This past Sunday, I helped Scuba Steve with a Rescue Diver Course. When I “help,” for the most part I play the victim for the Rescue students to respond to and “save.” I act anywhere from a tired diver to a passive panicked diver to a blown-out aggressively panicked diver. It can be a lot of fun and it can put the students through the paces if it’s done right. I’m still learning the nuances of being a victim, but I’m getting a little better each time. I can also be a buddy to any student that is taking to course along when buddy teams are needed. That allows me to help teach a bit and it also keeps my skills sharpened up. Steve brought 5 new Rescue Divers into the diving world. Congrats to them all.
While helping out, I also used my new “long hose” configuration for the first time. I moved to a 7 foot primary hose, an octo bungee and a small SPG a week or so ago and this was my first chance to dive with it. Short answer: I like it. I am much more streamlined and everything feels better. We’ll see how it goes with more diving, but my initial opinion is very favorable.
Ok, so I guess you’re wondering what the title of this blog is about. The Open Water portion of the Rescue class was held at a local quarry in Macon. The quarry isn’t open to the public. It’s on privately owned church grounds. But, the church has a relationship with our LDS and they are allowed to conduct classes out there as long as waivers are signed at the store. So, we were out at the quarry and Scuba Steve is in the water briefing the Rescue guys about what is coming up in the class. He’s standing there in his shorty with the back unzipped. All of a sudden, he jumps and yells, “Get off me, punk!!” He said he had been bitten by a fish. I laughed thinking he was messing with the students before they got in the water. As I was standing there near him, I had my hands in the water and felt a nip on finger. I looked down and there was a small Bream. And, he had just bitten me!! I looked at Steve and he said they go for exposed skin. Well, I had on a full wetsuit and boots, so no big deal. I’d just have to watch my hands. When it came time to do the “circular reel search” later in the afternoon, one of the students didn’t have a buddy, so I went down with him to be his pivot man. Just after we dropped and he started his search pattern around me, I noticed I was surrounded by about 40-50 Bream. I was pretty amazed at how many there were and how close they were to me. That is, until I remembered: I wasn’t wearing a hood!!! Those of you that have met me, know I shave my head. So, here I am, down at only 15 feet, sitting on a rock so I don’t move, one hand wrapped in a search rope to guide the searcher around, a shaved head, no hood and 40 cocky-ass Bream swimming around my head. This isn’t going to be good. Then it started: The first bite hit the top of my head and then my ear. Next thing I know, I started getting bit everywhere there was skin showing. My ears, my head, my neck and my throat were all getting nipped by these little bastards. Every time I would swat them away, they would just come right back, and with a vengeance. They were like little piranhas that didn’t actually eat you. After, what seemed like an eternity, Steve sounded sub-duck, signaling the exercise was over, and I shot to the surface as safely as I could. After that dive, I pulled out the dragon hood and used it the rest of the day. Although it was too warm for a hood, it saved many more bites to my head. That was an unreal experience for me. And, as do many of my experiences, it makes for some decent reading..