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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quarry Weekend, Day Two

Here is Day Two of my Divecon Certification weekend! Go back and read the first post if you're interested in hearing about Day One.

There's Todd, getting his equipment together to get ready to head into the quarry for Sunday's DiveCon certification dives.

On Sunday, we were heading up to the quarry again, this time both of would be doing dives required for our Dive Control Specialist Certification.  It was rainy, but that really didn't matter, since we'd be getting wet anyway.  Todd set up with the other DiveCon Candidates, while I continued working with my open water students, who were on day two of their certification.  The Divecons all went into the quarry to do their required skills, which I had been doing with my open water instructor during the Open Water dives.  Prior to getting in the water, we practiced navigation on land with our compasses.

I headed into the water with my five open water students, and we went to the training platform at 15 feet to finish up the skills we hadn't done.  Like Saturday, my time was spent swimming around the platform to make sure that no one fell off.  Then, once their skills were complete, I took the students, two at a time, around the two training platforms that were there right next to each other.  Then, everyone did a practice emergency swimming ascent.

The instructor waited in the water for the second group of open water divers, and I took my five divers back to the lagoon part of the quarry to do a bit of navigation with the compass.  They were to take a compass heading, swim out to it, and then return to where they started.  As we got to the lagoon, all of the DiveCons were sitting and waiting for something to do, so my instructor (Michael) suggested that each divecon take one of my students on their navigation swim.

So, I introduced one of my fellow students to each of my open water students.  And chaos ensued.  Everybody was everywhere.  My classroom management skills??  Poor.  I was in charge, but it was easier said than done.  Two people didn't have enough weight, one person got separated from her divecon.  One divecon/student pair decided to stop at the checkerboard and play a game of checkers, not surfacing for several minutes.  Anyway, it worked out and hopefully they learned something about using a compass... which certainly helps in low visibility diving like the quarry.

At this point, the Open Water divers were done, they just needed to do one more dive, and the DiveCons needed to take some divers on a fun dive as part of the course.  So, two divecons were set up with two open water divers to take on a tour.  We ran out of divecons, so I was paired with the DiveCon instructor (Michael) and two open water students.

This was a challenge!  We ended up going out for 10 minutes only because both divers were low on air.  One of the divers was constantly on the surface, the other crawled along the bottom, kicking up silt the whole way, until we were in nearly zero visibility.  It's a whole different world diving with newly certified divers.

Next, it was lunchtime, and I said goodbye to my Open Water students, who now had their very own certifications, and who are each heading somewhere interesting, like Bonaire, Roatan, and the like.

The next part of the DiveCon course required us to lead a dive into deep water.  Since this is the quarry, deep water meant 90 feet, and 90 feet meant darkness and cold.  None of us were looking forward to this.  Still, our instructors Dave and Michael became "Olaf" and "Jacques" respectively, and we had to act as divemasters and lead them on a dive.  We all stood together planning what we were going to do, and it was as if there were just too many cooks in that kitchen.  Finally, each of us were assigned tasks (mine was to keep an eye on "Jacques" to make sure he didn't disappear, since we knew we'd have to do a rescue at some point during the day).  Fellow DiveCon candidate Keith did the dive briefing, and then we geared up and headed out.

This was, in fact, my 200th dive, which was great  because I'm 100% certain to remember this dive for a while.  We swam on the surface out to the marker buoy, then descended to the training platform that is at 60 feet.  With that, the temperature dropped from 68 on the surface to about 50 degrees at 60 feet.  Once we all had our bearings, we dropped the remaining 30 feet to the sunken boat that was below us, and the water temperature dropped to 38 degrees.  Flashlights came on, it was dark.

The problem is, I have poor circulation.  My hands are cold most of the time anyway.  Even though I was wearing 5mm gloves, my hands were cold and hurting almost as soon as we hit 90 feet.  It was COLD.  COLD, COLD, COLD, COLD.  I was in pain, but I knew I had to grin and bear it.  So, I hovered and watched the other divers wander around the boat.  There were something like 9 of us, so it was a ton of divers to be around this little boat.

We followed the ropes back to the dozer and to the cement truck, and after a few more minutes, we ascended to the 15 foot platform to do our safety stop.  Ahhhhh, above the thermocline, so the water temperature had risen enough that I was starting to gain movement in my fingers again.  After a 3 minute safety stop, we were back on the surface, but my fingers were still hurting for another 10  minutes or so.  I had started to think that I was going to have to amputate and get a hook for a hand.

Our final dive of the day was to do a series of scenarios, where one group of divers would go below water while the other group was instructed to have something go wrong - go unconscious, have a heart attack, panic, etc.  Then, they'd go down and the other diver would have to figure out what was up and help.  This all culminated in  "Jacques" announcing that he lost his buddy Olaf, and that Olaf and he had been at 120 feet for 20 minutes and made no safety stop.  Me, Todd and another DiveCon headed down to find "Olaf" at 20 feet on the bottom.  We brought him to the surface and towed him in, while someone else towed in Jacques, who was apparently struggling.

This was our big save for the day, so we had to practice CPR and giving Oxygen, and to do a Neurological Exam.  Someone else was taking notes, and we had to pretend to call 911 and Diver's Alert Network.   Once all that was through, we wrote up accident reports.

.... and we were done!

It was all very thrilling and even though I almost froze my fingers off, the whole day was worth it.  It was crazy to meet with Michael on Monday -- he shook my hand and congratulated me and WAHOOOOOOO!  I'm a certified Dive Control Specialist.  It only took 6 months and a ton of work.

HOW ABOUT THAT?!?!  Can you see me doing my happy dance?

The best part?  This is only the beginning -- we're doing a TON of diving this summer, and I cannot wait.  How long before I reach dive #300?

Here's a photo of Todd and fellow divecons writing up accident reports after saving Olaf and Jacques...

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

How awesome is that!!! I want to scuba dive!!!

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