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Vertical Underwater Current
Juha - 10/28/2013 11:13 AM
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Sometimes unpredictable forces of nature can turn a pleasant day of diving with a friend into a scary, even dangerous experience. This blog post is an account of a dive that I did quite a few years ago, a dive that did not go as well as it should have.

It was a beautiful sunny day in early August, and my dive buddy and I were planning an easy dive from a rocky shore in Porkkala in Southern Finland, not too far from where I live. It is a popular dive spot because it is usually an easy site to dive and it is easily accessible.

We got to the site before noon, and as we were putting on and checking our gear, a group of early-bird divers came up, out of the water. They were very pleased with their dive and told us that it had been a nice dive and that the visibility had been good.

So we set up, got in the water, and down we went. The cliffside near the shoreline went down steeply, so steeply in fact that diving down was almost more like a wall dive than descendeing along the bottom. Visibility was fine and we went down to about fifteen meters.

Suddenly, out of the blue, our visibility disappeared completely. The water around us was filled with green sediment. We could not see anything at all. We very nearly got lost from each other. I could hardly see my buddy, even though she was right next to me. In the end we had to hold hands not to loose each other.

I checked my dive computer and noticed another worrying thing: we were no longer at fifteen meters, but at eight meters, with the computer warning me to ascend more slowly. Then we were at fifteen meters again. And then at eight. And fifteen again. A strong underwater current had blown from the sea and was now bouncing us up and down. At this point we both decided it was time to abort the dive and make our way up to the surface. Ascending to eight meters with the upward current was easy enough, but once we got there, the current started pulling us back down again. We had to swim really hard not to get sucked back down again.

Strangely enough, once we got some way above eight meters, the water cleared up completely and we got our visibility back. And the closer to surface we got, the easier our ascent became. At five meters it was already so calm that we had no problem with a mid-water safety stop.

Of course we did eventually get to the surface, exhausted but safe enough. We filled our bcd:s and caught our breath for a few minutes, then swam back to shore. Looking from above the surface, the water looked quite calm. The sun was still shining and there was hardly any wind at all. There was no sigh of the turmoil that we had experienced below the surface just minutes earlier.

At the time we were both quite inexperienced as divers. I had about twenty dives, and she may have had a few dives more. The weather was good dive was supposed to be easy. There was no sign of problems to come. Aborting the dive when problems did arise and the going got tough was definately the smart thing to do. With more experience, maybe we could have dealt with the situation more calmly, but still would probably not have continued the dive. Water is a powerful element, should always be respected. A diver should always be wary of the force of the sea, no matter how experienced.

Thanks for reading! You might also find this article about panic underwater interesting, so do check it out!