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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dive 3: Playa Chica, Puerto del Carmen - 29/4/2009

The plan for the day was to get the skills out of the way as soon as possible so that the rest of the dives would be more like pleasure dives. To make sure I could stay on the bottom for the skills, Peter had me use an 8kg weight belt. As far as skills on the list, I had to do a controlled emergency swimming ascent (CESA), some underwater and surface navigation, mask removal. To further reduce risk of built up nitrogen, the CESA was scheduled for early in the dive. We would submerge, do the mask removal and then the CESA.

I didn’t fare well with mask removal – water up the nose – and pushed that to later in the dive. The CESA was next. I had to swim up a rope with Peter’s hand under my jaw to make sure I was always breathing out. He said it was the first time he heard anyone humming, but whatever works. Next up was the surface navigation. I had to set my lubber line, swim with it as a guide for 20 kicks with a snorkel, swap snorkel for regulator, turn around and return 20 kicks along the return course. Sounds easy enough. As usual, I forgot to count less than half way into the exercise and Peter had to stop me with a tap on the shoulder. Everything else went fine and I arrived, regulator in mouth at the point where I started. I apologised for not warning him of my counting skills and we submerged to do the same exercise (sans snorkel/regulator swap) underwater. I was still slow to descend and I made the mistake of dumping all of my air when Peter motioned to me to dump some air. Descending slowly became descending like the lead weights around my waist and I landed with a thud on the bottom. A cuddlefish gave me a dirty look as it swam away.

The submerged navigation was just as entertaining as the surface navigation, except this time, Peter was prepared for me to forget to count. Entertainment aside, I did arrive back where I started.

Skills over, we headed deeper along the jetty to explore. At some point, I think I put a little too much air in my BCD for how deep I wasn’t, and I very quickly felt like someone tied a bundle of helium balloons around my waist and let me go. I was a big sack heading for the surface, trailing my legs and arms behind me. A quick dump of air after a panicky flail to find the button on the BCD and I was right again. Peter looked back but only after everything looked normal again.

We worked our way down to 18m and saw a big grumpy-looking grouper. He was dark blue and about a metre long. I found out afterwards that his name is Charlie. At the time, I struggled with buoyancy as I tried to stay out of his way. I had a hard time with the extra 2kg of weight. I felt like every movement was exaggerated, with the weight yanking me in whatever direction.

We headed back to the shelter of Playa Chica and I did the mask removal, slowly but well enough. It’s supposed to be simulating the mask being knocked off or similar, but oh well.

The trudge up hill was slow and hard work. Peter helped me carry my weight belt so I could move at a pace faster than a waddle. Peter asked me what was wrong, that I seemed "off". I explained the buoyancy comedy that he didn’t see and said I didn’t expect 2kg of weight to make so much difference.

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