Saturday, August 8, 2009

High Adventure under the Calm Seas or Oh #@*&*$^

Well, I didn't expect an adventure of this sort...and neither did David! Jeff is still in Arizona (but coming home soon) so David and I headed out for the regular 8:30am dive. He called from Isabela and said the cuevas (caves) were too crappy to dive inside or out. I already had passed Rincon (which I suspected would be muddy) so we agreed to dive Natural in Aguadilla. It is kind of our back up spot and very very nice with all kinds of life. We usually see lots of turtles, all kinds of fish, eagle rays, moray eels etc etc. We have even seen 2 of the evil non-native lion fish there.

It LOOKED like it would be ok and it was...except...

We started our dive as usual except I was using Jeff's 100 tank instead of my 65 or 80 (we are talking cubic feet of air here). I never need all the air I carry. I was using the big tank because I only have 3 tanks and since Jeff is gone and we are all solar power now and I had no way to fill the tanks. They are out of hydro so a dive shop won't do it. When Jeff is home he un-wires the solar and reconnects to the grid to power the compressor. This is a good solution since getting a gas motor would take up space, mean storing and using gas etc etc. It is only $6.98 a month to be able to do this. I decided to use the 100 today since Natural has a short easy walk and swim and that would leave me one 80 cubic foot tank (less air but smaller and lighter - my usual tank) for tomorrow. That wasn't the problem.

We kicked out and hmm... looked pretty clear. We dropped down and immediately noticed that the current was really moving to the north. We have experienced this before and figured we would go north 20 minutes or so instead of the usual 40 to 60 and fight the current coming back at a slow pace. Of course we didn't really set this plan up before we went under, but we dive together every weekend and think alike. So sure enough , at 20 minutes he wants to head back which is fine with me.

We are heading back and really fighting when all of a sudden I hear lots of bubbles - and I know this sound. David's regulator is free flowing! This usually isn't a big deal, he took it out, smacked it, purged it, and it still kept free flowing. He stuck the backup in his mouth but the only problem is that there is not way to isolate the free flowing one so it is draining his tank. Just FYI - a hose split drains a FULL tank in about 4 minutes. So he looks at his air and starts going up.

I have to pull him back down, since we have been at 67 feet for some minutes and can't just pop up to the top! I give him my backup (since I am the queen of air - I don't use it, I have partially adapted I think) and then I notice that in the commotion his mask has filled with water so he doesn't even realize 1)we are deep 2) we are ascending too fast 3) we are drifting away. He didn't panic, but with this losing-the-air-really-fast problem after having 40 minutes underwater already and add to that being in a strong current and not being able to see is problematic.

So he now has one of my regulators and is very close. I am not a DIR (Doing It Right) philosophy person (this is a very safe diving method) - I am a DIMY (Do It My Way) person (I take what works for me to be free of gadgets and extra stuff, safe, and practical given that I don't have much real estate to hang stuff off of). So not being DIR, I don't have the really long hose. That means David is very close. I am holding onto his BC and pulling him down. The computer is beeping that we are ascending too fast. I get us down and hold onto a rock. I let him clear his mask, show him that we need 4 minutes at depth before we can travel toward shore and the surface.

Meanwhile there are a couple other divers who see us and just have no clue that there is a problem - they actually look, sort of wave and keep going!

After his mask is clear I tell him 4 minutes,(holding up fingers) we head toward shore against the strong current, he knows there is plenty of air in my jumbo tank for both of us so we surface, give the whuu hoo yell that follows any good dive (or in this case "adventure") and then just kind of hang out floating near shore for a bit before going up to the cars and out for coffee. This all happened in about 5 minutes!

So does this happen often? The only time I had a regular free-flow was when I went Ice Diving in Fish Lake in Eastern Washington. When you are diving under 3 feet of ice and the water is, well, FREEZING, you can kind of expect this. I did have a hose burst in Fiji and it drained my FULL tank in under 4 minutes. Thankfully it was at the beginning of the dive and I was able to kick off the helpful soul who wanted to save me by racing me up to the surface too fast. So lucky for us I had air, we weren't horribly deep, we aren't the panicky types, and if we did drift away I have a GPS with us so we can be located. We got this after some "mishaps" in Neah Bay Washington which is the roughest diving there is.

So this has me thinking of our biggest adventures. I may just have to dig out some photos and relive them. Hmmm. I am sure I have forgotten some but a hint of what is to come:
1) drifting more than a nautical mile after diving the Diamond Knot wreck in the Straits of Juan de Fuca 2) getting held up at gunpoint, saved by a bamboo arrow and living to tell about in in Papua New Guinea 3) drifting for a long way at Darwin's Arch in the Galapagos Islands, 4) feeding and photographing Six Gill Sharks in Puget Sound. No particular order. I'll give it some thought. But right now I am starving!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Katrina, you had me on the edge of my seat for a while! Glad everything turned OK and as always thanks for sharing your stories. I'm looking forward to the other ones as well. The one in Papua New Guinea intrigues me quite a bit.

I got trained on the PADI system years ago in a quarry in Ohio, this after growing up in the Caribbean, go figure! I think I would like to try and get re-trained and perhaps even dive when I go home, but my idea of starting again involves much less excitement than your adventures for sure, LOL!