I headed down Thursday to hang out with friends and then headed to the lakehouse on Friday morning. Joe had told me that Mark was down doing some work on the boat, so figured I`d drop in and see what help I could be on the matter. Steve and his son Davis were down also and we got quite a lot done. When we had our work finished up, Steve, Davis and I took a couple dives in the cove behind the house. Nothing really monumental, but we gave Davis the lead for some navigation skills and he did a pretty good job. We wound up in a churned up area that seemed a bit large to just go around. This actually turned out pretty good as Steve and I were able to share with Davis why we closed ranks during that time and turned lights on. A good limited visibility exercise and training after action review on that one.
As most know, I was kind of upside down in my coursework. I hadn`t had the chance to get my advanced work done due to instructor scheduling. Joe was in the same boat on that one. We both had our rescue coursework completed and still didn`t have the advanced work done. It`s ok, because we are caught up now. We added dry suit to the coursework as I just bought a 450 from DUI. Let`s see, from previous blogs, you know that Steve was also in our rescue class and the three of us (Steve, Joe and me) are in the DiveCon course starting in August. (The shop has already started using us for various DiveCon functions under instructor supervision) Steve was down as a DiveCon for the weekend and did a fantastic job I might add. His son Davis, Zach, Joe, and I were in the AOW class.
This was a pretty good base of knowledge going into the class. All are strong swimmers and skilled divers. This made for a great weekend of working together on projects. Mark does a great job taloring courses to the students. I know our stuff was probably quite a bit harder than typical... mainly because two of us are on the professional diver path. I had done everything we were going to do for the course with the exception of night diving. I`ve definitely had my share of limited and extremely limited visibility diving, but it was always light when I came up to surface. So I really looked forward to doing the night dives.
We headed out to Sharkey`s Island for our night dives and waited for the sun to go down. Mark led us on a sojourn looking for a road that was submerged when flooding happened. Don`t think we ever actually found the road, but it was pretty interesting roaming around without any reference we weren`t lighting. After that dive, we all decided that we wanted to do another one so we buddied up and hit it again. Of course we had to turn off the lights and just listen to the breathing... we also tried swimming total dark... after charging the glow on the compass first. We all had a great time with the night dive.
Sunday morning we went out and Mark had us do a topographic mapping representation of the submerged hilltop around us. He wanted the topo line at 25 foot depth. I had a great time with this one... navigation has been a very established skill for me for quite a while. Have never done this exercise underwater, but have done exactly this exercise in training and real world application several times in the past. I laid out a simple plan for being able to keep the general information organized so we could construct a map. The exercise went well and everyone did a pretty good job with it. I don`t think any of the others had ever tried anything like this on dry land so much as trying to figure it out under water. Mark seemed happy with our finished product so he sent us off to just fun dive for a while. That really was the concluding exercise for the coursework.
In the afternoon I went and met with Robert again over at the north dam site. I had met Cody on here (divebuddy) and he lived very close to the Beaver Lake area. We started chatting and set up his joining us over at the North Dam Park site. I was a bit concerned at first, and had several conversations with Robert about it. Cody was pretty new to diving and we hadn`t dived with him before. He had a 3 mil full and a 3 mil shorty, so he put them both on with a hood.
In our predive briefing I reviewed his gear to familiarize with what he had. I guess I should have had him go over our gear as well, but didn`t. I figured it was more important that we understood how his equipment worked than the other way around. Mainly, we have dived together for so long and not knowing his skill levels we figured if something happened, it would be us or one of us doing the rescue work anyway... haha. We set an initial bottom at 50 feet, flexible on checking and 60 feet as the hard deck bottom.
We got our gear together and headed down to the boatramp for entry (not to bother boats, but just an easy water access). We surface swam over around the bend where the bluffs did nice drop-offs and set our dive flag. We headed on down and Robert led the way down the shelfs. We found ourselves at 50 feet pretty quick. We checked with Cody and he indicated that he was good to go so we went ahead and dropped down to the next shelf. When we hit 60 feet I dropped a little below the group but came back up when I realized I had reached the pre-set hard deck. I checked with Cody and he indicated it was a bit cold for him. I had Robert take us up to the next thermocline change. We stopped there for a while and warmed up a bit before continuing along that shelf away from entry point. When Robert was down to about 1000psi I brought us up to 29 feet for a few minutes following that shelf back toward entry point. Then we went up to 15 feet for the remainder of the dive. When we were getting ready to exit, Cody found a catfish that was caught up on an abandoned fishing line. We brought it up to shore with us and the line finally broke and he was free.
We took a surface interval break and Cody ran up to C&J to get air. We decided to walk over to the bluff entry area for the next dive instead of the boatramp. We talked about depth and Cody was pretty comfortable with what we had done. Actually, his bouyancy control was excellent throughout the dive. He had presented as a confident and comfortable diver. Robert and I talked a bit while Cody was out for air and we had decided that we were ok with going deeper if he was comfortable with it. When Cody got back we started developing the next dive plan. We decided that we would head down to 50 feet and then check him every 10 feet as we went further. We set the max hard deck as 100 feet for him as he hasn`t done his advanced work yet. We headed out and he was good to go all the way down to 100 feet. I wound up dropping just a bit below that deck on the turn (I wound up hitting 103, but close enough). He didn`t go below 100 and that was our guidance plan, so I hold that we kept to the plan. We filled a bottle with air at 100 and carried it up with us.
I had Robert take us on up to 70 feet and we traveled that shelf for a bit and moved on up to 60. We did this method repeating up to 30 feet and followed that around until Robert was about 800psi. Then we moved up to the 15 shelf to finish out there. We found a good batch of muscles and occupied our time feeding them to the fish for a while. When Robert got down to around 700psi I put him on my octo as we piddled around finding cool crevices to find fish making home. Later, on the surface, we were talking and Cody never realized that Robert was on my air. I mean, we are good friends and all, but don`t tend to do the BC grip hold in good visibility without a reason. Robert went back on his air and we continued on up to exit point. I went and recovered our dive flag and decided to head to Taco Tico (or something like that over in Rogers) for a snack and finish up logs.
I gotta say, Cody was a pleasure to