president's waves

  • February 29, 2020 8:51 AM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    If you read undercurrent, you may have noticed an article titled "The Ins and Outs of Trip Insurance" in the February issue. Local member Bob Weybrecht was quoted in the article due to his difficulty in renewing his DAN Guardian dive insurance plan in January. Unfortunately, the underwriter of the Guardian plan decided stop covering people over 70, and DAN has been forced to find new underwriters for that plan on a state-by-state basis. However, this did not affect their Preferred and Master plans, which are available for divers of any age. Also, this had nothing to do with trip insurance. The editors of undercurrent have published a correction, which can be found here.

    Six of us traveled to Bimini on February 19th through the 23rd to see hammerhead sharks. We took the ferry from Fort Lauderdale and we were supposed to return on the 22nd, but sea conditions were too bad for the ferry to run on that day. The ferry trip on Wednesday the 19th took about two hours. Then we made our way to the Big Game Club Resort. After checking in, we spent the afternoon exploring a bit and preparing to dive the next day. We did two dives on Thursday. The first dive explored a wreck, much or which is still above water due to the shallow wreck site. For the second dive, they put out a bait box and we got an up close view of a lot of reef sharks.

    While sea conditions were almost flat on Thursday, they were getting steadily worse on Friday. Neal Watson's Bimini Scuba Center had planned for a late morning start of the Great Hammerhead Shark safari, but we had to move up the time to right after breakfast. They took us on a 10-minute trip to the feeding location and put out a bait box to attract sharks. Then we waited for hammerheads to show up. And we waited. And we waited some more. There is no guarantee that hammerheads will show, though they typically do show up this time of year. Finally, two hammerhead sharks arrived.

    Once the hammerheads arrived, the crew presented a briefing about the dive. If you do the Great Hammerhead Shark safari, I suggest that you pay careful attention during the briefing. Every diver gets a three or four-foot piece of PVC pipe, and the briefing tells you how to use the pipe to protect yourself from various types of sharks. For hammerheads, you hold the pipe upright and let them run into the pipe and go around you. For nurse sharks, you can use the pipe to push them away. I don't remember what they said about bull and tiger sharks, so you better listen to the whole briefing in case my memory is faulty on hammerheads and nurse sharks.

    They do one dive that is two hours long. The dive is very shallow, so some divers may not have to change tanks. Others may change tanks and go back. Everyone should wear at least 24 pounds of weight, and more is recommended. The divers kneel in a line with the bait box in the middle of the line. A crew member feeds hammerhead sharks that approach from one direction, and pushes away nurse sharks that try to sneak in for food. For our dive, visibility was bad at the start and got worse. Sea conditions also got worse, and the crew ended the dive after an hour and a half. By then, getting back on the boat was not something I wanted to do more than once.

    On Saturday, we were supposed to do two dives in the morning and take the ferry home in the evening. Sea conditions were too bad for any of that. Instead, we visited the Bimini Sharklab for an interesting presentation about sharks and what the research station is doing. I recommend a visit if you find the time.

    The first picture shows a hammerhead shark, the bait box, and the crewman who was feeding the sharks. They are 15 to 20 feet away. The second picture shows a hammerhead shark that went by me during the dive. It is two to four feet from my camera and I used Adobe Lightroom to make improvements. You can see other pictures from the trip here.

    shark feeding hammerhead shark

  • January 23, 2020 4:29 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    The Board of Directors has approved changes to the Club Rules and Bylaws. The membership will be asked to approve those changes during the February meeting. Please click on the following links to review the changes.

    Rules: Article II - Application for Membership

    Bylaws: Article VII - Membership

    The major change is to the rules having to do with Application for Membership. The changes remove Section 1, which requires an applicant to attend one Club event before being eligible for membership. The current Section 4 is also changed to remove the need for a three-fourths vote of the Board by substituting approval of a Membership Committee consisting of at least three Board members. Here are the reasons for these changes.

    Requiring a three-fourths vote of the Board should be limited to extremely important and sensitive issues. Approving new membership applications does not fit that profile. In fact, as far as I know, the Board has always approved membership applications. Sometimes it takes a while for us to collect the appropriate documentation and payments, but we want new members and are happy to approve their applications. In fact, we would like to allow new members to apply online, which would make it easier for them and us. However, that brings us to the reason for removing Section 1.

    The requirement in Section 1 that an applicant must attend one Club event in order to be eligible for membership, along with the requirement in Section 4 for a three-fourths vote of the Board to approve an application, makes it appear that we are extremely picky about who joins the Club. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want new members and we are happy to see them whoever they are. We would even like to have new members who live pretty much anywhere in the world and want to go diving with us. Removing Section 1 would allow us to create an online application process that could be used by local and remote applicants.

    The Rules changes would give us a membership approval process that is more in line with other organization like ours. The resulting process would make it faster and easier for new members to join. There would still be a Membership Committee made up of Board members, but approvals would not require an official Board meeting.

    Some might have a question about what happens if a new member turns out to be a bad fit for our Club. That is already handled in Article VII of our Bylaws. Section 3 allows for revoking membership under certain circumstances. There is just one change that was made to that Section. Revoking membership for non-payment of dues was removed from the list of things that require a three-fourths vote of the Board and moved to a section of its own.

  • December 28, 2019 7:23 AM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    We have moved the next meeting to the 2nd Thursday in January (the 9th) to give more people a chance to learn about the upcoming dive trips for 2020. Nils will give us more details about our Little Cayman Beach Resort and Belize Aggressor trips. These trips will be open for signups at the January meeting.

    Little Cayman Beach Resort is a popular dive destination for our club. The iconic Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park, year-round warm tropical waters, and lush coral reefs teeming with marine life make for a beautiful underwater experience. Their dive boats provide personalized valet services that take the work out of diving. Their spacious, well equipped rooms and excellent meals provide a pleasant experience out of the water as well.

    In mid-August, we will be on the Belize Aggressor IV. Their website says "Belize is a wall diver's paradise. Sheer walls like Painted Wall, Half Moon Caye Wall and Quebrada are adorned with huge crimson gorgonians and giant orange elephant ear sponges. Moray eels, spiny lobsters and tiny arrow crabs hide in every crack, crevice, cave and tunnels of these beautiful coral formations."Belize Aggressor 4 picture

  • November 29, 2019 6:48 AM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    We held our annual election during the November meeting. Here are our elected officers for 2020.

     President:  Roger Cooper
     VP Programs:  Ken Glaser
     VP Overseas Diving:  Nils Jacobsen
     VP Local Diving:  Ryan Goheen
     VP Social:  
     Secretary:  Amy Wellman
     Treasurer:  Ronnie Farr

    Appointed officers will be selected during the first Board meeting in January.

    This club used to give out commemorative plaques each year to celebrate the work of the volunteers who keep the club running. Eventually, folks realized they just didn't need a lot of plaques around the house, and the custom ended. However, that does not mean that our appreciation for our volunteers has ended. All of our elected and appointed officers are volunteers who put in a lot of work behind the scenes so we can have social events, overseas dive trips, local diving, meetings, a website, a Facebook page, and a functioning corporation that pays taxes and files paperwork on time.

    During this season for giving thanks, please remember to thank our volunteers for the work they do. And if you can find a bit of time in your schedule, please volunteer to help out, because we would all appreciate the help. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!


  • October 29, 2019 5:57 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    We are holding the annual election at our General Meeting in November.

    Club Bylaws require that the Board’s proposed slate of officers be presented to you in the two newsletters before the election.  Presented for your consideration are the following:

     President:  Roger Cooper
     VP Programs:  Ken Glaser
     VP Overseas Diving:  Nils Jacobsen
     VP Local Diving:  Ryan Goheen
     VP Social:  
     Secretary:  Amy Wellman
     Treasurer:  Ronnie Farr

    Anyone interested in running for a position on the Board should notify me, either at a General Meeting or by email (president@usadiveclub.org).

    We would like to find volunteers to help with several important jobs. If you can spare even a bit of time, please get involved. We would like to form committees to spread the workload, so you don't have to commit large amounts of time. But we won't know you are interested unless you let us know.
    • Several people have ideas for things to do, but it would help if someone would volunteer to be Vice President for Social Events. That person could then help coordinate scheduling for the other folks with event ideas.
    • Ken Glaser is looking for help with Programs and Promotions. If we could put together some small committees to help with these jobs, that would be ideal. Please contact Ken if you can help.
    • We need help with Audio/Video equipment for monthly meetings. Roman Boszko has resigned so he and Ewa can travel more, and John Ficarra has notified us that he and Kathy will also be traveling quite a bit. Please contact John if you can help out.
    • We still would like to find a Photographer for Club events, or a few people who are willing to share the duty. Please contact me if you could help us by taking pictures at club events. If you volunteer, you are not expected to attend all Club events. Come on folks, this is more fun than work.


  • September 15, 2019 4:40 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    The Board of Directors has decided to hold the annual election at our General Meeting in November.

    Club Bylaws require that the Board’s proposed slate of officers be presented to you in the two newsletters before the election.  Presented for your consideration are the following:

     President:  Roger Cooper
     VP Programs:  Ken Glaser
     VP Overseas Diving:  Nils Jacobsen
     VP Local Diving:  Ryan Goheen
     VP Social:  
     Secretary:  Amy Wellman
     Treasurer:  Ronnie Farr

    Anyone interested in running for a position on the Board should notify me, either at a General Meeting or by email (president@usadiveclub.org).

    Our Club needs volunteers to help with several important jobs. If you can spare even a bit of time, please get involved. We would like to form committees to spread the workload, so you don't have to commit large amounts of time. But we won't know you are interested unless you let us know.
    • Several people have ideas for things to do, but we need someone to volunteer to be Vice President for Social Events.
    • Ken Glaser is looking for help with Programs and Promotions. If we could put together some small committees to help with these jobs, that would be ideal. Please contact Ken if you can help.
    • We need help with Audio/Video equipment for monthly meetings. Roman Boszko has resigned so he and Ewa can travel more, and John Ficarra has notified us that he and Kathy will also be traveling quite a bit. Please contact John if you can help out.
    • We still need a Photographer for Club events, or a few people who are willing to share the duty. Please contact me if you could help us by taking pictures at club events.


  • August 27, 2019 4:58 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    The recommended changes to our Bylaws were approved by a vote of the members at the General Membership meeting in August. If you wish, you can review those change here. Or, you can click here to view the updated Bylaws.

    Our Club needs volunteers to help with several important jobs. If you can spare even a bit of time, please get involved. We would like to form committees to spread the workload, so you don't have to commit large amounts of time. But we won't know you are interested unless you let us know.
    • Ken Glaser is looking for help with Programs and Promotions. If we could put together some small committees to help with these jobs, that would be ideal. Please contact Ken if you can help.
    • We need help with Audio/Video equipment for monthly meetings. Roman Boszko has just resigned so he and Ewa can travel more, and John Ficarra has notified us that he and Kathy will also be traveling quite a bit. Please contact John if you can help out.
    • We still need a Photographer for Club events, or a few people who are willing to share the duty. Please contact me if you could help us by taking pictures at club events.


  • July 23, 2019 4:21 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Our Board of Directors has approved a set of Bylaws changes that will be presented for approval during the August General Membership meeting. The members in attendance during the August 1 meeting will be asked to vote on the changes, which you can review here. (Or, you can copy this URL to the address bar of your browser.
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1PrQNK1fYFavO7i9_KETiEubvnpmVgGEG )

    There are changes to Articles III, IV, VII, VIII, and X. The reasons for making these changes are as follows.

    • Allow the Board of Directors to set the date of the annual election - We would like to get away from having the election at the same time as the annual Christmas party in December.
    • Allow online voting within specified guidelines - We would like for the Board to have the option of using online voting for elections. The changes do not require online voting, and do not specify a product to be used. They do specify characteristics that must be available in any product we use for online voting.
    • Clear up some potentially confusing wording

    The changes are lengthy and it will speed up the General Membership meeting if everyone reads the changes before attending the meeting. If you have questions, please email me or bring them up for discussion before the vote. We will allow time for discussion before calling for a vote.

    Our Club needs volunteers to help with several important jobs. If you can spare some time, please get involved.

    • Ken Glaser is looking for help with Programs and Promotions. If we could put together some small committees to help with these jobs, that would be ideal. Please contact Ken if you can help.
    • We need help with Audio/Video equipment for monthly meetings. Roman Boszko has just resigned so he and Ewa can travel more, and John Ficarra has notified us that he and Kathy will also be traveling quite a bit. Please contact John if you can help out.
    • We still need a Photographer for Club events, or a few people who are willing to share the duty. Please contact me if you could help us by taking pictures at club events.


  • June 27, 2019 4:43 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    IMPORTANT: There is no meeting this month due to the first Thursday being the 4th of July.

    So get out there and enjoy those fireworks, 4th of July sales, and maybe some diving with your extra day off.

    Our club has a group taking off to go diving in Cuba on the Jardines Aggressor II, July 6 through 13. You may have heard there are new restrictions on Americans going to Cuba, banning the most common ways Americans travel to the island. However, this trip was booked prior to the restrictions going into effect and therefore is allowed. Our travelers can expect a wonderful week of diving in the Gardens of the Queen marine reserve, and lots of encounters with sharks. Have fun, folks.

    A group of us recently went diving at the Blue Heron Bridge on a Monday afternoon. We saw octopus, pipe fish, various crabs, lots of baby flounder, lots of arrow crabs, and tiny bristle worms all over the place. I'd like to go back again soon to see what else I can find. It helps to go with friends so you have multiple spotters. That worked out well for us.

    On our Facebook page, check out the article about the sinking of the Majestic Explorer liveaboard in the Galapagos islands. Imagine having to get off your liveaboard in the middle of the night with just your passport and the clothes you are wearing. The 14 passengers on that yacht were transported from boat to boat eight times during a 10-hour trip back to port.

  • May 29, 2019 8:53 PM | Roger Cooper (Administrator)

    Let's take a brief look at our website, usadiveclub.org. Over on the far right of the main menu you will find Web Links. If you look at that page, you will find links to our sponsors as well as useful links for divers. There are several links for weather, including a link to the NOAA local marine forecast.

    There are several links for webcams around South Florida, in case you want to check how the beaches look from the comfort of your home.  We have links to safety information, and to South Florida diving information. We have links to scuba organization like NAUI and PADI, and we have links to other scuba clubs. We also have links to internationally known web resources related to scuba diving.

    The most recent addition to our Web Links page is a link to a shop (One World - Zero Waste) that sells reusable items (e.g., metal drinking straws, bamboo eating utensils) which replace single use plastic items. If you know of any other web links that might be of general interest, please let me know.

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