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Season Opener at Kirkfield Quarry March 31, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Equipment, Technical Diving.
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Every year the dive club gets together on the Victoria Day weekend for a shallow refamiliarization dive and a barbeque. In previous years, the event was held at Innerkip Quarry – the very same place I did my open water certification dives in 1982. Innerkip is a long drive from the dive shop, so this time we tried a new location a little east of Lake Simcoe at 44°35’3″N and 78°58’21″W. The quarry is maybe 700 metres in diameter and about 10 metres deep.

The day (May 18, 2008) was also my first time with some new gear. In the fall I picked up an OMS wing, with two bladders giving 90 pounds of lift. The point of having a second bladder is redundancy, not capacity, as only one of them is used at a time. In technical diving, one of the challenges can be doing a controlled ascent to your deco stops after something goes wrong. If the BC bladder fails and you have no backup you can be in a lot of trouble. In my dry suit, it’s not such a big deal, because there’s enough buoyancy in the suit to give me a reasonable amount of lift even when wearing my tanks. Still, I feel more comfortable with the second bladder, and when diving a wet suit there’s little else to fall back on. A lift bag might work in a pinch, but it would be difficult to work with.

The OMS wing is wrapped in a bungee to keep its volume down when deflated. There are raging debates about whether this is a good thing or not. The two main objections are that it could be an entanglement hazard, and that it can’t be orally inflated. The first objection is something to consider, although there has never to my knowledge been a reported case of a diver becoming entangled than way. As to the second, I think that the redundant power inflate is sufficient backup, and failing that, if the oral inflation becomes too difficult, the bungee cord can be cut to relieve the pressure.

Rich suiting up, my doubles are on R.H.S. of the picnic table

Rich suiting up, my doubles are on R.H.S. of the picnic table

In addition to the wing, I order a brand new steel backplate and an OMS IQ pack. The IQ pack is a sort of compromise between a BC and a simple harness. The latter is recommended by various groups of minimalist divers as being the simplest workable configuration. I think that this idea has merit for some types of diving, but having clips available and a little padding is a nice thing to have on a crowded boat. If I were diving into confined spaces likes caves or hard-core wreck exploration, I might reconsider. The IQ pack has shoulder clips and weight belt buckle at the waist. I’ve never had a clip come undone during a dive and think it’s a minimal risk for the type of diving I do.

The pockets are also frowned upon in some circles. The OMS “No Sag” pockets are odd little things that slide onto the waist strap. Each pocket has 3 compartments. The one closest to the body is designed to accommodate weights. With a wet suit I don’t use any, but when diving dry I add a few pounds as otherwise I get a bit too buoyant when the tanks are near empty. The pockets also have attachments that clip onto the lower D-ring of each shoulder strap. That’s the no-sag part. The middle pocket is large, and in the left pocket I put my backup mask, with my camera on top if I’m carrying it. On the right I’ll usually put my large dive light, if I’m planning to dive anywhere where I’ll need it. I’m not all that happy with that configuration, as I need to keep the pocket open to hold the bulky light (a UK D4). The outer pocket is not nearly as wide, and has a Velcro flap instead of a zipper. My UK C4 light fits neatly into that pocket and I carry it at all times. My Jon line fits perfectly into the same space on the right hand side.

The waist strap also has movable D-rings that came located adjacent to the backplate. All last year, I had the pockets further forward than the D-rings, so that the D-rings were wedged between the backplate and the pockets. I found it incredibly hard to clip deco or stage bottles onto the lower D-ring with this setup, sometimes taking 2 or 3 minutes to get it connected. On my Seaquest Raider, which had the D-ring below the pocket, I had no such difficulty. This year, I’m going to try the D-rings forward of the pockets. This will have the added advantage of securely holding the pockets in place, as the one on the non-buckle side of the waist strap tended to fall off when I wasn’t wearing it.

I put my reel on the right hand D-ring, and loop my long (7′) hose under it before looping it around my neck and into my mouth. The waist strap also carries my small Wenoka Titanium knife. I need to find another cutting tool as a backup, but haven’t found anything suitable yet. Shock cord mounted on the bottom rear holes in the IQ pack holds my 50lb lift signaling tube.

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Oriskany Gas Party March 30, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Technical Diving.
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On Sunday some of us got together at the shop to fill our tanks for diving the “Mighty O” 3 weeks from now. We had given some thought to using a light Nitrox mixture for our bottom gas but decided against it so we could have the option of going to the hangar deck, lying at 165-170 feet,  on our first dive. It didn’t seem worth it. Our PPO2 (partial pressure of Oxygen) at 170 would be 1.29 with air, which is a good conservative figure to work with.

We decided on EAN50 for our deco gas for a couple of reasons. The charter operator charges an extra $30 for a second deco cylinder, so it didn’t seem worth it to carry one for a richer mix. Our dive shop doesn’t have a booster pump (although these are starting to become more accessible with less expensive models coming on the market), and the large O2 cylinders that we get from the supplier are only at about 2200 PSI or so, making it very difficult to fill a rich mix, especially in an Aluminum cylinder with a working pressure of 3000 PSI. Finally a leaner mix has an advantage in an emergency, as it can be safely breathed much deeper than pure Oxygen or EAN80.

On this last point, as everyone learns in their Nitrox course, breathing high partial pressures of Oxygen can cause convulsions, which for divers without full face masks usually leads to drowning. We learn in basic Nitrox training never use more than 1.4 atmospheres partial pressure of O2 during the working phase of the dive, and 1.6 atmospheres during decompression. The toxic effects of Oxygen don’t turn on like a light switch, however. Experiments and accident data reveal that CNS Toxicity (Central Nervous System – the kind that leads to convulsions) is a function of both time and O2 concentration, plus several other factors like temperature, exertion, and so on.

During  WWII, some diving operations on pure Oxygen rebreathers had maximum depth limits of up to 90 feet, or a PPO2 of almost 4! The rate of O2 toxicity was shocking, of course, but it was also not a certainty that it would occur. Over time, depth limits were reduced, and time was introduced… so many minutes allowed at 60 feet, a greater number of minutes at 30 feet, etc. The bottom line (for me, don’t take this as advice) is that I think breathing EAN50 at even 170 feet, a PPO2 of 3, on a controlled emergency ascent probably won’t be fatal and would be preferable to drowning. A 60 fpm ascent would bring the mix to 2.2 within 60 seconds, and to 1.4 within another minute. That’s very likely to be survivable.

Pure Oxygen, on the other hand, would have a PP02 of more than 6 at 170 feet. That would be extremely dangerous, and an extra minute would be required to get to 1.6. You would also have to skip most of the deeper decompression stops to get yourself out of dangers. On EAN50, there would be few or no stops missed.

I will be using my two AL80 cylinders for decompression – one at a time for each day’s diving. These are filled to their standard pressure of 3000 PSI by first filling them with 1101 PSI of O2, then topping off with air. Of the 3 large cylinders of O2 at the shop, the first had been drained to about 600 PSI by time we got there. We had 3 cylinders to fill, my two plus another, so first we used the partially drained cylinder to fill each of the 3 to 500PSI or so, then used a full one to top them up to 1101. This is exactly the same procedure we use for the 6 air cylinders at the shop – using them in sequence so that high pressure gas is available for as long as possible.

In case you’re not familiar with gas blending, we arrive at 1101 PSI by looking at a chart on the wall. That’s the easy way. There are computer programs which will also do the calculations. The math for Oxgyen plus Air blends is as follows: If F is the desired total pressure of the cylinder, P is the desired partial pressure of Oxygen, and X is the pressure that you need to fill the cylinder with Oxygen before topping off with air (to the pressure F), then X = F(P-.21)/.79.

For our back gas, we’re using a pair of Faber 95 cubic foot cylinders. These cylinders have a working pressure of 2640, and we’re planning to fill to 3200 PSI, giving us 95 x 2 x 3200 / 2640 or 230 cubic feet of air. At my SAC rate this would give me about 35 minutes at 170 feet with thirds. Our dive plan will more likely be multilevel, but we’re still discussing exactly what we want to do. Likely we will drop through to the hangar deck and exit at the stern, then drift back along the deck with the current to the tower, exploring the tower at shallower depths until we need to ascend for deco.

Dive lights and Battery Life March 29, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment.
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Continuing on from my description of my new (to me) OMS Vega V191 dive light, I would be interested in figuring out when to replace the batteries. With new batteries, this light runs for 3 hours. So the first challenge is to determine how much life is left in a used set of batteries. I don’t know if this can be done reliably, but I am going to set out to find out.

Energizer provides a data sheet for their CR123 Lithium battery, which shows the change in voltage over time as the battery drains. I should point out that the term Lithium battery is somewhat colloquial in this respect because there are many types of Lithium battery, and this particular one (like all the other brands) is a Lithium Manganese Dioxide cell. This curve uses a load of 100Ω on the battery, a standard used for the purpose of testing batteries. Using the relationship between power (P), voltage (E) and resistance (R) of P=E²/R the power output of the battery starts at .09 watts, dropping to about .08 watts when the battery quickly declines to around 2.85V. I used this simple calculator to apply the formula to these examples.

Energizer 123

Energizer 123

In the last 20 hours of the battery’s life, the voltage declines further reaching 2.5 volts after about 53 hours of continuous operation. At this point we’re seeing just over .06 watts output, down a third from the 3 volt level.

The voltage then drops precipitously in the final hours.

My dive light uses two batteries in series for an output of 3 watts, which is much greater than this test. The resistive load of the LED would be a mere 12Ω at this output with the full 6 volts. OMS documentation says that

A few questions come to mind…

  1. What is the minimum voltage that the light needs to operate? I’ll be able to answer this once I flatten a set of batteries to the point where the light stops operating. To do this, I’ll have to use the light as a primary light with a separate set of batteries for dives where I don’t need it as a standby. I measured the used ones that the light came with at 2.855 and 2.845 volts (under zero load), so I will use these. I have another set lying around that are at 3V, which I’ll use when I really need the light for a standby. According to Wikipedia, white LEDs start to emit light at 3.5 volts and above. The Marl LED Technical Library shows illumination starting at 5.5 volts, so it will be interesting to discover what the truth is.
  2. Is the discharge curve the same shape under the heavier load of the light. Instead of .06 to .09 watts, for 1.5 watts the resistance for a single battery is a mere 6Ω. At this level of output the voltage at the flat part of the curve (in the 100Ω example this is the first 30 hours) might be less than 2.85. That’s hard to tell without testing, and I don’t really want to burn up batteries just to do that.
  3. What is the relationship between light output and voltage? LEDs have a pretty linear relationship between voltage and output, although high power LED applications use voltage regulators to keep the voltage constant so that the LED does not draw to much current and overheat. I noticed on a UK lights LED underwater light that there was a fair bit of circuitry built into the head.
  4. Can the no-load voltage of the batteries be used to track where the battery lies on the discharge curve? I imagine I could test a battery with zero load, 6Ω and 100Ω separately and see how the readings vary (I own a very accurate & precise Fluke DMM).

Question #1 will be answered in time once my weaker set of batteries fails to produce light from the LED. I’ll simply have to measure the combined voltage of the two batteries to answer that question. With this information and measurements over time I can plot the decay of the voltage with time and use.

I might end up working on #2 after doing some of the other projects.

I’m thinking about checking #3 with using the lightmeter of my camera, an old Nikon FE. It would require that I construct a jig to ensure that I can reproduce the setup to test the light at different voltages.

The final test would be to see if the voltage of the battery is different under load. That would help calibrate the battery against the discharge curve. At 100Ω the power is low enough that a 1/2W or 1/4W resistor would be just fine for the test.

Should be interesting. I’ll keep you posted.

OMS Vega V191 Dive Light March 28, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment.
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I was at the dive shop last night and one of the instructors who is now working as a paramedic was selling off some of his excess materials and gear. I got a good deal on a couple of lights, one of which was this nice little OMS backup light.

oms-lightThe construction is pretty much solid metal, except for the lens and the bulb, and a hard plastic insulator at the base of the head where the positive end of the top battery connects. I haven’t removed the lens which requires a special tool (which could easily enough be home-made) so whatever is between the reflector and base of the head hasn’t been looked at.

The light runs on CR123A photo batteries. For a primary light, I’d definitely consider this a negative as these batteries are quite expensive. As a backup light though, the long shelf life and good temperature characteristics mean that is probably a good thing. The burn time for the two batteries wired in series (like most lights) is only 3 hours. At $6 each retail that’s a fairly high price to pay, but the use by dates I just saw in the building supply store was 2017 – so great for standby applications. I saw these batteries for $1-1.50 from web retailers. They’re also the same batteries that the sensors use in my home alarm system, so I usually have some around. They last for years. I’ve had some for more than 10 years, although about half have been replaced once.

OMS recommends their own brand of battery, which is actually just a Power One battery. Their literature says that these batteries have 1550 mah (milliamp hours) rating and others you can buy have less. While they’re absolutely correct in the statement, you can get 1550 mah CR123 batteries from plenty of suppliers, like Panasonic and Duracell. I had to search around a bit to find the spec on the Energizer version, it was 1500 mah – not so much difference as you would notice but not something they’d want to advertise. Energizer has better spec sheets than Duracell, and I found the operating range of the battery was -40C (-40F) to +60C (+140F). Hopefully that will cover everyone’s diving needs!

oms-light-disassembledThe light is constructed similarly to most, with the head that screws into the handle. There are two o-rings that fit into slots on the head, just after the threads. The o-rings need to be lubricated occasionally as you would with any light, and kept free of debris.

The “manual” (1 page in length) says that an anti-seize compound must be used on the threads. While OMS says to order it from them or buy at your dive shop, there are plenty of suppliers. I think I might check out a marine supply store for something that is designed for marine (salt-water) use. Many of these compounds have very high (more than 1000C) temperature ratings which is not needed for this application.

To turn the light on, you twist the head somewhat less than 3/4 of a turn. You are warned against twisting more than 3/4 of a turn in case of leaks. The light is rated to 100 metres (330 feet). It’s interesting to compare that to my UK light (more on that another time) which is rated to 500 feet with a plastic case and a single o-ring.

Output of the light is 80 lumens. OMS introduced a new model of the Vega, the K2, in 2009 and claims its new LED technology has “graded high colour temperature” and is much brighter at 180 lumens. This with the same batteries and battery life. I actually sent them an email asking how they did it, but haven’t received a reply. It’s quite an advance if I’m reading the specs right. The V191 was also described as graded high colour temperature and reviews have said it has a stunning light output – so if the K2 has more than doubled it without drawing more current from the batteries it is an incredible achievement.

One review I read criticised the light because it can come on during a dive as a result of the increased pressure. I suppose that I will have to make sure that it is twisted a little further than necessary on the surface before descending with it.

I might get to try it in the pool next weekend but failing that, I’ll use it on the Oriskany when I’m down in Pensacola in a few weeks.

Diving in Victoria: The G.B.Church March 27, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks.
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The wreck of the Motor Vessel G. B. Church is near to our first dive of Sunday, March 30, 2008 on the H.M.C.S. Mackenzie. The Church was sunk in 1991 as part of an artificial reef project, which was several years earlier than the Mackenzie, and it shows in the increased quantity of marine life occupying the wreck.

vicd2b-railingsThe wall-to-wall animal life is spectacular. While there is a huge number of white plumose anemones everywhere to be seen, the Starfish, Sea Slugs, Rock fish and Ling Cod are also all over the place. The Ling Cod were larger than any I’d seen before, and mostly ignored us as we glided over the deck.

Like the day before, the cold 7C (43F) water and the age of my battery conspired to limit the number of photographs I could take on the second dive. The overcast conditions of winter in Victoria didn’t help either, and half of the photographs I took didn’t turn out at all. I might start looking for a decent flash unit if I can convince myself it would be usable on a manual setting with my little pocket camera.

I had a little too much buoyancy on the safety stop on the Mackenzie dive and was up to 38 pounds of weight by this one. In retrospect I doubt I was paying enough attention to getting 100% of the air out of my BC on ascent. With my Seaquest Raider it can be difficult to get the last little bit out, and the best option I’ve now found is to invert and use the bottom dump valves. I think this is worth about two pounds of lift which is about 54 cubic inches of air (2 x 1728/64).

Even though the dive maxed out a only 76 feet, we managed 29 minutes bottom time plus a 3 minute safety stop while drawing my tank down to 500 PSI. We were out of the water at 11:20 AM and then on our way back to Victoria where I had a nice lunch and a hot bath to get warm again after spending so long outside in the cold and rain.

vicd2b-sea-star

Diving in Victoria: The Mackenzie March 26, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks.
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March 30th, 2008 was supposed to be a celebration of my mother’s 90th birthday. She’d died a month earlier so the planned get together with all four of her children in Victoria BC didn’t work out. However my two brothers and my sister still found our way to Victoria to scatter her ashes and have all of us together again for the first time in 18 years.

We’d planned to have a big dinner beginning in the early evening, so I had the chance to dive some more in the morning. This time, we met in Sidney, which is 20 minutes or so from Victoria (and is the site of Victoria airport) at the marina where the owner of the Ogden Point Dive Centre had another boat moored. The weather that day was foul – moderate rain and 4 degrees Celsius (39 Fahrenheit), as this wonky photograph taken accidentally from the boat during the surface interval will attest…

vicd2-clouds-and-wx

Being without a car in downtown Victoria, I was fortunate to cop a ride from a diver I’d met the day before, Darren from Red Deer Alberta, who would be my dive buddy, as we were the only two divers on that outing. We both waiting for the owner to show up, and once again he was a bit late, but by 9:30 we were on our way to our first dive, the HMCS Mackenzie.

The Mackenzie was sunk intentionally as an artificial reef in 1995 by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia, who have been quite active in providing great dive sites in various parts of the province, including the recent sinking of a Boeing 737 off Chemainus, BC.

We descended down the shot line to the wreck. Even the line was covered in anemones and other life, so it was hard to find a spot to hold on. Fortunately there was no current to speak of so it wasn’t necessary to grip the line. With the size of the wreck and the rate of air consumption at our depth, which was a maximum of 89’ went we went over the side, we couldn’t explore very much of the wreck. The lack of light also made photography difficult. We spent most of our time near the rails, but went over the deck as well.

vicd2a-slug-and-anemonevicd2a-star-and-anemone

With a little over 10 years on the bottom, the wreck had accumulated an amazing collection of sea life, including Anemones, Sea Stars, Rock Fish, Ling Cod, Crabs (including Hermit Crabs), Sea Slugs, and the odd Urchin.It’s amazing to see the anemones attached directly to the deck of the ship, and emphasizes that they’re animals and not plants which would have a root system. I’ve never seen so many white plumose anemones – they were everywhere.

Quillback Rockfish

Quillback Rockfish

After 25 minutes of bottom time, Darren signaled that he was low on air and we made our way back to the line and returned to the dive boat after a 3 minute safety stop. I still had 1000 PSI left in the tank when I got back on the boat. Even with my dry suit, the cold (7C) water, rain and cool weather made the dive a lot less comfortable than the cold water diving I’ve done in Ontario.

Despite this, I’m glad I went. It is a unique underwater environment, and I’m always glad to have dived wherever I happen to travel. I’m hoping my next visit there will be in the summer though.

Getting old can be a drag March 25, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
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Today is my 54th birthday. This year I’ll be getting certified as an instructor, and hopefully get as far as Master Scuba Diver Trainer before the year is out. I might also get Trimix certified although that may have to wait  another year. It might just take too much time.

So far, I’ve come through life in pretty good health. I’ve done my share of unhealthy living, but I get better and better as I get older, so I have hopes for continued health for some time year.

But you never know what’s around the corner. An old friend of mine who is my age is in hospital with brain tumours. I’m waiting to hear how bad it is but it will be somewhere between a lengthy treatment with uncertain outcome and having a few months to live. It’s very sad but it comes with the territory, and is a sober reminder of what is in store for all of us.

Elisha Kent Kane March 25, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Diving Books and Films.
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I’ve just read the book Race to the polar sea : the heroic adventures and romantic obsessions of Elisha Kent Kane by Ken McGoogan about the life of Elisha Kent Kane and his search for the Franklin Expedition between Baffin Island and Greenland. It was a very interesting story, not only for its descriptions of the voyages, but also of Philadelphia society in the mid-19th century.

I found it to be an entertaining and informative book. Despite his continual ill-health Mr. Kane experienced almost unimaginable adventures and trials, including spending two winters in the arctic without the benefit of the crew, equipment and supplies that his Royal Navy counterparts had at their disposal. He was the first of the northern explorers to adopt Esquimaux (Inuit) survival methods and his relationships with the Greenland Inuit are part of their oral history to this day.

Despite receiving a state funeral in hometown of Philadelphia and his heroic accomplishments, his legend was tarnished after his death by his relationship and secret marriage to a well-known “spirit-rapper”, who puported to communicate with the dead in order to make a living, despite giving up the practice under the influence of Kane. His brother’s refusal to honour his bequest to her resulted in her publishing his love letters in order to survive, damaging his reputation.

While not about diving, this book documents an important part of Canadian, US and English History and is well worth the read. I’m a fan of the period (he died in the same year as the J.C.Morrison sank in Lake Simcoe), and of explorers in general, and I’ll admit that I like novels of Patrick O’Brian, which richly describe the life of British Naval Officers during and after the Napoleonic Wars.

Diving in Victoria: Swordfish Island March 24, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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Saturday March 29, 2008. After Race Rocks, the Ogden Point Dive Centre boat headed off to nearby Swordfish Island. Our surface interval was only 37 minutes, but the dives were only about half an hour each and not that deep (this one to 62 feet) so we were not pushing any limits. In the Caribbean, a dive of the same depth with the same tank would last about twice as long, so the extra equipment, cold water and cold weather really took a toll on our air consumption.

We were told there was a tunnel at a depth of less than 10 feet that led to the other side of the island, which was the best dive. A short swim took us close to that point, where we submerged and sure enough there was a beautifully decorated (by white anemones mostly) tunnel perhaps 20 feet long leading to the other side. We spent about 25 minutes exploring the other side, which was covered in Sea Stars and Anemones, with Greenlings swimming about, before returning back through the tunnel. One of the guys found an Octopus in its lair which it had protected with a pile rocks.

I was glad we were able to find the tunnel again. The entrance was difficult to distinguish amongst all the underwater life. As the tunnel was so shallow I dispensed with the safety stop and surfaced exactly 30  minutes after going in, exiting the chilly 7C water for even more chilly 5C air. The great disappointment of the day was that my camera battery, due to a combination of age and low temperature, didn’t last long into the dive, and I only took 2 fuzzy pictures which aren’t worth posting before it gave up. I have a second battery now (they are a complete ripoff, at about $50 apiece, as they probably cost 50 cents to make over in China) that does much better.

The Dive Centre had convenient fresh water showers, etc. to clean off the equipment. I took it back to the hotel and hung the dry suit up in the shower. The maid told us she was scared of it.

Diving in Victoria: Race Rocks March 23, 2009

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March 29, 2008 was not a warm day, with a high of only 5 degrees Celsius. It was also overcast. I had arranged with Ogden Point Dive Centre for a two-tank dive on both the Saturday and Sunday of that weekend, and headed over there early. Too early, as a matter of fact, as the place was a bit late in opening. I waited around for 20 minutes or so before the owner showed up, being joined by others in the same predicament.

The wait did give some time to inspect the Ogden Point Breakwater, a well known shore dive. Next time I’m there I’m definitely going to try it, although I’ll need to find myself a buddy.  It is 800 metres long with depths to 35 metres (about 115 feet).

The Ogden Point Breakwater

The Ogden Point Breakwater

Once we were in, I set about getting weight (I tried 30 pounds, 6 pounds more than my fresh water weight) and tanks. The dives would be neither particularly deep nor long so Nitrox wasn’t considered. I rarely use Nitrox for single tank dives, although I find it useful occasionally. The next problem I had to deal with was somehow my computer (an Apeks Quantum) had set itself to metric. The guy behind the counter pulled the manual from the Internet and I figured out the right sequence to set it back to Imperial (hold buttons A and B down for 5 seconds while in DIVE mode).

There were 4 divers I think. The boat was trailered right in the parking lot and we got in, then were driven very slowly about half a kilometre to the launching ramp. That was a first for me, but it made sense logistically as we were ready to go as soon as the pickup truck was parked. It was a reasonably long boat ride to Race Rocks, as we were the better part of the way into US waters, heading south from Victoria to Washington State.

Last Canadian Outpost with Washington State in the Background

Last Canadian Outpost with Washington State in the Background

We were in the water at 9:30, which was slightly warmer than the air at 7C (33F). I had my trilaminate dry suit with various fleece things underneath, thick gloves and a hood. The big difference from cold water diving I’d done in the Lake of Ontario was the lack of thermocline. At least here you feel fairly warm on descent and on the safety stop, but there’s no relief in the ocean in winter.

I hadn’t really know what to expect on the dive, and was pleasantly suprised with the abundance of life on the bottom. There were fish, for sure, but the scallops, star fish, and anemones were amazingly plentiful.

A White Plumose Anemone

A White Plumose Anemone

With the cold water, a moderate current, thick gloves and a dry suit, taking pictures wasn’t that easy, and many of them were taken with the subject partially out of the frame. Fortunately some of them turned out pretty well, although this Scallop was just barely in there.

vicd1a-scallop

Scallops look really funny when they’re swimming – opening and closing to propel themselves along in an ungainly fashion.

Starfish surrounded by Sea Urchins

Starfish surrounded by Sea Urchins

There were all kinds of Starfish on the bottom. I’d like to get more information on identifying the various types and their habits. I wonder if they eat the Sea Urchins.

vicd1a-urchin-starfish

I thought this anemone was quite beautiful.

vicd1a-anemone-and-shell

On our safety stop, we were surrounded by Kelp. Our bottom time was a mere 35 minutes, even though we didn’t get deeper than 53 feet. The extra weight and equipment, but especially the cold, increases the rate of breathing quite a lot. It takes practice to get used to it, and this being my first dive in 4 months I was a bit rusty.

vicd1a-kelp