Scuba Show 2009 Debrief
June 1, 2009 – After the Show
By John Flanders, Master Instructor / Instructor Trainer
Cool mornings, cloudy days and big crowds marked the Scuba Show weekend in Long Beach (www.scubashow.com). I can’t think of too many ways I would rather spend a weekend than looking at all the cool new products and talking Scuba diving. OK, perhaps I would rather be Scuba diving. But, this was a good second.
A lot of folks used the weekend to spend one day in the water in Catalina or Laguna and then one day at the show. A great combination! For the most part, there were a lot of happy divers enjoying what they love the most – Scuba.
There were many ‘highlights’ to the 76,000 square foot Exhibit. The over 200 vendors were very positive and uplifting. Occasionally, you could hear some whispered conversations about the state of the industry or the economy, however most folks felt that things were improving.
Of course, while it is always a pleasure to see old friends and visit the booths , the real excitement of the show is going from booth to booth and seeing all the new Scuba gear and hearing about all the exotic destinations that want you to come visit them. We had a lot of folks from the Academy of Scuba, in Phoenix AZ, at the show (customers and staff). And, after two days of browsing through every booth in the convention hall, I could write about each and every one of them, I wanted to take a second and write about the more interesting conversations and unique products we had and visited.
One of our first visits on Saturday morning was to the Divers’ Platform Booth. Harry Wood, president of the Divers’ Platform, was smiling and larger than life. He had all his platforms out on display with an impressive stand that truly demonstrated the capabilities of this amazing product. The Divers’ Platform is more than a buoy or dive-flag. The Divers’ Platform is a surface workhorse for the diver or the dive professional. And, Harry keeps innovating more and more utility including his bailout bottle and 30 foot hose. For those of us who like good old American ingenuity and construction, the Divers’ Platform is a great tool. I own two of them. http://www.thediversplatform.com
We spent a lot of time at the Bonica Precision Booth (http://www.bonicadive.com). I have been using the Bonica HD camera for over a year. Nice unit, low cost makes it a eye catcher, in my book. The had their light rigs on display and spent a lot of time talking about how instructors are using it in their Underwater Videography Course. It was worth the stop and the great discussion. They even handed me a nice CD filled with files specific to instructors.
As always, it was great to see our friends at Atomic Aquatics (http://www.atomicaquatics.com ) and talk leading edge regulators. They had their ST-1 on display and we got a good look at that. And, we spoke quite a lot about their fins and the great success they having with them. Nothing earth shattering, but always a good experience and learn something new.
Bonaire was well represented at the show, with the Bonaire Tourism Association, Captain Don’s, Buddy Dive, the Divi and more. (http://www.ilovebonaire.com) If you are looking to go to Bonaire, it seems like there are a lot of great deals between now and October 1. I spent a fair amount of time speaking with the folks from Captain Don’s (Bonaire and Curacao). Captain Don’s has an Inter-Island special on a two week stay, on both Islands, they pick up the inter-island air fare. Further, they said there are programs where the government is offering airline incentives. Of course, you would want to contact Captain Don’s directly about these programs. I am sure there are conditions and expiration dates.
It was obvious that the airline baggage restrictions were creating entrepreneurial opportunities. One company, Dive Caddy (http://www.divecaddy.com) has come up with a unique solution to this problem. The Dive Caddy allows divers to put all of their gear in a simple roll-up bag that can be used as a carry-on item. There is a video demo on their site.
One of my favorite stops at every dive show is by the DeepSeaSupply (http://www.deepseasupply.com) Booth. Tobin, the company’s president, always has a good little give-away. This year was no different. His innovative product of the show was his Power Inflator Service Tool. I took some time and went through all his gear offerings. And, as usual, the innovation and high quality continues to be signature mark for DeepSeaSupply.
There must have been four or five rebreather manufacturers represented at the show. And, the folks at Extreme Scuba, were touting their specialization in the field. All the rebreather booths seemed to have a gravitational pull to them. Not sure if it was just curiosity or if their truly is this much interest in rebreathers. My guess is we are a lot closer to mainstream adoption than most folks think. The one rebreather manufacturer that caught my attention was the Nautilus (http://www.divenautilus.com). They are fairly new to the block and I don’t think they have set their retail price. I do think, however, they will be priced below the competition and they have a quality that is second to none in this field. In speaking the with the founders, their unit is comprised of the highest quality manufacturing process and design. Their use of fiberoptics is impressive and their container design is truly unique. I am looking forward to learning more about the Nautilus.
The Roddenberry Dive Team was on site with “celebrity divers” and merchandise. Their booth was pretty active. I did get a glimpse at their Dry Suits. The ones that look like Star Trek uniforms and noticed they have a membership. Anyone interested in an “away mission” specialty should check out http://www.roddenberrydiveteam.com
Speaking of celebrities, the folks at DiverWire (https://www.diverwire.com) had record setting Breath Hold Diver Jana Strain at their booth. Jana is a very impressive Free Diver. Smart, articulate and judging by the line of guys there … attractive. Jana was autographing photos of her Free Diving. Looking at her early successes, I would guess that Jana has a bright future ahead of her.
It’s been a while since last diving the incredible walls of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. We spent a little time reminiscing at the Cane Bay Dive Shop (http://www.canebayscuba.com). Cane Bay Dive sits across the street from a beautiful beach. From there you can catch one of their boats or shore dive what seems like an endless wall. Within minutes, you are scurried off to incredible dive sites like North Star or Two Palms. The Reef’s crest is a comfortable 35 feet and the wall continues into the deep abuss at depths where advanced Trimix divers dare not too follow. After the dive, there is a great little restaurant and bar within a stone’s throw of the rinse tanks. St. Croix is great diving and Cane Bay are great folks.
Every once in a while you would see a buzz of people hanging out by the Blue Steel booth (http://www.bluesteelllc.com). They had their high quality steel tanks out on display. They also had a fair amount of valves and manifolds with them. Glad I wasn’t the one helping them carry everything into the convention center. As we spoke with their staff, we wildly impressed to see at the innovation and creativity they are coming up with to customize solutions for all types of divers.
With all the equipment, travel, art and other vendors on display, we could spend hours telling you about every booth we visited. There we over 30 seminars and presentations. Experts like Marty Snyderman, Dale Sheckler and Bruce Watkins were on hand to help divers become better. A great time in a fun little Southern California town.
My advice is take some time next year and spend it with a bunch of divers in Long Beach, CA.