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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quarry Weekend, Day One

This post is all about scuba diving.  I apologize to my runner readers, as I feel like I ramble on and you won't find it all that interesting.  However, it was a super-exciting weekend for me, so bear with me if you're not a diver and not interested.  I may at some point start a new blog for scuba diving, but for now this is what you get.  :)

This photo is me on my first day of diving ever, in December 2006.  I was certified in Key Largo rather than a cold quarry in Pennsylvania, but I definitely remember what it was like!!  If you're interested in seeing what the quarry looks like - go check out the photos from my dive shop on Facebook.  Note: I'm not in any of those photos, they were taken last year on what must have been an incredibly clear day underwater.  I do know a lot of the people in the photos, though!

This past weekend was the final weekend for my Dive Control Specialist Training.  Each class member had to observe one Open Water Diving class, and my class that I was observing was meeting for its open water checkout dives in the quarry on Saturday and Sunday.  In addition, my DiveCon class was meeting on Sunday for the quarry dives required for that training.  So, it was quite a full weekend.

Saturday, Todd and I were up early and headed up to Bainbridge, Pennsylvania to meet the class.  Todd had done his open water observation in March (in much colder water, I must add), so he was meeting a couple of guys for some "fun" diving while my class was doing their checkouts.  I met up with the class - which included 5 students that I'd been working with all along and then another 5 students that had been in a previous open water class and were checking out with us.  I would mainly be responsible for my original 5 students, since I was a student myself and we'd gotten to all know each other.

To start out, Nancy (a fully certified DiveCon who was helping the class) took her 5 students and I took my 5 out into the quarry with our snorkel gear only.  We taught a few tows (dragging another diver along with you if they are injured or tired) and had the students get accustomed to the water - especially the temperature of the water (68 on the surface).

Once the snorkel was done, we all geared up and headed to the water.  We were going in two groups - my 5 students followed by Nancy's 5 students.  We swam out to the training platforms to do the required skills to pass the course.  Since the students were on their very first scuba dive, we took them down two at a time, starting with those who were most likely to have ear trouble dropping to 15 feet underwater.  Once the students were on the platform, they went through their skills with the instructor one at a time, and my job was to swim around the outside of the platform to make sure that no one fell off.  I was praying no one would drop anything, because I'd be the one that would have to go after it, to 60 feet in darkness to feel around in mud and silt in water that was under 50 degrees (the deeper you go, the colder it gets, on the training platform it was about 60 degrees).

As part of my Divecon training, I also had to do the skills, so once all of the students had completed theirs, the instructor went through mine really quick - Regulator purging and regulator retrieval.  I admit, I was totally a showoff and did them off of the platform in open water rather than kneeling on the platform like the open water students did.  Once that was through, the students had to run through air sharing (meaning, what they do when they're out of air), and since there were an odd number of students, I was paired with the extra student.  That took us to the surface, so we returned back to the shore and had some lunch.

Once lunch was through, we had one more dive for the day, so we got back in the water and went back out to the training platforms.  This time, the instructor took us to a different platform that was about 10 feet deeper (22 feet or so) and below the thermocline, so colder (about 53 degrees).  There were more skills to be done (including for me) and then I took the students two at a time on a swim around the platforms.  How exciting to be out swimming with divers on their very first day of diving!!  I was so excited for them, but also worried I'd lose somebody.  They all made it back safely, and then we switched off so that a different student was "out of air" and did an ascent that way.

We were then all done for the day!  Todd had done a couple of dives, so we headed  back down to the dive shop to get our tanks filled for Sunday.  Sunday was much more exciting, so I'll talk about that tomorrow.


Staci Dombroski said...

I have always wanted to do that!! It looks like so much fun :)

Kovas Palubinskas said...

Quarry diving is cool in its own way. I'm dying to get down to the Bonne Terre Mine in Missouri, an old lead mine that has been flooded and rigged with lights.

Lacey said...

that's what is so great about blogs, we get to talk about what is important to us!! :)

i just finished malcolm gladwell's book What the Dog Saw and there was a chapter about panicking vs choking and one of the illustrations they used to make a point was scuba skills training and not having air, and a novice response vs an experienced diver's response (panic or not). i'm so scared of going underwater any significant depth...

Mark said...

Sounds like fun. We did miss you at Loch Raven this weekend. Based on my miracle mile time, karen has assigned me to Kim R's group

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