Monday, July 16, 2018

Slinging and ascending

"The only new thing in Rec 3 is the stage bottle."

Technically, that's an accurate statement.
But LOL.

D'Or and I started the first of what was to be back-to-back 3-day-weekends of diving - the plan was to dive at Pt Lobos the first weekend and then hop on a boat for the next, with an extra day left open in case more work was needed. I'd decided to use my Big Bertha double 120s for this class as I felt they were easier to trim out and maybe get me closer to that tech pass I was now coveting. Another piece of gear I had become a fan of was the pair of DUI Thinsulate socks that I scored from AWS during their Halloween sale last year - these are generally not recommended by most people I spoke to because they make your feet way too floaty in the drysuit but I always felt my legs were heavier than most people and the extra floatiness actually worked in my favor.

Day 1 started off much like any other GUE class - usual lecture, land drills and making sure all our gear was squared away. The plan was to basically do all the Fundies skills with the stage bottle hanging on our side to see how it affected us in the water. My initial thought was the extra weight on my left side would unbalance me enough that I would have to make physical adjustments for it but that turned out not to be the case. What I did notice was my light cord repeatedly getting tangled up in the stage bottle's valve which annoyed the fuck out of me. The solution ended up being something I should have been doing anyway - arms stretched out in front of me, not dangling. This made my trim a lot better and forced me to keep my head in the correct position.
-> 85min, 34ft, 55F

Day 2 was when we got into actually switching on and off the stage. There's a bunch of steps  in the process but everything is designed to make sure you switch to the right bottle at the right depth and have it all verified by yourself and your team. Breathing the wrong gas is one of the primary causes of accidents in technical diving and this process all but eliminates it. We went through the switches a few times at the bottom as well as at 20ft to get a feel for what it's like doing tasks in midwater. I didn't do so great with managing my ascents as I was overcompensating with my wing and kicking like a lunatic to get to the right depth in the water column. I just wasn't able to muster any confidence in my ability to control or even stop my ascent and this caused a ton of problems. Beto gave me a few suggestions - my brain understood them, my brain was trying to get my body to do certain things but that's where the connection ended.
-> 103min, 34ft, 52F

Day 3 introduced problem solving underwater. Rec 3 doesn't have the same standards as Tech 1 so these problems don't surprise you when they occur - this is one of the highly criticized aspects of Rec 3 as it doesn't reflect how real problems occur. I tend to agree with this even though it was a good introduction to the steps the team needs to follow to identify and resolve a failure. The plan was also to try and refine ascents a little more before we went into deeper water. Again, adding task loading with visual reference came pretty easily to me but the moment we started moving up, a crazy amount of anxiety kicked in and everything went to hell in a handbasket. Basically, I was struggling to manage my drysuit and the crappy ascents from the last couple of days added even more stress, compounding the problem more and more. Post dive debrief was rough - I was nowhere near being able to go deeper and perform faster/longer ascents and we decided to hold off on the boat dives until that was remedied. What sucked was it looked like D'Or was ready to move into the next part of the class and I was holding him back :/
-> 122min, 51ft, 51F

That was a humbling weekend. We got some video at the end of day 3 which makes me look a lot better than I felt. The conditions were really nice though.
 - U