I was hoping for a nice, gentle introduction to wrecks: you know, a little overhead environment stuff, a little bit of line work, maybe some navigation…
We started out this morning spending an inordinate amount of time kitting up, which is never a good thing for me. Once I’ve made up my mind to do something new, I need to get to it before I can talk myself out of it again. OK, so the kit up was necessary. We all had to reconfigure a bit: I had to add a weight pocket to my belt and figure out how to stow and use a new kind of light (20 minutes).Heike had to change absolutely everything (two hours). We finally got into a boat at 3:00.
Then Sam told us what we were going to do. “Just practice a few skills. One pair can swim around the wreck with BK while the other does the skills with me, then we switch.” Knowing how I guzzle gas when I’m nervous and out of shape (I haven’t dived since November, after all) I requested Heike and I go first. Just in case.
And THEN Sam enumerated these “few skills”: three different kinds of finning technique, finger crawling with fins up, air sharing, swimming without a regulator for 15 meters and getting your buddy’s octopus, and doing a 20m swim along a line without a mask, then replacing and clearing said mask. What ever happened to a gentle swim in an overhead environment?
I felt like a bloomin’ novice. Most of these skills I had never done before, and sure enough, everything that could have gone wrong seemed to once I finally hit the water. First, my trim wasn’t right and I had buoyancy problems, not helped by the fact that I was so tense I think my lungs were completely full at all times. Then there were the new finning techniques. My fins are simply super for tiny flutter finning but absolutely useless for frog kicks—and it doesn’t help that I have all the coordination of a six year old when in the water. Next we come to the air problems. I went down with about 160 bar to start with, which isn’t great at my breathing rate. My primary air hose was way too short, so when I shared air with Heike I had to cling to her cylinder and try not to kick her when I finned. Thank god she knew what she was doing, since I was hopeless. My spare DV kept free flowing, mostly because I kept putting it down upside down and not realizing that it needed to be turned over (Sam had to bail me out twice). And finally there was the Fear Factor. The first time I did the no-regulator swim I couldn’t see my buddy at all. I got part way there, panicked, and shoved the reg back into my mouth. Fair play to me, though – I turned right around, swam back to the start and did it again. Although when I finally got to Heike, I swear I sucked that reg so hard she dropped thirty bar in ten seconds. Her computer alarm went mad.
I never got as far as that maskless swim drill. When I got down to 37 bar (well below my reserve of 50, for those of you who don’t dive), I signaled Sam that I absolutely had to go up, so he sent me to the surface. Now I’ll have to do the mask thing tomorrow. Oh joy.