Sunday 22 August 2010

Deep Dive at Stoney Cove

Last week I fufilled a long-standing ambition to dive with my aunt M, the only diver in the family until I took it up, and her buddy S. S is a technical diver, extremely knowledgeable - the sort of person who services her own regulators*.

We dove at Stoney Cove, one of the two major inland quarry diving sites in the UK (Capernwray is the other one). It was my first freshwater dive, all my dives to date having been in the sea, meaning that on the first day there we did a short "check dive" so I could get my weights right. You are less buoyant in freshwater than in salt water, so you need less weight to offset the exposure suit's buoyancy. I normally dive with 9kg in salt water, and dove with 5kg in fresh, using the same exposure suit but a slightly larger tank: 15L compared to my usual 12L for floating around Beadnell.

Stoney Cove was fun. There were a lot of fish - roach and perch - down there, and quite a few crayfish. I recorded my deepest ever dive, 32 metres. We followed the old quarry road down to the deepest part of the pit. Didn't quite get down to the bottom, as M signalled that she was getting a little cold. I wasn't too bad so long as we kept moving, but it was cold down there; about 7 degrees C. I remember thinking "Hey, look at all those big numbers on my dive computer!" followed shortly by "Hmm, 6 minutes of no-decompression time left... that's not so good, time to turn this around". That was about when M signalled she was cold, so we didn't make it as deep as the Deep Hydrobox, which lies at 36m in the quarry. Next time!

Perhaps I should have been more scared than I was, diving that deep, but I don't remember being scared. Once you get past about 15m, you can't rely on CESA-ing your way out of trouble, and I've dived deeper than that before. At that depth, you rely on your training, your dive plan (and gas planning), and close communication with your buddies. I didn't feel narc'ed, though we didn't do any tests for it - perhaps my slower reaction to seeing the 6 minutes on my computer was a sign? I felt in control, though, so it's difficult to tell.

More tales coming soon.

* The things you breathe through.

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