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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kevin: Tech 2, Day 2

Hal’s Horrible Hole aka 40 Fathoms Grotto

Even though our meeting time with Dean was again going to be 8:30 we elected to arrive early at 40 Fathoms Grotto. Yesterday we spent quite a bit of time just getting the bottles properly marked an analyzed. With the blue tape coming off we needed to remark our bottles in addition to getting them filled along with our backgas tanks.

40 Fathoms Grotto has been leased out to a commercial dive academy. They have done quite a bit of improvements to the sinkhole including installing a filtration system that should eventually improve the water clarity. Almost half of the water is covered with floating docks that contain various benches for setting up gear. During the day it’s a bee hive of activity with divers of all types in different areas of training from Open water to welding to trimix training (us)
While the tanks were filling we went through some of our quizzes as well as some lecture on deco and stage bottle usage. Eventually we got the gas we needed and started in on the analyzing session. As we continually found out during the class, three people analyzing tanks together can bang through quite a few pretty quickly.

The dives for the morning were to be ascent driven and time limited. Coming up from a set depth we had to manage smbs, stowing stages, switching to deco gasses and rotating bottles all within a very small deco schedule of one minute per stop. To say things were frantic at times is an understatement. After a couple of shallower ascents we went back down to do a deeper ascent from 100’. With the same quick deco schedule but more distance to move it made it even more frantic at times. Taking a bit longer at any one step really pushed back everything else on the schedule and just ramps up the pressure. Once we hit our twenty foot stop we called the drilled and went through and did another series of bottle rotation drills. Normally at this point we were supposed to wait a minute between each step of the moves, but I think we were so tired of doing this we started rushing things and continued on to the next step as soon as we completed the last.

The debrief afterwards was pretty quiet as we all didn’t think we covered ourselves with glory but I guess Dean was satisfied enough as for the afternoon dive we would be doing a scenario based dive. In some ways this would easier as the deco would be longer, but we would have to deal with failures.

After lunch we briefed on the dive and jumped in to do it. After dealing with a failure or two during the descent we finally reached the bottom. The bottom of the ascent line terminates at a small minisub that has a couple of creepy mannequin figured dressed in it. After a short time looking at it we continued along the ling. More stuff failed until it was time to ascend… where upon more stuff failed. Deco up at the 20 foot stop was yawn inducing.

The debrief as Deans typical no holds bared but we apparently didn’t do anything too bad as we were instructed to plan two 150’ dives for tomorrow. Our only major hurdle would be that 40 Fathoms had run out of O2 for our fills tomorrow. After some quick calculations and angst ridden moments, we calculated that we could just manage to fill our stages + deco bottles for tomorrow dives with the residual O2 left and a fill plan was agreed upon.

That night after our usually dinner at the local eatery Billy Jacks where we continued on our theme of BBQ every night (4 for 4 so far) we got back to plan our dives. What usually might take just a few moments pretty much dragged out due to tiredness and general light bickering amongst the team. It was safe to say by this point the length of the days and the stress of the class had taken its toll on all of us. None of us had been sleeping very well since the first day.

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