The Tacoma Dive And Travel Show:
Cool Dive Toys and Saying Hello to Friends

By Ab Kurk

Every  year in April, the Tacoma Dive and Travel Expo is held in Tacoma Washington. After many years of discussing about wanting to go, Carrie and I finally decided to visit. This is one of the biggest diver trade shows open to the public in our area. Tacoma Washington is a bit of a travel for us here in Vancouver BC. We decided to choose an easy and comfortable way to travel, and jumped onto the Amtrak train. The sound a train makes slowly relaxes you, and as you look out of the window you see the world passing  by which induces a state of total bliss.

 

We stayed at a Best Western hotel, a 20 min walk away from the Tacoma convention center where the show was held. Walking to the convention center gave us a scenic view of Tacoma with its historical industrial area.

 

The primary reason for going to a dive trade show is to extend your gadget collection.  Another good reason is to find new travel destinations and talk to your favorite charter operators.  For me personally, the main reason is to be able to play with the cool stuff you can’t find at your local dive store.

Some Trends

Underwater Video and Photography

NudibranchFor underwater videographers and photographers, the world is changing.  As LED lights are taking over, many manufacturers are bringing out compact and powerful lights especially designed for underwater photography and videography. The difference between a normal dive light and one for photo/video purpose is the angle of the beam. The photo/video lights have an 80 degree angle or higher. The advantage of using LED lights over a classic strobe is that your camera can adjust for the brightness of the light which results in a better picture.

 

Light and Motion have a whole line of compact lights designed for the underwater videographer or photographer. Edge Dive Tech has a really powerful new light called the Wasp which boasts an 18000 lumens output and 160 degree angle for the video nut.  Titan Dive Gear also has a nice led photo/video light called the Scula. There are tons of different manufacturers that make similar lights but these were the brands represented at the tradeshow this year.

 

Most of these new lights are compact and easy to travel with. For about $700-$800 you can get yourself a  1300 lumen LED light that is sure to illuminate your subjects.

 

Recreational RebreathersKiss Gem Rebreather

Another  trend that is emerging is the recreational re-breather.  Manufactures like Poseidon, Hollis and Kiss where showing of their recreational re-breathers.

 

The idea behind the recreational re-breather is to limit the divers maximum depth as set in most recreational level certifications, and do the training on these devices as no decompression dives. The Poseidon MKVI, the Hollis Explorer are closed circuit rebreathers that are electronically controlled, and go as far as to do a pre dive check which will lock the system if errors are found.

 

The Kiss Gem rebreather is a Semi Closed Circuit rebreather that has no electronic control system. It is probably the least complicated recreational rebreather in this group. I will be taking a course on this rebreather in June and will let you know how it goes.

Gadgets I Purchased

As a true diver, I had to purchase some gadgets.  I walk around the trade show as a hunter stalking it’s prey to find the coolest gadgets. Here is a list of items that caught my eye and I had to have:

Rescue Tape

As I walked by the Rescue tape booth they asked me to hold out my finger. Before I knew it, they had wrapped this tape around the tip of it. Rescue Tape is a self-fusing silicone repair product with infinite uses. First used by the US Military, but now its adopted for many different uses like a quick field fix for a leaky hose or a nicked electrical cord.   

AquaSketch Minno Wrist Slate

Another product I purchased is the AquaSketch Minno Wrist Slate. It allows divers to write an unlimited amount by ingeniously using tiny vellum scrolls inside which can be advanced by simply turning a knob. I have gone through so many wrist slates that have the three writing surfaces. I always catch one when flipped up and break it off. I’ll let you know how I like this one.

Frog Spit

The next item is not really a gadget, but it is cool. Frog Spit is a mask defogger that does not require you to rinse.  This way you don’t have to rinse your mask in the "spit" bucket located on most dive boats. They say it will last 2 or 3 dives if your mask does not get wet on the inside.

 

Eezycut Triobite

Last but not least, I purchased the Eezycut Triobite line cutter. Most line cutters are both big and clunky or use such a bad blade that it rusts away every 3 months. This product uses a blade made from a higher grade stainless steel, and if the blade gets dull you can replace it. It even comes with two spare blades.

 

 

Catching Up With Buddies

These shows are a good place to catch up with old friends and charter companies to see what is going on. It is also a good place to find some new charter companies or dive destinations to go diving.

 

The Ceader Lodge GangThe first aisle I walked into, I saw Andy and Virginia who run the Cedar Beach Lodge on Thetis island. They work together with Peter and Simone from the 49th Parallel Dive Charter. Virginia makes a breakfast to die for. Andy knows all the fish by name, and also knows which species they are. Peter skillfully navigates his way around the Salish Sea and always finds the best diving sites. They make a great combination and I always enjoy going back there.

 

I just had to walk across the aisle to see the SeaDragon Charters. Christine who works on the Seadragon boat located in Nanaimo and it is always a pleasure to see her. I think I was her Dive master instructor.  Every time I dive with them they show me a new dive site. In Vancouver they have another boat named the Top Line crewed by Jan and Kevin (the owners). Two of the nicest people you will ever meet.

 

An aisle over I walked into Peter and Kathy from Rendezvous Lodge. There lodge is located in Barkley Sound. The dives here are so amazing and you will see different sea life here because it is on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I am going over in July to do some diving there.

 

Also attending the show where Barb and Wayne representing the Underwater Council of British Columbia. Barb Roy is well known for her articles and photos in many dive publications and Wayne is known for his dry humor and his ability to find an octopus or two.