jump to navigation

Diving in the News, Sept 29, 2012 September 29, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Emergencies, Miscellany.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

OK I get it I think. The son of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, also called Eugene, is a diver. His project cleaned up trash from the L.A. River and made art about it. Good publicity and awareness I think but not my thing. Not that I’m not for cleaning up the bottom of our inland waterways, and not that getting public awareness is bad, and the sculpture they created is actually pretty good. So OK, I like it…. I guess.

Paris Hilton scuba dives. Lately in Maui according to Twitter. Perhaps I’ll run into her on a dive boat some time.

You can now go scuba diving in the virtual world with Google who have mapped the coral reefs in Google Earth, but c’mon now, get up off the couch and do something real, for Pete’s sake.

Speaking of Los Angeles, there were some more older diver deaths this week. A 59 year-old woman died near Anacapa Island, which is about 150km North West of Santa Catalina Island where I dove several years ago. Also reported was a 55 year-old ex-Mountie who died in Alberta. The accident may have begun with an equipment failure. A 45 year-old diver in La Jolla, California died. It seems he was diving alone. Another 45 year-old diver from Wichita Falls died diving in the Roi-Namur, in the Marshall Islands Kwajalein Atoll.

A 35 year-old Oregon woman drowned after surfacing from a dive, only 50 feet from shore. She was out of air, but on the surface. We all have two options that don’t require air. One is to drop the weight belt, and the other is to orally inflate the buoyancy compensator. Maybe more training is needed on these skills. OK if you’re a tech diver you generally can’t drop a weight belt, but then again you shouldn’t run out of air, either.

I was somewhat shocked that a couple had to close their diving business in the Ozarks because of the planned dumping of mining waste containing lead in the pristine lake they used for dive training. What a shame. It says here that this was done under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the Atlantic in Cornwall, England, a diver found a camera underwater and discovered that the chip holding the photos was intact. The (non-waterproof) camera had 800 family photos and once the story got out, it was reunited with the owners. That story reminds me of how I was involved in connecting the underwater memorial for Maureen Matous with the family who’d lost it in Cozumel several years ago.

Justin Timberlake is afraid of sharks, but Jessica Biel helped him overcome his fear. She probably have that effect on me as well.’

That’s all for this week. Let’s be careful out there and don’t dive beyond your experience and training unless you’re with a qualified instructor.

Diving in the News, Week Ending September 22, 2012 September 22, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Miscellany.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I’ve been thinking that I’d like to dive some of the wrecks off the South Carolina coast some time. I’ll try to remember not to use Coastal Scuba, though, based on the articles I’ve read about a recent fatality. If it wasn’t so tragic some of this would be funny, especially the report of an employee throwing the only non-empty Oxygen bottle overboard because he thought it might blow up. While the reports of the company’s actions on board the boat allege they were frozen in inaction, they have been quick to send their clients threatening letters from their lawyers, according to one report. A pair of registered nurses who tried to revive the woman apparently had to “bark” at the boat captain to get him to call the Coast Guard.

A diver died in Cape Breton last Sunday, which was also reported by the CBC. Cape Breton is part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. He was part of a group of 10 and 56 years old, and was determined to be missing when they left the water. I wonder who his buddy was. It seems, although I don’t have stats, that deaths amount divers 50 years and older (like me) are due to medical problems.

Diving in the News – week ending September 15th, 2012 September 15, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Ecology, Miscellany.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

There are about 100,000 divers in China. Not that many considering the population. I enjoyed this WSJ article about diving a sunken part of the Great Wall of China. The water is green and visibility only 3′. Sounds like places I’ve been in Canada. One thing I noticed was that Pauli Husa needs a shorter inflator hose. It sticks out too much and will probably catch on something. From his LinkedIn profile I see he’s also a ham radio operator like me.

The US and Canada have agreed on measures to protect the Great Lakes, which has been praised by environmental groups. My father was an environmental engineer, although he dealt mostly with air pollution. He had a very pragmatic approach to his profession, and pragmatism is needed in environmental matters because there are so many variables and interests to balance.

Here’s some praise for the GoPro camera. Unfortunately, for most of the diving that I do the ambient light is much less than your average dive in Cozumel, and the low-light performance of the GoPro is terrible. I hope some day there’s a low-light version because I really like them otherwise.

I’ve only been back at the blog for about 10 days but have encountered the first report of a diver fatality.  The diver was 66 years old. No matter what shape we’re in, as we get older there’s a certain risk of having a medical issue under water. A medical issue anywhere is more likely, I suppose, but under water the chance of rescue and resuscitation are considerably less. Concentration of skills can help that by reducing the effort of diving, but sometimes you’ve got to go all out under water to rescue someone else. I suppose that means as you get older you should make sure you dive with people who know how to keep themselves out of trouble. That’s easier said than done.

The ice is melting in the Arctic and David Suzuki has spoken up about it recently. An interesting tidbit in the article is how the Republicans ignore warning about global warming except to mock the scientists who bring it up. Politics, a profession dominated by lawyers, is rife with advocacy over truth. Each side will argue what it believes will serve the usually short-term vested interests of its constituency to the point of outright lying, as many recent articles about U.S. vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan have revealed (whose response of course is to attack the reporters, which may well be justified in some cases). My grade 11 chemistry teacher, Mr. Newman, was fond of saying that in science, 1/2 of what you believe to be true will be invalid in 10 years. That doesn’t make science wrong, it is in fact its greatest strength in the search for truth. So when politicians mock scientists because some were worried about a new ice age in the 70’s, I believe they know full well that they’re in fact making a mockery of the truth. At least I live well above sea level. Later, another article talks about being able to sail the Northwest Passage due to the lack of sea ice.

A few years ago I addressed an audience in Vancouver about “green” technology companies, in which I appeared right after the president of the David Suzuki foundation. Someone in the audience asked me what my company was doing about it, and I told them we were encouraging telecommuting and shrinking our office space, and that our downtown location encouraged people to use public transit. Someone else asked me if I thought the world would actually address the global warming issue. My reply was along the lines of “no, we are going to dig up all the oil and burn it, then we are going to start burning our crops as well to supply our energy needs”.

There’s not really much I can add to this article and video about a frisky male dolphin making advances on diver. Warning there’s explicit scenes in this video, at least if your a dolphin .

Some diver deaths in the news this week. A 66 year-old Palm Beach man died while on a routine dive. An off-duty policeman Cayman Islands policeman also died while diving.

Changing Attitudes to Deep Air September 13, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Technical Diving.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Some day I’ll get trimix certified. I’ll probably try it out before I do so (if that’s shocking remember that someone had to be the first to try recreational trimix, and they certainly weren’t certified for it). When diving the Jodrey recently we discussed using normoxic trimix instead of air. We didn’t end up doing it, partly because not everyone could reasonably put up the money for a $150 fill. Still, as the owner of Dive Tech said, “it’s like diving two different wrecks” and as I push to greater depths I’m starting to cross what is a very fuzzy line between what is reasonable and what is not. Perhaps I’m already past it. I think that the narco stop concept has reduced some of the risks, but I still know that my reactions are slowed by the onset of narcosis.

I came across an abstract of a paper in the Rubicon Foundation archive a couple of days ago and I thought I’d repost it here. It has the catchy title: CLINICAL EVALUATION OF REPETITIVE DEEP DIVING BY RECREATIONAL DIVERS ON THE WRECK OF THE ANDREA DORIA. It seems to say that the divers in the study were just fine diving air at greater than 200′. The emphasis on the comment about narcosis is mine.

Ten male recreational divers were clinically evaluated over a 3 day period as they made repetitive deep dives [> 200 fsw) with compressed air to the wreck of the Andrea Doria in the North Atlantic Ocean. Diving profiles were recorded and verified while divers were followed clinically for signs/symptoms of decompression sickness, air embolism, and/or other diving maladies. Ultrasonic Doppler testing was used to assist in objective analysis. The divers ranged in age from 27 to 47 years old, weight from 145 to 285 lbs., previous logged dives from 50 to 1250, and diving depth from 187 to 240 fsw. During the 3 day study period the ten divers performed a total of 49 dives. None of the divers exhibited any signs/symptoms of decompression sickness or air embolism. Intravascular bubbling was detected in only 2 divers and only one diver attained a Spencer rating of 2 on any dives. The incidence of positive Doppler testing was 4.3%. Nitrogen narcosis was not a significant problem for any diver. The equipment used by each diver was extensive and included multiple back-up devices and systems. Eight divers carried at least 1 dive computer, while 1 carried 3 (in case the other 2 failed). With the water temperature at depth of 46 degrees F., all divers wore drysuits, except 1. All the divers had trained for these deep dives by performing progressively deeper dives [ > 130 fsw] several weeks to months prior to attempting these truly deep dives. Although not recommended for the average diver, repetitive deep diving by experienced recreational divers, with appropriate equipment and training, led to no incidence of decompression sickness, air embolism, or other diving maladies during this study.

Florida Keys 2011 – Vandenberg September 11, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Technical Diving.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

This is a continuation of the trip I took in April 2011 to dive in the Florida Keys, and I’d written most of this then but decided to finish it now. Like many bloggers the urge comes and goes. I’ve left this alone for quite a while. I left off with a dive on the Spiegel Grove, but Matt and I chartered that separately, which was great because we ended up diving the wreck 3 times during the trip.

The first official dive of the trip was on the Vandenberg off Key West. We used a different dive shop, Sub Tropic this time and they were more conveniently located for parking than the previous year’s operator and a very short distance to the dive boat. The dive boat itself was reasonably well suited for those of us diving doubles.

It was a fairly rough ride out to the wreck and several divers were sick, although fortunately I wasn’t one of them. When we got there, Matt and I agreed that we would run a similar profile using our computer maxing out at either 1 hour bottom time or 30 minutes deco time, using EAN50 as our deco gas and air as our back gas. This turned out to be our standard profile for the remainder of the week, sometimes modified slightly to accommodate the various depths.

The wreck is a lot of fun where you get to swim around the big satellite dishes (and even through the hole in the focal point of one of them) as well (assuming you’re trained and equipped) lots of easy penetrations through the hallways.

The staff were among the most helpful I’ve ever seen and well-deserved the tips we gave them. The dive shop has now closed, though, but a different one has taken it over.

One thing I’ll never forget is on the ride back from the wreck we passed a Naval vessel moored near the residences for married sailors. One guy on the boat who lived there was a chief nurse who had done some rotations through Kandahar, Afghanistan, describing it as “the worst place on earth”. It made an impression.

Why I love Cozumel September 10, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I find Cozumel hard to beat, even after the big hurricane of 2005 ripped up the reef.

  1. Protected Marine Park -> lots o’ fish, including the fabulous spotted Eagle Ray.
  2. Currents from mild to ripping -> easy ride along the reef
  3. Reef close to the island -> more diving, less waiting
  4. Lots of dive operators -> good prices & great service. The only one I’ve used there is Blue XT Sea diving.

My experience on land has been pretty limited since I rarely left the resort, except to go diving. I’m not into late nights in bars or buying trinkets. There was very little hassling of the tourists that I saw, but I might have been insulated from it.

The worst thing I’ve seen there is the taxi hustle at the airport. If you are on a package with transportation included, you have to run a gauntlet of taxi drivers inside the small terminal to go outside and find your ride. They won’t let the tour operators inside the terminal, so the taxi drivers prey on the ignorance of arriving tourists by intercepting them before they find their hotel shuttle.

You can also drink the water there, at least on the resort. I doubt I’ll be back for a couple of years. We went there several times in a row and decided we needed a change.

Another Apeks Quantum Failure September 9, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Equipment.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

My replacement Apeks Quantum failed less than a year after I received it. It’s great that I get a new one but it costs about $60 in shipping and handling each time so it’s getting to be pretty irritating. This time, it decided to start eating batteries. I noticed at the beginning of summer it needed a new battery even though it was only about 6 months old. Then again on last weekend’s dive it was too weak to dive it. I happened to have a brand new replacement with me and used it on the next day’s dive on the Oconto, but on the surface interval it was obviously dying again so I didn’t use it on the Kinghorn later than day and took it to Divetech where they said it could be replaced for another $60.

I think when I get the replacement I’ll sell it to someone who doesn’t read this blog and maybe even spring for the new Shearwater Petrel. That would give me two functionally identical computers and I would no longer need to carry decompression tables.

Apparently the Quantum is made by Seiko, and is also rebranded under several other manufacturers’ names including Dive-Rite, although though don’t seem to carry it any more but have a 3-gas model that looks similar. The Tusa Hunter looks identical, but the Cressi Archimede II is a bit more stylish but recognizably the same design. Cressi always seems to be more stylish if you’re into that –  I’m not – and their motto is “Scuba Diving in Style”.

I’ve reset more bent Quantums (or equivalents) than I can count, usually because the diver using it as a backup computer didn’t figure out how to switch to the deco gas. That happened to me once too. The trick is to hold the left button down for longer than you think is necessary. If you don’t hold it down long enough, it will switch back to your back gas.

The other Quantum trick is that after a reset it goes into metric. If you dive in Imperial units you need to go to the DIVE/GAGE screen and hold the left and right buttons down for 5 or more seconds.

Diving in the News, 2012/9/8 September 8, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Ecology, Emergencies.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Coming up from dive in the open ocean and not finding your boat  is a scary thought, and in the ocean and on most other dives I carry an orange SMB, a reel and even a regulation whistle in case this happens. If you don’t have an SMB, improvise with whatever you have. In this story, the intrepid diver used her yellow bikini top attached to her fin to get the attention of a passing boater. Now that would definitely work – especially if the passing boat were full of young male divers. There’s some recent additional discussion about SMBs in Scuba Diving Magazine (and if you want to know, I’m on the “con” side because equipment can’t replace judgement.

A Riviera Beach, Florida man surfaces too quickly and gets taken to hospital. Nothing is mentioned about symptoms in this video. Whilst it’s good to err on the side of caution, and yes, you can get an gas embolism by holding your breath and coming up just 4 feet, I think in the absence of symptoms I’d just watch this guy who bolted from 6-8 feet for a bit rather than rushing him to the emergency room. I’d be interested in what DAN would have to say, and of course you can call there hotline for no charge if you want to know what to do, even if you’re not a member. I liked the expression “taking on water”. I assume they mean some water got past his regulator and it panicked him. Happens sometimes.

A man in Ireland wants to break the cold water open ocean scuba diving bottom time record. There’s a record for everything these days (except deep air, due to the number of deaths, which is not good publicity for beer that’s good for you). What made me laugh in this article (other than the reason for aborting his first attempt) was the bit “when he will be exposed to temperatures of less than 15 degrees Celsius”. My goodness 15 degrees! Now I won’t scoff at how cold that is after 15 hours but it’s hardly the Arctic ocean kind of cold, or even the Georgian Bay kind of cold, or anything in Canada after mid-October. Having dived comfortably myself in 3 degree water it does sound a bit hyped.

I don’t know what to say about this article on the dead fish in Lake Erie, maybe because it’s not directly about diving. While the Ministry of the Environment says it might be from natural causes, I’m sure most people have suspicions that lay elsewhere. A follow up article confirms that it was caused by a temperature inversion, a natural phenomenon.

It should go without saying that scuba diving while high on cocaine is a bad idea. I don’t think I’m stepping out on a limb by saying cocaine itself is a bad idea. But scuba diving is enough fun all by itself, and is a lot safer when you have your wits about you.

Crater Lake, in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon is in the news this week, over a scuba diving closure due to fear of invading species. This article actually makes me want to dive there, but I understand the reasoning having first-hand experience with Zebra mussels and Quagga mussels on my own dives in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Tech Diving Mag September 7, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Diving Books and Films, Technical Diving.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I found some interesting articles in this free on-line magazine. It’s worth a look (thanks go out to my dive team member Rob for the pointer). There are 8 issues so far. The articles are contributed by the readers and are of excellent quality. Issue 8 has articles about decompression sickness and treatment, margin for error in decompression tables, solo cave diving, cave diving in the Dominican Republic, and an interview with Dick Bonin, founder of Scubapro. I haven’t read the others yet, so they will make for some good reading on my commute to and from work (don’t worry, I go by train).

Diving the Roy A. Jodrey September 6, 2012

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Shipwrecks, Technical Diving.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I once described this as my “Pinnacle Wreck”. I’m going to have to change that designation to the either the Andrea Doria or the HMCS Canada, which are both at 200’ +, although there are definitely more visits to the Jodrey in my plans for the future – maybe even in the next few weeks.

Monday September 3rd was another perfect day to end a perfect Labour Day weekend, with morning coming without a cloud in the sky. We set out from the Caiger’s Motel dock, just a few minutes east of Rockport, Ontario, with Captain Mike at the helm and the same divers as the day before. However this time we planned to move the recreational divers to another boat after clearing customs. We did this so the boat manifests wouldn’t have to be changed at the last minute to give US Customs one less thing to worry about.

US entry took about 15 minutes, mostly because the other boat was slow. It was also right about then I realized I’d left the keys in the Highlander which was parked back and Caiger’s, but I had to put that out of my mind. We had the same agent as the day before, known to me only by his name tag (“Rufa”), who I’d also seen on trips in other years.  He had seen all of us the previous day and actually smiled, and noting we were planning to dive the Jodrey, encouraged us to return to Canada alive. After discharging the recreational divers it was a short chug upriver to get to the dive site, right next to the US Coast Guard station. The others went in the opposite direction to the Keystorm and America.

The weather was very calm, and we took our time getting ready, going over the plan, some emergency procedures (one to Mike, “if you see an SMB while we are on deco, drop this tank in the water for us”), and after entering the water assembled near the shore to sort ourselves out and rest (if you’ve ever climbed out of a dive boat with doubles and stage bottles on, you’ll know why we rest). With Brad in front and me out the back following Matt and Rob, we headed toward the channel and hopefully finding the ship this time.

We headed diagonally from the entry point toward the centre of the channel and slightly downriver. It dips into a sort of a bowl at around 30′ before turning into a steep wall. As with the day before, we stopped at various intervals on the descent to rest, regroup and keep our heads clear.  There was a mild upward current as we went over each ledge, which added to the descent time a little, but the  worked well and we were in good shape by the time we reached 150′ and started moving with the wall to our left hoping to see the wreck. By the time the bow end of the wreck slowly became distinguishable from the rocks in the gloom, we were at 175′.

Rob stuck close to the wall and I noticed that was going into a confined area between the ship and the wall. Like the previous day’s dive on the Oconto, as I started signalling with my light he noticed what he was doing and turned around. We examined various stairways and holds and in one section, where I realized that it was well lit and open, I decided to go for the maximum planned depth of 190′ and started a slow descent. At this point, Brad signalled for everyone to leave. We were only 15 minutes into the dive and everyone wondered why, but it turned out to be a miscommunication between Rob and Brad over the amount of air he had left. Better safe than sorry so I had to be satisfied with 185′, which I must say is plenty.

It will take a few more visits to really get a feel for the wreck. Now that I’ve been there once I can be less concerned about the execution of the dive and spend more of it actually checking it out. Of course, I’d no doubt remember more of it if I’d used Trimix. I must take that course some time.

Despite the abbreviated bottom time, we were thrilled to have finally added the Jodrey to our log books, and really had a great time recounting the dive on the trip back. My Highlander was still there when I got back, the drive home took only 3 1/2 hours even in the long weekend traffic (It sometimes takes more than 5), and my wife had cooked me a lovely dinner. All in all a perfect end to a perfect weekend.