Jan 29, 2012 - Mike's Top Ten: No. 9

Photo of the Week
Title: The Garden Window - The wreck of the Shinkoku Maru is known for her remarkable
corals. This view out the starboard windows in the pilot house is but one example.
Truk Lagoon©2008 www.evolutionunderwater.com

Just a Few Words First
     This weeks Dive Blog Report is a continuation of my personal top ten dives in my life (so far). In part I, you heard about my  experience on the USS Perry in Palau.  Read here if you missed it.  In this issue I will tell you about a dive I made to the stern of the "SS President Coolidge" in Vanuatu to retrieve 20 seconds of footage for my first documentary aptly named, The Wreck of the SS President Coolidge. Read the blog to find out more.

     Also within this blog, I have included a Photo Tip of the Week  on diving with a non-photographer and the complications that can arise. Find out how not to loose your spouse or loved one as a buddy.

     If you haven't already, please sign up for my Dive & Photo Newsletter here. I should have a new edition out this week. Within the newsletter you will find stories and current events in diving and marine conservation and updates on what is happening in my part of the dive world.  Here is a copy of the last edition.

     Just a reminder to all of you who are planning on attending the Beneath the Sea Dive Expo in New Jersey this March, I will be presenting and conducting a photo workshop on wreck photography.  I will also be conducting presentations on my documentary film, "The Wrecks of Truk Lagoon" and one on "Wreck Diving with Sand Tiger Sharks of NC". Click here for more details or check out the newsletter above.

     Yesterday Jan 28, Olympus Dive Center managed to pull off a dive trip on board the M/V Olympus, to the U-352 and the Spar. Reliable word has it the visibility was around 20 or so feet. Not bad for the end of January. Why did I not dive with the Olympus some of you might ask? I have no excuse. Guilty as charged for not wanting to dive in winter water. Shame on me.

Happy Diving,

-Mike Gerken

Mike's Top Ten Dives

No. 9
SS President Coolidge Stern

The stern of the SS President Coolidge.
(Photo courtesy of Richard Harris©www.divedoc.net)
     At 650' in length, SS President Coolidge was at one time know as the largest accessible shipwreck in the world. That was until Bikini Atoll opened up and divers started getting a glimpse of the WWII era aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga. Regardless of what wreck is the largest, the Coolidge is immense in more ways than one. I had the privilege of getting acquainted with this historical wreck in 2006, while taking an extended leave of absence from my job in Truk Lagoon (see previous blog).

     My dear friend, Jennifer Spry, at the time was the manager of the dive operation, Aquamarine in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu. Santo, as the island is known for short, was home to the location of a large US military facility in the south pacific during WWII known as Luganville. Jennifer had been telling me about this incredible wreck, the 'Coolidge' for some time and I figured I had to see her for my own two eyes.

     The Coolidge was a luxury passenger liner that was built in the early 30's and cruised exotic locations all over the world. When WWII started the 'Coolidge' was converted to a troop transport ship to ferry men and supplies from the US to the Pacific theater of battle. On October 26, 1942, the 'Coolidge' struck a friendly US mine while entering the channel leading in to Luganville. The captain grounded the ship and more than 5,000 crew and army personnel safely evacuated the doomed ship before she sunk 90 minutes later.  Miraculously, there was a loss of only two lives in the sinking. Today, the Coolidge is one of the most famous wreck dives in the Pacific Ocean if not the world.

The SS President Coolidge in her heyday.
     When I arrived in Vanuatu in May of 2006, my goal was to shoot some video of the wreck, take a few still images and drink a few local beers for the next four months. What happened instead was, I became enthralled with the scope of the history and physical size of the wreck not to mention, the incredible array of WWII artifacts that are readily seen on the site. With a little coaxing and help from Jennifer, I set out to produce the documentary, The Wreck of the SS President Coolidge.  My beer drinking days on a lounge chair were now numbered.
The SS President Coolidge moments after striking
 a mine and running aground.
     Each day I was to visit a new segment of this behemoth wreck and capture the highlights and add them to the film. The wreck when she sank rolled on her side and slid off the reef only a few hundred feet from shore with the bow sitting in about 90' of water and the stern in a precarious 225'. Collecting shots from the forward section of the ship was fairly simple since depths were less than 150'. I scratched off the forward cargo holds, laden with machinery, from the shot list first, while footage of the dining room and super structure followed next with the engine room and galley to come later.

     As the months rolled by, I collected hours of video, but had yet to make it to the stern in about 210'-220' of water where the Coolidge name is still legible on the fantail. At those depths, carrying a 30lb underwater video system while carrying enough gas to make the dive required a little coordination and planning with the assistance from the dive shop staff. 
The stern of the 'Coolidge'.

     One of the owners, Barry Holland, volunteered to make a dive with a few of his staff the day before the shoot to scrub the letters on the stern clean off debris so they would appear legible and bold for the shot. This was no small task since they would have to use trimix in order to stave off narcosis and to shorten their decompression time. (To learn more about trimix click here.) The Helium gas used to make trimix is very expensive on the mainland and even pricier after it has been toted out to a remote Pacific island nation. I was grateful and  indebted to Barry and his team for doing this and helping make this film the best it could be. 

     Later that day, Barry returned from the dive with a big grin on his face which indicated the mission was successful and that they had a good time in the making.  The following day it would be my turn to head down to the stern to get the footage needed to wrap this project up.  We would be carrying twin tanks with trimix, a single bottle of 32% nitrox for getting to and from the stern, plus a tank of pure Oxygen for accelerated deco at 15ft.  In addition, I would be humping my trusty Sony VX-2000 video camera housed in a Sea & Sea housing. By the way, this water proof housing was rated to only 200 feet which is another reason why I waited until the last dive before taking the camera to the stern at 220'. If it should flood at least it would happen at the end of the shoot.

"The Lady and Her Unicorn", the jewel of the 'Coolidge'.
     I explained to Barry that I was going to be very focused on shooting video and I would need him to watch my back extra close, since my attention would be distracted from the skills required to safely accomplish this deep dive.  Holding a camera steady, composing a shot and making sure everything is working is complicated enough, but when you add the strict dive times and depth limitations to the tasks  it can only make matters worse, especially when you are contending with an already fogged mind from narcosis. Barry was to be the lead and I would follow him to the letter without question.

     Early the next morning, Barry and I, along with some of his crew, headed down to the beach and began kitting up for the dive. "Gas on", check; "reg test", check; "camera working", check, as we went down the list one item at a time. Once all was set we began to wade in to the water with all our gear on and my camera in hand. We would have to swim several hundred feet on the surface carrying full gear. If you have never had to swim on the surface without the use of SCUBA while wearing 200 lbs of gear, I highly recommend it. By time we made it to the buoy we just floated on our backs for a few minutes until we caught our breath. Being over exerted before you even start your dive is not a good thing. After a short rest it was time to go.
The engine control room.
     After a simultaneous flick of our thumbs to the down position, we began our long decent to the stern. We headed down the line until we had a visual of the wreck and then headed straight for the stern. With camera rolling and fins fluttering pretty soon the starboard side prop shaft came in to sight. The props was removed some years ago during a salvage operation, but the scene was impressive all the same. I then took a few wide angle shots before proceeding to the fantail to get the 20 seconds of footage that was an absolute must to complete this film. With my depth gauge reading 220' my head was spinning just a tad especially since we were having to fight a moderate current and my breathing rate was up.

     I instructed Barry to pose in front of the letters, but not to look in to the camera. I needed a model in the shot for scale and to add a human element. After taking a few pan shots with a few different takes, it was time to start our ascent. We looped around the fantail deck where a 5" cannon took the place of deck chairs that once held pampered guests looking out over the vast expanse of the ocean behind them. I kept the video camera running and made sure I stayed close to Barry. At this point he controlled the entire dive. I barely looked at my dive computer and just kept filming.
The telegraph repeater with the last command,
"Finished With Engines".

     With the Coolidge lying on a steep angle, the ascent, rather than straight up, took place while diving the length of the wreck from the inside. The further we swam up the wreck the shallower it got. It is easy to get side tracked and stay down too long with an ascent such as this. Barry being the pro that he was kept us on our planned route stopping only briefly to look at artifacts deep within the wreck. At one point he pointed to me and indicated to stop holding 2 fingers up. At first I wondered why is he stopping since we were still deep inside the wreck. After looking at my depth gauge I realized why. We were at 110' and it was time for our first deco stop! This was the first time I ever made a 110' deco stop while still inside a wreck.

     After a few minutes we then proceeded up the wreck towards the shallow end of the bow. The closer we got to the surface the clearer my head became and I had more time to reflect on the awesome dive we just experienced. I was very confident that the footage I shot of the stern was acceptable, but I wouldn't know for sure until I got it on to my computer.
Diving the 'Coolidge' isn't all rusty metal.

     Once Barry and I made it to the tip of the bow, we were still at approximately 80' and finally had to leave the wreck and start our swim up the steep bank of the Segond Channel towards the beach. What is nice about performing deco dives on the Coolidge is you get to do your stops on the reef on the way up rather than gripping an anchor line and whipping in the current. There are plenty of marine creatures and corals to preoccupy your time as you watch the minutes tick off your mandatory stops.

     Finally we make it to the final stop at 15' where we switch to O2 and relax doing fin pivots in the sand and watch marine life do their thing. The excitement of the dive was still fresh. Not only did I get the final clip to my film I also received a grand tour through the deep end of the wreck. I'd say one of the highlights besides the stern was the sniper rifle that Barry pointed out to me inside the wreck with a scope still attached. Since it is illegal to remove artifacts from the wreck items such as these are common sight. For a history buff such as myself, that is a thrill.

The immense spare anchor.
     After what seemed like an eternity, we finished our last minute of deco and with a flick of our thumbs pointed up we ascended to the surface. With masks now removed, I could smile fully and Barry looked at me with a grin and said, "How's that?" Fantastic may have been my reply or another superlative of the same meaning.  I couldn't thank him enough and wished I had a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the moment, but I didn't think to pack one.

    After tossing our gear in to the van we raced back to the shop to share the details of the dive with all the staff and Jennifer. Pretty soon after that I was back in my room downloading the footage I had taken. I quickly realized that the effort put forth to obtain 20 seconds of footage was well worth it. This dive would become the final scene in the film and was a perfect way to end it.  Some of you may note the divers swimming past the rudder with only a single tank on there back. Those divers had dived the Coolidge extensively and proved they had the skills to do a bounce dive to 180'.  Some have asked me why were they allowed to do this. I cannot answer that except they were very competent divers and Aquamarine's safety record had been nearly spotless. They ran a safe operation. (Aquamarine has since then has been sold and I have not returned since 2006, therefore I  cannot comment on performance since this time.)

A rare color image of the SS President Coolidge.
    After I left Santo a few weeks later I returned to the states to do some research on the ship by collecting archival film and stills from museums and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). I spent the next several months completing my first documentary that was produced on a shoestring budget. The result was a historical presentation on the SS President Coolidge like none done before. There is little hope of this version ever making it to broadcast since most everything you see today is shot in high definition (HD) while this footage is in the standard format (SD). Regardless, the documentary has gone on to become a cult classic with 'Coolidge' aficionados from Australia and New Zealand where in that region the wreck is considered the sport divers "Mount Everest". The 'Coolidge', although known somewhat throughout US dive circles, has yet to attract a wider audience from the States. I'm hoping one day this will change and tourism in Vanuatu will start attracting visitors far and wide. This wreck should not be missed if you have the opportunity. She is a show stopper and deserves a place in my top ten.

The final scene from the documentary film,
"The Wreck of the SS President Coolidge".

To see more video from,
 The Wreck of the SS President Coolidge
or to buy your DVD please visit, www.evolutionunderwater.com. 
The DVD,
The Wreck of the SS President Coolidge

Photo Tip of the Week

     Underwater photographers make the worst dive buddies. There, I said it; I'm a terrible dive buddy. There is nothing more distracting to a photographer who has to constantly look over their shoulder to check on their buddy or to race to keep up with a dive group. Your ability to focus on your task is considerably hindered. Maintaining healthy dive buddy relationships is very difficult. Many dive couples have been ruined from this conflict in interest. A diver not shooting wants to swim, explore and see it all and I can't say as I blame them. A photographer wants to be methodical, move slow, study and work a subject until he or she has nailed it. What a disaster for both. As a photographer, either you need to find a dive buddy that can tolerate your hobby and hang out with you without getting in the way or, best yet, a dive buddy that will model for you. Otherwise, you need to find a new buddy for your buddy and get a new one yourself. When I travel, if a dive operator insists on having a dive buddy I request to hire a private guide so I can do my own thing without the pressure of others to deal with.

     If you absolutely positively cannot find a new buddy for your buddy then you need to make some sacrifices and learn to shoot on the fly while keeping up with the buddy. You may notice a serious drop in the quality of your images, but at least your buddy will be still speaking to you and maybe even allowing you to share your bed while on vacation. There are trade offs in life everywhere.

    The other reality is many photographers simply dive alone when operators allow it. I myself prefer it, but I am trained to deal with emergencies on my own if they should occur and I do not place myself at risk in situations where I cannot help myself. This piece is not a debate on solo diving though and I do not recommend anyone do so without proper training, certifications and permission to do so from the dive operator. 

    If anyone out there needs a dive buddy, I am for hire. You just need contact me to find out what I charge. One hint though, I don't work for food anymore.

Happy Shooting!


If you would like to sign up for one of my online photo lessons, visit my web site www.evolutionunderwater.com or contact mike@evolutionunderwater.com to learn how.

If you know someone would might enjoy this Dive Blog Report, then please share this page.
Thank you!

Visit Mike's Facebook Page

Please visit Mike's web site
to peruse his portfolio of underwater photography, view his video excerpts from his documentary films and purchase fine art prints from his online gallery.

If you wish to dive North Carolina contact
Olympus Dive Center, Morhead City, NC.
Please leave comments. 
I would like to hear from you.

Jan 14, 2012 - Mike's Top Ten: No. 10

Photo of the Week
Sand Tiger Sharks on the USCG Cutter Spar, Olympus Dive Center, North Carolina 2009.
Visit www.evolutionunderwater.com to view more images.

Just a Few Words First
     Mid January is upon us and I continue to look out my window here in Beaufort, NC, awaiting winter to arrive. But, what I see is bright warm sun beaming through the louvers and not the signs of winter. Born and raised in the more northern latitude of Long Island, NY, I'm accustomed to cold, rainy and snowy days this time of year. This beautiful weather however, distracts me from my work and makes me eager to go diving. It has been more than a month since I have last dived and I hope this streak won't last.

     Since I have nothing fresh to report in my diving activities, I will substitute stories of my all time greatest dives. I have been very fortunate in my lifetime to have experienced some amazing moments under the water and would like to share them with anyone who will listen. 

     Also within this blog, I have included a Photo Tip of the Week since a certain reader, who I won't mention, complained that I skipped it in the last read. 

     If you haven't already, please sign up for my Dive & Photo Newsletter here. I should have a new edition out in a few days. Within the newsletter you will find stories and current events in diving and marine conservation and updates on what is happening in my part of the dive world. Here is a copy of the premier edition.

     Just a reminder to all of you who are planning on attending the Beneath the Sea Dive Expo in New Jersey this March, I will be presenting and conducting a photo workshop on wreck photography. Click here for more details.

     Hat's off to all you divers out there who have managed to get wet in the last month for I envy you at this time. I'll hope to be joining you soon. Enjoy!

-Mike Gerken

Mike's Top Ten Dives

    For the last few months, I have been scratching out on a pad next to my desk a list of my top ten dives and have found the endeavor to be much harder than I originally thought, especially, since I stopped keeping a log book a long time ago. At first, I had a list of about 20 dives, but after much debate and 'X' marks all over the page, I managed to narrow it down to ten. Then the dilemma of placing them in order from 10 to 1 started. By the time I was done the scratch pad was barely legible, but I got it done. The task of creating this list was an enjoyable one since it required rummaging through my memory banks of nearly 3-4000 enjoyable dives, bringing back so many great memories.

    The dives in this list span back 30 years; as long as I have been diving. "What will the marine ecosystem be like in the future?", I often ask myself.  With hard work and dedication to stewardship of our oceans and waterways, we can improve and continue to yield not only great diving, but sustain life for us as we know it. The task before us is a daunting one, but if you are like me you will rise to the occasion and thrive on a challenge. At the present age of 44, I get excited when I think of what the next 30 years of diving will bring. There is no pessimism here.

No. 10
The Wreck of the USS Perry
The USS Perry in 1942.
(Courtesy of NavSource.org)
     While living and working in Truk Lagoon, Micronesia from 2003-until 2008 on board the Truk Aggressor II and later the M/V Odyssey, I had the pleasure of vacationing in the neighboring island nation of Palau, also in Micronesia. While there, I began to hear stories about a fairly new discovery off of the southern most island of Anguar; the USS Perry. The 'Perry' was a WWII destroyer that had the distinction of being present at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1942, a day that has lived in infamy. She was reported to have shot down between one and four aircraft and an unconfirmed sinking of a submarine on that day. The USS Perry was sunk on September 14, 1944 on the east side of Anguar Island when she struck a Japanese mine during the US invasion of Peleliu, which is one of the Palaun Islands.

     The wreck was discovered in 260' of water on April 29, 2000 by a surviving crewman of the 'Perry' and a dive team from Fish n Fins dive center in Palau (read link for a more detailed history).  Due to it's extreme debts and isolated location, it didn't get dived very often. The fact that the currents in the area are notoriously strong where she sank only add to the lack of divers getting to the wreck.

Map of the Palaun Islands.
(Courtesy of Major Frank O. Hough)
     At that time, one of the dive operators in Palau who were set up to take divers to the 'Perry' was Sam's Tours in the town of Koror.  I approached two of the staff who dealt with the 'Perry' dives, Kevin Davidson and Matt (whose last name is eluding me) and explained I worked on the Truk Aggressor II and was looking to dive the 'Perry'. They indicated to me that they didn't go out there too often, but were due for a visit. My timing was perfect.

     As luck would have it, within 48 hours, I found myself on board one of Sam's boats with Matt, Kevin and one other diver (who I did not know), speeding through the Rock Islands on my way to the east side of Anguar. Running at a speed of 25 knots, it still took about 90 minutes to reach the resting place of the 'Perry'.

     As we rounded the north side of Anguar and headed south Matt and Kevin were anxiously waiting to see if the buoy that marked her position was still afloat. The strong currents that prevail often pull it under. After a minute or two, both yelled out with excitement that they could see the mooring buoy. We pulled up to the float and it was as simple as tying off to a mooring line that connected us to a wreck that laid 260' beneath us. No painful process of trying to hook the wreck would be required and with a light current, diving would be manageable.

     For the next twenty minutes we meticulously donned our gear, being sure to check and re-check everything. There can be no room for error on this deep dive. We each had twin 80 cft tanks with trimix, one steel tank (I think it was a 100 cft) with nitrox for ascending to and from the wreck and one tank of the same size with pure Oxygen for decompression. The water temp was approximately 82 degrees top to bottom, so I wore a 3mm 1 piece suit.

Artist rendering of the USS Perry.
(Courtesy of ©Fish-n-Fins.)
    Kevin, myself and the third diver, would dive today while Matt would stay topside to watch the boat. We rolled over the side and for the next three minutes the three of us descended down the line, hand over hand waiting to get a glimpse of this WWII relic. At about 180', as my eyes began to adjust to the lower light levels, I could finally make out the wreck 80 feet beneath me. The visibility was approximately 70 feet horizontally but the vertical was considerably better. At around 240' I let go of the anchor line and began swimming across the current, down the length of the USS Perry, starting on the stern section. The Perry, today lies heavy on her port side and is split in two with the break at around 1/3 the way back from the bow. This forward section is on a near 45 degree angle from the rest of the ship.
I'm holding on in the current
while Kevin snaps a few photos.
(Courtesy of ©Kevin Davidson)

The USS Perry with fully loaded depth charge racks; see below.
(Courtesy of navsource.org)
     With a bottom time of only 15 minutes, seeing the entire length of 315' of the 'Perry' would be pushing it.  We decided we would explore in more detail the aft section only. The first thing that caught my eye on the 'Perry' was a fully loaded depth charge rack on the stern and the large starboard propeller projecting out from under the ship. Kevin Davidson, an accomplished underwater photographer, asked me to pose by the prop for a photo op. I happily obliged by holding on to the blade so the current wouldn't pull me away.

Here I am swimming over the rack of
depth charges on the USS Perry.
(Photo courtesy of ©Kevin Davidson.)
    Soon after, we began to swim down the wreck exploring some of the cracks and crevices. The one thing that I was surprised to see was how poor of condition the wreck was in. At a depth of 260' wrecks have little surge to contend with and tend to stay intact much longer than those that sit in shallower water. I expected to see a ship that was more sound. The 'Perry' looked as though it was melting in one direction from the starboard side
to the port side, which is the direction of the prominent current. For 60 years, this strong current slowly and surely wore the ship down. I had never seen a wreck that received so much wear and tear primarily from current.

     About 10 minutes in to the dive, I looked at Kevin and indicated it was time and to head back to the anchor line to begin our ascent. We both looked at each other and shrugged after looking around for the third diver in our team. He was gone and without telling us. There was no time to do a search for him further up the wreck. We would have a look around on our way back.  After a few more minutes we still did not see him and with more than 45 minutes of decompression time accumulated it was time to head up.  We could only hope that we would see find him ahead of us on the anchor line.

     For the next 20 minutes we made our way slowly and surely up the line stopping at 130' for 1 minute and then every ten feet thereafter for our obligatory deco stops.  Finally, after looking up from 90 feet or so I could make out the third diver in our team silhouetted in the sun at 15 feet. That was a relief I thought. Diving to these depths in open ocean is nothing to take lightly.

    After a total of around 50 minutes (if my memory serves me right) I could finally break the surface and enjoy the heat from the tropical sun once again. Once all  were back in the boat the first thing the three of us did was give a tongue lashing to the guy who disappeared on Kevin and I.  Once we saw how much air he had in his twin set of doubles we kind of figured it out what went wrong without him having to say a word. His tanks were bone dry. He breathed his bottom gas down to zero at some point and had to head up immediately since switching to nitrox or Oxygen would have been fatal at deep depths. The lesson I learned here was, never do a technical dive with someone you do not know. Someone poorly trained or poorly prepared becomes nothing but a liability for you and the team. The only way to know if they are capable is to have dived with them under less extreme conditions or through a thorough interview process.

    Regardless of the mishap, diving the remains of a survivor of Pearl Harbor, at a depth of 260' in open ocean, was for sure one of my top ten dives of all time. On a scale of 1-10 for adrenaline pumping it scores a 9.5.

To learn the complete history of the USS Perry visit here and here.

Photo Tip of the Week

     I received a Facebook message recently from a dive enthusiast asking me what to do with his camera when descending and ascending from a dive with current. I wanted to respond with a short answer by telling him to simply use a lanyard, but then it occurred to me that using lanyards for your photo/video gear is a little more involved than a sentence answer.

     The first time I took an underwater camera beneath the waves was about 18 years ago when I rented a Sea & Sea Motor Marine from my local dive shop on Long Island. I was on a dive trip on a liveaboard in the Bahamas and on my last dive. I was about to climb the ladder to get back on the boat and clipped off the camera to my BC before doing so. Well, at least I thought I did. I let go of the camera, grabbed the ladder and headed up. After getting my gear off I went to un-clip the camera and guess what? It was gone. I searched the bottom under the boat for twenty minutes only to learn that this camera floats. Ugh! Now it was really gone. (Sadly the crew didn't lift a finger in assisting me.)

     That was the last time I ever used a lanyard for any of my gear. Today, I do every dive without a lanyard and so far to date I have never dropped or lost my rig. By holding my camera in my hands, firmly, at all times, I know exactly where it is. I'm not suggesting lanyards are bad to use for everyone. I'm just saying I don't like them.

     Lanyards are also problematic for other reasons. Some of them are made of coiled stretchy rubber or retractable line that does nothing but get tangled in everything and gets in the way.  Others have metal snaps on them that when stretched out and released will snap back at you like a mini missile and put a nice chip in your dome port. Not fun.

    I witness time and time again divers on my boat, the Midnight Express struggle with lanyards as I have just described. If you happen to be one of them please don't be offended, but heed my advice. Often a diver will climb on to the ladder on a choppy day with camera attached to them by a long stretchy lanyard. 9 times out of 10 that darn thing gets hung up on the rungs while they are trying to navigate the ladder safely back to the deck of the boat. I hold my breath nervously when I see someone with one hand try to unhook themselves and with the other hand hold on to the ladder while being thrown around like a mechanical bull. If you have to use a lanyard, unclip the gear from your body first, stow the lanyard away properly and then head for the ladder. This technique may save your equipment from damage not to mention your physical well being.

Simple and inexpensive lanyard. 
Sorry gear junkies, no hi-tech gear required.
    The lanyard I use while diving is an all in one tool that does not get hung up and is very useful for the crew to haul a camera out of the water from the swim deck. I'd seen these used for the first time while working on the liveaoards in Truk Lagoon. This system will work on any type of boat and I guarantee the crew will like it.  The best part about it is it costs a few dollars in hardware from the dive shop and hardware store. I have a short length of braided nylon line threaded through a 1/4" rubber hose. On each end there is a brass thumb snap. Each clip attaches to the eye's on the handles of my camera housing. When I jump in the crew will lower the camera to me using this handle to lower it. It keeps the camera and strobes level, making it easy for them to handle the rig and reduces the possibility of your camera getting damaged. Once in the water, I detach the handle and clip it off behind me out of the way on a D ring. Now it doubles as a lanyard if I need it. Since the handle is short and semi rigid, it never gets tangled in anything and I don't even know it's there. If I need it in an emergency, I reach around and recover it easily enough. Otherwise, I do not use it again until I'm ready to pass the camera up to the crew after the dive is over. The crew can recover the camera with the use of one hand and not two. It is safe, cheap and very effective.
   Happy shooting.


If you would like to sign up for one of my online photo lessons, visit my web site www.evolutionunderwater.com or contact mike@evolutionunderwater.com to learn how.

If you know someone would might enjoy this Dive Blog Report, then please share this page.
Thank you!

Visit Mike's Facebook Page

Please visit Mike's web site

to peruse his portfolio of underwater photography, view his video excerpts from his documentary films and purchase fine art prints from his online gallery.

If you wish to dive North Carolina contact
Olympus Dive Center, Morhead City, NC.
Please leave comments. 
I would like to hear from you.