The deep dive that killed my Suunto Zoop Dive computer

As a newly qualified 40m deep diver, the itch to get deep and explore as yet unseen sites needed to be scratched. 

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So here is what happened:

The dive shop I am diving with is one of the few that visit the deep part of a particular dive site - Turtle Heave - or Deep Turtle Heaven as we call it.

My buddy on the day was an Instructor as well as a Self Reliant Diver - Adrien. As a matter of course Adrien carries 2 dive computers, this is relevant as you will soon see.

We entered the ocean to commence a deep dive (35m). During the dive at 35m depth, just after spotting 2 small reef sharks and 3(!) eagle rays (a first for both of us!!!)

 

As time was running out before we hit 'the nonstop required time' (aka 'no deco stop time') neared zero, Adrienand I started a normal rate of ascent, to a shallower depth. As we were ascending, Adrien indicated a ‘deep stop’ was requested by one of his computers at 18m (approx 1/2 of the max depth), I checked the ‘Zoop’, it indicated we were at a depth that would be inconsistent with a 'deep stop'  (26m). Thinking he was just indicating ahead of time I maintained his level. This is the first thought I had that the ‘Zoop’ might be indicating different depths than what we actually were at.

As we continued our ascent, the ‘Zoop’ read 18m and had not reduced the 'no deco stop time' by enough to keep me out of ‘deco’. This concerned me and I indicated to my Adrien, he returned a quizzical look as his computers were reading 10m, shallow enough to clearly see the boat above including the sign writing on the side! This is the second indication that the ‘Zoop’ was not reading correctly. Upon surfacing after clearing all stop time on Adrien's computers, my ‘Zoop’ was still indicating 8m while at the surface and did not readjust to ‘end the dive’ at the surface.
It continued to count the dive even as we were on the surface. Back at the dive shop I showed a number of other professional divers and they indicated it might be a simple low battery issue. However the battery indicator remained near full. After washing the computer in freshwater, reading a depth of approx. 8m.

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It has remained in dive mode ever since even after a battery replacement from a kit I had with me.

I will keep providing updates on the progress of the 'case' of my discussions with Suunto to have the computer repaired.

NB - its a dive computer not a watch, it does sooo much more than tell the time.

UPDATE_1 10-Sept-2017:

As the Zoop left warranty in early 2017, initially Suunto rejected any attempts to have the computer examined and ultimately repaired by them, however after some 'frank discussions' via Facebook messenger with their customer service team in Norway, the computer is on its way to HongKong for investigation, as it appears the depth sensor failed.

UPDATE_2 8-Sept-2017:

To continue diving professionally while the Zoop is being evaluated, I needed a new computer. The Zoop is no longer the current model being replaced by the Zoop Novo, which like the Zoop is a perfectly acceptable dive computer. I like the conservatism of the Suunto decompression table so wanted to stay with their stable of computers. I ended up getting a Suunto D4i - a smaller form factor, watch sized computer which has an easier to navigate menu structure. If/when the Zoop makes it way back to me in fit and working condition, it will move to second fiddle in my collection - which will be vital if I do move on to the 'self reliant' qualification, allowing me to dive alone.

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Update _3 10 October 2017

A package has just arrived from Suunto, guess what was inside... a brand new Zoop Novo, an updated model of the Zoop to replace my dead Zoop. Thanks for coming to the party Suunto.

DiveMaster life - post graduation

My first decent underwater selfie

 

It has now been a couple weeks since I graduated as a DiveMaster here on Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.

Another Amazing Island Sunset

I was able to spend a week in Bali last week at Mum & Dad’s house using all of their WIFI and hot water - things that are sorely lacking on Gili Air.

My feet! After the shoeless life on Gili Air they needed work!

 

Now I am back on the Island, my days have been filled with helping out in the shop as well as tagging along as qualified DM to assist Instructors with students who require assistance as well as taking photos and videos to share with you!

Ornate Ghost Pipe Fish

I will be posting a series of blog posts in the coming weeks about Island Life and things that people should be aware of when traveling / living long term on Gili Air, Indonesia.

Dive Master Week 6 - Gili Air - Indonesia

Wow. I can't believe it is week 6 already. 

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On Saturday I found out I am "graduating" on Tuesday night - the customary "snorkel test" - the drinking of a swamp brew of grog through a snorkel with blacked out mask. A light hazing of sorts to welcome you to the professional side of diving. 

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With the clock now firmly set I needed to get a move on to get all my tasks completed. 

On the Friday before the surprise graduation, the following tasks were completed:

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  • Another hurdle for me to climb over was again the dreaded mask skills components of the "skills circuit". This is - to demonstration quality - show the 24 skills of the "open water" course.  Minimum rating is 3/5 for each skill with at least 1 to a 5/5. Below is my score sheet. A pass.  
  • The planning for a deep dive including the rigging and use of a static decent line - something we don't often use in the Gilis due to incredible 25m+ visibility. Additionally, the task called for the rigging and deployment of a "deco breathing set" or separate air and regulator deployed for use at the 5m safety stop.  This was all completed easily. 
  • The next task that required considerable surmounting of my fear of taking my mask off under water was the equipment exchange... this requires the full exchange of all scuba equipment with another person minus your wetsuit and weights.  As we did it mid water I required three attempts to overcome the current to retain the position. Oh did I mention throughout this whole time you and the person you are exchanging with are sharing a single breathing regulator? Another pass 
  • The last task requiring completion was in my mind the easiest. In fact, it is the one I had the most trouble with - search and recovery. The search for a missing item around 10kgs of weight and lifted using a lift bag. Also required are the underwater demonstration of three knots, the bowline, 2 half hitches and the reef knot. 
  • I also finally submitted my dive site map, this was reviewed in the early stages by our resident navigation and map "nerd to ensure that it was accurate and able to be used as a briefing tool for students and visiting divers.
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And finally, I submitted an extension for my visa to remain in Indonesia on a month by month basis. An interesting experience dealing with the regional outpost of the Indonesian Immigration

What next? Stay tuned

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Dive Master Week 5 - Gili Air - Indonesia

Wow time is flying fast now I can’t believe it is now 5 weeks since I started the DMT.

Local Dive Master Soni with one of our local turtles on Hans Reef

Local Dive Master Soni with one of our local turtles on Hans Reef

 

I have ticked over 100 dives - and no the 100th dive was not naked as is usual convention because I was with clients.

 

This week I have had a number of firsts - seems to be happening a lot:

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  • First UV night dive - Half the dive is using normal white light and then we switch to a blue light that simulates UV light which coupled with a yellow mask filter creates awesome reactions from coral - only a tiny proportion of fish react with UV light so they mostly appear black.
  • This week also saw me brief and guide 2 customers on a local fun dive. We went in search of sleeping white tip reef sharks on a site that they are regularly seen - Sunset Reef. Sadly they were not spotted, however we saw a school of 5 line snapper torpedoing as well as a hawksbill turtle munching on the coral. When I told the customers after the dive that it was my first - they said they were very impressed.
  • I am really starting to enjoy my assisting role while assisting Discover Scuba Diving programs. I seem to have developed a knack with divers that are struggling to equalise and risk ending their dive. I manage to calm them, and show them - underwater - techniques to relax and equalise their ears.
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Ramadan has come to an end so shops are returning to their normal opening hours and dive masters who were not diving during ramadan are returning so I am looking forward to learning from more of the local DMs

 

As now been in Indonesia for almost 6 weeks including staying my parents prior to commencing DMT I am now at a point I need to extend my visa so that process starts soon too.

The journey begins!

It has been months in the planning, with daily countdowns starting well into the 80s.

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With my dive gear is packed, my drone and filmmaking gear and clothes tapped out my 20kg baggage allowance to jamming all my stuff in my bag has been a challenge in itself. 

Just to remind you about the purpose of this trip - After 10 years with my employer, i am now eligible for 3 months paid leave, with the option of taking that at 1/2 pay.  I am using my allowance in one whack and heading to the Island of Gili Air, Indonesia to "study" for my PADI DiveMaster qualification. This can be done in as short at 6-12 weeks.  Obviously I am in no rush to get the qualification, so will work with my instructor. There is a possibility of also moving on to do my Instructor qualification. 

 

For those that don't know, Gili Air is a tiny island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. The island is so small there is no motorised land transport, instead of get around on foot, bicycle or small horse drawn carts. 

 

 

 

 

Gear Review: Knog Qudos GoPro Companion Action Light

 

No longer is the capture of your action adventures dependant on the sun being your only light source.

Encapsulated in a unit smaller than your GoPro, the Knog Qudos is the perfect companion to keep your action being recorded long after the sun goes down.  The added bonus of being waterproof to 40m makes it perfect for projects like my DIY Scuba GoPro Tray. The aluminium exterior acts like a large heat sink keeping everything cool and happy.

The Qudos has multiple modes to adjust brightness and light speed, allowing you to control your shots in any scene or location – whether deep underwater, high in the sky, or anywhere in between.

  • Output : 70 - 400 lumens
  • Dimensions : 31 x 70 x 40mm.
  • Weight : 150g
  • Materials : Die Cast + CNC Machined Aluminium heat sink and optical grade lens.
  • Battery : USB Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
  • Burn Time : Up to 4 hours.
  • Waterproof : The [qudos] action is IP68 tested and waterproof up to 40m.
  • Compatibility : For use with GoPro Hero 2, 3, 3+, 4 and action cameras with a GoPro conversion mounts.

 

 

Gear: Scuba - Second Hand BCD Self inflating

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I have just finished washing and putting my dive gear away following another day of double fun dives on the South Coast of NSW. For me this was dive 18 & 19.

Fresh from my tropical dives of Phi Phi Island in Thailand (and admittedly filled with false bravado), I kitted up just before the first dive as I have always done.

As with most of our club fun dives, today we were entering from the rocks so I added air to my Buoyancy Control Device (BCD) and entered the water with the rest of the group. After the usual awkward aqua-aerobics that is putting on your fins in a slightly surging wave group we pushed away from the rocks to the decent point. My BCD was making a funny sound and I thought “hmm maybe I have an air leak from an air hose”, I had my buddy check and she confirmed there was no visible air leak.

As we descended, my buddies started slowly sinking as they should but I could not go below one metre. I was weighted the same as other successful dives but was unsure why I could not drop down to the bottom at 7m. Luckily one of the Dive Masters (DMs) for the club dive was on hand and clipped an extra weight to me.

After getting down with my buddy we set off on exploring the underwater landscape - my video from Australia Day 2015 is shot at the same spot


I noticed my buoyancy was not very stable - all in one direction - UP. It was at that point I realised what the funny sound was on the surface - the safety valve on my BCD letting air out as it had over inflated. I know I only put a squirt or two in prior to entry and now the BDC was continuing to self inflate while diving - slowly but still inflating. to top this off my DIY Dive Tray was beginning to loosen and the camera and light set up was wobbling. I could not let go of it for fear of losing both GoPro and my brand new Knog Qudos Dive light. Review coming soon.

 

This dive was rapidly turning into a cluster. I was not in any immediate danger due to the relatively shallow depths - however I did need to continuously dump air from my slowly inflating BCD.

At the 35 minute mark I pulled the pin. I was not enjoying myself, so knew it was time to end the dive. I indicated my intentions to my buddy and the DM and up I went - metres from the accent point - perfect.

I still managed to record a great clip of a sleepy Port Jackson Shark snoozing on the sandy bottom.


The second dive was much easier as the issue was known, after the dives I discussed the issue with the DMs and they indicated that one solution would have been to disconnect the low pressure inflator hose and manually inflate the BCD with my mouth - all stuff every PADI diver is trained to do - I didn’t know I could disconnect it underwater - I know now for next time!

I will however be taking my BCD in for a service soon to fix the problem.

 

Thailand: Scuba Diving Koh Phi Phi from 3 angles

During our recent visit to Thailand I was fortunate enough to dive some of the most amazing places. Funnily enough they all centred around Koh Phi Phi Don in the middle of the Andaman Sea

I did not know this at the time, but the dives from Phuket and Ao Naung both required 2 hours of travel each way by boat. Not as horrible as it sounds as both trips were fully catered!

Having learnt to dive in the cooler waters off South East NSW, the 30 degree tropical waters were a real shock. All the dive guides could not believe ever diving in the cold temps of 18-24 that I dove here.

I will let the images speak for themselves. I will however add - I did not take them. The local dive guides thankfully have far better skills than I and provided them either for free or at a small cost.

The dive shops I dived with, I could not recommend highly enough. There were some shocking reviews on trip advisor about some shonky operators, particularly on Phi Phi Island.

I dove with:

The Dive, Ao Naung

Phi Phi Diving, Koh Phi Phi AKA Phi Phi Island

 

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Starting to feel like a real Scuba Diver

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I have now finished 6 dives following my PADI Open Water Diver Qualification. Of those 6, I have had to share air (essentially, I nearly ran out of air due to hyperventilation and excitement) if you would like to see this process, here is a Youtube clip showing the underwater process

I have now finished the final two, number 5 & 6. Only during these dives did I start to feel like a “real” scuba diver. Not just some one pretending. I was able to settle in to the dive. Enjoy it.

Here is a video of those dives (click on the picture)

“Diving