AOW the first instalment

One of the great things about doing vacation dive training, is Online courses. The week prior to coming down to Belize for my AOW, I was doing the online classes at the pub (hey, I don’t have internet, or TV, or a phone ….) So that means, as soon as I get down there, I start right away diving!

I was paired up with James for my first dive, the Deep Dive as they say. A little bit of briefing and ‘benchmark’ timings on some simple tasks (calculations, descriptions, puzzle, colours, etc). I would do these all again at 30m.

Also in our briefing, 2 other divers would be joining us, doing some work on their final DM course. Once we got down to 30m, we were to do the same tasks as done on the boat, compare our computers and depth gauges, and then enjoy our dive. But there was a twist. I was to lead the dive, spending 10 minutes TBT at 30m, head up to 24m for another 10 minutes, then 18m for the rest of the dive.

I did feel some effects of Nitrogen Narcosis, my short term memory was slightly affected during some Dive Table work, so I countered by working it all out on the side of a slate as I went. Our computers were all within a third of a meter (1 foot), but our analogue gauges were all over the place.

We had lots to see on that dive, and started to see spotted eels. I hadn’t seen them before diving (either I didn’t notice where they were before, or they spooked easily and I never got to see them

After the surface interval, I then dove with another DM/Instructor for the navigation dive. A quick briefing about measuring out fin kicks, then doing a 30m straight line and back, then do a 30m box.

After getting down to the 16m point and measuring out fin kicks, the DM forgot to bring a sharpened pencil down, so while the DMT and I reeled the tape back up, he went back to the boat to get a sharper pencil. During that time, I noticed by the other diver, that one of the rocks was moving, and then that it wasn’t a rock, but a decent sized octopus!

The DM came back down and we did the straight line. I was given a bearing of East, and in my brain I was going to spin around until the lubber line read 90, but instead I went North (via, Put the RED in the BED method I’ve used for the past 20+ years of navigation). D’oh!!!

The DM didn’t notice, but I did, so I chose to redo that one, and again, did the same thing. Again, the DM didn’t know which way East was ….

Next up was swimming in a square. Pretty easy, head one direction for a certain number of kicks, turn 90 degrees, repeat until you end up where you started after a few turns.

It was all going well, until you realize you are about to swim into a large Eel, or lion fish! Those guys just sneak up at you when your interesting in completing tasks and not looking for them. I also used up a lot of air swimming around.

After that, per the briefing, I was to lead us along the wall to the right, and back again when we reached a predetermined point in gas pressure.

Not too bad for the first day of AOW.
Placencia Belize, Raguana Caye, White Hole, SPLASH, Princess Tiai
Date: February 6, 2013
Bottom Time: 45 minutes
Max Depth: 101 ft
Water Temp: 28C
Vis: Caribbean …. lots!
Notes: Deep Dive AOW, 2 big lobsters. Lots of lion fish, spotted eels. 3200/1000PSI 14lbs
Running Time: 19:02

Placencia Belize, Raguana Caye, Monguana Canyon, SPLASH, Princess Tiai
Date: February 6, 2013
Bottom Time: 55 minutes
Max Depth: 53 ft
Water Temp: 28C
Vis: Caribbean …. lots!
Notes: Octopus during Navigation AOW. Barracuda and jellyfish @ safety stop. 3100/500PSI 12lbs
Running Time: 19:57

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