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Wreck Diving Training in the St. Lawrence January 7, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Shipwrecks, Training.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Due to my trip to Los Cabos in July 2006, I missed out on the wreck diving course held by my dive shop that year. In July 2007, after deciding to take my summer vacation at home, I was able to do it.The course consisted of some bookwork, where we used the PADI wreck diving course manual, some line running practice in the park across the street, and 6 dives. Due to the depth and frequency of the diving, Advanced and Nitrox certifications were a prerequisite and all dives used blends mixed for the depth of each wreck.

One evening after work, after reviewing the answers to the problems in the manual, we headed across the street to the park to try out our reels. After tying off on one tree, we’d keep the line taut all the way to the next tree, loop the line around the back of the tree, then again around the line itself, before proceeding to the next one. After tying 4 or 5 trees together like this, we’d reel the line back in, being careful to maintain the tension at all times.

Then we did it all again, this time returning with a blacked-out mask. I didn’t find this difficult at all, although I now know not to use pine trees because the sap gets on the line. Reeling it in well is important so as not to “bird’s nest” the line, and maintaining tension is required to do that.

My OMS Reel

Most divers used the same OMS reel as me, depicted here. It’s a pretty simple reel made mostly from Delrin plastic with a stainless steel handle and a set screw for locking. I’m not using the word simple in a derogatory sense mind you, simple is usually a good thing when you’re underwater. I tied a fairly large loop on the end of the line through which the reel can pass, for the first tie-off point at the entrance of the wreck, or for the strap on a lift bag if using the reel for shooting a bag. Tying knots underwater with thick gloves on isn’t easy.

Various means are used to prevent the end of the line from being pulled all the way through the guide and onto the reel, especially when not in use. I’ve seen some people drill a hole through a golf ball and feed the line through it, which I think is overkill and just an extra thing to carry around. I’ve never bothered with a stopper, and content myself to wrap the end of the loop around the handle and set the locking screw. It’s never come undone.

Once we’d taken the test and done the line work on land, we were ready to try it in the mighty St. Lawrence River, where the water is warm (although not at this time of year) and the currents are strong.

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