A new Meg user joining you chaps. Just passed my MOD 1 with Rich Stevenson. Ace bloke, top course.
A new Meg user joining you chaps. Just passed my MOD 1 with Rich Stevenson. Ace bloke, top course.
Well done and welcome,
Would love to hear a more detailed report of the course, Richie, the boat etc....
Congratulations - good choice of RB by the way ;-)
In response to the above request for more information, here goes.
Bright and early. 9am start at Deep Blue. Met Rich and the one other candidate, Randy McNalley, all the way from Canada. Seems he'd met Rich on a cave course in Mexico and decided to take his rebreather training with him in the UK. This vindicated my choice of instructor, which in fairness to the others I made enquiries with was down to the fact of an early start date and the fact it was under IANTD. This would allow me to dive with my BSAC branch as the course has already been checked for equivalence.
After a bit of admin and a cuppa it was straight on with stripping and re-building the units, checking the handsets and HUD, and getting used to the menuing system. Pre and post dive checks were explained induvidually using the unit in front of you. Setpoint selection was demonstrated and then a pre breath sequence was done to get used to the feel of the counter lungs and WOB.
Lunch was followed by a trip to a pool. Rich on the side with a communications unit, us in water with headsets. Bloody hell. This is difficult! Bouyancy was shot to pieces. I was prepared for this as I'd read up previous reports but it does make you question your skills. Not good for the ego.
Drills for clearing a loop flood, dil flushes and bail out to OC were all carried out repeatedly in the 2 and a half hours we spent in the pool. I got out feeling drained. Nothing was easy and I knew I had to get better the next day. Hypercapnia was explained throughly and methods for dealing with it outlined.
Back to the dive shop for a strip down and clean of the units, a quick bite to eat, and off to bed.
Rich obviously had more confidence in us than we had in ourselves. An 8.30am start to analyse gases and ready the units for a trip on Seeker.
We dropped anchor in Cawsands Bay. 7m to a sandy bottom, with a dead baby dolphin floating on the surface! Bubble checks were advocated for safety as the dive ws commenced and the reason for selecting a low set point to start was explained before we went down a shot and back and forth a line laid out towards the shore. Rich let us get our bouyancy and trim and then got us to start our drills. Bail out to OC, dil flushes, and loop clearing were all carried out again. This time we had to carry some of them out whilst swimming. I was feeling much more comfortable, and being praised for my trim boosted my confidence a bit.
59 minutes later we returned to the shot and surfaced. Rich showed us how the set point could drop as we ascended to our stop at the 3m mark.
De-brief back on the boat covered the drop in the set point on ascent and how this could be managed. A new skill to deal with a solenoid stuck closed was explained and we set off to the Glen Strathallen for our second dive.
Down the shot to the boiler and a pleasant swim around a circuit laid out in line. Once we were settled Rich threw in the stuck solenoid drill and we began to manage our set point whilst swimming. We ended the dive with a couple of static dil flushes, bail outs to open circuit, and loop clears before ascending slowly keeping an eye out for the drop in PO2. Back to the surface after a safety stop the dive lasted 60 minutes.
Back to Deep Blue for a video de-brief. This is an excellent way of learning as when you can actually see the problems you're creating for yourself it becomes clearer how you can fix them. Post dive checks were done on the units whilst cylinders were filled then the first part of the calibration was carried out using air.
Finished at 6.30pm and off to the pub for dinner and bed. This time I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to read the ANDI manual before dropping off. This raised several questions for the next day.
Another early start. Analyse gases, ready the units then carry out calibration in air and O2. Today we were off to the Scylla and James Eagan Layne. Whoo Hoo.
The wind had picked up a little overnight but Seeker has plenty of room for kitting up, and has a lift a luxury I've not come across before. Dropped in on the shot line but I somehow drifted off. Rich came and collected me and took me back to the shot before we started our descent. I'd felt really comfortable the day before but today nothing seemed to be going as smoothly. My descent was pants and once I'd reached the deck I had to hold on to some railings and compose myself before I could continue. On the way down my suit had flooded from the neck and so I had another 60 minute dive in my own private ice bath! Good job the water temperature was 15 degrees.
The wreck is ace but I always had a nagging feeling that didn't let me settle into my comfort zone. We swam down to the seabed having altered our set points to a higher PO2 and swam around the wreck. I managed to find a rather nice dive knife but in the process of stowing it managed to lose a backup torch. Bugger.
Drills were done on the sea bed before a steady ascent to the decks again for DSMB deployment. Rich pointed out that my technique for dumping air from my suit was flawed and then found the reason for my general uneasiness. I still had air trapped in my wing. Once that was out I felt like a new man. Bouyancy and trim were restored and the rest of the ascent, maintaining PO2 levels, went smoothly.
A surface interval was comfortable only because we moved into the shelter of a nearby bay before setting back out to do the James Eagan Layne. With my wing vacuumed flat this dive was a revelation. My suit flooded again right at the start of the dive, but I was immune to it by now. Just lucky I'd brought two sets of undersuits! Rich took us on a route that included plenty of ascents and descents in order to check our bouyany and loop volume skills. I was rally happy with the dive UNTIL!! On completing the dive we moved up to the highest point of the wreck for mid-water DSMB deployment.
Here's where things started to fall to pieces again. Whilst going though narrow sections of the wreck my air gun had detached itself from my spare air hose on my stage. I was suprised by this but decided to opt for using my backup reg. On pressing the purge the reg started to freeflow, with most of it missing the DSMB inlet. I turned the reg upside down and got it to stop before re-introducing it to the DSMB. One healthy blast of air later and my DSMB shot to the surface unaccompanied. It had managed to come off the clip (Note to self - just use a loop of chord) and briefly showed where I was at 12m before setting off for France.
In the confusion, I'd managed to drop a metre, and in attempting to rectify this, including turning the ADV back on, I managed to start ascending myself. Not good. A brief fight with myself before I managed to restore equilibrium. Rich then handed me his DSMB whuch he'd attached to my reel.
For my second attempt I maintained my position in the water but dropped the bloody reel as the DSMB took off for the surface. I decided to ignore this and carried on regardless. The rest of the ascent, including controlling the PO2 levels went ok, and Rich had very kindly retrieved my reel for me. On the surface I found that Steve, the skipper of Seeker, had gone out of his way to recover my DSMB. Thanks mate
So Day 3 ended minus a torch and with my ego shot to pieces, but tomorrow had to be better.
The video nasty brought home the mistakes I'd made before weather forecasts were consulted and a decision was made to take the course inland. I then spent a fruitless hour or so trying to establish where my suit was letting in water. A big thanks to Sean of 'In deep' for letting me use his equipment. I found no leak and resigned myself to doing the rest of the course in a semi-dry.
Off to Vobster first thing. I've never dived here before. I found the vis shit, and the water bloody cold, but hey the boat wasn't rocking. First dive introduced the Boom scenario to the drills as well as ascents on open circuit whilst controlling loop volume.
These drills were in addition to bail outs, all done on the move at depth. I found it a bit of a struggle to turn my cylinders all the way off, then all the way back on again, especially when we did it six times on the trot! My hands ached like buggery. The cold (8 degrees) water in my 'dry suit' didn't make things any easier.
The dive concluded 50 minutes later controlling our bouyancy in shallow water and doing bail outs before we surfaced for tea and a hot bacon sarnie.
Dive 2 introduced the stuck open solenoid drill. Moving to a higher set point we had to keep the PO2 at a steady 1 bar. This was done on a circuit of line in next to zero visibility. Despite the cold water joining me in the suit again I really enjoyed this drill. Probably as I managed it straight off the bat.
Back off to shallower water and dil flushes and bail outs before out to strip the units and get the cylinders filled.
We then drove up to Chepstow for the final day in order that we could make an early start.
NDAC. What an amazing place. I'd love to come here again. Vis was great but the water was cold. The biggest buzz for me was the depth. First dive was to be a 'show me' what you've learned dive. No pressure, and no drills until the end. We follwed the road down to the plateau and then over the edge to 35m displaying bouyancy, trim, and control of the PO2 levels. Back to the plateau for an ascent on OC, controlling loop volume, mid water DSMB deployment, then back on the loop controlling PO2 levels. Ace.
During the final part of our surface interval the clouds began to close in and the heavens opened. It was a relief when we could jump back in.
The final dive was to be the acid test. CBL drills on an unconcious diver right at the start. OOA drills sharing a buddies stage reg, and an OOA swim with a reg in your hand as a fail safe. Back down to the plateau for an OC bail out and ascent to 6m with DSMB deployment and it was all over..except for the exam!
Rich is particularly thorough and the video captures every last detail of your skills...or lack of them. He has a laid back attitude, which I like. His assesment of your diving is spot on and I feel like I've come away with more skills than just the rebreather ones. My weighting, trim, and control of my dry suit have come on in leaps and bounds, even though I thought I already had these nailed down.
A big thank you to Rich, Stev, Sean and Randy for a really memorable course. Now to get the hours in for MOD 2.
Great report Steve, sounds like you had fun and managed to dive all the muddy puddles in the South!
Did you ever find out the reason for the leaky suit?
course sounds hard work but fun, what do you plan to do now you have the breather?
Some dizzy whore eighteen hundred and four!
I was in the water today without it flooding so I've really no firm idea. When I was down in Plymouth we blew it up but found it leak free. The thought then was that it was the neck seal being pulled by the rig and the counterlungs but that was exactly the same today with no similar experience...fortunately.
Guess I'll have to buy a new one like you
Just want to get in the water and dive. Don't care where or when, but I'm leaving it behind when I'm off to Egypt on the 3rd as the rig is currently set up for the cylinders to be upright and I prefer them inverted. One to sort when I get back.
Thanks for a great report it has helped me decide who to do my MOD1 with.