Advanced Scuba Certification
Got it done this weekend. Also took the Nitrox test this week.
4 dives in Travis, 2 Sat 2 Sun. 3/17 & 3/18, 2012
Water temp about 57. Outside low 70s. Had complete thick (6 mil?) suit on actually it was a wader type bottom which covered ankles to chest then a top half that covered head to knees so it was doubled up. Then had booties/fins and a hoodie. Only thing not covered was hands and they were fine. I was almost toasty warm the whole time.
Visibility: almost nothing at times, almost total brown out at other times. Great experience.
Made it to about 60′ or just below that each days 1st dive. Was trying to get down to 80 or 90 or what ever, but silt avalanche followed us down (rookies) and instructor aborted descent.
Dove Shaker Plant site both days. Old construction area when damn was built. Just a bunch of old pillars, concrete blocks, timbers, big crap laying around you have to watch out for. They’ve got a bunch of lines tied to follow around.
My first dive was a helluv an experience. Definitely pushed out of my “Cozymel” comfort zone ha ha :-)
Because of numerous rookies they/we quickly stirred up tons of silt on the bottom and what would have been maybe 10 feet of vis quickly degrades to almost nothing at times. Most of the time it was several feet and you could definitely see the other flash lights for the most part as long as we were together. Or I’d be able to see the fins kicking in front of me but couldn’t see the upper body connected to them. Several times one of the group would get “lost” not really lost but gone out of site and the instructor would go chase ’em and get ’em going back in right direction. One time I pointed out to him that we’d lost one of the group and he went and got her.
It’s very interesting how being nearly blind so dramatically changes the experience. I visualize the dive site of the areas we were diving and imagine it was only an area of say 100 feet square, or maybe 200 feet, I’m not sure but not that big an area. This would be nothing in blue water as you’d be able to see the whole area from one spot and thing nothing of it. But remove vision and it’s an amazing experience. Like being in a maze of twisty little passages. You don’t know what you’re swimming up to until you’re right there. Kinda spooky at first but 2nd day I was all over it.
I dove in groups of 3. Instructor and 2 advanced students each dive. We dove off of Giant Stride pontoon dive boat.
We’d drop down, follow lines around down to around 50 or 60 feet to see if we could attempt a deep dive to 90 or so. Plan was if viz was ok we’d descend down but each time we tried the rookies kicked up too much silt and viz got poor so we couldn’t go down further. So, we’d just swim around practicing staying together, following the lines and staying close and practicing communicating – which were all a real challenge given the very short visibility.
It was a real challenge is several ways. You really can’t see where you are, the bottom or anything much of the time. So, you have to rely on your gauges for your depth and controlling your buoyancy. This was very new to me. I did much better 2nd say than 1st. It was good to have a day between – I thought about it a lot and figured out what I needed to do.
Also did a navigation exercise where I was to swim a square by following compass N-E-S-W 3 mins each leg. 1st day tried it and it was quite difficult as I hadn’t ever tried anything like this before. You have to constantly watch your gauges, clock, compass, depth and adjust and control all 3 concurrently – all without being able to see any bottom or features for reference – imagine being in a white out blizzard except this was more like a mud out.
First attempt I didn’t do well. I was having trouble controlling my neutral buoyancy, then I’d get neutral and find I was 90 or 120 degrees in wrong direction, etc. 2nd day (today) I nailed it. Had total control of my buoyancy and direction. I felt like I really swam in correct direction and depth each of the 4 legs and I believe that’s the case. What I didn’t factor though was my timing was off on 1 or 2 of the legs and so I didn’t end up exactly right back at the boat. Idea was to pop up when done with the square and I’d be right behind the boat where I started. Great drill. Would love to do it again.
I believe we had to perform 3 out of a number of different tasks in order to get the advanced cert, though that wasn’t made clear to me. So I got deep water (anything beyond 60 is deep), low visibility, and the navigation component.
I totally appreciate lake diving now. It’s not about scenery. It’s about mastering your diving skills, at least this was. I loved it. I’d like to do more of this kind of stuff. I’ll have to look into the Master Diver program.
The Nitrox certifcation is just basically all about Nitrox, which is pretty straightforward with a few details. It’s getting more popular and available, extends your dive time and so need to be able to use it.