Tech Deux…

2 08 2014

July 27th to August 1st, 2014 ~

Well, it was a long week of Tech 2 training and Diving Goodness.

My buddy, Eric, and I worked hard, and survived the week. *Phew* πŸ™‚

Saturday afternoon, Steve and I went down to the airport, to pick up Guy Shockey, who was flying in from BC. Once we returned, Eric arrived, and we started to get our gear ready.

Since we were all there, we decided to get a start on the lectures, so that we could plan on finishing at a decent time, on actual Day 1. Uh-huhh… πŸ˜‰

Day 1 ~

Lectures, then off to the quarry, for “Show & Tell.” We did valve drills, S-Drills, ascent drills, blowing smbs in mid water. We then moved on to bottle rotations, gas switches, and more ascents.

Bottom Time: More than an hour, less than three hours
Max. Depth: 30′
Water Temp.: 60F to 64F

We were still smiling, after Day 1.

Day 2 ~

A few more lectures in the morning, then back to the quarry, for more skillz ‘n’ drillz!

We swam out to the plane, where Eric started to run a reel. Oh, boy… then, the valve failures started. Between the two of us, there was: left post, fixable; right post, fixable; another right post, fixable; left post, non-fixable, followed by a right post, non-fixable (no, I didn’t shut off all of my gas πŸ˜› ), ascent, and discuss. There sure was a lot going on, down there, and we seemed to do pretty well, with the failures. Back down, where there were even more failures of stages, manifolds, regs.. blah blah… It’s amazing that we even dive with such faulty gear! πŸ˜›

For a third dive, we descended to about 83′, and boy, did we ever feel that thermocline! We then did mid-water gas switches andΒ  another ascent.

Bottom Time: More than an hour, less than three hours
Max. Depth: 83′
Water Temp.: 46F, below thermoclines

Pool time… Oh, boy. Here’s the hard part (for me). I’ve been going to the gym, for months, trying to build up my cardio, and building up to the swim test. I swam quite a lot when I was younger, but haven’t done much of it, in a long while. It seems to creep up on me, for each GUE course that I take. In my months of getting ready, I was pleased with the swimming portion, but was still not able to meet the 18 meter breath hold. I kept coming up short, at 12 meters. My free diving friends, other diving friends, and even Steve tried to help me out, but I just kept struggling with it. *Sigh*

We had a bit of time to kill, until the public lane swim started, so we did another module, in the complex.

The way to the pool?

Coming out of the change room, into the pool area, I can honestly say that I had the feeling of impending doom. I’m not even exaggerating. My heart sank, and I was scared out of my wits. How stoOpid is that???

Which way do we choose? Door #1, or Door #2???

Ok… breath hold, first. I let Eric go first, so he could show me how it should be done. πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t the easiest task, seeing as the “Public Lane Swim,” was not exactly that. One quarter of the pool was roped off for people diving off of the diving boards. The other quarter was for people that were just floating about. The remaining half, which was supposed to be 3 lanes, was roped off as one lane. People were swimming in big loops, around the one big lane. There were at least 6 people doing this, and they were way faster than I would ever be. We timed our breath hold, in between swimmers. Not the easiest thing to do, but we made do… Well, Eric did. He did it in his first try – 18 meters – badda boom, badda bing!

My turn… D’oh… came up short, but apparently, my technique was pretty good. Ok, try again… and again, and again… no dice. It seemed that I kept coming up shorter and shorter.

Let’s move on to the swim, for now. Eric and I decided to swim in the middle of the loop-dee-loopers, since we couldn’t really do a square swim test. Away, we went!

Eric finished in good time, and I was still movin’ and shakin’. Oops… thanks, pool staff… They decided that it was a little bit busy, and wanted to put the other two lanes in. That was a really good decision, but it would have been even better, if they hadn’t dropped the two lane markers on my head, as I was swimming.

Like a great team mate, Eric came out to cheer me on, and I heard, “you’re past the time!” Like hell, I am… I picked it up! I made it to the end, with 40 seconds to spare! W00 H00!!! It turns out, that Eric actually said, “you’re going to make it, you’re within the time,” or something to that effect. With my ears in and out of the water, and the muffled sounds, I swear, he was telling me that I was past the time! πŸ˜› Ok, not a record time, but I worked my ass off, to get it. πŸ™‚

Let’s try the breath hold, again… nope… nope… and… nope. *Sigh* I was pretty upset about not making it. I’ve done this same breath hold during Cave 2, with not much preparation, and I was so determined to get it. Ok, I have four more days… I’m going to get it!

Day 3 ~

Back to the quarry, where we descended to 100′, swam for a bit, swam back, then made our ascent, with gas switches. Holy canoly… The thermocline seemed even colder, today! Especially, having to swim through it. Thank goodness, that tomorrow was River Time! There were more skillz ‘n’ drillz, and bottle rotations, and bottle rotations, and bottle rotations… followed by a bottle rotation, or two. πŸ™‚

Bottom Time: More than two hours, less than three hours
Max. Depth: 104′
Water Temp.: 42F, below thermoclines

Day 4 ~

To the Rivaaaaaa! Captain Rick took us out to the Rockport Wall, where we did Experience Dive #1. We dropped down, where there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of current, until we started swimming against it. It got stronger and stronger, as we attempted to make our way upstream. Instead of working too hard, we started to drift, until the current died down, then swam back a little more, to drift back to the spot in the wall, for our ascent. Eric led this dive, and we did our first gas switch, at 70′, then started the bottle rotations. Eric’s went pretty smoothly, and mine was a little slower, but I managed to gitterdun. I definitely need to do a little more practice, in order to get them a little more smooth.

Another gas switch at 20′, deco, and 6-up.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 25 mins.
Max. Depth: 158′
Water Temp.: 68F

We were still smiling, after Day 4! Tired, but I think that’s a requirement for GUE courses. πŸ™‚

Day 5 ~

Experience Dive #2.Β  I led this one, and we used our variable ascent rates, up to 70′. Eric called the deco from 70′. Eric’s bottle rotation was smoother than mine, but I was better than the previous day. w00t! Our dive went really well. Before heading back, Rick took us on a little tour of the River, and told us the story of St. Lawrence.

Bottom Time: 1 hour, 27 mins.
Max. Depth: 192′
Water Temp.: 68F


There was some serious washing machine current, going on, here!

When we got back,Β  we grabbed a bite to eat, then went over to Centeen Park, where we did our exam. I think the formulas may have actually stuck in my head, this time. *Thumbs up*

Day 6 ~

Experience Dive #3. Eric led up until 70′, where I took over the deco. We used hypoxic gas protocols, for this dive. We had to keep circling, to get each of us in the water, due to some nice wind and waves. One by one, we plopped in, with bottles already attached. A different variable ascent rate, for this dive. More swimming against the current, for a little while, then drifting, swimming back, and then back again, to the crack. We started our ascent, gas switch at 70′, and my rotation was almost as smooth as pie (Pie is smooth? At least my rotation was…). w00t w00t! Eric’s was also good, and at 20′, we switched onto our 02, as Guy made signals to us:

“You… (pointing at Eric) You… (pointing at me) T2!” Then, he looked at me, and signaled that I still needed to get my darn breath hold. *Le sigh” Yep… I do. I was still pretty happy with the dives, and the course. Eric and I worked as a team, and got through our tasks… all except for one, for me…

When we got back to Caiger’s, we grabbed a bite to eat, went over the exam, and then I got into my bathing suit. Ok, you breath hold-ness… I am not letting you escape me!!!

The pool is 40′, so I needed to do a length, then turn around, and swim another half length, under water. I got in… H-H-H-H-O-L-Y SHEEEEEET! It was cold! Warmed by the sunshine! I dunked myself under, and the shock nearly took my breath away (I was going to need that, thank you).Β  There was literally zero visibility, in the pool (they had just finished cleaning, etc.), and I kept coming up short of the first length. I couldn’t even see the end of the pool. I was really starting to get discouraged, but was not going to give up. Steve gave me a little tip, so I tried it. Steve also put a bright orange lifesaver at the end of the pool, so that I could see when I was getting to the end. Under I went…. swam to the end, slowed down a little, to turn, and kept swimming… Holy crap! I’m going to do it! I kept swimming, and surfaced, just past the half-way mark! W000000000000 H0000000000000000000!!!

Man, how good did THAT feel??? I finally did it! What a huge weight, lifted off of my shoulders. I really didn’t want to “lose,” based on the breath hold. Ahhhh… What a relief!!!

So… Thank you, Guy, for our wonderful course! Thank you, Eric, for being a great team-mate, and thank you, Steve, for giving me that final tip, and for the support that you have given me, along the way. w00t w00t!

Of course, we stuck together as a team, when we took Guy back to the airport, on a midnight airport run!

Now, let’s go diving!!! πŸ˜€


2012 Brockville Canadian Invasion!

21 08 2012

Thursday, August 16th, 2012 ~

Packed and ready to go! I started off toward Ivy Lea, making a stop at Dive Tech (thank you for the prizes!), then to the Capricorn Motel Royale, where I met Bill and Moira, who were most excellent hosts! Bill showed me around, gave me the instructions for the sat TV, showed me the kitchen, BBQs, and was ready to welcome our group with open arms. Great start!

Dev was the first one to arrive, and most others followed pretty quickly. I handed out goodie bags, assisted with the sat TV instructions (I got pretty good at it, by the end of the day), and we made our way to Smuggler’s Run. Chris Muffin Man Malinowski and Damian also came by to have dinner with us, which was a nice surprise. The food and service was very good, and the convenience factor of it being right across from the Capricorn was excellent!

The dock, near the hotel and restaurant…

Really cool little car, parked outside of the restaurant…



Friday, August 17th, 2012 ~

Up and out early, for breakfast, at Caiger’s. Boats were loaded, and our departure was around 9:30am. For the Rec boat, we had The Arrow, which can house 22 divers. We had 19, plus one bubble watcher. The Arrow was headed for the Keystorm and America! The two Tech boats were River Diver and Run Time, and we were headed to the Jodrey. It was grey and a bit rainy, but that didn’t stop us.

The Arrow, almost ready to go…





Loaded up, on River Diver…



…and on Run Time!



Happy faces! Look! Jenni M is going diving!







Our guest speaker was revealed, since Fred was joining us on the Jodrey!



Let’s go diving!

We went through customs, then made our way to the mooring tree. Moe’s boat was there, which meant… so were Raphael, Tyson, and Mark! After our gear checks, and we were ready to descend, we saw our three friends, who had left from the US side. “Good to see you, friends!” πŸ™‚

Run Time folks, ready to go!
(Vinny was hiding, but at least the sun came out)…

For this dive, we had two groups of three, but would all be staying together, to descend down the wall. Myself, Eric, Fred, Dev, Marc, and Frankie. We made our way down the wall, and the wreck eventually came into sight. The visibility was horrible, so we didn’t really see too much. Once on the wreck, our group of six split into two groups of three. We stayed around the bow, did a circle of the wheelhouse, and stayed close, since the vis was so bad. The current was down, too. There was hardly anything, and even the swimming folks went around the port side of the wheelhouse, where the current is usually famous for wanting to flip you over, and throw you up from 150′. Today, it was kind! So, due to the vis., we didn’t get to tour too much, but it was still good to get down there!

On deco, Eric, Fred, and I got to our 20′ stop, where Fred showed us some new deco tricks. We also played around, writing in wet notes. We learned that “Deco,” in Spanish, is “El Deco.” πŸ˜›

Bottom Time: 64 mins.
Max. Depth: 173′
Water Temp.: 75F
Vis.: 5′
Current: Very low

Clockwise, from the back: Dev C., Frankie F., Kevin A., Neil M., Marc H., Chris McM., Eric B., Fred D.

…and me, at the far left. πŸ™‚

Frankie… Rock on, dood!

Once we returned to shore, cleared customs, and unloaded, people dispersed for fills, and Steph had brought us a present, thanks to Brian Ross, of Banner’s Plus!

I headed back to the hotel, to hang up gear, charge scooters, and my light, and I think I actually got a 15 minute nap!

Dinner was planned for 6:30pm, at Caiger’s. The dinner was amazing, and the service equaled it. Thank you, Mary (and the rest of the staff, too)!

I gave away a few prizes, then Fred Devos began his presentation on the Mexico Cave Exploration Project, which was top-notch. Some really great information, as well as video from some very unique cave. Thank you so much, Fred! It was great to have you here! It was also great to have a few extra friends come by for dinner, as well as the presentation. Bob Sherwood, I didn’t get a picture of you! :O

After the presentation, a bunch of us headed upstairs for some karaoke fun. Steph showed us how it was done, and I sang a few, too!

Saturday, August 18th, 2012 ~

Early to Caiger’s, to hand out breakfast tickets, then loaded the boats! The Arrow headed to the Vickery, then for a drift dive, and River Diver and Run Time were back to the Jodrey!

Steve, loading up!

Steve was here for this dive, and he and Frankie were diving together. Marc and Dev paired up, and Eric and I. The six of us descended together, and Steve was going to lead the way, to show us a penetration. I have been diving this wreck for four years, and had yet to go inside it.Β  I was number 6, and I have to say, that I really did not see much. The visibility was already pretty crappy, and being #6… well… there was quite a bit of percolation, which got in the way (No, I am not blaming my dive buddies.. they were all great!). We got to the end of the line, and it was time to turn around. It was up to me to navigate the line out… which was not the easiest task, with all of the stray lines in there, but we got to our exit safely. πŸ™‚ I really enjoyed this dive, and would really like to go back there! Perhaps with just one or two buddies. πŸ™‚ Kevin A., Neil M., and Chris McMullen had also buddied up for the dive, and went for a tour around the wheelhouse.

Bottom Time: 69 mins.
Max. Depth: 203′
Water Temp.: 75F
Vis.: 8′
Current: Very low

After our dive, a few of us went up to Tek Div, to say hello to Stephane. It was the first time that I had been there, and it is a really nice set up! Thanks for helping us out, Stephane!

Back to the motel to charge, hang gear, sneak in a 20 minute nap, then back to Caiger’s, for our group photo, then dinner! We had some more friends join us for dinner, and laughs. Tonight was prize night! Thank you to all of our friends, who donated prizes: Liquid Productions, Whirling Girl, Dive Tech, Rockport Dive Centre, Hi Def Pictures, 2 Beez Training, In Depth Scuba Services, Exploration Promotions, and GUE Ontario!

We also had a few special prizes for the friends that have been to all 5 Invasions, and one for Jenni M, who has attended 2 as a bubble watcher, and this one as a diver.. finally!

Pic taken with Becki’s camera (not sure who took it)…

Thanks also, to Brian Ross/Banner’s Plus, for the awesome banner!

Sunday, August 19th, 2012 ~

Today, the Tech boats were picking up at Mallorytown Landing. We were going to go over to the Daryaw, and do a drift off of it. The surface current at the Daryaw mooring was crazy.. as always. We had a tag line set up, as well as a few gear lines, so that we could tie in, to get our gear on… and not drift away. Eric and I splashed in, got our gear on, and were joined by Marc and Dev. These are the times when I am extra thankful for my scooter. πŸ™‚ We descended down the line, on the trigger, and proceeded to the underside of the wreck, where we were mostly sheltered. We tied off our stage bottles and scooters, and ran a line, to go into the wreck. I ran the line, and as we were going in, Steve and Frankie were coming out… followed by quite a huge amount of silt. Apparently, as they went in, there were a ton of eels that retreated, and stirred everything up… I will give them the benefit of the doubt. πŸ˜› So.. we waited for them to pass, and I was trying to make a call on whether we kept on, or turn around.. wondering if the “dust” would settle. It didn’t. I signaled to turn around, and went to go another way, which was also silted out. There had also been a few boats on it before us, as we pulled up to the mooring.

Hanging onto the tag and gear lines, in the crazy surface current, about to descend (taken by Rick Lymer, with my camera)…

So.. back under the wreck, we went.. Picked up our gear, then ascended into one of the holds, where we surfaced and waved to each other, in the air pocket. There was quite a big pocket, which does grow throughout the summer, from all of the divers’ bubbles. We came back down, did a tour of the outside of the wreck, then went for a drift. We stayed on the North side of the wall, and there wasn’t a whole lot of current where we were, in most of the areas. I did see the biggest sturgeon that I had ever seen in my life.. 6 feet long! There were a few big carp, a lot of baby walleyes, and even more bass. It is nice to see that the fish are doing well! I even saw a couple of the fresh water jellies, which I didn’t see, last year!

There were some pretty cool rock formations along the wall, but then we got to an area where there was just a lot of dirt. We weren’t exactly sure if we were getting close to our target (the big white channel marker), so we drifted for a while longer, then Dev blew a bag, to let Rick know where we were, to pick us up. Due to a lack of current in the area that we were in, we weren’t that close to the marker…lol. Oh well.. still fun. πŸ™‚

Bottom Time: 75 mins.
Max. Depth: 88′
Water Temp.: 73F
Vis.: 20”
Current: Very low

Apparently, Frankie found a nice pink clip…

The sky got a bit dark as we made our way back, but we were still all smiles…

…and Neil passed out the Deco Cookies… Yumm… Maple Cookies….

Once we returned, we unloaded, said some goodbyes, then a few of us went back over to Caiger’s, to relax… and for me to pay up! πŸ™‚

James and Leslie came over, after James did a triathlon (along with a bunch of our other friends)…

I can’t get over what an amazing group of people that come to the Invasions. I have met so many wonderful friends and dive buddies, and cannot wait until next year!

Andy, Kate… Kate, Andy!

Our group shot (even though there were a few missing)…

Also, a small video that I put together of my weekend’s pics! Thanks again to everyone! See you next year! w00t! πŸ™‚