Sterling Silver Scuba
was at Dutch Springs August 1-3 weekend for its 4th seasonal trip. We had three students taking OW, five AOW, two rescue and a couple of divemaster candidates doing internships. The water temperature was 78F at the surface, 72 at the platform (27ft), 65 at 30-50ft, 60 from 50-70ft and 44F below 70. The weather was fantastic; sunny during daytime and cool at night...
My objectives for the weekend were 1) to assist with the AOW or Rescue as needed, 2) do a couple of fun dives with my son JP and 3) complete my TDI deco procedures certification with Kevin. Unfortunately, Kevin had been under the weather since the middle of the week with a bad cold and was not sure whether he would be able to dive with me for the deco training.
Carl, Maggie and JP showed up early Friday to setup the camp on the peninsula and do a couple of fun dives. Jess, Happy, Heart and Larry showed up at Dutch before closing while Kevin, Melissa and I left NoVa late Friday afternoon and missed the gate closing and had to stay at the hotel for the night...
Kevin was still badly congested Saturday morning, so he decided to work with the Rescue students from the shore. Larry was in charged of the AOW under the supervision of Kevin. Carl and Jess took care of the OW. Heart and I assisted Larry with the AOW while Happy assisted Carl and Jess. The selected dives for the AOW were Peak Performance Buoyancy, Navigation and Wreck on Saturday and Deep and Search and Recovery on Sunday.
For our first dive of the day (PPB), we started by discussing the knowledge review and then adjusting buoyancy at the surface. We went to the platform at 27ft to practice some skills: swimming through a hula-hoop attached with a 4lb weight, holding an egg with a spoon while swimming and going through the hula-hoop, etc. At the end of the dive, we concluded with a safety stop at 15ft under the pier.
Our next dive was the navigation adventure. The students corrected their knowledge review and did some land drills before splashing to repeat the drill under water. For those who wonder how long the platform is, I measured it end-to-end (from the floating buoy to floating buoy) and it measures about 150 feet. I used my cave safety reel (140ft) and I was about 10 ft short... I need about 27 kicks to swim the whole length, which means I now glide about 5-6 ft per kick cycle (actually frog kick in my case). I worked some more with Julie on her buoyancy while the first four students did their navigation skill tests with Larry. At the end, Julie came out of the water saying that she had had her best dive ever since she could now control her buoyancy. It made me feel very proud to have helped her figure out her buoyancy. Its so much more fun to dive when you can control your buoyancy...
The third training dive of the day was a wreck dive. We started by visiting the boat at 60 ft east of the south platform. The students had to measure it and draw it on their slate with proper orientation, etc. I played with my primary reel while they were taking all their measurements. Once they were done, we went to see the other boat about 100ft south and then started ascending to visit the Cesna on top of the island at 25ft. We concluded our dive with a safety stop above the Cesna and surface swam back to the dock.
I managed to splash with JP for a fun dive today. Since Kevin was not diving, he offered JP to try his DSS BC (SS plate, basic Hogaratian harness and Torus 35 wing). JP was thrilled. We started on the platform on the east side of the peninsula to adjust JP’s buoyancy. After a few minutes, we headed to the school bus, did a swim through and then headed for the new Helldiver airplane. The visibility was very bad but we managed to find the plane somehow... After a few minutes circling the plane, we decided to head back. Our return path was to go back to the bus, head in the direction of the island (following the rope to the Cesna above our head), once at the island, go right to find the boat at 70 ft, then the one at 65ft, then follow the rope to the south platform and exit at the south dock of the peninsula after a safety stop. JP has been making a lot of progress this summer and is a very good diver; he has a good grip of his buoyancy, communicates well under water and stays with his buddy, making me less nervous when he goes diving with others. We both used an AL80 cylinder on this dive. I still had 1000+ psi but JP was very low on air (300 psi). Next time we dive together, I’ll make sure he takes my HP100 and I’ll take an AL80. This way we’ll probably reach 500 psi at about the same time.
I managed a fifth dive on Saturday accompanying Carl, Elizabeth and Russ on a night dive. We splashed around 20:30 and surface swam to the Sirkovsky where we descended following the line. It was Elizabeth’s and Russ’ first night dive and we tought it would be easier to descend following a line rather than navigate underwater from the dock. Our dive plan was to stay for approximately 15 mins at the chopper, then swim back towards the dock, go left once we reached the quarry wall and swim near the bottom to exit at the south dock. After spending our first 1000psi (15 mins or so), we decided to swim back towards the quarry wall, then turned left. After a few more minutes, we saw the boat at 65ft, swam around for a few minutes. We headed to the deco rock (at 20ft under the south dock) where we did our safety stop. Since we still had 1000+ psi, Carl and I decided to continue to follow the wall towards the aqua park. We found a platform at 30ft we had never visited before. We exited the water around 21:25 after a 55mins dive.
After a good night’s sleep, we started the day with a deep dive. JP tagged along for the dive. The plan was to go to the car at 85ft and perform some drills. We swam about 30 yards passed the trolley and did a free descent. Once the students touched down, the silt went up like a nuclear explosion. It was fun to observe. They each did a math problem and a bowline knot with their gloves in 44F freezing water. Once they were all done, we swam towards the trolley at 70ft and ascended without a line and did a 3 mins safety stop. Unfortunately, this was my last dive of the weekend. I packed camp with Kevin so we could head back to Reston to have a family dinner.
Melissa was our cook for the weekend. We had BBQ/grilled chicken and sausage with salad Saturday evening, hotdogs and burgers for lunch and the classic eggs and bacon for breakfast! We will be back in 4 weeks, Aug 30-31 for our Labor Day weekend trip. Stop by and say hello if you are around.