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David "Rainmaker" Mauldin's Scuba Adventures

Page Last Updated: September 23, 2014
My ebooks The Passion Killers, A Dark Wind of Vengeance, Blood Beyond the Abyss and The Second Layer of Hell (apocalyptic fiction) are now available for download. They are the first four installments in the Path of Survival series. To see additional information, click here .

"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting
- - Hunter Thompson

Curious Caribbean Reef shark in Bahamas, tourist submarine in Mexico, shark "wrestling" in Belize

Traffic jam in the Florida Keys, reef diving in Honduras

Wreck diving in Costa Rica, plane wreck dive in Jamaica
Welcome to my scuba adventures page. After viewing the pages here (see the navigation box below), you may wish to visit the TrailQuest Web site and my home page (see links at the top of this page). I am not making any suggestions here concerning what anyone else should do. I am merely expressing my own opinions, sharing information about my dives, gear, training and trips and stating what works for me.

I logged my 1,000th dive in Cozumel, Mexico on January 15, 2012

Added January 16, 2012: My January 2012 Cozumel dive & topside photos at Facebook
Added March 2, 2009: My 9-minute "Shore Diving In Cozumel" video at YouTube
Certification agency: Scuba Diving International (SDI)
Certification level: Nitrox / Solo / Rescue / Master Scuba Diver
Dive history: Jamaica, Costa Rica, Bahamas, Honduras, Belize, Mexico(5x), FL Keys(2x), FL springs & SC lakes
Number of logged dives: 1,042
Longest dive: 101 minutes
Deepest dive: 133 ft.
Most recent dive: September 23, 2014

My Dive Photos

Foreword Links Book / DVD Reviews Dive Certification
My Gear Dive Log Trip Reports Marine Wildlife
Web Cams Gear Reviews Backgrounds
Marine Conditions / Weather Video Clips Nitrox Tables / Info Site / Web Search


To see my "Introduction" page at TrailQuest click here, then use the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page.

My interest in scuba diving began quietly building after I visited Myrtle Beach, SC for a few days in the summer of 2003. I learned bodyboarding and generally had a ball at the beach during my brief visit.

In December 2004, I read an Internet article that identified several countries where American tourists are welcomed. Belize was one of them. I remembered all the dive stories my brother had told me about Belize (Ambergris Caye, San Pedro, The Blue Hole, etc.). I clicked on a link, and soon purchased a book from about vacationing and diving in Belize.

Initially, I thought about snorkeling, then somehow snorkeling progressed into scuba diving. On Monday, January 17, 2005, I drove to a local dive shop (Bermuda Triangle in Greenville, SC), and enrolled in an Open Water diving course. I completed the course (and 4 certification dives) on February 6, 2005. However, my dive training didn't stop there. I was certified as a Master Scuba Diver with Scuba Diving International (SDI) in July 2007.

My Gear

Diving is a pursuit (passion?) that requires expensive, quality gear. A diver's life depends on his or her gear, and there is a lot more to selecting the right items than how much they cost. I did a lot of research and got input from as many experienced divers as possible before spending several thousand dollars on dive gear. Before making my purchases, I spent a lot of time reading discussion threads (old and new) at This really helped, and I was able to obtain a lot of valuable information.

I decided to purchase high quality, sport diving gear (as opposed to the more expensive technical gear that is needed for very deep, long dives that I won't be doing). Most of my gear was purchased from Internet sources. For the gear that I purchased on the Internet, I made sure that I was dealing with factory authorized dealers (except for one item purchased from This company is not a factory authorized dealer for the items they sell, and this info is clearly posted at their website).

However, for several items where size and fit are important, I made purchases from Bermuda Triangle Dive Shop in Greenville, SC. I also want to support (to the greatest extent possible) the local dive shop where I received my training and certification.

I also received a very good "package deal" from for most of my other gear items. Individual prices weren't listed for this purchase (only the total), so the prices specified for each item are my own estimations based on the total price. However, it was obvious that I'd received a very good deal from ScubaToys.

When making gear selections, I felt it was important to plan ahead and think about the diving that I might do a few years in the future. For instance, as a newly certified diver, I was not using Nitrox (special blend of air that allows divers to remain underwater for longer periods of time). However, later I was able to make the transition to Nitrox because the dive computer I originally purchased was Nitrox compatible.

(For the benefit of the non-divers who may visit this page, some basic explanations concerning the functions of dive gear are included below.)

These are the items that I have purchased:

Regulators & Octos - The regulator attaches to the air tank, and delivers air to the diver. The part that attaches to the tank is called the First Stage. The part that goes into the diver's mouth is called the Second Stage. An octo is a spare Second Stage that is used in emergency situations if the primary Second Stage should fail, or if someone I'm diving with has a similar emergency. I purchased 3 regulators (all from

My primary regulator is a Zeagle Flathead XP model with a Zeagle Envoy octo purchased for about $375.00. This is the regulator that I use in most situations.

I also bought a Tusa RS-130 model with a Tusa Imprex octo for about $250.00. I plan to use this as a backup. Regulators must be sent in for yearly service, and I'll use the Tusa while the Zeagle is being serviced, and perhaps for destinations where air travel is required.

I bought another Tusa RS-130 regulator to use with my Pony bottle, and it cost about $160. (A Pony bottle is a spare tank of air with its own separate regulator that is used in emergency situations only.)

Buoyancy Compensators - Normally referred to as BC or BCD (buoyancy compensator device). This inflatable vest allows divers to float on the surface (when inflated), and also allows divers to become negatively buoyant (sink) when it is deflated. It also holds the air tank, regulator and hoses in place, and has pockets for small items.

I purchased two BC's. My primary BC is a Sherwood Avid model bought from ScubaToys for $275. It is "heavy duty" and made of 1000 denier nylon. This BC has two zippered pockets, a padded back plate and stainless steel "D" rings. It is weight integrated, meaning that it has compartments for carrying the weights that divers must wear.

I also bought a Dacor Talon model from ScubaToys for $207. I plan to use it for back-up, and also for any trips that require air travel. It has two zippered pockets, a padded back plate, stainless steel "D" rings and is weight integrated.

Computer & Gauges - I purchased an Aeris Atmos 2 console that has a dive computer, pressure gauge and compass from ScubaToys for $485. It has a downloader and software, so that information (date, depth, water temperature, length of dive, etc.) concerning my dives can be downloaded from the dive computer to my PC.

I also purchased a Tusa SCH-110 Mini-Pressure Gauge to use with my Pony bottle and it cost about $60 at

In addition, I bought a wrist-mounted, analog Genesis depth gauge. I'll use it mainly as back-up, in case my dive computer should ever stop working at depth. It cost about $60 and was purchased from

Air Tanks - I bought 2 aluminum 80 cu. ft. (AL80) tanks from ScubaToys for $125.00 each (including valves). Shipping was about $15 for each tank. I opted for a natural aluminum finish, instead of the fancier painted colors. I noticed that the painted tanks look pretty bad after a few years of use when the paint starts flaking off. My tanks aren't real pretty right now, but in 5 or 10 years, they won't look any worse.

After being certified in the use of Nitrox, I also purchased a 95 cu. ft. steel tank from ScubaToys in July 2005. The cost of the tank was $206 (including the valve) and shipping was about $20.

I also purchased a Luxfer 30 cu. ft. Pony bottle (actually a small aluminum tank) with a Dive Rite Stage Strap. The bottle with a Genesis valve was purchased from ScubaToys for about $95, and the stage strap was about $30.

Wetsuits & Accessories - I purchased two full length wetsuits, 1 shorty wetsuit and one exposure suit. The wetsuit I use in most situations is a Henderson 7/5 Hyperstretch one-piece suit with a back zipper. The torso contains hyperstretch neoprene that is 7 mm. thick. The legs and arms are 5 mm. thick. It is intended for use in cool water and I use it locally from spring through fall, and in Florida in winter. It was purchased from Bermuda Triangle Dive Shop in Greenville, SC for $348. I also bought a 7 mm. hood for this suit at Bermuda Triangle for $47.

I also purchased 4/3 Henderson NeoSport one-piece suit (torso is 4 mm. neoprene, legs and arms are 3 mm.) for use in warmer water. It was $85 at ScubaToys.

The shorty wetsuit is a 2 mm. Henderson Neo Sport model that I wear for additional insulation under my 7/5 suit in cooler water. It was purchased at ScubaToys for about $42.

The exposure suit is a Tilos Unisex Lycra Skin Suit from ScubaToys and cost about $35. I'll use it for protection against sunburn in summer.

I bought two pair of gloves. My gloves for cool water are Henderson Hyperstretch 7mm, and my warm water gloves are Tilos 3mm Titanium. Both pair were purchased from ScubaToys, for $35 and $15 respectively.

I also purchased Tilos 3mm Titanium Hydro+Zip Boots from ScubaToys for about $25.

Masks - I bought 2. After nearly losing my mask while diving at Panama City Beach, FL I realized the importance of having a spare.

My primary mask is a ScubaPro Clear Vu model, and it was purchased from Bermuda Triangle for $89. This is a high quality mask that has a purge and wide-view lens with flat side panels. The purge function allows me to clear the mask by simply exhaling through my nose, if it should become flooded with water during a dive. It is also a low volume mask, which means that if flooded, it will let in less water than a high volume mask. This mask fits me like a glove, and I really like it.

My spare is a Tusa Pano Geo model. It of similar design to my ScubaPro mask, except it does not have a purge valve. It also fits me extremely well. I carry it in one of the zippered pockets of my BC, and it was purchased from for about $36.

Snorkel - I purchased a ScubaPro Deep See Flexstream model from Bermuda Triangle for $20.

Fins - I have bought 3 pair so far. The first is a low-cost set of ScubaPro closed-heel fins purchased at Bermuda Triangle for $29.

The others are Aeris Velocity open-heel fins (these can be worn with neoprene socks and boots in cool water) and Aeris Velocity closed-heel fins. They were purchased from ScubaToys for $55 and $36 respectively.

Camera - I bought a Reef Master 3.3 megapixel underwater digital model from for about $350.00. I also purchased a snap-on wide angle lens for about $90 and an external flash (strobe) for $150.00.

Knives - I purchased a Titanium sheath knife from ScubaToys for $45. In addition, the Aeris computer console has a small sheath knife (which I'll use as a back-up knife) on the back.

In addition, I bought a Trident EMT scissors with pouch from ScubaToys for about $12.

Dive Lights - Dive lights are used for night dives, for reading gauges in poor-light situations and to help see into a crevice where a critter might be hiding. Both my lights were purchased from

My primary light is a UK C8 eLED model. It uses 8 C-cell alkaline or rechargable batteries and is about as close to bombproof as a light can get. It uses a 6-watt LED bulb and casts a beam of light that is truly spectacular. It has a half-power switch that prolongs battery life, a pistol-grip handle and a wrist lanyard. It cost about $70.00.

My back-up light is a UK Mini Q40 LED model, purchased for about $30. It uses 4 AA batteries and a white LED bulb, and provides great illumination for its size. It has an attachment that allows me to carry it on the side of my mask (opposite side from the snorkel), or I can clip it to my BC.

Signaling Devices - I bought a large "safety sausage" from ScubaToys for about $40. This is a high-visibility, 6' long inflatable tube that allows a diver to be seen more easily on the surface if he or she should get seriously separated from the dive boat. When uninflated and rolled up, it fits (just barely) into one of the side pockets of my BC. It is international orange on one side and bright yellow on the other.

I also purchased a Xenon gas strobe (blinking) light. It uses one C-cell battery, and was purchased from ScubaToys for about $30. I intend to use it to mark buoy lines on night dives, to be more easily seen by my partner on deep dives in murky water, and to provide visability at night on the surface in salt water if the need should ever arise.

Weights & Weight Belt - I bought 20 pounds of lead weights, which are used as ballast. Divers have to wear weights because of all the buoyant equipment that they wear. The weights allow the diver to become negatively buoyant and stay underwater during the dive. The weights were purchased at Bermuda Triangle for about $35.

The weight belt is an XS Scuba 6-pocket model with a stainless steel buckle that was purchased from ScubaToys for $31.

Mesh Carrying Bag - This is a large zippered duffle bag made of mesh. It is used for carrying the wetsuit, regulator, fins, BC, snorkel, mask, etc. onto the dive boat before the dive. After the dive, all the wet gear is corraled into the mesh bag for the trip home. Purchased at ScubaToys for $20.

Book, Movie & DVD Reviews

Florida Springs, The Unexplored Florida - This DVD was produced by Todd Garland. The running time is 68 minutes, and it is very well done. The camera work, scenery, and overall quality of the footage are excellent.

It contains segments of 2 - 6 minutes each for the following springs: Ginnie Springs, Devil's Eye, Devil's Ear, Ichetucknee River and Springs, Rainbow Springs, Rock Springs, Blue Spring, Crystal River and Springs, Morrison Springs, Devil's Den, Alexander Springs, Merrit's Mill Pond / Blue Springs, Shangri La Spring and Manatee Springs. Also, in the "Special Features" section, there are shorter segments for Dogwood Springs, Peacock Springs, Blue Grotto, Troy Spring and Gator Spring.

The abundant natural beauty of Florida springs (both above and under water) is captured on this DVD, and watching the divers in the gin-clear water is both enjoyable and mesmerizing. Even my non-diving life-partner Carol watched it with me from beginning to end. It also features some lively, digitally mastered music that is pretty good. Also included inside the DVD cover are GPS coordinates for the springs that are featured. Watching this video makes me very glad that I'm a certified diver who lives within a day's drive of the springs of north Florida.

My only complaints: I wish that the segment that shows the Manatees was longer. Also, the text in the "Information About Each Spring" section is so small that it is difficult to read.

I puchased my copy here (with free shipping) for $24.95:

I received the DVD only 2 days after I ordered it (I live in Georgia, and it was shipped via the US Postal Service from Florida). It is also available at, though the price is slightly higher and shipping is not free.

Coral Reef Adventure - This feature was originally created for exhibition in IMAX theaters. It is the first IMAX feature that I've seen, and I'm kind of at a loss to describe it. I've never seen a video or movie quite like it. The photography is stunningly beautiful, to say the least.

The subject matter is the worldwide decline of coral reefs due to environmental degradation (global warming, siltation, pollution, etc.). We get to see some beautiful coral reefs; we also get to see some dead ones. In one scene, 2 researchers take to the air in an ultralight aircraft in Fiji to search for sharks, and the aerial photography is awesome as the ultralight flies between majestic peaks and over shallow reefs.

The music is also very good. It features songs by Crosby, Stills & Nash, some Calypso tunes and also some elevator music (but its good elevator music!). The soundtrack really livens things up. Combined with the beautiful scenery both above and under water, and this is about as good as DVD's get, in my opinion.

The package actually contains 2 DVD's (both show the same movie). One will play in regular DVD players (including my 2003 vintage Compaq laptop). The other DVD is designed for Microsoft Windows Media Video High-Definition players in newer PC's (2.4 GHz Processor and 64 MB Video Card needed in addition to DVD-ROM Drive and a few other goodies). Bottom line, it wouldn't play in my laptop.

Playing time of the main feature is about 43 minutes. In addition, also included is a 30 minute feature of footage that didn't make it into the main show, and another 30 minutes of "behind the scenes" footage that was made while the movie was being made.

I purchased my copy from for $14.95 and a few dollars for shipping. It is the best $18 I've spent in a while.

Diving DVD Florida Keys - This DVD features 26 different dive locations (coral reefs and wrecks) in the Florida Keys. A 3 - 5 minute video (with music) is provided for each location. In the "DVD Extras" section, there are also segments that include a shark feeding frenzy (filmed before this activity was banned in the Keys, according to the producers) and a night dive. GPS coordinates, diagrams and descriptions are also included for each dive site.

The first time I watched this video, I became somewhat annoyed having to scroll through a menu each time I wanted to switch from one dive location to another. However, I later noticed a selection in the "DVD Extras" section that allows a viewer to watch the entire 2 hour show without having to scroll through any menus.

I feel that the underwater photography is very good bordering on excellent. However, the "new-age", repetitive music gets to me after a while and now I usually watch with the sound muted.

I purchased my copy from for $20 plus a few dollars for shipping. It is also available here:

Passport To Adventure - This DVD appears to be jointly produced by National Geographic and PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors). It is half "infomercial" for the certification programs sponsered by the National Geographic / PADI partnership. The other half of the video is made up of footage from previous National Geographic TV programs.

I purchased my copy from for $20 plus a few dollars for shipping. According to, the running time is 200 minutes. According to the cover of the DVD, the running time is 67 minutes. After watching most it, I'd say that the true running time is somewhere between the two estimates (I have not yet watched the entire thing, so far I've skipped the interviews).

I'm a bit disappointed with this DVD, though the underwater photography is excellent. Also, the segment about snorkeling with Manatees in Florida's Crystal River is probably worth the cost of the entire video. The main thing I don't like about it is having to make menu selections to go from one segment of the DVD to another. Why don't the DVD producers have a "cruise-control" button? Just one click and a viewer could then watch the entire thing without having to keep making selections with the remote. Maybe I'm just too accustomed to the old VHS formats.

Drowned Hopes - This novel written by Donald Westlake tells the hilarious story of an ex-convict whose desire to get into scuba diving is motivated strictly by greed. The ex-con robbed a bank years previously, buried his loot and then got caught and sent to prison.

Now out on parole, he returns to retrieve his money. However, there is one small problem. The area where he hid his loot is now at the bottom of a 65' deep lake. Reluctantly, he and his bungling partner decide to dive to the bottom of the lake to get at their treasure. It is at that point that they discover that they must become certified divers before they proceed. Unable to tell anyone of their true motive, they enter dive training. Despite many mistakes and poor attitudes toward their instructor and fellow students, somehow they get certified and their quest for the fortune begins.

Even though I read this book several years ago, I still remember one quote from the ex-con; "Why do they call it diving? You don't just sink". It is one of the funniest books I've ever read. Even though it is undoubtedly now out of print, copies can probably still be found in public libraries and maybe at

My Dive Photos

To see my photos, make a selection below:

Cozumel, Mexico (January 2012)
Cozumel, Mexico (February 2009)
Jamaica (November 2008)
Costa Rica (July 2008)
My Marine Wildlife Photos - Various dates
Lucaya, Bahamas (October 2007)
Roatan, Honduras (June 2007)
Cozumel, Mexico (January 2007)
Cozumel, Mexico (October 2006)
Morrison Spring, FL (August 2006)
San Pedro, Belize (June 2006)
Key Largo, FL (February 2006)
Panama City & Vortex Springs, FL (July 2005)
Key West, FL (June 2005)
Local Dive Photos (Various Dates)

Web Cams

After clicking on a web cam, use the "Back" button on your browser to return to this page:

Fisheye View - Underwater cam in a living reef aquarium showing corals, invertebrates and tropical fish
Shark Cam - Waikiki Aquarium
Shark Tank Cam - Mote Marine Lab, Florida
Vortex Springs, Florida
Destin, Florida
Panama City Beach, Florida
St. George Island, Florida
St. Teresa Beach, Florida
Alligator Point, Florida
Jupiter Inlet, Florida
Boca Inlet, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Boynton Beach Inlet, Florida
Palm Beach Inlet, Florida
Florida Keys - Many views to choose from
Key Largo, Florida
St. Croix - Christiansted Harbor
St. Croix - Frederiksted Beach
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Cozumel, Mexico - Many views to choose from
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC
Bucuti Beach Resort, Aruba
Lorient Village, St. Barts
Bonaire - 4 views to choose from
Adelaide, South Australia
Canary Islands - 4 views to choose from
Port St. Charles, Barbados
CoCo View Resort - Roatan, Honduras
Utila Lodge - Utila, Honduras
ScubaToys Store Cam

Gear Reviews

Henderson Hyperstretch Titanium 7/5 Wetsuit - I paid $348 for this premium wetsuit in February 2005. It has performed well and I like it a lot. However, while it has protected me from hypothermia on numerous occasions (in water as cold as 55 degrees), I've had some (admittedly minor) problems with it.

The very first time I used it, I noticed that one of the kneepads was coming loose. That was the first time that I'd noticed that the pads weren't sewed on, they were glued. Rather than return the suit to the dive shop where it was purchased (a 250 mile round-trip) or to Henderson, I purchased some wetsuit glue and reglued the pad.

In addition, some stitching recently came loose from the collar. I clipped off the loose thread and heat sealed it. Hopefully, that will be the end of it.

This suit is very comfortable. I didn't realize how comfortable it is until I bought a regular neoprene 4/3 suit. The 4/3 suit feels sort of binding and restricting compared to the 7/5 hyperstretch suit. (Updated on July 27, 2005)

Sherwood Avid Buoyancy Compensator - I really like this BC. It fits me well, and I get almost no "body squeeze" when it is inflated and I'm floating on the surface. It was purchased from in February 2005 for about $275.00, which is considerably less than the usual retail price at dive shops.

I wanted a "bombproof" BC, and it didn't need to have a lot of extras. I looked at a lot of other BC's that were made of 500 denier nylon and had 2 or 4 plastic D rings. The Sherwood Avid is made of 1000 denier nylon and has 6 stainless steel D rings, 2 dump valves, 2 large zippered pockets and 1 smaller pocket with a flap cover. It is also weight integrated, and has a padded back panel. With my back problems, this is very much appreciated.

I looked at many other models before deciding on this one. It was amazing how cheaply some others were made. (Posted on May 4, 2005)

ScubaPro Clear Vu Mask (with purge) - I used several ill-fitting masks during my training and cert dives. This helped me to decide that I was going to buy my mask from a local dive shop so I could try it on (and return it for an exchange, if necessary) before I bought it. When I put this mask on, it fit me like a glove. When I created a seal by inhaling through my nose, it took a great deal of effort to pull it off my face. I also like the flat side panels and the lack of a center post. This mask also has a purge valve that works very well.

If I take the time to make sure that it is aligned properly on my face, and that the strap is in the correct position (not too high or low), it doesn't leak at all. It also provides great visability and clarity, and it is one of my favorite gear items. (Posted on May 5, 2005)

Aeris Atmos2 Computer Console - I purchased this computer/compass/pressure gauge console (with downloader cable) from for about $485 in February 2005. It also has a small knife on the back of the console, and a quick-disconnect hose. The quick-disconnect hose is more or less a necessity if the user is going to download his or her dives to a PC. The alternative would be dragging the whole regulator assembly to the PC in order to download.

According to the folks at Aeris, the computer is intended only for those who are Nitrox certified. I have to question this marketing strategy. Instead, why not make the case that the computer can be used for those who are Nitrox certified, as well as by those who aren't? After all, the difference is only entering (or not entering) a few numbers into the computer. The people at recognized this and told me not to worry if I wasn't certified for Nitrox, that I'd still be able to use the computer.

The computer has performed flawlessly. In dive mode, it effectively keeps track of No Deco time, current depth, maxiumum depth, temperature, dive time, nitrogen and oxygen loading and rate of ascent. However, I have noticed that I can't hear the alarm when I'm wearing my 7 mm. hood.

I have really enjoyed downloading my dives to my PC. I've also printed out the info for each dive, and keep the printed forms with my dive log. I'd heard about folks having a great deal of problems loading the software that is necessary for this, but I had no problems with it.

I've had no problems with the pressure gauge. However, the compass came with a bubble inside it that is about half the size of a dime. I complained to, and they sent another compass to me. It had a bubble inside it, too. At that point, I decided that I'd just live with the bubble.

Except for the bubble-in-compass issue and the somewhat hard to understand instruction manual for the computer, I really like the Atmos2 console. (Updated on August 4, 2005)

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