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Vandit Kalia

Tusa Paragon Mask Review

By Articles, Gear, Reviews

PARAGON TUSA MASK – REVIEW

Tusa is a line that we started carrying recently – a Japanese brand well known for making sensible, reliable products at sensible pricing.     I have also been on the look-out for a mask to replace my current one (a Mares Ultravision LS, which, while a fantastic mask, is starting to show the effect of age and abuse).    My eye was caught by the Tusa Paragon masks – on seeing them, I was reminded that one of our instructors had been raving about them a couple of years ago, so I decided to look up the pricing.

And that’s where I had my first shock – these things had an MRP of Rs 15,200 for the double-pane version and Rs 16,000 for the single pane version (we sell it for a lot less, but still…).       That’s over twice the price of my Ultravision, which was one of our most premium masks.

My first response was to laugh in disbelief.    Had this been any other brand, I would have written this off as a halo product and moved on to something else.   But this was Tusa – as grounded a brand as it gets.    And I remembered our instructor and how excited he had been about this mask (it takes a lot to get a dive pro excited about gear – for most of us, these are tools and we want the product that is reliable and good value, not the fanciest/most expensive).

So rather than jump to a hasty conclusion, I decided to order one of these masks to try out for myself.

FIRST LOOK VIDEO

Let’s start by taking a look at the mask:

(Yes, I was so shocked by the price that I actually got it wrong in the video)

QUALITY AND CONSTRUCTION

As mentioned in the video, all you need to do is look at the mask and you can tell that this is an ultra-premium, high-end product.    Visually, it has a combination of aesthetics, solidity and finishing that just screams “high end”

Let’s start with the frame.   Made of three materials – actual, honest-to-goodness metal, polyurethane and polycarbonate – it has a rigidity that is leagues apart from the polycarbonate frames of other masks on the market.     Tusa claims this frame is designed for professional use – and that is very obvious when you hold it in your hand.

The frame is a discreet unit, as opposed to one that has been molded together along with the skirt as a cost-saving measure.

Another area where you can see the emphasis on quality is the silicon skirt.     Not all silicon is the same – thicker silicon tends to be more robust but less pliable, whereas thinner silicon tends to be more flexible (read: better able to form a seal) but also more liable to cuts.      And of course, a higher grade silicon will be more flexible and/or more robust for a given thickness than cheaper silicon.     One of the reasons why I am a fan of the Liquidvision silicon of Mares skirts is that it is very soft and pliable to fit well, but also robust enough to not get damaged too easily.

The Tusa silicon follows the same principle – the material is of different thickness at different places, adding robustness or flexibility where needed.     It also has rolled edges, which takes the pressure off the face and improves comfort.     In addition, Tusa uses varied surfaces on the silicon to add structure and stability to the overall skirt.     There is obviously a lot of detail that has gone into the materials here.

You can see the dots and the ridge on the silicone, meant to add structure to skirt.    Also visible is the thinner layer of silicon below the nose pocket, which would contact your upper lip, just below the nose.

Lastly, even the mask strap has been contoured to take into account the curvature of the human head against which it will rest.   Rather than trying to describe it, I will just borrow this graphic from Tusa that illustrates the point:Mask strap

As you can see, there is a near-obsessive amount of attention being paid to details that most people would not even notice.

ERGONOMICS, COMFORT AND FIT

I tend to get very excited about small touches which improve the diver’s usage experience.   With the mighty Shearwaters, it is the ability to color code the display as per your preference.      With BCDs it is a sensibly-designed octo holder that allows the user to deploy it with the mouthpiece in the proper orientation.   And with masks, it is swivel clips.

What these simple things do is allow you to move your strap up and down on your head without causing the mask itself to get pulled up or down.    A very small touch but once that adds that extra touch of comfort that can cause the mask to “disappear” on your face.     Personally, I am at the point where I simply do not buy a mask where the clips do not swivel.

Tusa Paragon ClipsSwivel clips, which are neatly tucked in behind the frame and do not stick out.

The mask fits very comfortably – the silicon truly is very soft and grippy, and feels very comfortable against the skin.   Even the mask strap wraps the head, as opposed to feeling stretched around it, if that makes any sense.    The nose pocket is large and roomy, even for my lumpy, twice-broken nose and allows a good comfortable grip on the nose for equalization.

About the only negative I can think in terms of fit and ergonomics is that it is not particularly low volume.   It sits a little further from my face than the Mares Ultravision, and so will require perhaps a little more effort to clear, if you were to flood it completely.   There is a reason for this, however – the sligthtly greater distance means that the frame of the mask is less likely to come in contact with the bridge of your nose, thereby increasing comfort.

Lastly, fit is a very personal issue – I personally had absolutely no issues with water coming into my mask, even when i made faces and moved my jaws around.    Given the stickiness and suppleness of the silicon of this mask, it wouldn’t surprise me if this mask fit a better percentage of people than most others.

THE VIEW

And now we get to what really sets this mask apart:  it is the quality of the optical lenses.     Tusa calls them Crystalview and touts their light transmission and sharpness:

CrystalviewPIC courtesy Tusa and presented for illustrative reasons only

For starters, they are a lot sharper/clearer than other mask lenses that I have used and also come with an anti-reflective coating meant to improve contrast, clarity and sharpness.     Tusa uses the term “Crystalview” to describe their optics – buzzwords aside, this was certainly noticeable when I did an A/B test with other masks that we had lying around the shop and tried to look at fine details in front of me.    It isnt as if the Tusa Paragon lets me see more detail – but the detail is just a little crisper/sharper/brighter.

Another very under-rated plus of the mask – it comes with UV protection.     That may not be so useful when you are diving, but what about the 5-10 minutes before and after each dive, when you are floating on the surface, doing a surface swim and/or waiting to get off/on the boat?    As someone who is very sensitive to harsh light, this is a feature that I am definitely willing to pay for.

However, there is one downside – due to the larger volume that I spoke of in the previous section (ie, the mask sitting further away from the face), the angle of view is good but not class-leading.   As its name would imply, when it comes to 2-window masks, my Mares Ultravision has a very large angle of view of approx 110 degrees and I would estimate the Tusa Paragon to have a field of view that is approx 5 degrees less (these are approximate estimates, btw).

CONCLUSION

Sooo… after all these words, what is the verdict?   Is it worth it or no?

Let’s first make it clear what this mask is NOT – it is not a “value for money” mask.     If you want to get the most utility per dollar, the entry level Mares Rover masks wins:  you can get 6 of those for the price of  this one and it will keep the water out of your eyes.   Or if you want something nice but still sensibly priced, the various Mares Ultraskin models in the Rs 5000+ range offer very good comfort for less than half the price.

BUT this mask has a bunch of features that are absolutely unique in the market:   optical-quality lenses.   UV protection.   Anti-reflective coating.   Highly engineered silicone skirt for more comfort.   Robust frame.     High quality finishing/visual appeal that no other mask can match.        Yes, we are entering the realm of diminishing returns here, but these are areas where this mask is tangibly better than the competition.

At the top end of the range of pretty much any product, it is not about getting value for money, but getting the best possible quality.    And when it comes to quality, I do not know of any mask that rivals the Tusa Paragon so far.

Luckily, in this case, getting the best is relatively affordable.   In my case, my gushing praise of the mask was not just for the purposes of this article:   the UV protection and the super-soft silicone were compelling enough reasons for me, and I have ended up getting this mask for myself.

NOTE

We do not get paid for these reviews and our reviews represent our true beliefs about these products.   Life is too short for us to push mediocre dive gear (there is a lot of other stuff that we also try out which does NOT make our review sections).

We do have these masks for sale.    You can purchase them here:
Tusa Paragon
Tusa Paragon S (single lens version of this same mask)

However, before doing so, please drop us an email to check stock as our inventory system is not online yet.

Scuba Diving Prices in the Andamans

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Scuba Diving Prices in the Andamans  – All you need to know

 

The following is our price list for the 2021-2022 season.

A word of pricing – while I know it seems self-serving to say so, we really do not recommend choosing dive centers purely on the basis of price.   While diving does follow common standards set by a central agency, so do schools.   Yet we don’t pick schools purely on the basis of price, do we?

How to pick a dive center is going to be the basis of a different post soon, but the short answer is – the experience of the instructors, their commitment to making sure that you are having a good time, the way diving is conducted, the group sizes, etc:  all of these play a big role in determining the “Fun” factor of your dive trip.

And here, we have a very simple philosophy for you on how we run our operations:  our approach is to run a dive center in a way that would make us happy if we or our friends/family were the customers here.

In any case, here are the prices.

They are valid until September 2022, they can be revised at any time prior if we choose, they are not binding unless quoted over email, blahblah-more-lawyer-talk.   You know how that goes.   Also note that 18% GST extra applies on all diving prices – other than that, the prices are inclusive, with no hidden catches or surprises.

Intro Programs For Beginners / Scuba Diving Prices for Beginners in the Andamans

The following half-day programs are designed for beginners who want to get a taste of scuba.   No swimming skills needed!

Program Havelock Neil
PADI DSD / Boat
Half-day boat trip and Discover Scuba Diving session, consisting of in-water training, one guided dive with an instructor, dive log and registration with PADI
Rs. 6,500 Rs. 6,500
PADI DSD / Shore
Half-day introductory Discover Scuba Diving session, consisting of in-water training, one guided dive with an instructor, dive log and registration with PADI
Rs. 4,500 n/a
Single Day / 2 Dive DSD Program
Full day session, starting with a PADI Shore DSD program in the morning, followed by a PADI boat DSD in the afternoon (subject to instructor discretion)
Rs. 10,000 n/a
Additional Boat DSDs
Additional boat DSDs conducted within a week of the initial boat or shore DSD
Rs. 5,000 Rs. 5,000
Upgrade to Scuba Diver certification
For boat/shore DSD participants only
Rs. 14,000 Rs. 14,000
 
Also, please note that in Neil, we only offer intro programs off the boat - shore programs are not possible (well, they are possible, but not worth it).

More information on the Try Diving / Intro to Scuba programs.

 Diving Courses / Scuba Diving Prices in the Andamans to get certified

As a PADI 5-star dive center, we are proud to present a full array of training courses, all the way from a beginner to an instructor.

Course prices include everything needed for your training – equipment rental, mandatory materials, certification charges, boat fees, etc.    There are no hidden surprises.   And with all our training, the course duration is determined by the student and their pace of learning – if you need more training time, that is included at no extra charge.

COURSES FOR BEGINNERS

COURSE # of dives # of days Prices – Havelock Prices –Neil
PADI SCUBA DIVER COURSE
Intermediate certification program – up to 12m
2 1.5 Rs, 17,000 Rs, 17,000
PADI OPEN WATER COURSE
Full entry-level diver certification – up to 18m
4 4 Rs. 27,500 Rs. 27,500
PADI OPEN WATER COURSE – REFERRAL
Completion of 4 OW dives, cost of certification not included
4 2 Rs. 16,000 Rs. 16,000
PADI OPEN WATER + ADVANCED OPEN WATER COURSE COMBO
Second level of certification – up to 30m
9 5-6 Rs. 49,500 Rs. 49,500

Note: The price of the Advanced course is discounted substantially – this price is only available for divers who have completed the Open Water course with us and want to do the Advanced course immediately after.

COURSES FOR CERTIFIED DIVERS

CORE SCUBA DIVING COURSES

COURSE

# of dives

# of days

Prices – Havelock

Prices –Neil

PADI ADVANCED OPEN WATER DIVER
Second certification level – up to 30m

5

2-3

Rs, 26,500

Rs, 26,500

EMERGENCY FIRST RESPONDER CPR/FIRST AID
Non-diving program, reqd for Rescue training

0

1

Rs. 11,000

Rs. 11,000

PADI RESCUE DIVER
Third level of certification

2

3

Rs. 20,000

Rs. 20,000

PADI RESCUE + EMERGENCY FIRST RESPONDER COMBO
Combo Rescue + CPR/First Aid program covering both courses

 

2

 

3

 

Rs 27,000

 

Rs 27,000

More information on continued education programs for certified divers.

SCUBA DIVING PADI SPECIALTY COURSES

COURSE

# of dives # of days Prices – Havelock Prices –Neil

CORAL REEF DIVER
Our custom & extensive u/w Marine Ecology training program.

4

2

Rs, 14,000

Rs, 14,000

BUOYANCY BOOTCAMP
Advanced buoyancy and trim master class

2

1

Rs. 8,000

Rs. 8,000

PADI DEEP SPECIALTY
Certification to dive up to 40m

3

2-3

Rs. 18,000

Rs. 18,000

PADI SIDEMOUNT SPECIALTY

3

2

Rs. 18,000

Rs. 18,000

PADI NITROX SPECIALTY
Extend your bottom dive – use of gas mixes up to 40% Oxygen

0

1

Rs. 9,000

Rs. 9,000

ADVANCED FUNDAMENTALS COMBO
Buoyancy, Deep & Nitrox specialties combo

6

3

Rs. 39,000

Rs. 39,000

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY
Add Rs 4000 for certification
4 2 Rs. 12,500

Rs. 12,500

We also offer NIGHT, NAVIGATION and SEARCH & RECOVERY specialties (as well as BOAT DIVING, COMPUTER DIVING and DRIFT DIVING, if you want). Please contact us for more info on these programs.

More information on continued education programs for certified divers.

Scuba Diving Prices in the Andamans for Fun Diving

For certified divers only.  Prices include gear rental, boat fees, snacks on the boat and group sizes of 4 divers or less per guide, typically.

DIVES (Days / Dives)

HAVELOCK

NEIL

1 day / 2 dives

Rs. 7,000

Rs. 7,000

2 days / 4 dives

Rs. 14,000

Rs. 14,000

3 days / 6 dives

Rs. 20,500

Rs. 20,500

4 days / 8 dives

Rs. 27,000

Rs. 27,000

5 days / 10 dives

Rs. 33,500

Rs. 33,500

6 days / 12 dives

Rs. 40,000

Rs. 40,000

Additional Diving (After 6 days)

Rs. 6,300

Rs. 6,300

A discount of 10% on the above prices is applicable for people that have their own equipment (BCD and regulator).

OTHER ACTIVITIES

HAVELOCK

NEIL

Afternoon Dive

Rs 5,000

Rs 4,500

Night Dive

Rs. 4,000

n/a

Dawn Dive

Rs 5,000

Rs 5,000

Remote Trip surcharge

Varies

Varies

Barren Isl/Invis Banks

n/a

Rs 25,000

Quick refresher

Free

Free

Full refresher + 1 dive

Rs 5000

Rs 5000

Private instructor - per day/part

Rs. 2,000

Rs 2,000

Private guide - per day/part

Rs 1,500

Rs 1,500

For people who have their own gear (BCD/regulator), there is a discount of Rs 300 for dawn/afternoon/night dives and a discount of Rs 1,000 for Barren Island/Invisible Banks/Expedition Trips.


More info on our dive trips for certified divers.

Professional Training

As India’s first/oldest instructor training facility, we offer PADI Divemaster and PADI Assistant Instructor training courses all year long.   In addition, we also offer PADI Instructor Development Courses (PADI IDCs) several times a year.

Please contact us for more information on professional training / more information on Scuba Diving Prices in the Andamans (Havelock and Neil)

Become a PADI Instructor – PADI IDC 2021

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PADI IDC 2021:  BECOME A PADI INSTRUCTOR

Divemasters interested in becoming PADI instructors – we have good news for you. After a pandemic-related delay, we are finally glad to announced dates for our next PADI Instructor Development Course in the Andamans:  December 1-10, 2021.

This program also has our usual IDC add-ons, designed to supplement your learning with valuable real-world experience:
– A 2 week prep program before the IDC, for you to go over your DM theory, dive skills and other pro fundamentals, for those of you who feel that they need a refresher and/or a tune-up
– A 2-4 week post-IDC instructor internship, where you work with our team of experienced dive pros and gain valuable teaching experience (and also log some certifications in the process) – this prepares you to work independently later.

There are a couple of different things to note about this IDC – the revised curriculum has made an already strong IDC program even stronger.

ONLINE SELF STUDY
As per the new PADI curriculum, there is a greater emphasis on the students completing their prep work online, using digital materials. Candidates can start this at any time – they do not have to wait for the IDC itself to start cramming the materials (unlike back in my day, when we spent all day in classrooms/water sessions and then did homework at night). We will be conducting regular review sessions of this between September and November, so you can actually get cracking right away. This means that when you get to the Andamans to do your PADI IDC, the focus is on shaping your knowledge and skills, not teaching you background material. This allows for more efficient use of instructor time cand greater development of the candidate into an effective pro.

OPTIONAL STANDALONE AI PROGRAM/INTERNSHIP
Second, we are offering an extensive PADI Assistant Instructor prep program for candidates who either do not want to do an IDC right away, or who want to split their training over a longer duration. The AI program will be conducted in Chennai and will also double as an extensive prep for the IDC. This will allow you to hit the ground running as an instructor, and give you greater confidence to teach independently. The AI Prep program is conducted by yours truly, Vinnie (I have been an instructor trainer since 2008).

ONE FREE IDC SLOT
We recognize this year has been hard on all of us. As a result, in conjunction with Dive-Careers, Platinum Course Director Mark Soworka and PADI, we are sponsoring a free IDC and free materials for one candidate. The candidate must be a PADI Divemaster already, must be an Indian national, must show genuine financial need, should have sincere environmental awareness and should be actively involved in the local diving community.

Email us for more information or to sign up.

 

Diving after COVID

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NOTE:   This article and the accompanying video are intended to provide a summary/top-level view of the risks associated with diving after COVID.     Many of these risks are theoretical;  further, the data as well as suggested best practices are in a state of evolution and so may be subject to change.     We will try our best to provide regular updates to this post, but please be aware that this is not intended to replace medical advice from a qualified doctor (Dr Google does not count – and yes, we are aware of the irony if you came across this article via Google!).

 

 

As the world starts to re-open, and we all start thinking of getting back under the water, please be aware that diving after Covid is not necessarily as simple as just “recover fully – go diving”.   Depending on the duration and degree of your symptoms, there may be associated risks that only make themselves known when you breathe pressurized air.

Now, keep in mind that at present, a lot of these risks are anecdotal, or at best, based on limited sample sizes.  So by nature, the recommendations made by the doctors are conservative in nature (and a list of references is provided at the end for those who want to dig deeper into the subject).

However, given the potential impact of these risks coming to pass, we strongly encourage you to spend the time and effort to get these tests done in advance before resuming diving.

RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH DIVING AFTER COVID

There are several risks associated with COVID, each of which can have an impact on you when diving:

General loss of fitness

While diving is mostly an easy activity, there are times when you do need to work a little – eg, surface swims in choppy waters or swimming against the current.     Loss of fitness obviously makes the dive more challenging physically, but can also induce psychological stress/sense of losing control, which is not a lot of fun.

Fibrosis/scarring of lungs

This is a big one.    Fibrosis/scarring of the lungs has been observed in a significant number of people and one of the most common issues associated with it is reduced pulmonary function, which can result in exercise-induced dyspnea (shortage of breath) and the same physical/psychological stress discussed earlier.

However, there is also a potentially increased risk of DCS (due to uncertainty about how this affects gas absorption models).       And there is also the potentially increased risk of lung barotrauma, due to gas getting trapped in the alveoli of the affected areas.

At present, studies are still ongoing on the actual risk, but until there is firm data on what those risks are, it is better to play it safe and be extra cautious.

Cardiac issues

A very large fraction (up to 25%) of people who were hospitalized with COVID have also been affected by cardiovascular complications of some sort or the other.     And given that diving poses an incrementally greater load on the heart due to the pressure of the blood, this means that again, there is a potentially greater risk of cardiac issues when diving.

The same caveats apply – the signs clearly indicate a potential risk.   So until there is further study on where the safety line gets drawn, it is better to err on the side of caution.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIVERS

This bears repeating again:  we are not doctors.   We are dive bums who refuse to confirm or deny whether we pee in our wetsuits.     This is not meant to be specific medical advice for you.    This is just a general guideline based on various sources online as well as recommendations of our own diving physician.     Treat this is a bare minimum but speak to your doctor.   If your doctor recommends a more rigorous test procedure, by all means listen to your doctor.   And remember – nothing prevents you from choosing a more rigorous set of tests either.    Better safe than sorry!

Also, let’s define “COVID recovery” for the purposes of this section – it is defined as the time when you have (a) finally tested negative AND (b) are fully recovered with no lingering symptoms AND (c) have reached your normal baseline level of fitness.      All 3 conditions have to be met for you to consider yourself as having recovered.

With that out of the way, these are the current broad guidelines on when you can resume diving after Covid.   In all cases, please speak to the doctor who was treating you, and get his/her clearance – if s/he recommends a follow-up with a specialist, get that done.

Asymptomatic Patients

Asymptomatic COVID patients should wait a minimum of 30 days after COVID recovery (as defined above) before getting back in the water.

Mildly Symptomatic Patients

It is recommended that patients suffering from very mild symptoms wait for a period of 30 days to 3 months after full recovery, depending on the severity of their symptoms and then get, at minimum (or more if recommended by your doctor), the following tests done and reviewed by a specialist before getting back in the water:

  • Chest XRay/ECG
  • Clearance from a pulmonary specialist

Moderate to Severely Symptomatic Patients

If a diver has suffered severe symptoms, including hospitalization, s/he should wait a period of 3-6 months after full recovery (again, depending on the severity of the symptoms) and then undergo the following tests at minimum (or more, if recommended by your doctor) before getting getting back in the water:

  • Complete pulmonary testing
  • CT scan of lungs
  • Exercise/cardiac stress test, preferably with spO2
  • Clearance by both a cardiac and a pulmonary specialist

If you have been on a respirator, my personal recommendation is that you do not dive for now and wait for more detailed studies to be completed first.   It isn’t worth taking the risk!   Similarly, a few cases of people with long Covid also have reported issues of neurological or cognitive dysfunction – that has to be addressed/resolved before they are to be considered as  fully recovered.

In each of the cases above, note that you wait the appropriate duration and THEN undergo the appropriate tests.

If your doctor recommends a waiting period that is shorter than what is suggested above, we will still recommend you play it safe and wait for longer (obviously, if your doctor does have experience with diving medicine, that’s a different story).       This is not to impugn on the doctor’s credentials – but more to do with risk management as a diver.   Remember:   not many establishments in India have the expertise to deal with diving-related issues, and your typical dive destination is also further away from the top medical facilities.   So better to be safe.

Also, if you would like a consult with a diving specialist, please contact us and we will put you in touch with Dr Partha, our diving specialist.  

THINGS TO BE AWARE OF WHEN YOU RESUME DIVING

So you have done your tests, you have cleared the recommended tests, waited the appropriate amount of time (and then a bit longer, as befitting a conservative diver) and finally, it is time to go diving.

Be aware of a couple of things, especially initially:   the first is extra fatigue after diving, which could be a sign of sub-clinical DCS or a sign that something is not kosher with your cardio-pulmonary functions.    Also be very careful about shortness of breath – if you feel even remotely out of breath, abort the dive immediately and get back to the surface.

And be extra careful about your typical diving parameters – the first dive trip may be a good time to increase your computer’s conservative setting by one level, or to be extra cautious about staying within your NDLS.   Make sure you do a slow ascent and perhaps throw in a longer safety stop.   Hydrate well between dives.   Etc. etc.   You know the drill – you have learned it in Open Water.     Time to play it by the book, if you aren’t already doing so.

We understand the eagerness to get back in the water – we are itching to do so, as well.   But this is a sport for a lifetime – don’t ruin it for yourself by being a little too hasty initially.

Safe diving!

 

REFERENCES

The following is a list of useful articles to read.   When reading, please note the dates of publication and be aware that some of the info may be replaced by more recent findings.    This is very much an evolving science right now.

What divers need to know about cardiac health (general article on cardiac health for divers
AHA:  What COVID is doing to the heart, even after recovery (cardiac risks after COVID)
DAN Europe’s flowchart for resuming diving (based on current best practices – may be subject to change as the science and knowledge evolves)
USC San Diego Guidelines for Evaluating Divers during the COVID-19 pandemic (a leading report from May 2020 that is driving the direction of current thinking/research)
What you should know about diving after COVID-19 (an Apr 2021 summary, has links to additional studies as well)
DAN Europe Physicians’ Field Experience Regarding Diving after COVID-19 (an Apr 2021 report with more anecdotal info on the risks flagged by the USC report, and more)
NIH:  Fitness to Dive and Medical Assessment Guidelines (from Sep 2020)
Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society – Return to Diving Post Covid-19 (older paper from April 2020)

Scuba Diving in Bangalore

By Articles, Blogs, scuba diving in india

Learn Scuba Diving in Bengaluru (Pool Training)

One of the most common questions we get is – “why would we dive in Bangalore? What is there to see?”
The answer to the second question, of course, is nothing. But the answer to the first is, quite simply, because it is a great way to get started with the sport.

Typically, people associate diving with going on holiday, diving in colorful reefs amidst large schools of fish, etc.  And yes, that is indeed correct – that is why we dive, after all. But before you get to diving on reefs, you have to complete some theory (online learning and sessions with an instructor) and also some skills training (aka, confined water training).

Yes, you can choose to do it all while on vacation – a lot of people do just that. You can also choose to complete this training in one of our @Home centers, such as Bangalore. What are the benefits of doing so?

Here is a list:

– You don’t waste your precious vacation time in training, but can use this time to get some additional dives in – so you maximize your diving/leisure time while on holiday

– You can learn at your own pace, without the time pressure of a holiday

– You can even use this time to decide if diving is the sport for you (fair warning – for most people, the answer is “yes”).

Even if you are not planning to get certified, but just want to do an Intro to Scuba, doing a pool session first gets you comfortable with scuba diving in a familiar environment, and you are more likely to enjoy your diving experience, as opposed to going diving straight away.

And pool training is not just for beginners.

Perhaps you are a newly certified diver who wants to get more comfortable with some skills, or you want to familiarize yourself with new equipment. Or perhaps it simply has been some time since you dived last and you want a refresher? Again, why waste one of your precious holiday days with refreshers, when you can do that at your convenience at home?

Lastly, want to try out some new gear? We regularly have tester kit available to try – you are welcome to try new masks, fins, BCD, etc in a pool and get familiar with it, before buying.

Pool sessions are a great way to stay involved in the sport and make it a sport that you engage in all the time, and not just once or twice a year on vacation!

Here are a few of our happy customers and their journey from the Bangalore Pool to a remote diving destinations

Scuba diving in Chennai

By Articles, scuba diving in india

Scuba Diving in Chennai

Ever imagined how it will be to wake up in your own bed, pack only a swimsuit, hop in a car, drive to the shore, get on a boat, kit up and dive? Scuba Diving in Chennai is exactly that. We are here to celebrate your love for diving, right in your backyard.

‘Is there life in the seas here? Can you see anything at all in these green waters? Can a new diver like me dive in Chennai?’, you may ask. The answer is yes, yes and yes.

Chennai is one of the big players in Indian fishing industry, owing to the rich faunal diversity all along Tamil Nadu coast. Yes, the visibility under water is not the greatest, and yes, we pray to the Wind Gods for a successful day everyday, but reefs off Chennai are some of the most prolific reefs we have come across along the coast of mainland India.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:

#1 Thoondil Street: One of our deeper sites where the world changes at about 18 meters, where the visibility shifts from tens of meters to only a few. However, the murky waters don’t stop marine life to thrive down there. The flat bottom that sits at 26 meters is made of rocks covered with soft coral and sponges. Right as you enter the murky waters, you are met with schools of snappers and fusiliers leading their fast paced lives and schools of sweet lips swimming around like a parade of soldiers. The bottom is busy with the groupers having one of their Mafia sit-downs and random excursions by sea snakes.

Thoondil Street - Best dive site in chennai

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites


#2 Castle Rock:
This dive site is a beautiful example of conservation efforts by people concerned about the insistent overfishing along Tamil Nadu coast. This is one of the artificial reefs built to promote the use of traditional fishing gear like hook and line over the more destructive trawlers and seines. Sitting at about 25 meters, these blocks of concrete house a variety of fish species. On a good day, you might find yourself stuck here in a traffic jam of fish. Starting from patient groups of groupers, goofy gobies and gliding lionfish at the bottom, you will see fish like longfin banners, oriental sweetlips, snappers, fusiliers and surgeons schooling in hundreds over the structures.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:

#3 Vaddi Pop & Garden Rock: These are our shallow dive sites, perfect for beginners to apply the skills learnt in confined waters. Starting at 12 meters, the sites are built of big boulders running parallel to the shore and go down till about 16 meters. The rocks are laden with sea fans and whip coral, gardened by butterfly and longfin banner fishes. Feather duster worms and nudibranchs can be seen beautifying these fans and rocks frequently.

One of our most treasured dive sites in Chennai, however, is not in the sea. In the hills of Kanchipuram, we have found this abandoned quarry which is just perfect to experience diving in its purest form, and never again be bothered by bad visibility, swells, currents or any out-worldly distractions.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:

#4 ShowCat Boneyard: The smaller, right side of the quarry has submerged, mostly dead trees and shrubs growing on a bed of sedimentary rocks, eventually falling down into a valley upto 27 meters. The curious placement of rocks makes it a ‘site’ to behold.

Scuba Diving in Chennai – Best Dive Sites:


#5 Mayajaal:
The much larger, left side of the quarry seems like a scene out of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas. After a gradual slope till 7 meters, the site drops straight to 27 meters along a humongous scarred wall of sedimentary rocks. Ideal for running deep scenarios, the flat bottom will keep you entertained with numerous crab gatherings, random appearances of truck headlights and tyres, TNT shells, fuse reels and scorch marks on the walls.

There is much more to diving in Chennai than what meets the eye. From rich marine ecosystems hidden in murky waters to new ecosystems sprouting in clear fresh waters, diving here is meant to change your perspective of the world underwater altogether. Contact us for more

Is Scuba Diving Safe in The Andamans

By Articles, Blogs, News

Is Scuba Diving Safe in The Andamans

As India (and most of the world) starts to open up and learn to live with COVID, a very common question we get asked is – is scuba diving safe in the Andamans, specifically from a COVID point of view.

To start with, let’s be clear on something – COVID hasn’t gone away and likely, will not for the foreseeable short/middle term. So the only way to maximize exposure to COVID is to stay at home and self-isolate.

When we go out and about – be it to the grocery store, be it to a restaurant, be it to work – we do have a certain additional risk that we are exposed to. So a more apt way of looking at things would be-  is that exposure greater or lower if we come to the Andamans for scuba diving?

In our opinion, coming for a trip to the Andamans does not pose a significant incremental risk – and in fact, is quite likely to result in a lower risk of exposure. This is for a bunch of reasons.

The first and foremost is that Andamans, at present, has negligible cases of COVID (4, at the time of writing this article on Feb 23, 2021). That means a very low risk of transmission by exposure.

Second, everyone who flies to the Andamans is required to get a COVID-negative test done within 48 hours of taking the flight. As is, the case load across the country has dropped significantly and by adding a COVID test, this minimizes the potential of exposure even further.

Thirdly, all tourist places are following regular safety protocols – sanitization, temperature checks, requiring people to wear a mask at all times.

Specifically to diving, we follow the protocols laid down by Divers Alert Network and PADI for sanitizing and disinfecting equipment between dives. We have also shifted much of our classroom training to online sessions, to minimize exposure and contact. Lastly, the fact that diving is conducted off a boat (ie, not in an enclosed space with recirculated air) also helps reduce the viral load, if any.

Look, we are not experts with complex mathematical models to determine risk. However, as people who live and dive in a place with no COVID cases (Havelock and Neil don’t have any recorded cases), we are acutely aware of the risk to ourselves, if nothing else. Based on the information available, we feel very confident that the risk – while not zero – is may actually be lower than what it would be based on just regular day-to-day life at home.

Which Island Is Better For Diving – HAVELOCK OR NEIL?

By Articles, Blogs, Dive Sites, Scuba Diving Andamans, Scuba diving Courses

Which Island is Better For Scuba Diving?
HAVELOCK (Swaraj Dweep) OR NEIL(Shahid Dweep)?

Another common question we get from our divers is – what is better for diving, Havelock or Neil?
The answer to that, of course, is… it depends.
It depends on what your experience level, the type of diving you want to do and what you are looking for in a vacation spot.

To start with, the 2 islands are very close together, so you are not going to see a significant change in the ecosystem and marine species between the two locations.
However, there are a few significant differences between the 2 locations:

  • Neil does not have the same mangrove cover as Havelock, and so tends to have lower sedimentation run-off. This results in generally better visibility closer to shore.
  • Havelock, by virtue of having the other islands of Ritchie’s Archipelago to the north, has a lot of sites that are sheltered no matter the wind or environmental conditions. This means that there are more shallow/sheltered sites for divers, where conditions allow access year long.
  • The drop-off into deep water is much closer to the southern side of Neil. This means a few more high-octane sites with a greater chance of seeing big pelagics (and we mean BIG).
  • Havelock has an excellent training reef accessible from the shore – a great place to do classes like Rescue Diver, Buoyancy, Navigation, Search & Recovery and more.

In addition to this, the islands themselves are fairly different. Havelock is all grown up now – it is has fiber optic internet, several restaurants and is pretty much a tourist island (albeit only relatively – compared to places like Goa, it is still positively rustic). Neil is still quieter and the package tourist hordes tend to give it a miss (or stay there only a night) – that gives it more of the quiet, “remote island” vibe of the Andamans. Depending on your preferences, you might find yourself gravitating towards one or the other.

Here is the list of top dive sites accessible from each island:

Best Dive Sites in Havelock:   The Wall, Slope, Pilot Reef, Aquarium, Nursery, Tribegate, Jackson’s Bar, Broken Ledge

Best Dive Sites in Neil:   Margherita’s Mischief, Junction, Bus Stop, Nursery (a different one!), Sea Fan City and a few more special ones that are going to be revealed over time.

Wait, wait, wait!

What about the Andaman, you ask – the world-class dive sites like Johnny’s Gorge, Dixon’s Pinnacle, V16, M/V Inchkett and Whitehouse Rock. The good news is – we can access them from both Havelock and Neil.

So as you can see, both Havelock and Neil are very good options. If we had to pick, we’d give Havelock a slight edge for newer divers looking to get some experience in controlled conditions or for divers looking to do some training courses. For advanced divers, we think Neil has the slight edge in terms of dives sites (although that edge is likely to increase in the next 6 months or so).

Scuba diving and Safety during Covid: Ensuring you’re safe.

By Scuba Diving Andamans

Scuba diving and Safety procedures during Covid

 

How do we ensure Safe Diving During COVID-19 Pandemic

As things open up, many people – including us – can’t wait to get back in the water again.     However, while we are all eager to start diving, we feel that some precautions are indeed necessary in these Covid times, both to ensure your safety as well as the safety of the dive professionals who will be taking you diving.

This blog is intended to discuss how to ensure maximum safety when diving.

To set expectations – nothing is perfectly safe.     The only way to be perfectly safe is to be completely isolated at home and avoid contact with others.      However, at this point, most of us are beyond that stage and are doing things like going to work, going out to eat, etc. etc.     So there is a certain “baseline exposure” that we have chosen to accept as part of our daily routines.

The purpose of these precautions is to try to mitigate any additional risk beyond this baseline when you go diving – or even to reduce that baseline level to some degree.

So how do you know the dive shop is safe to dive with, during Covid?

There are 2 main risk vectors when diving – one is risk of transmission from equipment and the other is risk of transmission from people.

As far as equipment risk goes, here are some of steps that responsible dive centers across the world are taking to mitigate it:

  • Sterilizing equipment after every day of use, using methodology recommended by Divers Alert Network or the various scuba manufacturers
  • Ensuring that second stages are not shared by multiple people
  • Changing mouthpieces for every diver
  • Tank filling to be done with the air intake valve kept away from people
  • Use of protective gear (mask, face shield) when filling scuba tanks
  • Regulator and mask to be handled only by the diver using them
  • Minimize handling of any scuba equipment by personnel other than the divers
  • Washed gear to be kept separately and not in contact with other gear
  • Sanitization of all frequent-contact surfaces on a regular basis

 

From a human transmission point of view, the same protocols that we are all used to so far still apply – social distancing, use of masks and frequent sanitization are still the key.      A few additional steps from a diving context:

  • Bring your own bottle for water and get it re-filled
  • Wear a mask/shield on the dive boat for as long as possible
  • Maintain some separation from other divers when on the boat
  • Put on your dive mask and keep it on at all times when on the land or on the boat
  • In the water, if you are going to blow your nose or something similar, do so at some distance from other divers and down current
  • Move from physical classroom time to online classroom
  • Do paperwork electronically, as far as possible
  • Minimize the number of non-divers coming to the dive center

Keep in mind that the risk of transmission works both ways – both the dive center and divers should proactively take steps to care for each other’s safety.    If you feel you have may have been exposed, please isolate yourself.

 

SPECIAL NOTE FOR THE ANDAMANS

The Andamans have a very low COVID caseload.   Havelock and Neil are actually COVID-free.    So in many ways, the risk factor there is higher for the locals and staff, as opposed to visitors – at least initially.

This risk factor in the Andamans is mitigated further.   For starters, all passengers flying in are expected to undergo a COVID test shortly before arrival or upon arrival.      In addition, even taking the ferry requires a recent (within 48 hours) COVID test.    Second, there are regular checks of temperature at every point and also daily checks at the dive center.   Lastly, the open-air nature of the activity and the eco-style rooms also reduce risk.

Footnote: This may also be a good time to buy your own regulator – and if you are interested in buying from us, we are running deals on regulators as well.   Contact us if interested.

Garmin Descent

Review – Garmin Descent Dive Computer

By Gear

GARMIN DESCENT MK1 DIVE COMPUTER REVIEW
By: Vinnie
Date: September 2020
Garmin Descent

The Garmin Descent Mk1 was one of the most exciting dive computers back when it was launched, coming as it did with all the features that one could ever want in a dive computer – and then some.  The Descent it as close to being a “Do Everything” device as it gets, with ability to track other activities (running, cycling, etc) as well as the usual fitness metrics such as steps, HR, calories burned, etc.   And all of it backed up by Garmin’s famous ecosystem which allows for consolidation and viewing of all your activities.    This combination makes for a very unique dive computer – one with no real competition in terms of feature set.

As a long-term Garmin user myself – I have a couple of Garmin 520 computers I use with my bike, a Garmin 935XT watch I use for running and triathlons and a Vivosmart 4 I wear as a daily activity/sleep/recovery tracker, I was very excited at the idea of adding a Garmin dive computer to our portfolio of dive products, and asked for a review unit to be sent out to me.

I have been testing it out on land and in water over the past couple of week – lets see whether it lives up to the hype.

THE BASICS

The Garmin Descent comes in a compact, rigid cardboard box, inside which you find the watch, some manuals and the charging cable.     No extraneous packing, fairly eco-friendly – so that’s good.     A travel case ala Shearwater would have been nice to have at this price point, but that’s an academic quibble, to be honest (I actually prefer to just stick the dive computer in a pocket in my carry-on when I travel, rather than add another box).

 

Inside the box was a robust-looking unit, with a black body, chromed external bezel, chrome bezel and a soft rubber strap.   Also packed in was the charging cable and the usual papers that no one ever reads.

With a diameter of 50mm, the Garmin Descent dive computer is not small by any means, but the short lugs make it surprisingly wearable as a day-to-day watch – which is one of the main benefits of getting a dive computer in this form factor.  It certainly looked very sharp, in a “purposeful tool” kind of way, as opposed to “wrist jewellery” kind of way.

THE DIVING FEATURES

Let’s start with what it does not have – air integration (although it is expected that the Mk2 version will have this).       That’s the easy part.

Now let’s talk about what it does have.   The short answer to that is “everything else”.    As far as the standard features go, here is a list:

  • Air mode
  • Nitrox mode
  • Apnea/Free Diving mode
  • Apnea Hunt Mode (where the alarms are disabled)
  • Gauge mode
  • Full ready for decompression diving
  • Trimix mode
  • Ability to define and switch between 6 different gas mixes
  • Open Circuit vs Closed Circuit mode
  • Multiple conservative settings – Low, Standard, High and Custom, where you can define your own gradient factors
  • Digital compass (excellent!)
  • Dive Planning Mode

In addition, there are a whole lot of other standard features, like many alarms, dive stopwatch mode, altitude settings, fresh vs sea water settings, etc. which I will not waste time covering.

The algorithm used by the Garmin is the industry standard Buhlmann ZH-L16C – same as the Shearwater and a proven, reliable model.       In addition to the standard 3 settings for conservatism, you can also tweak the algorithm exactly as you please, which does away with the limitations imposed by overly conservative or overly liberal computers:   this is done by adjusting the Gradient Factors (and *shameless plug alert* you learn more about Gradient Factors and a lot more in my Decompression Theory masterclass.  Ahem).

That alone makes it a very impressive unit, capable of covering virtually all use cases you would expect underwater.    But wait, there is more.     There are 3 very cool additional features on this computer:

The first is Optical HR which works underwater – unlike the Scubapro Galileo, which claims to adjust the deco profile based on your heart rate, I do not believe that the Descent does so (and it is debatable whether that adjustment has any significant or measurable real world impact on diver safety).     But it is still nice to be able to see your HR and get a sense of how hard you are working underwater, and also for analysis afterwards (great on dives where you were working against a current or had unusually high air consumption).

The second is built-in GPS and surface navigation, which not only marks the entry/exit coordinates of your dive, but also shows you a map of where you are and even allows surface navigation.   Presumably, your boat will have its own GPS, but still, it is always nice to have this feature – the more data you have on the surface, the better.

GPS in your watch – showing entry, exit and a map of the surroundings.   I wants it!!!

The last is the ability to see Tide Charts for your location.   As a dive professional, I find this very useful – and that holds true for recreational divers as well, in terms of knowing what to expect as far as currents and vis go.   Being able to look up this info on my watch, as opposed to firing up a browser on my phone, is pretty slick stuff.

Seriously amazing stuff, Garmin.    My gear lust was fully awakened once I had a chance to play around with this.

NON-DIVING FEATURES

If this is all that the Garmin Descent dive computer was capable of, it would still be a very impressive dive computer.    But as the saying goes, wait – there is more.

Built on a Fenix 5 platform, the Descent is actually a full-featured smart sports watch, with all the capabilities of the dedicated Garmin sports watches – you can use it for various activities including cycling, running, pool swims, open water swims and more (strength, yoga, walking, etc).   In addition, for those of you with dedicated accessories, the Garmin Descent also pairs with accessories like cycling power meters, external HR straps and running pods.     If you wear it as your primary fitness device, it will also do things like track steps, calories burned, stress levels (based on HR variability) and more.

Despite its size, the Descent was very comfortable on the wrist for a run (sorry, no photos while actually running – I dont carry a phone)

As mentioned earlier, I use a Garmin 935XT as my main sports watch for running and triathlons, but the Descent has pretty much all of the same functionality as well.     I used it instead of the 935XT for a few runs, and it worked just as well – despite the device being a fair bit thicker and heavier, it was surprisingly comfortable.   I credit the soft rubber strap, which allows you to get it snug enough without being uncomfortable.    And I got all the advanced running metrics like GCT, Vertical Oscillation, etc. that I get from the 935.   So zero compromises in functionality.

The Descent also pairs with the Connect IQ app store (a part of the Garmin Connect phone app), which lets you download various third party apps and screens for the dive computer – this includes watch faces, activity apps, etc.

ConnectIQ apps let you customize and get additional info on your device

Furthermore, you can also get your phone call and message notifications on your Garmin device – just like any other smart watch.

In short, the Descent isnt just a device you wear for diving – it is a single device that can stay strapped on your wrist all day, every day.

USAGE AND ERGONOMICS

I’ve managed to take the Descent out for a few dives over the past few weeks and see what it was like to actually use the device.

The display on the Garmin is nice and bright – not as amazing as the Shearwater OLED display, but sufficiently bright and easy to view underwater.

Dhruv modeling the Garmin underwater – the display is legible and easy to read even in low vis

Battery life is very good – Garmin claims about 36-40 hours for diving, and up to 10 days in watch mode.   I have not had a chance to test this rigorously, but based on my usage and battery levels, it seems to be more or less right.    And this is a sensible amount of battery life – while this is obviously a matter of personal preference, I can’t be bothered dealing with a device that needs charging every day or two.    Give me something that will run a week of diving without needing any attention.

Charging is through a USB cable with a proprietary connector which attaches to contacts on the reverse side of the watch – standard stuff.     The cable t0 computer connection is very secure indeed – this is NOT going to accidentally come loose at night, resulting in you having an computer with low batteries on the morning of the dive.

Charging cable

Ergonomics, in terms of setting up, will be very familiar to users of other Garmin devices.    Coming from my 935XT, I was able to get into the Descent without needing any manual or anything.     For someone new to the Garmin system, the immense array of options, it can seem a bit much in the beginning, but once you understand the logic of how the menu system is structured, it is surprisingly intuitive.

In dive mode, you have 3 display screens and you can tap on the screen to toggle between them, or use the up/down arrow keys.   The primary screen shows the essential info – dive time, depth, NDL and, in the case of nitrox or trimix, your gas mix and related info.     The second screen shows compass heading, depth, time and NDL.    And the last screen shows heart rate info, as well as the standard essential dive details.

 

The 3 display screens of the Garmin Descent

This is the one place where I felt the Garmin Descent could do better.

For starters, both the NDL and the dive time field read in MM:SS format – which is quite unusual compared to other dive computers, which display minutes only.      Perhaps it is just me, but whenever I see something displayed in the MM:SS format, my brain automatically equates that to a “time” display, not a NDL or deco time display.   So this was one thing that took me by surprise.

Another issue I have with the display is that the arguably most important information – NDL – is in the same font/color size as a bunch of other information that is not as critical, and so does not stand out as much.      Personally, I would have preferred to see that info in a different color or larger font size, so that it stood out more.

The biggest issue, for me, however, was the lack of clarity on labels.   Take a look at this shot, taken during a dive:

Screen 3 display during a dive

Is TOD time of the day or time of dive?    One would expect, from the fact that it occupies a more prominent display that it would be the dive time – however, the standard notation for that is Dive Time, not ToD.  And if so, what is 15:46?   The time of the day was around 1-1:30pm, and the Garmin – which was paired to my phone and to the GPS – should have picked up the correct time automatically.   So neither of these two numbers actually represents the time of the day.     Even if one of them is dive time, what is the other?      And why would you waste display space with something as irrelevant as time of day?

Admittedly, I was searching for new sites and also comparing this unit to a couple of other units I was testing, so my attention was split many ways – and in practice, it would be easy enough to figure this information out with use.   However,  one thing I have learned is that if something isn’t marked clearly (and often, even if it is), odds are good someone will misinterpret it.   So I am a big believer of making stuff as clearly marked as possible, especially for safety-critical units.   And any in case, in this day and age of advanced displays, there is absolutely no reason to have unmarked fields.

The decompression screen is a little easier to read, but still is somewhat confusing at first glance (I have taken this screen off the Garmin website, as I did not have the time to test this computer on some deco dives):

Garmin Descent Mk1 decompression screen

The bottom left number should be PPO2 (an assumption, given the lack of labels, but a pretty safe one) and the top left number is the total dive time.    But given that you are in deco and so past your NDL, why does display show 12:32 under NDL?   I can only assume it is total time to ascend – but if so, why not label it as such?     Surely the display header can be changed accordingly, to avoid the issue of someone mistakenly assuming they still have 12 minutes of no-deco time left.

Are any of these fatal flaws?   Not really.    A couple of dives and you will soon understand the layout and what the fields mean.    However, you just need to be aware that there will be a short learning curve as you get used to the display, and you need to make the effort to cross that curve.

Lastly, the dive planning mode works pretty much as advertised – easy to use and you can add additional surface time to the planning mode to get an idea of what your allowed bottom times would be at some point in the future.  .   You can even plan decompression dives on the unit, if you so desire.

CONNECTIVITY AND APP SUPPORT

The Garmin Connect phone app is the centerpiece of the Garmin eco-system and repository for all your workouts.        Like all your other Garmin devices, the Garmin Descent will connect to it via Bluetooth (something that works seamlessly – even on Windoze and Android) and automatically upload your dive, where you can see it on the app, share it on Strava, etc.    This includes a visual display of your profile, GPS info as well as all the dive metrics including HR.

Screenshots from the Garmin Connect app

The Garmin Connect is also the hub from which you can download apps onto the device – and this raises the issue of reliability.

I am a long-term Garmin user and very happy with their eco-system but even the most hardcore of Garmin fans has to admit that their devices, especially first generation ones, often have teething issues that can make them fairly annoying to use.    Add to that the ability to add apps of unknown provenance and you have set the recipe for an untimely crash.     That’s bad enough when it happens on a bike or a run (it is a proven fact that if you cannot save your workout on Strava, you do not get any training benefit from it!) but happening on a dive can be downright dangerous.

However, the good news is that once you start a dive, the Garmin locks out all the other apps and functionality, thereby improving reliability.   Certainly, the computer worked perfectly for me and searching online doesn’t seem to indicate too many reliability issues – which isn’t surprising.  Garmin also makes products for the aviation industry and those have to be made with a very high degree of reliability – obviously, some of that has been carried over here.

Watch faces, weather apps, activity apps and more allow you to customize your Garmin

Garmin also has a Garmin Dive app, which provides a single place for keeping all your dive-related activities.  I installed it and tried out, and it seemed to be very similar to the regular Garmin Connect app, just more of a “dive log” style.   I didn’t spend too much time on it.

SUMMARY

There is no dancing around the elephant in the room – the price of this unit.   It has a MRP of Rs 109,000 (and the incoming Garmin Descent Mk2 is even higher) – even factoring in the fact that we will be selling it at a healthy discount, this is NOT a cheap dive computer.

So is it a dive computer that is worth buying?

Obviously, whether you even need to spend this much on a dive computer is a matter of personal choice.     You can certainly get by with an entry-level, no-frills dive computer – but the higher-end dive computers have a lot of features which, while not essential, do add a lot of convenience to your diving and which I certainly cannot live without.     So that’s a personal choice – for me, I would rather suck it up and pay the premium once and then enjoy the benefits over several years.   That’s worth a lot more to me than a flagship phone, for example.   But I also get the rationale for buying a more value-priced computer.

So let’s rephrase the question – if you are looking for a high-end dive computer, is the Garmin Descent worth buying?

As I mentioned at the start of this article, there is nothing like the Garmin Descent on the market today.      It is a top-end dive computer and a top-end smart sports/fitness watch rolled into one, and it does both without any significant compromises.     The Garmin 945XT (the current successor to the 935XT) is about Rs 55,000 or so.   A top-end wrist-watch dive computer like the Shearwater Teric is around Rs 80,000.     This computer gives you the best of both and only for a relatively small premium (once you factor in our selling price).     So from that point of view, it is even… dare I say it… good value.

If you do not care about land-based features but only care about getting the best possible computer, then something like the Shearwater Teric is the closest one-to-one competitor to the Garmin Descent.   I will have a direct head-to-head comparison of these two dive computers coming soon, but they each bring something different to the table – in the Garmin’s case, it has the GPS navigation and a longer battery life air while the Teric has a significant better (in terms of legibility and intuitiveness) display and air integration.

The Garmin Descent does have some foibles when it comes to how the information is presented, and all else being equal, I would prefer a computer without these issues.   However, all else is most definitely NOT equal – and the strengths and features of the Descent make it a very appealing option for divers looking for a do-it-all sports watch.

xHowever, I will only recommend this computer to divers who are willing to spend that little bit of effort getting to know this computer on the first couple of dives – if you are ok with that, this is certainly a contender in the top-dog category.    I am certainly very tempted to get one myself, to use with my teaching kit (where the Perdix AI is a bit overkill).