A new addition to the family

Filling cylinders is the bane of the regular scuba diver’s life. It’s expensive (R40 for a tin of AIR?), time consuming, and generally involves either leaving one’s cylinders at a filling station and returning to collect them later (sometimes a risky proposition – you could come back to find your pillar valve has been swapped for an older or dodgier one…), or waiting at the dive centre to have them filled (boring, waste of time, inducement to eat junk food, and so on).

We get free air fills as members of False Bay Underwater Club, but when I dive daily I go through a lot of cylinders. Also, we can’t save up all the empties for a Wednesday evening – the other club members would give us the boot!

This is why we are so proud and pleased to announce the latest addition to the Lindeque family.

The compressor at work
The compressor at work

We recently acquired a small 70 litre/minute 3 stage compressor. Manufactured in Germany, the unit is well put together and appears rugged. The filter tower is a simple yet effective unit and can be serviced in less than an hour. Driven by a Honda petrol engine it is a bit noisy for running in your living room, but in a parking lot such as Long beach or any other dive site for that matter its perfect. It is manufactured by Mohnsam and has a single filling whip with a pressure relief valve and gauge on the end of the filling whip. I have run the compressor for close to 8 hours now and have had no misgivings.

Close up of the compressor
Close up of the compressor

The unit is light enough for carrying with one hand and slots into a very small space as it is compactly built. On an average day we will often have  in excess of 120 bar left after a 60 minute dive at Long Beach, and this will cost as much to top up as an empty cylinder at most fill stations so it is very useful to have the freedom to fill your own cylinders.

The compressor inside its carry case
The compressor inside its carry case

With a petrol engine driving the compressor it is versatile and can literally be used anywhere. The drawback with a petrol engine is to ensure the exhaust gas does not come close to the compressor intake so as a precautionary measure I have extended the air intake by means of a section of pool pipe and can thus ensure it is well above and upwind of the exhaust fumes.

Compressor resting on its carry case, filling a cylinder
Compressor resting on its carry case, filling a cylinder

This baby will be a regular at Long Beach from now on, where I can fill cylinders in the parking area after diving with students, while waiting for the gear to drip dry before I pack it in the divemobile. She’s even small enough to come with us to Knysna, where we can dive as much as we want when we go houseboating.

Wetting your wetsuit

There is an often repeated joke that there are two types of diver: those who pee in their wetsuits and those who lie about it. Its true to say that having just paid handsomely for a new wetsuit the idea is not to pee in it. However, sooner or later it’s going to happen to you! This is why….

The physiology

Basically, you can’t help yourself. The physiological phenomenon in question is known as immersion diuresis, a term which refers to your body’s response to being under pressure. Blood is shifted to your body’s core because of the cold and pressure on your body, which increases your blood pressure. The hypothalamus gland thinks this means your total fluid volume is too high and tells your kidneys to make urine.

What can you do to avoid immersion diuresis? Avoid diuretics like coffee and other caffeine-rich drinks before you dive! Intentionally not drinking any liquids  might seem like a sensible idea, but dehydration predisposes you to decompression sickness and saps your energy.

Try to stay warm. A by-product of your body’s reaction to cold is urine. Wearing a warm chicken vest under your wetsuit may save you from having to empty your bladder while underwater. Make sure you have good gloves, thick booties and a decent hoodie. On the boat, stay out of the wind if you can, wear an anorak and a beanie or cap.

Be sober, healthy, and well rested. Some over-the-counter and prescription medications can interfere with your body’s heat conservation activities, typically by hindering the constriction of blood vessels near the skin. Antihistamines, taken for hayfever and other allergies, are particular culprits as is alcohol. Make sure you are physically fit.

How to avoid it

What can you do to prevent urination on a dive? Drink less water? The counter-intuitive answer is that you should drink more.

Deliberately dehydrating yourself, in the hope you can hold it until you surface and get out of your suit, just makes the problem worse. Because of immersion diuresis and your body’s involuntary reaction to the chilly water, chances are you’ll have to pee anyway. And dehydration makes the result stronger in odor and colour.

If you do have to pee in your wetsuit…

If you’re well-hydrated, your urine will be almost clear and nearly odourless. So it can be your little secret.

There’s no health risk to urinating in your wetsuit. If you’ve watched Survivor or read anything about treating stings from jelly fish and bluebottles, you may recall that urine is sterile, unless you already have a urinary tract infection. The worst you have to fear is a case of nappy rash if the urine stays against your skin for a long time, and this is much less of a problem when your urine is diluted.

Long Beach parking area, the divemobile, and the shower in the background
Long Beach parking area, the divemobile, and the shower in the background

The solution is to open your wetsuit under water and rinse it between dives, if you can stand the rush of cold water. If you’re at Long Beach for a training dive, there’s a conveniently located shower in the parking area!

Dive sites: Shark Alley

Here’s Shark Alley, home of False Bay’s resident sevengill cowsharks, and site of some eventful dives. Courtesy of Google maps.

You park here, and climb down the slope to the rocky shore. The entry point you choose will vary depending on tidal and swell conditions.

Tony’s van, the divemobile, was broken into here, as was Tami’s car. The suspects (whom we spotted from the surface just before we started the dive) were a very tall man, and a shorter woman with dark hair. They were driving a small white or silver car.

Break ins are a fairly common occurrence for this dive site and it’s essential to take your own  car guard when you go there.

Directions to the Northern Suburbs swimming pool

Tony sometimes uses the swimming pool at one of the dive shops in the northern suburbs, Scuba Centre (Shop 1 Tyger Quays, Tyger Waterfront) to do the confined water skills for the Open Water course.

Kirsten in the pool
Kirsten in the pool

Here are directions to get there:

Coming from Cape Town south:

  1. Get onto the N1 northbound from Cape Town.
  2. Take the Willie van Schoor/Tyger Valley exit number 23 off the N1.
  3. Tturn left into Willie van Schoor road.
  4. Take the first left into Mispel road.
  5. At the T junction, turn right into Carl Cronje drive.
  6. Turn left into the Tyger Waterfront. The water-filled quarry should be on your right.
  7. Go through the first traffic circle inside the Tyger Waterfront.
  8. Scuba Centre is on your right – there is parking in front of the shop.
  9. Look for the divemobile parked outside (Tony’s big black van with scuba diving written all over it)

Coming from the Northern Suburbs:

  1. Get onto Carl Cronje drive heading south towards the N1.
  2. Pass Willowbridge Shopping centre and Tyger Falls.
  3. Before you get to the N1, turn right into the Tyger Waterfront. The water-filled quarry should be on your right.
  4. Go to item 7 above and continue from there.
Dean in the corner
Dean in the corner

This is what the entrance to Tyger Waterfront looks like:

Learn to Dive Today supports the Anchor Challenge

On Saturday 11 December, the Mr Price Anchor Challenge will bring some mayhem to Fish Hoek! This is a multi-event (running, swimming, cycling, paddling) sports challenge that is unlike a triathlon in that there is time between legs to regroup, rest and prepare for the next event.

Learn to Dive Today has donated two Discover Scuba Diving experiences to be used as lucky draw prizes, or spot prizes for event winners. The proceeds of this event are being donated to several worthy charities, and we are proud to be associated!

Discover Scuba Diving voucher
Discover Scuba Diving voucher

Come and say hello at the registration expo on Friday 10 December from 1600 to 2100 at the Valley Christian Church on the first floor of the OK Furniture Building on the corner of Main and De Waal roads in Fish Hoek (opposite Shoprite).

We’ll also be out and about on Fish Hoek beach on race day (Saturday 11 December). Look out for the divemobile and the Learn to Dive Today signage.

The divemobile taking in the sights in Gansbaai
The divemobile taking in the sights in Gansbaai

The race routes can be found here. With particular reference to the swim leg, the organisers state the following with reference to potential shark activity in Fish Hoek:

The swim leg will be held in a compact triangle shape that will be bordered by 30 shark shield devices, lifeguards and safety boats.  Then, the high activity in the water because of all the swimmers and boats will act as a further deterrent.  The swim will also be held at a time of day when there is the least marine activity.  Finally the shark watch program will be operating and we will not run the swim leg should there be any question as to the safety of competitors.