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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, December 30, 2009

PADI Advanced Open Water course - 12/12/2009 - 13/12/2009

After completing my basic PADI course in Lanzarote, I was impressed with the quality of instruction in Edinburgh in comparison. In September, I did my dry suit specialty course in Scotland and from there decided to do my Advanced PADI in Scotland as well. Field trials in October and November, combined with bad weather on one November weekend left me with four of the five dives to do in December. In Scotland.

The mandatory dives were Deep and Navigation. The optional dives I chose were Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Photography (digital) and Multilevel. I did PPB in November while the water was still not freezing cold. The schedule for the remaining dives was Navigation & Photo on Saturday at St Abbs followed by Deep & Multilevel at Loch Long on Sunday.

The high for the east coast of Scotland that day was 4C. Puppy Max wasn't very fond of cold pavement, so he spent the dive briefing sitting on my feet instead of the ground. I was with instructor Nick and divemaster (woman whose name I've forgotten). Four brave Open Water divers were completing the first two of their dives that morning, too.

Navigation was easier than expected. I lost track of counting plenty of times but never strayed too far off course because of it. 4C meant that the surface interval was undesirable but necessary. We kept it to a minimum and headed back into the drink as quickly as possible.

The Photo dive was faffy at best. St Abbs was a nice change from Loch Long but instead of pea soup murk, I had photos off light blue churn. The stirred up particles limited visibility to about 5m. Because the autoflash was on, I got lots of photos of stirred up particles with blurred whatever in the background.

For whatever reason, I started driving home on the wrong side of the road and didn't remember on which side I was meant to drive until there was a car driving toward me. Oops. I spent the rest of the evening huddled in blankets trying to find warm.

Day 2 had me driving west to Loch Long, through fog and grit. Windscreen wipers were useless against the slight mist, just smearing the grit more across the windscreen. When I arrived to the site at Loch Long, fog meant we weren't in a rush to get in the water. Because of how far out some of us had to get (ahem), we needed to be able to see the other side of the loch. Within an hour, it cleared and we suited up.

The deep dive was first. My task to see effects of deep on me was to write my name backwards on land first and then at depth. Because of the cold, our deep dive was planned for about 20m max. We also brought a colour ball to compare at depth as well. The first few metres were cold but once we crossed the debris/thermocline, it got less cold. With all my layers and the dry suit, I was warm enough as long as we kept moving.

When we reached 20m, they had me write my name backwards first. As soon as I stopped moving, cold set in. Sloppy or not sloppy, I wasn't wasting any time sitting still. It took me 18s on land and 22s in cold water with clunky gloves. I don't think there was any nitrogen narcosis effect. Then we looked at the colour ball and indeed saw the lack of much colour at depth. The last task was comparing depth gauges between us. Mine said 21 to Nick's 19.5 and 20 and Tom's 19. I got fed up with sitting still before we finished comparing. Thankfully, we didn't stay much longer. The last stop was the safety stop at 5m for 3min, which was above the silt/thermocline and it was a very cold 3min of sitting still. With a high of -1C, I wasn't very happy about the surface interval either. Mandatory 1hr meant wet gloves came off but sea monster hood stayed on. My fuzzy gloves were much appreciated.

Multilevel dive was last. Because of the temperatures and the dry suit course, I had the option of bailing early if necessary. The plan was 16m for 10mins, 12m for 10mins and then a safety stop at 5m for 3min. The last bit I was least excited about, remembering the deep dive experience.

At 16m, we found the A frames and spent 10mins exploring those. The second interval at 12m became 10m because there were more interesting nooks to peer into at the shallower depth. I saw a dogfish nose hiding in one nook, but struggled a little with buoyancy control to stay there long, but I did manage the 10mins at 10m well enough. The dreaded 5m safety stop came next. I shivered through it but survived.

The -1C surface temperature was not a very inviting return. I needed help out of the dry suit because my hands weren't working. The Dumbarton pub stop for warm drink on the way home was welcome and like the previous evening, I spent the rest of this one huddled in wooly blankets trying to find warm.

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1 Comments:

At 30 December, 2009 14:51, Anonymous Yvonne Taylor said...

I take my hat of to you Christine, making the PADI Advanced course in Scotland in the freezing cold. If you are looking for some warmer diving in the future, as a fellow Edinburghonian, I would be happy to help. You can visit our website at www.tenerifedive.com for more info about us.
I hope you have thawed out and congratulations. Yvonne

 

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