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Friday, May 29, 2009

Kevin: Tech 2, Day 1

All hell breaks loose

After getting an okay nights sleep we started a trend that was to continue for the next three days. Wake up at 6:45, quick shower and head over to the WinDixie down the street to pick up breakfast/lunch and then head over to the dive site.

Our first day was going to be spent at Blue Grotto. This is a beautiful large cavern that extends down to 100’. It has a large open water area as well as several platforms at various depths. The grounds have plenty of tables and shade for gear setup.

After we had gotten the forms and paperwork all squared away with the Blue Grotto staff, we started in with some brief introductions and thoughts on why we wanted to take the class and what we could expect over the next couple of days. One of the major items that he would be doing is keeping us in and under the water quite a bit to get a feeling of how we handle extended deco times. This would be no joke as we would typically spend at least three hours in the water a day. Another aspect would be stress from physical exertion. To get to the water at Blue Grotto or later at 40 Fathoms one has to go down three sets of stairs as its about 30 to 40 feet below ground level. Humping three sets of stages plus your doubles up and down that multiple time a day in the heat and the humidity gets to be very tiring.

After some discussion on stage and deco bottle management we jumped into the water to start things. First up was a quick scenario dive. Stuff happened, posts failed, masks were lost. After a quick debrief we descended back down to practice bottle rotations. The next couple of dives the goal was to keep team positioning and trim while developing proficiency with moving bottles around. After what seemed like an endless series of rotations we finally switched over to a bottle passing routine. Each of us would take all the bottle from the rest of the team before passing it onto the next person. With 9 bottles on the rig is quite a site to see, but surprisingly possible. After this fun we surfaced for lunch.

After a bit more time with lecture we went back down to the practice toxing diver rescue. We all managed the skill without too many problems and were commenting that the extra bottles didn’t seem to interfere with things too badly. My one interesting moment came when Allison was playing victim. There is a wooden platform that is sloped downwards and at the edge drops another 10 feet to the floor. The wood having been in the water a long time is quite slick with algae so when I went to flip her over she started sliding toward the edge. Luckily I saw where this was going and manage to get into position quickly enough to only fall a couple of feet before stabilizing things. For a moment through it felt like I was launching off a carrier deck with not enough speed to fly. ☺
Rescue being completed we spent a few minutes cleaning up the reels and SMB’s and blue tape. At the beginning of the day we had marked all our bottles with painters tape. Unfortunately over the course of the day the water dissolved the glue on the tape so blue painters tape was strewn over the floor.

Once out of the water we had to quickly pack up due to the fact that the Owners of Blue Grotto are adamant that people leave by 6:00pm. In our case they threatened to charge us an extra 100’s and were holding my CC hostage. Needless to say this did not endear me to the management at Blue Grotto and in the future I will avoid patronizing their establishment if at all possible.

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