Keith surveying the currents and swell at
Updated July 2005
- Open water certification through NASDS
- Advanced open-water certification through PADI
- Nitrox certification through SSI
- Advanced Nitrox through TDI
- Decompression procedures though TDI
- Entry level trimix certification through TDI
I have been diving since 1996, but only started formally logging my
dives in July of 1999. Since this time, I have logged 889 dives (I
did about 150 dives in the three years prior). I have been averaging
about 175 dives/year for the last four years.
Almost all my dives are cold water dives in Washington and Canada.
Warm water destinations I have had the privilege of diving include the
Bahamas, Maui, Hawaii, Lanai, Palau, the Red Sea, Bonaire, Myanmar,
I am also the proprietor of Northwest Underwater Imagery as a side
business. In addition to co-hosting the seaotter web site with Jon, I
have had articles published in Northwest Diving News, photographs
published in text books and magazines (including a cover shot for the
Point Defiance Aquarium magazine), and about 40 dive site reviews
published on-line at Northwest Diver 2 Diver web magazine.
I started with and OS System Nautilus shell suit, which was a good, economical suit. In 2000, I stepped up to a DUI CF200X, which I absolutely love. The crushed neoprene and telescoping torso make for a suit that fits properly, yet allows total flexibility. I must also say that I really like the DUI rock boot system - it keeps air out of my feet and allows for great traction when hiking down rocks to a dive site. This suit has held up incredible well as I now have about 700 dives on it. The front entry zipper seems to lasts about 350 dives before needing replacing. I have had a few minor problems with the Apeks exhaust valves on the suit, but DUI customer service has ALWAYS stepped up to the plate and looked after me. Kudos to DUI - a great product backed up by great people!!! When it comes time to buy another suit, I would have a very hard time buying anything else but DUI.
For an undergarment, I simply run two layers of 200wt polar fleece over thin thermal poly-propylene underwear. In the winter, I add argon as a dry suit inflation gas for added warmth. Note: Argon doesn't make you feel warm - it makes you feel less cold.
I use a mix of steel tanks - high pressure 100s or 80s or low pressure 85s. The first steels I bought were Genesis tanks. I bought these tanks because their buoyancy characteristics were markedly better than Pressed Steel and similar to Faber steel tanks, but cost less than both. I have experienced annual rusting problems with all three of my Genesis tanks. They must be lightly tumbled once a year - which is not a huge deal to me as I do my own tumbling. My other 4 tanks are all Fabers and proven to be very robust tanks. The internal coating of the Faber is much less prone to rusting.
I also dive recreationally with a 19 cubic aluminum foot pony tank. In my opinion, pony tanks are the only truly reliable redundant scuba system (with the exception of isolated twins). I am often told that a pony tank is not substitute for a dive buddy. I agree with this statement, but also believe that a dive buddy is no substitute for a pony tank either.
I started diving with a Zeagle Ranger. I used this BC for about 5 years before it eventually started falling apart and needed replacing. I really enjoyed this BC when I used it. My only complaint was the awkward cummerbund design. I hate cummerbunds!
After trying several BC's, I finally upgraded to the Halcyon backplate system. This BC takes a while to learn how to get in and out of due to its continuous web system and is somewhat uncomfortable out of the water, but in the water it is truly like driving a sports car. I can also use the backplate and harness of this BC for my twins setup when I want to tech dive. I had one occurrence where the Halycon wing leaking along a seam, but Halcyon replaced the wing free of charge. This BC is definitely not for everyone, but I like it.
I currently use an Apeks TX200 as my primary. I have a low-profile Shewood Minimus that I use as my backup when rec diving, and an Apex TX50 as my second reg when tech diving. The Apeks regs breathe incredibly well, and I have had no problems with them whatsoever. I used to run a Sherwood Maximus - a good workhorse reg, but it doesn't breathe anywhere near as easy as the Apeks. Computer wise, I use an air integrated, wireless Suunto Vytek wrist mount. It is compact, easy to use and read, and very comprehensive (3 nitrox mixes, air time remaining, average depth, etc). The Suunto's deco algorithm is very conservative, which suits me fine. I have a friend with an Oceanic that often allows him as much no-deco time running air as I do running 28% Nitrox. I think his computer came with a free pass to the Virginia Mason decompression chamber J.
My primary light source is a DiveRite 18W with a homebuilt acrylic canister. The canister is a unique screw-top design that houses ten 4500 mAh NiMH batteries. A good friend of mine was building these canisters before Halcyon, Diverite and others were building similar canisters our of Delron.
The 18W HID is an expensive light, but very bright and the light color is very natural (like sunlight). I really like this light - I think you can give a fish a sun tan with it is you are not careful. It works very well for video when coupled with a video reflector. The only major drawback of the 18W version of this light (other than cost) is that you should not run the light out of water. This is not an issue for the 10W version.
For stills, I use an Olympus C8080 digital, Ikelite DS100 strobe, and Ikelite housing. The housing allows for complete control of all camera functions. The Ikelite sync cord has proven somewhat fragile as it tends to malfunction about every six month and need replaced. Other than that, it is a great setup. I have the wide angle lens and dome port for the camera and housing which takes wonderful wide angle shots. The camera also does a great job with macro, although I have to use manual focus when in super-macro mode. The one complaint I have of the camera is that it takes about 7 second to write a raw format file to flash. SLR is next.
For video, I run a Sony PC330 in an Ikelite housing. For lighting, I have two 18W HIDs. Again, I really like this video setup. I did have some cracking issues with the base of the Ikelite housing, but Ikelite replaced it under warranty and the problem has not reoccurred. Ikelite has a customer for life.
My first two years diving, I thought that mask were designed to leak! I had a mask that just didn't fit right, and water would very slowly seep in. But I did not know any better and would just clear the mask every 10 minutes or so. One day, I accidentally grabbed my wife's ScubaPro Tri-vent mask when I was heading out diving. No leaks! What a concept!
I now dive a Cressi-sub Horizon. WOW! This mask is amazing. It is constructed in a similar fashion as their "Big-eyes" mask, but also sports small side windows. Low volume, great vision, and CHEAP. Two of my other dive friends are now diving with this mask too (including Jon). Nicely done Cressi-sub!
I use Scuba Pro Jet fins. Not the easiest or lightest fins to push through the water, but wonderful control and great thrust out of frog kicks. As they are heavy fins, I travel with Mares Quattros when hitting tropical destinations. I also always pack a finger spool and 4' signal marker buoy when diving. Spools are so useful, especially if vis is a bit off and the anchor isn't *quite* on the wreck or reef. I typically carry three cutting devises - two knives and a set of shears. We had a very capable local diver drown who was solo diving, got caught up in some monofilament, then dropped her knife.
Boats are definitely not for everyone. What is the old saying - a boat is just a hole in the water than you keep pouring money into? Sometimes this is not too far from the truth. Anyway, I have owned several boats over the last eight years. Years ago I was fortunate enough to do a couple of dives off of a friends 12 foot AB rigid hull inflatable (RIB). I was immediately sold and ended up buying a RIB a short time later. I started with a 13 foot Avon rigid hull inflatable with center console and 40 HP Yamaha as my dive rig. I did a LOT of diving in this rig and have nothing but praises for it. I recently upgraded to an 18 foot version of this boat with a 115 HP Yamaha. I can now easily carry three divers and 10 tanks at 30 MPH through turbid sees to sites 30 miles away. It is truly an awesome dive rig!