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Blind and Airless on the A.E.Vickery February 1, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Emergencies, Equipment, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving, Training.
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After the success of the Kinghorn dive, I was feeling pretty good. We all went over to the US side at Alexandria Bay, New York, for a dive on the A.E.Vickery. This wooden schooner lies on a slope down to 123 feet, but my dive had a maximum depth of 132′. After looking at the outside of the wreck, swimming along with Dave, with Brad and Pete up ahead, we slipped over the side and into the ship. Just at that moment, my regulator separated from its mouthpiece and started to free flow. Dave spotted this right away and came over to help, but I had things sorted out by then. It’s disconcerting when this happens. You breathe in and all you get is water.

I continued the dive. Looking back, that probably wasn’t wise, but we were on a training dive and I had lots of backup, but still – any equipment failure in one’s breathing apparatus justifies an abort. Inside the wreck, I was met by Brad who took my mask and let me along. The regulator slipped out of the mouthpiece three more times during this exercise, and finally I switched to my backup regulator and finished the no mask swim.

At that point we called my dive and I went back to the surface with the recreational divers. As we’d each taken only 1 set of doubles on the boat (which is all I own), I’d gone in with 1600 PSI for this second dive of the day. With a bottom time of only 25 minutes, the depth, anxiety and free flow took this down to 400. Still quite a bit for a non-overhead dive and double cylinders.

Back on the boat, Brad told me I’d handled the situation well. Inside a shipwreck, no mask, and water coming through the regulator is defintely a stressful  situation, and I’m glad I kept my head. That evening, we installed new tie-wrap on the mouthpiece. Since then, this is the most common equipment failure I’ve seen underwater (on the surface, it’s blown o-rings on yoke valves).

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1. Diving the Oconto « Chronicle of an older diver - September 4, 2012

[…] waters a little upriver from the Gananoque bridge. It is actually just across the channel from the Vickery, and it was suggested by the owner of DiveTech that we could actually cut across the bottom from […]

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