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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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