Where a safe dive begins
Over the past decades, SCUBA diving has become a very popular activity and a wide part of the population is now enjoying it on holidays, during the weekend, as a hobby or as a profession. This growing enthusiasm is partly linked to the fact that it also has become a much safer activity compared to what it used to be, enjoying now a good image. Done properly and respecting a few basic rules, SCUBA diving is now very safe.
Thanks to a number of studies we understand better the effects of this activity over the human body and we dive safer profiles. The equipment has also gone a long way and thanks to a non stopping evolution, we now dive with safer equipment.
This mix of a better understanding of physiological and physical effects and better adapted gear results in divers being more in control, therefore, safer.
At Vibrations in Carabao Island, we cannot run studies on divers neither create new piece of diving gear, but there is always something we can do at our level to make you dive safer and make sure you will enjoy your time with us in Carabao 100% with a light mind. We obviously look after you during the dive and always make sure you feel comfortable, we like to share experiences and help you improve your skills, but safety for a dive starts way before getting under the surface.
We only opened recently and we are taking care of you since the day we received the whole bunch of brand new equipment. At first it was like Christmas before Christmas.
A Christmas with a LOT of presents. No need to say, Santa Claus doesn’t come all the way to Carabao Island; taking all this here was a complete adventure!
The choice of the equipment we use at Vibrations was based on manufacturer reliability, gear durability, ease to service and own experience. Here is our choice, read it because this is the equipment you will be diving with when you come to visit us in Carabao:
A mix of Scubapro and Subea masks, different shapes and sizes to make everybody happy. All with black skirt, it looks better 😉
Aqualung Calypso regulators. No need to talk about the reputation of Aqualung when it comes to regulators. This basic model is efficient, very robust and easy to service.
A few Apeks AT20 regulators to complete the set. One of the best brand around. Even being the entry model of the brand, they are fully balanced and offer great comfort at every depth.
Aqualung Pro BCD. Beautiful, comfortable and strong BC, with a few advanced features compared to the entry model Wave, without saying that we like more the blue look of it 🙂
Aqualung Colby wetsuit, 3mm, long, full black. Basic and efficient wetsuit. Try it now, they are still new! Just be prepared to use 2 kg more than usual.
Scubapro GO fins. Open heel but bare-feet fins, very light and with a short blade, inspired from technical diving fins for a better control underwater. After years trying to teach frog kick and reverse kick to students with long blade fins, we chose to go with the GO and we love them!
Suunto Zoop Novo dive computers, simply because they are the best for a dive school. Easy to use, easy to read, easy to understand and robust.
A bunch of no-brand snorkels, because a snorkel is a snorkel and it doesn’t need to be fancy.
Catalina tanks. Catalina or Luxfer are the only options (if we leave aside the Chinese stuff coming now). Both are very good, in our opinion Catalina is better, thicker neck and more durable threads.
Sherwood valves. Both DIN and A-clamp friendly, so we can welcome all your regulators on our tanks.
It feels good to unpack all this brand new equipment and we were impatient to try it all, but before bringing everything underwater, a few checks needed to be done. That is where your safety starts depending on us. Scary, isn’t it?
Not at all, because we are professionals and we like when things are done properly. Safety first here! A quick check on the small material: no holes on the snorkels, no holes on the wetsuits, two legs and two arms on each, nice bungees on the fins. No much fun here, but easy and necessary.
Then come the masks. Talking about a boring day? Take them one by one, burn them, clean them, burn them again, clean them, try them, burn again the ones that are still foggy (still??), clean them, etc. All that in order to make sure you will be able to see us asking you if you are OK underwater. And of course, make sure you don’t miss the beauty of underwater Carabao Island during your dive, that’s why you’re here after all, not to look at us, right?
Now comes the big stuff…
Real safety involved. Diving is a lovely activity and offers the possibility to immerse one in the beauty of nature, but first of all, it is an activity in which we entirely depend on our equipment. Diving involves expensive equipment that needs to be serviced and looked after, your life depends on it. OK, most of the failures won’t result in a catastrophic issue, but at least your comfort and the way you will enjoy the experience rely on a good and well maintained equipment.
Nevertheless, some equipment failure at depth can result in a very hazardous situation and it is better to know who’s hands you put your safety on.
This being said, it is now time to check our lovely new regulators. In most cases, the first stage will come with the primary second stage already mounted. First thing is to make sure it is assembled with the right torque or it could result on a bad surprise after a few dives, like an unexpected (quite important) leak. Most of them didn’t have enough torque.
Next step is to mount the other parts to the first stage, check all hoses, and finally you want to make sure your regulator is correctly adjusted, checking the intermediate pressure of the first stage and the « cracking pressure » of the second stage. Make sure mouthpieces are secured, gauges are accurate… Perform a dry test and if everything is OK, go for a dive and perform a wet test.
A good and well deserved occasion to chill on the beautiful reef here on Carabao Island ;). Take the next regulator and repeat.
Checking the BCDs is fairly easy, just make sure they inflate all the way, dumping air by the dump valves when full and that there is no leak. Low pressure hose comes with the BCD and is not part of the regulator; of the 10 we checked, one was defective, with a very slow inflation rate. It was returned to Aqualung who immediately changed it for an effective one.
Finally come the tanks and valves. When manufactured, tanks are hydro tested and visually inspected but it is never a bad idea to carry a visual inspection by yourself when first assembling them, and before you fill them for the very first time. We have a look inside to make sure they are new, check the neck for manufacturing defect and check the threads using a thread gauge. Together with the tank, we check the valve we are going to put on it, and here too, we use a specific thread gauge to ensure they are good.
A tank valve is holding 1 ton of pressure when the tank is full, bad threads could result in a catastrophic issue. Big problems already occurred from that, including a sunken live-aboard (and we are talking about a big boat) resulting from a valve that detached from the tank.
At Vibrations dive center, the walls and roof are made of wood and so are the diving boats around Carabao Island, so we leave your imagination draw the picture of what would happen if a valve would decide to leave its beloved tank because of a threads situation.
Of the 22 tanks and 22 valves that we checked, one valve was defective. Returned to provider and changed for a good one.
We are sure that your gear is in good condition and operating properly. The last step is to fill your tanks with the best air quality, and this depends on a well maintained and serviced compressor with periodically changed filter components and running oil. As soon as we got it here in Carabao Island (which is an other long story), we filled it up with clean oil and changed all filter components before we first ran it. Running this little beast here has been another passionating and long (very long) adventure that we won’t tell you here. You will have to come and visit us to know about it.
Setting up a dive center in a remote place like Carabao is not an easy thing, especially when you don’t want to take shortcuts and like to go the proper way, but we are passionate by what we do and we want to encourage and promote the good way of diving. Safety for you, safety for us, safety for the environment. Respect yourself and respect your environment. This is a process that starts way before putting your head underwater and goes way after you are back on the boat.
Spread the good word back home, share our love for the ocean, share our emphasis on good diving practices, share the Vibrations.
Guillaume & Manu.