Saturday, 6 September 2008

Tech 2 Course Report: Day 5

Day 5

Imagine my suprise when we woke with a fully grown Hippopotamus amphibius in the room. As the room swam into focus I realised that although there was indeed an enormous mammal in the room, it was merely howard snoring. I checked to make sure my fillings were all in place, and staggered down to the breakfast room in self defence, with GLOC just a moment behind me.

The plan today was to do three 40 metre dives, each once requiring changes in ascent rate, bottle rotations, and multiple gas switches. At any point, Rich was of course free to mess with us and induce failures for us to manage. "Manage" is the appropriate word now. Problems requiring thinking through rather than just a fast response, as a hasty action that seems to work now might cause you further problems later on down the line. With the training dives only giving us ten minutes on the bottom and ascent times of approximately 15 minutes, our aim was to ensure the ascents were as smooth as possible.

To goal for the day was to ensure that we stayed together as a team, as in elbows touching in a triangle of three if possible, at exactly the same depth, and breathing the right gases at all times, whilst obviously ensuring the ascents kept to time.

The three dives were all pretty similar. Ten minutes or thereabouts at the depth of 40 metres, with failures going on. There were failed isolators, failed bottom stages, failed right posts, failed left posts. Some were fixable, some were not. We had to remember who had what failed so we knew who could donate gas and who couldn't and who was the potential weak point in the team, re-ordering the team accordingly. Without going through every dive, I'll do the last one, as it was challenging one.

Descend to 6 metres on a mix we were simulating to be almost hypoxic, so fast down to 6 metres. There switch to bottom stage, and perform a bubble check. All good. down we go. 20 metres per minute. At the bottom - 40 metres, swim along the wall, GLOCS left post fails. Howard's torch fails. Re-order the team. Howard goes into fix GLOC whilst I provide a visual reference for buoyancy control. Very, very dark. GLOC sorted, swim on. GLOC's bottom stage runs out. He tell us and the team switches to backgas. Howard's suit inflation bottle runs dry. My iolator fails. Howard's in there to check whilst GLOC provides reference. As it's the isolator I know what's coming. I go out of gas. GLOC donates. I thumb the dive. Up fast in a triangle to 30 metres. Slow the ascent from 9 metres per minute to 6 metres per minute. up to 21 metres. Me back onto my own bottle of 50%. GLOC and howard switch to 50%. I bag up. Still at 21 metres. GLOC and Howard rotate bottles. I pass bag to Howard. I start rotation, but it's now time to move. I rotate the bottles on the move between 21 metres and 18 metres. GLOCs 50% bottle runs out. He switches to backgas and tells the team to extend the deco stops. Howard's 50% bottle runs out. He does the same. My 50% bottle runs out. We're now at 9 metres. Switch the team to backgas ready for the O2 switch. 6 metres. GLOC switches to Oxygen. howard passes him Bag. Howard switches to O2. I switch to O2. 3 minute stop. 2 minutes to surface at 3 metres per minute. Break surface and swim back to pontoon for debriefing.

Now, back in the B&B having watched the video self assessed, we're going down the pub for a pint.

We must be doing something right, the two Richards are letting us go to 70 metres tomorrow. Either that or they just plan to leave us there and let natural selection judge us. Whatever the above sounds like, it is not in any way " a beasting". The whole point is that it is not stressed, and there is a time-out signal if we feel overloaded anyway. We're here to learn, and learning we are, as well as having a good laugh all the way through the week. Yes, we have progressed an awful lot during a short space of time, but then we have the attention of two very competent divers and instructors, so that's hardly suprising.