill the fish box. That means you shouldn’t expect to get back to the dock until the box is full, or until you have gotten what you went out for. If the trip is unsuccessful you may be diving until it is dark and coming back in late at night. That means you shouldn’t make hard plans for later in the day when you go out on a friend’s boat. It is an easy way to be frustrated with a friend, and piss off whoever you had plans with. 

Helping on the Boat – Boat Etiquette on Not Stepping on Toes

There is a reason that ships only have one captain. There needs to be one person in charge of a trip. Everyone has a say in the safety of a trip, but the final decisions comes down to one person. That is usually the owner. That can change if that person defers to someone else. That means you need to take directions from that person. That could mean steering or anchoring the boat, helping with lines or fenders near the dock, or any number of other tasks. It is best to communicate with the person what you are capable of ahead of time, rather than at a critical moment. There is nothing wrong with declaring your lack of skill in a task. Just make sure you let the appropriate people know ahead of time and learn at every opportunity possible. 

How to Contribute

Contributing to a trip is an important part of diving etiquette on a friends boat. Your buddy has gone through the expense of maintaining a boat, and possibly a boat trailer. They are not obligated to pay for your diving as well. There are many ways to contribute to a trip. Here is some ways to split up the cost and make sure no one feels taken advantage of. 

Before the Trip

Before the trip there should be some communication about who is bringing what. One individual should coordinate what needs to be brought, but there are many things that help make a trip successful. Someone needs to bring ice. Another diver can bring food, snacks, or drinks. Depending on the type of trip, someone may want to bring chum. These are not hard and fast rules, someone can do multiple things or none of them. Either way there needs to be communication on who is bringing what, or if everyone is going to bring all their own stuff. 

After the Trip

After the trip the costs are usually divided up amongst the group evenly. There is a fine line between splitting costs and running an illegal charter. The cost per person is broken down by the cost of gas evenly divided by the people on the boat. Some boaters may have the cost broken down to include the cost of the services that come up all too quickly on boats. They are not wrong in breaking down the costs like that. Ultimately the number your buddy gives you at the end of the day is a lot less than the actual cost of owning a boat.

If anyone is good with a computer you can put all the costs of everything everyone put into the trip from the food, drinks, snacks, chum, and ice and break down the average cost and subtract what each person already paid. After all that everyone just owes the difference. It is a little more complicated, but a little more fair. 

Img 1384

Dock of Death: The Life Cycle of Spearfishermen and Why We Need to Mature

The term ‘Dock of Death’ is getting thrown around more and more within the spearfishing community. For those of you unfamiliar it is the practice of laying out everyones catch for the day in a way that prominently displays everyones fish, usually close to everyones limit. While it is impressive to display a groups ability to gather their limit of fish it has some issues when it comes to the public relations for the spearfishing community. The debate on if it is a good practice is pretty well decided in it being poor form. That being said, the legality is certainly in the favor of it being acceptable. We will go over some of the reasoning behind why you may want to simply consider showing off your prize fish and keeping the rest of the fish on ice. 

Your Legal Right, Until it Isn’t

We would like to think that the governing authorities in charge of fishing regulations are basing it purely on sound scientific data. Unfortunately, there is a large portion that is based at least partially on public input. While it is important that the public has a voice in many aspects of their lives, This should probably be an area that has a stronger focus on science. So based on this we can see how a negative public perception of spearfishing can directly impact things like our bag limits. When the public sees divers with what may be considered and excessive number of fish the public can express the idea that the limit should be reduced. 

In the State of Florida we saw the recreational limit of sheepshead reduced from 15 fish to 8 fish. At the forum many people expressed  distaste for seeing people holding up what they considered to be too many fish. The limit was determined by public opinion rather than the scientific data which pointed to 15 fish being sustainable. Be aware that is can happen anywhere with any species of fish or any limit. If that isn’t an example of why we should be more conscious of our actions I’m not sure what is. 

The Life Cycle of a Spearo

Divers seem to have a bit of a life cycle as they continue to spearfish. They go through phases that can be defined to some degree. Obviously every diver is different and may bounce around to different parts of this lifecycle. That being said, just about every has the same starting point. Check out a detailed breakdown on Noob Spearo Episode: 150 – Death Pile Phenomena, Dock of Death Pics. 

Phase One: The New Diver/ Beginner

No matter how great a diver you may have become you started just like everyone else. Most new divers are still struggling to understand the basics of freediving when they try to throw in the infinite skills that spearfishing also requires. The challenges of understanding the loading and safe use of a speargun is no small task to the new diver. Take that and compound the use of a reel or floatline and it is a struggle. Go a step further and add fish identification and understanding of size and method of take regulations. Then, on top of all of this, you have to try and stalk and hunt a creature that is in its natural habitat, while you are not. Needless to say a new diver is working on developing all these skills, and as such is usually not the most skilled spearo straight out of the gate.

Phase Two: Shoot the Limit of Fish

After you get past the early stages of spearfishing it is common for people to progress to trying to catch their entire limit. This is easier said than done. In this phase divers refine the skills they were working on in phase one. As the diver progresses this is where the ‘dock of death’ starts to come into play. They get better at stalking and hunting, and start to pick up on fish behavior. The diver starts to figure out more about what the sport is about, but they are still focused on filling the freezer. 

Phase Three: Shoot the Biggest Fish

In phase three the goal tends to be on harvesting the largest fish you can. Larger fish are usually more weary of divers. It takes more skill to stalk and land these larger fish. This is where a diver may start to show signs of maturing while spearing. In order to have a chance at the really big fish you end up passing up opportunities on tons of good and legal fish. In short, the diver is becoming more selective. Once a diver is good at shooting their limit of big fish is when the dock of death pictures start to really get the attention of other people in the diving and fishing community.

Phase Four: Selective Harvesting and Competition

This phase is optional. Many divers start to feel competitive once they start shooing big fish and they want to demonstrate it. The best way to do that is through competitions. Spearfishing tournaments happen all over the world and are a great way to enjoy the camaraderie of the sport. Competitions are not a driving force for every great spearo. Some people are driven purely by the hunt. 

Phase Five: Respecting the Resource/ The Chef Stage

This can frequently be the final stage of many spearfishing journeys. At this point divers frequently become very selective. They pick the fish they specifically want. This usually is driven by food. The focus becomes on the edibility. Divers tend to focus on taking ethical shots on specific species they want. At this point the diver tends to focus on how they want to prepare their catch. If you get a group of these divers in a room you are more likely to hear people trading cooking recipes rather than how crazy their dive trip was. At this point it is really all about respecting the resource. 

Phase Six: The Statesman 

Not all divers get to this phase, and that is okay. Not every diver that gets to this phase does it well. The Statesman phase is always driven from good intentions, but often comes off as rude or frustrating. The diver is often trying to guide people further along in the phases, or trying t get them to skip to the end. There are good ways to do this and rude ways to do this. Having a simple and productive conversation with someone seems to be the best way. Unfortunately the statesman tends to get on social media and start calling people out in harsh ways. This doesn’t help anyone. Try and be responsible in helping others progress past the need to display a dock of death. 

Grouper 600

So You Shot a Fish – Now What (Spearfishing For Beginners) 

Every new diver builds up a bunch of skills to get to the point where they can finally shoot a fish. They have to get the gear, learn how to load the speargun, learn how to freedive down, and actually get close enough to a fish to shoot one. After all that there is still the question of what you have to do after that. This is a quick guide going over a few scenarios that new divers may run into when they shoot a fish.

The quick answer is that you retrieve it, but short answers rarely give you the detail you need to do something. Every method ends up with your hands holding and subduing the fish.

The Stone Shot

If you are lucky you can “stone” the fish. Stoning a fish is slang for shooting the fish in the spine or brain.  Stone shots kill or immobilize the fish immediately. There are several reasons this is the best thing to do. Fish are surprisingly strong for their size. Even some smaller fish are able to move large spear shafts through the water when they have been shot. Stoning the fish prevents you from having to make multiple dives to retrieve your gear. It also prevents the fish from damaging any of your equipment.

Another reason to try and stone the fish is the meat tastes better. When a fish struggles it builds up lactic acid in its meat which makes the fish taste different than when they just stop struggling. The reality is we don’t always get the shot we want, and that is where the following factors come into play.

Rocking Up

When reef fish swim into structure when they are threatened or injured. This is called rocking up. This is one of the reasons many divers attach reels or floatlines to their spearguns. These allow the diver to come up to the surface without having to leave their speargun on the reef. If you are lucky or skilled you may be able to retrieve you fish from the structure on the same dive you shoot it. Most of the time you will have to come up to the surface and breathe up and make multiple dives to pull the fish out of the structure.

Fish Running

Some species may choose to swim away with your equipment. This is most common with pelagic species, but reef fish do this occasionally as well. This is where a float and float line system come in handy. These allow you to return to the surface and let your equipment fight the fish for you. You can pull up your fish from the surface if your float doesn’t get pulled underwater.

Nsl Flashlightnsl Flashlight02 273x187 1

Dive Lights – Why You Need One In Your Dive Bag

Dive lights are an infinitely valuable tool for all divers. When it really comes down to it, lights help put fish and crustaceans in the boat. They can also be helpful on the boat or any situation where you might need a little light. Some lights can be stored out of the way with a holster that fits easily on your weight belt or BC strap.

Dive Lights In the Water

Most reef fish will attempt to hide inside structure. We may not realize just how much light we lose as we dive deeper in the water, but its is a lot. This loss of light is compounded more when we are looking into a cave, deep ledge, or wreck. A powerful dive light can be the difference between shooting your fish, and having no idea it is in the structure. Some divers will put their light pointing into a hole they know a fish is hiding in, come back to the surface and use the light as a marker to make a better dive and shoot the fish. 

Dive lights are essential equipment to successfully land lobsters or ‘crayfish’. These tasty crustaceans are almost exclusively harvested under ledges or in holes. Lights significantly help find the lobster, as well as identify any hazards you might run into while harvesting them. 

Lights Out of the Water

Many dive lights are useful as regular flashlights outside the water. There are a million useful situations for flashlights. Some uses include setting you gear up before an early morning shore dive. Another use is looking for an essential piece of gear you dropped in a storage compartment on a buddy’s boat.

You may need to be careful with some dive lights out of the water. Some model require water to cool the light, or the flashlight can overheat and damage the light. If you feel your light starting to get warm in your hand it may be time to turn the light off for a bit. You can also throw it in a bucket of water.

Seadrops 600x600

Defogging Your Mask – A How To Guide

Mask Defogging has been a challenge for divers since masks first started being made.  There are a number of reasons masks fog up.  We will be going over some of the causes and solutions for for keeping your mask lenses clear. 

Why Masks Fog Up

Dive masks for up for a couple of reasons. New masks fog up because masks have a protective coating of silicone sprayed inside the mask to prevent scratching in transit. This coating is more susceptible to the differences in temperature from a divers face and the environment around them.  There are several methods for removing this silicone layer, some of these techniques are more effective than others.  

How Mask Defog Works

Even after treating a mask you can still have challenges with your mask fogging up while diving.  Even after treating your mask you will still need to use some kind of mask defog while diving. The defog creates a thin layer on the inside of your mask that prevents water from condensation on the lens of the mask.

How to Treat a New Mask

There are a couple of techniques to remove the silicone layer on a new mask.  The most effective method only works on mask with tempered glass lenses. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD ON PLASTIC LENSES. Use a lighter to burn off the the silicone layer on the inside.  Check out the video for an example.  

The next method is to use toothpaste or a de-greasing soap and to rub it into the lenses for 20-30 minutes.  It takes longer than the lighter, but it you aren’t risking overheating any seals on your mask.

There are a couple other options, but these are most effective methods.  Check out this video for some of the examples.  

Wetsuit Maintance 600

Wetsuit Maintenance and Preventing Wetsuit Rash

Wetsuits are an expensive investment. To help make your wetsuit last longer and keep you warmer, here are a few tips and tricks that you should know and consider for wetsuit maintenance.

Basics of Neoprene

All wetsuits are made from Neoprene; of which there are several brands. All neoprene is a petroleum based foam. This is import to know because most detergents and soaps have degreasers in them that will break down the neoprene and the glue that bonds them together. We recommend using a preferred wetsuit cleaner such as Revivex to clean your suit without risk of damage.

Cleaning and Drying

Always clean and dry your suit after each use to maximize the longevity. Additionally, by not cleaning your wetsuit properly you put yourself at risk of getting wetsuit rash.  Wetsuit rash usually occurs on multi-day dive trips. It is a result of bacteria multiplying in a wet environment as a result of sweat, dead skin cells, and other accumulations in a wetsuit.

Always wash and dry your wetsuit as best you can after each dive day. Open cell suits need to be dried inside-out initially. This prevent the neoprene from sticking to itself on the inside of your suit.

If you already have wetsuit rash the best thing to do is keep the area dry and clean. Use white vinegar to keep the area clean. Additionally, you should use some type of triple antibiotic to prevent infection. Continue to monitor the area and seek medical attention if it continues to get worse.

Fixing Damage

Neoprene can be fragile. If you nick or tear Neoprene, it is important to repair it right away. This will prevent it from becoming a bigger hole and possibly ruining your suit. When repairing your suit, begin by making sure the Neoprene is dry. If the hole is large or the tear is long, be sure to put a piece of wax paper under the hole to ensure the glue does not drip through. You can potentially glue one side of your suit to the other. We recommend using the Aquaseal+NEO; this glue drys soft, is very strong, and will not take away the flexibility of your wetsuit.

 

How Frequently You Should Replace a Wetsuit 

There are several factors that can dictate how frequently you should replace a wetsuit. We will go over several of those considerations, as well as ways to extend the life of your suit. The biggest factor is the amount of use the it sees. After that the age is a big consideration. One of the biggest impacts on how long a wetsuit lasts is how it is cared for. 

Frequency of Wetsuit Use

Easily the biggest impact of how well a wetsuit works is how frequently the suit is used. Neoprene is a rubber that has small air pockets within it to help insulate a diver. The more frequently a wetsuit is used the more these bubbles get compressed and destroyed. These bubbles are what helps insulate the diver, more so than the rubber. If you are diving multiple times a week all year long your suit will compress, and be less effective sooner than if you only were diving once or twice a month. You can see how the amount you dive can dramatically impact how long your suit will last and how frequently you will need a new one. If you are diving multiple times a week you will likely need to replace your suit every year or two. 

The Age of the Suit

Even if you don’t use your wetsuit very frequently it still breaks down over time. The neoprene is a rubber, and it stiffens with age. Every once in a while you may have to buy a suit for a trip to somewhere cold. That suit may only get used every year or two, but it will still start to become less effective after a few years. Other than the neoprene getting stiffer, another factor in this is that these suits are held together by glue and stitching. That glue has a shelf life and will break down before the rest of the wetsuit. Even with effective stitching you will get water intrusion that makes the suit feel colder. Even if you take perfect care of your suit, they tend to loose effectiveness within about five years from when they were manufactured. 

Extending the Life Of your Wetsuit Through Proper Care

Taking proper care of a wetsuit can dramatically increase the life of it. One of the reasons wetsuits can loose their ability to keep a diver warm is from not being washed. We mentioned before that neoprene keeps a diver warm by having air pockets encased in rubber. Those air bubbles can become clogged with your skin cells, sweat, urine, and debris. As these air pockets get saturated with all of this they loose effectiveness to insulate you. Using wetsuit shampoo and cleaner and properly washing and drying your wetsuit cleans out these air pockets and extends the life of the wetsuit. DO NOT USE DISH DETERGENT. Any type of de-greasing soap will harm your wetsuit. Wetsuits are made of rubber, which is a petroleum product. If you use de-greasing detergent on your wetsuit it will start to fall apart. 

Neptonics Quantum Stealth Wetsuit 11

Quantum Stealth Wetsuits Product Review

The Neptonics Quantum Stealth Wetsuits are top of the line elite wetsuits. The camouflage pattern blends into any dive environment. The design of the suit ensures comfort, flexibility, and function.

Material

The Neptonics Quantum Stealth Suit is made with Yamamoto #39 Neoprene. It is easily the warmest and stretchiest neoprene on the market. The outside of the suit is made with 10 oz 4-way stretch Lycra. These two materials make the best combination of flexibility and durability on the market. You do have to be a little careful with the interior of the wetsuit. It can be a little delicate when it comes to tearing from fingernails. Wetsuit glue fixes these small cuts with easy, to ensure a long life for your suit.

Wetsuit Camouflage Pattern

Most freedive spearfishing suits have some type of camouflage. The Quantum Stealth camouflage pattern allows divers to break up their silhouette in any dive environment. This includes both bluewater as well as reef spearfishing.

Wetsuit Comfort Features

This suit has some amazing features built into it. This make it one of the most comfortable suits on the market. The wetsuit has articulated knees, elbows, hip, neck, and shoulders. Those combined with the face, wrist, and ankle seals allow for mobility, flexibility and warmth. The loading pad on the suits totals to a 10mm loading pad, which is more than other suit on the market. This ensures the most comfortable chest loading possible. Additionally, the suit has a vented hood to help with equalization issues. 

Safety Features

All of the suits have an integrated powerhead pocket. Additionally, the wetsuit has a built in safety whistle in the shoulder of the suit for getting the attention of nearby boats. The next piece of safety equipment is the integrated knife push with magnetic closure to prevent entanglements.