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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Advanced Diving, Part II

Well, first things first. Yesterday, we had to get up at our usually early hour (alarm went off at 4:20am) in order to get to Goucher College for our running. We were doing speed work, and did mile repeats on the track. We ended up going home afterwards and took a very short nap -- maybe 20 minutes -- before heading up to Pennsylvania.

Our class met at Bainbridge Quarry around 11am. We had to do 6 dives between 11am and 10pm. We started around 12:30pm. I can tell you that the quarry looked nothing like this. It looked like murk.

Anyway, the first 2 dives were about buoyancy and basic skills. Todd and I are experienced, but the other folks in the class hadn't dove in a while, so we had to review some things like regulator retrieval and such. We worked on our buoyancy and played around on the dive platforms. At one point on the second dive, we descended down to a sunken boat, which was at about 50 feet... and it was cold. DAMN cold. The water was almost 80 degrees on the surface, but at 50 feet, the temp dropped down to about 50 degrees. This was fine, since I was wearing a 7mm wetsuit (I wear 1mm in the Caribbean), but I neglected to bring my gloves (they said we weren't going that deep), and my hands nearly froze off. I mean really, I thought my hands would be gone after that dive.

Todd hates quarry diving. He always says so, and I think Todd's a bit dramatic. Still, he is right that cold water diving is more cold than you really realize and when we dove down to see "fun and exciting features!" I really had no interest because I was focused on how cold it was and the fact that I couldn't see more than 2 feet in front of my face. Blah.

So, we had a surface interval and took a rest, then dove in the shallow water of the lagoon (with maybe 2 feet of visibility) to do some compass navigation. After, came dive #4 around the dive platforms for more navigation and such, where Todd and I worked together to navigate where we needed to go using our compasses. It was kind of fun actually, despite the fact that I was uncomfortable and hot on the surface in the thick wet suit. Only dropping to about 20 feet, we hit a thermocline and the temperature of the water dropped dramatically and it felt better.

We had a long wait for our last 2 dives. We had brought food and such, so we ate dinner, fed the fish, watched other divers and snorkeled a little in the lagoon. Finally, we started our dusk dive to practice "limited visibility" (note: all of our dives were limited visibility... We would come up and say, "oh, cool, I saw murk... rock... fish... tree branch...). Anyway, we did the dive down to the cement mixer, the top of which is at 40 feet or so. It was cold again, but I had gloves. We did one more dive, it was a night dive. I can say I've been on better night dives. Being in the quarry at night was creepy, that is for sure.

So, we finished up and packed up our gear and headed home. It was a good time. I learned a lot, especially about navigation. Good times. I definitely won't be diving in the quarry anytime soon. Between the cold, the uncomfortable thick wet suit, the hot feeling on the surface, the limited vis, and the heavy weights I had to wear with the thick wet suit (twice the weight I wear in the Caribbean), it was crappy. Still, it was a good course, and it was an absolutely beautiful, beautiful day with perfect weather.

See the murk. Watch the video on that page and now you never have to go diving in the quarry because that's just what it looks like!!!

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