Friday, 14 December 2012

Winter Flights, Shop News, The Josie J Wreck

As we're now well into the swing of winter, the seasons for flights to Roatan have changed once again, so here is a brief update on your options for direct flights to the island:

From Houston with United/Continental on Saturdays (2 flights) and Sundays (1 flight).  In the Christmas season they have also added a Friday flight.

From Atlanta with Delta on Saturdays (1 flight)

From Miami with American Airlines on Saturdays (1 flight)

From Toronto/Montreal with Sunwing Airlines on Mondays, and CANJet on Thursdays (the departure airport varies throughout the seasons.

From a variety of Central American mainland airports with TACA.

A variety of different websites can help you with multi-city and stopover itineraries; my personal favourite is Skyscanner, as it also indexes "low cost airlines", and has many different search options.

This past Sunday we had a visit from Michael Barnette, founder of the Association of Underwater Explorers and prolific cave and wreck diver and writer to check out the Josie J.  Marco, who was Tec certified by Monty earlier in the year, served as his guide and dive buddy on their 190ft profile.  Here are a few highlights from the trip - taken and generously provided by Michael.

Marco and the bus under the Josie J

For Michael's article on Roatan Wrecks (he will be checking out El Aguila on Saturday), we have managed to secure the original footage of when the Josie J sank, courtesy of Mickey Charteris, author and photographer of the brand-new Caribbean Reef Life fish/creature ID book (more details on that as they come).  We hope to be able to extract some viable stills from that footage for the article!

In other shop news, Marco (instructor) and Marco (DMT) had a slow day in the shop, so they decided to do an underwater cleanup of Half Moon Bay.  On their expedition, they had a Spotted Sea Hare En.  Great job, guys!

Before Clean Up
After Clean up
Spotted Sea Hare
It is almost Christmas after all, so we dug out the Christmas decorations from their hiding place in the back room, including our very own Rusty Fish Christmas tree.  Our....other "Christmas Tree" hasn't been brought back to come closer to the day!

Rusty Fish Christmas Tree

Recent Sightings

If you are interested in seeing more of our photos from dives and courses, check out our Photo Gallery on our website, or the Photo Albums on our Facebook page.  If you find yourself in any of our photos, like our page and tag yourself.

Half Moon Bay Weather Report

Sunny, calm and clear.

Photo Contest

Don't forget: the Sunglasses Photo Contest is still on...submit your entry before the deadline!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Safety First and DMT Resuce

As many of you know, the Coconut Tree Divers motto has always been "Safety First".  We always have oxygen and first aid kits on the boat and in the shop, we check in between dives with our VHF radio and we make up a dive roster sheet for each outgoing boat.  In addition to this, Captains Carl and Fred (who stay on the boat to watch bubbles whilst the divers are down) are EFR certified.

We have made some new additions to our safety equipment, mostly thanks to generous donations from EMT Rich Young from Saskatchewan.  We now have two back boards (longspine boards), complete with full straps and neck supports, as well as neck braces.  Only one of two working AEDs (Automatic External Defibrilators) in West End is now at Coconut Tree (Tree is working on the display cabinet - thanks to Rich's suggestion).  We also restocked on Epi Pens, for use in case of severe allergic reactions; one for each first aid kit and a stock in the dive shop.  A trauma kit with miscellaneous items is also on its way by cargo.

Check out a few photos in our gallery from our latest training session with Rich where we covered backboard use and transportation with an initial trauma assessment.  Included are also extracts from today's PADI Divemaster Trainee Rescue Assessment Exercises with Chef Marco, ScubaMax and Canadian Cole.

Trauma Assessment.  Saskatchewan Rich is the one with the coffee cup
log roll and head support

In-water rescue breaths

Surfacing the unresponsive diver

Half Moon Bay Weather Report

Overcast, enough rain to clog up the softball field yet again.  4 Dives out today.

Last but not Least

Don't forget about our CTD Shades photo contest

If you haven't signed up for the blog, click HERE or see the link at the top to follow us.

Suggestions for new topics are always welcome, so don't hesitate to leave a comment!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Dive Gear Review: Oceanic SWIV SPG

I'm not the usual "Dive Gear Review" contributor, but there are a few items I've been meaning to voice an opinion about.

SPGs.  An extremely important piece of equipment.  You're not much good on a dive if you don't know the pressure of the contents of your tank (we're in the 21st century, so no more J-valves for us!).   As a working dive instructor, I've always opted for a mechanical SPG, as opposed to a transducer linked to a dive computer.  The reasoning behind this is twofold: mechanical SPGs are not as expensive, but I've also seen far cases of the transducers failing.

Or so I thought, until I replaced my old Sherwood SPG (many years of use) with an Oceanic SWIV.  A quick online search shows it retailing for between USD 75 to 106.  After the first one flooded after less than 10 dives, I thought I might just have a defective product.  I replaced that one with another one on a console I used to use.  Another 5 dives, and that one also failed.  At this point, I'm not happy.  No pressure gauge, no work.  I had to replace it with a THIRD one (given to me by a friend, brand new, who was getting rid of her spare parts), until the new one I ordered could be shipped down.  When that one failed, I put my other backup old old Dacor, until I could get a new one got delivered (it can take up to two weeks, minimum, to get anything shipped to the island).

Before people start jumping down my throat about dust caps and flooding regulators, that definitely isn't what happened.  After the first one failed, I had my regulator (1st stage Scubapro MK2) fully serviced, and had the o-rings on my (new) high pressure hose inspected.

So...moral of the story: three thumbs down (one for each bad SPG).

Next up from me:  the successful replacement

Half Moon Bay Weather Report

Overcast, calm, intermittent rain showers.

Recent Sightings

Flamingo Tongue


Hamner's Tritonia

Friday, 9 November 2012

Getting Knotty w/ Adam

If you are planning on heading down to do your PADI Divemaster course we recommend you check the video link below. It is an introduction to Marlinspike seamanship. Learn the proper way to refer to the "rope", what's the bitter end the standing part, an overhand and underhand turn.

The clip was shot in the Coconut Tree Divers classroom with Adam guiding you through the first set of knots. Learn a half hitch, a clove hitch, a cleat hitch, and  a bowline. These knots are used on a daily basis here at the shop. DMTs receive instruction on how to do them, but it's up to them to practice and master them.

Let us know if there are any particular topics you would like us to cover. If you are not a member sign up for the blog. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Enter the Photo Contest

Big thanks to everyone who nominated Coconut Tree Divers in the PADI favorite diveshop competition. We made it to the next round and were one of eight shops chosen world wide. From this point on, it was about votes. Hundreds of you submitted your vote for the little dive shop that could, or tried anyhow. In the end, Abyss Scuba from Australia won. Congratulations to them.

We had PADI Instructors from Native Sons, Sueno del Mar, West End Divers, Anthony's Key Resort in addition to the many Divemasters and Fun Divers who voted for CTD and the Bay Islands. It was lots of fun and we thank you for the support.

The competition has prompted us to create our own in house contest. Enter for a chance to win a five dive package. For additional information click here.

In short take a picture of the Coconut Tree Divers sunglasses and submit it to us. Don't just send the picture you need to enter first.

Paul, one of our recent Divemaster and Instrutor submitted this pair.

We will post the pictures and vote on a winner.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Are we YOUR favourite dive shop? Vote Now!

A large number of you, our customers, have come back time and time again to us here at Coconut Tree Divers.  Some of you even come back at the same times of year, on a yearly basis, so we must be doing something right!

PADI has launched a "Dive Shop Appreciation Contest" where you can nominate your favourite dive shop (with a chance for the individual voter and the dive shop getting a prize).  If we are your favourite dive shop, nominate us!  All that is required is a few words on why we are awesome, and a photo.  Click the link below to find out more!

Click HERE to nominate Coconut Tree Divers!

In other news, Potlicker came out of dry dock with a fresh coat of paint, a repaired platform, and we're waiting for the refurbished tank holders to dry out before we put them back in service.  There are still a few things that need to be done, for which we need a rain-free window.

We also made our first run of the season to the South Side, where several seahorses were spotted. (We've been seeing more of those everywhere, actually!)

A few of us Instructors, Divemaster Trainees and customers went through the Roatan Marine Park programme for Lionfish Spearing Licenses with Nic from the Marine Park.  In an effort to protect the environment, the RMP representatives evaluate divers' buoyancy control (no exceptions, even instructors) and spearing skills before issuing a license.

Lionfish Kill
There will be an upcoming post with a lot more detail on the Lionfish problem, and a guide on how to properly spear and kill them.

Recent Sightings

Spinner Dolphins!!

We love Neck Crabs
And somewhere here, there should be a picture of a seahorse, from the Moonlight sand patch (photo maybe to come?)

Half Moon Bay Weather Report

Overcast, flat calm seas.  Great diving conditions with excellent visibility!!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Let's talk about Tips

If you've ever been in to a hotel/bar/restaurant/other service establishment, you may have seen these captions (or a variation thereof) scratched on a pot or jar somewhere on the counter:

"Tipping is not a city in China"

"Tipping is not illegal in Honduras"

"If you're close enough to read this, you're close enough to leave a tip"

"Big tippers make better lovers"


We've gone for a simpler and more honest: "Tips are greatly appreciated".

Tip box by the front desk
Some of the slogans are funny, honest, and some are a even little edgier.  The thing is, they don't always answer the questions that our customers have about tipping policy here at Coconut Tree Divers.  Addressing the issue with one of us in the dive shop, makes some people feel uncomfortable, so I thought that this might be a good place to answer some of these questions.  In some places, tipping is customary or even expected, but in other places it is not part of the culture - so for some people, it's hard to know even where to get started!  Here is our guide to tipping:

Is tipping customary in the dive industry in Roatan?

Pretty much any dive shop you walk into would agree with an emphatic yes!  As the diving here is relatively inexpensive compared to many other places, tips (gratuities, if you will) are a very welcome supplement to our income.

How are the tips shared out amongst the staff?

We divide our tips equally, on a weekly basis amongst the working dive instructors, our boat captains and our equipment manager/mechanic.  Here at Coconut Tree Divers, we place a very high value and emphasis on teamwork, and our tip-sharing policy very much reflects this. We have a wooden box mounted on the post next to the front desk for that purpose.

What is an appropriate amount to tip?

This is probably one of the questions that people feel most uncomfortable asking, and there are several possible answers.  One of those answers is "whatever you feel comfortable with", because anything at all is always much appreciated.  If you're looking for a more numerical value, 15-20% is often quoted as a decent baseline.

Ultimately, a tip is an expression of gratuity for good service.  We are customer-oriented establishment, and we strive to provide you with the best possible care and service to suit your diving needs.  I hope that this has answered some of the questions that have come up recently (and remember: you can ask us anything!), feel free to leave a comment or contact us with any further questions.

PS: if you're reading this, become a member of the blog - easy with a Gmail account - see the link to the right of the page.

Half Moon Bay Weather Report

See previous post.  More of the same, diving the flat-calm South Side today.

Recent Sightings

Fresh off the boat this morning, a Seahorse (photo not yet available!)

Arrow crab shedding its skin

Great shot Marco, Bearded Fireworm

Juvenile Spotted Trunkfish (Reverse Pea)