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Me diving

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sherwood Split, Double Domes

On Thursday we decided to do a totally new-to-us dive at Ginnie -- Sherwood Split.  I've done quite a few dives up to the Double Lines/Insulation Room area, but I've never made it up to that area on a double stage dive, so it just didn't seem worth it to try to head up that way, since I don't think we'd make it too far on a single stage kick dive.  In the spirit of pacifism, I let Rob lead the dive again.  We got a somewhat late start, since I was cranky tired in the morning, plus we had to get fills.  But after yesterday's dive, anything earlier than a 4PM dive time seemed like we were making good time.  I think in the end we managed to get into the water around noon.

After my raging success with scootering through the lips, I had moderate success with that today.  It didn't seem to go quite as smoothly, but I made it through without having to pull, which is, I guess, the goal.  My scooter stuck on as I was coming through the Cornflakes, which is one of the more annoying places on the main line that I can think of for that to happen.  I managed to subdue it, though in the process I lost a chunk of skin from my finger.  Ouch!  I can never make it through a trip without getting at least a few big scrapes on my hands.  When I came out into the junction room, I told Rob that the scooter was misbehaving, so we traded scooters (starting to sound familiar?).  From there we headed up to the Hill 400 line, and then up to the jump around 1200'.  We dropped our scooters and I dropped a stage there.  I was having problems with my mask fogging, which wasn't a huge surprise, since I had a feeling even before we got in the water that I had contaminated my mask with sunblock (anyone have any suggestions for a sunblock that won't do this?).  It was only fogging on one side, and it started out with just a small foggy patch that grew from there.

When we got to the jump, I didn't really recognize it.  I had a picture in my head of what this jump looked like, but I realized later that I was thinking of a jump that is about 100 feet away (past us, on the closer side if you come from the double lines side).  So I was expecting a jump into a little hole, but actually the entrance was bigger, not something I'd describe as a little hole :)  It is pretty silty up there.  It is not terribly small at the beginning, but small enough that you have to be careful to avoid silting.  There are a bunch of Ts up there, and our plan was to just explore a variety of directions, until gas or boredom dictated that we leave.  The width of the tunnels varies from pretty wide to not so wide, but for the most part the tunnels are pretty low.  There is the occasional bigger "room" though.  This is not an area where it is super easy to find a good stage drop, but there are decent drops every now and then, so you don't have to carry the bottle too terribly far after going off of it.  We somewhat arbitrarily went right at the first T, and I dropped my stage in a little room just past the T.  This was a good move, since I am not a huge fan of dragging a stage through low, silty areas (though Rob carried his further, so it is clearly doable).

The passage narrows down and then at the next T (which is just a few minutes away), you find yourself in a pretty big, though still somewhat flat room.  We went right again, and the tunnel got smaller again pretty quickly.  We eventually came back to that second T and went left, where the tunnel stays reasonably bigger until you get to yet another T.  We explored both sides of that T as well.  So all together, we went up three terminal tunnels (RR, RLR, and RLL), and in each one we turned it when we either hit the end of the line or the tunnel got small (I think we hit the end of one line, the one to the right-right, but I could be misremembering at this point).  The flow changes depending on which direction you go at that second T.  It is the type of flow that you might not really notice as you are heading into it, but once you turn, you really feel like you barely have to kick on the way out. Through the entire dive, my mask was getting foggier and foggier, though still only on one side.  I didn't switch to my backup because I wasn't that convinced that it wouldn't be foggy all over :)  When we got back to the first T, we were each carrying a stage, which we did not want to carry to the left side of the T.  But we couldn't find a good spot to drop them, as everything is clay.  I suggested going back out a little bit from the T, but Rob seemed convinced that there wouldn't be a good stage drop for some time.  So we headed left, still carrying our bottles, where you immediately go through a little underpass.  By the time Rob got through it, the viz was quite deteriorated, so I signaled him and, to his annoyance, turned it.  If I'd had a fully functioning mask, I probably would have been more okay with it.  Looking at the map, I see that there is quite a lot more passage to the left, so I think that warrants a dive of its own sometime.  I switched back onto the stage that I did not want to be carrying, and found that it was breathing rather poorly.  I suspect the siltiness of the passage had something to do with that.

We had originally discussed hitting the Ice Room on the way out, but we skipped that and instead headed to the double domes.  After picking up our scooters, we headed up the hill 400 line further.  Eventually it gets too small/delicate to scooter, so I was thinking that we'd drop our scooters at some point, but Rob never stopped.  Instead, when it got small, we just pushed the scooters through.  At some point, when I knew we were fairly close to popping out into the double domes tunnel, I managed to get stuck on the line :)  The mouthpiece of the second stage on my outer stage bottle got caught on the line.  By the time I realized it, the second stage and hose had been pulled almost halfway out of the bands.  I reached back and freed it, and since it didn't seem like a great spot to stop and mess with my bottles (without leaving a scooter-shaped print in the bottom :P), I decided to just swim with the second stage in my hand until I got out of this tunnel.  I knew it was just another minute or two.  In that minute or two, I realized that I also needed to switch off of the bottle that I was breathing, which I did on the fly.  So when I finally popped out of that tunnel into the double domes tunnel, I had two stage regs deployed and in my left hand, for no obvious reason.  I knew that I was going to get a very amused look from Rob when he saw this.  And as expected, when I appeared, he just gave me a "WTF?" look and we both laughed.  I handed him my scooter nose, and then one of the second stages, stowed the other one, then took the one he was holding and put that away.  I knew that this was going to be one of those stories that Rob tells all of our dive buddies, and indeed, I have already heard this story a couple of times.  I figured if I 'fessed up to it on the blog, it might take the wind out of his sails (but probably not).

Once that was all sorted out, we headed up to the domes and after a minute or two looking around in the second one, we headed out.  By the ride out, my mask was really foggy on the right lens.  In fact it was easiest to see clearly if I just closed that eye :)  Needless to say, I quickly gained proficiency at flooding and clearing my mask while on the trigger.  Since I was on the lead on the way out, I decided to skip the keyhole bypass, since I just knew it would irk Rob, since that's his new favorite trick.  He took the bypass anyway, and after the dive he asked sadly why I hadn't taken it.  We got to the deco ledge and I removed my bottles and scooter and settled in for a long, boring deco.  The deco seemed longer because I had to flood and clear my mask like every minute.  Eventually we finished up and headed out, in the light of day, with time to get gas for tomorrow and shower before heading to dinner at Newberry's with Meredith.

For the rest of the trip, I was super careful about not contaminating my mask with sunblock, and I even remembered to defog my backup mask before every dive too!

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