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xavier.diver

Advices on what to ask the dive crew handling your gear?

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Hi,

I've done a bunch of liveaboard, but that's the first one with a big camera and dome and stuff. We'll have a bunch of dives from the boat, and some from the zodiacs.

For what I read, you do you entries normally but then come back to the boat and ask someone on the boat to give you the gear.

I have an ok diving level (I'm a divemaster), but I don't know what's the best way to enter/exit and how to work with the crew to make it safe and enjoyable for everyone

Do you have recommendations on what to ask them on how to handle you camera equipment?

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Hi Xavier

I'd suggest you talk it through with the crew and the guys on the dive deck.

It depends on a number of factors as you will have seen on other trips: do you jump off a rear dive deck; or head to the dive site on RIBs and do a backwards roll etc? I've been on dive boats where it's a looooong giant stride drop and the crew then lower the camera down on a  rope with a quick release mechanism.

I  don't think I've ever jumped in holding my camera system and have always gone "back" to the boat to get it handed down by the crew from whatever height (including RIBs); and then handed it back to them at the end of the dive - again, however that is best done given the circumstances.

Other than that, I'd try and make the system's grab point as easy as possible to identify and explain it to the equipment wrangler on the boat. At the end of the dive, tuck strobes etc in as best you can, get some air in your BCD, and be ready to hold the system up to the boat crew (unclipping leashes etc). I'd say 90% of the time the crew will grab anything, usually a strobe arm, and haul it away from you. Much can depend on how choppy the waters are. Ask them to avoid grabbing cables etc. But then they are human too!

Other than that, relax and have fun!

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Posted (edited)

For what it is worth. I have always jumped in with my camera and occasionally reenter with my camera (clipped to my chest strap D-rings and scooter/crotch ring). But usually I hand it to a deck hand who I try to discuss with them my preferences beforehand. Most times they do their best to accommodate. I provide instruction to NOT put my camera in the "camera bucket" but to instead place it in my soft cooler bag (Sam's Club). 

Giant stride entries from normal heights are easy, I can raise the camera as I enter to reduce shock to the system. Upon return, the crew is going to grab anything and everything they can quickly. Usually a strobe arm despite my pointing to them where I wish for them to lift. So, I bought a Nauticam braided piece that I clip between my strobe arms and the crew automatically goes for it. Happy day! 

IMG-3463.jpg

Here you can see the two bolt snaps on the arm joints for connecting to my chest D-rings and the small tether and bolt snap on the handle for the scooter ring. The deadman (blue) tether is connected as I step to the platform and disconnected as the crew takes my camera upon reentry to the boat. The Nauticam handle (white) is clipped to a D-ring during the dive and upon dive completion, I rotate the strobe arms up, clip the two arm bolt snaps together and attach the Nauticam handle for the crew's target fixation need. I also have the two silicone elastic bands (could be 4mm bungee even better) from the strobe clamp to the lower arm clamps. This ties the camera rig together (for both entry and exit). 

I have had cameras dropped into the ocean, I have had water contact optics knocked off by crew mishandling, I have had strobe arms disconnect, I have had domes scratched. So, I try to eliminate those things by discussion before hand and my rigging of the system. I keep my WWL-1 port cover with me, clipped off to my scooter ring, it is on during entry and exit. Your system will get some scratches and scuffs during use, otherwise leave it at home, diving is rough. Not to mention the scuffs and scratches on me!

I will say, with my camera clipped off to my chest D-rings and scooter ring, I can usually reenter the boat via a ladder with the camera as long as it is not too rough. If the ladder is slamming up and down, best to hand off to the deck mate. 

 

 

 

Edited by Captain Fathom

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Captain Fathom,  I see you have 2 Velcro straps near your StiX floats, what are they used for?

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thanks for the tips,  I'll discuss them with the crew and do my best to give them my gear so the nearest thing to grab is the one I want them to use.

I'll dive sidemount for this trip, so they will have to handle the bottle(s) anyway for most entries/exits, that will just be another heavy item to handle.

@Captain Fathom, I love the cooler bag idea, but I'm not familiar with the brand. How thick is the padding? I'll try to grab one similar before the trip, wondering if I should go for a slightly improved ikea/tote bag or proper padded one

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4 hours ago, PhotoJunkie said:

Captain Fathom,  I see you have 2 Velcro straps near your StiX floats, what are they used for?

I found those somewhere and thought them useful. I run my optical cables through them, the coil section fits nicely through there and keeps the cables secure without damaging them.

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, xavier.diver said:
8 minutes ago, xavier.diver said:

 

@Captain Fathom, I love the cooler bag idea, but I'm not familiar with the brand. How thick is the padding? I'll try to grab one similar before the trip, wondering if I should go for a slightly improved ikea/tote bag or proper padded one

IMG-3412.jpg

The cooler bag came from Sam's Club (Walmart) which is like Costco. It has foam padding about 1/4 inch thick. It cost about $5 give or take. There are more expensive bags but they are heavier and harder to pack. The bag can transport my assembled NA-6400 with WWL and strobes and doubles as my own private wash tank. Cheap and light, buy several, throw them away when they come apart. I do put an extra piece of foam or a microfiber towel below the camera for extra protection.

 

Edited by Captain Fathom

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The nice thing about a cooler bag, is that it provides you with you own rinse tank as well as a better element of protection for your gear on the boat.

The only problem I have found is that it's hard to find one that doesn't leak! I've managed to flood a couple of rental truck back seats (sorry Avis Bonaire) with leaking cool bags. I don't know if Captain Fathom has had the same experience. Yep, cheap, light-weight, easy to pack... and after a few uses, cr*p.

That said they are cheapish you can use them and chuck them.

After much, much thought I lashed out recently and bought a Cinebags Grouper carrying bag. Expensive but seriously tough, definitely leakproof and big enough to carry my D500 in a Subal housing fitted with 2x Retra strobes, a snoot, a reflector, 2x 5" arms and 2x 8" arms - and a 45-degree finder.

Expensive but worth a look for sure. 

Buy cheap, buy twice....

 

 

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1 hour ago, Captain Fathom said:

I found those somewhere and thought them useful. I run my optical cables through them, the coil section fits nicely through there and keeps the cables secure without damaging them.

Thanks for the tip for fiber optic routing!!

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I've been diving with a big dome port (230mm) for 5 years now.   In all but one case I've had the crew hand me the camera after I get in and swim back to the side of the boat.  Sometimes the back of the boat depending on the boat.   I hand it back to them when I'm ready to get back on the boat.    The first thing I do after they hand me the rig is to attach its strap to my BCD.

On the boat I've had varied situations.  Sometimes I have to share a dunk tank with some small cameras - not a good thing.  Sometimes I end up getting a big plastic tub just for my rig.   And sometimes I just have to use the 36-quart plastic cooler I use to tote the thing around as a dunk tank. (With no water, but at least it's shielded from other cameras.)

The one time I did not go in and have the camera handed to me was a doozy.   Did a hammerhead dive off Molokai in really, really choppy water.   There was no way to just get back to the boat in those conditions.   We went in by 5's, all standing on the heaving back deck holding on to rails until we had the signal to all jump in at the same time.   Except me, since I was holding the D810 & 230mm dome over my head, before doing a giant stride into the water.    Getting back on the boat at the end of the dive took it all out of me.

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I always jump with the camera (backroll, giant strade, or higher jump (highest was 2m) and depending on the boat I either bring it back myself  or hand it to the crew.

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Posted (edited)
On 8/9/2021 at 10:14 AM, Captain Fathom said:

IMG-3463.jpg

 

Any concern about the weight of the system on the Nauticam float arms when on the surface? 

With my NA-6400, I used a lanyard the same as you, and over the course of a week had a float arm come loose and the end pop off. But they were no name Chinese specials from amazon. 

I am debating getting more float arms and changing their position, ie. out by the strobes with solid arms with Stix next to the housing, or just going with standard arms and more stix. 

Edited by Lewis88

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That why I decided to have a new handle directly over the base clamps.

I have used the a double snap bolt tin the middle of the arms has an handle for more than 15 years, without problem. My old carbon arms has more than 15 years, they are from ExtremeVision (French company than produces equipment for special projects and navy, I do not know if they still exist as company), and I never had any problem.

But I was always with the same though if they would fail…

Now I bought some bigger float arms from china, a só I decided that I needed to improve the handle (to make it more comfortable and to use it on a safer point). https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/143983859917

Passing the housing to the boat it is easier the crew pick the housing by the middle of the arms because it gets higher. But after that, all the handling I make it from the base. This way it is much less effort on the arms, that results in lower risk of failure of the arm and a crash housing on the floor….

The arms on the picture are from ExtremeVision, never had problems handling by the middle (for more than 15 years), but always 
IMG_3051.png.b20f7b02550141830263f11cf3f384bf.png

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