It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I Passed Fundies, Woohoo!

I had my checkout dive for GUE Fundamentals (which I blogged heavily about in February) today. The conditions were pretty bad at the Breakwater -- vis was around 5 feet, it was surgy and there was even some current (odd). Anyhoo, I did the checkout in a single tank, which most of my buddies think is lame. I haven't been in a single tank in over a month, so I was a little worried I would be spazzy. Rob tried to get me to do a practice dive last weekend in a single tank, but I got cold on the first dive so it just didn't happen. The original plan was to do a practice dive with Rob first, and then do a second dive with Beto. But when we got down there, Beto asked if I wanted to go first, and since I wanted to get it over with, I agreed. In the original class, I did everything except the out of gas ascent. So I figured I would have to do a bunch of ascents and S-drills, and then an out of gas ascent. I also thought it was likely I would have to shoot a bag, since I thought my fundies bag shoot was pretty lame. Beto went over what he wanted me to do, and it was basically those things plus a valve drill and demonstrating the various kicks.

So, for the "first dive" we dropped down in craptastic vis and did a 3 minute descent to 30 feet. Then I swam along the lovely diamond that Susan had laid out, alternating between the four fin kicks. Then I demonstrated my back kick, which was excellent. After a few weeks of back kicking in doubles, I can really move in a single tank. Next, I was supposed to do a valve drill. (All of the valve drills I did in the original class went fine. I chalked up the request to do a valve drill to some form of hazing -- I hate single tank valve drills, it's scary to turn your only valve off!) But I couldn't reach my valve! I guess I made some adjustments to my plate for the doubles, plus I could not really remember where I usually mount my plate on a single tank, so the valve was just a bit beyond my reach. In hindsight, I should have realized this during my mod valve drill, when it was pretty hard to reach the valve. Next we each did an S-drill. They were pretty uneventful, except when I finished mine, I realized I had not moved my light cord while stowing my long hose, so my light cord was trapped. Rob pointed this out to me. Also, when Rob was donating to me, he didn't go into touch contact and when I tried to signal this to him, he gave me the "what on Earth are you trying to tell me?" look. I forgot that I was supposed to hold the long hose in a loop when he is on my right. I think I might not have ever done a S-drill where I was the out-of-air one and we exited with me on the left. So I forgot who was supposed to manage the hose and how. Oh well, now I won't forget it again! After that, we headed back to the down line to do an ascent. It was crowded there (Susan and Dionna were drilling, and so were Harry, Greg and Todd), so we headed over to a nice kelp stalk and followed that up. The kelp ended around 15 or 17 feet. So we did our 10 foot stop with no reference, but it went fine. In the debrief for this dive, Beto told me the valve drill was not strictly necessary for the checkout, since I had successfully demonstrated it several times before.

For the "second dive", we went down, moved away from the line, and then I was to shoot a bag and we would ascent it, with a 1 minute stop every 10 feet. I could not inflate my bag. I often have trouble inflating it, and now I am wondering if I have ever been able to inflate it in cold water... I remember doing it in the pool several times, but can't remember doing it in cold water. So, I kept trying and couldn't, then Rob put a little air in it (since the first little bit is the hardest), and I still couldn't. Finally, Beto got out his bag. It has a different inflator mechanism (and a blue H on the side) and I had no trouble inflating it at all. The ascent went smoothly (Rob was deco captain), but man is it a pain to reel in the spool! When we got too the surface, we found the bag less than half inflated. I guess my one breath was pretty puny.

For the "third dive", we descended, moved off the line, and did an S drill (I was donating). Then we were going to do an out of gas ascent. The line was crowded again, and we couldn't find the kelp stalk. Actually, I knew where it was, but Rob and Beto were gesticulating wildly about doing an ascent without a reference line, so I just went with it. I guess that is what Rob means when he says I am not assertive enough in the water :) The ascent went pretty well. I got a leg cramp around the 10 foot stop, so I couldn't lower my leg to get the air out. So I had to use my back to force my legs down, which was pretty uncomfortable. I don't know why I've been getting leg cramps recently (last weekend, essentially the exact same thing happened on our 10 foot stop, except I was in doubles, so my back hurt even more afterwards). But Rob tells me that eating bananas before a dive will prevent leg cramps. Hmmm, sounds like an old wives' tale. On the surface, Beto told me I was checked off!

After we were officially excused from the "class" (and I got a round of applause for passing :P), we descended and I tried to shoot my bag again. Still no luck. Then Rob took the bag and inflated it just fine. I guess my lips are just defective. We were going to head towards the wall and then follow that in, but we were by this point in 15 feet of water, and I figured in these conditions we weren't going to see anything on the wall so shallow. Plus my crampy leg was still bothering me. So we ascended and swam in on the surface. Since the conditions were bad, I had no interest in a second dive. So we hung around for a while until everyone else was out of the water, and I worked on my tan (yea right, I am red like a candy apple!).

We eventually headed back to Any Water Sports, and reviewed the tape. Overall, it looked better than I expected. My flutter kick was better than expected, since I know I usually drop my knees when I am doing it (and Rob tells me he has seen the little plumes of silt to prove it). But on the tape, it was pretty good -- I guess now I know that if I really try, I can do it right. And my trim was really good... on the bottom. Several times on the ascents, I brought my upper body up to vent my drysuit and my trim was not very impressive. Now that I have seen just how far up I am going, I know it's not necessary. But it is hard to tell until you see it on film.

We also watched some video of Harry, Greg, and Todd practicing skills for their Tech 1 class. Watching the video and Beto's commentary was very useful, especially with regards to team positioning on a line. Oh, and while we were at Any Water, I bought a new bag (the same one Beto has). Afterwards we went to a little burrito place near Any Water (whose name escapes me), which I had never been to. It's good to find a good burrito place right there, since we end up over there so often!

I felt bad for leaving the kitties home alone all day (we didn't get home until after 8), so I tried to win back their love with some wet food. Here they are, sharing the bowl. But tomorrow I can make up for it with some kitty quality time. Rob is going diving with Dionna but I think I am going to stay home.

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