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Found 9 results

  1. I was going to put this in the SCUBA forum, but I think it deserves a wider audience. Now that's a toothy grin! Fearless photographer gets dangerously close to great white sharks at feeding time - WITHOUT a safety cage
  2. My wife and I finally dove Athens Scuba Park in Athens, TX a couple of months ago. It was four dives in May 2014. I was reminded by a news story I ran across. Overall, it's a great place to dive, if you don't mind a 3-4 hour drive from Austin. The local hotels have discount rates for divers there, so you can get a decent hotel room for cheap (we stayed at the Super 8 and were very pleased, especially since we could keep our dog with us). Their web site clearly shows water temperature and visibility. As of this posting, it was: Updated: 08JUL2014 Facilities: excellent; Right by the water are a dive shop, change rooms, a washing station, parking near the water, lots of pontoon piers, etc. They even have a dog cage (I called it 'doggy prison') that you can use, and they allowed us to keep our dog nearby in his crate. The emplyees were very friendly and helpful. Accessibility: excellent (unless you include the drive from Austin); you can walk right off one of the many piers right into the water. Cost: moderate; $20/diver/day (pretty standard price) Visibility: excellent for green water on most days; if it hasn't rained recently, typically 20+ feet. I've heard it can get to 40+ feet, but there's always the chance that a large class or classes will come through and muck up that fine silt. Without flow, it can stay mucked up for awhile. Variety of Sites: excellent for man-made (see Obstacles) but poor for natural; Wildlife: poor; the high (basic) pH means no fish or really any wildlife to speak of - a few strands of tenacious algae is present but not even much of that. It makes for very clear, pretty blue water, though. Obstacles (things to see, swim through, etc.): excellent; we ran into the newly sunk airplane which was cool. They have other airplanes, tons of boats, motorcycles, a DART bus with cave-practice tunnels attached, etc. I think they have the best 'wreck-diving' park in Texas, as mentioned in the news story.
  3. Here are my notes on the dives I've done in Quarry Lake on Reveille Peak Ranch (RPR) between Lake Buchanan and Burnet, TX (north of Inks Lake). The rankings are relative to other green-water diving in Texas (not blue water). I've done twelve (I think) dives there with the latest in July 2014. Updated: 08JUL2014 Accessibility: moderate; The bad part is that diving there is by invitation only, usually with Scubaland from Austin. Scubaland does a great job of hosting fun events there, like full-face mask communications test dives. They've been doing their winter classes at RPR since Spring Lake / Aquarena Springs was closed to dive classes. The good part is it's a lot closer than Balmorhea State Park, which used to be the winter backup. Cost: moderate; "$20 per diver per dive session or day" Visibility: moderate; it starts clear as it's spring (or more likely ground-water) fed, but swimmers and dive classes can muck it up fast. Because it's small with low flow, once it's mucked up it stays that way for awhile. Variety of Sites: poor; it's fairly small. It has a wicked thermocline at around 14-20 feet that is colder than Spring Lake or the Comal River by a few degrees making it feel really cold even in the summer. Compared to Lake Travis and the air, it's still a warm place to dive in the winter. Because it's an old quarry site, there are some really pretty rock walls, but they're deep, cold, and dark meaning you need good insulation and a good dive light to appreciate it. Wildlife: moderate; I was going to say poor as there's the typical sunfish/bass (and one of the little ******** drew blood on my ear lobe), but they have these really cool bugs. These little bugs hover in the like they're flying, and they're neon/blaze orange. Really cool. Being that bright, I'm guessing they're really toxic, otherwise they’d be fish fry food. Obstacles (things to see, swim through, etc.): poor; They have nice training platforms, but I haven't really seen much else. Looking at the ratings you might think it's a crappy place to dive, but without a drysuit and in the winter it may be the best choice in Central Texas. Unless you are a Diving for Science volunteer.
  4. Here are my notes on the dives I've done in the Comal River, specifically from (Prince) Solms Park in New Braunfels, TX. I love drift dives, and this one is in spring-fed, clear water that's always around 71F. The rankings are relative to other green-water diving in Texas (not blue water). Feel free to post comments, opinions, questions, etc., including your dives there. Updated: 15NOV2013 Current River Conditions/Level (as of this writing, it's 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) which is "Recreational flow- safe for all activities - tubing open for all levels of swimmers" - makes me wanna go dive!) Accessibility: excellent if you're using the same point for entry and exit, but drift diving is more fun to me for: good (excellent in, moderate out); there are stairs from Solms Park, Landa Park and others for people entering and exiting while toobing (inner tubes). If you miss the last exit, which is clearly marked, you will be in the Guadalupe River headed for Victoria and the Gulf of Mexico. The last exit stairs are pretty high which can make for a slog with wet dive gear. Make sure you park a second vehicle there to take you back to your entry point (it's only a few blocks from Solms Park, but walking in full, wet gear isn't exactly fun). Cost: excellent; entrance to the park is free, you just have to find parking Visibility: excellent; being spring fed, the vis is usually clear and as far as the bottom and shore (which is < 20'), but swimmers and rain runoff can reduce visibility, especially in slow, deep water like just before the Solms Park tube chute. Variety of Sites: moderate; there's really just the river. You may be able to choose upstream or downstream from your entry point. Wildlife: good, mostly typical sunfish, bass and catfish. There are turtles (sliders) and a lot of crawfish. I've seen some large plecostomi, too, probably from people dumping their aquariums. There's tons of nice plant life. Comal River Shore Dives Comal River, Solms Park, New Braunfels - 6 dives, latest March 2013 facilities: good; there are restrooms just up the hill from the entry stairs to the water obstacles: good; there are rapids and low-head dams with tube chutes downstream of the park. They can be very fun, esepcially the first one at Solms Park, if you take common-sense precations. I highly recommend you counter all of your diving instincts and go feet first-face up (feet-first supine). The water at the bottom of the chute is highly aerated meaning it has reduced buoyancy. That means you can bounce off the concrete bottom, and it's better to do that with your feet and fins than with your face, head and/or first stage regulator. The first chute is on the right, and the next two are on the left. Trust me, you'd rather go through the chutes Until recently, the Solms Park was called Prince Solms Park. I don't know why or exactly when they changed. Comal River Boat Dives I'm pretty sure that motorized vehicles aren't allowed on the Comal due to the toobers, rapids and low levels.
  5. Here are my notes on the dives I've done in Stillhouse Hollow Lake, specifically Stillhouse Park, in Belton, TX. The rankings are relative to other green-water diving in Texas (not blue water). Feel free to post comments, opinions, questions, etc., including your dives there. Updated: 14NOV2013 Click here to see current lake level. Accessibility: good, even if the lake is down, it's usually less than 20' with gentle slopes to walk down to the water (no need for stairs or rock climbing like at Travis) Cost: good, entrance to Stillhouse Park (USAR Corps of Engineers park, only one I've been to) is free if you tell the gate you're going to the marina Visibility: poor to good, typically 2'-8' (has some of the best visibility in Texas lakes, but rain or algae growth can reduce to near zero) Variety of Sites: good Wildlife: good, mostly typical sunfish, bass and catfish, and I've seen schools of white bass and several large blue drum. There's a lot more plant life than in Lake Travis. Sites ('obstacles' means things to see, swim through, etc.): Stillhouse Hollow Lake Shore Dives Marina/Island View Pavilion, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Belton - 11 dives, latest May 2012; facilities: good; there's a dive shop, restroom and resteraunt at the marina obstacles: good; the dive shop has placed platforms, wrecks and other stuff with lines between them, and there are some old water plant structures that are interesting (SE of the entrance) overall equivalent to Travis but more life, less people and easier access, dive shop on the marina pier Scuba Divers Paradise Pier, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Belton - 3 dives, latest October 2012; facilities: excellent; there's a dive shop, restroom and resteraunt at the marina obstacles: moderate; the dive shop has placed items under the marina with lines between them overall equivalent to Travis but more life,less people and easier access, dive shop right there on the marina pier; you must be careful when surfacing, because there is boat traffic into and out of the marina! Stillhouse Hollow Lake Boat Dives I haven't done a boat dive in Stillhouse Hollow, yet. I know that Scubadiver's Paradise does do them, especially to get to the 'advanced' dive site that is deeper than 60'.
  6. Here are my notes on the dives I've done in Lake Travis. The rankings are relative to other green-water diving in Texas (not blue water). Updated: 28FEB2014 Click here to see current lake level. Click here to see current lake temperatures. Accessibility: usually it's good, but with the lake still down almost 60' it's bad. Cost: good, the parks range from $10/car to $15/person and the Giant Stride boat dives are reasonably priced Visibility: poor to good, typically 2'-8' (has some of the best visibility in Texas lakes, but rain or algae growth can reduce to near zero) Variety of Sites: excellent, both shore and boat Wildlife: moderate, mostly typical sunfish, bass and catfish with the occassional drum or dart. There's very little plant life which makes it feel a bit sterile at times. Sites ('obstacles' means things to see, swim through, etc.): Lake Travis Shore Dives Windy Point Private, Lake Travis, Austin - 29 dives, latest October 2012; $15/person weekends; facilities: excellent; buoy-protected dive area, set up for divers with carts, benches, changing areas, showers, portable toilets obstacles: excellent; several platforms, several boats, some sculptures/small items, some grottoes, pecan trees down deeper with lake low can be a hump getting down stairs to water an especially up the stairs while wet and possibly tired Bob Wentz Park (Windy Point Public), Lake Travis, Austin - 3 dives, latest August 2013; $10/car; facilities: moderate; buoy-protected swim area, bathrooms above the point obstacles: moderate; some great grottoes but no wrecks or other man-made obstacles right next to the private side plus easier access when the lake is low but facilities not near as good for divers and can be crowded with swimmers and people fishing; cool grottos and a few good swim-throughs; they really need to update their pictures, because the lake is more than 50' lower Mansfield Dam Park, Lake Travis, Austin - 7 dives, latest February 2014; $10/car; facilities: good; buoy-protected dive are (dedicated scuba park), large bathrooms above the park obstacles: good; some boats and a plane there always seems to be people fishing even though there are multiple signs prohibiting them from doing it With the water low, you can use the boat ramp; just drive down, drop off gear and park up the hill in the lot. A couple warnings with this, the ramp is outside the diving buoys so you should have a float, and animals drink from the ramp leaving feces on it. Lake Travis Boat Dives Wreck Alley, Lake Travis, Austin - 4 dives, latest July 2013; went on the Giant Stride from Windy Point Public obstacles: good; several boats, including a big house boat, and a car Starne's Island, Lake Travis, Austin - 3 dives, latest July 2013;went on the Giant Stride from Windy Point Public obstacles: moderate, some grottoes but the treasure hunting is good from the party barges Oasis Wall, Lake Travis, Austin - 1 dive, latest April 2011; went on the Giant Stride from Windy Point Public obstacles: good; lots of nice grottoes
  7. This post and thread is meant to be a list that people planning dive trips can see if I've been there and can ask for my advice. I'd be happy to give anyone advice on any of these dive sites. This definitely isn't to brag, because I haven't really been diving in a lot of places, yet. I'm not including pool dives (even though I got to dive in the UT Swim Center for black water training). Updated: 13NOV2013 Texas Shore Dives Spring Lake (Aquarena Springs), San Marcos - 26 dives, latest September 2013; free if Diving for Science qualified; My favorite place in Central Texas by far, but currently closed to divers Comal River, New Braunfels - 6 dives, latest March 2013; free access; I love drift dives, and the Comal is 71F all year and crystal clear in most parts (but only 5-15' deep), can find lots of stuff; water is currently low meaning some parts (such as after 2nd low-head dam or chute) can be too shallow to swim much less dive Windy Point Private, Lake Travis, Austin - 29 dives, latest October 2012; $15/person weekends; close to home, easy trip, and dive-centric park with good facilities; with lake low can be a hump getting down stairs to water an especially up the stairs while wet and possibly tired Bob Wentz Park (Windy Point Public), Lake Travis, Austin - 3 dives, latest August 2013; $10/car; close to home like the private side plus easier access but facilities not near as good for divers and can be crowded with swimmers and people fishing; cool grottos and a few good swim-throughs; they really need to update their pictures, because the lake is more than 50' lower Mansfield Dam Park, Lake Travis, Austin - 3 dives, latest June 2012; $10/car; close to home, easy trip, & dive-centric park with decent facilities; people fishing annoying even though prohibited, Lake Travis is still almost 60' low Marina/Island View Pavilion, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Belton - 11 dives, latest May 2012; free if going to marina; overall equivalent to Travis but less people and easier access, dive shop right there on the lake in the marina Scuba Divers Paradise Pier, Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Belton - 3 dives, latest October 2012; free if going to marina; overall equivalent to Travis but less people and easier access, dive shop right there on the lake in the marina Quarry Lake, Reveille Peak Ranch (RPR), Burnet - 4 dives, latest July 2012; private access; longer drive from Austin and limited access but a good dive (cold water); Scubaland has partnership and only way we could dive was being sponsored by Scubaland (they had dive club days, demos, or classes there that day) Joe's Place Marina, Medina Lake, Mico - 3 dives; colder and darker than Travis but a decent amount of "training wrecks" North Park, Canyon Lake, Canyon Lake - 2 dives; entry more difficult (when Travis full, but easier access when Travis is low) and water quality worse than Travis Mammoth Lake, Lake Jackson/Clute - 4 dives, latest August 2013; nice park with individual pavilions with benches and piers; tons of stuff in the water to explore including a C-130; told going out of business September 2013, hopefully someone else buys it and reopens as it's a nice dive park 288 Lake, Houston - 1 dive, latest August 2013; $17.50/person; the facilities were good but the vis was horrible. That might not have been fair as there were a lo of classes and there had just been a heavy rain. With our sample size of one, we didn't like it. We immediately went to Twin Lakes which we liked much better. Twin Lakes Scuba Park, Manvel - 1 dive, latest August 2013; $15/person; I really enjoyed this park. Visibility was on the good end for TX green water (about 8') with two planes, an Airstream trailer and lots of diving platforms Lost Pines, Bastrop State Park Lake, Bastrop - 2 dives (2nd on a boat dive); did black water dive training here, wouldn't recommend for recreational Texas Boat Dives Wreck Alley, Lake Travis, Austin- 3 dives; went on the Giant Stride from Windy Point Public Starne's Island, Lake Travis, Austin- 2 dives;went on the Giant Stride from Windy Point Public, can find lots of stuff Oasis Wall, Lake Travis, Austin- 1 dive;went on the Giant Stride from Windy Point Public Texas Clipper, Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island - 2 dives; a decent wreck a couple hours from shore, still fairly new and a little deep (60'-95' iirc) "Texas Clipper" Oil Rig, Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island - 1 dive; fell in love with oil rigs because shallow so lots of light and life; may be gone now Little Sarah Oil Rig, Gulf of Mexico, South Padre Island - 2 dives; fell in love with oil rigs because shallow so lots of light and life; may be gone now Oil Rig MU-758, Gulf of Mexico, Port Aransas - 1 dive; fell in love with oil rigs because shallow so lots of light and life; may be gone now Oil Rig MU-784B, Gulf of Mexico, Port Aransas - 1 dive; fell in love with oil rigs because shallow so lots of light and life; may be gone now Pacific Ocean Shore Dives Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu - 3 dives, latest March 2013; before I got my wife certified to dive, we would snorkel here every year. I wanted to dive there since I got qualified in 1993. In 2012, I finally had my chance as we were both qualified, but the first time we tried to go the parking lot was full (they won't let anyone in if it is), the second time we had bags stolen including my wife's dive computer and the third time it was closed. We had to wait a year, but we finally dove there, once up the Toilet Bowl side and twice up the Cable Channel, and it was awesome! Shark's Cove, Pupukea Beach Park, Oahu - 1 dive, latest March 2013; awesome shore dive with tons of fish, eels and caves, last dive Makaha Caverns, Makaha Beach Park, Oahu - 1 dive, latest March 2013; Magic Island, Ala Moana Park, Oahu - 1 dive, latest March 2013; Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach Park, Oahu - 1 dive, latest March 2013; Staircase, Kaka'ako Park, Oahu - 1 dive, latest March 2013; Makai Research Pier, Oahu - 2 dives, latest April 2013; Hale'iwa Trench, Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park, Oahu - 1 dive; back in 1993 before I really kept logs or followed rules (lucky to survive) Electric Beach / Kahe Point Beach Park, Oahu - 2 dives, latest March 2013; 1st back in 1993 before I really kept logs or followed rules (lucky to survive) Apra Harbor, Guam - 2 dives; great dives, 2nd was off of the Glass Breakwater, back in 1993 before I really kept logs or followed rules (lucky to survive) Pacific Ocean Boat Dives Twin Rock/Kuroshima, Naha, Okinawa - 1 dive; 135' vis (that's how deep it was and could see bottom), all Okinawa dives were awesome Manta Point/Azu's Cave, Naha, Okinawa - 1 dive; all Okinawa dives were awesome Kuaf Island, Naha, Okinawa - 1 dive; all Okinawa dives were awesome Baby Barge, Hawaii Kai, Oahu - 1 dive; saw lots of turtles YO-257 & San Pedro, Hawaii Kai, Oahu - 1 dive; little to deep with Atlantis tourist subs driving around Spitting Cave, China Wall, Hawaii Kai, Oahu - 1 dive; great drift dive Corsair, Hawaii Kai, Oahu - 1 dive; only real wreck on Oahu, deep and terrible current but small so don't need much time Fantasy Reef, Hawaii Kai, Oahu - 1 dive; great drift dive, did at night and saw wonderful photoluminescence One of these days I'll dive Cozumel and other Caribbean places, Indonesia, Flower Gardens, etc.
  8. Robert Aschermann posted on the Scubaland Adventures Dive Club Facebook page. That's just crazy. You really gotta watch where you put your hands while diving! They call Mantis Shrimp "thumb splitters" for a reason, too.
  9. A friend and I dove the Comal today. Here's a link to the album I put together. For the full benefit, please read the captions for each picture (some pictures have no caption but many do). You can start by clicking on the top left picture, then using the right arrow on the right side of each picture. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151458776634566.1073741825.587579565&type=1&l=67e48ea0e2
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