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Buying two of eveything or "stagger"

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by RetroBlader, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. RetroBlader

    RetroBlader Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Ontario, Canada
    I know the "what xxxx should I get as a new diver" question has been asked countless times before, but after reading quite a few of them, I feel my situation is slightly different, and may warrant a new thread on its own....

    Background (skip down to "My main question" if you are attention-span-challenged):

    My wife and I got into diving at the same time, and we've always dived together.

    We are warm-water divers since Day 1 -- did our PADI classroom and pool stuff in Toronto, but check-out dives in Aruba and Curacao. Since neither of us really want to try diving dry-suite in the frigid water of the Great Lakes, we only dive when we go somewhere warm.

    Since certified 3 years ago, we've done 45 dives in (what we consider) a good variety of places: St. Thomas (USVI), Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize, Cozumel, Florida Keys, French Polynesia (Moorea, Bora Bora and Tikehau) and most recently, St. Lucia.

    We started out being casual/cruise divers, but as my wife got more comfortable with diving, we started to plan more dive-oriented trips. We just came back from a week in St. Lucia (stayed in an all-inclusive resort, but diving 2 tanks every day), and soon we will be spending a week in Scuba Club Cozumel in February.

    Up until now, we have been fairly happy with our minimalistic approach to diving:
    - rental gear (except fins and masks)
    - always DM-guided (we paid extra for DM guidance when we were in the Florida Keys)
    - no dive computer
    - day dives only

    However, with our SCC week coming up, where we will have the opportunity to do unlimited shore dives on our own, we feel we need to "gear up" (and potentially get more training as well).

    We thought about getting AOW (plus/minus Nitrox) certification, we want to get a diver computer (or two), and we will need dive lights. However, we are definitely not ready to get our own BC and reg yet.

    My main question: Should we buy two of everything (most likely entry-level for both), or should we try to "stagger" (i.e. buy a basic model and a more advanced model, so if we were ever going to upgrade, we can upgrade the basic model and wait a bit longer to upgrade the more advanced one)?

    In case you are wondering, here are the models we are looking at:

    1. Computer: Since the Gekko is no longer available, Mares Puck seems to be the cheapest computer that offers Nitrox. (Stupid question: We should each have a computer, right? We will be doing all the dives together, and we vowed to stay closer together after reading the "how far should you be from your buddy" thread....)

    2. Dive light: I've heard good things about the Princeton Tec Torrent and the BigBlue CF-250.
    - Princeton Tec has the combo pack (one "laser gun" and one Torrent), and is available from within Canada (not having to worry about shipping across the border is a big plus): Light Packs Ultimate Dive Set: Amazon.ca: Electronics
    - BigBlue CF-250 is available from B&H, a NYC camera store which I've dealt with many times in the past and trust 100%.

    I know people suggest carrying minimum of two lights, but since we will be staying very close (my wife is still a bit nervous about doing a night dive), and we will only be doing a few night dives, do you think we can get away with me carrying the big "radar gun" light and her carrying the Torrent (or vice versa) and be each other's back-up light?

    For what it is worth, I'm also considering getting the FIX Mini BuB Light Saber to put on my Canon S95/WP-DC38 housing, so there will be some redundancy:
    FIX Mini BuB Light Saber with YS Mount and Rotary Hotshoe Base [fix.bub.set] - $128.00 : Reef Photo & Video!, The Underwater Photo Pros

    3. Certification: We are still quite torn about getting AOW while we are there, since our RMD package already includes 2 boat dives every day plus unlimited shore dives, and we plan to do at least one boat night dive -- leaving not much time to do courses and the associated dives.

    We are also thinking about diving Nitrox (either getting Nitrox certified before our trip or while we are down there), but SCC's Nitrox course requires AOW and will take up 2 days (plus 1 boat dive), so we don't even know if it'll all fit. The fact SCC charges $10/tank for Nitrox also gives us pause, especially since we'll have to rent BC and reg at $9/piece/person/day.

    I know it's a very long-winded post -- many thanks for putting up with it.

    Any comments and suggestions will be most welcome.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Rogersea

    Rogersea Dive Shop

    # of Dives:
    Location: Tongo Poiint Basdiot Moalboal Philippines
    In my opinion you should purchase:

    2 computers (Pucks are fine for new divers) However, if you already have the ERDPML and you actually use it then having one computer is ok as long as you plan your Multi-Level Dives with the Tables...:)))

    3 Flashlights, having a spare between you should be satisfactory if you really stay together and you always change batteries.. Be aware that the small multi bulb LED lights are relatively bright so you may not want or need to carry a huge light.

    Finally on the training you should approach SCC and see if they will credit you some of the dives in your package towards an Advanced Course/Nitrox Combo. You may also decide that once NITROX Certified you only want to dive with it on your 3rd dive of the day. Helps keep costs down...

  3. aquaregia

    aquaregia NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Cruz, CA
    I just did the same RMD at SCC a few weeks ago. If you're looking for a relaxed vacation, you'll find it full. We got off the morning boat around 1ish or so, put away gear, showered and were at lunch by 2pm. Night boat wants you there at around 5pm, wreck boat (which I don't recommend) is somewhat earlier. I wanted to do the 2-tank dusk+night boat (4pm I think?), but it wasn't in the cards. I hit the club reef around 9pm a couple nights. Throwing in a couple of hours of classwork could make it less vacationy.

    I wouldn't stress the nitrox. We did pretty profiled dives, so any place we had a deep enough average depth to really take advantage of it, the maximum depth was close enough to MOD that I wouldn't have wanted it on a wall dive. I did use 36% for the wreck dive because the max depth is fixed :).

    For dive lights, take a look at the Dorcy Penetrators, available at Piranha Dive Manufacturing. I'm pretty happy with mine, although the Intova broad beam also seems nice for warm water diving. It's awful for cold-water though, not enough penetration and the switch is really hard to use with heavy gloves on. One thing to consider with getting mismatched lights is that, at night, you rely on the light to signal. While not as big of a deal in warm water, I've done cold water, low vis dives where my buddy got too far away (only takes 5-10' here) and although he could see my light I could not see his.

    I also have an Intova ICOM that I like very much for both warm and cold water diving that I got from B&H. I had one fail and B&H couldn't help me, but Intova could, and in fact replaced the whole light with no drama. This is meant as a kudos to Intova, not a slam on B&H.

    Computers have awful user interfaces, often. I'd recommend getting two of the same so that you don't both have to learn two awful interfaces. One-button models are really hard to use. Get something with Nitrox. Get something with audible alarms. Don't sweat a backlight, I've never been satisfied with any that I've used.

    Sharing a computer is a funny thing. If you both have your own timing and depth gauges, and you stay shoulder-to-shoulder, and dive conservatively it'll probably be okay. It's definitely not recommended. My buddies and I all wear two computers each in case one dies, not during the dive, but between dives. If you're diving computers and it dies, you really have no idea of what your nitrogen load is, so you should wait 12-36hrs (recommendations differ) before diving again, at all. This'll screw up your dive vacation. So, if you each have a computer and one dies, and you have one between the two of you, you might choose to share. If you were sharing one to start with you're on the beach, for sure.
  4. Centrals

    Centrals Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    1. Two computers if U2 are going to do a lot of shore dives in a day.
    2. Two good LED lights. But having a small back up won't hurt either.
    3. Nitrox is particularly useful between 20-30m range. But if you are an air hog then nitrox will serve no purpose if your back gas does not last the pace.
    Everyone should carry his/her own essential equipment. Sharing is NO.
    GrumpyOldGuy likes this.
  5. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives:
    Location: On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated
    Two pucks are fine.

    Look into the Edge or HOG regulators, you can afford two of the best regulators available.

    Two big lights and two small inexpensive backups would be great.
    Jax likes this.
  6. RetroBlader

    RetroBlader Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Ontario, Canada
    Many thanks to all those responded so far.

    I will have lots to discuss with my wife tomorrow.

    Add-on question: Wide beam or narrow beam for the primary light?
    (I think narrow will go further, but we will have our camera, so wide beam can help light a scene?)

    Our December St. Lucia trip was meant to be relaxed (we stayed in an all-inclusive resort for that reason), but we are ready to dive much more intensely at SCC.

    Are you planning to write up a trip report at some point? I know there are many posts on the SCC already, but it's always great to hear from someone who was there recently.

    P.S. That story about your Nitrox instructor GF not having her card was pretty funny. :D
  7. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas High Plains
    Yeah, get two of the same everything. Be a lot easier to learn, maintain, understand, buddy dive, trouble shoot, etc. Be sure your dive computer is Nitrox capable and downloadable, altho you won't need Nitrox on this trip and may not want to buy the cable until later.

    Do all those lights use AA batteries? :eek: Or worse AAAs?! I haven't shopped for lights in years as I've been happy with mine which use 4 C batteries each, but I'd hate to pack enough AAs and AAAs for those lights, as well as clearing security with them. Wow?! The Big Blue uses 3 AAAs and costs $125?! :confused: I don't understand the appeal? I like a lot more light, for a lot less money. :idk:

    But then I looked at your link to the Light pack, which doesn't give a lot of info. I've seen those big lights with 8 C batteries. Just never cared for them. Too big and bulky, and honestly - I like a night dive to be a night dive, not spotlighted.

    Leaving Cozumel, be sure all of your batteries are in checked bags as we've had a lot of problems there with batteries in carry-on or roll-on. But back to

    Except those are the first things I'd suggest owning, the most important - and I don't suggest a camera for anyone with less than 100 dives. You know there is really good diving in the St. Lawrence in the summer, lots of fun wrecks. I've done a few of them and the water was nice - much warmer than Seattle's.

    Have a good trip... :pilot:
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012
  8. Bubbletrubble

    Bubbletrubble Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seussville
    • Exposure suits: I generally recommend that newer divers make wetsuits their first gear purchase. Wetsuit fit can vary quite a bit from brand to brand. If you have a "standard-sized" body, then I suppose you can just continue to rent wetsuits. :idk:
    • Computers: Buy 2 nitrox-capable computers. Although the Suunto Gekko has been discontinued, it has been replaced by the virtually identical Suunto Zoop. I've seen the Zoop on sale here in San Diego at Sport Chalet (authorized Aqualung/Apeks/Suunto dealer) for $215. The Mares Puck would work fine, too, but I've found the Suunto menus to be more intuitive. YMMV.
    • Dive Lights: If you guys plan on doing night dives together, each diver should have both a primary light and a backup light. Princeton Tec makes some rather affordable LED lights. I own and like the Shockwave LED (8C), but the Miniwave LED (4C; under $100 on sale) might be a better light for dive travel since it's smaller. For a backup light, I've been using the Princeton Tec Tec40 (4AA; $13 at Scubatoys.com) for years. It has a small and rather narrow beam, but it's sufficient for flashing hand signals to your buddy and reading your gauges. I like the way it clips off nicely on a chest D-ring on my webbing harness.
    • Regs: Based on your usage pattern, it probably doesn't make sense for you to buy your own regs. Just rent for now, assuming that SCC has reliable regs for rent. Make sure that you do comprehensive functional reg tests (far more involved than just breathing off or purging the 2nd stages) as soon as you take possession of the rental regs (in the dive shop if at all possible). Much better to identify an issue at that point rather than while you're on the boat heading out for Dive #1.
    • Classes: Don't bother taking AOW or Nitrox class on this trip. Just dive and have fun.
  9. Rhone Man

    Rhone Man Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: British Virgin Islands
    I'll throw out a slightly contrary view: if you are newer divers buying your first set of gear, odds are you are going to find things you like and things you don't. Buy each buying different gear (whatever it is), you will make much better progress when you buy your second and subsequent sets of gear.
    aquaregia likes this.
  10. aquaregia

    aquaregia NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Cruz, CA
    It's a pros and cons thing. I prefer a narrow light because my home environment has bad visibility, which means that the idea of a "buddy pair" means something different. Here, underwater communication is extremely important because two or three kicks can break a team up. In addition to the longer throw of the light, there's more clarity to signaling. When diving in warm water with buddies with wide beam lights, I'm not sure if someone means "I'm ok", "let's go this way", "check out this octopus" or "I'm out of air". In clear water this isn't a huge problem because they'll start swimming away, or taking photos of a pissed off octopus or try to drown you immediately, but as a coldwater diver, it stresses me out. The DMs at SCC use rapid flashing to indicate octopi, etc, which had me on edge the entire time as I desperately searched for anyone to donate air to :)

    A brighter spot can scare some animals, but without the flood you can't see much if you don't blind them. You can also see a lot more in clear water with a wider beam light. I know several people who hedged their bets and bought one of each Intova.

    My Dorcys use 6AAAs and run about 4-5hrs before they start to dim. I've never run them flat, but I imagine they'd go a while. The Intova ICOM uses 3AAAs and the floody one uses a CR123. I prefer to either use commodity batteries (AAA,AA,C,etc) or rechargeables. Although most dive stores stock CR123s, everyone stocks AAAs.

    I've used some of the Princeton and UK pistol grip lights and I just don't care for the feel of it. Somehow it just feels bulky and offbalance and like I need to tie it to something so that I don't accidentally drop it when I'm using my hands for other stuff. But, many people love it. Once I dove with one pistol grip light in each hand, that was sorta fun.

    The tec40 is nice because it's cheap, even at LDSs who tend to be phasing them out for the LED replacement. I don't care for the beam (neither focused nor bright), but if you intend to call the dive when your primary fails they're completely sufficient for reading gauges and getting home.

    I may write a trip report, but I hesitate a little because I'm a pretty critical guy. This works okay when I'm bitching about rockfish or the weather, but I don't want to come off the wrong way talking about people with whom I had a genuinely lovely time.

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