A Family That Plays Together Stays Together!

robb hamic caribbean travel blogI am truly thankful that my wife shares in my interests and takes the time to come along on most of my adventures.  It is fun to have her around and it takes the stress away from me spending time away from home to learn and do new things.  The support of your spouse can make or break achieving your dreams.

miss lone star caribbean travel blogI love learning new things and I have spent countless hours away from the home practicing new skills and or teaching.  Aubrey and I were recently married and I never thought about taking her a long when I participated in new things.  I assisted an open water scuba diving class over the weekend as a dive master in training and she and the kids came along during both days.  I’ve never brought my wife along on any of my adventures and I didn’t know how it would go.  I was worried.

I have always been somewhat of a ‘serial hobbiest’ in my life.  I embrace new strange things and I want to learn.  My quest to become a scuba diving instructor certainly seems a lot more sane than having become a tactical knife fighting instructor, in my past.  I have spent months away from home learning, teaching and traveling to teach.  I traveled to many breathtaking locations and I often wondered what it would be like to share it with my wife.  My previous marriage wasn’t happy and honestly, I don’t think we liked each other.  In my quest to find the perfect woman, I sought to find the woman whom I could take anywhere.

Many spouses don’t really care what the other does with their life.  Worst still, some spouses are jealous of the new hobby that is pursued.  I know many people who feel guilty learning new things and spending time away from home.  These are the people who don’t stay for lunch after training or who’s phone is always ringing during training.  I am truly grateful to not be in that category anymore.  I think a happy marriage is built upon mutual love, respect and yearning to be around the other person.

I was still worried that my wife and two small kids would be bored during the long training days or would somehow get in theCaribbean travel blog miss lone star way.  I am pleased to report that neither of those two things happened and that the time was a complete success.  I immediately noticed that the people in the class loved seeing my wife and kids.  How great would it be to have someone who supported you so much in your hobbies?  The kids took the opportunity to meet everyone and interact.  I don’t guess it is normal to have kids around a scuba class.  The dog had a better time than anyone.  Oh yea, did I forget to mention that we took the entire family?

Onyx is a certified dive dog and loves to be around me in all that I do.  She comes with us on the boat so we figured we would take her to the quarry we were diving in.  She ate up all of the positive attention that she received from everyone and jumped in to sniff me before I descended to the depths below her.  She whined when I was underwater and was so happy to see me when I came to the surface.

The kids made the best out of the time to explore and had a great time on the first day even though it was raining.  My wife was smart to bring their rain jackets and umbrellas.  Did I mention the 2 changes of clothes?  That too.  They have really grown to love the outdoors and we are trying to instil self-reliance.  I think anytime we give them the opportunity to be alone or together entertaining themselves is a good thing.  The kids have really attached themselves to my scuba instructor Steve (Scuba Steve) and his dive master Jason.  We’ve hung out with them several times and I am happy they are great with kids.

Aubrey took the time outdoors to catch a wild Canadian goose and several minnows.  She divised the perfect trap to catch a bass with her hands.  She guided the kids (and dog)  on several excursions including a raft ride across the quarry.  I had to laugh at the similarity to Tom Sawyer.  She became a ‘dive Mom’ by cooking hot chocolate in a big pot on top of our portable cook stove.  She made everyone’s day by adding marshmallows and cookies.  I was genuinely surprised by the her hospitality towards the class.caribbean travel blog miss lone star diving scuba

I know you’ve heard different sayings about families such as, “families that play together stay together,’ and I think it is true.  Having my family present made it a better experience.  I guess this is a good thing since I want to lead dives for many years to come.  I plan to open up a dive shop in the future and I think it will become a family endeavor.  Take your wife, kids and even dog along on your next adventure and see how it works out.  You may be surprised to see that you have a much better time.  It will bring you closer as a couple/ family.

miss lone star robb hamic captain travel blog #travel #travelblogger caribbean

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Dive Master In-Training- What Is It?

dive master training padu scuba robb hamicI officially became a Dive Master in training yesterday when I completed my 40 required dives to enter the program.  It was easy for me to get all of the various certifications through Rescue Diver because there was a formal class and I set aside blocks of time to study.  I amassed a number of additional dives but I was still 25 short.  I think that this is a common problem for dive master candidates.

How Do You Get Additional Dives

It was hard for me to get the dives, in a way because it is just turning spring in Texas and it is cold.  On the other hand, I have a boat so I can take diving friends along to get dives in.  I went out over the weekend but the water was really cold and I only got five dives in.  I was really anxious to get my underwater time taken care of so I could officially start the program.  People who live on the ocean have a big advantage over people who live inland because the ocean is right there.  I ultimately found a warm water spring where I could live underwater for about six combined hours over the past couple days.  i was so happy when i saw dive #40 in my log book!

Start DM Training

I start my training full-throttle tomorrow.  I will be assisting with a class of open water and certified scuba divers.  There are many required learning skills that must be completed in order to take the dive master test and complete the program.  I set my sights on finishing the program in a month so I will be working hard.  During the training I will be working side by side with my instructor’s dive master.  They work together really closely and I feel like I am getting two teachers for the price of one.  I understand that a lot of instructors teach solo.

I am really looking forward to working on my program and gaining a lot of experience each week as I assist in class.  I look at my Dive Master friend Jason.  He handles so much for the instructor.  It is interesting to observe the different roles in scuba diving.  A class really moves really smooth with a  good DM.  They handle so many problems underwater, which frees up the instructors time to teach and lead dives in the training area.  Students have a lot of questions and it is hard for an instructor to be there to answer them all.  That is where a good DM comes in.  An instructor can teach a beggar class with the assistance of a DM and that is also a plus.

Dive Master Pay Sucks
ride to dive harley diving scuba master

Ride to Dive! I loaded up my Harley for a trip to the springs in my Dive Master training.

Dive Masters are a bit underpaid in the industry, from what I have seen.  There is the ability to teach Emergency First Aid and CPR classes and they can also become an instructor for underwater photography to earn money.  Otherwise a DM works for tips.  The industry standard is $10 per tank of air used, but that seems low to me.  A lot of time is spent, when you calculate the time that a DM takes out of his schedule to commute to class, teach, answer questions after and then go to lunch to do log books.  DM’s often work more than anyone at the dive spot.  Who do you think hauls all of the tanks and equipment around?

My advice for scuba students is to look to the dive master as a resource and pick their brain.  They are very knowledgable and helpful.  You’ll get more out of your learning experience.

Scubapro Knighthawk BCD User Review

I decided it was time to write a review of the Scubapro Knighthawk BCD that I purchased a few months ago.  I think this is a great BC and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about purchasing a high-end product.  I’ve used it on my last 20 dives and I am completely satisfied.

I bought this BC in my first open water class and I wanted to get a top of the line item that I could use for a long time.  It cost about $700, including my discount.  I bought it from my local dive shop and the price was less than I found online.  I liked the comfort of the BC in the showroom but I had no knowledge of how it would work underwater.

Scubapro Knighthawk BCD review

The Scubapro Knighthawk BC is comfortable, even fully -loaded.

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4 Steps- Become a Rescue Diver!

rescue diver paid become scuba emergency action plan eap course cost review

Rescue Divers respond to water emergencies

I think the Rescue Diver course is a good idea for any diver, especially the people who dive frequently.    Rescue Divers take recreational scuba diving to the next level by learning tools and techniques to help people who have problems in and out of the water.  It is a really good feeling to know that you can save a diver underwater if necessary or observe issues that arise before they cause a problem.  The course is very demanding and difficult but well worth it in the education and confidence you gain.

I remember when I took my Open Water Diver course and I noticed the more experienced people around me.  Diving is an intimidating sport and the learning curve is steep.  Experienced divers get to see a different world of scuba, even before they ascend into the depths.  Gearing up seems effortless.  They have excellent buoyancy and get the most from their underwater experience by working effortlessly.  Rescue Divers enjoy the benefits of experience combined with advanced life saving skills. Continue reading

PADI Enriched Air Diver Specialty Certification

I completed the PADI Enriched Air Diver course tonight.  It was a good certification and I think it will be useful in for me in my diving career.  This seems like a good skill to add for any diver, especially people who are going on resort dives.  Most people take the class so that they can stay down longer than compared with normal air.  I took the class so that I can stay down longer to take pictures of all that goes on underwater. Enriched Air (Nitrox) is a blended gas that is usually 32% or 36% oxygen and divers who use it enjoy more dive time, longer no decompression limits  and more options for exploring the seas.  I know I will be diving in the Caribbean at 18 meters a lot and having nitrox will allow me to stay down for much longer.  At 18 meters air would allow me to dive for 56 minutes, 32% nitrox at 95 minutes and 36% nitrox at 125 minutes. Continue reading

ScubaPro A700 with MK25 Regulator System- User Review

I purchased a ScubaPro A700 with MK25 regulator system about six months ago and I wanted to take the time to write a user review. Scuba Dive Master Robb Hamic Travel Caribbean blog liveaboard PADI Diving Vacation trip destination Miss Lone Star Boat I decided to buy this top of the line equipment because I will be diving every day when we are on our voyage in the Caribbean.  I wanted to purchase the best equipment and I needed it to last for a long time.  I also needed gear that was known world-wide for easier service and or repair, if I couldn’t do it myself.  ScubaPro was the answer and I am happy with my decision to purchase.

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Becoming a PADI Divemaster

I decided that I would detail my research, experiences and process of becoming a PADI Divemaster because there is little information on the Internet from the perspective of a candidate dive master.  In doing my research, I Googled various search terms that all lead me to pages of websites selling the opportunity to become a Divemaster.  I find that it is hard to actually glean much information from programs trying to sell a service.  I asked a number of my previous instructors to give me details of the program offered through my local dive center.  The responses I received were varied and different, even at the same school because much of the program is self-paced.  I learned that the training varies from school to school, which further confuses things.  I thought that there might be others out there in the same position, thus my blog series on becoming a Divemaster was decided.

North Shore, St. Croix, USVI

North Shore, St. Croix, USVI

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So You Want to be a PADI Divemaster…

The Shores of St. Croix

The Shores of St. Croix, USVI

I recently decided that I wanted to take the training to become a PADI Divemaster.  The Divemaster rating is the first professional certification in the PADI evolution for divers and most people never contemplate it.  After doing a little research on the program, I can see why!  It makes sense to me that a Divemaster’s skills need to be really solid to teach and lead dives.  While every diver is responsible for their own safety, a Divemaster is responsible for everyone’s collective well-being.  My Divemasters have been jack of all trades and have a great deal of knowledge.  I decided to pursue the course last night as I contemplate finishing my Rescue Diver certification in a couple of weeks.

I figured that the learning curve would be pretty steep but after a little research, I saw that a Divemaster’s endurance and swimming assessment is certainly no joke.  One portion of the training is this assessment, which is daunting.  It is completed on the same day with no rest between the watermanship stamina exercises.  All skills are timed and points are awarded for performance.  A candidate must pass with a minimum of 12 points out of a possible 20.  I have never settled for mediocre or barely passing so I set the following goals for myself.  If I complete it as stated, I will get 19/20 points.

400 M swim with no gear or goggles- 6-8 minutes

800 M swim with snorkel gear, face down and not using hands- 13-15 minutes

15 minutes of treading water and or floating, hold arms out of water for the last 2 minutes

100 M diver pull in full gear, pulling a tired diver who wears full gear- less than 2 minutes

I think this will be fun to train.  I have never been a swimmer and frankly, I have never swam laps.  I am going to take a few swim lessons to hone my skills.  Luckily, we have been working out regularly and my cardio is getting much better.  Thankfully, I have lost about 20 lb. in the last 3 months, which makes me want to run like Forrest.    I will need to incorporate about 5 days worth of pool time per week into what I am already doing for exercise.  I love the fact that Aubrey gets in the pool with me and swims laps.  The kids are even swimming a few times per week and making good progress.  We are turning into a pod of dolphins!

It is strange to think of our transformation from land dwellers to being in the water so much in just a few short months.  We will be leaving dry land for the boat and uncharted waters in less than five months.  We are so excited!

Unbiased User Review- Oceanic Pro Plus 3 Dive Computer

Oceanic Pro Plus 3 Dive Computer

Oceanic Pro Plus 3 Dive Computer

I purchased an Oceanic Pro Plus 3 dive computer recently and I have used it on ten dives.  I like my new computer but I found the set up a little confusing and it took a long time to sort things out.  I wrote this review for scuba divers who are having issues with the computer and for those contemplating a new purchase.  I found a great discount from the manufacturer, which is available to previous Oceanic customers.

I purchased the computer from a local retailer for $704 (USD).  The MSRP on the unit is $829.  I negotiated a 155 discount because I was purchasing a lot of gear at the same time.  I’ve looked around the Internet and see that the price I paid is about comparable to most of the online retailers.  I recommend that the buyer have the opportunity to look at the unit and see if it is right for them in a store, prior to purchase.  As with most gear, retail shops will come close to price matching with their Internet competitors.  It does not come with the USB cable that you need to import dive data into software, which will keep logs on your computer.  I recommend getting one at the retailer because Oceanic charges $85 plus shipping if you wish to buy one from them.  They will ship for free to an authorized dealer but the wait time can be more than a few weeks.

I purchased it for the following reasons: newest computer on the market, reasonable price for the features, large display, attached compass and lifetime warranty.

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I Survived the PADI Advanced Open Water Course!

IMG_2071-EditI spent the last couple of days diving and completed the P.A.D.I Advanced Open Water certification course.  It was a useful course and I recommend it to other divers.  This advanced course is a must for PADI divers who want to move on to be a Master Scuba Diver certification or divers who want to go the professional route to become a Divemaster.   Continue reading