Long Island, New York Scuba Diving

Our Long Island Scuba diving adventures and events

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Catching Lobster, a diver’s guide to Locating Larry

Come the warmer weather I’ll stop buying so much meat at the market. By the end of April I will be able to substitute some of it for Blackfish and of course my beloved lobster. From May through November I probably eat enough lobster to turn into one. And “No”, I never get sick of them. You got your Lobster grilled, steamed Lobster, lobster salad, lobster rolls, lobster bisque, Lobster sauce, (Wait a minute, this is starting to sound a bit familiar) lobster ravioli, lobster and steak, stuffed lobster. “And that’s it Forest.”
Most new divers and underwater hunters want to know two things about lobster. First, how do you find them? And second, how the hell do you catch them without losing a finger?
Locating Lobsters is fairly simple. You need to understand several things. The three most important points are that they are nocturnal, they like to always have their bellies on sand and they are very territorial. If you are night diving you are likely top see lobsters out for a stroll if there are any in the area. They will usually be close to a hole that they use to hide in during the daytime. The hole will be located under a large rock, where two rocks lean together, under some sunken wood (they love wood), In a debris fields where it meets the sand and inside of pipelines, conduit or old tires if they are available. If you are diving during the daylight hours those lobsters are going to be hold up in their little fortresses with their antenna sticking out watching what’s going on outside so you are going to have to look for them. This means taking your light and getting down low in the rocks and debris(on a lobster’s level) and start looking in every hole and crack you can find. If there are lobsters in the area you will find them. Now we come to how you catch one.
If it is nighttime and the lobsters are cruising in the open, just grab the body behind the claws and hold them tight. They cannot spin back on you and bite if you hold them this way. When you grab for one do it fast and right away so they don’t have a chance to react. Once you have hold of them, open your bag and put them in tail first. Lobster swim backwards so as soon as you let go of him he’ll shoot right to the bottom of the bag. Close the bag and look for another one.
If it is daytime and the lobster is in a hole you are going to have to move quickly. The lobster will most likely be facing out towards you where he can put his claws to the best use on your fingers. When you find one in a hole you will need to get into position to thrust your arm into that hole as far it will go on the first shot. Those holes go deep and if he gets ahead of your hand you will lose him. So get into a good position to grab him kind of as if you were going to throw your best punch. The technique is to keep your hand open as wide as it will go and with the tips of your fingers curled slightly down. You are going to throw your hand in there very fast and you don’t want to jam a finger on a rock. As you throw your “Punch” you will want to keep the top of your hand grazing the top of the hole. The theory is that you will get your hand over the top of or behind the lobster before he can get past your hand. Pin the lobster to the bottom of his hole and start to wrangle him out. Move him around a lot and tire him out. Make him use all his strength as he fights you by changing his balance. In less than a minute he’ll just pop out of the hole all worn out. Throw him in the bag and find another.
The claws don’t really hurt if you are wearing gloves unless it is a little one. They have very sharp claws. I don’t even bother with them.
In New York it is illegal to use any kind of stick or noose to capture lobster as a diver. And you are going to need a lobster permit which costs $10 from the NYDEC. You will also need a lobster gauge to measure them to make sure they are of legal size which is 3 1/4” on the carapace. You must use your hands. I have caught hundreds this way and expect to catch many many more.
Oh, and remember when I told you lobsters were territorial. Well, if you catch a large lobster in a hole the chances are great that that is a prime piece of real estate and he fought off other lobsters to get it. If you go back to that hole a few days later there is a good chance that the next guy in line has moved in. There are a lot of underwater hunting resources available at http://www.spearfishingextreme.com
Happy Lobstering.

Who's Steering This Diver Anyway

Navigation is a diver’s best weapon against stupidity and one of the best tools for information. If the surf clouds up and you lose visibility the only thing you can really count on is your compass and it’s absolutely necessary on a night dive. I am surprised how many divers don’t know how to use it. The basics are simple. You need to know a direction to swim into your dive and a direction to swim out or back to the beach or boat.
This is how I do it on a beach dive. The first thing I do is set that needle to zero degrees North. I don’t rotate the bezel or use the lubber line. I find it’s just too confusing and I have used this simple method to teach two students with dyslexia and it worked for them.

So we have our needle pointing North and set to zero. Now stand on the beach facing out towards the water in the direction you want to dive. Look down at your compass. The needle is set to zero degrees. Now what number is facing the direction you want to swim out in? Let’s pretend you are going to dive straight north and the number is 0 degrees. That is all you need to remember. O, That’s it. So if 0 is your way out then the number directly on the other side of the compass is your way to get back. In this case the number should be 180 degrees. So when it’s time to come home put that needle on 0 again and swim in the opposite direction which is 180. All you had to remember is one number. Try it in your yard. You’ll see it’s about as simple as it gets. Being a good navigator is a great step towards being a confident diver. You can figure out the rest from there and I have some other tips to make you a great navigator. But, I’ll add to this later.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A short exercise for a longer dive (breathing better or better breathing)

A short exercise for a longer dive (breathing better or better breathing)
I don’t think I have talked about this much but there are several techniques that will help you to enjoy your dive by staying relaxed and breathing less air. Remember that diving is not a race. Your only goal is to enjoy yourself and get the most out of that tank on your back. First, remember to give yourself an appropriate amount of time to get ready for the dive without rushing or getting anxious. Getting your heart rate racing here is going to waste a lot of gas in the first few minutes of your dive. If that does happen the next step will remedy the problem and make you relax your breathing.
As soon as you drop down in the water and have kicked to a spot free of other divers that might interfere with you, drop to the bottom. Dump all your air and just lay your chest on the bottom. Relax your entire body and shut your eyes. Listen to the bubbles and relax. Feel the water and relax. In one minute you will be a very relaxed groovy diver. If you are on a boat dive you can do this on the wreck, sand or as you hang on the line. Once you are relaxed you will not over-breath and your tank of air will last a very long time. I make every new diver do this exercise when they dive with me. That way I get a nice long dive and they learn how to breathe. I have had some very new divers in the water for 45 minutes or so and be within a few 100psi of my tank.
The next method is to be used on a long underwater swim or a swim against current. The scenario is this. Let’s say you have finished half of your dive, the current has changed and there is boat traffic that is preventing you from surfacing. You want to get back to the beach but you are concerned about air. The question is “How do you do all that work on the remaining air”? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. As a certified diver you will have to decide what the best course for you is. If you are diving near boats you should at least have a 5’ long safety sausage in case you have to come up. Still there is a way to conserve your air on a long swim like this. You need to roll your arms in a very relaxed position under your body so it takes no energy to hold them up. I then try to think of going completely dead from the waste up. I try to keep my upper body from using any energy whatsoever so I can supply my legs which will be doing all the work. Your legs should be kicking as efficiently as possible and you need to keep a steady pace. You will be surprised at how fast you can swim if you streamline yourself and keep a steady pace. And if you conserve upper body energy and effort your breathing can stay relatively normal. Stopping and starting will waste valuable time and energy. There is a certain amount of time that you will be able to sustain this before your body starts demanding more oxygen and your breathing will increase so it’s best to try it for yourself and learn what your body will do.
Any diver can do these simple exercises and you will immediately see your dives lasting 10 minutes longer than they ever have. With some practice you can start adding to that.

Friday, March 11, 2005

All About Drysuits

Well maybe not everything but I’ll tell you enough about them so you can make an informed decision if you are thinking about buying one. Traditionally, drysuits are one of the most expensive investments a scuba diver can purchase. In the past few years a large number of manufactures have entered the market and the competition has been able to drive the price down for entry level drysuits. Some Neoprene drysuits start out at $600 now and that is a far cry from prices that used to start at about $1000. You can still spend $3000 on one if you like but chances are there is something comparable out there for you.
Drysuits keep you warm by first keeping you dry inside an external layer of neoprene, nylon, rubber, cordura or some combination of these materials. Typically, a diver wearing a drysuit will also be wearing fleece undergarments for thermal protection. A neoprene drysuit offers more thermal protection because the neoprene itself works as a thermal barrier. A shell suit or nylon, cordura, rubber suit requires undergarments for all a divers’ thermal protection because the outer shell works only to keep you dry. Drysuits operate by keeping a layer of warm air between the diver and the cold water. This is accomplished by running a low pressure line from your regulator to the drysuit. It works in much the same way as your BC. As you go deeper you will add a little air to your suit and as you ascend you will dump a little air from the suit. This takes training and a little practice so make sure you seek the proper instruction before using a drysuit on your own.
It makes the most sense to talk about when it is beneficial to use a drysuit. First, Diving in any cold water may warrant a drysuit. And that may also depend on your own personal definition of cold water. I usually wear a drysuit for all beach dives from Mid-October through the end of May. Once water temperatures drop into the low 60’s and high 50’s I abandon diving wet. I could use a heavier 7mm wetsuit for this but to me it’s just easier to jump into a drysuit rather than fighting a heavy wetsuit in a cold parking lot. Oh yeah, and taking a wet suit of in a cold parking lot is no picnic either.
Drysuits are also beneficial if you will be diving off of a boat at depths of 60’ or more. If you are doing that you can bet you will be passing one or two thermoclines even in the summer and the water on the bottom is going to be cold.
What kind of drysuit? Well I prefer the shell style and after owning many drysuits I have settled on a cordura, front entry or self donning drysuit. I can regulate the thermal protection I wear under it and it is a very tough outer shell that will resist my bottom crawling and wreck rumbles. The Neoprene suits are extremely warm and are very durable but they also can make a diver overheat in the hot summer months. I have seen a few divers sweat it out onboard a dive boat in 80 degree weather before their dive. Crushed neoprene however offers a happy medium between the shell and thick neoprene suits because it offers thermal protection and it is flexible and you can still wear undergarments under it.
Some of the manufactures I recommend are: Bare, DUI, Harveys and Diving Concepts. I own a Diving Concepts Cordura suit and I couldn’t be happier with it. It has all the features of a very expensive suit at a moderate price and it is built tank tuff.
Remember that diving with a drysuit is going to require a little training to make sure you know how to use it and what to do in an emergency so make sure you are trained before you use one. This was just a brief overview to get you on your way. If you have any questions regarding drysuits please feel free to contact me at info@longislanddiving.com or just give a call.

Flatliners, Killer Fluke In The Sand

I wrote this article some time ago but I thought I would republish it to the blog and give more folks a chance to read it.

A large spider crab raises the alarm and takes an alien stance and lifts his nippers to catch me as I drift slowly overhead. I'm only 15ft deep and I am in a soft current that is pushing me gently as I patrol the sandy south shore bottom where it meets the debris field of a jetty. The usual suspects are there. Rock crabs, green crabs, small blackfish are in plain view as a school of shiners shimmers close by. But, the prey I am looking for I will never see. I will never see him completely that is until he is on my spear. His camo is better than any fish in the north east. His stealth and patience is beyond compare and his speed is as good as any rocket off the launch pad. I am talking about the Fluke.
Also known as the summer flounder the fluke offers some great challenge to the North East spearfisherman. You might think it's a simple process to stick a spear through a relatively stationary fish that is laying on the bottom but that's only part of it. First you have to find them and then you have to see them before they see you. Most beginning divers never see a large fluke but they do get quite a few glimpses of clouds of sand that seems to have just erupted off the bottom like a small stick of dynamite just went off. If you have seen these sand clouds there is a pretty good chance you just encountered a fluke. Fluke are very wary and it takes some skill to come up on them.
Fluke, by nature are super ambush predators. They use their super camo and stealth to suprise passing fish. Usually buried in the sand with only their eyeballs visible. The fluke will lie patiently on the bottom in an opportune environment and explode off the bottom and capture it's unsuspecting prey in it's large jaws filled with backward pointing dagger like teeth. In order to appreciate the magnitude of their hunting ferocity you need to scale it down. Suppose you were diving along that same jetty I described earlier. It's a beautiful day and you can see clearly in all directions and there are no worries. However, on the bottom there is something strange. There it is again it's tiny and it just moved. Just as you begin to focus on what you are seeing as a tiny eyeball, the full mass of a 50ft long animal weighing many tons erupts out of the sand and you are already caught, sheared and held fast unable even to struggle. It's a pretty terrifying scenario and I have often tried pitching the folks in Hollywood about using a flatfish as the next big screen super villain. Maybe starring Richard Dreyfus as a scientist who discovers a mutant flatty off the beaches of Fire island. I don't know why but they don't return my calls anymore. However, you can see how such a predator can also use those skills to elude you as a spearfisherman.
The first step towards a successful Fluke hunt is to find them. Most folks think that Fluke are found exclusively along large stretches sandy bottom. This is not even remotely true. While Fluke prefer to bury themselves in sand they are just as happy to cover up with mussel and shell debris, lay under sea lettuce or dig in amongst the pebbles. Also, fluke love structure and you will always find them around it if conditions are right. What they like most though, is a change in bottom type. They love to setup their ambushes in the transition areas along the bottom. For example, If you are on a sandy bottom and the sand meets a pebble bottom or a rocky outcrop you will want to follow that transition line and you will invariably find fluke. Like wise it could be a mussle bed that meets mud or a wooden dock that meets pebbles or a lettuce field that meets rock. Almost any combo you can think of. Why are they there? There are a couple of reasons. First, those transition areas are great places to hide and break up your background. Second, little fishies also use these transition areas to keep a low profile. When you realize these transition areas have both cover and food it makes a lot of sense why a super ambush predator would want to be there.
Ok, now we know where to find them. The next challenge is seeing them. When hunting most species it's a relatively simple task to see a fish, the whole fish and nothing but the fish. However, it is highly unlikely you will see a whole fluke while you are cruising along the bottom. What you will be looking for is parts of a fish. Because they are buried most of the time you will be booking for two eyeballs, a faint outline in the sand or a protruding tail which they have trouble covering. It takes some practice but once you finally spot one or two suddenly you can see even the best hidden fluke.
The best way to hunt them is to keep yourself at leat 4ft off the bottom. This will give you a better view of the bottom and enough room to maneuver your gun to fire on one of those flatties. And you will want to shoot them in the head to avoid damaging any of that delicious meat. If you see one and you are not in a good position to shoot be careful not to look directly at him as you get into position. If you don't look at him the fluke will still think his camo is working and stay put.
When you finally shoot one be careful. Even with a head shot they can take of fast and crazy. The fish itself is not dangerous but they are incredibly strong and they can whip the spear shaft back and forth violently and I can tell you I have been whacked in the face a few times. Remember to stay relaxed. When you can, grab the one end of the shaft and thrust the point, fish and all into the sand and hold it there. Fluke are great at tearing themselves off spearpoints and because they are against the bottom the spear does not always go through. This will give you some time to gain control and get yourself ready to get the fluke on your stringer. I recommend a stringer over a bag because fish can't escape the stringer. String the fluke through the gills and out the mouth and then close the stringer. Once that is done you can take the spear shaft out of him. Always string your fish before you take the shaft out. It usually takes the loss of one fish to learn this lesson.
I love spearfishing for fluke, I hope you enjoy it as well.
Happy Hunting

Car Keys, Where do they belong.

As you can see I write about some of the most basic things in scuba diving. Why not, somebody has to. I think it’s a fair task to remove all the stupid barriers and stresses from diving and I aim to do just that for whoever reads my articles.
Back to keys.
I thought I would give new divers some options when it comes to car keys. I have seen them stuffed and hung from every inch of a diver as well as buried, hidden and jammed under chassis. Let’s face it. You can’t very well leave them in the ignition with the car running while you dive.
Option 1- Clip them off to your BC. This works if you have a strong key ring and non-electronic keys. I recommend that they are also in a pocket so they don’t snag on anything.
Option 2 – Place them in a small dry bag or capsule and then clip them off to your BC and in a pocket.
Option 3- Place a single key inside your wetsuit in that little pocket by the zipper. I don’t like this option because you have to undress if you forgot something in the car.
Option 4- Keep a separate key in a magnetic container under your car and just lock your regular set in the car. It’s always a good idea to back up options 1-3 with option 4 incase you lose your keys during the dive. Yes , you guessed it. Redundancy even extends to car keys. If you do get your car keys wet just rinse them off with a little fresh water from a water bottle before you place them in the ignition or door locks. Not much to say about car keys and diving but at least it’s been said.
Good Luck

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

So, you are going scuba diving.. Are you ready?

So you are going scuba diving.. Are you ready?
Showing up to dive and being ready can make all the difference in the world in how your day turns out. Beyond safety and preparedness it just makes sense to have your stuff together and really enjoy yourself. Too many times I have seen divers show up to dive at the wrong time, with the wrong gear, not enough gear or any real sense if their gear is operating properly. Sometimes it’s laughable, sometimes it’s dangerous and when the guy who is unprepared is your dive buddy it can downright tick you off. So let’s take a look at the very simple ways a diver can anticipate a dive and show up loaded for bear.
The first issue is timing. On Long Island a large majority of beach diving or inshore diving opportunities are based on tide. This means that a diver is going to avoid strong tidal currents by beginning the dive at the start of slack tide and ending the dive as the current changes again. Logically, one has to know when slack tide is and then can plan in reverse for travel time as well as the time it will take to put on gear and get into the water. You can usually see this done very poorly at the Ponoquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays at the height of Long Island’s dive season. The tidal currents there are extremely heavy and you are going for a ride if you misjudge them. Many divers show up as slack tide starts and begin the dive when the tide is about to change. Poor planning? You bet. There are many services on the web that will help you find tidal information. I like to use http://www.noreast.com/. It’s a great site with a lot of fishing info as well so it also helps to inform a diver as to where the fish are. Look up your tides and plan accordingly. Let’s say a high slack tide is at 12PM. I know it takes me 10 minutes to suit up and 10 minutes to be in the water and start diving. That tells me I want to be there no later than 11:40 AM. Plus, the drive takes me another 40 minutes so I want to start out no later than 11AM. That was pretty easy right? Now onto gear.
The biggest mistake divers make with gear is when they show up to dive with a tank, a BC and a regulator and none of them are connected. I don’t know what it is but some people think it’s cool to assemble all their stuff in the parking lot. I think it’s the dumbest thing you can do as a responsible diver. The best time to set up your gear is when you still have time to fix it if there is something wrong. For example, if I put by rig together and turn the air on the night before the dive I can test it. If an O ring blows I can fix it. If a regulator malfunctions I can swap out the regulator or in the worse case I can cancel the dive and give my buddy options to find someone else to dive with. And oh yeah, don’t forget about your buddy. If you both follow these tips you’ll be better friendlier buddies. I have a few guys that messed my dives up more than once when I really needed a partner. I don’t dive with them anymore. Now if you have your rig setup just turn the air off and pack it in your car. When you arrive at the dive site all you have to do is turn the air on and throw on your rig. Easy stuff…. Now for the rest of it.
How do you keep from forgetting something? That is also easy. First, think about what you’ll need for the dive and make a note of it. If you are not sure call a local dive shop, boat captain or look online for water temperatures and such. Write it down if you are a new diver it’s just easier. Next, place everything on your list in your dive bag or your plastic bin. But, the key is to touch every piece, say its name and place it in the bin in the reverse order you will need it. For example, If I was doing a summer night dive you would hear me in the garage saying this as I filled my bin: “Fin Fin, Glove Glove, Boot Boot, Mask, Hood, Light, Catch bag, knife, Suit, weights” My rig is all together and tested so that’s taken care of. I have touched every piece I need. It is placed in the bin in the order I need it. I am ready. And remember when I told you it takes me 10 minutes to suit up. I lied, it only takes me 5. I’ll be in the water long before you shut your trunk. And I’ll be relaxed and ready to go.
It really is that simple. You can show up ready to go every time and really reduce any stress prior to your dive using and sharing these guidelines. And there is one more tip for those married men out there. If you set your gear up the night before the dive and it won’t work and you need to cancel your dive, call your dive buddy immediately. Then go right to your wife and explain that you haven’t been spending enough time together and that you have cancelled your dive to spend the day with her.
If you have any questions please feel free to email me at info@longislanddiving.com

Are You A Scuba Diver?

Well, you might be…….Take the test.

Do you live for adventure?
Do you like fresh lobster and sushi?
Do you wish you were offered a spot on the Discovery channel?
Do you crave unlimited amounts of sex?

If you answered those questions, “Yes, but I never get any”, then there is a good chance that scuba diving may be right for you. It’s a very simple sport with simple rules and it opens an entirely new world to you. Imagine being immersed right in the center of life itself. From your very first dive you will discover things about the environment and yourself that you have only hoped to glimpse. Simple things like a jetty or submerged boulder can become a full blown expedition. Your first glimpse of a large striper or lobster will stay with you for the rest of your life. How about dropping down on a World War One wreck in 100 feet of water? It’s covered in anemones with swarms of fish all over it that leads you to a giant gaping hole torn open by a German mine. It’s there for you. Waiting in the water is history, adventure, exploration and a satisfaction that you feel from every visit to the underwater world.
Oh, and sorry if I got your hopes up about the sex. Scuba diving won’t really get you any but at least you won’t miss it as much.

Monday, March 07, 2005

"I think there is something swimming up my urethra"

Got your attention, didn't it? I thought it would be a good idea to do a series of articles on the the different creatures that a diver might interact with on a Northeast dive. And while very often I like to talk about the edible kind, I find that new divers are very interested in finding out what not to touch and what kinds of creatures are dangerous. Don't worry, nothing is going to swim up any part of your body but if you know a few simple rules it's easy to enjoy your dive and pay attention to the things you are interested in rather than dwelling on a fear of the unknown.
First, wear gloves. Gloves are very important as the number one defense mechanism of sea creatures is to have something sharp and stingy to stick a would-be predator. A cheap pair of diving gloves will protect a diver from almost all sharp stingy things. Most fish have some type of dorsal barb. Trigger fish, stripers, Black sea bass and sea robbins all have the dorsal barb. It will only work to hurt you if you grab down on it hard. If you do stick yourself the hole is going to hurt for days. There is no reason you should ever do that now that you know it exists. I grab all fish from the mouth or gills to avoid any sticky fins regardless if they have a dorsal barb or not. The trigger fish have the added ability to bite so never grab them by the mouth. Then again if you are only swimming around you never need to worry about dorsal barbs or teeth.
Crabs and lobster have pinchy claws and most are rendered ineffective if you grab the crab or lobster by the carapace and point the claws away from you. This works for most crabs and lobsters except for the blue claw crab. If ever God decided to put all the speed, aggressiveness and overall nasty into a creature it was the Blue Claw Crab. They are incredibly dangerous to handle under the water as they are excellent swimmers and can turn their scissor like claws on your pruney fingers in a split second. They have the hardest bite of any crab in the world and their sharp claws can cut right through your glove. As a rule I don't handle them under water. Again, if you are just a sightseer you don't have to worry about any of it.
Jelly fish are not the last stingy critter but they are around in the summer and can give a person a nasty sting. The rule of thumb is to watch where you are going. Most people swim right into them and that's how they get stung. If you do get stung and immediate remedy is urine which will help to back out the tiny stinging probes the jellyfish's tentacles have shot into you. You can also rub them out with wet sand. I prefer wet sand although I really have nothing against anyone who would prefer remedy #1.
Some other rules are don't reach into holes if you don't know what is in them and don't rest on metal wrecks as the rusty metal can be very sharp.

That's really it. There are a couple of things to watch out for. Most are harmless unless you interact aggressively with them. I've been bitten and stabbed by damn near every creature in the Northeast Ocean and every time it was my fault. If you are just out to watch nature and interact with the sea creatures on their level, you have nothing to fear. Good Diving to all of you. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at info@longislanddiving.com

Dive lights, Dive lites..No matter how you spell it

Dive lights are an important part of the scuba diving experience. Even in the daytime, a dive light can enhance a divers vision by shedding light onto a potential artifact or yummy lobster. Most often, I am asked what type of light should a diver buy. And most of the time divers are asking about brand. There are a lot of good brands out there and you can decide which one is right for you if you understand what you will need it for. The way I see it there are 3-4 types of dive lights. A small light 2AAcells, a small backup light, a handheld primary and a canister light.
The First light, a small 2AAcell light that retails for $20 is your best friend. You will get more use out of this light than any other because it is small and accessible. This is the light to use when peering into small caves and holes during the daytime. I keep mine on a ripp cord attached to my BC so i can drop it in case i need to rush to grab a lobster.
The secind light, a backup to your primary should have 4C batteries. This is the light you are going to use if your primary light craps out during a night dive. It won't illuminate as much as the primary but it will get you home with confidence.
The third and fourth lights are primaries. They are hand held and canister lights. A hand held haologen light should be at least 20watts and should operate off of 8 C batteries. The burn time should be about 2 hours. It is important to use recharcheable batteries for this kind of light because it will burn a little brighter and last longer. And you will spend a lot less on batteries.
HID 10watt lights are also made in the pistol style hand held models as well. These are fantastic lights and worth every penny. They cost a little more than the halogen but you will see much better and in true color as the halogen bulb kind of adds a yellow hue to evereything. I still recommend you invest in rechargeable batteries for this style light as well.
The last kind of light is the canister. The most popular canister lights are the 10watt HID models. With small canisters that attach to your tank and a tiny manuverable light head that burns for 4 hours an a charge, it is no suprise that they are the new great thing in scuba diving. This type of light is going to cost you triple of the best hand held but you will make up for it in cost of batteries and enjoyment of youir dive.
That's the short of it. If you have any questions feel free to email me at info@longislanddiving.com or visit the site if you would like to find out more about our night diving experiences. www.longislanddiving.com

The Cold, The Pole and the Flatties

Brrrr...... Seems like I caught a chill in Novemebr and I haven't stopped shaking all winter. Normally, I would have been underwater most of the winter collecting clams, mussels and rock crabs but I just didn't have it in me this year. I caught a cold that lasted way to long and I just got really busy. But now, with aprill looming close by I have to suit up and get my butt into the watter for some of Long Island's spring flounder action.
There was a time when I would sit in my little rowboat and dangle worms for the flatties to munch but those days are gone. I take the fight right to them. In the early spring, Flounder are in the back bays and harbors where they spent the winter deep in the mud. As the water warms up they'll start moving to collection points like holes the current drives food to and along rock jetties. When they do this it's time to grab the pole spear and go. I use a pole spear for flatties in spring for two reasons. First, I can wear my big neoprene mitts and keep my hands warm. The pole spear doesn't require that I have a trigger finger available. second, who needs a speargun for flounder. That would be like shooting a humming bird with an elephant gun. I use a standard rock tip so I can run the fish right up the pole as I spear them. I do this because it is fast, secure and doesn't require that I try to fuddle around with flipping fish, catch bags and creels while I am wearing those goofy big warm mitts. Anyway, start looking for some good flounder spots and go down for dinner. It's a nice spring treat.
BTW, I will be teaching an Underwater Hunter course early this spring so if you are interested call me at (631) 285-1539 or go to the site for more information. www.longislanddiving.com

Friday, March 04, 2005

The New Site Is Up And Running

The new site is up and running and we will be posting lot's of our training material on there. If you are thinking about learning to scuba dive and private custom training sounds right for you, Give us a call at (631) 285-1539. We can train you to dive in your home, in your pool and off your own vessel. You will learn faster and with better retention as you are guided in a comfortable private setting . www.longislanddiving.com

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Wrecks and Rockpiles

Long Island’s scuba fantasy play land

When most North Eastern scuba divers think of wrecks, a large hulking mass lying quietly in the 80'+ waters usually comes to mind. With today’s equipment and advances in scuba training, those wrecks are reachable to a wide range of divers. However, the accessibility of these dives has made inshore wreck and rock diving all but obsolete. In fact, it isn’t.
I began diving at the age of 8, using my trusty mask and snorkel to explore the back channels of Mt. Sinai harbor as my father collected oysters and clams. My brother and I would spend hours working our way through the tidal channels chasing minnows, tiny flounder and pipe fish. The biggest thing we would see was the occasional turtle or school of snapper. I truly longed for the big water. And by big water I meant the jetty at the entrance of the harbor. What secrets did it hold? What would it feel like to dive along those massive boulders? Surely there must be monsters hiding among them.
I never lost the fascination with Long Island’s tidal zones and you will find me diving the North shore's rocky points like Cranes Neck and Old field point as well as shinnecock and Moriches inlet on the South shore. There is something marvelous that happens when land, sea and structure all come together with changing tides. Besides the massive currents that can develop, marine life seems to gravitate in frenzy to these locations. Often the depths are no greater than 30' but in that 30’ a scuba diver can experience diversity like nowhere else in the north east. Stripers, Lobsters, Eels, Black fish, fluke, flounder, and bluefish all piled up in one dive. And don’t forget the opportunity to find some Indian artifacts or memoirs from Long Island’s early shipping era. These dive spots have produced for native Americans, fishermen and sea fairers for many hundreds of years and you can bet some of their legacy lies waiting to be found in the shallow waters.. I have found several temporary stone tools in Porpoise channel as I sailed along the bottom in a steady current. The current actually helps uncover artifacts as the fast water blows sand away and keeps the stones at the bottom polished. Things that are different stand out quickly and catch the eye.
In addition to rock piles and jetties, Long Island is host to several shallow water wrecks accessible to all levels of divers. Smithtown Bay is host to a network of sunken barges in 35’ of water. Some are wood and some are steel and they all hold their share of lobsters and blackfish. On occasion a diver can also find an unreported wreck of a recreational boat off of Cranes Neck. Port Jeff Harbor has a grand history of ship building and there are several scattered wrecks right inside the harbor. All along Long Island’s inshore waters you can find wrecks. Some are listed and some are not.
There are several ways to find wrecks and rock piles. First pick up a marine map and GPS numbers from one of several online sources. The DEC also has GPS numbers on some areas. You can also ask fisherman where structure is. They will usually tell you where the locations are provided you tell them what is really down there once you dive. It also helps to come back with several pounds of lead sinkers and fishing lures. You’ll make a friend for life. However, one of the best kept secrets for shoreline dive locations is the sources of free arial photographs on the net. Take a look and you will see how the glacial drop stones are distributesd in the water along the shoreline. I have used some of these photos to find a few spots people would never think of .

One thing to remember is watch the tides. You probably will have to dive most inshore locations at slack high tide or slack low tide. Currents on a changing tide at the mouth of a harbor can move as fast as several knots so be sure you are prepared if you get caught in it. If you do get caught in the current stay relaxed and go with it. It will eventually take you somewhere. If you stay relaxed the worst thing you are going to face is a long walk. If that happens, stash your gear and go get the car. Just dive smarter the next time. Don’t ever fight the current. It will rob you of your air and it will always win. Use current to your advantage. For example, if there is a dive spot that requires a good swim to get to you can time the current so you can catch a ride on the last bit of an outgoing or incoming tide then when the tide changes again just ride it in. I have had dives at the famed Ponoquogue bridge that last 1 ½ hours using this method and I guarantee I get to see more of the area then most divers. Be careful and take baby steps. You’ll get the hang of it.
There are also several charters that are running inshore wrecks and jetties. Unique charters out of Mt. Sinai offers access to many of the natural and manmade structure in the Stony Brook and Port Jefferson area. Next time you are looking for a nice dive with plenty of action you might want to stay closer to home and drop in on some of Long Island’s inshore adventures.