Thursday, December 17, 2009

Countdown to cruising

I am back home after my whirlwind trip to California. Louise picked me up at FLL Tuesday night on the scooter, which meant taking the scenic freeway-avoiding alternate route. I am just now, a full day later, recovering from the combination of jet lag and emotional drain.

Yesterday we did a little shopping for our cruise. The dive packages I booked in Belize and Cozumel include the essential dive gear, and even masks, fins, and snorkels (we have our own masks and snorkels). Not included, however, are wetsuits, and we know from experience we will need them in the ~77° water at both sites. I'm sure these dive operators will be willing to rent them to us, for an extra charge.

That said, 3mm wetsuits are in the neighborhood of $100, and it won't take many $5-$10 rentals to get to that number. Besides, getting one that fits right on a dive site is always a gamble, and of all the rental gear, the wetsuit is perhaps the most personal. (One instructor told us there are two kinds of divers -- ones who admit to peeing in their wetsuits, and ones that lie about it.) So we headed out to check used-equipment retailer Play It Again Sports, Sports Authority, and Divers Direct, a chain of discount dive gear stores.

Our first stop was a bust, but we found "acceptable" Body Glove suits at Sports Authority for $100 apiece, which we bought just to have the bases covered. Later we found better-fitting suits at Divers Direct, their house brand "Evo" (made by Mares, I'm told) and bought those, too, so I will be making a return trip to Sports Authority today or tomorrow. The Evo suits are also thicker (3mm all over, vs. 2mm on the extremities for the Body Gloves) and have more dive-specific features. Mine was actually cheaper at $80; Louise had to go with another $100 suit to get the right fit.

We also ended up buying booties, gloves, a small writing slate, and a pair of bottom-of-the-line dive computers. These latter items were $200 apiece, making the whole shopping trip a bunch more than I really wanted to spend on a hobby we'll participate in only occasionally until we move from the bus onto a boat a few years from now. That said, a dive computer is almost a necessity nowadays, especially if we move to Nitrox, and these were an unbeatable deal -- might as well get them now so we can use them in the Caribbean, rather than waiting until some arbitrary future dive. We'd have needed to buy dive watches if we didn't get the computers; my 100-meter (10 bar) rated watch managed to get moisture in it on our last 47' dive (fortunately, I was able to dry it out when we got back).

We have our work cut out for us between now and the cruise. In addition to returning the unneeded wetsuits, we'll need to learn how to use the new dive computers, and I also have to replace the thermal cutout on the air compressor. I was unable to locate a 17-amp model, which is what is really called for, so I will be installing a 20-amp item in the interim, so that there is at least something with thermal sensitivity down in the compressor itself (it is also protected by a 20-amp breaker in our electrical panel). If any of our readers has a source for a 17 amp push-to-reset thermal circuit breaker, please drop me a note.

Tonight is our friend Martin's last night in town, and we will join him for dinner. The rest of today we'll be going through our clothes for the cruise; I'm not going to have a chance now to have my tux taken in, so it looks like my braces will get a little extra workout. This is, I think, my third tux in 30+ years; while Joe's daughter Julie, with whom I skated regularly back in the day, was going through old photos for his memorial, she came across this photo of me.

Yes, I am skating in a tuxedo, circa 1985 or so, at the Halloween party at the rink in Milpitas. I had hair back then, but Louise says she recognized me right away on account of the giant nose. That, incidentally, necessitated purchasing a scuba mask with an extra large nose pocket -- none of the rental masks ever fits me.

1 comment:

  1. You look a lot better in a wet suit that I do. I seem destined to improve the self-esteem of walrus' and sea lions whenever I wear one.

    At least wet suits aren't meant to look good, but rather serve a function. A Tux, on the other hand, is supposed to look good. Again, walrus' feel better about themselves whenever I wear a tux.

    Have fun with the new hobby. I have surfed a bit but have not joined my many friends under the water. Most of them have considered their dive time some of the best in their lives.



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