Shivering on the 49th Parallel
Friday, March 25, 2011

It took almost five years. Coincidentally that’s the length of the warranty I was trying to get it repaired under, but finally, something was done. There was a management change at Divers Supply Grand Cayman, and the new manager wanted to make things right whereas the old manager told me to go fuck myself.

Shortly before Christmas 2010, I was contacted by the new manager of the store (on Facebook) who reached out to make things right.

We talked back and forth and came to an agreement, and I edited and updated the posts from 2006 calling out his store for treating me like an inmate in a shower. I posted an update at the top of the three posts with the date, and then edited some of the piss & vinegar out of my rants. As I figured, it was the then-manager who was behind the absolutely horrendous “service” and treatment. Now that he’s gone (and probably most of the staff) it’s not fair to paint them all with the same brush as him (although given a chance, I don’t think I’d use a paintbrush on him).

It’s going to take awhile (if ever) for the Google search results for Divers Supply Grand Cayman to drop the old titles of the posts and replace them with the newer, gentler ones, but if anyone clicks on any of the links to my previous posts about Divers Supply Grand Cayman then they’ll see the new titles and the update, in bold, at the top of the page.

My replacement dive computer is up here now (although it’s still out at my friend’s house who carried it up here at Christmas from Cayman) so it was the right time to make a new post and edit the old posts.

Friday, March 25, 2011 10:39:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman | Rants | Underwater#
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just over two years ago I came across a link that said that Rip Curl was making a rechargeable, heated wetsuit. DAMN! I posted that I did not know if it was for scuba use or it was merely “splash-proof” for kayaking and surfing.

It took two years, but this morning I saw a post on The Uber-Review that they’ve finally brought it to market.

It’s only rated to 10m so it’s not designed for SCUBA diving at all. Surfing yes, kayaking yes, SCUBA, no. They were thoughtful enough to do a bunch of testing to make sure that the electric field generated by the lithium-ion batteries and the carbon fiber heating elements wouldn’t attract sharks. Thanks guys! Hopefully they didn’t get the batteries from Sony’s laptop battery division. :)

Rip Curl’s website has a cool interactive flash site set up with videos and a neat “thermal body scanner” that shows you where the elements are and how much heat they produce when you have it switched on low or high.

Now if I could find a battery-heated wooly-bear to wear under my drysuit, I’d be back in business diving up here in the Pacific Northwest… maybe next spring :)

PS: they're just over $1000 MSRP and doesn't really say what the thickness is, although I kinda think it's a 4/3mm.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 9:42:42 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Underwater#
Friday, August 15, 2008
So that's the bottom line... for saving the company $300 and burning a loyal customer, the store manager reaped two years (and counting) atop the Google search results for "Divers Supply Grand Cayman" with the terms "Fucked in the ass by Divers Supply Grand Cayman" in the link text itself.
Friday, August 15, 2008 11:11:10 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Rants | Underwater#
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
You may not have the RiskMaster 3000 that Reuben had in Along Came Polly, but you've been weighing options and deciding on a course of action (right or wrong) your whole life... Reuben may have wanted to run "Will my wife shag our scuba instructor on our honeymoon?" through there before he got married, but that's another story.
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 7:54:36 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Rants | Underwater#
Friday, March 30, 2007

A few days ago, the RCIP closed Stingray Sandbar due to a couple people being stung by jellyfish and one person getting 'pierced' by a stingray's barb. The next day, under the sensationalistic headlines, they quoted someone in the RCIP as saying a couple people were stung by thimble jellyfish. THIMBLE JELLYFISH.

Thimble jellyfish are... let's see... THE SIZE OF A THIMBLE. THAT'S WHY THEY'RE CALLED THIMBLE JELLYFISH. Their nematocysts are tiny and don't really even sting anyone our size. There are other bits and pieces, jelly junk as we refer to them that are pretty much invisible and DO sting.

The problem with thimble jellies is their larvae. Usually between Mother's Day and Father's Day is their mating period. The larvae, microscopic larvae I might add, float around in the water and end up on your skin. As your skin dries, they panic and burrow down into your epidermis where it's warm and moist. Your skin does not like it so it gets red, itchy, swollen, itchy and did I mention itchy? It itches like the DEVIL IS INSIDE YOUR SKIN TRYING TO GET OUT. It lasts for three or four days and then clears up and goes away. This is what's known as sea-itch, sea lice or seabather's eruption

Some people do have more adverse reactions. Gordy got a pretty good dosing of it  few years back and his eyes swelled up and stuff, but a good course of antihistamine's cleared him up as right as rain. I suppose if you're allergic to bee stings or things like that, you might have a reaction like Gordy's.

As for closing Stingray Sandbar, it HAS been a little rough out there lately with higher-than-normal winds making things rough and choppy. Someone did get "stung" by a stingray the other day, and the description about that was that the stingray was "thrown" into the person by the wave action and got scared. If the conditions were rough, then close the area down, but to say they closed it down because of a couple people getting stung by thimble jellies and one person getting stung by a stingray... while other boats were not affected by the closure when they were snorkeling at the barrier reef just a quarter mile away is a boatload of bullshit.

Friday, March 30, 2007 3:29:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Cayman | Underwater#
Friday, January 12, 2007
Wetpixel is announcing that Amazon has pulled all of their Shark Fin Soup products from all their various online stores after 10 days of merciless hounding and pounding by the inernet-at-large.

Behold the power of the internet! :) Now if only I could harness some of that power to get Divers Supply Grand Cayman to replace my dive computer that they hosed!

Friday, January 12, 2007 8:27:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Food | Links | Underwater#
Saturday, October 28, 2006

Chris sent this link through the ex-soto's Yahoo Group. It's an ad for a washing machine for clothes, but it's SO COOL. It actually makes you want to go diving! Fortunately for me, all I gotta do is go downstairs to do it, but for those of you who are landlocked (or temperature locked) it's the next best thing. Whoever envisioned this was a smart cookie, but whoever Made It Happen (tm) is a friggin GENIUS!

The clip is in quicktime, and it takes a minute or two to load, but DAMN is it worth it!


Saturday, October 28, 2006 7:22:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [2] | Links | Underwater#
Friday, October 27, 2006

Rip Curl has announced their H-Bomb wetsuit that has two "powered" heating packs built into it! It uses two polymer lithium ion batteries (I have an old Dell laptop battery now that mine's been replaced in the recall... could I use THAT too? :) )to power two heating packs that sit sort of over your kidneys to keep your core warm. Two settings, Keep Me Warm and IT TASTES LIKE BURNING. Nothing on the Rip Curl website yet, just their E-Bomb and F-Bomb suits so no word on price. More importantly, no word on whether it's suitable for use in a SCUBA application, or if they're just 'wet-resistant' for surfing and kayaking and things like that. I also don't know what thickness of neoprene it is. If it's only a 4/3mm suit, then it really wouldn't be warm enough for temperate diving anyway, heating pads or not.

Friday, October 27, 2006 8:23:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Gadgets | Underwater#
Thursday, October 19, 2006

Did anyone other than me watch that Tv show last year called "Surface"? I didn't think so. I saw some talk/buzz about it on last year so I tuned in. Turned out it wasn't as scuba-involved as I thought, but it was about this new species of vertebrate that was 'discovered' living in the ocean. They were hatched from eggs, had some sort of built-in taser device, were omnivorous and oh yeah, they could heal themselves, so they were practically invincible and immortal. It turned out to be a secret gov't genetics experiment gone awry and then the whole conspiracy/cover-up that dogged the main protagonists as they fought to discover the truth. In the end, because they could control weather patterns, they managed to trigger tsunamis while growing large enough to eat an entire fishing cruiser in one bite. Ultimately they became the new dominant species on the planet and they faded to black and didn't come back for a second season, but I digress.

About a month or so ago, Johnny Rotten got himself impaled on a stingray's barb out at Stingray City. He'll heal, but for now he's got a 3/8" hole in his leg that's slowly healing from the inside out. Three days after his incident, Steve Irwin got stung by a Bull Ray in the chest and died from it. In John's case, he was knocked/pushed over by a fatty cruise shipper and impaled himself on the barb. In Irwin's case, they've spun it so it sounds like an unprovoked attack, but no one REALLY knows what happened, so I'll not speculate on that. Now this morning there's a report on CNN about an 81 year old man getting stung by an Eagle Ray near Lighthouse Point, 30 miles north of Miami. Despite getting a barb (eagle rays have three in a row on their tails) RIGHT IN THE CHEST, he's going to make it, after surgery to remove it. That's one tough old guy! This incident happened in the intracoastal waterway... that's right, according to CNN, the ray leaped out of the water, INTO THE BOAT and nailed him.

I've had the opportunity to be up-close and personal with a juvenline eagle ray as it was feeding in the sand out in front of the wreck of the Oro Verde. Generally eagle rays are more skittish than southern atlantic stingrays (like the kind at Stingray City) and won't come near people. They're also larger than southern atlantic stingrays. They have a shovel-shaped nose that helps them dig in the sand to find little crustaceans and mollusks to eat. That's right, no teeth. On the other hand, I have seen eagle rays breaching in North Sound. The water in the sound is very shallow, I think the deepest it gets is about twelve feet deep and the shallowest is about knee-high at Stingray City Sandbar. Usually we'll be cruising along all of a sudden you see a splash and a brief glimpse of a tail. Probably the eagle ray was sleeping and the boat scared the bejabbers out of it and it accelerated up and breached. I have heard stories of them coming completely out of the water though.

What more than likely happened was the same sort of scenario: shallow, murky water in the intracoastal, sleeping eagle ray, boat scares it, it takes off, breaches and in this case lands IN the boat. As it's thrashing around trying to get back into the water, this 81 year old guy takes a shot in the chest. So while yes it is within the realm of possibility, it is, as the Fire Dept Lt. put it "A real freak thing". Not the ray's fault, it isn't even like Bart & Lisa Simpson saying "Im just windmilling my arms, if you walk into it and get punched, it's not MY fault".

Or is it? it's 10257 miles from Darwin Australia to Grand Cayman. Is there some sort of Stingray conspiracy going on where they're planning an all-out assault on humanity? Could it be that the stingray that John fell on somehow sent out a telepathic signal to the bull ray in Australia who then went after Steve Irwin in response? Could the eagle ray 'attack' be a public relations stunt by the Stingray Liberation Organization to show what kind of weapons they have at their disposal? There are enough whackos in the world who will believe anything, so it wouldn't surprise me if another conspiracy theory cropped up around stingrays now. The biggest question is "Who is pulling the strings and are they going to attack while George Bush is still in office?" :)

Update: Holy crap, there ARE whackos out there who believe in the conspiracy!

Thursday, October 19, 2006 7:44:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [5] | Underwater#
Monday, September 25, 2006
Wetpixel, a well-known underwater photography site posted an article linking to another site called Divepoll that aggregated a lot of known shitty behaviour by CD NN
Monday, September 25, 2006 11:58:14 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Links | Underwater#
Thursday, September 21, 2006
They should write an article about that entitled "Rabid pseudo-journalists completely mangle the hand that feeds them"
Thursday, September 21, 2006 9:21:19 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [5] | Rants | Underwater#
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
"You kind of pick them up, rub their belly, scratch them, hug them,” Marcel said, “You might as well give them a smooch while you're out there."
Tuesday, September 19, 2006 8:14:32 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Underwater#
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The timing is uncanny...

Last Thursday I came home and checked my voicemail (I had a couple missed calls, as I can't answer my phone while I'm on my Vespa. I could do it with my Bluetooth headset, but I have some behind-the-neck headphones that I wear instead) and there was a VM from Johnny Rotten, sounding drunk, saying: "Dude, call me. I have something to tell you, you'll probably find it pretty funny".

Before I could call him back, he logged in to MSN, so I said "Hey shitbag, what's up?"

He said "I got stung by a stingray today."

"Uh, heh heh, you did WHAT?"

Turns out he was holding a stingray out at Stingray City and he got knocked off balance by a large cruise shipper. As he was teetering off-balance,  another large cruise shipper knocked his legs out from under him. He fell onto the stingray, which panicked, flipped up it's barb and John fell onto it, getting stabbed in the leg before the stingray bolted off at mach 2. I couldn't stop laughing. I apologized, saying it probably wasn't funny, but he was the first person that I had actually met who had been stung by a stingray. He laughed too, but that might have been because of the four aspirin, five beers and six shots of Jack Daniel's. Or maybe it was four beers, five shots and six aspirins, I don't quite remember. In spite of all those "pain killers" he said he was on the verge of tears. He called Dr Denise and asked her if he should come in to the hospital, but she said as long as it was cleaned out properly there wasn't much that would do that he hadn't already done. According to his estimate, the barb went into his leg about 1.5 inches.

Last night I saw him at Calico Jack's, and his leg is still swollen, and the area around the wound had a squishy texture that I think is called edema. When you push on it, the indent stays for awhile. Like play-doh. Kinda gross.

Sunday night I couldn't sleep, and was laying in bed at 3am when the first IMs and emails started appearing asking me about Stingrays. WTF? I hadn't posted this yet, so no one knew that John had been stung yet. Turns out it was Steve Irwin. I read the article from an Australian newspaper that's all that had been posted so far and had a chat with Rich about it.

Since then, I've had a bunch of people ask me about stingrays so rather than type it all out over and over again, I'm posting it here instead. If you've come here from Google or something, and you're not my mother, my brother, or a couple friends who are usually the only readers of this, here's a little background on me: I've been living in the Cayman Islands since 1998 and was a SCUBA diving instructor for the first five of those years. I've been out to Stingray City and mauled/manhandled/wrangled the stingrays a couple hundred times and until last week, haven't even KNOWN anyone who's been stung by one.

I haven't seen the video of the stingray's sting on Steve Irwin, but I heard today that they might actually release it in the next few days, as grisly as it is. I couldn't figure out how it happened... the stingray's barb lays flat against their tail, pointing back. To get impaled on it by accident, the stingray would have to be swimming backwards pretty fast. They don't swim backwards. When a stingray is in peril, it lifts the barb up so it stand perpendicular to the tail.  Normally this occurs when the stingray is sleeping,partially buried, in the sand and their main predator, sharks, come up and try to chomp down on them. The barb comes up, the shark bites down and gets the barb in the roof it's mouth. It says OWWWWWW and the stingray swims away with or without the barb (they can regenerate them) while the shark doesn't get to eat.

What I'm trying to get at is the stingray's barb is a passive defense mechanism. There's no kinetic energy behind the barb. The penetrating trauma comes from the shark closing it's jaws on it, or a fisherman stepping on it in shallow water, or in John's case, falling on it. It will be interesting to see how the tragic mishap in Aus happened, if they do indeed show it.  They also didn't say what type of stingray it was that was involved, either. The stingrays we have down here in Cayman and at Stingray City are Southern Atlantic Stingrays. Their barbs do not grow to be ten inches long. I've seen their barbs up close and personal, and they're only three, maybe four inches long. They're black and they resemble a nail. A building nail, not a fingernail.

When the barb goes in, the spines create the entry wound and the whole barb goes in. Once there, as the stinger tries to come out, it leaves behind all the venomous goo around the barb in the wound (as well as making a jaggedy raggedy exit wound). That's what's causing John's leg wound to weep and suppurate still, as his body is fighting off the venom and trying to expel it.

What happened in Australia to Steve Irwin was a one in a who-knows-how-many million chance. First that he was stung at all by a stingray, and second that it managed to get him right where it did AND deep enough to cause fatal damage.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006 3:12:11 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Underwater#
Monday, August 14, 2006

I saw this post on Gizmodo this morning about the US Navy's new deep diving suit that can work at depths up to 2000 feet. Ideally this suit would allow someone to get down to a stranded submarine in advance of the rescue sub to check things out and assist where neccessary.

“At 2,000 feet, I had topside turn off all the lights, and it was like a star show. The phosphorescence that was naturally in the water and in most of the sea life down there started to glow," Jackson said.

The Hardsuit 2000 was built by OceanWorks International in Vancouver (w00t! go Vancouver!) which I would further venture a guess that they're in North Vancouver and the guys who developed the NewtSuit as well.

Yup. I was right, they're in North Vancouver. I certified a couple of engineers from OceanWorks for their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certs back in the day when I was living in Vancouver and teaching at Great Pacific Diving in North Van. 

Monday, August 14, 2006 3:20:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Tech | Underwater#
Thursday, July 21, 2005

I was reading Divester the other day, and they had a poll going for “when was the last time you went diving?”. Fortunately for me, I live somewhere where it's nice to go diving pretty much anytime. UNfortunately, the last few weekends have been scrubbed by Hurricanes Dennis & Emily. Maybe this weekend I'll get out and get wet.

Shortly after that was another post, which was asking for ideas for another poll. I left a comment and said “How about name your favorite dive destination?” which ALWAYS gets a “lively discussion” going, kinda like the “my dojo is better than your dojo!” arguments back int he 80s when Martial Arts was huge (not that it isn't now, but...) Anyway, they seemed to have listened! Their latest post actually quoted my comment and linked back to here. Gotta love the linky lurrrrve.

Guess I'll have to go and stir up the pot a little and tell em why my favorite is better than anybody else's favorite :)

On another, sadder note, Divester also reported on some missing divers last seen off of Misali Island, off the coast of Zanzibar (Zanzibar is really a place, not JUST a multiplayer map on Halo 2). More news (in english) here. I was at a work function last night and got a phone call from a friend of mine, who sounded a bit “out of it” and she asked me if I had heard about the missing divers, and when I said yes, she informed me that it was her ex-boyfriend who was the Canadian Scuba Instructor who was missing. His name was Neil and he used to work for Seasports divers right here in Cayman on Seven Mile Beach. Apparently there's a lot of current around there, but there's also a whole bunch of little tiny islets. I didn't know Neil that well, but I'm keeping my fingers (and fins?) crossed that they turn up safe and sound with a week's beard growth on some little island.

Thursday, July 21, 2005 4:07:04 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Links | Underwater#
Thursday, June 9, 2005
There's a feature in Pluck called "perches" which is a shortened name of "Persistent Searches" and can be set up to scour Google, eBay or Amazon. I have Google perches set up on my full name and my online alias.
Thursday, June 9, 2005 7:19:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Links | Underwater#
Friday, May 6, 2005

If you know me very well at all, you'll know that Octopi are my favoritest sea creatures. I just dig 'em. I came across an article in the Anchorage Press about octopi and it was a really good article, about how they had two giant pacific octopi and got them to mate in captivity, which hadn't produced any viable offspring before. It had some cool pictures, and the article was actually quite long. I read the whole thing on my lunch break and I just felt the need to share it with you.

Looking at Layla's tank, it seems impossible. The screen is so fine you couldn't slip a pinky through it. The last time Layla was weighed she was about 16 pounds, and she's considerably bigger now. A mature female giant Pacific octopus can weigh as much as 50 pounds; a male, 100 pounds or more. Yet they can pass through any opening as wide as their beak, which is centered above their legs, at the base of their heads, and is about the size of a parrot's beak. An octopus beak is the hardest part of its body. It's the only thing that keeps Layla from squeezing through an opening as small as a napkin ring.”

Friday, May 6, 2005 11:20:57 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Underwater#
Friday, March 11, 2005

Came across this one today, already added it's XML address to my aggregator, and I'll add it to he blogroll down there on the right later on today.

Divester is it's name and it's a blog about: hold it now, Scuba Diving. Same company as Engadget and Hackaday, same software & commenting engine, too.

I happened to find it while the latest article was about tipping the boat crew.. something I know a lot about from both sides of it. It seems like they're trying to fill a desperately needed hole in the Scuba Diving media: all the big magazines are basically whores to their advertisers. They're honest about it, but they're still whores. :) These guys want to be a little more altruistic about their postings: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Only time will tell, but it should be a good read either way.

Website address:

RSS Feed:


Friday, March 11, 2005 11:52:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Links | Underwater#
Sunday, February 13, 2005
Underwater Pictures from Big Dipper/Little Tunnel & Spanish Anchor
Sunday, February 13, 2005 5:04:46 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Monday, November 1, 2004
OK so I was a day late... I still did my part (pic)
Monday, November 1, 2004 6:21:59 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Underwater#
Monday, October 25, 2004
Dive 2 from Sunday, October 24, 2004.
Monday, October 25, 2004 7:52:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Underwater#
I went diving Sunday with Fisheye. Trinity Caves first, which I cover in this post, and Chain Reef for the 2nd tank which I'll cover in the next post.
Monday, October 25, 2004 6:56:56 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [1] | Cayman | Underwater#
Monday, August 30, 2004

My temporary permit is through and I'm back to work as of 1:00 this afternoon. w00t! for pictures from yesterday

Monday, August 30, 2004 9:12:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Saturday, August 28, 2004
I don't know what it is about that girl, but when I dive with her, we see turtles.
Saturday, August 28, 2004 8:53:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Whoever said "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" was "full of shit, man". Canon Powershot S60 discussion.
Thursday, July 29, 2004 7:25:21 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Pictures | Underwater#
Sunday, July 18, 2004
The first of hopefully many posts in this new category, and a couple pictures from this morning's dive.
Sunday, July 18, 2004 2:23:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) | Comments [0] | Cayman | Underwater#
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