Saturday, November 14, 2009

Awesome Day at the Newport Aquarium

Today was a fantastic day!

Jill and I arrived at the Newport Aquarium where we are Volunteer Divers for the WAVE Foundation at the Aquarium. This morning was our Diver Rescue Training where we learn the protocols for handling diver emergencies in the tanks at the Aquarium. Neither of us knew what to expect and the day turned out way better than we could have ever expected.

We started by suiting up and getting into the acclimation pool of the Shark Tank. This was my first saltwater experience since before summer and it felt great to be back in the "ocean." The subject matter was serious however and we learned the steps necessary to get an injured diver out of the shark tank and into safety. The alarm system for divers is top notch. The divers have a panic button located about a foot over the water and when we push it, 911 is immediately called and the alarm rings in every back stage area to get help coming. There is one on each of the main tanks of the aquarium and it is like a safety net for diver. We learned how to lift a diver using a chain hoist and litter to get them out of the shark tank and after we had done it a couple of times each, we headed to the Amazon Tank to learn the protocols there. Before we went there we had an opportunity to see one of the barbs shed by one of the southern stingrays. This was to help us understand the seriousness of the injury one of these creatures could inflict. The barb was about the thickness of a pencil, razor sharp and so serrated in one direction it would do a ton of damage coming out. It was so wicked that I was thinking that Hollywood could have scarcely done better in a tool for one of its wicked characters. We were told that the barbs could grow to be the size and length of a #2 pencil and they could certainly punch through our flimsy wetsuits.

In the Amazon tank there are at least 6 stingrays but we were strictly staying at the surface to do our emergency drills. This drill was similar to ones taught in our Rescue Diver course and the difference is that we have Arowanas, Oscars, Pacus, Freshwater stingrays and other creatures of the Amazon looking on. I was bummed when we were told that we didn't need masks but after our Dive Safety Officer realized that we had never been in the tank before, she let us "snorkel" for an hour there after the drills.

The final drill was an "Envenomation Drill." This protocol was specific to the stingrays and what to do if we accidentally got skewered. The emergency kit was very complete and the drill was one of those that you hoped you never had to use what you learned. Those little flat pancakes are super cute but I would hate to be on the receiving end of what they can deliver.

After the drills we had time to spend in the tank. It was a fantastic opportunity for Jill and I since we were pretty excited about being able to swim along side creatures that we have kept in our home aquariums for years. Oscars, Plecostomus', Red tailed catfish, Severums, Pacus, and the freshwater stingrays were amazing. This was so awesome I could not imagine the day getting any better.... or so I thought.

When we got out of the Amazon Tank, our DSO came up and told us that she had a surprise for us. If we wanted to, we could get back into the Acclimation pool and spend some time getting to know Denver, the resident Loggerhead Sea Turtle. Jill and I jumped at the chance. Denver was HUGE! He weighed in at his last weighing at 200lbs and his head was the size of a volleyball. He was super gentle but we were told that we had to be careful not to get near his mouth, anything he bit he broke... off. But there seemed to be no end to his curiosity. I had just got my camera mask to take pictures of the Aquarium creatures and it seems that Denver liked the blinking light on the mask a lot... needless to say it was an amazing experience. I was really happy with how the pictures from the mask turned out. Once I get over the learning curve I think it will be something that I use on every dive in the aquarium.

Afterwards Jill and I took the rest of the afternoon to run through the aquarium on the public side. It was super crowded but we had lots of fun and took lots of pictures. We were both having fun telling people what they were looking at and spending a lot of time at each tank looking to get "perfect" shots. Not easy to do through glass and lexan.

On the way home Jill made a comment to the effect that walking through the aquarium on the public side brought us a little back to reality. She said that while we were walking through the aquarium she realized how many people there are who have no idea what they are looking at. As we both talked we discussed how much more we know about the worlds oceans because we are scuba divers. Things like;
  • Remoras are not baby sharks
  • What an anemone is and that it is not a plant
  • In the shark touch tank... "No it's not dead, just sleeping"
  • Lionfish are beautiful but they are an invasive species
  • A shark wasn't a mindless eating machine and the safety divers in the tank were there to keep the turtle from biting divers, not the sharks.
  • That the turtles in the tank with the alligators were indeed real (Jill had a hard time convincing one guy)
  • Not all jellyfish were stinging and you didn't instantly die from getting stung
  • Its a "blue tang" not a "Dory Fish" and no it doesn't speak "whale,"
  • My personal favorite, "yes I am sure it is a scorpion fish, not a rock"
I am super happy that Jill talked me into this experience from the beginning and I am looking forward to the next time we get to go to the aquarium... we are now ready to dive!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tryouts for the Newport Aquarium at Scuba Unlimited

Something you may not know about one of my new projects is that Jill and I have been going through the motions to become volunteer divers at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky. After the initial interview we have a "tryout" to complete. This last Sunday was our day.

It started in the quarry on Saturday with a practice dive in the quarry to make sure the weighting was right with the equipment we were using. Jill hadn't been in the water for about a month and was overdue for a dip. It was a fabulous dive and we were ready.

Long Drive on Sunday took us to Cincinnati and Scuba Unlimited. This shop was pretty cool (I love dive shops anyway) and we were welcomed by Craig, Ed and Jenny. There were 18 other volunteers. The tryout was not a "Pass/ Fail" but they wanted to know where we stood with our diving knowledge and our buoyancy skills and to recommend remedial training if necessary.

Our testing started with a written exam. A WRITTEN EXAM! I was not sure since I hadn't studied and I was WAY more stressed about it since I was sure that if I failed I would never hear the end of it. As it turns out I got three questions wrong. The first was a trick question... you will have to ask me about it in person... the second was about coral reefs and that they didn't need fish. The third was because I didn't know Nurse Sharks were Nocturnal. ( I see them all the time swimming in daylight) With the three wrong I still passed!

After a briefing we headed for the YMCA Pool... we had to demonstrate that we could get into the water quietly, then hover horizontal, hover vertical and then swim through this pretty cool buoyancy course. They were looking that we were aware of what our fins were touching and then how we reacted to it. There were seven hoops to swim through with "vines" in between. A pretty stressful exercise for me. Not because I didn't have confidence in my ability. It was a simple statement from one of my peers, "wouldn't it suck if you failed?" Got me just a little nervous... couldn't really live with the ribbing... :)

Anyway... the evaluation went without a snag. Next step, Aquarium Orientation! It is one of the most awesome Aquariums of its kind and I can't wait to be part of it!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Piano

An Attempt at a new dive site at White Star Quarry

At a family gathering my sister-in-law tells me that she has an awesome idea. Sink her Piano in the quarry. She had been trying to sell it/give it away/get rid of it for over a year and no one wanted it. It was an antique, a little out of tune but not old enough to have ivory keys. An old player piano with the player removed. It was something rarely even looked at let alone played.

Needless to say I jumped at the chance. A Piano sunk in a quarry would be an awesome conversation piece and a really cool dive site. My wife and I grabbed the pickup and drove over to pick it up that evening.

Saturday morning at White Star Quarry we arrived with a Piano on the back of my pickup truck. Needless to say it drew a lot of attention and a number of people were eager to help move it into the quarry. Many of my staff were there so help was plentiful. Getting a 300lb (ish) piano into the quarry would be kind of difficult but not impossible. I was planning on attaching floats to it so we could move it easily but not sure how negatively buoyant it would be proved a difficult thought so we decided to just dump it in and then figure out how to lift it and move it. Dropped off the wall into the quarry taught me and the other people a valuable lesson none of us would have otherwise learned.

As heavy as they are and nearly impossible to move, Pianos Float!

It took about another three hours to rig up a weight to sink it to the bottom... The plan was to weight it down, Let it water log and then move it to its final resting place. It took nearly 100lbs to get it to the bottom... there, suspended from the weight and floating upright it made for a spectacular photo opportunity. I was excited about the new addition to the quarry and the chance to take pictures of something rarely seen underwater. Heading home that evening I was looking forward to the dive on Wednesday to check it out.

Wednesday morning my dive buddy, Kevin showed up and we were getting ready to dive when the Operations Manager of the Park showed up and asked if I knew anything about a piano that had been put in the quarry. My first thought was "how did he know?" We hadn't told anyone about it yet. That's when I learned the second lesson about piano sinking.

Old pianos are almost entirely assembled with water-soluble glue.

As it turns out, most of the piano floated up in its component parts and had to be retrieved from the surface of the quarry. It had disassembled itself over the three days underwater and we didn't have much left other than the sound board and part of the base which had metal components. Still cool to look at but not much resembling the piano it once was.

Lots of lessons learned. You can find the remnants of this cool idea lying on the bottom near throne mountain in the center of White Star. Should be something to see for the years to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Couple of Hours at the Newport Aquarium

While we were at Scuba Fest this past spring, my wife Jill got to talking to the WAVE Foundation people about becoming a volunteer Diver at the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. Being that it was almost a four hour drive I wasnt sure what she was thinking. It seems that as a volunteer your minimum commitment is one eight hour day per Month.... now thats doable. You get to feed fish, dive in and clean tanks, interract with people through the glass and become part of the displays.

Today was my initial interview. It was my first time back to the aquarium in almost 10 years. It had seriously changed... transforming from a simple aquarium with a parking lot to a tourist mall with a bunch of attractions. I was early for my interview so I grabbed my camera and bought an admission ticket to check out the changes.

The new attractions were awesome and made me want to be part of it more. There were petting tanks for sharks, a fantastic amphibian "Frog Bog" and some awesome reef systems. The huge shark tank was still there and active, and the Bayou. As always I was fascinated by the Rivers (and the thought of diving in the Amazon Exhibit) and their new Jellyfish exhibit was amazing with many different species including the upsidedown jellyfish I saw on Bonaire in the Mangrove swamps.

The interview went well (I think.) I was qualified and could move on to the next step. A buoyancy and skills evaluation at a future date. I am sure I will post more then.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bring Your Twins to Work Day at Divers Incorporated

Since their Mom had a family obligation that all of our normal baby sitters were also attending i decided to have the first ever Bring Your Twins to Work Day at Divers Incorporated. I am not only surprised how well the girls did but I was happy that they had fun for the whole 8 hour shift and that after getting up at 6:45 am to go to their swim lessons. They even lasted until we got home even though I put them in their pajamas in the hopes they would crash before Ice Cream. Whoda thunk it?

They started with grabbing their name tags and setting up a sticker and marker table in the work room at the shop. "Uncle" Will and their Grandfather (PapPap) were working with me today so they were both going to get lots attention. They moved from the work room to the classroom where we changed out the PADI video for "The Little Mermaid 2" and I sat in the back of the class watching them make a big mess and lots of projects and did (or tried to do) some work.

After that they rearranged the store a few times, worked with PapPap on some stuff, worked on regulators with Will made puzzles watched a fishy movie and then put on their pajamas for a trip home... having been so good they wanted ice cream (Frosty's) but the vanilla frosty machine was broken... Natalie got her chocolate frosty and we had to go to McDonalds for a Vanilla ice cream (half sundae no toppings)
Fun day with some good distractions... makes me happy to see they like the dive center.. .I hope it is as much a part of their life as it is mine.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

White Star this weekend!

This weekend at White Star was fantastic! It started on Friday for me with two of my friends coming up from Georgia to complete their open water certification dives at White Star. I also had the opportunity to meet a new friend, Matt for some dives along with us.

The weather was amazing! Truly turning out to be the beginning of summer down there.. it only rained a little on Saturday as we were all finishing up. The water was warmer than expected... getting close to 70 degrees above the thermocline and an amazing 40- 50 ft visibility... even with students in the water. Lots of fish activity and lots of people enjoying the dives. My girls came down to visit and to see the divers in the water with Daddy!

The weather on Sunday was coopertive as well. Staying warm and Sunny for the PADI IE and the courses we were offering from Divers Incorporated. It was fantastic to see so many old friends out diving! Dave, Dave, Sam, Patrix, Gary, Jamie, Kevin, Ron, Brad, Jimmy, Will, John, Michelle, Morgan, Jennifer, Trent and Kelly... just to name a bunch! I am looking forward to catching up with friends again soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bonne Terre Mine 2009

Now I really think I missed something since I remember telling everyone about our trip to Bonne Terre Mine in 2009. Since is was about a month ago that we went, and I have had two trips since, the details of the trip are a little fuzzy but I know it was awesome. I especially liked getting to know some new people on the trip that I didnt know well beforehand. I really enjoyed that barbecue place we all went to Friday night. It was great to catch up with long lost friends and a little dissapointed that other friends didnt make it out to the mine that weekend.

I have posted a lot of pictures on the website at the past trip reports section. But here are a few of my favorites. This trip was a great time getting to trail seven. Four and seven and the lake room are so far my favorites... can't wait to go back again next year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bonaire 2009

I am a little late in getting this post out... I really wanted to do a play by play by dive by day but the internet connection at the resort was so painstakingly slow.... lets just say I could have smoke signaled it faster. In any case, better late than never so here goes.

This trip to Bonaire took me and 16 others to a fantastic resort known as Buddy Dive. Augusto, Carlos, German and the rest of the dive gang there really took care of us and made us feel welcome. The diving was fantastic, as always, and every dive was more memorable than the last. Like I typed above, I really would have loved to do a dive report on each dive but I recently misplaced my log book (it is being mailed Back to me) and now I am limited to my memory where every dive is just as cool as another and the memory of the week is pretty much a memory of just one long super cool dive.

Some things to note for the past traveler to Bonaire. The last hurricane did its damage and it is apparant on many of the reefs. It seems to be rebounding well though.. the outer edges of Klein showed it the most. And the town pier and the salt pier were sandblasted clean.. .like new concrete, there is nothing there worth seeing and the damaged parts of the pier make diving a little more hazardous than Augusto would like us to be. So no diving there for a while.

We did dive the rubble pile at the north end of Windsock on a night dive and saw a bunch of octopi.... that was cool and there was a dive on a house reef where we saw a yellow frogfish... dived it off of a boat... and the seahorses and frogfish and tarpon always make for a fantastic diving experience.

If you are interested we are going back the first week of MAY in 2010. I am really looking forward to going back. I love it there.

Diving in the Graveyard of the Atlantic

Needless to say for those that know me well I have been really busy lately. I have not been a good blogger and I am going to do my best to make sure that I blog my diving adventures and anything else that I think you may be interested in. Want me to write about something specific? Just let me know and I will do my best to oblige.

This past Memorial Day Weekend I had an opportunity to dive with some very cool people, meet others that I had not known well before and really enjoyed the company of some good friends. The diving in Morehead at its worst is still some of the best in the world and I really enjoyed the bottom time of this trip.

The weather was fantastic on shore but offshore the waves were big and frequent. Our first day hiatus to the U352 turned out to be a rough ride out to the SPAR which had many people looking green around the gills and ready to hit the water for some calmer times. The vis was a little less spectacular than last year but it allowed for some good explorations and good navigations. It also allowed my new PADI Deep Divers an opportunity to dive a little deeper than they had been on their previous dives. The underwater life never ceases to amaze me.

The second dive of the first day turned out to be more incredible than I could have hoped for. The dive on the INDRA was a shell collectors dream. Next year I think it will be my primary mission on that dive. There were hundreds of cool collectables just below the sand.

Day two was inshore to spare us the tossing and rolling... the weather never cooperated the whole weekend. We did a dive on the INDRA and this time Jill and I took along bigger Goodie Bags. The second dive was on the Titan and many divers saw sharks and other fish that made the shallower dive more fun than hoped for.
I hope the people who joined us for this year make another attempt next year. I would love to be able to show them the U352 and the sharks of the PAPOOSE. Memorial Day weekend in 2010 if you are interested... I know thats where I will be.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A trip to the Divers Alert Network

We were in North Carolina this past weekend, a trip that my wife Jill and I have done for the past three years as our "vacation" as we celebrate our anniversary after we take fellow divers on a trip to the Cooper River. This trip, my wife suggested that on the way home we stop by the offices of the Divers Alert Network and visit our friend, Eric Douglas and see one of the "mecca's" of the diving world. She set it up and WOW was it a great experience.

Eric met us at the front door for our tour and we were greeted at the door by a sign that said "Today we welcome Rich and Jill Synowiec" which I thought was pretty cool. Eric showed us a fish tank in the lobby that he said was "the coolest part of the tour" and then said that he didn't know how long the tour would be since it was an office building afterall. Since Eric is the training director of DAN it isn't surprising that he started with the training department... we met Scott, who we found out had an office full of stuffed animals (the cuddly type)AND surprisingly with all the toys in his office we found he was actually allergic to kids (he gets hives :)) Eric's office looked exactly what I would have expected a creative geniuses office to look like... shelves of books and boxes of his own books on the floor... the Mike Scott novels are a great read... especially for divers. Check them out at We also got to meet Fay. Every DAN instructor gets emails from Fay saying "your roster is processed" and it was good to put a face with a name. We also got to visit the call center.. the place where all the emergency calls come in and we got to visit with some of the cool staff of the medical department... they had some of their papers on a bulletin board in the hall. They are super smart :)

The tour took us around the first floor, to the second where we met...well no one.. the second floor was deserted... all in a meeting and not available. We did get to see the latest issue of Alert Diver up on the wall... they post a rough draft for everyone to check out before it goes to final print. They had some issues of the older copies.. not sure how they picked them but they were still cool. We saw a lot of other people.. too many to remember.. and I am looking forward to knowing them better on another trip.

The top floor of DAN.. where the executives, senior staff and the accountants are.. the important top of the ivory tower. We got to spend some time sitting in the office of Jeff Meyers, the COO of DAN talking about his time in Eric's position. I met Jeff in the Bahamas aboard a Blackbeard's cruise nearly 18 years ago when he was with PADI. Now his corner office is a pretty cool and comfortable place. I was glad we got to see him.

Then on to the other corner office. Jill and I met the person who does all the work, Dan Orr's personal assistant, and then the corner office... the top of the tower... and Dan Orr, the CEO of Divers Alert Network was in. He showed us some cool photos he took at the Guadalupe islands... he had a huge amount of awards including the Reaching out.. and I think I saw the NOGI.. He showed us some of the old Alert Divers... including an original first edition (I want one of those) from the early 80's... and we distracted him while Eric raided the candy jar. All kidding aside, Dan is a great story teller and it was fun to hear the enthusiasm of his stories of the Sharks at Guadalupe. Jill and I so want to go there.

Back downstairs and then back on the road back to Michigan. Glad we got to spend a couple of hours with Eric and the DAN team. I would like to come back again soon. For Eric, he began joking about it being an office building since it was his work and he also talked about how he wasn't sure how it could be a long tour.. but he beat out Dan Orr's normal 45 minute tour by nearly double. Good job, warm welcome and a great time... one I will not soon forget. Big thanks to everyone at DAN for making us feel comfortable... and Eric,Scott, Fay and the rest of the training department for all their help and support. Jill and I look forward to next time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cooper River, South Carolina

This past weekend was our annual trip to dive the black waters of the Cooper River in South Carolina. If you are wondering why anyone would travel to dive in limited visibility and perpetual darkness in a river where the tidal currents require that you litterally have to hang on to see stuff, you are probably not alone.

The Cooper River is part of a large fossil bed that covers most of the state of South Carolina and into North Carolina. There are hundreds of fossil fragments littering the bottom from the Pliocene period of geologic history. According to Wikipedia, The Pliocene Epoch (spelled Pleiocene in older texts) is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.332 million to 1.806 million years before present. Because the River is cutting through the area and taking with it everything imbedded in that time period, it is not uncommon to find other bones scattered among the gravel on the bottom. Mastadons, Whales, Other sharks, fossilized sea creatures, and other amazing finds have all come out of the Cooper River.

Diving into the Dark waters is like travelling back in time 4 million years or so and discovering the remnants of those amazing animals. The coolest and most abundant fossils are the sharks teeth. For millions of years sharks roamed the waters of the area as the dominant predators. It is theorized that they have changed little over the years and it is assumed that the sharks of 4 million years ago shed their teeth like the sharks of todays waters. This means that over 4 million years, LOTS of teeth were deposited on the ocean floor.

In the Cooper River we go for sharks teeth, The Megalodon being the most coveted, but we find the teeth and bite plates of Great Whites, Tiger sharks, Rays, and even some of the older sharks. It makes for some exciting discoveries. The rule of diving the Cooper is to stay in the gravel beds and cover a lot of territory. If it looks interesting pick it up. I have added "if it is big pick it up" to my rules and have found some very cool things.

River diving in black water is definitely not for everyone. River diving alone is something that requires some additional experience and training, add limited visibility and your whole world being reduced to a square meter of murky water it takes some mental fortitude as well as physical stamina. Our dives are typically an hour long in 30-45 feet of water. Your light becomes your best friend so you bring a couple of back ups. A river tool to hold you in place, a little extra weight, a goodie bag and a tooth bucket and you are ready for battle.

But oh, the treasures you can find.

The largest sharks tooth ever recovered and publicized out of the Cooper River area was 7.25 inches long on a diagonal. That is almost the size of a piece of notebook paper on the short side. Way bigger than your hand. We haven't got that lucky yet. Paleontologists theorize that the Megalodon that had that tooth in its mouth would have been at least 60ft long. They also theorize that the Meg could have grown to 100ft but they need a 9 inch tooth to prove it. That is HUGE! The biggest tooth I have ever recovered was 4.25 inches. This trip we had a bunch of 3 inch ones come out but a lot of fragmented teeth that would have had sides much bigger. We also had a lot of species of sharks represented in our finds as well as a whale lumbar vertebra and an earbone or two. I like finding the other fossils as much as I like finding the teeth. Coming home with a bag full of goodies is really the reason to dive here. There are very few places on the planet that you are able to find some cool stuff for your collection at home.

One more thing to get you excited about the Cooper River, the history of the Charleston Area. A civil war and a revolutionary war were fought here so the area has a lot of really cool things to see from early American history. The Plantations that survived (or were rebuilt after) General Sherman's devistation are amazing and the historic buildings of Charleston and Fort Sumpter are pretty cool for the non divers that may want to tag along. The possibility of finding stuff from that time period on the bottom of the Cooper River is all part of the excitement.

My dive center takes this trip every year around the second weekend of April. If you want to join us and think you are ready to dive the Black Waters of the Cooper River you need to sign up well in advance. This trip has consistently sold out all of its spots for the last four years. I know I am looking forward to diving here again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Opening Day at White Star Quarry

What a super fun day! Big thank you out to everyone who made it great! The weather was fantastic, the water clear, the event well attended and although it was windy, we got 4 dives in and got a lot accomplished.

Started out the day early with Bill and Bronson to lift the platforms. We got the platforms all up and all the buoys out and a good start to the summer dive season.

I am really looking forward to seeing a lot of people out at White Star Quarry this summer!

Hope to see you!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This Weekend was a Good Weekend

This weekend was a good weekend. It started out with a fun Friday working at the Dive Center and it was a good day. The excitement of the Quarry Opening for the summer combined with the warm sunshine made for a fun start to the day. The rest of the day was busy, and we had a couple of Guests at Divers Incorporated. Natalie and Olivia Spent a couple of hours in the store while Mommy made a side trip that they couldn't join her on.

Saturday was IMAX at the Henry Ford in Dearborn. Had a great turnout and we Really enjoyed the movie. Under the Sea 3D was a cool experience that was so awesome you thought you needed to log it in your logbook after it was over. Lunch at Chelis Chili in Dearborn was a fantastic finish to the event.

Afterwards I got a text from Jill that she needed me to come get the twins from the Bridal shower... then it tured into getting all the cousins from the shower.... DADDY DAYCARE was what the afternoon turned into. What fun!

After I was able to get Natalie and Olivia to myself, we had ice cream for dinner, their real dinner for desert and a fun time playing until thier bedtime.

The Public Safety Diver Day at the Quarry was a good day... the morning started out warmer than usual, a promising start to the day. When the teams showed up we gave them the opportunity to participate in a scenario... one team wanted to the scenario and the rest their own thing. The day was a good time. The DI guys put out a bunch of the buoys and we enjoyed the associated dives. The highlight was when Bronson and I went for a Sail. One of the rafts had broken free of its moorings when the ice melted off the quarry and ended up on the other side by the beach. With a prevailing westerly wind that was gusting pretty strong at times I thought we could do it. Except for the wind being a little lighter than expected on the other side... a little patience and shaping the "sail" we got a pretty good speed on the platform. Mission accomplished and it was fun too.

I am REALLY looking forward to the quarry opening on Wednesday... more then!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scubafest 2009

This weekend was Scubafest 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. A show of sorts with lots of scuba workshops, scuba and travel displays and lots of fun. This weekend I had an opportunity to reconnect with a whole lot of friends from diving. John Chatterton was one of them, Bernie Chowdry another. I had a great time meeting people in person who I had met online. That was really cool. On Friday I was able to have dinner with John Chatterton, and 8 of my facebook friends and dive buddies. Saturday I also had dinner with great people... lots of old friends and new.

The diving community is awesome. There seemed to be little time past in the commununications between dive buddies. It is like the long winter has dissapated away and the last time we talked we were diving together. I REALLY Enjoyed the weekend. I was also super surprised by the amount of divers who had NEVER Dived at White Star Quarry. It made this years Scubafest a fabulous opportunity to promote White Star and at the same time meet new people to dive with.

I have really enjoyed this weekend and I look forward to Scubafest 2010. It will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Columbus, Ohio on March 19 -21, 2010. Hope you can make it.

Diving in a little over a week at the Quarry... Hope you can make the April 1 Opening Day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting Anxious for Summer to Get here

The weather for the past few days has been spectacular. I swear that on Monday I almost wished that I was wearing shorts. With the spectacular weather and the great temperatures it is no wonder the past three days have been a little slower than normal. If I had the time I would have been cleaning out my garage, getting ready for my next dive, sleeping on a lawn chair in the sun... or spending time with my family. If I am this stir crazy the rest of the world should be too.

Spring time is almost here... just a couple of days until the official start. It is time to get ready. I pulled a lot of my own personal dive gear out today.. mostly to be able to talk about it in classes and upcoming presentations at Scubafest. I am ready for diving.

Diving is looking more and more spectacular for the summer... and I know there are more people out there just as ready as I am. This summer we have a lot of trips that are sold out so we will have big gangs as we head out on our adventures. I know that I am just waiting, hoping and praying for good weather and a lot of people who want to get out and dive. Looking forward to the opening day at White Star Quarry April 1, Scubafest this weekend, diving in the Cooper River in three weeks and the amazing diving in a month at the Bonne Terre Mine. I hope more people start coming in to the Dive Center soon to learn how to dive. I really want to show people how cool it all is.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring is Coming! Are you Ready for it?

Spent the weekend at the quarry this weekend... the weather on Saturday was fantastic and the weather on Sunday was Awful but the ICE IS ALMOST GONE off of the quarry. I am SO ready for summer... I loved having the warmer weather this weekend even if there were not that many people to share it with this time.

It was great! Only a few more weeks and the Quarry opens every day for diving. I Cant wait!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival

Today was super fun!

It started early with a group of us at the dive center heading to Washtenaw Community College to set up our booth for the 28th Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival. For me this has always been a great opportunity to promote Divers Incorporated and the Quarry but for the last three years it has been a fabulous opportunity to catch up with old friends and to meet new ones. This year was no exception.

The day was great. I had a presentation on River Diving that was well attended and the only downside was that I did a horrible job trying to cram 2.5hours of material into 50 minutes. I know people got a lot out of it but it was super rushed and I didnt finish and had to skip tons of material.

The rest of the day was spent in the booth catching up with old friends, Meeting new people, and finally putting a face to a name on many of the people who I know from facebook or other online chatrooms. There were a lot of people there and I am really looking forward to the summer and having an opportunity to dive with a lot of Great Divers. Only 31 Days until the Quarry opens for the 2009 season. AND only three more weeks until scubafest in Columbus. I am looking forward to seeing more of my friends at that event.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Glimpse at Mortality

Today was an interesting day for me.

I got a call that there was a dive center just outside of Cleveland where the owner had died and they were selling off the dive center stuff. Always wanting to help out where I can and to see if there was stuff to get I went out there with a friend of mine named Jim. I went looking for rental equipment, Bank bottles, tanks, lift bags, fixtures and compressor parts, what I got was some stuff I knew that the widow would have a hard time selling and a sobering reminder of my mortality.

The store was a neat little place. Set in a house on a busy street it looked like it was once a pretty cool establishment, not high society but cozy. Inside the dive shop, Jim and I went to work looking for stuff we may need. As I was going through boxes of parts, piles of rental gear, racks of fins, hundreds of accessories and lots of stuff that will someday have a use for someone, I thought of my kids and Jill (my wife for any strangers who might read this) and what they would have to go through should something ever happen to me. I don't think about the mortality we all face very often so it was a kind of shock. What I understand is that the previous owner, Joe, of this store was a guy a lot like me. God love him, he liked being a scuba diver, loved being an instructor and loved his wife and the life that they had made. His heart attack a bunch of years ago didn't prompt him to change his life enough to avoid the stroke that finally took him from our world. A collector like me, Joe had lots of stuff... valuable to him and now being sorted out into two neat little piles that Jim and I would pay his widow for and take away so she could begin to start over.

Terry, Joe's widow and the new owner of this dive center, told us she was getting out of diving entirely, couldn't see herself diving without her husband around anymore. That struck a chord with me. A resonant, minor chord with a flat "a" string. I know if something happened to me I would no longer have any say in what Divers Incorporated would be, or what my legacy would be. It is my hope that Jill would keep diving and that she, and all of my dive buddies, would show my kids, Natalie and Olivia what their Dad loved so much about the underwater world. It is so much of their life already, it would be a shame for them to miss out on what we all love.

Those of you who know my wife would appreciate this. I told her what my thoughts were as I went through the piles of stuff that was in this dive center. The thoughts I have now shared with you and my empathy towards the people involved. Her reply was, and I am paraphrasing, "well, you better just clean up your (stuff) now and throw it all away so I don't have to." Leave it to her to take an emotional thought and break it down to the basic sub particles. Needless to say, I will take her advice and try to sort my life a little more... and take care of myself a little bit more.

So you don't think there will be a sale at Divers Incorporated or you should go dumpster diving behind the dive shop any time soon, I plan on living for a REALLY long time... (a tarot card reader once told me that last birthday I would celebrate would be in 2058 and that's the date I am shooting for. I will be 90.)

I have too much to live for to start thinking about anything else. I'd like to dive with my girls someday... I'd like to teach a few more people how to dive... I'd like to work on my new "bucket list" (my high school one is almost done)... and I have a whole bunch of new stuff I got at this dive shop sale to sort... (I know Jill, more junk.)

Dive Safe, Hug those you love for me, and lets start thinking about summer... winter is so depressing. Only 37 more days until we open the quarry and spring finally starts...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meeting Jerold White

Today an awesome gentleman, eighty years young came into Divers Incorporated with a fabulous set of pictures and stories. His name is Jerold White. It seems that Jerold used to own Whites Skindiving Supply in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 1950's. His stories were captivating. Jerold was an early underwater filmaker having build a housing for his 16mm camera out of harware store plastic. He had also an opportunity to dive on some very historic shipwrecks and some very cool stuff. He told Rob and I all about the days of discovery in the late 1950's when you had to use a grappling hook a couple feet above the bottom to find your wrecks. The name of his dive club was the Ann Arbor Amphibians and they used to do trips with the Ford Seahorses. (if there are any Ann Arbor Amphibians that you know please have them contact me.) I am hoping that Jerold would aggree to come and speak at one of our PADI Diving Society Meetings. We are going to talk more about it this week. He is going to search for some of his old films and if he finds them I am sure we are in for a treat. His still pictures were fabulous.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Keeping it going...

So I haven't decided if this is going to be a daily thing, weekly thing, random thing or something else. I am pretty sure it is going to evolve but for the most part I think it will become an "exceptional day" thing. My life is pretty interesting since that it is usually periods of intense exitement with periods of boredom and sometimes anxiety mixed in. So lets see where it goes.

If you want to subscribe directly to this blog it is going to be part of the Divers Incorporated website as soon as I can figure out how that works. I am also not too sure of the way it appears on Facebook. The actual blogspace is cool, with colors and the ability to put pictures in. ( I am going to put a picture at the end of this blog to see how it looks... if it is less than spectacular I will leave it up for a few days and then delete the picture and put a note about it. Not sure if it will show on Facebook. I am also going to look and see how to make this feed to your page. I know you can do it, I just don't know how.... evolution will figure it out.

Today was an Exceptional Day. Thank you if you were part of it. It started with a training session with the Wayne County Airport Authority Dive Team at the Big Pool at Eastern Michigan University. Thing is I was the instructor. It is a position that was created for me by the people on the team and their chief. We have been working together on and off for four years on the idea and this year it is something we made happen. The group of people I got to teach today are some of the most professional people I have ever had the privilege of diving with. I really enjoyed the day.

To make the day better, we had a busy day at the dive center with people who are interested in learning to dive, divers getting their equipment ready for summer, and snorkelers heading out for spring break! In the evening, I taught a refresher course to two people who have been supporters of my dive center for many years. Getting back into diving after some time off and ready for the trip they have planned next week. Days like today make me really happy with my chosen career. It helps alot when you are SO ready for spring like I am.

Remember to check out if you are looking at this on Facebook and see what my intention was for the page. Thanks for Reading.

Coming soon to a Lake or Quarry near you....

Photo Courtesy of David Haas

Monday, February 16, 2009

Just Getting Started

Since I seem to have recently had a lot of people interested in my diving exploits and I need a place to express my thoughts, I figured I would start a blog. If you like it, keep reading it. I will try to post things that are sometimes random, sometimes enlightening and sometimes downright bizarre... but attempting to be entertaining.

If you don't yet know who I am, here is a simple introduction. I am the proud owner of Divers Incorporated headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have a lot of interest in scuba diving have started nearly 500 people on the journey of exploration to the underwater world. I am currently spending time waiting for summer to arrive so I can get busy with the summer of fun. I LOVE Scuba diving and hope to express my love for the underwater world, for my family, and for the people who I enjoy exloring with to you my blog reader. Comments are expected and encourage, constuctive debate welcome, and most of all a joy of learning and exploring our world is enjoyed.