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March 20, 2017
Initial club meeting
After so much interest we have decided to set up a Taranaki Dive Club based at our Dive Centre in Port Taranaki.
Divers have told us they would like a place to meet with other likeminded people to
and much, much more…….
Taranaki Goes Diving is being set up for you the diver so please come along to our first meeting and let us know what you want from a Dive Club. And then together we will try our best to make it happen
TUESDAY 28 MARCH @ 7.30PM
At Oceans Alive Diver Training Centre, 35A Ocean View Parade, New Plymouth
Please RSVP by phone, text or email so we know how many to expect
November 01, 2016
Those who venture to Taranaki are usually left spellbound by its majesty. Our mighty mountain gives birth to the rivers that support life as they flow in every direction. From lush rainforest to the extensive coastline of the ring plain, islands and offshore reefs, it truly is a place like no other. A mixture of volcanic rock and black sand beaches radiate outwards to capture swells from every possible direction, making it arguably Aotearoa’s best surfing location. The diving is incredible too with marine protected areas including Tapuae and Paraninihi where magnificent biogenic reefs support an outstanding assembly of sponges of varying size, shape and colours. The subtidal marine habitats around the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands also provide great underwater adventures with spectacular canyons, caves, rock faces and large pinnacles.
During my time here as a DOC ranger I have witnessed and shared the enduring and passionate connection that the people of Taranaki have with the ocean (and land) that surrounds them -Tangaroa has long been a provider of physical and spiritual sustenance.
The wild nature of Taranaki’s coastal waters simultaneously offer protection and opportunities for hidden exploitation. Our understanding of “what lies beneath” is limited but increasingly vital to the future prosperity of the region and its inhabitants.
As a diver here, the potential for new discoveries is as great as the challenges that the local waters pose. Being a west coast diver requires commitment, the ability to overcome adversity and being in the right place at the right time.
Fortunately Taranaki folk are as rugged as the environment that surrounds them. I started to imagine what could be achieved by a local team of GUE trained divers with a skillset that could make exploration and documentation far easier and safer.
I first met Kevin Erickson while on a search for nitrox in New Plymouth. Kevin runs Oceans Alive, a diver training centre and retail shop perfectly located next to the breakwater. The first thing you notice about Kevin is that he is absolutely head over heels obsessed with diving 24/7. Coming from a commercial background affords him fantastic in water comfort and a love of all things metal and shiny (or rusty…) many of which are on display in the store. Kevin’s passion is introducing people to the underwater world and the life it contains. With a drive to explore and develop his personal diving, the goal of becoming a GUE diver was naturally set.
Kevin’s team mate for GUE Fundamentals would be another of the Oceans Alive crew, Mathew Hickey. As well as working in store, Mat is a Divemaster currently working towards becoming an instructor. With strong practical skills gained from working on the rigs offshore, Mat is also a medic and coastguard volunteer. A very handy fella to have around, he specialises in bear hugging fully laden rebreathers onto boats.
It would be a fascinating combination. The old dog and the young pup, both eager to learn but with different challenges awaiting them. The course would run over 4 and a half days conducted by myself, Jamie Obern and supported with videography by Rob Wilson.
Previous classes had taught me the importance of logistics in ensuring a successful course outcome and quality learning experience. Although we were running the first ever GUE class in Taranaki, all the important elements were there.
Oceans Alive is a Halcyon retailer and has a rental department ensuring that course compliant equipment was fully covered. The servicing bay also meant that any unforeseen disasters could be remedied. Banked gas would make fills quick and easy and the office could provide any admin support that we needed. The shop has a flat that provides accommodation for visiting divers and can also double as somewhere to base lectures.
A 5 minute drive from the shop would take us to an indoor private aquatic training facility, purpose built for the commercial sector. 3M deep and 28 degrees, it would provide a perfect learning environment before going to open water. The last part of the course could then be conducted out at the Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands or Lake Taupō if conditions were unsuitable.
We began on Sunday afternoon with the usual admin and then headed to the pool for swims. The session certainly motivated the guys to want to improve their techniques and practice regularly together. I was impressed by their natural team approach to the task in hand.
The afternoon lecture was structured around introducing GUE, starting to lay out a roadmap for personal development and how the class would run over the coming days. Oceans Alive crew member Halina Sarten then provided a delicious roast pork meal putting the “N” for nutrition into GUE PLAN.
The following days would see a mixture of lectures, dry runs and in water sessions gradually establish the core skills they needed to learn. Buoyancy, trim and propulsion with an emphasis on teamwork were linked to conducting basic skills. These would with practice turn into instinctive life preserving techniques in stressful situations. It would also become apparent to Kevin and Mat how control provides enhanced situational awareness.
Rob’s underwater videos could be used to later visually re-inforce the active feedback being given. This is a vital tool which creates lightbulb moments and allows for quick progression.
Fundamentals is a fascinating course to watch unfold. Seeing your students take on board what is being taught and working hard to succeed is hugely rewarding. Each day sees capacity grow in skill areas that are being refined while new challenges keep on coming.
With the weather having developed into somewhat of a polar storm and 10M swells being reported in the Cook Strait, we headed for the still waters of Taupō for the open water dives. A change in fortune saw in a beautiful morning, with the previous nights rain all but a memory save for the dusting of snow covering the surrounding hills. The lake was like a mill pond and would provide a fantastic training environment. The team could practice combining the skills taught over the previous days while integrating ascents, all providing a real world context proving the relevance and importance of the training being received.
The pace and intensity of the class always leaves everyone feeling like they have just completed several marathons by the end. The victories, frustrations and realisations that create the learnings are all part and parcel of this vital experience. Was it all worth it ? Absolutely !
Taranaki now has its first two GUE divers who are well on their way to achieving their goals. Congratulations to both on your achievement. For Kevin, diving the shipwreck of the Mars is a step closer. For Mat, increasing his skill level and situational awareness is a huge bonus as he enters the world of teaching. Both are now committed to working hard towards gaining a tech pass.
For Taranaki, a new pathway has opened up for local divers to follow in their footsteps. The advice and support that Kevin and Mat can provide will be critical for those wanting to really dive and explore this coastline. I certainly encourage the wider GUE community to help them develop in any way possible.
GUE fundamentals is without doubt the most important course I have ever taken as a diver. It is a privilege as an instructor intern to be able to pass on that knowledge and aid in the foundation of new GUE communities. Many thanks to Jamie Obern for battling the elements to arrive and leave Taranaki and supporting all of our development. Also, Rob Wilson for a mammoth effort to video fresh off the back of passing Tech 1, and Halina for holding the fort at both work and home. You truly reflect the team ethic that GUE is all about.
By James Croker
June 24, 2016
How many times have you popped up from your dive then had to endure a surface swim back to the boat or have it come pick you up? How many swims have you made on the surface in current, swell or chop because you surfaced a long way from where you thought you were?
Now I have you thinking……… if I was using a compass would I have been able to avoid all those exhausting (and embarrassing) surface swims? The answer is most probably YES! With a little practice and a pinch of luck you should be able to navigate straight back to the entry point every time. That’s because a compass works exactly the same underwater as it does on land, the needle will always point north.
So how does this help me? Prior to descending and after the dive site briefing, have a look around and decide what direction you want to head (usually swimming into the current to start with). Now with your compass pointing North face the lubber line (direction line) in the direction you want to travel and take a bearing from you point of entry. This now gives you a direction to head in underwater as by following this bearing you are theoretically swimming in a straight(ish) line from the boat to your destination (with allowance for current, drift etc.). You will need to be keeping note as you swim along of the time and/or distance covered (using the fin kick cycle method) so that when you turn around you will know how far it is back to the entry point.
Now how do I get back? There are a couple of ways to do this the first being simply turn 180deg and follow the lubber line back. Or you can subtract 180deg off your current bearing and reset your compass with the new heading e.g.. 20deg out and 200deg back in. Because you kept note of the time and/or distance traveled you can now in theory reverse your steps and swim straight back to the start point. If due to the effects of current and drift my return course does not take me straight back to the boat (and it does happen) my compass can then be the difference between an energy sapping slog on the surface or a more comfortable underwater swim (if my air supply allows). Before going under take a bearing to the boat and an estimate of the distance then descend, following this heading back to the boat.
So why a compass? All it takes is a little bit of patience and practice to become comfortable and proficient at using one to navigate underwater. Like all dive gear, your compass if looked after will last a considerable amount of time and prove its worth time and again by assisting you back to the boat therefore avoiding the long and sometimes dangerous surface swim.
Want to learn more? This has been just a basic introduction into why to dive with a compass but if you want to learn more about compass navigation and other ways of finding your way around underwater then enroll in the PADI Underwater Navigator course. This Specialty course fine-tunes your observation skills and teaches you how to more accurately use your compass underwater. You will learn the tools of the trade, including navigation using natural clues and by following compass headings. During the three scuba dives, you will practice:
Visit the Diver Training Centre to sign up and pick up the PADI Underwater Navigator Crew-Pak so you can start learning straight away,
May 31, 2016
Oceans Alive New Zealand, like most dive shops recommend that your regulator and BCD should be serviced at least annually. This is just as important if you only use your equipment infrequently over summer or are an obsessed diver and do hundreds of dives each year.
There are some divers out there who openly question the need for annual servicing and the costs involved. Some points to consider when choosing when to get your gear serviced are;
1. Your life.
Remember this is your life support system that we are talking about! Your regulator is delivering oxygen rich air to your lungs to keep your body functioning. Your BCD is controlling your buoyancy while your gauges and computer ensure you are aware of your air supply, the depth and the safe diving limits. Would you dive with a regulator or dive equipment you didn’t trust to perform flawlessly even under unanticipated emergency conditions.
2. How often you dive.
3. Where you dive
This can also have an impact on your dive gear so ask your service tecnician. For example are you diving mostly in fresh water, chlorinated pool water or salt water?
4. New equipment
The warranty of the manufacturer should be considered when making a servicing decision for all new equipment. Check your user manual because in most cases an authorized technician must verify the correct operation of the equipment every year (or every 2 years, or every 100 dives, or after 200 dive hours etc.) in order to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty.
5. Your cylinder
In NZ the WorkSafe requirements mandate, that dive shops must not fill scuba cylinders that haven't been tested within twelve months. This testing removes from use any unsafe cylinders that have cracks or imperfections that would cause a failure that could severely injure the tank filler (or you).
6. Gas mixing
With enriched air or custom fills over 40 percent you are required to have your tank oxygen serviced, this includes cleaning of the valve and inner tank to avoid an oxygen explosion.
7. Your BCD
While your Regulator is in for service, you may as well bring in your BCD as you can’t go diving. Your BCD is just as important as your Regulator and you want it to perform correctly under all circumstances. A neglected sticky inflator/deflator button could very easily result in a dangerous runaway ascent causing serious injury or even death. Your BCD’s inflator/deflator is taken off, inspected for any cracks, cleaned and parts replaced as necessary. We check that all dump valves are working as well as checking for leaks and performing an air tightness test.
8. How well you look after your equipment - Self-maintenance
How well you look after and store your dive equipment will have a major impact on how it performs and how long it lasts. The golden rule is to rinse all equipment as soon as possible after use in fresh water and then allow it to drip dry in the shade. Store your equipment in a dust, rodent proof environment that is protected against rapid fluctuations in temperature.
Diving is a very gear intensive hobby and the consequences of inadequate care of your gear can be catastrophic. If we don’t want to risk the unnecessary expense of having to purchase something twice, or hurting ourselves or others we need to learn correct pre- and post-dive care procedures. This user maintenance means that you have to visually inspect, clean and properly handle all the equipment, before and after each dive. By doing this you will be insuring that your gear is always safe and ready-to-dive.
Here is a rundown of how to care for and check over your equipment. Note that a rinse is a quick dunk whilst a soak means to leave fully submerged for a longer period of time.
If you have any specific enquiry about how to care for your dive gear, please feel free to contact us.
Dive gear is incredibly dependable in providing you with the life support system you need to venture into the underwater world. If you service all of your gear annually and clean and store it correctly, then you should have no problem with any of it. But you still need to be aware of the possibility of gear failure and how to deal with each scenario. Our dive courses are designed to help you to dive safely and effectively deal with emergency situations if they arise. If you want to be a better and safer diver then please consider signing up for some of our ongoing education programmes.
If at any time you are in doubt about how well your gear is working or have picked something up during your regular self-maintenance checks, then come and see us for a FREE inspection. We are more than happy to test your equipment and give you advice.
Our service technicians have many years’ experience and have undertaken manufacturer’s approved technician’s courses for most of the popular brands of dive equipment. If you have any specific query about your particular brand of equipment and how best to care for it, please feel free to contact us.
March 07, 2016
We know that consumers now have many choices of where to shop, both locally and internationally. The internet is packed full of “bargain dive gear” but we hope you will choose us because we provide more than just a quick sale. We want you to have a safe and enjoyable experience every time you go diving. It is our goal to maintain a high quality one stop Dive Shop to support local divers in and around the Taranaki community.
Some key reasons to choose your local Dive Shop instead of the internet are:
All the PADI Diver Training is done locally – learn to dive in the environment you will be diving in. There is a world of difference between the pristine warm conditions in the Islands compared to our rugged coastline. If you have been trained in Taranaki you will be best equipped to dive anywhere in the world. Courses are available for beginner’s right through to experienced divers.
Local knowledge and advice – our instructors work onsite in the retail store when they aren't teaching so can give you the best advice on what gear works in the local conditions. They are local divers and dive locally so know the dive sites and conditions. Dive Shops are often located close to the boat ramp and talk to many returning divers so know what the conditions are like on a daily basis
Our “big girl” the Ingasoll Rand 23cfm high pressure compressor – without your dive cylinder filled with compressed air how much Kai Moana can you gather on one breath. The retail store subsidizes the running cost of our compressor so that we can provide you with fast, extensively filtered and tested air while you wait.
Wide Selection - We have a comprehensive selection of products. Let us do the hunting, chasing and researching so you can sit back and relax knowing that the products we choose have been tried and tested and recommended by us. We won’t stock anything that we wouldn’t personally use ourselves. Plus we also have all the accessories and replacement parts you will need to keep your SCUBA, snorkelling or spearfishing equipment in good working order
Hands on experience – you can touch, feel and try on the products to ensure you get the best and most comfortable fit possible
Support your Local Economy - By shopping at your local Dive Shop you will be supporting local families, freight providers and the Taranaki economy and help keep our province strong. We use local couriers, suppliers and employ local staff.
Comprehensive support and service on site – our suppliers are good, keen Kiwi Divers and like us they stand behind their products 100%. If you have a problem with anything you have purchased form us then bring it back and we will have a chat with the supplier and between the two of us do our best to fix, replace or refund.
We service dive equipment - on site and also test cylinders in store. You only need to go to one place to get everything ready for diving.
Hire equipment – if you need an extra cylinder or have forgotten an essential piece of equipment then not a problem – we can rent you almost everything you need excluding gloves and catch bags which can be purchased in store.
Plus we can Ship it – we can ship out just about anything in store straight to your home if you ring or email out us your request. This means you still have the advantage of many of the key benefits above but you don’t need to drive all the way to New Plymouth.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL DIVE STORE
May 09, 2015
What a long summer it has been, with the winter months approaching now is a good time to get your gear into the shop for a service and get setup for the up and coming summer.