Archive for November, 2007

Rebreather day on the Independence II

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Just to be clear, this was not a scheduled event, but just another day of diving on the Independence II. The plan was to head to the Stolt, but the weather did not cooperate. On any day you will probably see a few rebreathers aboard. For example last week, on the Pinta, there were five different rigs. This Sunday there was more variety than usual.

Megs, Ouroboris, Classic Kiss, and Evolution are brought aboard regularly by various members of the crew. On any given day, you’re likely to see some combination of the above.  Today they all showed up.   Occasionally, an Inspiration is also thrown in. An Optima, Sport Kiss, and Hammer-Meg were aboard courtesy of the passengers.

The variety does not stop there. On the Open-Circuit side, there were double Al 80s, double steel 90s, 100s, 120s and 130s. Finally there was a single steel tank I think was an 80 (boy was that light).

Back to the Pinta on the Independence II, November 11, 2007

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Loading our gear on the boat was a bit of a challenge, as the dock was covered with frost. As usual, NOAA’s forecast was not accurate, but the seas were rough enough to force us to stay in shore. One of the better wrecks in this area is the Pinta. The wreck is almost 200 ft long with her hardwood cargo spread about on the ocean floor. This leaves lots of places for critters to hide.

Dropping down to the wreck, the vis was short, and the lights went out quick. There was a bit of surge on top of the wreck where the shot landed. Tie in was quick, and I wanted to get out of the surge. Once over the side the wreck shielded the surge, and the dive became a lot easier.

The bottom temp was 56 degrees with about 20ft of vis depending on the location. Approaching the bow, the vis dropped off as the surge picked back up. In short vis lobstering is often a better bet, but there were few to be found. Seabass were all about hiding in every crevice. It’s a shame I didn’t bring the pole spear. Here and there there were Tautag, and there are always Cunners. I spent most of the dive looking about as this wreck is really starting to break apart. There were lots of holes to explore, and I kept hoping for the tell tail signs of lobster.

At this depth and in warm water, there was lots of bottom time, but I knew the rest of the crew is stuck on the boat until I return. Back on the line, the surface vis obscured the bottom of the boat from 15 ft away.  That explains the lack of light on the wreck. The air was still cold when I got out, with a 15kt wind. We all wanted to jump back in. Most people kept the surface interval short, then jumped back in to warm up.

The second dive was much like the first. This time Brandon took in a pole spear and got some sea bass. Rob brought up the solitary lobster, and a nice bag of mussels came up also. After the dive we all headed into the cabin to warm up on the ride back. Several people were already asleep by the time I got out of my gear. With following seas we were back to the dock in no time.

Help!!!! My First Rescue Class

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

I taught my first Rescue class last weekend. Lee did the classroom work, and I took the class to Dutch. I must admit, I was a little nervous. Lee is great instructor. He has been diving, and teaching for years. He’s easy going, and will spend as much time as necessary working with students until he’s sure they know the subject. He was also my Intro to Tech instructor. Bottom line, he’s a hard act to follow!

Once everyone arrived at Dutch, we reviewed the procedures, then got in the water and worked through the skills. We practiced them until everyone felt comfortable performing them. I got to play victim. It’s kind of fun since I’m 6’6″ 220 lb. Most people are not ready to try to pick me up and drag me about. Much of the skills involved showing them how to make the job easier on them. If your winded by the time you get the victim to the shore, then how can you get them out of the water, or perform CPR. Do your best to make the situation work for you.

We worked a lot on the techniques, but we also talked in depth about responsibility, and having to make one of the toughest decisions: Can I safely assist without putting my own life in danger.  As leaders (DMs and instructors) there is a “duty” to assist. However as recreational divers, most people only have a duty to their buddy. Assisting others is a choice they have to make, and it’s a very difficult one. To date, I’ve never had to make that call.  Most of the “rescues” I’ve made were simply helping a diver with a small problem before it became a large one.  In the end, that’s the best type of rescue.

I think the biggest lesson at the end of the day is that rescue is tough, it’s physically challenging, and therefore puts the rescuer at risk in most situations. You have to decide if your willing to take that risk, and then you have to constantly reevaluate the situation as it unfolds.

While it was a little cold, it was a great weekend, and a fantastic class. Great work everyone! I know everyone was worn out, and slept well. Next time, I don’t think I’ll be nervous.