The European open underwater still and video championship starts today, 14th and runs until Sat 16th June, in the bay next to the marina. Open to professional, semi-pro and amateur underwater photographers the participants are competing for a variety of prizes this year valued at over €16,000 – A cash prize of €2000 for the best still, followed by €1000 & €500 for 2nd and 3rd placed with further prizes of €300.
In the video categories the prizes up for grabs range from €1000, €500 & €300 ijn cash for as well as two trips to the Red Sea for one person (courtesy of Blue Force), a trip to Anilao in The Philippines (courtesy of Diving Philippines), a cruise in the MSY Ondina or MSY Oceanic and 50% discount for the companion, a professional diving course sponsored by the Andalusian Institute of Professional Diving ( valued at 1600 euros), as well as diving and beach equipment prizes.
Each dive is limited to 75 mins max, using 18l air only with a max depth of 30m.
I finally bit the bullet and admitted that I now needed help in reading my SCUBA diving computer, compass and contents gauge! Being closer to my pension age than my birth date I was getting long sighted, or suffering from presbyopia and needed a SCUBA mask for long sight. Distance vision is no problem at all – but reading small print especially in darker environments was becoming an issue without some form of vision correction so a solution was required. Obvious choices were “tailor made” prescription multi focal lenses for my diving mask, stick in correction lenses, or perhaps wearing multi focal disposable contact lenses. However, the IST Gauge Reader mask popped up on an on line store flyer from simplyscuba.com , and seemed to offer a solution for my long sight at a competitive price so I thought I’d give it a go..
IST Gauge Reader SCUBA Mask
The mask was delivered in a standard plastic storage case, along with a standard warning that it could not be exchanged if you had treated it with demister solution / done the cigarette lighter trick / stuck in the dish washer / whatever your preferred manner of anti fogging treatment.
The IST Gauge Reader mask is a pretty normal looking twin lens SCUBA diving mask with the addition of vision correction for long sighted divers at the bottom of each lens to make reading your gauges and computer easier. It has a pretty standard twin skirt to seal it, along with the usual adjustable side straps and a good sized nose pocket. It does have a clear surround unlike my old Oceanic Shadow which was all black – but having dived with it a few times I kind of now prefer the clear sides (it is also available as all black or clear with a blue trim).
It’s what I’d call a medium displacement dive mask – certainly more of a blow to clear than some but nothing outrageous at all. One thing which did taking getting used to was that sometimes if you need to let a dribble of water enter the mask to clear any slight fogging or a dried salt mark, then with a frameless mask you can simply sluice it side to side. With this, as the nose pocket forms two distinct sides that is a little harder, but certainly not a deal breaker, especially if you are used to this style of mask anyway.
Fit is not as good initially as my old mask, but in all honesty I do have quite pronounced grooves at the side of my beak and the Oceanic Shadow is arguably one of the most accommodating and forgiving dive masks ever, so I couldn’t really grizzle too much. I do find I need to “iron” or smooth out my cheeks a little when fitting it, but once on and in the right place everything’s fine, and I fully expect with more use I’ll get the knack of getting it on in one.
How do gauge reader masks work?
There are two panes at the bottom of each side set at approx. 50 degrees which are +1.75 dioptre lens which give it the gauge reader attribute and makes the mask work for long sight. If you’ve ever tried bifocals, or multifocal glasses then that’s exactly the way these work. You simply “look down” to use the magnifying section to read your dive computer or pressure gauge, and straight ahead or up to see through the uncorrected part.
While diving the bottom parts for me are pretty unobtrusive and don’t intrude into my normal field of vision when generally looking around. I found the first few times I needed to make a conscious effort at first to “look down” to get the magnification boost when I checked my gauges, but very quickly got the hang of it. When looking ahead I didn’t notice the lenses at the bottom at all.
What does it actually look like for real?
Difficult one to answer, as you “look down” to use them and any photo taken will be definition not be doing that. The following images show the mask held up against a newspaper so you can judge how much vision correction the lenses give, but please note the focusing on the phone camera didn’t want to play fair so these images are a best shot at giving some kind of indication of how much extra magnification you get.
IST Gauge Reader Dive Mask – Close Up
These next few pictures attempt to show the effect of the lens again against print, but with the phone camera held at the back of the mask (i.e. around where your eyes would be anyway) and the newspaper around arm’s length (i.e. around where your computer would be). Not the best shots – as the phones auto focus was hunting between the glass of the mask and the paper – but hopefully they will give you some kind of an idea of the magnification.
IST Gauge Reader Scuba Mask – arms length shots
Will the IST Gauge Reader be strong enough for me?
The standard correction is +1.75 each side. Don’t forget you also get a 25% increase in magnification anyway due to the differences in refraction / air gap with any mask, so this could well be enough for you.
For use in restaurants reading bills I find a pair of +2 “ready readers” work OK for me. As regards prescriptions, if it means anything to you my last test was:
Far Right Sph: +0.25 Cil: -01.00 95 deg Add 2.00
Far Left Sph: +0.00 Cil: -0.50 110 deg Add 2.00
Near Right Sph: +02.25 Cil: -01.00 95 deg
Near Left Sph: +02.00 Cil: -00.50 110 deg
Am I happy with the IST Gauge Reader? Yes – and will be getting one for Mrs. B as well.
Would I recommend it? Yes. While not a perfect tailor made solution, if you only need a relatively small amount of correction these do a pretty decent job of it and are well worth a go.
13 to 15 May this year sees an important date for all the diving community. Equilbriomarino are hosting an open conference and “get together” to address conservation, pollution and all matters of concern to the underwater community – as well as to enjoy some of the best diving for over 100km in any direction..
As you probably already know, the protected marine reserve right on our door step between La Herradura and Maro is of immense importance, with a wealth of indigenous fish as well as important soft corals to enjoy.
We’re really lucky with all that right on the doorstep, and with the wealth of sea life to see our shore based PADI Trial Dives are immensely popular with our clients, as they give an excellent opportunity to try diving “for real” in a safe, controlled environment.
The outline agenda is as follows:
-Welcome meeting and free dinner
Free -Diving (book with partnering dive centres).
-Photography And underwater video
-Beach activities Beach for non-divers
-Conferences And debates:
Marine Protected Areas Management
Balancing social movement Marino
Promotion of Ecotourism & Diving
New Marine Protected Areas
Dinner and party Marino Balance
Sunday: FIRST UNDERWATER CONCENTRATION
– Inauguration: Puerto Marina del Este (The Marina)
-Boat diveswith guide, tank and weights.
-Draw thanks and gifts
-Conclusions and farewell
Weekend. Price: 67 €, including Saturday: food, conferences, dinner, party – Sunday: scuba center from boat + guide + bottle + weights, participation concentration and paella.
Weekend. Price: 55 €, including Saturday: food, conferences, dinner, party – Sunday: diving from beach with own equipment, participation concentration and paella.
Only Sunday. Price: 27 € includes participation from diving centers boat + guide + bottle + leads and paella.
Only Sunday. Price: 15 €, for divers from beach or companions, including participation and paella.
A new initiative has started to promote the area for diving, with a meeting between local councillor, Rafael Caballero, and representatives of the diving industry.
The initial meeting was held with dive clubs in La Herradura in order to start work promoting this sector of nautical tourism, to raise it’s importance and to ensure it is represented in the promotional calendar for 2016.
A promotional video is also being prepared in conjunction with local dive centres, with a view to screening it at travel and tourism trade shows and on the internet. This can only help raise the profile of the local area, boasting as it does some of the best diving sites for a long way (every day we get the diving schools from as far afield as Marbella, Fuengirola & Benalmadena travelling over 100km to dive here).
2016 Dive Shows
It is planned to kick start the promotions in Jan 2016 at the FITUR show, also promoting the news that La Herradura has again been chosen to host the European Underwater Photography Championship in October 2016. Snr Caballero continued that the Tourist Board will also make one of the areas or rooms in that tourism fair available for the presentation of this international event.
It was also announced that in February 2016, there are plans to participate in the Dive Travel Show exhibition in Madrid with a stand. It is intended to also showcase the local area and gastronomy, as well as the larger cultural aspects of the area. The fair is for dive professionals and is held in the “Crystal Palace” in the capital city, Madrid. In 2014 the fair featured some 110 exhibitors and attracted more than 12,000 visitors.
New local area SCUBA Diving guide
Finally, it was also announced that a dedicated guide book for local diving will be produced, detailing the local sites, access points, technical notes, expected durations etc. The guide will also feature a section featuring the wealth of fauna and flora that can be expected to be seen at each site. This is especially good news as some of our best sites are within the Cerro Gordo – Maro conservation area and boast superb soft corals, etc.
It is envisaged that this manual will also be able to be used as promotional material in other exhibitions and dive fairs. Let’s hope that, for once, the guide is produced in languages such as English, German, Danish, etc so it is useful for our international visitors.