Tuesday 19 July 2011

Boat of Puking Divers, Part the Second

I cannot say that the first dive out of Eyemouth was the most visually interesting dive I’ve ever done, but in its own way, it had a certain hypnotic calm. Vis was not too bad, and we were at 12-15m. The only real sights were the pale grey rippled sand beneath us, the green water around us, an occasional rock or crab on the bottom, and thousands of small hydroids in the water around us. Hydroids are the free-floating larvae of sea anemones before they attach themselves to rocks, and look like very small jellyfish. It was a surreal experience, but in some ways almost meditative, drifting steadily along with the current and following the divers ahead.

After half an hour, I was mentally taking bets with myself as to how soon it would be before the large male novice diver (LMND) in front of me got towards the reserve on his air tank and we went up*. I interspersed this with the occasional barrel roll to see if my buddy was there, as he had a fondness for swimming about two metres above me. Technically I should have been swimming at the same level he was, but I like to see what’s on the bottom… he told me afterwards that drifting along with the current with only the bottom for reference was giving him nausea and vertigo, and he was happier swimming a bit higher up.

The answer proved to be “not that much longer”. LMND and his buddy started to head upwards, accompanied by a flurry of hand signals from the instructor in charge of the dive. My buddy produced his SMB and deployed it at about 6m whilst we were making a safety stop: it was as well he did it at this depth, as the line attached to the damn thing got tangled around his tank valve, and we did the underwater Untangling Waltz. Buddy and I surfaced with no mishaps and yoicked ourselves back onto the boat (thank god for boats with lifts).

The instructor informed us that his hand signals had been intended to mean “you two can carry on if you want to”. We replied that our actions had been intended to mean “we know, but we don’t want to ‘cause it’s a bit cold and boring, and we fancy a cup of tea and a Mini Roll”.

In search of the aforementioned Mini Roll, I lurched into the cabin – the sea was getting quite choppy – and encountered a shivering, coat-wrapped and be-hatted mass in the form of one of my regular dive buddies, B. B looked up at me and ground out “I’m not going back in there”.

It was going to be one of those mornings.

* Risk factors for going through your air quickly: being a physically large person, being male, and being new (new divers tend to move through the water less efficiently, and waste more air through inflating and deflating their buoyancy jackets). The reserve air is the amount of air everyone on the dive agrees to have left at the end of the dive, usually around 50 bag. You never plan to dive until the tank is empty, for safety reasons – you need the reserve in case something delays you on the way to the surface or one of your buddies runs low on air.

No comments:

Post a Comment