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Diving for Fun

Diving is the closest I have come to a spiritual or metaphysical experience.  The instant I put the mask on, the regulator in my mouth, get my fins on and decend I feel this tremendous peace throughout my body.  There are times I have felt more at home under water than above it.  Some of my best friends on Maui were Green Sea Turtles that were hangin' in the same place each time we dove a particular site.  There is a dive site off the South Maui coast called "The Wreck"; it's a 65 foot shrimp boat that was sunk there about 15 years ago to create an artificial reef and dive site.  It became home for about a dozen turtles and each time we dove the site, we encountered the same dozen turtles.  While kicking along at about 30 feet on a number of occasions I have had turtles cruise along beside me.  Literally, if I turned off to the right or left, they would too.  They are a fascinating animal that is unafraid of humans that are not acting agreesively.Diver using scooter.

There are two peices of equipment that I acquired while on Maui that expanded my underwater experiences an order of magnitude.  The first was the acquisition of several Apollo Scooters.  These cost about $1,700 each back about four years ago, but, were well worth it, pariticularly if you are doing a lot of diving.  They provided several benefits;

  • They expanded my range of diving by a factor of three.
  • They allowed me to stay underwater about 50% longer because they minimized my exersion.
  • They were just plain fun.

Scooters allow a diver to cruise along (most have three speeds or variable speed) without kicking and, no kicking means no exersion which means significantly less air consumption.  Plus, if you place the scooter between your legs like this diver, you have the best of both worlds, hands free + turbo power = FUN!  A caution here - do not purchase cheap scooters - your life may have to depend on the trouble free performance of your scooter.  One of the keys to Picture of diver swimming with rebreather scootering is battery life; a key reason you want a good scooter.  I purchased three batteries for my scooter, since the life of one heavy duty battery is about one to one and a half hours of operating time.  We quickly fell into the habit of bringing all three batteries per scooter on a two tank; swapping out batteries between dives and having one extra in case one of the batteries did not get charged.

The other piece of WOW equipment is a rebreather.  There are semi-closed-circuit and closed-circuit rebreathers.  The closed circuit rebreathers, which recycle all exhaled gas and do not release any gas from the system, are very expensive by most divers' standards (approx. $15,000); certainly beyond my budget.  However, semi closed rebreathers are much more affordable (approx. $2,500).  With a rich blend of nitrox we have been able to dive for up to three and a half hours.  Add the scooter and a rebreather together and we could last up to six hours...yes, you read it right, up to six hours.  Throw in an SLR underwater camera and your in hog heaven.  With six hours of dive time, the only things you have to worry about is deciding what to do about the inevitable full bladder and a possible case of mild hypothermia.

Obviously, with these extended dive times, decompression was definitely something we determined ahead of time.  We knew our dive profiles pretty well and had multi function dive computers, so we knew how much time we neededGreen Sea Turtle beside a scooter. as safety stops when returning to shore or boat.  Most of these dives were done off the shore.  The bottom was either sand or coral encrusted lava rock reefs; in either case, the depth increased gradually and generally speaking, we were in less than 50' of water. Quite honestly, for the long duration dives, I preferred shore diving.  There were actually a lot more marine life off shore, than out in deeper waters.  Even the manta rays, spotted eagle rays and sand sharks would come in and cruise along the coral and sand.  And, the turtles rarely were out beyond about 75 feet in depth, thus it was much rarer to see one on a boat dive.

Obviously, there are many more accessories to make diving more fun. I'm sharing here what my top two 'toys' were that increased the fun for my dive buddies and me.  Neither the the scooter nor the rebreather are cheap, so if you feel one or both are in your dive budget, I would recommend you rent them before buying either.  In the case of the rebreather, you will have to have a nitrox certification and should take a rebreather course at your local dive shop.  Usually such a course entails a couple of open water dives, you may want more, so you can decide if you like the rebreaather.  If you have any questions about the above or about diving around Maui, contact me