Beneath the Sea & Welcome Mermaid Sarah!

After recovering (& working like crazy) for a few days from our amazing ScubaRadio trip, I figured it was time to give my impressions of my first time to Beneath the Sea in New Jersey and our adventure to New York City!

I've been to a good number of trade shows, but this was one that I had yet to experience.  My overall thoughts?  It was pretty darn good!  It reminded me of a smaller scale DEMA – but with consumers instead of just dive professionals.  And my thoughts on New York?  It's definitely not the Keys, and I'm definitely a beach bum at heart, but it did have its moments.  (More on that later.)

We even had a brand new mermaid to debut with us at the show – the beautiful Mermaid Sarah!

Sorry guys, Mermaid Sarah's taken!!

Now… it does sound a little odd when people ask where we found her and we answer “Well… we picked her up in a bar in Vegas”.  The worst part? It's true!  And it just so happened that her first debut as a “guest mermaid” at DEMA was on the same day we lost another mermaid … also somewhere in Vegas.  Ok – it's really not as bad as a it sounds.  We were doing some end of the day networking at the convention hotel in Vegas after a long day and we met Mermaid Sarah – who is the marketing mastermind for Diamond Brand.  She was working the DEMA show with Stahlsac and ran into our crew.  Little did she know what she was in for as we recruited her!  She joined us for her first official ScubaRadio mermaid trip – at Beneath the Sea in Secaucus, New Jersey… and things went awesome!  (Sorry it wasn't somewhere warmer!!!)  And the best part?  She survived Greg the Divemaster's hazing ceremony better than I did!  But regardless of the quality of her liver, we hope to have her on more trips!

As for the rest of the show – it was wonderful!  My favorite thing is walking the show floor and seeing all of our amazing friends from all around the world as well as meeting new friends… and walk the show floor we did! There were lots of meetings to be had to get us ready for our upcoming busy summer of travel!

Also, I must mention we got “blinged” out (wow… I can't believe I just used that word) with a new line of ScubaRadio jewlery by Dive Silver!  The mermaids, Pup, and even Greg were wearing ScubaRadio logo'd jewelry.  As I recall saying on the air, “I feel blingtastic!”  Someone please shoot me next time something like that comes out of my mouth!  hahaha

Mermaid Toni & a hairy Robin Williams!
Mermaid Toni & (a hairy) Robin Williams

In summary – it was a fantastic show & a great trip (did I mention I got to meet Robin Williams after his seeing his new Broadway show from the 6th row!?! AMAZING!)

I'm already looking forward to next year's BTS.  (Although, I could request it to be a bit warmer!)  However, who am I to complain seeing as I live in the Florida Keys and am leaving in less than 24 hours to celebrate ScubaRadio's 14th Birthday in Bimini at the Big Game Club with some pretty amazing dive industry people!  Soooo excited!  There's still time to join us!!  🙂

The best way to find out about all of our adventures in NY & NJ is to listen to the March 26th episode of ScubaRadio!  (And of course, don't forget to listen live this Saturday as we broadcast from the Big Game Club on our BIRTHDAY! – EST 3-5pm)

Mermaid at the 2011 Düsseldorf Boot Show

Let me start this mlog (mermaid blog) with a few facts.

1. I am in Germany.
2. I do not speak German.
3. I dislike the cold.

With that being said, I should have known I was going to be in trouble when my farewell Facebook status listed the countries I would visit & Peter, from Aquanauts Grenada, commented “Those poor countries… they will never be the same again.” Or perhaps it was when the lady at the check-in counter for the airline (in FLORIDA) spoke to me in German (which was actually quite a nice change from the normal Spanish greeting you get in the Miami area).  This was followed by the airline safety briefing being in German.  It's a good thing that after 30+ flights in the past year I now have it completely memorized and know how to buckle my seatbelt and that I must put the oxygen mask on myself prior to small children (or people who act like small children, despite the fact that I usually act like a 5 year old). And might I mention that we got to watch Two & A Half Men on the flight (one of my favorite shows)… however, that too was in German. Yeahhhh… I'm kinda out of my element here.

Then of course, came getting me through immigration.  Despite all of the traveling I've been doing around the world with ScubaRadio, it's still a small miracle I was allowed into the country.  I made one mistake… They asked “What are you doing here?” and I said “working a trade show”.  Boom!  RED FLAG.  You don't say the word “working” when trying to enter Germany without a work Visa.  Bit of a language barrier there.  So… the officer unhappily started asking if I had a return flight booked… and even made me prove it with the printed itenary!  Goooood thing I had that, or else I'd probably still be standing there trying to convince an angry German immigration officer that I had zero intention on staying in the country past 15 days.  Maybe I should have told him that with the weather being as it is here (35 degrees & alternating between snow, rain, or snowrain) & that I can't understand German, there is no way I would want to be here longer than necessary!  Then again, that may have not gone over so well either.

At least I felt right at home as I got into a taxi… they were playing the typical Top 40 Pop songs on the radio that I hear all the time in the states such as Bruno Mars, Kesha and Pink.  Good to know that wherever I go in the world I can have my fill of my favorite songs & never feel too far from home!  (This is the same for everywhere we go… even in Fiji).

Now the Boot Show in Düsseldorf is one of the largest in the world.  Although it is primarily geared towards boats & the boating lifestyle, it also covers pretty much everything to do with the water.  This includes DIVING, surfing, wake boarding… literally everything.  There are 17 different halls. (Click here to see a PDF map of the hall layout… it's HUGE!) Although I haven't had much time to go and explore any halls other than diving, I can't wait to get around the show later in the week!

Where can I get one of these??

However, one of the greatest things I've ever seen at a diving trade show was provided by Bauer Compressors. They have a compressor that is called the Verticus and they once got the great idea to gut it, replace the interior with a keg of Weiss Beer, and replace some of the fill whips with beer taps!  Now they have cleverly nicknamed the compressor “Beerticus.”  Around 5pm everyone starts showing up at their booth to enjoy a few cold brewskies and some finger food.  I think every dive shop should come equipped with one of these, so be sure to ask your local Bauer dealer for a quote!

And now the question I know you're all waiting to hear the answer… how did the “mermaiding” go over?  Well, I don't know if Germany was quite ready for Mermaids at their trade shows just yet, but regardless, apparently the reaction to mermaids is universal across the world.  The comments were typical with: “How do you move around?” “Can I steal you away to put you back in the sea?” “I knew mermaids existed!!”  I came up with a new response to “How did you get here” that I was quite proud of: “I don't know… I just woke up here!”  Well… at least I thought it was witty.

One thing I didn't quite expect was for the press to show up too.  A company called  Submerge Productions asked if they could do a quick interview as part of the “Boot Show Video Blog – Day 1” for the show. If you watch it & aren't so great at German (such as myself), I suggest you just fast forward to 3:42 to see the mermaid.  There's been talk of throwing me in a huge glass tank they have to test dive gear this weekend, and I'm sure there will be tons of photos taken.  The only thing I'm mildly worried about other than what brilliant things may come out of my mouth during an interview (I still get nervous in front of a video camera) is the temperature of the water… mermaids are mildly afraid of cold water & I truly doubt it's heated!  Brrrrr!!  Mer-Icicle!

On other notes, the rest of the Germany trip is going well.  The food is amazing. I've tried some things I never thought I'd like (seeing as mermaids are quite fond of seaweed)…. and loved mostly everything.  However, there was one thing my taste buds just weren't craving more of and that was “Blood Sausage”. It wasn't as much the flavor as it was the texture. Although, the German beer does make up for any sausage I don't like.  Also, yesterday was my first experience on the German Autobahn… and let me tell you, going 100-133 mph consistently is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.  All in all, things would be pretty much perfect if the sun would come out and the temperature would go up about 40 degrees!  Although, I can't complain too much… tomorrow I'll fly to England to see my family and in 5 days I'll fly to Turkey for a few relaxing days in the sun!! Then it's back to “normal” life in the Florida Keys until the next freezing cold adventure to Chicago in February!!

A Mermaid’s Tail of Vegas & Fiji!

Ahhhh…. Home sweet home back in the beautiful Florida Keys.  That is if you can call “beautiful” a balmy 54 degrees and freezing cold rain.  As I sit here on the couch wrapped in a blanket, fully clothed, drinking hot beverages and dreaming of being back in Fiji's gorgeous summer weather, I wonder where the past 3 1/2 weeks went and why there's a Christmas tree in my living room.  Oh wait, it's December.  When did that happen?  I guess I lost a few more nights in Vegas and Fiji than I realized!

I always knew I had an evil twin somewhere!

DEMA was great this year not just for ScubaRadio, but seemingly for the entire industry.  It was my first time representing ScubaRadio and it was so much fun!  It was a little awkward seeing almost life-size standup pictures of myself around the show advertising an Oceanic Wetsuit, but I have to admit, it was kind of neat at the same time. (Although coming home to it standing in my house was even more awkward!) And of course, it's so great to see all of those wonderful divers that I've met over the past year.  It's really quite impressive how quickly divers can go from being an acquaintance to great friends.  I think that's always been one of my main reasons for loving this industry – the diver bond – and DEMA is a perfect place to see proof of that.  Despite our busy schedule, we still found time to meet at the Hilton Bar for cocktail hour (or hourS to be more exact.) During the last day of the DEMA show, we pulled an early disappearing act to head to the airport for the beginning of our journey to FIJI!!

I never thought I'd be so lucky as to go to Fiji twice within 6 months.  Miracles do happen! We arrived safely after our long and interesting journey all the way to Matava's Eco Resort on the island of Kadavu. The resort is very intimate with some wonderful dives to offer.  I even got to see my first Manta!!  Simply majestic.  We should ask Greg the DM how he scared the s*** out of one… literally.  hahah!

"Throw it back!"

I guess mermaids aren't the only ones who get a little nervous when Greg's at the operating end of a camera.  We got him back for all of those cold waterfall photo shoots and hanging us up by the tail when we came up with a new idea…. “Everything you make us do for pictures – you can do too.”  Muwhahah (evil laugh).

We even got to celebrate “Tanksgiving” with a real turkey and all (which is extremely hard and expensive to get to Fiji). And of course there were a few Turkey Day Cocktails with great company. Plus, they even gave us an early Christmas present of handmade coconut bras (or Kava Bras as Greg likes to call them)!

We got off the island of Kadavu just in the nick of time before a tropical cyclone hit and grounded all flights for 2 days.  We headed back to the main island of Viti Levu and drove around to Raki Raki for more than a week of fun at Volivoli Beach Resort.  We were welcomed with open arms by the Darling Family and some absolutely world class diving.  Not to mention a pool bar where we created a new drink, the Volivoli Bomb!  You'll have to go and ask for one to find out what's in it.  But believe me… it does the trick.

Our New Adopted Family - The Darlings

Once again, Greg the Evil Divemaster tried his best to bring down the mermaids with weapons such as Chicken Fights in the pool, Jack Daniels, Fiji Bitter Beer, potent daiquiris and Volivoli Bombs, but Mermaid Tiffany and I survived!  I think we only owe this to the Darling Family. They kept his liver occupied so he had less time to focus on punishing ours.  We even recorded a live and amazing version of The Scuba Cowboy's new song, The Liver Song – Can I Borrow Your Liver, which was inspired by Greg while in Grenada.  I'm sure it'll air sometime soon on ScubaRadio, so make sure you listen in for that. Also, you can hear the details of our amazing 2 1/2 week adventure on the shows which are already posted in the archives ready for you to download.

With my side of the story now having been stated, it's now time to go back to my so called “real world” of teaching scuba and trying to stay warm throughout our Florida Keys winter until our next ScubaRadio adventure!  (I know, woe is me…)

Scuba Radio Invades Key West (Part 1)

It's taken me a few days to get around to this, but after the great adventures I had with Greg the Divemaster & Single Scott down in Key West (or Key Weird as the Upper Keys locals call it), I was in definite need of recovery time!

The adventure started on Sunday night, when it seemed as though everything that could go wrong was going wrong in regards to my getting out of town.  I FINALLY pulled up to the gates of the marina we were staying at around 10pm.  I was greeted with hugs and a can of Red Bull.  (A very much needed can of Red Bull.)  We immediately called a cab and headed for Duval Street for Single Scott's very first Duval Crawl.  Oh boy.

Now as a side note, I must mention that I had just been in Key West to visit friends fishing in the World Sailfish Tournament the previous day.  I left Key Weird at 5am Saturday morning, worked the afternoon at the dive shop in Key Largo, stayed out late (bad idea), worked all day Sunday only to drive BACK to Key West that night.  I had already been on Duval Street a few nights that week and did some serious scoping out of the good places to go.  Not that it mattered though.  We went everywhere.  And there may have been some jager bombs involved. Good times were had by all!!  I do believe this is where the word “awesome” began to take over my vocabulary.

Fast forward to the next day, Monday.  We definitely were in need of food, so our adventure took us to one of America's best restaurants –  Denny's.  I'm not kidding… I really do think it's one of the best places in the world.  Apparently we all looked a little rough around the edges, but it was nothing some Moons Over My Hammy couldn't cure.  (That's a lie – I actually ordered an omelet.  And ate it all.)  After that, we were set and ready for our day!

At around 2pm Capt. Marlin Scott showed up with his son, Seth, and we headed out to the Vandenberg.  Now for anyone who has dove the Vandy (or the V-Berg), or who has heard about it, there is typically a moderate to strong current on the wreck, and the viz level usually leaves you wondering what large creature might be 30 ft. behind you.  However, with Single Scott's amazing luck at our side, we pulled up and the mooring balls showed a sign of ZERO current. WHAT?  Impossible!  Not only that, we could see the wreck while still standing on the boat!  Now I was really getting excited.  I dove it 6 days after it went down and I was way past due for another visit.

So we all hopped in with Greg being last.  His mask broke and the pin drifted to the bottom – 140 ft. below us.  However, being the always prepared dive instructor I am, I had a spare mask in my bag to save his dive.  The best part?  It was PINK!  (Sorry, Greg!  I couldn't leave that part out!)At least it wasn't pink and sparkly like his Force Fins.  😉  So we swim over to the wreck on the surface and descend.  Freely.  No lines.  It was one of those perfect moments in diving where you feel like you're skydiving – free falling into the amazing blue.  I really can't put in words how I felt at that moment other than being at one with the water and feeling that everything was right in the world.

Enough sappy stuff.  😉  So we drop down mid-ship and casually cruise around.  Did I mention there was NO current?  I used my froggie kick the entire time and barely had to kick at all.  There were parrot fish, a huge moray eel, barracudas, schooling minnows that would gather all around you, Greg the Lobster Slayer actually found a lobster… it was simply amazing.  We dove the ENTIRE wreck.  That's unheard of! Unfortunately, we had to eventually come back.  We had a 32 minute dive time on the Vandenberg.  (I'll brag that coming up wasn't due to me as I still had 1,667 psi upon surfacing!  Mermaids don't really need air anyway, right? haha!)  We did a free ascent, hung for our safety stop, and drifted our way back to the boat.  I do believe this is where the word “AWESOME” was said repeatedly yet again.

After drying off, it was time for a little feeeshing.  Now I haven't fished since I was 8 years old and I lived on a canal.  So I was scared and excited.  Single Scott got to go first with a monster fish on line.  He reeled and reeled and fought and fought.  Finally, he gave in and I got my whack at it.  WOW.  There is a LOT of power in those fish!  The only thing I could think was “don't lose the rod, don't lose the rod, ouch my arms hurt, don't lose the rod, pull up, reel down, pull up, reel down.”  Yup.  That was about all that was going through my head.  I wasn't even thinking of food… and I'm always thinking of food.  At the same time I've got everyone trying to get me to stop focusing and take a picture.  Yeah, I think it's actually grimmacing in pain rather than smiling.  But I FINALLY got the fish in!  30 lb AmberJack! YEAH!  After that I got my chance to pull my own fish in completely!  A 35lb AmberJack!!!  (Not to mention I caught the biggest fish of the day!)  I once again couldn't stop saying the word “awesome.”  Greg claims he caught 3 fish since the one he fought for a good 10 minutes was eaten by a shark.  So I guess that means he caught a shark too.  😉  The last adventure for the trip was on Scott's AmberJack that was de-tailed by a barracuda.  We left it on the surface for awhile to watch the carnage.  It's incredible to watch nature sometimes.  It was definitely an Animal Planet moment!  The best comment made at that point was Scott yelling at the barracudas “This meal is courtesy of Single Scott!!”  haha!

After an amazing day of diving and fishing, we headed back to the marina to clean up and head for dinner.  Seeing as the Amber Jack had already been “bled” out thanks to the ‘cudas, Seth cleaned it up for us and we took it to the Hurricane Hole to have them “cook our catch.”  It was probably one of the best meals I've had and I normally don't even like AJ.  But, Capt. Marlin Scott told us how to have it cooked, and he was dead on.  AMAZING!  (And the onion rings weren't too bad either!)

With the first day of diving and fishing AWESOMENESS behind us, it was time for SLEEEEEEEEP!  And what an incredible sleep it was!

Well, that's about it for now… stay tuned for part 2 which will be about the amazing dives on the Atocha.  (Can you say AWESOME!?)  hahah!
(See some of the pictures from this adventure here!)

My First Post!

Hi everyone!

So hopefully this thing works… I guess we'll see soon!  I'm sitting here in the wonderful beautiful Florida Keys with the sliding glass door to my bedroom open with an amazing breeze coming in over the ocean. Life is wonderful!  Well, it'd be a lot better if I weren't sitting here doing my TAXES 2 days before they're due!  Ugh!  I can sometimes be quite amazing at procrastination.  Too bad it's just screwing myself in the end.  Now I've found something else to procrastinate with… my new super cool SCUBA RADIO blog!

For anyone who doesn't know, which is pretty much everyone, I'm sure… tomorrow is my birthday!  What will I be doing?  Working all day in the dive store answering phones and finishing my taxes.  Wow life is exciting.  Then again, I spent all day yesterday partying & celebrating an early b-day from 10am – 3:30am.  It started with a bloody mary at 10am (I make AWESOME bloody mary's by the way!) a wonderful outdoor brunch with sangria, ended up at the Sandbar jumping on giant trampolines in the water & getting thrown off boats with more beer than was necessary, and was followed by waaaaaay too many random drinks at the local bars.  (I did my first Irish Car Bomb and a few shots of Patron!)  Needless to say when you wake up at 11am still drunk, it was a good night!  I definitely celebrated like it was my 21st b-day.  However this is because I have Peter Pan syndrome.  I'm a very firm believer in never growing up & never slowing down.  It's a pretty good way to live life.  🙂

Alrighty, just wanted to see if this thing worked and say hi to all of the wonderful Scuba Radio fans out there!  More to come later!