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Me diving

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Allison: Tech 2, Day 3

We were very excited to be doing some real dives on day 3. We started the morning with our now-familiar routine of hitting the Winn Dixie for breakfast and lunch provisions, then headed to 40 Fathoms. When we got to 40 Fathoms in the morning, our backgas had been filled, but it had just been filled, and hadn't quite mixed. The first time we analyzed it, the Helium was reading way high. So we had to dance around with our tanks for a while until the reading stabilized. We also found out that the mix in our O2 bottles had gotten foobar'd (they were topped with O2), which was unfortunate, since this wasted a bunch of what little oxygen was left. In any case, we left Jolene to figure that out while we did the first dive. Before the dive, we went over some of the quizzes for the academic material. We also went over our random deco questions. Rob had prepared quite a list. Kevin had a slightly smaller list, and I had a very tiny list. Eventually we got all of our gear down to the water and headed in. By day 3, all of our undergarments had quite an unpleasant odor. Mine smelled like the inside of a wet drysuit that was left in the garage for a few days. Rob's smelled even worse :P I was so looking forward to being finished with the undergarment for the week! Once the gas was all worked out, we headed into the water (after the great bottle schlep).

Kevin was leading the dive, so I ran deco, and Rob got to do... nothing! (In case it hasn't become apparent by now, we were rotating team positions... on the first dive of the first day, I was 1, Rob was 2, and Kevin was 3, and then we rotated from there). We headed down the line, and had a minor fixable failure on the way down, before we descended into the darkness. After taking care of that, we continued on down the line. We got to the bottom and headed in the opposite direction from the day before. If I had to describe the site in a few words, it would be "deep, dark and scary". I thought it was spooky as hell as we descended into the utter darkness. There was a line that was supposed to lead down the slope. Our plan was a max depth of 150'. We worked our way down the line, looking at the various crap that had been dumped down there -- a boat or two, a big toy jeep, a satellite dish, and a stuffed bear. Afterwards, we were told that the bear was supposedly known as the "polar bear", but it looked pretty brown to me. Not sure what the deal was with that. Maybe it was just brown from all of the silt. It was awfully silty down there! There were also random tree branches strewn about, and sticking out at you. They too were covered with silt, so any bumping into them resulted into a plume of silt. It was a pretty boring dive... I think I saw maybe one fish on the bottom. Eventually we turned the dive, and of course we were only like 5 minutes from the down line :P Just not a lot of ground to cover and a lot to look at before it got past 150 feet.

The deco was pretty uneventful. By this point, we finally knew where all of the platforms, cables, etc. and managed to not bonk our heads on anything significant. When we got to 20 feet, Dean gave us a surprise deco extension, I guess to see if we panicked at the thought of having to spend an extra 20 minutes in the 71 degree water :) Rob pointed out afterwards that being at 20 feet was actually way more comfortable than being above water, where it was crazy hot :) I will admit I would have been a lot more cranky in 48 degree water at home. When we hit the surface, we all expressed our extreme disinterest in the dive site. Because we were all horribly bored by the site, Dean offered to let us do three ocean dives in Monterey instead. We had the boat booked for three days anyway, in case we fell behind on the class. However, we reasoned that if we did the second dive today, we'd get to do two experience dives plus a day of post-class fun diving in Monterey, which we all agreed would be more fun. So we decided to bang out the second dive.

After the dive, we had lunch and talked about DCS and other fun topics. Rob had to sit a table away from the rest of us because of his smell. We had gas issues -- there hadn't been enough O2 to fill our 50% bottles. But we did some math and decided that with the leftover O2 from dive 1, plus 32% tops, we could get enough 50%. Woohoo! But it took a fair amount of running around before we got all of that settled. It also meant we had to relabel some of our bottles, which made us all extremely paranoid about getting it wrong in terms of what was 50% and what was O2. After we finally sorted that all out, and did a final great schlep down to the water, we got in. What a relief to get into the water.

The plan (the night before) was for me to lead the second dive. But I wimped out after experiencing the extreme spookiness on the first dive. I likened the drop to the bottom there to the first scene with the Dementors in Harry Potter (I was re-reading the third book on the flight to Florida). As you descend into the darkness, it gets cold and all of the happiness is sucked out of your world. I was worried it would be obvious to Dean that I had wimped out, since it was my turn to lead. I came up with several bogus excuses in case I was asked, including... since I had led the first dive of the trip, we had at this point all done each task an equal number of times, so it wasn't really my turn, OR, this would put me in position to lead one of the experience dives in Monterey, which would be more fun. Rob told me I was way overthinking this, and there was no way Dean would even question it. I am just hoping that Dean has better things to do than read my blog, and doesn't find out about this extreme wimpiness on my part. Indeed, no questions were asked about our team ordering.

The second dive was basically more of the same. We ran into a team of single tankers in wetsuits on the bottom, in about 130 feet. They were swimming like bats out of hell DOWN the slope. They all had lights on lanyards on their wrists, so it was like a light show down there. I was in position 3, so when all of a sudden there was light spazziness behind me, I was like "what is Dean's problem!?!". Then I quickly checked on him and realized what was going on. It was quite distracting. Not too long later, they came charging back up the slope, in the vertical bicycle kick position. Just what you want in a silty (and deep, dark, and scary) environment. This was actually the first time I got a good look at the divers, and I literally did a double take when I saw that they were in single tanks. What a sheltered world I live in :) One small departure from the first dive was that at the boat at about 130', we headed off of the line, where there was a little rock ledge that we followed, until we hit a pine tree, needles and all. After that, we headed back to the upline. This time we had been warned in advance to extend our 20 feet deco. The deco was otherwise uneventful. There were a few little fishies keeping us entertained at 20 feet, snacking on Rob's "nose nudibranchs". Yea, super gross.

We were all relieved to have "passed" the Florida part of the class on schedule. Now we just had the fun part left in Monterey! After the great schlep back up the hill (Rob was nice enough to trade a 40 for an 80 with me :P... that's why I married him), we did some more review of the quizzes. Once that was finished, we were free to go :P We decided a little celebration was in order. But first we would shower. We all stunk! We decided to go to the "big city" of Ocala for dinner. By the time we had gone back to the motel and cleaned up, it was about 9. Since it was 9 on a Sunday, in what I perceived to be god-fearing country (though that perception may be entirely inaccurate), we decided a chain restaurant would be a safer bet in terms of being open. So Rob fired up the iPhone and we found a Chili's in Ocala. Mmm, margaritas. Kevin was kind enough to drive. We celebrated with some inordinately unhealthy food, including margaritas, some form of fried onions, and a gooey chocolate cake with ice cream for dessert. Yum! After three days of class, I was definitely running a margarita deficit. I had been telling the boys that they had to get me ice cream the entire time we were in Florida, since it was so hot. Perfect ice cream eating weather. Kevin claimed that this outing fulfilled that, but I claim they still owe me ice cream proper, not just an accompanying scoop of vanilla :P I think we all slept pretty well that night!

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