Many of you know that Matt is a very experienced diver. He has completed many night and cave dives well before he met me. For our honeymoon, 12 years ago, we had decided to charter a catamaran (as this was prior to owning Sugar Shack) in the Virgin Islands and Matt wanted to dive the Wreck of the Rhone. So, it was time for me to get my diving certification. My best friend and I took classes at Tom’s Dive Shop in Austin and did our first open water dive in Lake Travis which, at the time, was cloudy, murky, and cold. You could not see your hand in front of your face which was challenging to do your pre-dive safety skills. But we all passed and Matt and I enjoyed the beauty of the dive on our honeymoon.
We have not had many opportunities to dive since then, but Matt was determined to get back in the deep water. So, in Curacao, we purchased two dive packages including tanks, BC’s, regulators, and weights. We had been doing a lot of research on the islands (between Bonaire and Curacao) and found a pretty “decent” deal (after we negotiated a discount for buying two packages) from Scuba and More. They had a good selection of dive equipment, multiple packages to select from, and very helpful staff. The manager, Ruud even provided us with a lift back to the dinghy dock as we had walked to his store and there was no way we could carry all this gear back ourselves.
We purchased Mares dive equipment, as the old Dacor that Matt used to use is no longer in business. Ruud and Tanya walked us through everything and there are a couple of new nifty things that I want to share with you.
- Has a bubble defecting side exhaust which expels bubbles to the left of your face (not from the bottom center) which minimizes bubble interference
- Has a large pivoting purge button.
- Mass centralization to reduce jaw fatigue and is super light
- There is no external hanging whistle. They made one of their clasps a whistle.
POCKETS AND WEIGHTS
- There seems to be a pocket for everything. The octopus for your friends can either be clipped on or stowed in pocket (sticking out for easy access) to get it out of your way.
- The gauge has a pocket to stow its cable and it peaks out at the bottom of the BC for easy access, but out of your way.
- The weights (which I need 4 lbs on each side) can either go in the side pockets or in the back pockets and have a super nice locking system indicating locked and unlocked
Since, the water was icky in Curacao where we were anchored, we decide to wait to test all our gear in Bonaire. Matt was very patient with me and walked me through setting up the new gear, exploring the new pockets, attachments, and placement of everything.
The bow of the boat is in pretty shallow water about 3-3.5 meters and stern is about 4-5 meters before the ledge which drops to about 50 meters). So we decided to do a giant stride off the sugar scoops. Matt helped me first as I was really unsteady with the flippers and tank, but off I went. My previous issue with diving was hearing myself breath like darth vader! You’d think I’d be happy hearing myself breath, but no – it bothered me. However, with the new regulator it did not seem to bother me nearly as much. I did have mask problems which Matt fixed as best as he could in the water, and managed to perform the standard dive skills with the exception of removing / flooding my mask. Since we “jimmied” the mask strap it was hard for me to take it on and off so we tried to clear the mask by flooding it and for some reason I had issues. We practiced that a bit until I got more comfortable before hitting the deep water.
We then swam around the boat and admired the beautiful coral farm growing behind and under the boat. We burned through 1000 PSI and called it a day – until next time.
With all the gear out and the boat in pretty shallow water, Matt decided to do a HUGE zinc replacement project. Our port engine was in dire need of love. The large zinc and the 3 smaller zincs needed to be replaced (even though they were just replaced in December). It took Matt several hours to remove the screws, bolts, nuts, blades, and hub all under water. He managed to remove everything without losing anything!
We would normally not let the zincs get this bad, but we had not been in a clear shallow spot for awhile which made it hard to change it all out.
Then it took him several more hours to clean it all up, remove the barnacles, growth, short hair and make it shiny again.
With everything all cleaned up, he put it back together on the boat, put it in order of assembly and headed back under water. It was a good day with light wind and seas, little current, and clear, shallow water. My amazing husband managed to completely replace all zincs and put the prop back in working in order in less than 30 minutes. There is an Invest storm coming our way so we wanted to be ready to evacuate Bonaire for safer waters if need be.