Gear, Diving & Education Philosophy
What the Point?
Fun - The whole point of diving for most people is to enjoy ourselves on some level: the marine life, the physical/mental challenge, the relaxation, the social component, etc.
Having more fun in diving is accomplished by achieving more comfort: Comfort in the water, comfort with our dive gear, comfort controlling our body. This comfort is attained by acquiring/improving physical skills, acquiring knowledge, practice...and just getting out to dive:
Experience - Discovery Divers aims to create the opportunity and affordability to allow divers to do what they do best…dive. When you dive more, you get better and enjoy your diving more and become a safer diver.
The dilemma of diving only once or twice a season - For me, it is quite sad that there are so many people here in Japan that can only afford to dive a couple times a year (due to time or money), so they never progress beyond a beginner skill level. These folks often never get good enough to really enjoy the experience safely. They need to be supervised closely by a professional each time they dive. That's no fun for anyone...
The problem, and the solution - In the past, diving in Japan had been a challenge to foreigners due to expense, language or knowledge. The result would be divers who did not dive enough to attain and maintain good diving form. We've done our best to change all that with relatively aggressive pricing on equipment, courses and diving so you can get wet more often. Last, we aim to iron out all the logistics and language barriers to make your outings as painless as possible.
Invest in your skills and knowledge - As the head of Discovery Divers, I believe that education plays an essential part in increasing skill, safety and diving enjoyment. I invest in my own continued dive education each year, and have priced our dive courses to make essential education within the reach of the largest possible audience. Our organization is education-oriented and the core of our membership are always learning, and this knowledge runs downhill.
Equipment - Buying your own gear without a mortgage - Most divers agree that an essential point to maximizing your diving enjoyment and becoming a better diver is to own your own quality gear that you are familiar with. As residents of Japan, we all know that virtually all goods here cost more than in many other countries. Unfortunately, the same is usually true of scuba gear; diving equipment in Japan can list for 2 to 3 times the price tag of the same gear in the US. There are also many traps to fall into buying gear that is poorly designed or constructed. Recently, there are online outlets in the US that will ship for free above a certain minimum. We aim to price our goods competitive with those outlets, and we set up and support all the gear we sell.
Diving and Configuration Philosophy
Have More Fun!!! - Bottom line...being a more skillful, more knowledgeable diver means more comfort in the water and more fun while diving.
Physical Skills - The circle of satisfaction - I am an educator by trade and diving is an education-intensive activity. Safety is paramount, followed by enjoyment. Like many other activities in life, the better we are at something, the safer and more enjoyable this activity becomes. Education and experience play important roles in achieving this level of comfort.
The “Dive Dojo” - At Discovery Divers, we strive to create a culture of learning among participants. Learning is always going on, whether it is actively through formal course education, or passively through mentoring, buddy input and observation. As well as having fun, I hope we are learning form each other all the time. In many respects, I really do treat the shop like a dojo; knowledge is always flowing downstream.
Pilot Your "Plane" - The central foundation of your skills platform is buoyancy. If a pilot cannot properly fly a plane, he certainly cannot fly while doing tasks or handling challenges that may arise. When diving, you are a hovercraft. Become an expert at hovering while moving, and while motionless; every dive is a chance to practice. You can learn a lot by observing other divers who have trained at our shop. From a stable platform of solid buoyancy skills, divers can become skilled and confident in the water, able to capably handle other tasks and challenges that arise.
Knowledge, Planning and Procedures
The thinking diver - This is the more cerebral aspect of diving and is often lost in the quest for fun and spontaneity. While it may be true that for calm, shallow dives the planning needs of a dive may be small compared to more advanced or challenging dives, it is good to get into the habit of good planning and procedures based on sound knowledge.
Practice makes perfect - To this end, we always have thorough briefings for each dive site before entry and frequently practice important procedures such as air sharing, rescue and CPR/O2/First aid.
Know thy buddy - Good buddy communication before and during each dive is also key to being familiar with your buddy’s equipment as well as sharing the same knowledge of the procedures you will use in various situations. Being a good buddy is something that takes awareness and practice, and is always appreciated by your partner.
Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree – At Discovery Divers, we predominantly prescribe to a minimalist approach to diving gear. Improperly stowed hoses and lots of unnecessary dangly gear creates the visually captivating, though ill-advised configuration known as the Christmas Tree.
Charlie Brown - Gear that does not clutter the chest and stomach area allow the diver to move more easily through the water, conserving air and energy. This smaller diver profile also reaps benefits when swimming against current. The Backplate and wing system is a prime example of a BC system that provides balance and flotation, while minimizing bulk. This is the system that we at Discovery Divers favor. If you must be a Christmas tree, be one of those poor, sparse Charlie Brown Christmas trees.
Why Backplate and Wing..?
Backplate and Wing: the stealthiest BC system in the west – Once thought of a system to technical diving, the Backplate and wing (BP/W) has recently made a strong surge into the recreational diving community. Divers of all levels of experience and training have come to appreciate the stealth, balance and adaptability of the BP/W system. This minimalist system utilizing the BP/W was made popular by the cave diving community and became known as a Hogarthian system, or later, a DIR system (Doing it right).
Nuts and bolts – The BP/W system is made up of four parts.
First is the harness, which can be adjustable, or simple webbing. We favor simple, inexpensive webbing as it will hold your torso like a glove and can be replaced for only JPY 2,000.
The harness is attached to a metal plate; usually stainless steel, but aluminum is also used. This plate provides stability and about 5 or 6 pounds of weight where a diver needs it the most (over the lungs).
Next, the “wing” is the flotation bag that attaches to the plate. You can choose different sizes of these: 30 to 45 pounds is a common range. A DDT professional can help you make the decision of which wing size is right for you.
Last, there is a metal tank holder with bolts to the backplate and sandwiches the whole system solidly together. This part is called the STA, or Single Tank Adaptor. STAs also come in different weights for different applications.
BP/W Buoyancy Advantage - One of the added benefits of a backplate is that it puts weight over your torso, where the flotation of your lungs and wing reside. This makes for a balanced distribution of weight and flotation, allowing the diver to more easily achieve a stable horizontal position in the water. This is contrasted with the use of heavy weightbelts, that often pull divers in to a vertical position. A backplate system also has multiple options for additional weight attachment, making the fine tuning of weight and balance easily achievable.
Hoser – Another notable feature of the Hogarthian or DIR equipment configuration is the long primary hose, and backup hose attached to the neck by a bungee necklace. Another innovation from cave divers, the long hose/bungee backup system allows a diver the greatest degree of freedom and adaptability when dealing with the unlikely situation of an OOA (out of air) situation in another diver.
Quick draw – Despite its intimidating length, the 7’ primary hose stows very nicely and can be deployed rapidly if needed. The primary hose is donated to the diver in need, while the donor reaches for the backup, which hangs conveniently below his chin, secured by a bungee necklace around the neck. Having experienced a small number of actual air shares as the donor in real diving, I am convinced that this is the safest system available.