Diving at the local lake is cheap and fun. For $12.50 lake user fee, $15 for a tank and $6 for weights it is a nice way to blow bubbles and keep my skills up for future saltwater excursions.
Coral Key offers two programs through SSI. A four specialty program for $550 and a four specialty program plus Stress & Rescue for $799. This seems like a steep price point until you figure each specialty with dives can cost between $100 and $150. Obviously all dives cannot be completed locally. Deep Dive would be a trip to the Blue Hole in New Mexico when it opens again. Waves, Tides & Currents would require an ocean. I like the idea of the $799 course and would take:
- Deep Dive - Blue Hole, NM (3 open water dives)
- Enriched Air Nitrox - local (dives optional) -
- Night & Limited Visibility - local (2 night dives)
- Science of Diving? - local (no dives required)
- Search & Recovery? - local (1 pool dive, 2 open water dives)
- Stress & Rescue - local (2 pool dives, 3 open water dives)
In terms of equipment I looked at weights, dive log pages and wrist computers. I was planning on buying weights as they will be more comfortable with my BCD, require no maintenance and will result in less equipment to rent in the future. I opted for (2) 3# sea pearls which will be perfect for diving locally in a 3 mm wet suit. I would need an additional 10# in a 7 mm wet suit.
The dive log pages were as expected. $9.95 for loose pages plus $23.95 for a low profile log binder. Both would match the hole pattern of my existing PADI Diver's Log which has 41 of 49 dive pages filled. It may seem silly to keep paper logs, but for my level of diving it works. It also seems ridiculous to pay $24 for a glorified Ziploc bag, but maybe I will come up with a cheap/free solution over the next 8 dives. I could also just order another PADI book from Amazon for $23 and that would likely keep me going for the next 10 years.
Finally, I looked at wrist computers. Coral Key recommends Shearwater products for good reason. The Shearwater Teric felt great on my wrist, had a full color display and optional wireless air integration. It also had a hefty $1095 price tag. At the other end of the scale, Areece suggested the Oceanic Geo. This was $395 which was comfortable, but had a standard display (with back light) and did not offer wireless air integration. For comparison, the Mares Puck Pro is the cheapest on the market at $180. Cressi, TUSA and Aqua Lung all sell wrist computers in this price range while, Suunto enters the market at $300 with the Zoop Novo. I was looking for a computer primarily for dive trips if I chose to rent instead of bringing my regulator. I would have to do a lot more diving to justify this expense.