Thursday, March 01, 2007


Day 2. Today’s lesson concerned laying line off a spool inside a wreck, tying it off at intervals, and using it as a visual and physical guide for finding the way back out. Or, more appropriately in our case, Playing with String 101.

We did a dry run on land, and Sam talked us through it, demonstrating as he went. All very knowledgeable, all very competent. All very useless. I am strictly a kinesthetic learner when it comes to anything physical. Show me and it’s gone in five minutes. Make me do it and it has a chance of sticking. So I steamrollered poor Sam’s lesson and took the spool in hand. My classmates (who had been politely listening and absorbing until I grabbed the string) quickly followed suit, and we spent several splendid minutes rigging the dive shop in 18 weight nylon line. Once Sam figured we were ready, it was into the boat and out to El Capitan once again, the site of yesterday’s mishegas. BK was there to help out, so Jim & Marion went one way with him, and poor Heike got stuck with me again. Off we went.

When a pair goes into a wreck, one lays the line and the other follows, checking and taking up slack as needed. I led to begin with, and then we switched positions, with the second leader tying her reel onto the first’s. At some point, Sam was to give one of us instructions to give the out of air signal, and we were to swim to the other, do the signal, then air share out to the exit, using the line as guidance. Once out, we were to go back to ‘normal,’ re-enter the wreck and go retrieve our lines and reel them in.

Air sharing is stressful at the best of times. Two people on one small gas supply is a scary thought. And of course we had to do all of this in semi-darkness, in an unfamiliar environment, with a whole lot of rotting metal between us and the clear blue sky and its accompanying air supply. We had to use unfamiliar equipment unfamiliarly configured, and there were stingy sharp things everywhere. Naturally. Oh yeah, and we were supposed to be careful of our finning techniques (learned yesterday) to keep from damaging the wreck or kicking up the silt.

Actually, it went rather well, except that I was about two kilos too light and kept hitting the ceiling.

Day 3: We somehow have graduated to Advanced String 201. We went to a new wreck, the LST, lying in about 32 meters. Lovely wreck, with bunk beds still intact – so convenient for tying string around. I led but we only got part way through, due to my lousy air consumption and general muppetness. (I had re-weighted and hadn’t established neutral buoyancy before entering the wreck, so I spent the first few minutes bouncing around.) However, I did everything right except that I shortened the dive perhaps more than necessary, so it went well. Then the final drill: we went back to the shallow wreck and had to follow Sam’s line out with our eyes closed, then do it again eyes closed and sharing air. Insanity. I managed to snag my dropped reg hose on a piece of wreckage and had to figure it out blind, I ended up on the wrong side of the line and ran smack into a wall, and Heike and I managed to get tangled up just before the exit.

However, I did learn a couple of Valuable Things: 1) get a swivel clip for my primary demand valve just in case I have to drop it so I can secure it to my body instead of wrapping it around bits of wreck 2) fingertips are useful tools in a blind situation , and 3) if your buddy ends up with your legs on either side of her head, the hose tangled around you both, and clearly stuck on something, stop, stay still, and let her figure it out. If she’s in real trouble, she’ll pinch the hell out of your leg, and then you can help. Otherwise, you will just make things worse.

Good lessons.

(1.Marion & Jim on a line. 2. Me & Heike air sharing. Photos courtesy BK)



Blogger nzm said...

Is there a movie being made of this?

I'd pay to see it! LOL.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Mme Cyn said...

I'm trying to get Blogger to let me upload pictures, at least... Watch this space.

7:40 AM  

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