Monthly Archives: November 2016

  • The Diving Equipment Manufacturer’s Association Show in America 2016

    DEMA Report. The American annual diving trade show was held during mid-November. While in past years the event has appeared to shrink in size, I am happy to report that the leisure diving industry looks to be recovering and the show at the Las Vegas Convention Centre seemed much larger and more vibrant than in recent years. Every aspect of diving was catered for and there were many interesting new products as well as some very quirky ones exhibited. Here’s a selection. Take your pick!

    Swes Technology Dive Light. Probably the most portentous product in the DEMA show, the European-made SDL-600 dive light has no battery but is powered by seawater! Its patented energy cell using graphite and magnesium rods is said to last for 2190 hours and the lamp itself is rated to 100m deep. Electrolysis powers the 1pc CREE XM-L2 U2 producing a maximum of 1140 lumens.

    Aqua Lung Outlaw BC, the brainchild of Aqua Lung’s Don Rockwell, is completely modular, allowing the buyer to tailor a perfect fit. It’s four main parts include a choice of two different buoyancy cells, different length shoulder straps, and waistband, all of which easily snap together. One can attach different size integrated weight pockets and the whole can be conveniently transported broken down into its constituent parts. With soft D-rings and a daisy chain loop feature for multiple ways to attach gear, it weighs only 1.8kg. I could imagine this might prove extremely popular with the travelling diver.

    Easy Dive Nomad combines a snorkel with a compressed air cylinder that can easily be switched to when the user is underwater. But it seems as if a snorkeler might too easily hold a breath taken at depth and then ascend unwittingly with a great chance of inducing an air embolism. This hazardous item, complete with Spare Air cylinder, is unlikely to be available at Ocean Leisure.

    ProShot Case. Among numerous offerings of underwater housings for iPhone 6/6S and iPhone 7 at DEMA, this one interfaces with the majority of GoPro mounting accessories and for less than £100 includes a wide-angle lens. Another £50 will get you a 151° fisheye lens to increase the angle-of-view of your iPhone camera.

    Paralenz Dive Camera. With a target price of just $599 in the USA, this precision little Danish unit starts recording as soon as it goes underwater. Watertight to 200m, it uses clever programming to adjust the white balance for color-corrected pictures according to depth. But it’s more than just a camera. The Paralenz app generates a time, temperature and depth graph linked to the recordings (either still pictures or live action) and this information can be embedded as an overlay. Combined with an iPhone, footage is shared at the click of a button and its rechargeable battery is said to be good for more than two hours use. More than 200 divers in 35 different countries have tested it.

    Buddy Watcher. Using ultrasound frequencies, this is wrist mounted unit can draw the attention of another diver, or even a group of divers if so equipped, by vibrating and flashing an LED. Its calling-distance is 80m and it represents a discreet method of keeping divers in touch with each other – provided they can see each other!

    Nautilus XP and GLH. This is a tank-mounted propulsion system for divers that weighs less than 7kg and is only 43cm in length. The two small propellers of the GLH deliver 5.4kg of thrust each, enough to propel a diver for up to 40 minutes and its remote control can allow a diver to reverse out of tight spots too. The XP has a single propeller. An on-board depth-sensor will maintain a diver’s depth. Two separate battery packs are said to be a legal configuration within current airline rules.

    Indigo Fins. When it comes to fins, every DEMA has a hopeful company attempting to ‘build a better mousetrap’. This year, Indigo Industries exhibited a range of fins, Apex XT, Shift XT and Defiant XT, with zip-on alternative blades, both split and paddle, and variable stiffeners plus foot pockets for either boots or bare feet. Ocean Leisure customers want fins they can fit and forget. We can’t see these taking off in the UK.

    Polar Pro demonstrated a new submersible lighting rig for GoPro, the Triton LED Dive Tray, that includes a tray and two grips that are each equipped with a 500 lumen  video light and with batteries built in. We are hoping to have them soon in stock and they will probably sell for less than £200 each.

    Atomic Aquatics BC. For delivery later next year, the company known for the highest quality products regardless of cost has come up with its first and what is promises to be the most expensive-to-buy BC yet. Of a conventional jacket type, it uses an absolutely watertight material that gains no weight when wet, it has a novel camband that promises to keep a tank forever secure and it has large pockets with covered zips. I doubt if you’ll any of these stocked at Ocean Leisure. It’ll be to special order only. It might last a lifetime but at around £1400 it needs to!

    iBubble Camera Drone. This is an autonomous underwater drone from France that promises to follow you on a dive and record the ultimate underwater selfie. It’s wireless, rated to 200 feet (60m) deep, and has two 100 lumen lights. It automatically avoids underwater obstacles, has image stabilization, a one-hour battery life and automatically returns to the diver who wears the control bracelet when it is out of battery life. It costs around £2000 and is available for pre-order for investors on Indiegogo, with delivery expected in September 2017.

    Voice-in-the-Sea Narrator. If you want to add a commentary to your underwater GoPro footage at the time of shooting, the Narrator is a tube-like device that allows you to record, with a tinny Great War U-boat speaking-tube quality, directly to the microphone of the camera. It is expected to sell in the USA for around $40 but I doubt you’ll see any sold this side of the Atlantic. Available for pre-order.

  • Safety Isn't Sexy!

    Seatbelts in cars, helmets for motorcyclists, smoke detectors in homes -- none of these have been universally adopted by individuals except in those countries where they have been mandated by law. Why is that? They clearly save lives. Well, frankly, safety precautions are not sexy.

    “It’s never going to happen to me.” That’s the ever-optimistic sentiment of most people. You never felt the need to have a fire extinguisher in your home until it was ablaze. The Titanic set sail with insufficient lifeboats for the number of passengers it carried. Well, it was unsinkable, wasn’t it?

    Divers might be slightly different, because whenever we break the surface after a serious dive, we have that momentary feeling of being alone in the ocean. In fact, we have abdicated our well being to the efficiency of those who are tasked with coming to find us. The foolhardy expect that task to be easy. They haven’t considered how tiny a diver’s head may look among the vastness of the ocean’s waves.

    This scenario was encapsulated many years ago by six Japanese divers who got separated from their boat in Palau. There followed a massive sea search. One woman diver wrote on her slate, “We can see you searching but you can’t see us.” They found the slate attached to her body some days later.

    Safety is such a boring subject, but the two separate events concerning lost divers reported in October in the Seychelles and Malpelo plus two more in November in Australia might have made you change your mind .

    One of the first rules of safety at sea is to stay with your vessel, but we divers habitually jump off into the unknown. What steps do we take to make sure our surface support can find us easily?SafetyMotherBuoy

    Many divers carry a bright orange or red safety sausage. Inflated, they can rise about a meter out of the water. In daylight, a boat operator with a high viewpoint and good binoculars can spot one about half a nautical mile away. The driver of an inflatable will be less able. Taller safety sausages are available, but rarely purchased by divers. Some divers carry an emergency flare in a watertight container, but if it works (and you never know until you try), it’s a one hit wonder. Rescue dyes don’t offer a panacea either. Their effect is soon dissipated in anything but a flat, calm sea. As for whistles, the noise generated by a vessel’s engines, plus wind and waves, make them almost impossible to hear. A search party in a small boat would need to cut the engine and listen.SafetySurfaceFlag

    A large bright yellow flag on an extending pole can be seen from a far greater distance than a safety sausage. The pole comes in several sections of plastic tubing that slot together and are held in place by an elastic cord that runs through the middle. Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in the UK, who test many devices, found that bright yellow was the most conspicuous color at sea. Alister Wallbank, leading the team of researchers, reported, “The folding flags were by far the most reliable and cost-effective device we tested, particularly the Day-Glo yellow [flag]. It was consistently spotted at up to two nautical miles. Yellow was the most conspicuous colour, even with breaking wave crests, and could be located in deteriorating light when it was impossible to locate pennants of any other color. Red and orange flags were located at up to one mile. Two of our observers who suffered from degrees of red/green colour-blindness, had difficulty spotting these colors, particularly in intermediate light. Not surprisingly, flags were most easily located when the search heading was abeam to the wind direction so that the pennant presented the greatest visible surface area. Though of no value at night, a flag is a low-tech solution for daytime. A diver can lash a folded flag to his tank and deploy it single-handed. al1100np_800x600

    When a dozen divers went missing at the Elphinstone Reef in the Red Sea, they were finally discovered at night because some had dive lights. The divers lost at Malpelo in September carried no lights, although they went into the water late in the afternoon. They might have been luckier had they done so (two perished). So a fully charged dive light, carried and reserved for emergencies and not used routinely during the dive, should be part of every diver’s kit -- and during a predive check, verifying that it functions properly should be as important as monitoring the air supply.

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