Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Blue Grotto

The deck and most of the stairs at Blue Grotto are completely submerged due to higher than normal water levels. Everything looked fairly slippery which added some pucker factor, on top of pre-dive jitters, while walking across it fully geared up.

Cave 1, Day 2

The plan for today was to do a Fundies skills review (propulsion, drills, 2 stop ascents) and some introductory reel work during the first half of the day followed by more reel work and work on the line course in open water in the afternoon. The site briefing included a warning to not let Virgil, one of the resident turtles, get too close to your fingers because she's apparently gotten used to being fed sausages and mistakes appendages for the same.

I felt extremely spazzy during the valve and S-drills and my back kick completely failed me on the wooden platform. I guess it wasn't as terrible as I thought because we immediately went into reel work and entered the cavern in Blue Grotto. It had been almost exactly a year since the last time I had been in a cave and run a reel but it went mostly OK. The cavern path was fairly twisty so running the reel wasn't as straightforward as what I had done in a cave previously but was mostly uneventful except for a light failure which required Bubbles to deploy his backup. On the way out, my primary failed too which meant reeling back in with a backup in my left hand - not the most pleasant experience. I was perpetually on the verge of dropping them both.

When Bubbles ran the reel, the bubble gun dropped in unannounced and he ended up with a post failure, which meant I had to take over reel duties. I kinda forgot to vent my drysuit this time which led to some interesting leg contortions up the slope. Our ninja instructors picked this exact moment to fail Bubbles' other post which meant I had to donate. Fun times. Srsly, I thought there would be a much gentler introduction to failures than this ...

The really amazing thing here is the instructors' ability to pile things on just so and each problem builds on top of the previous one. It feels like you're barely keeping things together and want to get outta dodge ASAP but what it really makes you do is stop, think and work through the problem slowly. Absolutely fantastic teaching and learning methodology!

We both had plenty of gas left so we decided to just stay in the water and complete the drills on the line course instead of getting out to change tanks. We must have done the line course 4-5 times that afternoon in various combinations of mask off (waaay easier in 70F freshwater compared to 50F saltwater), blackout mask, touch contact and gas sharing situations. Improvements were made each time which is always a satisfying feeling.

-> 2hr 49min, 69ft, 70F

We were a little bit ahead of schedule due to finishing all the planned dive activities for the day in a single dive so we went back to the shop to do more line drills in the field.

Back to Great Outdoors for half-off wings - either we were there before the rush or the locals don't think it's as lit as burger night.

 - U