Title:
SURFACE SUPPORT STATION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An all purpose surface support station for use in dive applications having an inflatable bladder for floating the station, a screw-in type anchor for docking the station, removable pockets for storing dive equipment, and a cover that can store dive equipment, protect the bladder and, upon deflation of the bladder, is also used as a device for transporting dive equipment to and from the dive site.



Inventors:
Tanaka, Matthew (Fairport, NY, US)
Nagy, Frank (Rochester, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/262873
Publication Date:
05/21/2009
Filing Date:
10/31/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/381, 114/294, 441/6
International Classes:
B63B22/04; A44B19/02; B63B21/26; B63B22/22
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040009722Circular skim boardJanuary, 2004Towey
20090258554Electrically powered balanced buoyancy and velocity of movement controllable life-preserving vest and transport systemOctober, 2009Gutierrez
20090186539Water Skiing DiskJuly, 2009Mcdonald
20050106961Grip pad for a surfcraftMay, 2005Larkin
20070254541Inflatable sports deviceNovember, 2007Sorby
20030068938Deformable body boardApril, 2003Fireman
20060270290Lightweight personal rescue tube flotation deviceNovember, 2006Tellew
20080153370ADJUSTABLE PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICEJune, 2008Wagner
20030176123Method and device for saving people in distressin the seaSeptember, 2003Schwindt
20040161986Body board handlesAugust, 2004Scozzari
20040053548Life jacket resistant to separation from wearer caused by buoyancy thereofMarch, 2004Wu



Primary Examiner:
VENNE, DANIEL V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Barclay Damon, LLP (Syracuse, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A surface support station comprising: a cover having a plurality of handles and at least one clipping point; a bladder having an inflation valve and a quick deflation valve; and at least one pocket in communication with said cover for storing dive equipment.

2. The surface support station of claim 1 her comprising an anchor in communication with said clipping point, said anchor comprising: a center shaft; an anchor clipping point at one end of the center shaft for attaching a line from the clipping point to said anchor clipping point; at least one helical auger extending outward from the center shaft.

3. The surface support station of claim 2 wherein the helical auger completes at least two full rotations around the center shaft.

4. The surface support station of claim 2 wherein at least one helical auger is two helical augers separated lengthwise on the center shaft by at least 2 inches.

5. The surface support station of claim 2 wherein said anchor further comprises a sharpened end at the end of the center shaft opposite the anchor clipping point.

6. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein said cover is colored to resemble a dive flag.

7. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein said cover, upon deflation of the bladder, can be folded and transported by a single user by grasping the plurality of handles.

8. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein said cover further comprises at least one grommet.

9. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein at least one pocket is a waterproof pocket.

10. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein at least one pocket further comprises a grommet.

11. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein at least one pocket is affixed to said cover.

12. The surface support station of claim 1 further comprising a retention strap affixed to said cover, wherein at least one pocket is removably attached to the retention strap.

13. The surface support station of claim 1 wherein at least one pocket is capable of being attached to a standard dive suit.

14. A diver awareness station comprising: a cover comprising; a plurality of handles; a retention strap; at least one station clipping point; at least one grommet; and a sealable bladder opening; at least one removable pocket affixed to the retention strap capable of storing dive equipment; an inflatable bladder positioned within said cover that is removable through the sealable bladder opening, wherein the inflatable bladder has an inflation valve and a quick deflation valve;

15. The diver awareness station of claim 14 wherein at least one removable pocket is affixed the retention strap by looping hook and loop fasteners on the removable pocket around the retention strap and contacting the hook and loop fasteners.

16. The diver awareness station of claim 14 further comprising an anchor in communication with said clipping point, said anchor comprising: a center shaft; an anchor clipping point at one end of the center shaft for attaching a line from the station clipping point to the anchor clipping point; at least one helical auger extending outward from the center shaft.

17. The diver awareness station of claim 14 further comprising a dive flag attachment point.

18. The diver awareness station of claim 14 wherein said inflatable bladder is an inner tube.

19. The diver awareness station of claim 14 wherein the sealable bladder opening further comprises a zipper.

20. The diver awareness station of claim 16 wherein, upon deflating the inflatable bladder and folding the cover, said anchor is stored on the cover such that a single diver is capable of transporting the cover, inflatable bladder, and anchor by grasping the plurality of handles.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/984,089, filed Oct. 31, 2007.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a surface support station for SCUBA diving, and more particularly to a combination visual surface signal device and equipment storage, having removable pockets, an auger-style anchor, and a removable inflatable bladder.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Dive floats are positioned on the surface of the water above the area where SCUBA and skin divers are located. The dive float acts as a visual signaling device to alert boaters and others that there are divers underneath the water in the vicinity of the dive float.

The problems of current dive floats are that they are cumbersome and generally only suitable as a surface signaling device. Present dive floats are ‘towed’ at the surface by the diver underwater during the dive. This creates a problem when the diver needs to access additional equipment that was left on the shore or boat. Current designs for inner-tube based dive floats are such that they are inflated prior to arrival and must be carried to a dive site. This configuration is cumbersome in conjunction with the other dive gear.

Dive floats are also used to attach a dive line or reel between the dive float and the diver or the dive float and an underwater surface. The line is capable of being anchored when the diver desires to have both hands free. The diver will often anchor the dive float once the destination has been reached, and the dive float will stay relatively close. A line is normally affixed to the float such that the diver can tow the float as they are underwater.

An anchor may be embedded into the underwater surface and affixed to the dive float via the dive line to keep the dive float stationary. However, current anchors are either burdensome or non-effective in properly securing the dive float. The problems with underwater surfaces are that they are mostly sand or silt based. Usually a heavily weighted device is used as an anchor in these substrates, however heavy anchors are not desirable for diving. Therefore there is a need for a lightweight anchor specifically designed for these type of locations. Current screw-in type anchors (such as dog tie-outs) are designed for use on above water surfaces made from a hard-packed material. These type of screw-in anchors fail in underwater applications due to their lack of surface area. Therefore, there is a need for a screw-in type anchor where the surface area of the auger plates hold the loose material on top of the augers keeping the anchor within the substrate for underwater applications.

Currently, dive equipment is either brought underwater with the diver or left on the shore or boat. If the equipment is too heavy or cannot go underwater due to pressure limitations it is left at the surface either on a boat or on the shore. When diving from shore almost all safety equipment is stored on the shore whether in a vehicle or at the waters edge. The longer it takes to access this equipment the less chance the victim has to recover. Therefore, a device for storing safety and other dive equipment in close proximity to the diver is desired.

Therefore, a dive float that is portable is desired.

Further, a dive float having a removable, inflatable bladder is desired.

Yet further, an anchor that is both portable and suitable for dive applications is needed.

Even further, a dive float containing removable pouches for holding dive equipment is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one form, the invention is a surface support station for providing a visual signal of divers in the vicinity of the surface support station. The surface support station includes an inflatable bladder that can be quickly deflated or inflated with the use of standard diving equipment. The inflatable bladder is removable from the surface support station cover. The cover further includes connections for removable pockets that can store diving equipment. The surface support station further includes a connection for a dive line that may be attached to the diver or anchored to an underwater surface. The surface support station also contains pockets that are attached and removed according to the diver's needs. In one embodiment these pockets are attached to the diver's buoyancy compensator to take additional gear underwater.

The invention further includes an anchor that easily and securely attaches to an underwater surface. The anchor is connected to the surface support station by a dive line that may be removed from the anchor and affixed to a diver.

An advantage of the present invention is that the surface support station is portable and when collapsed or deflated it becomes a compact carrying sling. The surface support station can be carried by a single person to a dive site.

A further advantage of the present invention is that the inflatable bladder is almost instantly deflatable allowing for ease of exit from the water. The deflated bladder is stored in the sling and is suitable for one handed carrying.

An even further advantage of the present invention is that the removable pockets are easily removed from the surface support station and affixed to the diver.

A further advantage of the present invention is that the anchor is both light weight, to allow transportation to the dive site, and capable of being sufficiently embedded in an underwater surface to sustain the surface support station or other divers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is disclosed with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1A is a schematic view of the surface support station containing an inflated bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 1B is a top view of the surface support station containing an inflated bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 1C is a bottom view of the surface support station containing an inflated bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic view of a folded cover after the bladder has been deflated according to the present invention;

FIG. 3A is a back view of a pocket according to the present invention;

FIG. 3B is a front view of a pocket according to the present invention;

FIG. 3C is a front view of a pocket with an open flap according to the present invention;

FIG. 4A is a top view of an inflated bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 4B is a side view of an inflated bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 4C is a side view of a deflated bladder according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an anchor according to the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a view of the surface support station with anchor.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. The example(s) set out herein illustrate(s) [one/several] embodiment(s) of the invention but should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention in any manner.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1A-1C, there is shown the surface support station 10 of the present invention. The surface support station includes an inflatable bladder (not shown) having an inflation valve and a quick deflate valve, a removable cover 11 having a plurality of handles and at least one clipping point, removable pockets 12 for storing dive equipment, and, in one embodiment an anchor (not shown).

A standard dive flag can be affixed to the float using a standard bracket found at most dive retailers. In another embodiment, the surface support station has an attachment point for affixing a dive flag. The float is colored in a way to resemble a dive flag such that is particular areas a separate dive flag is not required.

The removable cover houses the inflatable bladder. The cover is made from any material suitable for dive applications. In one embodiment the cover is made from Cordura for improved durability. The inflatable bladder is placed into the cover prior to inflation. The bladder is then inflated by the diver prior to entering the water. In one embodiment an adapter for the buoyancy compensator inflator is used to inflate the bladder from a dive tank. In an alternative embodiment, a handheld pressurized canister is used to inflate the bladder. The bladder opening is then sealed to secure the inflatable bladder within the cover. In one embodiment a zipper 14 is used to seal the bladder opening. Alternatively, the bladder opening is sealed by a hook and loop fastener.

A retaining strap 15 extends around the circumference of the cover 11. The retaining strap 15 is affixed to the cover 11 to support the weight of the removable pockets 12. The removable pockets 12 are then affixed to the retaining strap 15. In one embodiment the retaining strap 15 is sewed onto the cover 11, however, the retaining strap 15 can be affixed in any suitable way to the cover 11 such that the pockets 12 are supported. Referring to FIG. 2, the retaining strap 15 also forms two handles 21 for easy carrying of the cover 11 when deflated. In one embodiment the retention strap is a 2 inch wide nylon strap and is stitched directly to the cover 11. It is understood that the retaining strap may extend around the entire circumference of the cover or just portions of the cover and may be in any orientation that supports the removable pockets.

Referring to FIGS. 3A-3C, the removable pockets 12 come in various shapes, sizes and aspect ratios to hold different types of equipment. Particular pockets are capable of being removed from the cover and attached to a standard dive suit. In an alternative embodiment the pockets are permanently affixed to the cover.

The pockets can either be waterproof or contain grommets 31 to allow for water drainage. The pockets are useful for storing items such as: spare masks, spare snorkels, save a dive kits, CPR masks, dive slates, water bottles, dry boxes, extra weights, spare flashlights, first aid kits, and cameras.

The pockets are affixed to the cover. The pockets can be secured to the strap by any suitable means. In one embodiment, the pockets are wrapped around the retention strap and secured by at least one hook and loop strap 32. In an alternative embodiment, the pockets are secured by button snaps. In another embodiment the pockets are designed to hold specific pieces of equipment and are labeled as such on the exterior of the pocket. The pockets are designed to hold the most common diving gear, which can be left behind due to lack of storage in close proximity to the diver. The ability for divers to carry extra gear and safety equipment enables safer and more enjoyable dives.

As shown in FIGS. 3B-3C, the pockets are closable to ensure the contents stay within the pocket. In one embodiment the pocket is securely closed by the use of hook and loop fasteners. It is understood that the pocket can be secured by any suitable closing device such as, hook and loop fasteners, snaps, buttons, zippers, draw cords, elastic closures or the like.

Referring again to FIGS. 1A-1C, the cover 11 further contains a plurality of clipping points 16 for towing equipment. In one embodiment the clipping point is a D-ring, which is a metal or plastic closed ring in the shape of a letter D. The clipping points 16 are useful for attaching clipping devices, such as carabineers, to the cover. The clipping points 16 allow for the attachment of a dive line or dive equipment. In one embodiment the clipping points 16 are positioned on the bottom of the cover for easy access while diving. Anything equipment that the diver desires to bring to the dive site and not bring underwater can be attached to the clipping points 16. This equipment also includes anything that does not fit into a pocket and can have a clip attached for affixation to the clipping points 16.

Referring to FIG. 2, two handles 21 are affixed to the cover 11 such that when the cover is folded the cover 11 may be carried by the handles 21. The handles 21 may be affixed directly to the cover 11 or to the retaining strap. The inflatable bladder, anchor and additional dive equipment can then be stored in the removable cover for easy transport to and from the dive site. The diver can place any items that do not fit into the pockets in the cover once folded. Additionally, upon leaving the dive site the diver can use the cover to carry any items found underwater. The removable pockets can remain attached to the cover for easy transportation.

Referring now to FIGS. 4A-4C, in use the surface support station is kept afloat by an inflatable bladder 40. In one embodiment the inflatable bladder 40 is an inner tube. The standard size inner tube used for diving has an outside diameter of 27 inches, an inside diameter of 15 inches, and a width of 7.5 inches. The inflatable bladder 40 can be inflated by use of a standard TR-13 valve 41. The inflatable bladder can be inflated by utilizing a fitting that attaches to the divers buoyancy compensator inflator hose. Alternatively, a portable CO2 inflator can be used to inflate the bladder. Generally, the bladder is filled to about 35 to 50 psi.

The inflatable bladder can be quickly deflated by use of a standard dump valve 42 to reduce the size for transportation as shown in FIGS. 4B and 4C. In an alternative embodiment, the inflatable bladder is a non-removable bladder that is integral to the cover. Referring again to FIG. 2, the cover 11 can then be folded in half to store equipment, and allow for easy transportation of equipment from the dive site. At least one Grommet 23 is installed in the bottom of the cover to allow water to drain from the cover and equipment. Once the bladder is deflated the cover can be folded and transported by a single user by grasping the handles

In one embodiment the surface support station is a diver awareness station having a cover with at least two handle, a retention strap at least one station clipping point; at least one grommet; and a sealable bladder opening; at least one removable pocket affixed to the retention strap for storing dive equipment; and an inflatable bladder positioned within the cover that is removable through the sealable bladder opening, the inflatable bladder having an inflation valve and a quick deflation valve.

In use the surface support station can be anchored to an underwater surface. Referring to FIG. 5, the anchor 50 can be used to keep the float in position or may be used for the training of new divers. New diving students must demonstrate a controlled emergency swimming ascent. This is done with a vertical control line that is buoyed to the surface support station. This line must be secure enough to enable an instructor to stop a student's ascent at any time by grasping the line while holding the student. In one embodiment the anchor is in communication with a clipping point on the surface support station. The anchor having a center shaft, an anchor clipping point at one end of the center shaft for attaching a Line from the clipping point and at least one helical auger extending outward from the center shaft.

The anchor 50 provides sufficient force to allow for the training of new divers. The anchor is made from a rigid material. An anchor clipping point 51 is located at one end of the center shaft 53. In one embodiment the affixation point is in the shape of a triangle. The anchor clipping point 51 allows for the attachment of a dive line to connect to the surface support station 10. The line can be affixed by use of clips that form a quick release function. In one embodiment the bottom end of the anchor 50 is sharpened to ease in the penetration of underwater surfaces. A plurality of augers plates 52 are positioned circumferentially around the rod in a slightly helical shape. In one embodiment, the auger plates 52 are positioned at least 3 inches apart along the rod. In another embodiment at least two auger plats are separated lengthwise on the center shaft by at least 2 inches. In an alternative embodiment a single auger plate making at least two full revolutions is utilized. For improved retention force, the helical shaped augurs complete at least two full revolutions around the center shaft, whether as a single auger or a plurality of augers. In one embodiment the auger plates 52 have a diameter of about 6 inches and the length of the anchor is about 14 inches. The helical shape allows for a diver to screw the anchor into an underwater surface. Similarly, the diver can unscrew the anchor to remove it from the underwater surface. As numerous materials are susceptible to damage in underwater applications, the anchor is made from a durable material, such as 316 stainless steel.

While the invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the scope of the invention.

Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiments disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope and spirit of the appended claims.