09 August 2014

Three Open Water Dives off Tower 17 with Matt Hatcher

I went to the beach at 5:30 am in order to find parking convenient for our dives and to try to capture the sunrise. My picture is a bit of a disappointment, but an acceptable first effort.  Matt met me on the beach at 7:30 am.  We were parked South of the Park Tower Building, but well within walking distance of Tower 17, even with tanks on.  We geared up at the truck, crossed the road to the beach and swam out to the Eastern Ledge off Tower 17 to make the ascents for his Open Water certification.  The swim probably took 20 minutes and required some effort, but Matt managed handily. He had some trouble equalizing while getting down, but finally made it.  I tied off the flag to some lines buried in the sand and we made an alternate air source ascent, including a 3 minute safety stop at 15 feet,  then we descended to try the controlled emergency swimming ascent, the CESA.

I demonstrated to Matt how it would work, he signaled that he understood and we took took 3 breaths, taking the regulator out on the third breath, dribbling air out and rising.  We went a little too fast and I used the line to slow us down, but Matt began breathing from his regulator at about 10 feet, when he ran out of air to exhale.  We surfaced and discussed what had happened and why he felt panic when he ran out of air. We spent 7 minutes on the surface discussing Matt's first failed attempt at the CESA.  My Suunto D6i treated our surface interval as the end of a 19 minute dive to 35 ft. His second attempt at the CESA became our second dive.

We descended.  Again, Matt had a little trouble equalizing one ear, but worked through it and got down.  We prepared for the CESA., took and exhaled two deep breaths and then took a third breath and began our ascent.  I kept a tight hold on the line, but we still got a rapid ascent warning from my computer during the first 6 feet of our ascent, after which we slowed down. Matt dribbled air more slowly and had air all the way to the surface this time.  We rested just a bit, then descended and swam back to the beach underwater. As his tank pressure lowered, he found he was underweighted and needed to expend energy swimming to stay down.

We looked for Matt's weight packets to add more weights. At first, he feared he had dropped them as he geared up for our swim to the Eastern Ledge, but it turned out that he had not taken them out of his truck.  We next discussed the table problems and then Matt took his final exam during our surface interval, which may have stretched it out a bit.  I didn't object.  I was tired and a little dehydrated.  He easily passed the exam.  We changed tanks and got back in for our final dive.  

Matt wanted to catch a lobster and I was interested in seeing how he maintained his buoyancy, so he took his net and tickler.  We swam up to the Gray Mid-way rock, under which he found two lobster, but could not catch either one.

We then swam over to the Big Coral Knoll where I found a small Spotted Trunkfish to photograph and Matt chased a very large lobster on the tipped coral by the two large rocks the Rock Hind hangs out on.

He didn't get the large lobster, but did manage to get a smaller one that was still legal size.

We swam back towards the beach but he was down to less than 1500 psi and too light to swim under water while transporting his lobster.  He was carrying 10 pounds of weight, but went to the surface and I followed when I realized he was not able to get back down.  We swam in on the surface.  Dive time was 52 minutes, my RMV was 0.39 ft3/minute.

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