It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, February 25, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 7

For these two dives, Ted joined us to fill out a team of three. The plan for dive 1 was to each do an S-drill, me to do the no-mask swim (there was possibly other stuff that I'm forgetting) and then for to do bag shoots with ascents. I asked to do the no-mask swim first because it had been haunting me all night. (Rob says that in reality, it had been haunting me pretty much since we signed up for the class.) It went well though, notwithstanding the lack of guidance from my team when I started to ascend a little while replacing my mask, and I signalled a big "phew" (hand across the forehead) to Rob when I was done. We then each did our S-drills which all went pretty ok. Then time came for Rob to shoot his bag and for us to ascend. Rob forgot to close his pocket after he pulled out his bag and spool. I felt like a total idiot for not catching it, since Ted even told us that when he took fundies, they got dinged for forgetting that :) Ok, fix that, bag goes up, then we go up. I had more trouble with floaty-feet at the 10' stop which culminated in me pushing off of Ted's forehead to hold position. Ted claims he would have given me a fist to push off of but he was afraid Rob would beat him up if he got too touchy feely. Hehe.

After regrouping on the surface, we went back down to do an OOG ascent where Ted was donating to Rob and then headed back to the beach.

On the second dive, we practiced bringing an unconscious diver to the surface. Unfortunately our "unconscious diver" (Ted) had some serious floaty feet, which made it both amusing to watch and very difficult to bring him up in a horizontal position. The second dive was more working on ascents, with Rob and Ted working on OOG ascent. I shot a bag on one of the ascents. I didn't get around to doing an OOG ascent, so I'll have to get checked off on that later.

We reviewed the video for the day, and then did the situational awareness lecture. And then we each met with Beto to discuss our performance, what we should work on, etc.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 6

We met just before 9 in Monterey and started unloading our gear. We setup our gear on the beach, (re)analyzed our tanks and got a "site briefing" for the Breakwater (which we've dived many many times before).

I borrowed some HP100's to use for the ocean dives because I decided my head heaviness was probably a sign that I am just not meant to use HP80's.

Rob led on dive 1. The plan was to do a descent (stopping every 10' on the way down), hang out for a few minutes and then work on the 5 kicks swimming along a course laid out for us. Then we were each to do the basic 5 and a valve drill. The kicks went ok, and we set up to do the basic 5 on one of the corners of the course. My backwards kick was still asleep at this early hour, so the basic 5 took a while to run as we kept drifting horizontally off of the mark. The only infraction here was when I started to float off while replacing my mask and Beto had to give me some downward encouragement. Rob started his valve drill, and immediately forgot to purge his necklace. Worse, I forgot to remind him. I realized afterwards that the problem is that since I don't wear doubles, I don't usually purge my necklace before a valve drill, so I don't really recognize that something is missing. So I have started to purge my necklace before valve drills to get into the habit.

Rob restarted the drill, and when he turned his right post back on, air came gushing out because the first stage O-ring didn't seat. I sat there like a doe in the headlights (even though he had this problem once before during a valve drill, and I knew the solution was to tighten the first stage), and Beto swooped in and fixed it. I felt pretty silly. Rob signalled that he wanted to start the drill over from scratch and this time all went well. My valve drill was uneventful. At some point in here we had run up against our allotted bottom time, so we agreed on an extension. I suspect that the "bottom times" that were recommended were intentionally too short just to see if we would notice and not run over our time without agreeing to an extension.

After the drills, we did an ascent with stops at 20' and 10' and did some debriefing on the surface. We had enough gas left over that we decided to drop back down and swim in underwater.

After a surface interval, a drying period for my seriously leaked-on undergarments and a tank change for me (and some minor harness adjustment), we set out for dive 2.

I was the fearless leader for dive 2. Bob was to do another valve drill, I was to do another basic 5, and we were both to do some helicopter turns, S-drills and no-mask swims. We descended and I started to lead us on our 3 minute "dive" so that we could get settled before drills. Rob decided he wanted to go the other way and after a moment of confusion, we met back up and looked at some nudibranchs Rob had found (hermissenda). This was sort of a theme througout fundies, and perhaps our diving in general, where even if I am the leader, sometimes Rob just decides to take over. He was repeatedly chastised for this throughout the class. Beto asked if Rob always leads when we dive, and I told him that we used to take turns and now it is more based on dive site (I, for instance, always lead at the Metridium field, and Rob usually leads to Cannery Point Wall, but we split up the leading to Hole in the Wall). I don't think he believed me. I think he thinks Rob always leads. Hehe.

Anyhoo, we did all of our drills as planned (and they went pretty well), except that I signalled to Beto that I didn't want to do the no-mask swim. Rob did his which was ok except for the fact that cold water on the forehead fricken hurts. We did an ascent and regrouped on the surface. We decided to do some more work on ascents (I was having some floaty-feet problems venting on the 10' stop) and went through a few more cycles of descent and ascent drills before packing it in and heading back to the beach.

We packed up our stuff and headed to the hotel restaurant for some lecture, debrief, and most importantly, a large portion of food. We went over dive planning and gas management before calling it a night.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 5

We met back at the pool for dives 3 and 4. Dive 3, with me as team captain, was going to repeat the basic 5, and introduce the valve drill and the S-drill. We ran through each of these on land first, got dressed, ran through the pre-dive sequence and then hit the water. We also started doing a simulated controlled descent with a 1 minute stop at 5ft.

After a bubble check, we did a quick check at the surface to see if we could swim our rig in the event of a wing failure. My rig was fine, but Rob couldn't keep his afloat for longer than 15 seconds. Ditching his can light (his only ditchable weight), he could fight to keep his head above water. He was surprised by this, but I wasn't really. The way I felt the last time I was in doubles, I can't imagine keeping afloat with a dead wing.

The dive was pretty uneventful. Our basic 5 drills were much better today. Rob figured out that the high-volume mask (gasp the horror!) he was wearing caused him to sink if he tried to clear the mask in one breath. We then each did a valve drill, without noticeable difficulty. When we ran the S-drill, Rob got horribly confused when he was donating and was waiting for me to establish touch-contact to start moving toward the exit. We were both waiting for each, but of course, I was right :) Rob kept forgetting to clip off the longhose, but worse, I didn't notice and tell him to fix it. So Beto kept having to step in and tell him to clean it up. That is now Rob's favorite hand signal, and I don't just mean while diving :)

For the next dive, Rob was team leader. We ran through some land drills for shooting the bag (Rob's favorite) and talked about managing the line, and how line is evil, and that line will seek to strangle and kill you if it can (pay attention, this comes back later).

The plan was for us to go down, run through the valve and S-drills again, each do a no-mask swim, then shoot the bag and do an ascent reeling on the way up. Then we would go back down to do an unconscious diver rescue.

The valve drills went fine, and the S-drills better. Now, the bag shoot. Rob shot his bag, and that was fairly uneventful, but then after he clipped off the line to the spool, he just let it hang (just like in the 5thdx video). Beto gave him a look, and he was later chastised for this.

Then I shot my bag, and, after clipping off the line, let it hang also. I have this bad habit of moving forward a lot during drills. As a result, after I shot the bag, I was like "where is everyone?" and turned to see where they were (behind me). As soon as I did this, the line wrapped around my canister. Doh. So we untangled that, and then reeled up to the surface, where we were chastised about evil line and it's desire to strangle.

After two days in the pool, I was still having problems with being head heavy. As a result, I was constantly having to kick to keep the air out of my feet, which meant that I was moving forward during my drills. Susan had some suggestions for how to position myself to be less head heavy. So we went back down and she got me to the point where I could hover motionless, without going head down, but it really took all of my concentration.

After packing up, and grabbing some sandwiches, it was back to the classroom for video review. Dionna was at Aquan when we got there, with Mango (her bird), so they watched the video with us. The best part was that everytime one of us did something sufficiently dumb and we all started laughing, Mango would laugh along with us. His cackling at us was definitely amusing. The video review took a while so we didn't get to do any lecture.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 4

This was our first real in-water session. We met at the outdoor pool (heated to a balmy 70F) at 8am to do 2 dives. This is about the perfect pool temperature for a long day's exposure as we were wearing the same undergarments we normally do in Monterey (55F) in the pool, and were neither cool nor warm at the end of the day. We set up our tables and went over some pre-dive procedures, team roles, team positioning, signalling and did land-drills for the basic 5. We changed into our drysuits and started getting geared up. For this dive, Beto was team leader, and ran us through GUE-EDGE. The plan was to do a 30min dive, max-depth 9ft, spend a few minutes working on bouyancy and trim and then run through each of the kicks (flutter, mod. flutter, frog, mod. frog and backkick). After a mod-valve and mod-S, we got in the water. Beto showed us a way on the surface to make sure that there was enough flexibility in the drysuit. We did some bubble-checks and then began our dive.

We worked a little bit on holding trim and buoyancy and in the process, made some quick adjustments to weighting and harness positioning. That was a convenient thing about being in the pool. We practiced each kick and swam each kick around in a lap for the camera to see. We finished each kick and then called the dive, doing a 1min. stop at 5ft.

For Dive 2, we made some minor adjustments to harness positioning and weight distribution. I was team captain for this dive and took us through the pre-dive sequence. The plan was for a 30 min dive. We were going to go for a short 5 minute dive around the pool, then work on buoyancy/trim and the backward kick some more, the helicopter turn and the basic 5.

We each did the kicks, and my majestic backward kick returned, although I tended to move up a little on the backwards kick, due to being slightly head heavy. We then started in on the basic 5. Rob went first, and then noticed that 29min. had past, so we agreed to a 10min. extension. Then I did my basic 5 and then we called the dive.

We had "practiced" each of these skills before, in the sense of "let's spend a few minutes at the end of a fun-dive to do them", but it really didn't help any. It was almost embarassing how much difficulty was involved in just running through those drills, regardless of how supportive Beto was during the in-water debrief. It's also surprising that you tend to mess up things that you have never messed up before, such as forgetting to clip off the long-hose. None of that went unnoticed either, and it didn't take the video to point it out :P

After the debrief, we dumped our remaining gas down to 500psi and went down to do a weight check. We were both pretty close to neutral, so no real adjustments were made.

We packed up our gear and headed back to the classroom for some video review and lecture, stopping on the way to pick up some sandwiches.

The video review picked up some small interesting details in general that I would never noticed before, but I won't bore you with them here. We went over each of the dives analyzing the kicks and the basic 5. One thing that we noticed, and this was true throughout the class, is that things that feel frenetic or spazzy underwater, actually don't always look that bad on video.

The lecture covered min deco and gas choices. We finished up around 8pm, went home and fell asleep.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 3

We met for another 3hr classroom session to go over all things equipment. We talked about the tradeoffs and selection concerns for each piece of equipment from tanks and backplates down to SMBs and spools. We spent awhile talking about proper backplate positioning and each made some non-negligible adjustments to move the plates down. In the process of doing this, it was discovered that in his zeal and haste of webbing my harness, Rob had put the chest d-rings on upside-down, which was probably inhibiting clipping-off. Doh! It didn't really occur to us that they weren't symmetric. Unfortunately, this involved unwebbing most of his harness to fix.

We then set up our own rigs and went over them with a fine tooth comb. By and large, we passed muster, though there were a few suspect knots and half-assed bungee contraptions that were fixed or tossed. Beto also showed us a new knot to use depending on how we want the tied bolt-snap to behave (whether it should move around, or rather stay in a fixed position but swivel). We also each changed some of our hoses around to vastly improve the hose routing around the 1st stage.

It was a long night with a lot of useful information, but it was fun. I mean, who doesn't love playing with gear?! For homework, I had to redo some knots, because I admitted to Beto that Rob had tied all of my knots for me and I'd never actually tied a knot :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 2

We met at an indoor pool to do our swim tests and to work on propulsion techniques. The swim tests went fine, even though the 300yards that we were training for somehow became 400. After we finished, Beto admitted that the requirement was only 300 yards, and as long as we finished the first 300 yards in the required time, we would pass. Would have been nice to know that beforehand (not that 400 yards in 14 minutes is a problem, but I felt mentally unprepared for it :P). After catching our breath, we used some toy fins (they weren't even black!) and our backplates for ballast and did some breath-hold practice with the various kicks. While this might sound weird and awkward, it was actually really useful to get the strokes and motions worked out before adding the drag and bulk of drysuits and full SCUBA. We worked on the kicks for about an hour or two and, before the end of the night, I was kicking backwards!

Rob already knew the backwards kick (and apparently his backwards kicks is really good, Beto thought it was impressively powerful), but I decided to wait and learn it in the class, instead of possibly learning it incorrectly. I think this was the right decision, because after watching it demonstrated, etc., I just couldn't get it until Beto went behind me and moved my fins so I started to move backwards. Once you feel what it's supposed to feel like, it's not hard. But watching it and having it explained to me, I never would have gotten it on my own.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

GUE Fundamentals, Day 1

We met for a 3hr classroom session and did some introductions and lecture topics. We talked about bouayncy and trim, went over some background and evolution of GUE and DIR. We ended the night by practicing some kicks on tables and holding a proper trim position, which was pretty painful in a non-weightless environment.

DIR-F class

Rob and I recently took DIR-F with Beto Nava. It was a fun and busy 2.5 weeks and after we've had some time to decompress, we got around to writing up a class report. You can also check out the topside pictures from the class.

I'm going to go with the post-per-day format.