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The Wreck Diving Course, part II July 31, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The second phase of our wreck penetration training was on the Kinghorn, just off shore from the small town of Rockport which is a little bit upriver from Brockville. After the Gaskin, this wreck increases the difficulty level because its deeper (at 95 feet), more enclosed (although there are still plenty of openings in the deck, and gets even darker when silt is present (because of the depth, few opening for the light, and the darker silt due to the fire during the sinking).

I was fortunate that on the Gaskin dive I let Rich use my doubles with the 40 mix. That prevented a wasted fill ($28 in Brockville) as EAN40 is too rich for that depth, and we filled up with 36 at DiveTech (which turned out to be only EAN34 after we measured it), a fabulously well-equipped nearby dive shop. With only 4 students on the wreck we were able to get through it quickly even though each went through twice. To save time, we had all 4 students inside at once on the second dive, but even through there were multiple penetration lines on many of the uprights, even after the silt-out there was little in the way of conflict. My Shearwater Pursuit, set to conservative gradient factors, gave me a little bit of deco time on each of the two dives, which lasted about 40 minutes. Curiously, one of those schedules was only at 20 feet.

Rich decided to switch to a dry suit for these dives. The boat had to tie to the buoy at the bow rather than the stern this time, so we had to use a tag line to pull ourselves upriver to the buoy which was attached by a sturdy line wreck. I had gone first and didn’t find out until later that the extra drag of the dry suit in the moving water had tired him out and he wisely decided to call the dive.

Rory was my first student. I though he would tie at the entrance where I’d seen a convenient spot, but he decided to use the rail well away from the entry point. I descended through the large hatchway feet first so I could watch him enter, but he decided to enter the same way, which is not as clean as a head first entry. Dave was signaling to me furiously and I didn’t understand until we surfaced that he wanted me to be much more decisive in letting the students know where to tie the line and to do a head first penetration. Despite all this, they successfully ran from one end to the other and returned safely and with lots of air left.

On the second dive, Rich managed his energy better so all four of us arrived at the wreck together. I was now emphatically directing the students, and the penetration went well. Dave and I took two students with me leading and Dave in the back. I kept them apart from the other pair of students coming in the other direction and it all worked very well in spite of the crowd.

On the return leg of that dive, my job was to stir up as much silt as possible, but also to monitor the divers in the near zero visibility conditions. The silt in the Kinghorn is very heavy, and it some effort to create an almost total blackout. Fortunately I found an area where it was about 6 inches deep which made it easy to grab big handfuls and throw it around. By staying slightly above the students after that, I could see way more than they could, making for a perfect setup where I could keep track of them easily, see the exits clearly, while they couldn’t see a thing most of the time and had to rely on their penetration lines.

Back on the boat, there were big smiles all around from divers who were deservedly proud of successfully pushing their own limits.

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