Cru Cafe Opens

The grand opening of Crü Cafe is Friday, June 2nd. We stopped by today for a soft opening. Had sandwiches, coffee, and pastries. There’s a large heavy wood table for 8, smaller tables for couples or singles.

An enviting couch is placed with a low table in front of a faux fireplace. This could be very comfortable in the winter months, and was certainly looked good on this particularly warm summer-ish day in May.

Music in the styles of Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick Jr. played on the sound system.

The owner, Izell, was a Marine and served in Afghanistan. Supporting our wonderful American-owned businesses here at home is a pleasure. Her daughter brought food and drinks to our table, was very personable, and along with her mom was willing to accommodate the desires of two somewhat choosy individuals.

I made the suggestion to include lemon bars, because they’re my favorite, and I would stop by often just for those tasty delights. Hopefully they follow up and include them in their mix of pastries, sandwiches and hot and cold beverages.

Crü Cafe is located in Mission Viejo, in the old Von’s shopping center on Los Alisos, just down the road from the Ayres Suites you can see from the 241 Toll Road. It will a good place to stop at early or late. Very nice environment, food was excellent, and service fantastic. I know they’ve signed a 5 year lease, so wishing them every success. So far, excellently done.

Click here for their Facebook page. 

 

Calculating Dive Weight

Divers must add weight to overcome the natural buoyancy of their exposure suit and air cylinder, the air in their lungs, the type of water they’re in, and their experience level.

A nice calculator exists at Dive Buddy dot com. Just plug in the numbers, and you will be shown the amount of weight you need to overcome buoyancy. Try it out. It’s at least a starting point. You may need to experiment with adding or subtracting weight during your various dives.

The calculator allows for your weight, experience, exposure suit, scuba tank, and water type.

Click here to visit the Dive Buddy calculator.   (Link opens a new window.)

Why Choose Sea Stallion Scuba?

I was looking for a place close to home to do my scuba training. A place that would fit my schedule, be easy to work with, and have some personality. A shop where I could get my questions answered, even the ones I didn’t know I had.

I picked Sea Stallion Scuba after typing “scuba training” into Google. It came up as a location close to my workplace, and not too far from my home. Thinking it would be worth checking into, I stopped in after work.

Jules greeted me with a cheery hello. At first she thought I was an instructor looking for a new BC. Not sure how that happened, but after giving her proper info, she quickly understood I was a total diving newbie looking to get started.

I must have spent a solid hour just asking questions. She answered every one of them and never put any pressure on to make a decision about anything. Just cheerfully went about sharing her passion for diving.

Fortunately for me, there was nobody else in the shop that day. Maybe not the best for them, but for me, having her undivided attention was crucial to my success.

Before I left, I purchased a mask and snorkel. I felt I needed to begin a pact with myself to “do this.”

The next day, I was back. I signed up for classes and a boat dive off Catalina. And bought a regulator.

Then I bought a wetsuit, a BC, fins, gloves, booties, my Octo, and a computer. I mean, I did a total dive package, purchasing like a crazed person. I didn’t want to do my training in rented gear.

Overall, Sea Stallion took in nearly $4,000 from me alone. I was happy to hand over the money.

The bottom line is simple. If Jules had not been as gracious and sweet as she was, I may not have pulled the trigger like I did. I don’t know what I would have done or not done. Sales is a funny thing. The customer often doesn’t know what is really wanted or needed. Sometimes the customer just has cash to burn, and wants the best stuff. Other times they may be on a budget.

Regardless of the customer’s means, what is most important is that the sales person, Jules in this case, treats them with decency and makes them feel important. There is a desire to be treated well, and to strike up a relationship with the dive shop people, that can only be met by people who sincerely care about other people. Or, if they really don’t give a shit, they fake it really well. I can see through the fakery, however, and so can others.

I highly recommend Sea Stallion Scuba. In fact, one of my work mates is using them for her training now. And a couple of other friends are going on the boat dive to Catalina, at my recommendation. See how one thing leads to another? I’m sure Sea Stallion Scuba will benefit from Jules’ exemplary actions over and over again.

Finally, I should mention Steve. He was just as helpful, and knows the technical stuff inside out. A great guy. Should you visit the shop, I hope you find your experience to be as great as I have found mine.

First Scuba Tank Purchase

Stopped by the scuba shop today and bought a new steel Faber 80 cubic foot tank. Looked into the brand, and discovered they’re made in Italy, with hundreds of thousands of cylinders made.

Why steel instead of aluminum? Primarily because steel doesn’t change buoyancy as it is depleted of air, like aluminum does. With aluminum, the diver becomes more buoyant as air is used up in the cylinder, making it a little more tricky to achieve consistent buoyancy throughout a dive.

Steel tanks have thinner walls, but are heavier before you get in the water. This doesn’t really affect me, and wasn’t a concern when I was considering steel vs. aluminum.

So now my system is complete. All I need to do is show up for the next beach dive and get it done. As soon as my knee is healed, I’ll be in the water.

Now I just need to find some great stickers to put on the new tank to really make it complete. My name and phone number are probably a good idea as well.

 

XS Scuba Faber High Pressure Steel Tank Features

  • XS Scuba Faber High Pressure Steel Tank
  • Nitrox Ready Up to 40%
  • Most Widely Sold Cylinder Type
  • Great Buoyancy Characteristics:
    Buoyancy Full: From -2.42 lbs. to -9.41 lbs. (-1.1 kg to 4.3 kg), Size Dependent
    Buoyancy Empty: From -1.2 lbs. to 2.35 lbs. (-0.54 kg to 1.1 kg)
    Buoyancy Better for Back Inflation Style BCD’s (Wings)
    Shed the Lead
  • Weight: From 28.3 lbs. to 42.4 lbs. (13 kg to 19.4 kg)
  • Diameter: From: 7.25″ to 8.0″ (10 cm to 20.3 cm)
  • Height: From: 20.8″ to 26.85″ (53 cm to 68 cm)
  • Construction:
    Deep Drawn Chromium Molybdenum Steel
    Triple Protected Zinc Sprayed
    Epoxy and Polyurethane Painted
    Round Bottom Cylinder
  • Note:
    All Faber Cylinders Meet Certificated Specifications of US Department of Transportation (DOT) with Special Permit Number 13488
    Meet Specification of the Transport Canada (TC) with Special Permit Number SU7694-237
  • XS Scuba PVD Pro Valve
  • Standard Yoke Outlet with Spin-Out DIN Insert Converts to 230 bar (3,336 psi) DIN Outlet
  • 1/4″ Hex Key Wrench Removable DIN Insert
  • 3/4″ – 14 NPSM Standard Inlet Threads
  • 1.5 Hand Wheel Rotations from Fully-On to Fully-Off
  • 5/32″ Hex Key Dip Tube Included
  • Tough Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Finish
  • Same Finish Found on High End Watches and Faucets
  • Durable Scratch Resistant Finish gives Valve a “Tech Look”
  • Service Pressure: 3442 psi (240 bars)
  • New Unique Color Coded Safety Hand Wheel
  • Red” Valve is Completely Of
  • Green” Valve is Completely Open and Ready for Divin
  • Chrome Plated Durable Brass Valve Stem
  • Teflon Coated Valve Seat
  • O-Ring Sealed Bonnet
  • Easy Grip Rubber Hand Wheel

Atomic Venom Frameless Dive Mask

This is the nicest mask I’ve ever owned, and simply the most comfortable mask, too. Vision is outstanding. Quality exceptional. And did I mention comfort? Wow.

The info below is from the Atomic Aquatics website. This is, indeed, eye candy, just as they say it is.

One other thing. It has a coolness factor described as “wicked” by many. Mostly marketing, but all the same, I like where the company is going with their products. Except for my BC and exposure suit, my equipment is made by Atomic Aquatics. It’s just great stuff.

Received this mask on Monday, May 8, 2017. Burned the lens to remove silicone mold release agent and treated with anti fog goop.

 

Knee Arthroscopy

It was 12 years ago that I had my first arthroscopy on the left knee. At that time, the meniscus was found to be torn, so it was trimmed. The pain I had before the procedure was gone.

On Friday, April 5, 2017, I had another knee arthroscopy on the same left knee. The pain had come back–for the last 5 months on and off at first, then every day, and aching at night when trying to sleep. Plus there was an unsettling popping from time to time when accidentally twisting and flexing the joint simultaneously.

The procedure went extremely well. Anesthesia was the best ever, with no residual drunkenness. Pain was never really an issue, and I didn’t get the Norco script filled. Just took a single Aleve, then a couple of Tylenol tabs six hours later. That’s it.

Kept a lot of ice on the knee Friday and Saturday. And a little ice on Sunday, which happened to be my birthday. I probably could have picked a better time to have this done, except when the doc says, “I have time Friday” which is two days away… well, there’s no time like the present to get this done.

Had to cancel my dive trip to Catalina on May 14, but it’ll happen again on June 10, so I’m planning on it. Should be 100% by then.

My Dive Gear Catalog

Get everything together in one place with purchase dates. Regulators, BCs, and such have to be checked on a regular schedule. Some are annual, some are every two years. Here’s my list.

Equipment List

Atomic Aquatics Frameless Mask — APR 4, 2017
Atomic Aquatics SV2 Snorkel — APR 4, 2017
Atomic Aquatics Blade fins — APR 11, 2017
Atomic Aquatics Blade split fins — MAY, 2017
AquaLung booties — APR 11, 2017
Atomic Aquatics Spring Straps — APR 11, 2017
AquaLung SolaFX Semi Dry dive suit with hood — APR 14, 2017
Atomic Aquatics B2 Regulator — APR 14, 2017
Atomic Aquatics Z2 Octo — APR 14, 2017
Atomic Aquatics Cobalt 2 dive computer — APR 14, 2017
AquaLung Dimension i3 buoyancy compensator BC — APR 14, 2017
Faber Steel 80 cu ft Tank — MAY 11, 2017

Have also purchased a complete Shark Skin suit and hood, plus Wetsox which you put on your feet first, then pull on your wetsuit. They make getting that rubbery thing on much simpler, and provide additional warmth for the feet. The Shark Skin adds an additional layer of warmth under the main suit. Shark Skin socks are also available, so I picked up a pair as well.

A couple of dive knives and a wheeled case in which to store all the gear, and I’m ready. At some point, a good underwater light will be obtained. For now, I’m all set.

Crescent Bay Laguna Beach

I decided to get down to Crescent Bay in Laguna Beach to see what it’s all about, since the dive class was cancelled, just to check it out. 

The dive class was cancelled due to high surf, but my legs still work, so I checked it out. About that “high surf”… well, there were a few 3 footers that came crashing through, but I think it would have been possible to get through with the right timing. I guess it’s too much risk for the newbies, so when surf is 1-2 feet, that’s when we’ll go again.

There’s a nice easy approach with no steps to this beach. There’s also an approach on the north end with steps. Either way works. For me, I’ll choose the steps. Less chance to slip when carrying 80 pounds of gear. I can’t imagine falling down loaded up with everything. Something would probably break, most likely me.

The beach seems nice enough. It was morning, around 8 a.m.  and the tide was beginning to come in. I didn’t stay too long, just long enough to have a look around and take some photographs, which appear on this page.

Photo below is looking to the south. I don’t know who’s in the picture. Some local person most likely. Or a visitor form Kansas? I also wonder who lives in the home perched along the edge of the cliff. So many cool places.

Check this out. The place is out of this world. Conjures up all sorts of stories in my mind.

Looks like a good place to dive from. Easy access, and the reef appears to be easy to reach as well. Being stuck on the surface for the time being, due to recent knee surgery, this is the best I can do until the wounds are healed and I can get in the water.

Photo below, looking north. Reminds me a bit of Dana Point, the way the earth juts out into the ocean.

At least I know where we will be diving from now, and carrying the gear won’t be an issue. The steps below are one way up or down. I think I’ll use the steps instead of the path because the steps are just easier for me.

After exploring the beach and the approach to the beach, it was time to head back to the car. Since I’m recuperating from surgery, I had to ride shotgun in this beast. Oh, it’s such a chore to ride in the Corvette. It would have been easier to get into the car if the curbing wasn’t nearly at the same level as the floor of the car. Anyway, I made it. My journey to Crescent Bay is complete for now. Next time I go, it will be with my gear for my first ocean dive.

 

 

 

Open Water Diver

img_4200For anyone interested in learning the ways of the scuba diver, this is the place to start. Get your certification, then continue your journey into the ocean realm. Follow along with me if you’d like, I’m always up for company.

I started in my hot tub. The 500 gallon tank in my back yard was a super safe place to play in the water. I had my goggles, a regulator, and a tank of air, so I strapped them on and went diving. It may be silly, but the first time I was able to see clearly underwater, and actually take a breath, was just a fantastic thing.

Anyway, to date, I’ve finished all the work that needs to be done up to the point of getting my ocean dives done.

It starts with signing up for a class. I chose SSI, which stands for Scuba Schools International. There are many options, PADI and NAUI being others that teach diving skills. The primary reason for using SSI is that I don’t have to do things in lockstep order. They seem to be more flexible with your schedule and learning needs.

So, you sign up. I signed up with Sea Stallion Scuba in Lake Forest, CA. It’s only a 4 mile drive from my home. One one weekend, starting on Saturday morning at 8 a.m., we covered classroom and pool activities. However, prior to the classroom bit, you have to be registered for the SSI Open Water online course. The cost was $70 for the online learning portal access. I must add that the videos, and instruction there are top notch. Excellent photos, videos, the works. It’s well worth the $70 even if you never went one step further in your diving education. Not that you’d do that, of course!

Back to the classroom.

Saturday morning, 8 a.m. meet with the dive instructor. For 4 hours, we go over material from the online portion, his notes, and videos. Open discussion, questions, the works. Then we break for lunch. Meet in the back of the shop at noon to pick out wetsuit and BC, tanks, weights. Then head over to the pool in Nellie Gail Ranch for the first pool session.

You learn how to put on you wetsuit. How to put on your tank. How to do whatever it is you need to do or don’t know how to do already.

Do 2 laps of the pool swimming, and tread water for 10 minutes in the deep end of the pool. If you can’t swim, well, what are doing in the water, right? Most people can actually swim, though you might think that’s not really necessary if you have all your scuba gear on and working.

After 4 hours in the pool, doing all kinds of drills, you head back to the dive shop to return your gear.

Sunday morning, meet again at 8 a.m. for more classroom instruction. Our class decided to take the final written test at the end of the classroom instruction. We all finished the 50 question, multiple choice test in about 20 minutes. The test is are review of the online training module, and any notes the instructor may have added. It’s easy, straightforward, and no trick questions are involved. You can miss 10 questions, which means passing is 80%. If you miss a question and can defend your answer, the instructor will not count the missed question against you. Everyone passes.

We then headed to the pool for another 4 hour session, learning how to share air with your dive buddy, locate you regulator, manage buoyancy, and a lot more. You’re preparing for your first open water dive in the ocean. One the pool is complete, you head back to the shop to return your stuff.

My recommendation is to purchase your own gear, and train in your own gear. Making the commitment was the hardest part for me. For some reason, I had reservations that I couldn’t really pinpoint. So I just took the plunge and the commitment part followed immediately. Sometime you just have jump in the water and forget dipping a toe in there first.

Now, I’m waiting to do my first beach dive. We dive out of Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach. That is where I’m headed in about 30 minutes. Going to check it out. I heard the waves were 4 to 5 feet today, which is not good for newbie divers. The scheduled beach dive was cancelled because of this “high surf” which is great for surfing, but not for newbie divers struggling to get beyond the break. Dealing with crashing waves when you’re weighed down with 80 pounds of gear isn’t the easiest thing to do, so they say.

I’ll pick another day, maybe next weekend. And I’ll keep you posted!

To recap:  Call a dive shop. Ask about training. Even better, drive to the dive shop closest to you and talk to the friendly person there about training. They’ll give you the full scoop. You will need to own the basics before your first pool day–a minimum requirement for our shop was fins, mask, snorkel. The rest is provided as part of your training. Again, I encourage you to purchase your own gear. Not a requirement, but well worth it.

Photo below:  That’s me with the silver hair, bent over with the blue and red tank. Just trying to center the weight over my legs. The other folks are on their knees, because this is some heavy gear. You’ll see. This is also a great motivator to get in shape! My position in the photo is also the position a diver assumes when he or she has the “bends.” But that’s a whole different story, which I will address in a later post.

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