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Gear Breakdown: Aqualung SolAfx Wetsuit

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For this month’s equipment blog post we will be featuring Aqualung’s SolAfx Semi Dry Wetsuit. This wetsuit is undeniably the most popular suit we sell.  We see divers heading out in this suit in all seasons.  It’s not diving in cold water that we dislike, it’s being cold while diving. But thanks to Aqualung and the SolAfx, you no longer have to be cold.

The SolAfx is a semi-dry wetsuit. The suit is made up of Aqualung’s aqua flex neoprene so you can be warm and comfortable at the same time. The suit is 8mm in the torso and 7mm in the limbs for better flexibility. These are the thicknesses of the neoprene before nylon gets added.

The suit features “in-skin” gaskets in the forearms and calves which minimizes water entry. This means that the suit will initially let water in, your body then warms that water up and there will be little water exchange which means you won’t have that cold water moving in and out of your suit, which in turn means you stay warmer.

Another feature of the suit we like is the attached hood. Having an attached hood is great because there is no cold rushing water entering the neck. The hood also features what Aqualung calls their Vent G2 Technology. This vent technology allows trapped regulator exhaust bubbles to exit while keeping cold water out.

aqrosnetshop_5040500500The suit also features an across-the-chest Plasmaloc zipper which has a tighter tolerance and a unique integrated tooth design that makes the zipper more water resistant than most other suits. Along with the zipper, the suit features a water dam. This water dam covers the neck and shoulders to add another level of protection against any water ingress through the zipper.

The kneepads featured on this suit are made up of several independent panels that allow stretch and comfort combined with ruggedness.

This suit comes in 1 color (Black with Silver Graphics). The red and pink graphics are now gone.

There is both a women’s suit running in sizes from 4-14 and men’s suit sizes run from XS to 3XL. The SolAfx retails at $535.00.

Want to hear from an actual customer who wears this suit? Check out Jerry Shine’s review of the SolAfx suit here.

Sizing Chart

Wetsuit Maintenance & Care

Local Diver Profile

This month we are featuring Dave Norman as our Local Diver. You can find him snapping photos or speaking at one of our photo society meetings. He is a seasoned New England Diver and can give you some tips and tricks with your scuba and photography skills.

How long have you been diving? 

43 years

How were you introduced into Scuba Diving?

I grew up 2 blocks from Revere Beach and spent countless hours at the beach – swimming, looking for shells and other “treasures” thrown onshore after a storm.  I was primed for it.  After I graduated from college, my first job was teaching at a high school in central Maine.  Cold nights and not a lot of social life.  Heard a radio advertisement for SCUBA lessons at Colby College, a few miles away.  I didn’t own a car and offered one of my high school students to pay for the class if he would drive each week.  A deal was struck and I’ve been diving since.

How many dives do you have logged? 

Who can remember…

What kind of diving do you personally enjoy?

My primary reason for diving is observing / photographing marine life.

What’s your favorite dive site on the North Shore? 

Folly Cove – it has a wide variety of diving – wall on the left, sand/reef in the center, rocky shore on the right.  It’s shallow near the beach and 60 feet at the mouth.   That’s great potential.

Why do you love New England diving so much? 

The variety – I used to give a slide presentation describing  3 facets of diving New England – Eastport, ME; Cape Ann; and blue shark diving off the coast of Rhode Island.   All are a car ride away.

What was your favorite scuba trip? 

The past 2 years I made 2 dive trips to the Bahamas to shark dive that were exhilarating, but over the years 2 trips stand out: one to Grand Turk Island and another to British Columbia.

Do you have any trips planned in the future? 

Yes, St. Vincent.

Do you have a favorite piece of gear and why? 

Fenzy – hands down the most durable, practical, and useful piece of SCUBA equipment since Cousteau developed the regulator.

What is the best marine animal you have ever seen? 

Diving with sea lions in British Columbia – they are fast, big and there’s no dive master feeding them!  You’re on your own –more exhilarating than shark diving in the Bahamas.

What advice can you give someone just starting out with underwater photography?

Join a group like the Photo Society at Undersea Divers.

Sit and observe when you’re in the water.

Analyze and critique your results when you’re out of the water.

What type of camera system do you use?  

Nikon D200, Ikelite housing and Ikelite strobes.

Best advice for a new diver?

SCUBA diving is about buoyancy, breathing, and relaxing:

Know how to adjust your weights to be neutrally buoyant at the surface.

Know how to breathe to regulate your buoyancy underwater.

 

Dive Site Profile: Folly Cove

follyFolly Cove is one of the most popular dive sites around. The dive site is situated right on the border of Rockport and Gloucester. There is always interesting marine life here and with its different topographies this dive site is loved by photographers. We highly recommend making it a 2 tank dive so you can visit both the left and right sides. Whether you are shore or boat diving, you will enjoy this dive.

Bottom Composition: Folly Cove has two different sides you can dive. On the left side you will find a sheer rock wall that can drop down to 75 at the end of the cove. This beautiful rock wall is covered in colorful anemones, urchins and sea cucumbers. On the right hand side you will find a boulder pasture than drops down to 50ft at its deepest point. The middle of the cove is mostly sandy with a patch of rocks in the middle.

sculpin with crabMarine Life: Folly Cove is a great site to see a wide range of marine life. You can see colorful anemones, urchins, flounder, nudibranchs, sea ravens, torpedo rays, squid, lobsters, sea cucumbers, sand dollars and much more!

Parking: Parking is not easy at this site. The 4 or 5 parking spots there are Resident Only.  Most people will drop their gear off with one diver at the actual dive site then drive down the street to park near the Lobster Pool Restaurant. It’s a quick walk/bike ride back. (If the cove is on your left, drive about .2 miles until you see the restaurant on your left side)

Entry/Exit: This site is a bit harder to dive from shore. There is a dirt path down a small slope from the parking lot to the beach. The entire beach is covered with big boulders and small rocks so this site is easier to dive at high tide. While it is still a great dive at low tide, the slippery rocks can be a hazard.

Weather: Stay away from this site if there is a North wind.

BONUS: On occasion you can find a torpedo ray hanging out here. He likes to move around the Lanesville area, sometimes finding him at Lanes Cove.

Watch this video of the Torpedo Ray by Bert Perry: VIDEO

Experience Level: Moderate (due to hard entry/exit) Easy dive once you are in the water!

Gear Breakdown: Suunto Cobra

Sunntologo

For this month’s equipment blog post we will be featuring the Suunto Cobra Dive Computer. We have been selling this computer for about 10 years and we can happily vouch for how great this computer really is.

The Cobra is an air-integrated console-mounted dive computer. Air integrated means the computer will monitor and display your tank pressure, track your rate of air consumption and continuously calculates your remaining air time.  (Beats calculating those dive tables, huh!) You can operate the Cobra in 3 modes, air, nitrox and gas.

Cobra_front_l

Another great feature is the RGBM (Reduced Gradient Bubble Model). This algorithm enables continuous decompression for optimal ascent time. A back-light will activate automatically when the dive alarm goes off, making the dive parameters clearly visible and legible for peak safety.  To read more about the RGBM click here.

There is also a built in Dive Planner & Simulator. Using these features, you can test upcoming dives and view no-decompression and decompression time data for different depths before getting in the water! The Cobra has an extensive logbook and profile memory so you can look back at all of your dives. It will provide 36 hours of memory which records all important data.

cobra_w_sk7_l

You have the option of adding the SK7 Compass onto your console for easy to read navigation. This compass sits at a 30 degree angle for easy viewing. We find that most of the time people will upgrade to the SK7 Compass and love it!

Maintenance: Don’t forget! When you purchase a new Suunto Computer from us at Undersea Divers, we give you a FREE ANNUAL BATTERY CHANGE FOR LIFE!

Why our instructor loves his Cobra: “I love that the computer is compact and easy to use and tells me how much air I have at my current breathing rate and depth. It makes it easy and safe which I love, especially being in the water with students all the time.”

Cost: Best news about the Cobra?! The price has been reduced!

Cobra  $599           Cobra with SK7 Compass  $669

Watch a video of how the Suunto Cobra works here

For more information about the Suunto Cobra click here

 

Local Diver Profile

Once a month we will be featuring a post called Diver Profile where we will be interviewing a local diver to get their likes, dislikes and diving advice. We hope these posts will give you a better idea of what New England Diving is like. This month we will be featuring John & Val Feehan as our local divers.

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How long have you been diving?

We have been diving for almost 8 years

How were you introduced into Scuba Diving?

We grew up watching Jacques Cousteau and always wanted to dive.  When we met Heather Knowles at the Metrowest Dive show, she was willing to give us private lessons.  As adults, we thought this the best way to get involved.

How many dives do you have logged?

Not enough.

What kind of diving do you personally enjoy?

Let’s see, shore diving, boat diving, night diving, tech diving, no visibility, good visibility, drift diving and cold water diving…you get the idea..

What’s your favorite dive site on the North Shore?

If we told you that, we would have to kill you.

Why do you love New England diving so much?

Diving in New England is challenging and very variable. Sometimes you go to a site and see squid, the next time lady crabs, the next time a school of strippers, or an ocean pout or a lumpfish.  The diversity of marine life and the changes conditions always mean each dive us unique, even if you have dove a site many times.

What was your favorite scuba trip?

Les Escoumins Quebec Canada.

Do you have any trips planned in the future?

Always

Do you have a favorite piece of equipment?

Val says her camera, John says he is still looking for that giant crane to lower us from the parking lot at Folly into the water.

What is the best marine animal you have ever seen?

Ocean Trigger fish guarding a nest of eggs.

Your photography has improved, what advice can you give someone just starting out?

Dive often and implement a piece of advice given to me by Bob Boyle, sit and wait for the marine life to come to you.  And take your time.

What type of camera system do you use?

Val has a Nikon Coolpix 5400 5 megapixel point and shoot with a sea and see housing, two sea and see strobes and a Sola Light In Motion Photo 800 Spotter Light

John has a Gopro Hero II with a Sea Life photo LED light

Best advice for a new diver?

When we started, we joined two groups of more experienced divers, Undersea Diver’s Dive Society and the New England Aquarium Dive Club.  We joined these more experienced divers as often as we could.  Then, we dove often enough to learn the techniques well enough that they became second nature.  Once that happened, diving became just pure fun.

john val blog

Boston Sea Rovers Clinic

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It’s that time of the year again, the Boston Sea Rovers Clinic will be held March 9th & 10th, 2013. If you are unfamiliar with the BSR or you’re a repeat attendee, we have the scoop on the this years event. And the best part, we will be an exhibitor, so make sure you stop by our booth and say hello!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Boston Sea Rovers, here is a bit of background. The Boston Sea Rovers is a nonprofit volunteer organization dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation of the marine environment. They are one of the oldest (Began in 1954) and most distinguished underwater clubs in America. While the membership has changed over the years, the Sea Rovers always stay true to their original goal of “Raising the Level of Knowledge of the Underwater World.” All of the volunteers have a diverse and varied background, who share a common bond of a love for diving and for the ocean.The Sea Rovers hold an annual weekend clinic which is comprised of seminars, workshops, exhibits, films and hands-on activities. This year the clinic will be held on March 9th & 10th, 2013 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Boston North Shore (Formerly – CoCo Key Hotel & Water Resort) in Danvers Massachusetts. 

Exhibit-hall

Exhibits: There are many vendors that attend the Sea Rovers annual clinic to display their best and new products. You will see travel destinations and resorts, local dive shops, and of course equipment dealers.

Workshops: This year there are 14 workshops where you can either sharpen your skills or be introduced to amazing new areas of diving. Workshops range from an INTRODUCTION TO FREE DIVING by Nick Fazah to learning more about CONSERVATIVE DIVING with DAN to learning VIDEO & EDITING by Annie Crawley. attendees*Some workshops require payment and/or pre-registration*

Seminars: Along with the workshops, there are over 30 seminars you can attend. Seminar topics range from travel tips and destinations, photography, ocean sustainability, marine life and much more. We highly recommend checking out Andrew Martinez and his seminar Macro Magic in St. Vincent and Jerry Shine’s New England Underwater, 30 shots, 30 stories.

Film Festival: One of the best parts of the BSR clinic is the film festival that is featured Saturday night.  Ernie Brooks is this year’s Master of Ceremonies. The highlight will be the screening of “Making Blue Movies” by Michael Pitts. This film is a collection of his favorite BBC projects which include, “Private Life of Plants”, “Blue Planet” and “Life”.

Nudibranchs-copy

Marine Life Art Exhibit: This is a new exhibit to the clinic this year and will feature nudibranchs through the amazing sculptures of Gar Waterman and the photographs of Kevin Lee.

Discover Scuba: This event will take place on Saturday March 9th from 10:30am – 4:30pm. This event allows you to try out scuba diving in the hotel pool! Must be age 10 and up. *Pre-registration is required*

discoverScubas

Kids Day: Kids day is Sunday, March 10th. All kids under 12 years old get FREE admission! There will be a touch tank filled with fun marine life for the kids to explore along with an event called “How Far Can Your Escargot Go” where the kids get to have a snail race put on by the students at the Salem State University Cat Cove Marine Lab.

Whether you are just being introduced to scuba diving or have been a diver for many years, this is always a fun event and we hope you can make it. We will be having a SPECIAL GIVEAWAY at out booth so make sure you stop by!

Quick Links

Ticketing Information     

Boston Sea Rover Website 

Seminar Schedule

Workshop Schedule

Aqualung – Twilight Collection

We see more and more companies creating lines specifically designed for women.  (It’s about time!) Aqualung is no different, they have just launched their Twilight Collection which is specifically designed for women and features the popular Twilight Purple on all items. Here is a breakdown of the Twilight Collection and why we love it so much.

Legend LX

Legend LX 

This regulator is a top-of-the line fully adjustable regulator that joins the existing Legend LX. The Twilight Legend LX includes a smaller Comfo-Bite mouthpiece and a lighter second stage to reduce jaw fatigue, and the revolutionary Master Breathing System (MBS) for simple breathing comfort control. It also includes a safe and stylish storage bag.

Soul i3 

Soul i3

The Soul i3 is a luxury BC for women. This BC features Aqualung’s comfortable Wrapture Harness System, i3 buoyancy control system and GripLock tank band to keep tanks secure.  It has an integrated weight system along with multiple accessory additions. Colors available:Twilight, Pink or Charcoal.

                     

SolAfx Wetsuit

solafx

We have raved about this suit for years. We love this suit so much because it’s toasty warm! The suit comes in 5mm and 8mm. We prefer the thicker of the two for New England diving. The suit is 8mm in the torso and 7mm in the limbs. It has unique features which truly help with retaining warmth. Features include a water dam that covers the neck and shoulders to add another level of protection from water ingress through the zipper along with Skin In gasket seals in the forearms and calves to minimize water entry through the sleeves and legs. Other features include a Plasmaloc across-the-chest zipper and Liquid Seam Technology to enhance durability. The SolAfx comes in black with a stylish white Aqualung logo.

linea

Linea

This is a beautiful  single lens mask that includes the Comfort Buckle System. This buckle swivels to prevent tangled hair. This mask also features Advanced Fit Technology that uses bands of different textures around the edge of the skirt resulting in a superior seal against the face. And we know, no one likes a leaky mask! The Linea is a low volume mask, which means it’s easier to clear and gives you a wider field of vision. The Linea comes in 3 colors: Twilight, Pink, and Arctic White.

zepher

Zepher 

The Zepher snorkel is designed with a splash guard with a purge channel on the top of the snorkel to prevent water ingress. It also features a purge valve on the bottom for easy clearing and a Comfo-bite mouthpiece which reduces jaw fatigue.

 

Shot FX Fin

shotfx

This is a high performance fin designed especially for women. This fin is great for women because it has a dedicated blade that is shorter and softer, therefore making it easier to kick. It comes standard with a Spring Strap so you never have to adjust your fins again. The foot pocket is equipped with the Power Transmission Zone which anchors the foot and prevents unnecessary stretching of the pocket on the power stroke resulting in maximum energy transmission. Colors Available: Twilight, Arctic White

Twilight Travel Accessories  

bags

  • Catalina Roller Bag
  • Avalon Cosmetic Bag
  • Cosmetic Pouch

Twilight Accessories:  twilight accessories

  • Ava Glove
  • Cora Glove
  • Ellie Ergo Boot
  • Squeeze Lock BC Knife

Aqualung has launched a woman’s only website where you can view all of the Aqualung Women’s Products that are available.  They also have a weight calculator where you can enter in your gear and get exact weight amounts for when you travel. No one ever likes going over the weight limit and paying that expensive fee!

You can order any of the Aqualung Twilight Collection from us here at Undersea Divers. 

For more information on these products, visit http://women.aqualung.com/women/us/ 

Equipment Weight Calculator, visit http://women.aqualung.com/women/us/2012-06-05-09-44-14/product-weight-calculator 

Legend LX Video: http://youtu.be/ARD808E1NmA

Linea Video: http://youtu.be/Q4Klhu6XunE

Dive Travel: Bonaire

About Bonaire:

2 squidAs most of you know we love the island of Bonaire. For over 20 years we have been running trips to this “Diver’s Paradise” and divers have been coming back year after year. Bonaire’s pristine reefs and diverse marine life are unique to the Caribbean. The waters around Bonaire are home to more than 500 species of fish, as well as more than 120 kinds of coral. Because the waters around Bonaire are designated as an official marine park, diving Bonaire is like diving the Caribbean the way it use to be, untouched and unspoiled.  The island’s location in the south Caribbean gives it an arid climate with little rainfall; consequently, the waters are exceptionally clear, calm and diveable year round. Water temperatures average a warm 78-84 degrees and water visibility often averages over 100ft. Bonaire is an ideal destination for underwater photographers. Few destinations offer the photographic opportunities that you will find in Bonaire. With incredible visibility, abundant fish life and a healthy reef system, wide angle opportunities are naturally about. Divers and snorkelers alike can gaze in wonder as colorful creatures, large and small, feast on a reef that serves as an underwater banquet table.

About the DIVI Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino (This is our favorite place to stay!)

divi_flamingo_beach_resort_casino_0The studio units are located in a charming, sky- blue, gingerbread- style complex with a private pool. It offers guests two double beds with a queen sleeper sofa, fully equipped kitchen with refrigerator and coffee maker, and spacious screened porch. All studio units offer pool views. Divi Flamingo Beach Resort Hotel and Casino reflects the casual mood and rich natural beauty of Bonaire, with a modern and comfortable atmosphere. “Barefoot Elegance” is the theme of this resort, one of the island’s best! There are 150 rooms, each tastefully decorated in an island theme and each with a sheltered patio or balcony. All rooms are air-conditioned and have daily maid service.The Flamingo Beach Resort has 2 restaurants on the property. The Calabas Terrace is a beach-side restaurant open for breakfast and lunch daily. They have a wonderful made-to-order breakfast buffet and a delicious variety of food for lunch. Dinner is served at the Chibi Chibi restaurant a casual yet elegant over-the-water restaurant. Dinner requires reservations, so plan ahead. upclose turtleThe Player’s Bar is located next to the Flamingo Casino, and serves cocktails and light snacks until the early morning hours. There are many fine restaurants located within walking distance from the hotel.The Flamingo Casino is a great place to try your luck at various casino games. There is black jack, roulette, craps, and a good assortment of slot machines. You can also rent a car from the on-property rental agency or get pampered at the resort’s beauty salon.There are 2 swimming pools at the resort with plenty of lounge chairs to relax. Beach towels are provided in your rooms. The water in your rooms is safe to drink and the electricity is 110 volts. There are no hair dryers in the studio rooms and the dive shop has a charging station for video and camera equipment.

Group Leader: Bob Boyle

bonaire 3On every Undersea Divers trip, you have a group leader. They are there to help you with anything you need in order to make your vacation the best it can be. They will show you the best places to dive, snorkel, eat and play! Bob is THE BEST island guide when it comes to visiting Bonaire. He knows all of the staff at the Divi as well as many others around the island. He can show you the best dive sites, restaurants and recreational areas. Bob has visited the island of Bonaire 55 times! Bob was even recently deemed an Ambassador of Bonaire for his efforts in creating a rich diving culture and running trips to the island!

Upcoming Trips: Come dive with us!

April 13th – 20th, 2013    ONLY 3 SPOTS LEFT!   April Trip Details & Rates

November 2nd – 9th, 2013  November Trip Details

Call (978-927-9551) or Email (dive@underseadivers.com)  us to register for a trip or for additional information. Happy Diving!

DEMA 2012

This years DEMA Show was held in Las Vegas. For those of you who don’t know what DEMA is, it stands for The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association. Every year DEMA hosts a show where the latest and greatest products are displayed from manufacturers around the world. This year I (Whitney) was sent to DEMA and I want to show you what I found!

XShot Fins featured in Orange & Black
Hot Shot Fin featured in Artic White
Impression Mask featured in Artic White

Since we are an Aqualung Dealer, it was my first stop once I hit the show floor. They have a new fin called the XShot which features a standard spring strap. They have also introduced a new mask called the Impression. This mask is unique because instead of the lens, skirt and frame all being snapped together, the Impression molds those pieces together which in return allows the mask to sit closer to your face which maximizes your field of vision. They have also changed the color schemes on a few items. The Hydroflex line of suits are now a royal blue which stands out and looks great. They are also offering the Impulse 3 snorkel and Hot Shot Fins in the Arctic White we all love to much.

AquaPod featuring DC1400 camera

My next stop was at SeaLife Cameras. Here I checked out the new Fish Eye Wide Angle Lens for their DC1400 series as well as their new AquaPod. The Fish Eye Lens is great for increasing the field of view in any photo. It’s simple to use and works for both still and video mode. The AquaPod is a pole attachment that mounts to your camera so you can take up close photos while still maintaining a comfortable distance between you and your subject. I see this product as a great way to capture a photo of a shy blenny without having to hover or damage the reef waiting for the little guy to pop out. Or turn the camera around on the pod and you are ready to take a self portrait!

Not only did I see great companies and products, but I met a lot of people who love what they do and will do anything to keep the SCUBA industry growing strong. My kind of people!

Happy Diving!