It all started with an 8 hour drive to Charleston, SC. The first couple of dives were open water on Friday (28 Sep 07) because Capt Tom cancelled the river dive. He had some earlier cancellations which left just me on the boat. He only needed one more person to go for insurance reasons but his regular divers were out of town. So instead of wasting the day I decided to hop on the off shore charter for that day. It was ok for the most part. The worst part about it was the boat ride out and back. 1.5 hours each way. Makes for a long day!!! We hit 2 different ledges. On the first dive as soon as I got down I saw 2 BIG nurse sharks feeding on some fish. I didn`t know they could swim that fast. So we sat and watched the show. After they left we cruised the ledge. The vis was about 50ft, 80 degree water temp and there was a pretty mild current. I REALLY wished I had my spear gun. There were massive grouper and amberjack all over. I could have come home with 50lbs of fish easy! The second dive was on a different ledge. Nothing note worthy to really say about that one. The vis was about 30ft and the current was not quite as bad but still mild.
I dove the Cooper River Saturday and Sunday (29-30 Sep 07). I have to say I have not had a dive that challenged my skills in a long time. Not since I lived in England. But these dives certanly did and I loved it! The first day was definitely a learning experience. To break it down simply, it was a daytime night dive with 1 foot of vis and a killer current. To prepare for the dives I had mounted my underwater video lights on a hardhat so I could have a free hand to search with. I also had a screwdriver to help me stay planted against the current while I searched. Capt Tom dropped us off by the bank of the river and we were supposed to follow the mud bank down to the fossil bed. If we hit hard clay then we went too far and had to zigzag back. Well it took me 20 minutes to find the fossil bed. But by that time one of my helmet lights had gone out. I was down to only one light with literally 12 inches of vis. And what made it even worse was the current. It was probably the strongest current I have ever felt. I did have a screwdriver with me to try and anchor myself in but all I ended up doing was digging a trench. Even with all this I was still able to find some broken meg teeth, an Indian artifact and was able to get everything in the bag!
On the second dive we went to a different spot and he dropped us right on top of the fossil bed. I was hoping that my other light that was at half power would last the entire dive but sadly I was wrong. The current was not as bad but the vis was literally 6 inches!!! The only way to see the bottom was to put my face in the rocks. The bottom of my reg was rubbing against the rocks as the current pulled me back. And then right before my other helmet light burned out I found a nice mako shark tooth. So there I was in pitch black and the only light that I had was a tiny backup BC light. So I cranked it on and started to come up. I was pissed because I still had 2000 psi in my tank and I thought my lights would last a lot longer then that. So I guess I need to change out the rechargeable batteries. They have obviously out lived their life when they only last 20 min.
So when I got back to the hotel I took the lights off the helmet and recharged them. I figured for Sundays dive I would leave the helmet in the car and only burn one at a time. Using them as normal hand held lights to try and stretch out the burn time. For the most part it worked. For the first dive we dropped right on the fossil bed and had about 3 feet of vis and the current was not as bad. This was 200 times better then the day prior!!! I started finding teeth right away. But now I had a problem. Both my hands were full. One with a screwdriver and the other with a light. So basically I had to shuffle everthing in my hands. I grabbed my goody bag with my light hand and put the teeth in with my screwdriver hand. What a pain in the butt at first but after doing that a few times it seemed to go pretty smooth. I ended up finding a REALLY nice megalodon tooth. Along with a bunch of mako and great white teeth. I was thoroughly pleased! The light lasted the entire time but was down to half power by the end of my one hour dive. So on the surface interval I changed out lights so I could start off fresh for the next dive.
On the second dive the vis had dropped to about 2 feet. Once again, more and more teeth just popped out and I was putting them in the bag as fast as I could. I even found an extremely tiny sand tiger shark tooth that was too tiny to put in the bag. So I ended up putting it in my glove. Next thing you know my "fresh" light quit. So I swapped out to the first light that only had half power on it. It worked for about another 20 min and then that one quit. So once again I was down to my tiny BC light. I was fairly comfortable with the darkness so instead of aborting the dive I decided I would just work with very little light. Because of the little light the vis went down to about a foot. I found a few more teeth and then decided to head back up. Even with all the light troubles I feel like I made out like a bandit. It was well worth it and this will definitely be a return trip!
Lessons learned for next time...
- Bring RELIABLE lights!
- Bring lots of backups
- Bring BEER!!!
Below are pictures of the best teeth that I found over the 2 days. The top picture is the 3 inch meg tooth I found.