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Almost Perfect Dive on the Arabia August 24, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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The second dive of our visit to Tobermory on August 15th, 2009 was better than the previous dive of the same day on the Forest City. The three technical divers, Rich, Andrew and me entered the water first and quickly descended to the concrete block positioned off the starboard bow. After crossing over to the wreck, we rounded the bow just under the long jib boom, which protrudes far beyond the deck and is one of its most prominent features.

Heading sternward on the port side at around 100′, I looked at my computer for the first time and it read “High PPO2”. Instantly realizing what was going on, I switched the active gas over to my back gas, as it was still set to my deco mix of EAN50. This is something I have to remember about the Shearwater Pursuit that is different from my Apeks Quantum. The Quantum will revert to “Mix 1” at the beginning of a dive, while the Pursuit will remain on the last gas used. I thought for a while about how I would handle my decompression obligation, if any, after having the first 5 minutes of the dive miscalculated. I decided that I would slow my ascent, switching over to EAN50 as soon as possible on ascent, leave the computer on its air setting for the ascent, make a safety stop, and not exceed my buddies’ own deco schedules. Having decided on that plan, I continued with the others.

When we got to the stern, I noticed a long mast heading almost straight back (a little toward port) going off into the distance. It looked to be about a foot (30cm) in diameter, and at the end I could see another pole or perhaps a line leading away from it. I learned later that this is an alternate descent point to the Arabia and what I’d seen at the end of the pole was indeed a line. An impressive sight and definitely a testament to the wonderful visibility we had that day.

The other highlight was when we got back near the bow. There are two large anchors easily seen on either side of the deck, leaning against the side rails in the same position as they were before the ship went down. Between them there is a large windlass. I had heard there was a third anchor somewhere on the wreck and I signalled to Andrew to ask him if he knew where it was. He didn’t, but he looked around for a bit and noticed it nestled on the deck amongst some other equipment, hidden in plain sight. Once you knew to look in the right place for it, the anchor shape was quite clear. Unfortunately Rich once again had cold hands and missed it because he left early.

After that, with 27 minutes bottom time Andrew and I made an ascent totalling 9 minutes to the surface, most of which breathing EAN50. With Andrew’s computer clear and a conservative ascent, I was satisfied that I’d decompressed sufficiently to exit the water, which at the bottom was only 6C (42F). After the dive, I noticed the CNS clock on my computer at 129%, so actually diving to that depth on EAN50 is definitely not advisable.

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