No, I didn’t stop doing anything for 15 months, instead I’ve been posting my diving experiences on the days they have happened, I just haven’t gotten caught up. So we will have some ‘flashbacks’ from now on in this blog.
To give a slight bit of timeline, I was offered AOW with SPLASH down in Placencia, and I completed that in the spring of 2013, spending just shy of 2 weeks down in Placencia, mainly diving, and fending off some nasty cold/flu/fever that was going around the villages.
I also spent 2 weeks in Puerto Rico at the end of August, spending under half the time diving, and the other half topside.
After that trip, I decided that I really want to own my own gear, to give myself some consistency, and to help with getting out and diving locally.
I spent a while on EBay, looking for reg sets, and BP/W to go up at a decent price, but it didn’t happen for me. Instead, I put up an ad in the classifieds on Scuba Board. Later that week I placed an order (coinciding with Black Friday) with UDM Aquatics for a whole whack load of HOG equipment.
I spent an evening, putting the plate together and adjusting it for use with a wetsuit.
Later that week, I found a barely used Whites Fusion dry suit, and purchased that as well. It’s important to note, I went with a SS plate, for the drysuit.
I only know a bunch of vacation divers here in town, so I put up an ad on facebook with one of the local groups looking for a buddy to go hit one of the pools in town. So having setup a buddy for the pool, I set off to get some last minute supplies (like some more bungee for my backup reg, some weights …. ugh … more on that later).
Getting to the pool, we suit up, and not quite knowing how much weight I need, I started with 10lbs on a belt. I normally use 10lbs on a belt with a 3mm shorty and a jacket BC. Well, let’s just say, as soon as I let a little bit of air out of my full wing (32lb), I quickly started sinking. OK, well, I’ll drop it down to 4lbs then! I thought ..
Second attempt with 4lbs of weight (in my 3mm shorty, with SS plate), and down I sink! Hmmmm, what about no weight belt?
OK, no weight belt, get away from the edge of the pool, and get that same sinking feeling. Yup, the plate is too heavy itself! Well, I’ve got nothing else to do to make it lighter, so might as well figure it out.
So plummetting down to the 5m depth of the pool, putting air into the wing, I end up crashing into the bottom, while still holding down the inflator button. After a few more big bursts of air, I have gained some bouyancy, so I dump a little out, and spend the next minute or two, adjusting the air in the wing so I’m no longer sinking or flying to the surface.
I reached back to feel how much air was in the wing, and it felt like quite a lot!
Well first goal achieved for the day: How much weight do I need to add? Nothing, unless I have some anti matter!
And off to the second task I have: Whats my SAC rate? So coincidently, I looked at my new gauge before I started the trampoline experiment of weighting and I started with a 210BAR tank. Swam around for a while, picking up stickers and other paper/plasticish items off the bottom of the dive tank for about 10 minutes, looked again and saw that I used up around 30BAR of air and decided to surface.
So for 10 minutes, I breathed 30BAR from a 11L tank at an average depth of 4.3m, means that my SAC rate is about 20L/minute.
Alright, time for my next tasks, practicing some regulator recoveries, swapping to my back up reg, and clipping of my primary reg. This all seemed to go well, a few times, my right D-Ring wasn’t where I thought it would be, or my backup light moved up the webbing and pushed it higher towards the top of my shoulder.
Around that time, a few other buddy groups splashed in the pool, one looked to be an OW/AOW course, and the other … maybe they should have done a refresher ….
Sadly, another OW instructor doing everything on the knees with the student, even some weird things like swimming lengths with 1 fin, no reg or mask …. bit of a weird combination, but if I were to be missing a fin, mask and no air, you bet I’d be looking to my buddy for their long hose and ascending! The only good thing I saw (and that’s marginal) was that they were doing fin pivots at one point (hence the AOW part ..)
Near the end of the session, I decided to give the SMB a go. Needless to say, after a few months of not shooting one up (or rigging one), it was a comedic effort. My buoyancy was pretty decent while rigging and shooting the bag, but winding up the slack I floated up a little bit. The second attempt was better, I didn’t end up tying a knot in the spool, and shot the bag with little difficulty.
On the surface, had a quick chat with one of the lifeguards who has never seen a SMB before, let alone one deployed in the small pool.
Overall a success in many accounts, and failures at others. I spent the afternoon going around to a few dive shops looking for weight, and was successful at the last shop (one was closed, the other two didn’t have any weights). Which brings my to my biggest pet peeve about this diving industry. WEIGHT. I’m talking about what we use to make ourselves less buoyant, and body weight/fat. With most boat charters, the DM’s always question how little weight I need (I’m a hefty 225lb 5’11” guy with great balast in a match of tug of war…) When I tell them I usually only need 10lbs with a 3mm suit, they play the ‘how much do you weigh game’ and try to get me to wear 18-26lbs of lead! I’m just hoping that the drysuit warrants the amount of weight I purchased from the one dive store who wouldn’t listen to my weighting requirements ….. (and it’s the only store that sells BP/W setups as well as do TEC training ….)
In other news, my drysuit is in, but at the post office. I won’t be able to pick it up until the new year (out of town, and it’s not available for pickup until after I’m gone).