July 27th to August 1st, 2014 ~
Well, it was a long week of Tech 2 training and Diving Goodness.
My buddy, Eric, and I worked hard, and survived the week. *Phew* :)
Saturday afternoon, Steve and I went down to the airport, to pick up Guy Shockey, who was flying in from BC. Once we returned, Eric arrived, and we started to get our gear ready.
Since we were all there, we decided to get a start on the lectures, so that we could plan on finishing at a decent time, on actual Day 1. Uh-huhh… ;)
Day 1 ~
Lectures, then off to the quarry, for “Show & Tell.” We did valve drills, S-Drills, ascent drills, blowing smbs in mid water. We then moved on to bottle rotations, gas switches, and more ascents.
Bottom Time: More than an hour, less than three hours
Max. Depth: 30′
Water Temp.: 60F to 64F
We were still smiling, after Day 1.
Day 2 ~
A few more lectures in the morning, then back to the quarry, for more skillz ‘n’ drillz!
We swam out to the plane, where Eric started to run a reel. Oh, boy… then, the valve failures started. Between the two of us, there was: left post, fixable; right post, fixable; another right post, fixable; left post, non-fixable, followed by a right post, non-fixable (no, I didn’t shut off all of my gas :P ), ascent, and discuss. There sure was a lot going on, down there, and we seemed to do pretty well, with the failures. Back down, where there were even more failures of stages, manifolds, regs.. blah blah… It’s amazing that we even dive with such faulty gear! :P
For a third dive, we descended to about 83′, and boy, did we ever feel that thermocline! We then did mid-water gas switches and another ascent.
Pool time… Oh, boy. Here’s the hard part (for me). I’ve been going to the gym, for months, trying to build up my cardio, and building up to the swim test. I swam quite a lot when I was younger, but haven’t done much of it, in a long while. It seems to creep up on me, for each GUE course that I take. In my months of getting ready, I was pleased with the swimming portion, but was still not able to meet the 18 meter breath hold. I kept coming up short, at 12 meters. My free diving friends, other diving friends, and even Steve tried to help me out, but I just kept struggling with it. *Sigh*
We had a bit of time to kill, until the public lane swim started, so we did another module, in the complex.
The way to the pool?
Coming out of the change room, into the pool area, I can honestly say that I had the feeling of impending doom. I’m not even exaggerating. My heart sank, and I was scared out of my wits. How stoOpid is that???
Which way do we choose? Door #1, or Door #2???
Ok… breath hold, first. I let Eric go first, so he could show me how it should be done. ;) It wasn’t the easiest task, seeing as the “Public Lane Swim,” was not exactly that. One quarter of the pool was roped off for people diving off of the diving boards. The other quarter was for people that were just floating about. The remaining half, which was supposed to be 3 lanes, was roped off as one lane. People were swimming in big loops, around the one big lane. There were at least 6 people doing this, and they were way faster than I would ever be. We timed our breath hold, in between swimmers. Not the easiest thing to do, but we made do… Well, Eric did. He did it in his first try – 18 meters – badda boom, badda bing!
My turn… D’oh… came up short, but apparently, my technique was pretty good. Ok, try again… and again, and again… no dice. It seemed that I kept coming up shorter and shorter.
Let’s move on to the swim, for now. Eric and I decided to swim in the middle of the loop-dee-loopers, since we couldn’t really do a square swim test. Away, we went!
Eric finished in good time, and I was still movin’ and shakin’. Oops… thanks, pool staff… They decided that it was a little bit busy, and wanted to put the other two lanes in. That was a really good decision, but it would have been even better, if they hadn’t dropped the two lane markers on my head, as I was swimming.
Like a great team mate, Eric came out to cheer me on, and I heard, “you’re past the time!” Like hell, I am… I picked it up! I made it to the end, with 40 seconds to spare! W00 H00!!! It turns out, that Eric actually said, “you’re going to make it, you’re within the time,” or something to that effect. With my ears in and out of the water, and the muffled sounds, I swear, he was telling me that I was past the time! :P Ok, not a record time, but I worked my ass off, to get it. :)
Let’s try the breath hold, again… nope… nope… and… nope. *Sigh* I was pretty upset about not making it. I’ve done this same breath hold during Cave 2, with not much preparation, and I was so determined to get it. Ok, I have four more days… I’m going to get it!
Day 3 ~
Back to the quarry, where we descended to 100′, swam for a bit, swam back, then made our ascent, with gas switches. Holy canoly… The thermocline seemed even colder, today! Especially, having to swim through it. Thank goodness, that tomorrow was River Time! There were more skillz ‘n’ drillz, and bottle rotations, and bottle rotations, and bottle rotations… followed by a bottle rotation, or two. :)
Day 4 ~
To the Rivaaaaaa! Captain Rick took us out to the Rockport Wall, where we did Experience Dive #1. We dropped down, where there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of current, until we started swimming against it. It got stronger and stronger, as we attempted to make our way upstream. Instead of working too hard, we started to drift, until the current died down, then swam back a little more, to drift back to the spot in the wall, for our ascent. Eric led this dive, and we did our first gas switch, at 70′, then started the bottle rotations. Eric’s went pretty smoothly, and mine was a little slower, but I managed to gitterdun. I definitely need to do a little more practice, in order to get them a little more smooth.
Another gas switch at 20′, deco, and 6-up.
We were still smiling, after Day 4! Tired, but I think that’s a requirement for GUE courses. :)
Day 5 ~
Experience Dive #2. I led this one, and we used our variable ascent rates, up to 70′. Eric called the deco from 70′. Eric’s bottle rotation was smoother than mine, but I was better than the previous day. w00t! Our dive went really well. Before heading back, Rick took us on a little tour of the River, and told us the story of St. Lawrence.
There was some serious washing machine current, going on, here!
When we got back, we grabbed a bite to eat, then went over to Centeen Park, where we did our exam. I think the formulas may have actually stuck in my head, this time. *Thumbs up*
Day 6 ~
Experience Dive #3. Eric led up until 70′, where I took over the deco. We used hypoxic gas protocols, for this dive. We had to keep circling, to get each of us in the water, due to some nice wind and waves. One by one, we plopped in, with bottles already attached. A different variable ascent rate, for this dive. More swimming against the current, for a little while, then drifting, swimming back, and then back again, to the crack. We started our ascent, gas switch at 70′, and my rotation was almost as smooth as pie (Pie is smooth? At least my rotation was…). w00t w00t! Eric’s was also good, and at 20′, we switched onto our 02, as Guy made signals to us:
“You… (pointing at Eric) You… (pointing at me) T2!” Then, he looked at me, and signaled that I still needed to get my darn breath hold. *Le sigh” Yep… I do. I was still pretty happy with the dives, and the course. Eric and I worked as a team, and got through our tasks… all except for one, for me…
When we got back to Caiger’s, we grabbed a bite to eat, went over the exam, and then I got into my bathing suit. Ok, you breath hold-ness… I am not letting you escape me!!!
The pool is 40′, so I needed to do a length, then turn around, and swim another half length, under water. I got in… H-H-H-H-O-L-Y SHEEEEEET! It was cold! Warmed by the sunshine! I dunked myself under, and the shock nearly took my breath away (I was going to need that, thank you). There was literally zero visibility, in the pool (they had just finished cleaning, etc.), and I kept coming up short of the first length. I couldn’t even see the end of the pool. I was really starting to get discouraged, but was not going to give up. Steve gave me a little tip, so I tried it. Steve also put a bright orange lifesaver at the end of the pool, so that I could see when I was getting to the end. Under I went…. swam to the end, slowed down a little, to turn, and kept swimming… Holy crap! I’m going to do it! I kept swimming, and surfaced, just past the half-way mark! W000000000000 H0000000000000000000!!!
Man, how good did THAT feel??? I finally did it! What a huge weight, lifted off of my shoulders. I really didn’t want to “lose,” based on the breath hold. Ahhhh… What a relief!!!
So… Thank you, Guy, for our wonderful course! Thank you, Eric, for being a great team-mate, and thank you, Steve, for giving me that final tip, and for the support that you have given me, along the way. w00t w00t!
Of course, we stuck together as a team, when we took Guy back to the airport, on a midnight airport run!
Now, let’s go diving!!! :D