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Advanced Open Water Diver Training – Part 2 October 25, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Training.
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After my deep dive on February 10th, 2005, I went straight to underwater navigation dive in a place called “Dickie’s Reef” later that morning. It was a pretty simple affair, swimming various patterns underwater, counting my kicks. After going through training in the late eighties for instrument flying, I was quite used to the mental arithmetic of computing angles on compasses at high speed, so at the leisurely pace of scuba diving is was no problem. In airplanes you’re also dividing up your time between a bunch of instruments, a chart, maybe looking outside and monitoring engine instruments which gives you plenty to do.

The following morning we were off to “Coral Garden” for the search and recovery dive. This involved swimming a square pattern using the compass, to locate a weight belt that was sitting on the bottom nearby. The visibility was so good there that I caught the weight belt in the corner of my eye well before I was near it, but I kept swimming the patter to keep the instructor happy, “found” the belt, and attached my “lift bag” to it to bring it to the surface. My lift bag was actually a spare BC, because the resort didn’t have any real bags, so I swapped over the inflator hose from my own BC to add the air.

In the early afternoon, still on February 11th, we visited the wreck “Katherine” (or “Katryn”) for my wreck dive. I wrote a description of the wreck and its position, and measured the length in kicks (40 double). This wasn’t my first visit to the wreck. It was almost exactly 10 years before that we’d visited the same resort when it was called Ciboney’s. Sandals had expanded the property somewhat, and we were staying in the expanded portion, so it took a while to recognize it.

The last dive of the course was my favourite – a night dive under moonlight on the evening of February 13th. We were each issued a light, which was left off at the beginning of the dive to avoid attracting jellyfish near the surface. Once we were on the bottom, at about 40 feet, we killed the lights and swam for a couple of minutes in the near darkness. That was really cool. On the rest of the dive we noticed a very different atmosphere on the reef. The coral had a softer look as the polyp tentacles were out of the their hard cases, and animals like lobsters were walking around on the bottom instead of hiding in their lairs. I also saw my first puffer fish since I arrived – on the 9th dive of the trip. This just shows how little fish life is left in the area. I also had to navigate a reciprocal course which was no problem.

One other notable thing about the night dive was a third diver. The instructor, undoubtedly with the participation of the boat captain, was making a little money on the side, and asked me to keep the knowledge of the extra passenger to myself. I’ve done so to this day and hope enough time has passed so this revelation will be harmless.

On the trip I managed to squeeze in 12 dives, which was a record for me. 7 of them were just for fun. On one of those, one of the divers was a guy I’d seen earlier with all his own gear in a roller bag. He’d joined us for the morning dive on the 13th (the day of my night dive), to a place called “Ocho Rios Reef” and a depth of 60 feet. Every time I looked at him I saw masses of bubbles coming from his regulator, and sure enough, in less than 15 minutes, he was running low on air. At a resort like Sandals, once someone is low on air, everyone has to come up, so my total dive time was 18 minutes, using only 800 PSI of my own. The instructor was not pleased, and I didn’t see the guy again. I suspect he was only allowed to do the shallower afternoon dives, while I only dived in the morning, so I could spend lunchtime and the afternoon with my wife.

I saw PADI’s course progression in the “Adventures in Diving” book, and started thinking about what to do next. That turned out to the PADI Rescue Diver Course in the cold waters of Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto and not far from where I live.

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