I initially was thinking of hitting Oronogo this last weekend, but was talking with Joe and Mark up at the shop and decided to take a trip down to Beaver with the shop crew. That trip slate had been posted as full, but there were 2 padi referals and one fun diver that rescheduled. So I put myself on the list and headed down.
It was a pretty good mix of people. There were two other fun divers down this weekend, neither who had ever dived in fresh water, specifically cold fresh water. They had a bit of anxiety and we worked through that.
Saturday morning started out alright, a bit overcast, but then the rains came. We are out in an unprotected pontoon boat when we are on dive sites. It wasn`t a storm and there was no lightning or significant winds so it was just an annoyance during surface time. Down below, of course, it was unnoticeable. Mark took his class in and did their drills in the shallows around the foundations. Jim, Wade and I decided that going to the bus would be a good first dive as it`s around 30-35 feet depending on lake level. We decided that Jim was probalby the most apprehensive of the conditions so we would give him the primary call for going back. We familiarized ourselves with each other`s gear and when we were good to go we hopped in and headed below the boat. There we did some drills reviews to make sure we all understood each other and responded in manners that each other would expect should an emergency arise. When we felt comfortable with that we headed out on course 032 toward the bus. Wade and I both had cameras with us and we piddled around with those for a while. I think he got better shots than I did.. haha. When we were done with the bus ( a great limited clearance exercise btw) we headed back to the boat and took a bit of a surface interval.
We planned out our next dive and did some weights adjustment for Jim (he was feeling quite heavy). We briefed Mike (the DiveCon for the trip) on our destination plans and headed out to drop by the channel. We put a depth limitation of 50 feet for this dive (the channel goes much deeper, so setting the limit was important with this group). We surface swam out a ways from the boat so we could manage air better for the return trip along terrain. Jim had unweighted a bit too much and could not decend with us. I checked with him and he decided to just swim back to the boat and work it out and sent Wade and me to continue with the planned dive. At about 48 feet Wade got a "brain freeze" due to the thermocline and indicated up a level. So we went up to the shelf ledge and followed it around exploring the crevices and tree outcroppings. When the first got to 1000psi we headed back up (I guessed our cross path changed our back azimuth to around 060, so we followed that course back) following the terrain and piddling quite a bit between 18 and 14 feet for a safety stop. We came up right next to the boat.
The afternoon excursion was beautiful. The sun had come out and it got up to around 85 degrees on deck. We went over to a place I call Pit Cove for the afternoon session. Mark wasn`t sure of the weather and it is a site a whole lot closer to the marina in case we needed to depart. It`s a good place to do skills training too. We started with a group follow dive, Mike lead and I brought up the rear. One of the OW students was having serious difficulties with the limited visibiility and had major anxiety issues. I worked with him and his buddy (His buddy was Jim, so had no issues there... Jim just didn`t really know what to do with a buddy that wouldn`t go on the course). When I first made contact with the student he had the panic look in his mask. So I calmed him down a bit and when we were breathing alright again I started us on the course that Mike had taken. I knew we couldn`t catch up, but we could at least complete the exercise. As soon as we started moving he had serious bouyancy issues. I tried several times to get resolved and back on course. Finally I chose to reverse course and head back to the boat. Still problems continued, so I signaled him and his buddy to the surface. Once there I brought him back to the boat and turned him over to Mark. When the group bubbles arived at the exit point I headed out to check with Mike that the two I had and who he had accounted for everyone. All were accounted for so we headed back to the boat.
That afternoon Jim, Wade and I took several excursions out and around exploring the cove. Wade later opted out, his fiance was an OW student and he headed back to work with that group. Later, Mike had told us of a place where a bunch of Christmas trees had been dropped and there were schools of fish in and around it. So Wade and I headed out and found it. There were tons of all kinds of fish calling that home. A great outing on that one. Wade had his camera and took several pictures. For the course back to the boat, I set course heading 150 and we decided to try and maintain 15 feet for the trip regardless of lower terrain. I kept course well, but was finding myself wandering between 14-22 feet due to focusing on compass heading without any visual clues. Still a good exercise.
Sunday we headed back out to the foundations site. Mark had me NavCon for the navigation course that he had everyone participate in. So I set up 4 reciprical courses and a triangle course and assigned buddy pairs and tracked their progress. Most everyone did pretty well on that one. After that, I decided to just explore a bit and started out moving the dive bouy back toward the boat a bit... It seemed to have a mind of it`s own that morning, just wandering around at will. Then I just went exploring a bit. Found a drop shelf that wound up down at a channel cut. Followed that down to around 51 feet and decided to just head back. When I got back to the boat, most were out of air by then. Mike and I decided to take Courtney (his daughter) down to the bus. To keep her warmer longer, we chose to swim out to a marker bouy attached to the bus and drop straight down onto the bus. Mike had brought his camera and took several pictures down there. We headed back on course 210 and stopped a while under the boat to off gas, then headed up to depart.
I had invited Mark and Mike to join Robert and me over at the north dam site for a couple of dives in the afternoon, but both had other people in their party and couldn`t this time. I met Robert over by the dam site and we set plans, basically just limiting depth on the first dive to no deeper than 90 feet. We found a levelout down around 82 feet and for some reason I was pretty cold. I figure it was just from being diving earlier and being maybe a bit tired. Our second dive we set depth limit at 80 but wound up only going down around 50ish. We then followed the shore around a bit and found a bunch of finicky fish. They didn`t seem to like hot dogs very much. We found a couple of huge crawdads and they seemed to like fighting a bit. At least the crawdads decided they liked hot dog... That last dive was about 58 minutes, so a pretty decent dive time on that one, most of it being at or shallower than 25 feet. When we came on shore we put our gear together, finished our logbooks, and I headed back to KC.
The computer logged me 11 dives, but the last one it logged was me just going back out to get our dive bouy, so I deleted that one and kept with the 10 dives that actually met requirements to count as dives. Overall, a pretty fun weekend. I like going down with the shop groups. Meet some really good people. I had asked Wade and Jim if they wanted to Join Robert and I for the afternoon dives, and included that they didn`t have to really go deep with us, just a new site for them to dive if they liked. They have skills, but are not comfortable enough to really do the technical skills diving that Rob