I was signed up for some instruction out at the quarry this weekend going towards my Master Diver cert, but I got a much more interesting and appealing email today and it made me have to reschedule those dives without thinking twice. The email came in the form of a distress signal looking for help to support some crazy people that like to race old boats at incredibly unreasonable speeds under the sanctioning body of the APBA- American Powerboat Racing Association. I actually laughed when I looked at what I was getting into. "Vintage Grand Prix", I was told as I was talking to the safety crew organizer. "Not much usually happens but when it does it can be pretty interesting" was the follow-up.
Coming from the motorcycle racing world I will be the first to tell you that your safety crew is your lifeline, literally, God-forbid anything goes wrong. And any first-responder will tell you a quiet day is a good day, but it’s those days when things go wrong and it feels good knowing you have good people there to watch your back. This weekend, I was asked to be one of those good people and gladly obliged to lend my time and efforts looking out for some guys that probably have a screw or two loose. 7 hours, 360 miles each way it looks to be from my home to Rideau Ferry, Ontario, Canada. Gladly I will have company in the form of a good friend that happens to also work in a Dr’s office with some medical skills herself. She thought the prospect of being on a boat in Ontario sounded too interesting and unique of an opportunity to pass up as well. So we’ll be loading up her VW Golf and milking every bit of that 31 miles per gallon all the way across the border and back.
I spent the better part of the evening changing my gear configuration to make things less cumbersome and more maneuverable than my deep-water ocean dives that I have been doing lately. Since most of the rescues occur on the surface I switched out the 7mm suit for the 3mm, aqua shoes instead of booties and very lightweight high-grip gloves in place of my burly kevlar ones. I Went from the steel 100 cf. tank to the 80 cf aluminum. Since I’m also going without the pony tank I had to put my regulator hose from pony reg into the octopus on my main tank in the event that I need to share air with a crash victim. Most of my "basic" items like a signal mirror, slate and safety sausage were put back in the bag along with the lights. My two main rescue items that I hope not to have a need for, aside from my own two hands, are an emergency line cutter that I picked up recently from OMS (which also servess as a seatbelt strap/harness cutter) and my emergency EMT shears. I’ll have two knives with me as I always do -one on my pressure gauge hose and one on the inside of my left leg- but those are really just there as a precaution and something you really hope you’ll never have a need for but for whatever reason, they are there should you need em. But it was amazing how much your gear set up can change when you start setting yourself up for a completely different purpose. I did this while doing my "gear-up" layout of equipment. I do it right in the middle of my living room floor just as I do before leaving on any dive trip, even just short local ones. This is something all divers, especially new ones, should get in the habit of doing. It is amazing how you are more prepared and organized you are by doing such a routine. A large part of doing such a thing is that once you are packed and ready, that’s it. You are physically and mentally prepared and you can head out knowing you’ve covered all your bases. Nothing is worse then feeling under-prepared, or worse yet, realizing it once you are at the dive site.
So I am not sure what this weekend will bring but one thing for sure is that it will sure be interesting and I’ll be getting to see a new part of the country that I haven’t been to before all while providing some much needed help and assistance.
The APBA Sanctions tons of events all over the country and it sure seems like they can use the help if you’re willing to provide it. But just keep in mind, this is serious stuff with serious consequences if you get in over your head and don’t know what you are doing. So make sure you are properly prepared, both mentally and physically before engaging yourself in such work. You can also ease your way into it by providing surface support or radio and observation support. But the point is, there is always a place for willing, able people and divers to lend a hand.
For more information and complete list of upcoming races sanctioned by the APBA, visit: www.apba-racing.com
To see some of the crazy boats vintage boats and the great drivers we’ll be keeping watch over, check out: http://www.vintageraceboatshop.com/RideauFerry-2009.htm
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Rideay Ferry Yacht Club and their Regatta so I’m sure it will be special.
And if you get a chance, check out Scott Martinage’s page at http://divebuddy.com/profile.aspx?MemID=336 and tell him I sent you!
Check back next week for pictures and a report on the event!