Open Water Diver Certification!

Open Water Diver Certification!

Tips to taking the plunge into the underwater world!

Tip 1:

Determine whether you like scuba diving or not.

  • Have you ever tried scuba diving? If not, consider taking a Discover Scuba course with your local dive center.  The course is designed to give people an opportunity to “try” diving before they commit to the full Open Water certification course. Give it a shot and blow some bubbles!

Tip 2:

Research reputable dive centers.

  • It doesn’t hurt to contact dive centers directly for a quick chat; you can easily find out if they are the type of people you’ll want to spend your money and time with based on the conversation.
  • Check out Trip Advisor!
  • Ask your friends and family!
Scuba Diving Classes in Key Largo, FL

Tip 3:

Determine which route you will take to start your course.  The Open Water Diver course consists of 3 parts; knowledge development, confined water, and 4 open water dives.  To obtain your certification you must meet the standard requirements for each part to “graduate” or what we like to say… become certifiable!

  • Full Open Water Course-
    • This option means that you will do all 3 parts of the course from start-to-finish with your local dive center.  There could be many options that your dive center offers.  For example, maybe they offer the course over multiple weekends or maybe they have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday evening course, etc. Find out what they offer.
  • Open Water Elearning-
    • This option means that you can do the first part of the course; knowledge development, online.  You simply log onto PADI.com and follow the links for Open Water Eleanring.  Once you’ve completed part 1 online then you simply need to book your confined water and 4 open water dives with a dive center of your choice. This is where researching a reputable dive center comes in handy!

Key Largo Scuba Diving Certification

 

  • Open Water Referral-
    • The Open Water referral suggests that you have already completed part 1 and 2; knowledge development and confined water. Now, all you have to do is contact your reputable dive center to book your 4 open water dives!

As you can see there are many options that hopefully can mesh with our busy lives and get us blowing bubbles in no time!

Fins-up!

Judging Weather 101

Judging Weather 101:

Do I make the trip down or do I not?   Is your plan to make the early morning drive down to the dive center for a morning charter out to the reef? What about weather?

First and foremost; check the forecast for the day of diving.  There are many sites you can use to look at this information however, the site that Horizon Divers refers to is the NOAA website. Specifically, the National Data Buoy Center. Refer to Station MLRF1- Molasses Reef, FL for the projected forecast for diving in Key Largo. This site gives you hour to hour wind readings at the Molasses Reef tower. Judging the Weather 101: Key Largo Scuba Diving

The picture above is a screen-shot of what the site looks like on your mobil device.  Notice in the middle of the picture is says “Conditions at MLRF1 as of….”; every hour you will get the wind direction and speed!  As you scroll down on the site you will see the report for each hour from what the winds were doing overnight; also very helpful information when wondering whether it might be the perfect day for you to dive.

Things to look for:

What direction is the wind blowing from?

  • ESE and SE are directions that can make the seas challenging if the wind is blowing strong enough
  • Anything out of the N or W make diving conditions pretty darn good; even if the wind is blowing strong!  Key Largo Diving Services
    Key Largo Scuba Diving Services

    Beautiful day on the water!

How strong is the wind blowing?

  • When you see the word “variable”; that is usually a good sign.  You will see occasionally “variable” winds 5-10 knots; also a great day on the water!
  • 20 knots out of the north is still a decently doable day; expect some chop and maybe 3′ seas generally.  On the other hand, 20 knots out of the SE means much more violent seas; expect 3-5 maybe some 6′ sloppy choppy seas!
  • If you see 20+ out of the SE,  double check with the dive center and see if they will be running their boats!

Note: Most dive shops won’t be able to tell you the night before if the trips will be cancelled the following morning due to wind.  Why? There is still over 12 hours of time from when the shop closes to when the boat leaves in the morning for the weather to calm down considerably!  Those numbers on the NOAA website, specifically those over-night wind numbers, are what we will look at in the morning to judge whether the trip goes.

When in doubt; call the dive shop!  We can at least give you an idea on what conditions are at the present moment and what we expect to see based on the above reports.

Fins up!  ( As Jimmy Buffett would say)

TEKDIVE USA 2016

TEKDIVE USA 2016

Its that time of year again!  TekDive USA is just around the corner.  Starting April 22nd, divers from all around the world will be joining together in Miami to talk diving!  Technical diving, rebreather diving, women and technical diving, cave diving, wreck diving; you name it, TEKDIVE USA has got it!

What is TEKDIVE USA? 

TEKDIVE USA is a two-day conference located in Miami, Florida.  Many national and international companies and speakers will be attending the show to share their stories and show off whats new and hot in the technical diving market!

Register now!

Many exhibits will be attending the show, including Horizon Divers!  Horizon Divers offers diving for our customers all around the board; from shallow reef diving and snorkeling to deep technical rebreather dives.  Horizon Divers is excited to support this great conference only two years in the making!  This show is an opportunity to learn about things you may never have heard about before!  You don’t need to be a technical diver to attend the show.  In fact, certified divers of any level are welcomed!  If you’re worried; don’t be!  You can always find your Horizon Divers family at booth #116!

There will be 51 speakers presenting on many different topics including but not limited to; alpine cave diving, WWII wrecks of the Gulf of Finland, the History of Technical Diving, molecular medicine and diving, etc.  So check out thier website at tekdiveusa.com to see what presentations you might be interested in!

When: April 22-24, 2016

Where: Kovens Conference Center

TEKDIVE USA 2016

Steps to Becoming a PADI Instructor

Once a month Horizon Divers provides dedicated and quality training for soon-to-be instructors.  It’s that time of month!

We started our October Instructor Development course (IDC) on OCT. 13th.  With 4 candidates, our course director has a lot to cover to get these striving students up to par with standards, skills, and procedures!  Their Instructor Examination (IE) is scheduled for OCT. 24th and 25th!

As I’m in the office typing up this awesome blog they are geared up and probably have already splashed into the pool!  What’s better than clear skies, radiating sunshine heat and palm trees blowing the breeze!

Have you ever wondered what the steps are to becoming a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (OWSI)?

Our programs, with an emphasis on safety and standards adherence, challenge you to think on your feet and make training decisions.  We are dedicated to your success from start-to-finish, so you will be able to confidently and comfortably teach in real life!  So, lets take you through those steps from “start-to-finish” on how to become an Open Water Scuba Instructor.

Step 1: Become an Open Water Diver!

Your Open Water Diver course will consist of E-Learning, confined water dives and 4 open water dives. Your instructor will teach you to become a reliable and safe diver.

Step 2: Dive!

Practice makes perfect!  Dive as often as possible.

Scuba Diving Instructor Training Key Largo, FL

Step 3: Enroll in your Advanced Open Water course.

The Advanced Open Water diver is the next course after your Open Water certification.  You will learn many other aspects of diving plus improve and build upon the skills that you already know!

Step 4: Next up… Rescue Diver and Emergency First Responder (EFR)

Your Rescue course will teach you life saving techniques for scuba diving. You are required to take the Emergency First Responder course OR hold an equivalent CPR/first aid certificate.

Step 5: DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!

Step 6: Become a PADI Divemaster!

This is your first PADI pro course!  You’ll need 40 dives to be accepted into the program and after the 14 day course you’ll need to have a total of 60 logged dives. You will learn the basics of the PADI system, how to assist divers and how to work in the dive industry.

Step 7: Schedule your Instructor Development Course (IDC)

You must have 100 logged dives to enroll in the PADI IDC.  Expect long nights and many hours studying to prepare for the Instructor Examination.  After the IDC you will have the knowledge and skills necessary to pass your IE, plus you’ll have made some life long dive buddies!

Scuba Diving Instructor Development Key Largo, FL

Step 8: Walk tall and proud into your Instructor Examination (IE)!

Stay strong, be confident and you will pass with high scores 🙂

HAPPY DIVING!!!!

 

 

International Coastal Clean-up Day!

International Coastal Clean-Up Day!

Every year the Ocean Conservancy hosts an International Coastal Clean-up day.  Last year alone an astounding 560,000 volunteers in 91 countries picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash!

There are many challanges when it comes to having a clean and safe ocean, but one problem is very simple to understand; trash.

The Ocean Conservancy says, and we all know, that trash in the water:

– Compromises the health of humans, wildlife and the livelihoods that depend on a helthy ocean

International Coastal Clean-up Day

– Threnten tourism and recreation, and the critical dollars they add to our local economies

– Complicates shipping and transportation by causing navigation hazards

If you want to help the oceans and environment then consider volunteering at a location that is hosting a clean-up for the International Coastal Clean-up Day. If you can’t join on a specific date, maybe consider creating your own clean-up with friends and family; and know that you could be saving a life!

Horizon Divers is hosting a clean-up of their own; USCGC Duane Clean-up!

Horizon Divers Coastal Clean-up Project

Join us for our clean-up on September 20th at 12:30pm for a double dip on the wreck of the Duane. The Duane has many creatures that call that wreck home; from sharks, rays and turtles to crabs of all sizes! Last year one of our divers rescued a resident sea turtle who was entangled in fishing line and would have died had he not cut the line!

Let’s make a difference!

LOBSTERS!

Hi again!

Lobsters! Lobsters! Lobsters!

It’s that time of year again! Lobster season is upon us! Between the dates of August 6th and March 31st you can harvest lobster!

Here are some “FUN FACTS” about those deliciously spiny lobsters, complements of the National Park Service.

– Spiny lobsters reproduce in spring and summer. Females carry the bright orange eggs on the underside of the tail until the eggs are ready to hatch.

Lobster Season Information

– Once hatched, the larvae will travel long distances as plankton in currents before settling into shallow water nursery habitats.

Puerulus is the term used to describe the free-swimming phase that moves out of the plankton and into benthic habitats.

– As a spiny lobster grows, it molts, or loses its hard protective exoskeleton (carapace). After molting, the lobster is soft-bodied and very vulnerable to predators for about two days until its new, larger exoskeleton forms over its growing body.

– Spiny lobsters are nocturnal, and emerge from their hiding spots during the night to forage on their favorite foods, including crabs, clams and other invertebrates.

– Spiny lobsters have two large antennae, with are used for fighting and defense, and two smaller antennules, which are sensory organs that can detect chemicals and movement in the water.

Now, after reading how very interesting these underwater crustrations can be do you still want to harvest them? If yes, then here are some just as interesting and equally important rules and regulations to follow:

Season Dates: August 6th – March 31st

Bag Limit: 6 per person per day

Minimum Size Limit: Carapace larger than 3″, measured in the water
Possession and use of a measuring device is
required at all times

Harvest of lobster is prohibited in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State park, Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park, no-take areas in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and in the Biscayne Bay/Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary during both the 2-day sports season and regular season.

Lobster must be landed in whole condition. Seperation the thail from the body is prohibityed in state waters.

The harvest or possession of eggbearing spiny lobsteris prohibited.

More information on the “Rules and Regulations”

Specialty of the Month!

Hey Divers,

We are going to offer a Specialty of the Month for our divers!  This month’s specialty is Wreck Diver!

Key Largo Ship Wreck Scuba Diving

Who doesn’t want to be a wreck diver??  Especially with the Spiegel Grove, Duane and Bibb just minutes away!

With all the amazing wrecks we have down here in the Keys, why not continue your education and build your diver knowledge with taking a new and exciting specialty course!  What’s even better is that we are offering this course at 10% off for the month of August!

Wreck diving can be very fun but it can also be very dangerous.  With so many nooks and crannys to find and with the possibility of deep penetration divers really need to be aware and have the knowledge and responsibility to conduct a safe, yet fun, wreck dive.

Check out the link below to see whats next on the monthly agenda and see if your favorite specialty program is coming up!

CLICK HERE

Oh!  Don’t forget we’ve moved!  Swing by the new shop at 105800 Overseas Hwy in Key Largo or give us a call at 305.453.3535 to book your course.  Remember to mention this blog post so that you get your 10% OFF!

Happy diving!

What is Sidemount Diving?

What is Sidemount Diving?

Have you ever considered alternative ways to carry your scuba tank underwater? Tanks on your back is NOT a requirement for exploring the underwater world! Crazy huh?!

Sidemount & Recreational Diving in Key Largo, FL

What is it?

Well, it’s just like it sounds; you mount your tanks on your side instead of your back; sidemount! Voila! Sidemount diving is becoming more and more popular with both recreational and technical divers. There is no right or wrong way to your configuration set up, but depending on your goals as a diver you may find it more convenient to dive sidemount.

For example: Maybe you’re considering getting into cave diving; some of those spaces are very tight!  You might be entering and exiting though very narrow passageways… Wearing your tanks on your side makes it much easier to get though whereas you may find it difficult squeezing though with back mounted doubles!

Now, you don’t have to be a technical diver to dive sidemount. Many recreational divers prefer diving sidemount. You might find that you prefer to enter the water without hauling a tank on your back. With shore diving especially, as a sidemount diver, you can simply enter the water, clip them on and go!

For those of you thinking, “I’ve never carried two tanks ever!” don’t worry. You don’t have to. You can mount one tank to your side; it’s called Monkey Diving.

Steve Lewis, who works for Technical Diving International (TDI) wrote a blog titled, Getting Sidemount Tanks To Behave Themselves And Sit Where They Should about sidemount configuration. Check it out! You’ll find some very interesting and helpful information!

There are many advantages to both backmount and sidemount configurations! Think about what goals you have set for yourself as a diver and just know that you have options!

Exciting News for Smalltooth Sawfish!

Say What!?

Here’s some new and exciting news for Smalltooth Sawfish!

Remember those Smalltooth Sawfish that were sighted on our technical trip a couple weeks ago? Word got around that we saw so many of the same endangered species, and now we’ve been informed that because of diver observations, a NOAA researcher by the name of Dr. Dean Grubbs at FSU has decided to do some additional research at the Queen of Nassau just off Alligator Reef in Islamorada. I contacted Dr. Grubbs not only for my own peeked interest but also so that maybe we can understand the Smalltooth Sawfish and what is being done to protect it!

As a reminder if you missed our Queen of Nassau BLOG, the Smalltooth sawfish are quite a rare sight to see! According to NOAA fisheries (Office of Protected Resources), the Smalltooth Sawfish was listed on the Endangered Spiecies list in 2003. Even though they mostly look like a shark they are actually modified rays that have a shark-looking body! Divers who were diving on the Queen of Nassau on January 20th reported seeing 7-8 smalltooth sawfish on one dive! One of which had to have been 15′ long!

 

Dr. Grubbs and his team from FSU took their 26’ Calcutta out to the Queen of Nassau a couple weeks ago to try to catch and tag the sawfish.   During 2 one-hour sets, they caught 7 Smalltooth Sawfish! They caught 1 adult male on the first set then 5 females and 1 male on the second.  Most of the sampling is done either in Florida Bay or in areas on the edge of the shelf such as the Queen of Nassau and deeper reefs around the Florida Keys.  Researchers believe that the Queen of Nassau may be an aggregation site for the Smalltooth Sawfish!

 

Scientists are trying to figure out what habitats are important to adult sawfish for feeding, pupping, mating, etc. When they catch a sawfish they will attach a satellite tag that will give some idea on where the sawfish go over a 4-month period before the tags eventually release from the sawfish. A dart tag is also attached so that if anyone catches one they can contact NOAA.  They take a small fin clipping for genetic analysis and a blood sample to determine if the females could be pregnant.  According to Dr. Grubbs there has only been a few times when they have been able to catch adult males and females together. He says, “ This past trip to the Queen of Nassau was definitely one of our most successful trips – the seven sawfish we caught is the most we have caught in a single day”.

 

Also, Dr. Grubbs kindly shared a documentary on their sawfish work last March in Florida Bay. Check it out!

Remember!

Divers, fisherman, and anyone else who spots a sawfish, report your sightings to the sawfish encounter database at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/sharks/sawfish/form.html

How To Prepare For A Dive

If you’re a beginner diver or an experienced diver you may wonder sometimes what steps to take to prepare for a dive. Whether it is a simple shallow reef dive out to Molasses Reef or a technical dive out to the Northern Light, you may wonder what step you might be missing. We’ve all done it… left our wetsuit at the dock, forgot your dive light or computer on the charger or even just before your giant stride you find that your fin strap has just snapped! Oh NO! Preparation may have been your saving grace!   Here are some steps you can follow on how to prepare for a dive:

 

You’ve already planned your destination! You’re looking out of your back door to the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys! The sun is shinning and you are ready to dive! You’ve got your water bottle so you can stay hydrated and you’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle so you can do what you do best, Dive!

 

Step 1:

Do you have your certification card?

Open Water Certification Key Largo, FL

Every dive shop (if they are a good one) will ask to see your certification card. You remember the card; you were so excited to receive it in the mail! That’s the one! It’s not hard to keep that in your wallet or at the very least snap a photo of it and keep it in the photo library on your phone (you’ll never forget your phone). Being prepared and having this card will make your check-in process very smooth. Without this card you may come across some problems. Yes, most dive shops have access to “look you up in the system” but, what if Internet is down? What then? No card, no dive! Long story short…. Keep your card in your wallet.

 

Step 2:

When did you dive last? Do you feel your skills are up to date? Do you feel comfortable handling any diving situation that may arise? Will you be a good buddy?

Scuba Lessons Key Largo, FL

Sometimes after long periods of not doing something, you may forget key steps to making sure that experience is memorable and safe. If you do feel you could use a review then think about enrolling in a SCUBA Refresher course. You can do this at Horizon Divers with us or most local dive shops offer a pool refresher! If you can’t remember how to put your gear together, you are not ready to dive!

 

Step 3:

Do you have all of your gear from head to foot?

Preparing for a Scuba Dive in Key Largo, FL

Take a mental checklist of everything you could possibly need for your dive from head to foot. Do you have your mask, snorkel, BCD, regulator, wetsuit, booties, fins, dive computer, SMB, reel, light, etc.? Check your inventory before the boat leaves the dock!  Maybe consider building a “Save-a-Dive” kit that includes spare parts; fins straps, tools, mouthpieces, etc.  You don’t want to be the diver shivering underwater because your wetsuit is hanging in the sun at the dock drying for your next dive! BURR!

 

 

Step 4:

LISTEN to the dive and safety briefings!

Guided Scuba Diving in Key Largo, FL

As a diver, snorkeler or rider on the boat, you will learn valuable information from these briefings. Don’t assume you know what the captain, crew and divemaster will tell you.  Many questions can be answered by just listening. Where are the weights and weight belts? Is there a bathroom onboard? What to do in case of an emergency? What are the entry and exit procedures? ETC.

 

Step 5:

You always hear, “Communication is key to life!” Communicate with your buddy on the dive plan.

Key Largo Scuba Diving School

What IS the plan? Depth? Who’s leading? Once you’re underwater, communication can be a little tricky. Yes, it’s easy to say, “OMG look at that giant shark behind you!” I mean, I’m practically screaming through my regulator in that situation.  The point I’m trying to make is make sure you and your buddy know the scoop? Are you swimming outside the wreck only, or do you plan to penetrate the wreck? These things are better-discussed topside then underwater. As a technical diver, be sure to keep your captain in the loop too! They need to know your run time and when to expect you back!

 

Step 6:

Be safe and have FUN!

Scuba Diving Vacation Package in Key Largo, FL

Diving is supposed to be fun! If you’re not having fun then something probably isn’t quite right. See what you can do to change that; consider continuing your education or fine-tuning what you already know by taking a specialty course to feel more confident with your skills! I don’t know about you, but when I’m underwater with a school of hammerheads or my favorite teeny-weeny juvenile trunkfish I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders! Ironic, as I am several atmospheres under pressure!