Friday, December 16, 2005

Undercurrent Subscriber Online Update (Reprinted with permission)

Undercurrent -- Consumer Reporting for The Serious Scuba Diver since 1975

December 15, 2005

Diving News

Bold Divers Rescue Fifty Ton Whale: After a 50-ton humpback whale became entangled in crab pot lines 26 miles from San Francisco last Sunday, divers raced to the scene to cut it free. It was both a daring and miraculous rescue. Get the details here:

Grand Turk: During the last week of February, Holland America's 1848 passenger Noordam will be the first cruise ship to dock at Grand Turk's new port. That's close to half the island's population and about ten times more tourists than visit Grand Turk on any given day. If you're traveling to dive their fine wall after the ships arrive, tie down your dive boat reservations beforehand. No telling how the cruisers will affect dive reservations or reservations for lunch in the handful of small restaurants.

Equipment design problems: Do you have a complaint with your dive equipment that you wish could be addressed? For example, one diver with arthritic thumbs told us that he could not pop his low pressure hose leading to his BCD when it malfunctioned. Some have complained about straps on certain fin models. Others say that some computers or gauges are unreadable. What about products that don't live up to their hype ("no fog" masks, "dry" snorkels, etc.). Older divers have some problems that younger divers don't have; women have some problems that men don't have. Let us hear your complaint about specific gear, and what, if anything, you've been able to do about it (modifications, appeals to manufacturers, returns, trade-ins, etc.). Maybe we can help you find a solution. Email me at, and include your full name and hometown.

Two We'll Miss: Popular and world-renowned underwater photographer Rick Frehsee died in late August from a heart attack. He was 63 years old. His photographs have appeared in Sport Diver, Skin Diver, and scores of nondiving publications. He taught underwater photography for Nikon for ten years. . . .Zak Jones, 30, who was technical diving with six colleagues from Fort Lauderdale's Pro Dive International, died Thanksgiving day. At 150 ft., his buddy saw him struggling as if he were entangled in his tank lines. When the partner reached Jones, he was unconscious with the regulator out of his mouth. Jones' buddy dumped the air out of Jones' BCD, sending him quickly to the surface. Jones never regained consciousness. Jones was course director at Pro Dive International.

Planning Your Air Travel: If you plan your own air travel to dive destinations (or anywhere for that matter), the website you need is After rapidly searching more than a hundred travel web sites, from Expedia and Travelocity, to the airlines themselves, you get a list of flights you can organize by price, time of departure, seating class, etc.

Dive with Sylvia Earle: While it's short notice, the Oceanic Society still has spots left for its January 11-18 Belize trip with "her deepness." To celebrate the purchase of its 11-acre field station at Blackbird Caye on Turneffe Atoll, Sylvia Earle will lead divers and snorkelers along the coral reefs and in the mangroves in search of manatees. Presentations by Earle and other experts each evening. $2,295-$2,450. (800-326-7491;

Not Too Late to Give Your Buddy a Holiday Gift: Plenty of great diving books are available at Click on a book, you'll go to, where you can get low prices and guaranteed delivery before Christmas. All of our profit goes to saving coral reefs. . . . Or, give your dive buddy the all-new 2006 Travelin' Diver's Chapbook and nine issues of Undercurrent for $33. We'll send a diver's holiday card from you announcing the subscription. Sign up at

Say No to DEET: Consumer Reports has found two new substances that work as well as DEET to keep mosquitoes at bay: the chemical picardin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Picardin is formulated in Cutter Advanced, and oil of lemon eucalyptus is the basis for Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Spray. Details in the January 2006 issue of Undercurrent.

Cancun/Cozumel and Wilma: the Washington Post on December 9 has an interesting update:

Note: Our travel writers never announce their purpose, are unknown to the destination, and receive no complimentary services or compensation from the dive operators or resort.

Ben Davison, editor/publisher