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UDC trimix team in Roatan for freediving World Record January 19, 2015

Posted by Utila Dive Center in freediving, tec diving, trimix diving.
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At the beginning of September 2014, Utila Dive Center’s trimix team was invited to participate as support divers for Eusebio and Christina Sáenz de Santamaría (a free diving couple and founders of Apnea Total) that decided to descend together in the discipline of Variable Weight in West Bay, Roatan.

Of course UDC was honored and accepted this special invitation, Jhair Herrera, CJ Howarth & Guillermo Peirano loaded our very own Old Tom boat on Friday 3th and traveled to Roatan to meet the whole crew and dive.

Eusebio & Christina’s goal was to establish a new world record as the world’s first dive of two people to descend on a weighted sled and ascend under their own power at the same time from a depth of 100 meters, which they successfully completed. It was all documented directly by the Discovery Channel and will air at the end of October 2014.

The logistics and security for the event was provided by Esteban Darhanpe, organizer of the Caribbean Cup free diving competition held in Roatan annually at the end of May.

Lets get technical…

The team was formed by:

  • Two Trimix divers, our very own Jhair & CJ, at 90 mts with 5 tanks each. As part of safety equipment, they carried a leash that in case the divers pass out on the bottom, they can tie them up and send them with a lift bag to the surface, which was not needed.
  • Guillermo Peirano was providing in-water coordination and support for the trimix divers during decompression.
  • Two recreational scuba divers at 20-40 mts with one tank each.
  • Three safety freedivers from Apnea Total, down to 30 meters.
  • Surface team.

Eusebio and Christina first prepared for the descent with a 45-minute warm up breathing exercise. The Trimix team took 6 ½ minutes to reach desired depth, and waited for the couple. A few moments later they saw the two divers reach depth and the divers began their ascent.

The Trimix team bottom time was 13 minutes, including descent time; they preformed 3 gas switches and had 59 minutes of decompression stops. The last stop was at 5 mts for 18 minutes on pure oxygen while getting friendly funny visits from the freedivers and wondering the official outcome of the world record. At the end on the surface, as an extra precaution, they breathed 5 more minutes of pure oxygen.

The whole crew enjoyed many smiles and excitement as they celebrated the record and got the opportunity to work together and share their passion for the underwater world.

To learn more and follow Eusebio & Christina story, visit their blog at
http://www.oneoceanonebreath.com/freediving-adventure-blog/freediving-world-record-tandem-variable-weight

Congratulations Ossie – 1st female Rebreather Instructor in Central America December 29, 2014

Posted by Utila Dive Center in courses, scuba diving.
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How fitting that on Earth Day (April22), marine biologist Ossie Stewart qualified with us as a PADI Poseidon Rebreather Instructor, and becomes the 1st female certified as a PADI Rebreather Instructor in Central America, congratulations Ossie!

Ossie originally trained with Utila Dive Center as a PADI Scuba Instructor and was employed with us for several years and is now the dive officer on board a Super Yacht and will now be overseeing all rebreather diving and training and allowing her divers a more enhanced dive experience with longer no decompression times.

DCIM100GOPRO

Sea Shepherd visits Utila Dive Center with the MV Brigitte Bardot November 25, 2014

Posted by Utila Dive Center in conservation, enviroment.
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After a successful patrolling mission in Guatemala where together with the Guatemalan Department of Fisheries enforced an anti-poaching operation, the 35mt vessel MV Brigitte Bardot arrived in Utila, Honduras on March 15th, 2014.

With the objective to help enforce local fishing laws in the region, the Sea Shepherd crew met with the community of Utila to listen what the needs are and how they can help better implement these laws. After several meetings, they now have open new doors for the protection of marine life in the area.

On Sunday, March 16th, a gathering with the Sea Shepherd crew and over 120 people was held at Utila Dive Center’s facilities to give our divers the opportunity to learn about who they are, what they do, ask questions and purchase t-shirts to directly finance the different projects around the world.

On the following day, Sea Shepherd opened its doors of the MV Brigitte Bardot vessel to the public, giving people the opportunity for a close up experience to the life on a boat and take plenty of pictures with the crew. Field trips where organized for schools, giving the young generation an interactive experience, witch is a rare opportunity in our precious little rock.

Now the Bay Island will have a permanent group of volunteers in Utila representing Sea Shepherd, gathering funds and working with the community finding ways to conserve and protect the marine environment from illegal activity in Honduras.

See more pictures of the presentation in the Facebook album

sea_shephers_presentation_at_utila_dive_center

sea_shepherd_crew_at_utila_dive_center

more info

Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization established in 1977. Their mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. There mostly know for the show Whale Wars on Animal Planet.

mv_brigitte_bardot

UDC is now 100% Aware October 18, 2014

Posted by Utila Dive Center in enviroment, partners, project aware.
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We’re proud to announce that in January 2014 and beyond Utila Dive Center will be supporting Project Aware as a 100% partner and financially supporting Project Aware by issuing an Aware version of every PADI certification card to all divers who get certified with us.

In addition to our support for the University of Queenslands/Project Aware ‘Coral Watch’ program with our coral reef surveying and monitoring, and our monthly clean up ‘Dive Against Debris’ events, we have also initiated the following measures through our facility and hotel for 2013/2014;

  • All light bulbs switched over to energy efficient rated bulbs
  • Solar panel installation at the hotel and for the pool pump
  • Installation of a ‘treadle pump’ (YouTube it!) at our dive center to save electricty and fresh water for our sanitation systems
  • No throw-away plastic plates/cups served anymore at our restaurant/bar
  • Issuing of re-useable non-plastic water bottles to all our PADI IDC Instructor candidates!

Once again we’re proud to leave the way not just in the training we offer all our divers, from beginner through to Instructor, but also in sustainable environmental practices.

You make a difference when you choose to train with Utila Dive Center, not just in the quality and standard of your dive training but also in what you do to make a positive difference to our precious aquatic environment, your future office!

Protecting Our Ocean Planet, One Dive at a Time! 

100% Aware

UDC partners with pioneer business in discount network in Honduras October 3, 2014

Posted by Utila Dive Center in discounts, partners, scuba diving, transportation, travel.
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Creating something new and innovative is not easy, specially when it involves multiple business around the country, but that is what the PromoDias Community has managed to achieve in a very short period of time.

The membership card from PromoDias.com is a tool designed to create benefits towards consumers in different business nation wide; and for two years in a row, the Mango Inn hotel and Utila Dive Center have been part of this community (one of the first to sign up on the island). With your membership we offer 15% discount in our rooms, courses and fun dives every day.

With this card you have access to all the discounts published in PromoDias.com available nation wide. You can purchase the membership directly with us or before arriving in Utila, that way you get the most out of the discounts on transportation, hotels and restaurants. You can see other points of sale here.

Take advantage of the discounts offered with a PromoDias membership during your travels!

Great discounts all over Honduras with the best business

Great discounts all over Honduras with the best business

New International Yacht Training courses at Utila Dive Center September 30, 2014

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In 2013, UDC’s PADI Divemaster and Instructor training raised the game once more, expanding our amazing and comprehensive curriculum and course offerings and partnering with International Yacht Training (IYT) to offer the Dive Boat Mate and Coxswain/Captains programs.  The IYT professionally recognized boating qualifications are specifically targeted to meet the needs of the scuba diving industry and to develop PADI professionals maritime knowledge and skills including practical boat driving experience. The Dive boat Mate courses were introduced due to demand from the diving industry and cover components relating to health, safety, engineering, legal and competency aspects that are required to safely operate such a boat.

The IYT/PADI Dive Boat Mate is being offered and scheduled in conjunction with our PADI Divemaster and MSDT internships, and for already certified PADI Divemaster and Instructors these courses can be offered as a stand alone program. We will be offering training all year round for the Dive Boat Mate course with a start date of the first week of each month and e-learning is completed independently though supported with our Instructors remedial training. The course allows our PADI pro’s to start tendering and driving boats as second command, logging sea time and once an individual has completed 180 days (4 hours = 1 day) of sea time, as dive boat crew, they are eligible to take the IYT Coxswain Boat Captains course, which we also offer at Utila Dive Centre.

The Captains & Coxswains license will be offered each quarter and candidates will be able to take this course once they have completed 180 days of sea time, as crew, will be able to complete their Captains license.

For candidates who are training to become PADI Instructors with us on our MSDT program, there is also the option to qualify as an IYT/PADI Dive Boat Mate Instructor, thereby increasing your own employment prospects and that of the future PADI Divemasters you train, and increasing your earnings potential and own maritime teaching experience.

Please see the following sections for more information on the IYT training and courses offered at Utila Dive Centre;

IYT/PADI Dive Boat Mate Crew (Recommended for all PADI Divemasters and Instructors with no sea experience required)

IYT Coxswains/Boat Captains License (For individuals with sea experience as crew)

First group of Dive Boat Mate & Coxswains, Instructors and Instructor Trainers on Utila in February 2013

First group of Dive Boat Mate & Coxswains, Instructors and Instructor Trainers on Utila in February 2013

There’s never been a better time to train as a PADI Divemaster or Scuba Instructor, with a growing dive industry worldwide, but also in recent years the expansion and growth of the yachting industry and recreational superyachts, makes this the perfect compliment to enhance your dive training and employability in dive resorts, and on day boats, liveaboard vessels and superyachts worldwide. Utila Dive Centre is the perfect facility to gain this experience and training, with a fleet of 6 licensed vessels for carrying passengers and dive crew, and with our own on-site docking area, bay and harbour for practice maneuvers, and dive trips scheduled every day to dive sites with mooring posts, and with drift dives, this is the perfect facility and location to gain experience and a maritime certification.

Contact us for more information on gopro@utiladivecenter.com and book early as we have very limited spaces on these programs each month/quarter (just 8 places each month for every IYT Dive Boat Mate course and 8 places each Quarter for IYT Captain/Coxswains course).

 

IYT graduates Leora & Sean completing their DiveBoat Mate training and Nic Hirtle & CJ Howarth their Coxswains certification. March 2014

IYT graduates Leora Guillonneau & Sean McDowell completing their DiveBoat Mate training and Nic Hirtle & CJ Howarth their Coxswains certification. March 2014

IYT logo

 

Utila Dive Community & Tec Divers Recover Abandoned Fishing Net In Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras. January 18, 2013

Posted by Utila Dive Center in scuba diving.
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In early January 2013, the personnel of the Bay Islands Conservation Association, BICA, discovered that a huge abandoned fishing net had drifted from the open sea onto “Raggedy Cay”, one of the popular dive sites on Utila’s West End, and was so big they were unable to lift or remove it, particularly as initial reports stated that the net was at a depth between 30 and 70 meters / 100 to 200 feet and as big as a volleyball court.

So BICA contacted all the scuba diving centers on the island, especially addressing Technical Divers to aid in the removal of the net in a joint effort and the next day Utila Dive Center sent a team to the dive site to research the actual depths and the size of the net in order to plan and execute the recovery in a single mission.  It was important to recover the net as early as possible to prevent any aquatic life becoming entangled in this underwater hazard and to prevent further damage to the beautiful fringing reefs on Utila.

From the tec divers initial survey it out, that the net was stretched out over about 150 feet (45 meters), about 10 feet (3 meters) wide and lying at a depth of 100 – 150 feet (30 – 45 meters).  After evaluating the net and video footage, UDC’s tec divers decided to organize one single mission for the recovery with different teams of both recreational and technical divers working together, executing separate tasks each that were carried out:

  • Team 1 descended, located the net and marked the spot by sending up a surface marker at the shallowest point of the net.
  • Team 2 then descended and attached a lifting device at that end of the net to gently and in a controlled manner start lifting up one end of the net.
  • Team 3 (a team of technical divers from UDC as well as a freelance instructor) was gently releasing the net from the reef, cutting it loose and leaving the weights on the bottom (the net was weighted down with several cinder blocks in intervals of about 20ft (6 meters).
  • Team 4 (also a team of technical divers from UDC) was responsible taking footage of the whole mission, in order to record size and location of the net, execution of the mission and casualties caused by the net.
  • Team 5 was the biggest team of divers and responsible for coordinating the lifting of the net with buddy teams being distributed along the length of the net, each controlling the lifting of their section and coordinating with all the other teams so the net could be lifted as a whole with minimal impact on the environment and keeping everyone safe at the same time.
  • Team 6 was on the boat lifting the net onto the boat itself.
Utila Dive Centre Sidemount diver cutting net

Sidemount diver cutting net loose of Utilas reef

Upon successful removal and lifting of the net, the two technical dive teams then had to complete their decompression using pure oxygen before surfacing, where the boats could pick them up with everyone else already having surfaced before.  All in all the mission was a great success: the logistics were complicated but the group as a whole worked in perfect harmony accomplishing the mission in less time than expected and planned for. The net was confiscated by BICA who will decide together with the local authorities on how to dispose of the net appropriately.

One of the teams tec profiles that was executed, conducted by trained tec divers using specialized equipment (Disclaimer: do not try this at home kids!)

Level    45mt/150ft     12:00    (15)    Air    1.16  ppO2,  150ft ead
Stop at    18mt/60ft      0:30    (20)    Air    0.59  ppO2,  60ft ead
Stop at    15mt/50ft      2:00    (22)    Air    0.53  ppO2,  50ft ead
Stop at    12mt/40ft      3:00    (25)    Air    0.46  ppO2,  40ft ead
Stop at    10mt/30ft      3:00    (28)    Air    0.40  ppO2,  30ft ead
Stop at    6mt/20ft      8:00    (36)    Oxygen    1.60  ppO2,  0ft ead

Utila Dive Community removing rogue fishing net from reef

Utila Dive Community removing rogue fishing net from reef

For the future, we will have a working system in place to remove any threats to the fringing reefs around Utila, in a timely and efficient manner, should a similar situation come up, and part of Utila Dive Centers tec training courses and mission based planning will focus on projects such as net recovery.  The Utila Dive Centers involved in the mission: Utila Dive Centre/UDC Tec (including freelance Tec Divers), Parrots Dive Centre and the Bay Islands College of Diving.

By Mary Peter PADI Trimix Instructor #274958

How to choose a wetsuit – guest post by Paul Tomlinson November 28, 2012

Posted by Utila Dive Center in scuba diving.
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We often get asked at this time of year, from November to January, when rain fall is more prevalent on Utila and throughout the Caribbean Bay Islands, what time of exposure suit should I use.  We have a selection of wetsuits at Utila Dive Centre for our divers and students, from 3mm shorties, to 3mm and 5mm full length one piece and two piece suits.  Most divers taking a PADI Divemaster or Instructor internship with us tend to like to have their own wetsuit, for comfort and good fit, and whilst a 5mm full length wetsuit might be excessive most of the year, when you’re in the water every day for several hours, ten in the cooler months it can make a big difference to your comfort levels.  This post is a guest post from writer Paul Tomlinson in the UK on how to choose a wetsuit.

How To Choose the Right Wetsuit For Your Dive Location

Getting the right wetsuit is the first part of enjoying any diving experience. Diving would be impossible in some situations were it not for the vast array of wetsuits available to suit the unique requirements of different dive locations. Whether you’re dive is in the sea, a lake, a river or in caves, a wetsuit will be your best friend whilst diving so it’s important to choose the right one.

Warm Water VS Cold Water Diving

Warm water diving is the most common, as it simply means diving in water which is above 6 degrees Celsius. Staying warm becomes a factor when cold water diving, as temperatures can drop quite low and the body will lose heat 25% quicker when in water.

Different Dive Locations

Here is a short list of some of the most common types of diving, and what to expect from them.

  • Reef Diving is the most common type of warm water diving and is usually suitable for divers of all levels. Reefs have good visibility, high temperatures, light currents, and tend to be relatively shallow.
  • Kelp Diving – swimming down amongst thick beds of kelp or seaweed – is performed in cold water and can be quite tricky for inexperienced or claustrophobic divers. This is a dark dive, but not as dark as night diving.
  • Wall Diving – this is a challenging dive, and anyone attempting it should make sure that their buoyancy is under control. Strong currents are a risk factor.
  • Technical Diving – this type of diving is certainly not for beginners. Specialist gear is required, as the dive is often very deep.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Wetsuit

Different locations will always demand different wetsuits. UK locations tend to be colder, meaning that a full wetsuit with hood is often advisable. Temperature is often the overriding factor when choosing a wetsuit, however visibility, manoeuvrability and even wildlife will all play a part. Some factors may be unanticipated, such as the higher rate of cases of hypothermia in warm water locations due to the increased discrepancy between body temperature and water temperature. Visit the Secret Spot site today to consult a professional before you purchase your new wetsuit.

On Utila our temperature varies year round from averages of 24-28c/78-84f and for dive times up to 60 minutes, a 3mm shorty is sufficient from April to September, and then we recommend a full length.  Divers who are just on a weeks diving vacation may find they feel colder towards the end of the week due to the body core thermal temperature being lowered after daily multiple dives, and so a hood can make a big difference.  For dive times over 60 minutes, usually with our PADI training sessions on Open Water courses, and for divers who are interning on our PADI Divemaster and PADI IDC programs, in-water sessions can often be 2-3 hours, and although much of this is at the surface, the body is still loosing heat so we recommend a 5mm full length for the cooler months of the year, October to March.  Of course this is a rough guide and will vary individual to individual based on surface area and body mass index.

The going-ons at UDC… October 4, 2012

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Appreciation and salutations from all of us at Utila Dive Centre. It’s been an amazing crazy year so far and things are still swinging as we head into rainy season. January, April, June and September all brought in Whale Sharks, keeping up Utila’s reputation for being one a few the unique places where they can be seen year round. We’ve also been regularly spotting dolphins to hop in with and have seen an upswing of sharks present in area, including Nurse Sharks, Hammerheads, and Caribbean Reef Sharks. The underwater visibilities continues to be crystal clear and the water is a balmy 28 degrees Celcius/82 degrees Fahrenheit, can’t ask for much better!

WHALE SHARK!  Photo by Sabine Templeton

The month of August saw yet another rocking SunJam out at Water Key. The event brought in ferry-fulls of divers and non divers alike to dance the night away to world renowned DJs under the stars, and then continue the party at Coco’s bar through Sunday. UDC staff and divers were out in full force partying beneath the palm trees; as working hard to play hard is what we do best!

August was a busy month as just a week after SunJam we went straight into the first-ever annual Utila Dive Festival. The fest was a week-long, island-wide string of events, beginning with a vibrate opening ceremony with barbecue, live music, introductions from PADI Americas representatives that came down for the week, and UDC’s own DJ Jhair getting the crowd moving late into the evening. The rest of the week brought awesome events such as an underwater scavenger hunt, Rebreather and Tec Sidemount try-outs, Scuba Olympics, Fish ID and Whale Shark talks, an underwater photo contest, an island-wide pub quiz, a boat parade in the harbor and much much more, with staff and divers from UDC taking home the majority of the top prizes! The week was a complete success and as exhausted as we were by the end of it, we can’t wait for next year!

Old Tom during Dive Fest.  Photo by Nikki Kelday

September came and went and with it went a cornerstone of the rotational instructor team for the past three years; our dearest Josiah “Juicy” Mackin has pick up and moved on. Recognizing an excellent excuse for a party or two, we sent Juice off with a bang! The week before he went saw his legendary quiz team Mammoth Cow score their final victory at the weekly UDC bar pub quiz, a Pig Roast for the weekly barbecue at Maya and Fernando’s, and last but certainly not least we shut down the dive center on Sunday afternoon and brought everyone over to Sarah and Dec’s for an epic pool party and Juicy’s final snorkel test! There was sunshine, a breeze and DJ Jhair spinning tunes, pretty hard to beat. THIS IS UDC!

Juicy and the Pig.  Photo by El Yeti

Dec and Sarah’s jam-packed pool!  Photo by Hannes Df

Happy 2012 from all of us at UDC! January 11, 2012

Posted by Utila Dive Center in Uncategorized.
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So friends, how many of you have still been writing 2011 every time you need to write the date!! (Perhaps that is just me….?!)

New Year is always a time to look back on the last year and to look forward to the new one. So first of all, we wanted to say thanks to all our customers in 2011. You were awesome and we loved being part of your diving adventures. If you were here to take your first breaths underwater…thank you for letting us share that with you. We will never get tired of the look of wonder on peoples´ faces as they see the underwater world we love. If you were here for Advanced classes or Specialties, then hopefully we have expanded your talents and skills. If you were here for Rescue…thank you for saving us! For those who did Tech, somehow one tank will never be enough again, will it? And for all our GoPros thank you for all your hard work, the fun we had and please keep in touch and tell us as you spread the UDC professionalism worldwide.

Highlights of the year…well almost too many to mention. Here are a few:

  • Winning the Instructor Development Centre of the year from PADI for the 2nd year running
  • Being awarded the Green Star in recognition of the environmental awareness we have and the work we do every day to promote that
  • All the fun we have had here, both diving and also the “surface intervals” outside of diving
  • Spectacular sunsets at the UDC dock with an ice cold beer
  • Clive building a hand glider that was SUPPOSED to fly off the dock
  • Setting up the new PADI Closed Circuit Rebreather program at UDC and with 3 Poseidon MKVI rebreathers!

Looking forward to 2012…what do we hope for. Well more of the same please! To every one of you that have visited previously, please hurry back to see us. To everyone who has not yet made it to Utila ….well what´s keeping you?

Here´s wishing you everything that you dream of for 2012 and hoping this is the best year EVER. Remember, it is up to you to grab the opportunities that come your way. Just think of the quote “because my worst nightmare is to wake up one day, old and grey, thinking about all the things I didn’t do…” Make this the year you DO!!!

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