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Off and on the wagon April 30, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Fitness and Nutrition.
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No, not that wagon. I don’t drink a lot these days. I’m talking about exercise. For almost a year I was really disciplined exercising 6-7 times a week, except on diving days, but when I went to Cozumel I fell out of the habit having spent 2 weeks on the beach and under the water. When I got back there was a recovery time where I didn’t exercise and I lost the momentum completely, exercising about once a week. While I tried to get back in the groove, driving nonstop to Florida killed it once again.

This week though, thanks mostly to the encouragement of my wife, I’m back at it. I have to report how hard it is to bring myself up to the level I was at, especially with running. I think for every week I’ve taken off it will take about a month to restore things to former levels. It just goes to show how fleeting cardiovascular fitness is, and how much dedication it takes to keep it going.

Travel is always the problem. It disrupts sleep and makes it hard to motivate myself to get up a little earlier (I’m talking 4:45 here, vs. 5:30 on weekdays) to fit the workout in. Every time I take a trip I have to struggle to get back at it. On the other hand, I feel so much better when I’m fit that I am determined to take the time to get back to my February levels.


Deep Dive Planning #2 April 29, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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This is actually in reverse order as I described the plan for dive #2 yesterday, but I’ve obtained the dive plan for Oriskany Dive #1, and combined it with the plot from my computer into a chart of the dive. The excursion below planned depth is quite apparent at the 6 minute mark, as is the quick recovery. We’d originally planned to go to the sponson below the tower on the starboard side, which turned out to be at 180 feet rather than the 170 that the final plan called for. The error, I think, was both in the execution and the planning of the dive. The final plan wasn’t determined until we were almost at the site, and turned out to be a compromise between differing objectives. We also paired into buddy teams at the last minute, further confusing the situation. I had done my original plan to 180, and couldn’t let go of the idea of descending to the sponson. There was nothing to see outside the wreck at the planned depth of 170 and no reason to be there. As you can see from the graph we were at 140 feet shortly afterward which is a little above deck level.

Other than cutting the corner off the ascent to 100 feet by ascending to slowly, and being a minute late going to deco depths, we were pretty close to plan. Maybe not close enough but with a computer also providing information on the dive, a very conservative profile and a final safety stop at 15′, I’m satisfied that we were on the safe side. On the other hand if we were to venture into more aggressive dives we’d be well advised to stick closer to the plan.

Deep Dive Planning April 28, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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The best of plans can go awry, some by a little, some by a lot. Other than the extra 2 minutes at depth, a result of not being able to find the way into the escalator and compensated by shortening the next segment of the dive, I thought we were pretty close to our plan. Well pretty close is right, but not by any means on it.

I’ve charted both the plan and the log of the Oriskany Dive #2, which I described in this blog a few days ago. The blue line is the actual dive (painstakingly recorded from the dive profile on my Apeks Quantum, which spits out a new number every second representing 30 second intervals of the dive), while the black line is the plan.

The first part I expected, we had a slower descent than planned. I warned the others that this would be the case when we planned the dive, as it always takes a little time to go through the bubble checks and we never rocket down to depth (well, hardly ever), but you can see we’re almost 8 minutes into the dive before we start the descent down the escalator from 150 to a maximum depth of 172. We had planned to assemble at 100 and then 3 minutes into the dive go down the escalator, so at this point we were 5 minutes behind schedule. Given that there were 5 of us, and none of us had done this tour before, it was inevitable that we’d be late.

Then you can see that we were about 2.5 minutes behind getting back to the deck of the ship, and above our next planned depth of 150′. After that we were pretty good. We were again late on our ascent to our deco stops by about 2 minutes. Now the dive plan as shown ignore ascent time, which would have added 5 minutes to the dive, so I can account for some of that there, but at 40 feet we’re considerably behind and I’m not sure why. One theory I have is that my watch lost time – I missed my train from work on the first day back and found my normally precise watch (1 second a month) had lost 3 minutes. I think there may be a problem with it under high pressure, even though it’s rated to 200 metres.

The stops also really look unsteady. They were crowded and I was constantly repositioning myself but I think I can still do better. Obviously more practice is required. Fortunately both the gas plan and the computer were conservative so I had a very extended deco courtesy of the computer, and still arrived with almost half my back gas remaining.

I don’t have the dive plan for dive #1 although I’m trying to get it from one of the other divers. I’d like to see how that one went.

PADI Diving Knowledge Examination April 26, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
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I’ve spent the last several hours going through the questions and reviewing the materials. The next  step is to finish everything on PADI standards, which runs through everything from Bubblemaker to Divemaster and all the specialties. The actual exam will be open book (or for me, open computer as I’ll be using the electronic version of the instructor manual). I highly recommend using a computer for this as it is really quick when you use the search function to find anything you want. I might even install Google Desktop to make it even easier.

One thing I noticed is that the eRDPml comes up with different answers to a couple of the problems than does the Wheel. I’m sure it was just one pressure group out, which is easy enough to have happen on an analog device like the Wheel. I presume the exam itself will be updated accordingly.

I still like using the tables. One of the questions in the practice exam described 3 dives, and asked for the total duration (i.e. calculate the required surface intervals and safety stops). Cool question and fun to do.

The eRDPml also doesn’t do Nitrox (I suppose the eRDPml-EAN will come out next year some time). Just like tables, you could use EAD (equivalent air depth) with the eRDPml to plan a Nitrox dive, and the 5′ depth increments would mean less rounding up than with tables although it would still be more (unnecesarily) conservative than if the computer handled Nitrox internally.

The OWSI course starts in less than 2 weeks. I will be ready.

eRDPml Mastery April 26, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment.
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OK, so it’s not a big deal. PADI designed the thing to be easy to use, but as a future instructor I need to make it my business to know it inside and out. Now I do. I just spent the last 2 hours reading the instructions from cover to cover and doing all the exercises. It is much simpler than The Wheel, although for my own diving I use either a dive computer or make custom tables on my laptop.

The eRDPml (electronic recreational dive planner – multi level) replaces the eRDP and The Wheel, as well as the standard dive tables, although the latter is still useful if you want to take it underwater, as neither eRDP is submersible. If you’re not a diver and you’re reading this, these tools are used to calculate how much time you can spend at specific depths without running undue risk of getting the bends (you always run some risk of the bends, but the incidence is extremely low if the guidelines are followed).

The eRDP will calculate your NDL on repetitive dives, the required surface interval for a second or third dive, or the maximum depth for a give time on repetitive dives. The eRDPml adds the capability of being able to do these for multilevel dives, giving credit for shallower portions of the dive instead of assuming the entire dive is at the maximum depth.

Next is to finish all the knowledge reviews in the instructor workbook to be ready for the open water scuba instructor training in two weeks.

I also paid my money to confirm my spot on the August dive club trip to Tobermory. Forest City, Arabia and Niagara II here we come.


Diving the Oriskany – Day 2 April 24, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving.
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The weather was significantly improved by the second day with warm temperature and clear skies. We picked up our doubles at MBT divers and headed out to the Marina to load up the boat. Brad and Ken had decided not to dive that day. I supposed I’ll find out why later but at that point all I knew was they’d decided to give it a miss, along with Jesse who ended up not diving either day. Rich wasn’t feeling well, so only 9 passengers set out that day with the captain and crew of the H20 Below for another trip to the Mighty O.

Mike had used two Apeks Quantum computers the day before, but in the evening one of them stopped working completely, in a very similar way to one of the ones I used to have. It was the older of the two (like mine) and continues the pattern of these computers having a limited lifetime.

The trip out was much more pleasant than the day before, with waves only about half as high. We spent the first half hour watching the Blue Angels, who make their home in Pensacola, practice their aerobatic display along the coast. There were 6 airplanes flying, and while 5 of them were in formation we lost sight of the other one. Next thing we knew the 6th plane buzzed (ok he was probably at least 500 feet) our boat from bow to stern. Most of us were facing astern and the high speed of the plane ensured we didn’t hear anything until it was almost overhead. Way cool.

Blue Angels in the distance as we head out

Blue Angels in the distance as we head out

The rest of the trip was spent planning the dive and preparing the gear. Our plan was to drop down a little past the top of the tower at 100 feet, then to deck of the carrier at 150′ and proceed through the middle door of 3 situated in the tower on the port side. The tower is on the starboard side of the ship so these doors face toward the deck. Through the door is a small room, with another door on the opposite wall. Through that door is an escalator leading down toward the hangar deck going toward the stern. At the bottom, a left turn leads outside to the starboard side of the ship, while turning right goes down a few steps and into the hangar, where we planned the maximum depth at 180 feet.

The plan then called for us to swim across the hangar to a large opening where one of the aircraft elevators was situated, ascend to the flight deck level, and swim back to the tower and look around for a bit at 150. We were then to proceed up and explore the navigation and/or flag bridges at or above 135 feet, before ascending to decompression depths. Dave was to lead the dive with Pete and Andrew following, and Mike and I in the rear.

Even when the boat stopped there was no appreciable nauseating movement, so getting ready and into the water was a breeze. This time I entered with the deco tank already attached and slipped down with Dave to 100 feet shortly afterwards. Pete and Mike were waiting there and while Dave headed down to the deck quickly I stopped for a minute to take a few pictures of the other divers. Dave gave me the hurry up sign so we all dropped down to the deck at 150. On the way I tied my digital camera to a rail because it was only rated to 130 feet. I’d thought about exceeding it’s maximum depth but thought the better of it. It took us longer that we’d planned to find the room. The first problem was that there were more than 3 doors, so picking the middle one wasn’t a simple as it looked on the diagram (is it ever?). The other problem was that it was set it my mind that the door in the opposite wall would be directly opposite the entry way, while in reality it was towards the right. If you go there, look for a small room (maybe 8×10) that has a door on the opposite wall near the wall on the right.

Mike descending from the 100' meeting point

Mike descending from the 100' meeting point

We all went through the door without problems, and even though I was fourth all the divers had great buoyancy control and things hadn’t been stirred up. I’m glad to report that Mike, who was fifth, reported the same thing so I can also give credit to myself. It was a great little tour down the escalator, and we got to the bottom it was reassuring to see the light coming in from the opening on the left. We turned right and went down the stairs to the door for the hangar deck and to my surprise there were a bunch of orange cables hanging across the entrance way. This of course immediately raised caution signals in my head but I soon realized that they weren’t really in the way, and that some of the team were already through without incident. I remember thinking that noone told us about them, which I thought was strange.

Andrews descends toward the flight deck

Andrew descends toward the flight deck

Reassured by the sight of the opening on the opposite side of the ship, we swam through marveling at the view. My new UK C8 LED Plus light illuminated the inside quite well, although only a bit at a time. If I’d taken notes I might have recalled some things about what I saw on the inside but I suspect that I only have a general impression of what was there due to the effects of narcosis. That impression, however, was great – it was a lot of fun looking around inside and I wish we’d had more time. The water temperature inside was 20C (68F).

Deepstop at the back of the tower

Deepstop at the back of the tower (note the new mask)

The dive plan beckoned, and due to the delay we were late leaving our maximum depth by about 2 minutes. Our delay wasn’t catastrophic though, because it had occurred while looking for the entrance at our planned depth for the next phase of the dive, so by returning to our scheduled run time for this segment we made up for the extra time. In any case I didn’t go deeper than 172 feet, and I don’t think the others did either. We looked around the tower taking some more pictures. I noticed everyone was well above the planned depth which was too bad as I wanted to look around the navigation bridge, but I had to stay with the team. The final 10 minutes ran out quickly and we ascended for the long decompression of about 40 minutes.

Barracuda lounge on the tower

Barracuda lounge on the tower

Like the day before, I used a Jon line for the last deco stop. This trip was the first time I’d used one and it was definitely a great help on a crowded stop. About half way through the deco the direction of the current moved almost 90 degrees and the temperature dropped slightly, portending the changing conditions above.

Damsel fish makes its home in the wreck

Damsel fish makes its home in the wreck

When we got back on the boat the seas had grown, and we had to be careful not to hurt ourselves on the ladder. I climbed back on with the deco bottle still attached. Despite the rougher seas, I felt great through the whole trip and even had some of the forbidden hot dogs (I never eat hot dogs, these were probably my first in more than 20 years) on the way home.

Oriskany's Number - 34. Note size of door between the digits

Oriskany's Number - 34. Note size of door between the digits

It was bumpy though. At one point we hit a wave about twice as high as the other which slammed me on the floor. While I was getting up we hit another and one of the crew landed on my foot and came close to breaking my big toe. It swelled up later making me thankful for the cruise control on the drive home. Even that couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I helped myself to another hot dog, laughed off the pain, and kept talking about the dive. I recalled a thing I’d read on the wall of the lobby of the hotel attributed to the US Marines that said “Pain is weakness leaving the body”.

Daving just hanging out on deco

Dave just hanging out on deco

The boat’s divemaster, Rich, was surprised to hear about the dangling cables. He said they’d been attached to the ceiling and must have come loose recently. He’s dived the wreck over 200 times and knows what it’s about. We’re just beginning, and I hope before too long I can go back for longer to explore it more thoroughly, although it would take years to see the whole thing.

After one stop for food and another at the dive shop, we were quickly underway for our trip back to Canada, and less than 19 hours later, at 10:30AM on Wednesday, we were home.

Overall, I’d give the trip an A+ based mostly on this second dive, although I can’t complain about the first – it was just getting there and back which was the problem. It was definitely a great experience. Despite the expense, long drive, seasickness, sore toe, and lost gear (a hat, a dive light and a library book), it was well worth the while and a real adventure. Living the dream, man. I’d also give an A+ to the dive shop, boat operator and crew. They struck the right balance between helpful and letting us do our own thing.

I used a bunch of new equipment, including new fins, my primary light and the Scubapro Spectra mask. They all worked great and I didn’t notice the mask, which is all I could ask for- both comfortable and transparent.

Here’s the decompression schedule using Buhlmann ZHL-16B algorithm with 30/85 gradient factors, which provided a good deal of conservatism. The gas rate was purposely set high to be conservative enough for the less experienced technical divers.

Left side on Air, Right side for EAN50

Left side on Air, Right side for EAN50

Depth Time O2% Start End PPO2 Gas Rate Gas Reqd GF% MVal% CNS% OTU’s
100 3 21 2 3 0.85 0.8 13 0 16 1 1.35
180 7 21 4 11 1.36 0.8 41 0 14 5 13.84
150 10 21 12 22 1.17 0.8 49 0 35 11 27.94
135 10 21 23 33 1.07 0.8 49 0 44 15 39.67
70 1 21 35 36 0.66 0.7 2 30 68 15 41.69
60 1 50 36 38 1.42 0.7 4 46 73 16 43.44
50 2 50 38 40 1.26 0.7 4 54 77 17 46.78
40 3 50 40 43 1.11 0.7 6 61 81 19 50.73
30 4 50 44 48 0.96 0.7 5 69 84 20 54.78
20 26 50 48 74 0.81 0.7 29 77 87 26 72.17
0 74 85 93

Diving the USS Oriskany, Day 1 April 22, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving.
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Monday April 20, 2009 we arrived at MDT Divers at 7:30 AM to get our instructions, mostly the directions to the boat. A 10 minute drive got us there as Captain Douglas, the other Captain Douglas and Divemaster Rich from the H20 Below assisted us in getting our gear loaded and then signed the customary waivers, although this one included our dive plan which they require for technical divers. Shortly after 8:30 we were under way, heading through a shallow channel towards the open water.

Looking back at Pensacola

Looking back at Pensacola

The trip out the USS Ex-Oriskany took 2 hours – a little longer than it sometimes is because of the heavy load on the boat of large male divers and technical gear. The waves were 4′ and about 7 seconds apart, just enough to give me a slightly uneasy feeling in my stomach but no real issues. The seasickness started when the boat stopped at the wreck and we started putting on our gear. About half the divers were sick, including me when I lost it trying to get geared up. I felt a little better after that but by no means well, and it was a real effort to get the rest of the gear on and get into the water.

Getting ready to dive

Getting ready to dive

Once I was off the boat though, I felt better. The crew handed my down my deco bottle (an AL80 filled with EAN58)  and it clipped on easily with the D-ring changed from behind the pocket where I’d had it on previous dives to the front. We were diving as a group but also had paired off into buddy teams. Pete and I descended to the tower at about 80 feet and dropped down over the flag and navigation bridges to the sponson on below the flight deck level. We briefly exceeded 180 feet but only looked around for a minute or two before ascending to more reasonable depths.

Leaving sheltered waters for the open sea

Leaving sheltered waters for the open sea

At one point Pete noticed sea urchins falling from above. Mike had noticed how easily they come off the rail and sent some raining down on us. After looking around on the starboard side of the wreck we headed back to the bridges for a quick look around. The dive plan was catching up with us and we had to ascend fairly soon to 100′ which we did. I penetrated several small rooms at about that depth. Pete indicated he was going to follow me in but when I looked out an opening to the outside he was there looking in at me.

So far, so good

Pete & Dave - so far, so good

The opening wasn’t big enough for me due to an obstruction in front of the door,  so I signalled Pete that I was coming out the way I came in and he met me there. He told me later that he couldn’t fit through the opening. He has the same setup as me and isn’t a huge guy so I think it may have to do with the positioning of his lower D-ring. If it was set up the way I used to have mine, it might have hung wide instead being tucked below the body. In the underwater pictures I’ll post for dive #2 you can see how far from his body the bottom of the tank sits.

We spent a little more time at the top of the tower before ascending the line for our decompression. My computer agreed fairly well with the tables (except the computer doesn’t include deep stops – so I used the tables but made sure the computer was clear). Due to the swells we did the last stop at 20′ instead of 10′. There’s not much penalty for doing this  (around 3 minutes in this case) when using accelerated decompression on Nitrox 50 or more, but on air it can take much, much longer.

The ride back was awful. I felt sick the whole way but at least I didn’t throw up again. The best I could do was lie down on the bench. The boat was operated in a very professional manner and we were all pleased with the helpfulness and diligence of the crew. Their advice on the dive planning was invaluable and we struck a good balance between adventure and common sense. We were back at 3pm to my great relief.

Unloading - Glad to be back on Terra Firma

Unloading - Glad to be back on Terra Firma

I didn’t take any underwater pictures. I tried. My digital camera which took the surface photos has a housing which is depth rated to only 130′, so I took an old Nikonos IV but it didn’t work. Worse still, when I was unpacking my gear the back popped open and ruined the film. I give up. My retro photography experiment is officially over!

Bottom time for the dive was 48 minutes, with an additional 40 minutes of ascent and deco on EAN58. The temperature at the bottom was 19C (67F) and 21C on deco, which was reasonably comfortable in a 6.5mm wet suit with a hood. Current was moderate, waves were a decent size. I noticed urchins, sea cucumbers and plentiful barracuda.

Road Trip to the Oriskany April 20, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Shipwrecks.
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Just after 2pm on Saturday I picked Mike up at his house (in Aurora, North of Toronto) after collected my tanks at the dive shop. With the back end of the car hanging a bit low and the steering a bit lighter than usual we headed down Highway 400, on to the 407W, then onto the 401W. Mike brought along a Magellan GPS unit which has proved useful throughout the whole trip. While we could navigate easily enough with the Mapquest directions, going through a complex series of interchanges dead tired in a strange city in the middle of the night with your navigator fast asleep is so much easier when you have the infallible voice of the computer telling you when the turns are coming up.

It also proved useful when we missed a detour sign in Detroit and needed to find our way back to the highway, and in Windsor when Mike noticed he’d forgotten a prescription and we were searching for a pharmacy.

Thankfully, US customs and immigration were not interested in the contents of our tanks. All 13 of us made it through without having to submit to costly and time-consuming visual inspection for which I am thankful. We were asked for something along the lines of a letter of invitation from the dive operator (which we had) and also asked how we had come to know each other (dive club).

It was an exceedinly long journey, taking 20 hours door to door. Some of us made it quicker than that but we hardly stopped and drove just a little bit over the limit on cruise control just about all of the way, so I’d say our time was reasonable. We were glad to see the motel (Suburban in Pensacola, near MBT divers, reasonably priced and with free Internet access) being both dog-tired. We had breakfast with the divers who’d arrived before us, and grabbed a couple of hours sleep.

There was some talk about trying to go for a dive in Vortex Springs at 1pm (we’d gained an hour because the Florida Panhandle is on Central time) but the organizers baled out. Instead, we went to the Naval Aviation Museum which was wonderful, and it even had free admission and parking! The inventory of historical aircraft they have there is simply amazing, and I really liked that they employed retired veterans to act as guides. Occasionally one would wander up to us and start telling stories about flying in the aircraft.

Mike examines the anchor in front of the museum

Mike examines the anchor in front of the museum

That was it for the day. I needed sleep badly and retired early as we’d been told to be at the dive shop at 7:30 AM to get ready for the next day. They were a little uncertain about the sea conditions as they had been rough on Sunday.

Diving the Munson in Lake Ontario April 19, 2009

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The first real dive club trip of the 2008 season was  on July 5th to Kingston, Ontario, situated near the source of the mighty St. Lawrence River where it meets Lake Ontario. Most of my fellow divers drove up the night before, and some even earlier to get some extra dives in, but I chose to drive up early in the morning so I could spend the night at home. My wife, a non-diver, likes to have me home, so I have to spend my goodwill judiciously, and only go overnight when I really have to.

One great place to stay at least once in your life when visiting Kingston is the ship Alexander Henry. There are a variety of ship’s cabins available from the regular seaman through to the captain’s quarters. Some of the club members spent the night there.

I met the boat in the plenty of time and loaded my gear. We were diving three wrecks in one day to reduce the trip expense, so I had borrowed an extra tank from the dive shop. The three tanks were filled with Nitrox, and for the Munson which was supposed to be at 115 feet I used EAN32. By 9:30AM my buddy for the day Mike Chadwick and I were heading into the depths to the wreck. It was a fine 25C (79F) day.

I took the Nikonos again. I’d taken the lens hood off so I could see the numbers and had no problem with that. However, I couldn’t get the exposure meter to work so I took no pictures. There is a red light in the viewfinder that is supposed to come on when it is on, and I didn’t see it. I have no idea way as when I tried it again later it seemed to work fine.

This was also my opportunity to test my new computer – another Apeks Quantum. I was pleased to see that the two computers were very much in agreement. The depth readings were about 8″ apart at 30′, and 4″ apart at 100′. Someone asked me later how I could say their agreement was within 4″ when the display is in feet but not inches. It’s quite easy. All you do is move your arm through the water column and see when the computer ticks over by a foot, and how much more it takes to make the other computer do the same thing. For time and NDL, the computers were in almost perfect agreement, with the NDL never varying by more than a minute throughout the entire dive. Too bad the older one broke a few months later.

The Munson was a dredging barge, basically a 2-storey platform, which sank while being towed to Belleville Ontario and lies in 110 feet of water off Lemoine Point. The dredging arm and bucket are still there, and make for an interesting dive. As it is in Lake Ontario, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, there is a constant thermocline in the summer, unlike the city of Brockville downriver, which can be 20C (68F) or more all the way to the bottom. For me, this was definitely dry suit, hood and thick gloves temperature, reading 5C (41F) on the bottom despite the 25C (77F) weather outside.

The interior of the Munson has various artefacts, although I can admit to not noticing much of it during our brief foray inside. A fairly deep dive with single tanks and a variety of skills levels calls for prudence, so we only took the simplest and most straightforward swim-through penetration of the lower level. Having already done a fair bit of diving, my air consumption was good, and we reached our NDL after about 20 minutes and were back on the boat after a slow ascent and safety stop with 1200 PSI. My estimate of the visibility was more than50 feet.

I’m looking forward to visiting this wreck again, although with the busy diving schedule this summer, it may have to wait until 2010.

Instructor training meeting April 18, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
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The class of future instructors (Steve, Jim, Matt, Marty, Andrew and a young lady who I’d not met before, Kelly, who was being chaperoned by her dad) met on Thursday night. Ed, our Course Director, ran us through the things we needed to know, especially the course dates. It’s a bigger commitment than I’d originally thought, as the follow-on MSDT prep training is two more weekends, including one in Brockville. Mind you, going to Brockville can hardly be called a chore but I have other non-diving obligations to think of.

He explained that the diving part of the course is similar to AI, except that prescriptive teaching instead of microteaching is used (as an aside, he said that the microteaching approach isn’t mentioned again until Course Director training, except, I presume, when you’re training new assistant instructors).

There’s also a bunch of new materials to buy, including slates. I’ve not found much value in the slates I own so far, but I’m hopeful that these, which represent a fair investment, will be more useful as they will help me remember all the skills that need to be taught.

The MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) section will include 5 specialties and 6 dives over two days (the part in Brockville). We have to take Enriched Air and Oxygen Provider. I was definitely going to do Enriched Air as this is a path to technical instruction, and Oxygen Provider can’t hurt. So I have to pick three more.

I was discussing which ones to take with Jim, and I said that Deep, Wreck and Dry Suit were the ones that I was most interested in. He pointed out that dry suits aren’t needed in Brockville, while boat diving and drift diving are the norm. However, I think that Deep, Wreck and Dry Suit are more sought after, and of course Deep is another path to technical diving instruction, so those are my choices. I’ll have to pick up the others later, which is easy enough after getting MSDT. It will be much faster to get the MSDT rating if I’m able to also teach specialties, especially in conjunction with dive club trips.

The annual wreck course in Brockville is an obvious candidate for this, as instruction is limited to technical divers who are comfortable with doubles and stage bottles. So aside from Brad, who doesn’t need any more certs, it will probably be divided up between me and Andrew, as the other guys haven’t done their Tec Deep course yet. All this is speculation though, who knows how it will turn out?

I found out at the club meeting that crossover to SDI Instructor from PADI can be done on-line with some study and a test (and US $399). I can’t see the value right now but maybe I will later. I would definitely like to do some additional technical training and the sister organizationTDI might be an option for that.

Before the classes start in my, I need to complete the knowledge reviews. I have most of them done already. I finally sprung for an eRDPml. This replaces the eRDP, which is a little calculator that embodies the PADI Repetitive Dive Planner (a.k.a. the “tables”) in a small calculator. The eRDPml is the same, but has multilevel planning and uses 5 foot rather than 10 foot increments, equivalent to the “Wheel”, a circular slide rule device. I’m glad the wheel is obsolete this year and I can use the calculator. It’s much easier.

I’ll write something up on the eRDPml once I’ve gone through it thoroughly. Next stop is Pensacola, and I’ll be twittering on the way down and will update the blog once I get there after my 19 hour road trip.

Speaking of twitter, I’ve installed a twitter client called Twitterberry on my Blackberry Curve just for this trip, so I can tweet while mobile. I had trouble with it at first, but realized after a while that I was holding down the Alt key instead of Shift when entering my password. As passwords echo as asterisks (*), the mistake wasn’t obvious. So now I can twitter to my heart’s content.