15 November 2014

First Two Open Water Dives with Tommy Olbe

Milton Tinoco, who lives in Homestead, took my open water class during the Spring of 2012 and got OW certified in May of that year. This year, Milton brought his son, Tommy, to Fort Lauderdale to take the course. He as finished the classroom work, including all the quizzes and did fine performing the skills in the pool.  This morning, he would make his first two dives in the ocean.

Our first dive involved no skills, but was designed to get him properly weighted and maybe a little more comfortable in the water. Milton and Tommy drove up from Homestead and arrived at the apartment just a little after 7:30 am.  We headed down to the South Beach parking lot, geared up and got in. I put 10 pounds on Tommy and carried 10 myself so I could swap 3's for 2's or vice versa.  He seemed heavy at first, but it could also be that he just wasn't breathing well.  Later, over the 3-tiered reef, I swapped one of his 3s for one of my 2 pound weights, and that seemed to help.  He didn't want to swap the others, so he dived with 9 pounds.  We went East, but may have gotten set to the North, as well.  I did not recognize the area, but when I went up to look, it appeared as if we were pretty much East of the beach, where we should have been.  I decided to turn the dive anyway, rather than search for the Jacks. We got back to the swim buoys and I signaled for Tommy and Milton to surface with me.  We tested Tommy's weight there and he was just a little heavy, but not much.  After testing his weight, we descended and swam in to the beach.

Dive time  was 70 minutes, which was pretty remarkable for a first dive. My consumption rate was 31.10 psi/minute at an average depth of 16 feet; SAC rate was 20.94 psi/minute and RMV was 0.54 ft3/minute.

During our surface interval and just before our second dive, Tommy and I went over the decompression problems. He obviously had spent some time on them and seemed to understand the tables. We got geared up and headed for the water.  The plan was to get to 20 feet and then run through the skills, which we did. Tommy did fine, except he had a little trouble hovering. I got him to lie horizontal and lift off the sand, but his legs brought him down. We worked at it and got him to actually hover without putting air in his inner tube. Then we headed back to the beach so Tommy could take the final and we could make his third dive and be done.  Milton had to head North to buy a dirt bike and wanted to leave by 1:00 pm.  I pointed out that Tommy was tired and would need about an hour to take the final, so Milton opted to make only two dives today and to make two tomorrow, even though that meant Milton would miss a NASCAR race in Homestead.  So that's what we did.  Tommy passed the final, but just barely.  Should finish his certification tomorrow morning.

Dive time was 37 minutes; consumption rate was 25 psi/minute at an average depth of 15 feet; SAC rate was 17.19 with an 80 ft3 aluminum tank; RMV was 0.44 ft3/minute.

14 November 2014

Beach Dive off Tower 17

Ryan O'Connor, who lives across the street from Tower 17, was kind enough to invite me over to dive the Big Coral Knoll and the Fish Camp Rocks this morning. I got to his apartment 30 minutes early. I might have been a little eager.

We geared up and got in the water. He dives with a snorkel and still puts his fins on before he gets in the water, even when he is not carrying lobster gear, just as the PADI video demonstrates. As we were headed East up the gunsight, I spotted a Nudibranch out for a walk and pointed it out to Ryan. I don't think he was impressed. They are very small, but they are also pretty rare. We swam all the way to the one-sided coral head, which means we got set to the South by the current. We swam back on bearing and went through the Fish Camp Rocks where we spotted a number of lobster. We continued on to the Eastern Ledge. Nice drop to 35 feet and we headed North for a bit. Ryan had some trouble kicking up sand and waving his arms, but his buoyancy was much better. We came up on top of the Ledge and back-tracked to the finger coral, then headed West to the Big Coral Knoll. Had some trouble getting him to follow me. I had spotted several lobsters in the rocks on the SW corner of the Knoll, but he was nowhere in sight, so I swam back. I spotted him near the surface and I thought he spotted me, but he didn't follow. So I went back and let him see me again, but same result. Third time was the charm. Then we swam over to the Perpendicular Rocks and then headed SW to the Cigar Rock and West to the blocks then to the beach.

Dive time was 87 minutes; consumption rate was 25.41 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 feet; SAC rate was 16.13 psi/minute on an 80 ft3 aluminum tank; RMV was 0.42 ft3/minute.

13 November 2014

Solo Dive on the Tower 2 Algae Patch

Got down to the beach about 8:00 am.  No lifeguards in sight.  Geared up.  Added 2 more pounds to my weights and got in the water. Swam on the surface out past the swim buoys, then descended. Had 3141 psi in the tank as I went down, but the water was warmer than the air. Made over 7 minutes to 3000 psi and 20 psi/minute for the first 1,000 psi.  Move slowly to the East looking for shells. Got into deeper water and I got lighter. I couldn't maintain 20 psi/minute and drifted back up to 25 psi/minute. Turned the dive at about 1400 psi and got to the sand at 650 psi.  Hung around until I got to 130 minutes and 350 psi and then headed in. Dive time was 135 minutes;  consumption was 21.83 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate was 14.41 psi/minute and the RMV wa 0.37 ft3/minute.  Not bad for as long as I've been out of the water.

09 November 2014

Navigation Dive on the Tower 2 Algae Patch

Milton came to my apartment at 7:30 am and we headed for the beach at about 8:00 am.  There was a race or some event for which the police closed FLL Beach Blvd, so we got to the South Beach parking lot about 8:25 am.  We waited for Daryn, who left his boat at 8:30 am and had to negotiate the same heavy traffic that we had.

We briefly discussed the compass and how to use it, then walked through the out 'n back and the square patterns the students were required to navigate. Then we geared up and got in the water. We swam on the surface out past the swim buoys and descended. The two students buddied up and I sent them out at 100 degrees, with Luis tagging along with a flag. Daryn was in charge of the bearing and Milton was supposed to count kick cycles, but obviously had some problems. I expected them back in 5 or 10 minutes and surfaced after 9 minutes, but I could not see the flag. Fifteen minutes after they left I surfaced again and spotted them on the surface about 30 yards NE, so I swam to them. We discussed the problem, shortened the distance and descended again. This time, Milton was on the bearing, but he headed off to the NE, not SE, as I had asked. They came back in about 6 minutes, this time, though, which certainly counts for something. Daryn ran a second Out 'n Back and executed it well. Then Milton ran a square pattern and finally, Daryn did, as well. Then we went diving.

We headed East and spotted several single jacks, then finally, the beginning of the Wall of Jacks.  About that same time, Milton was down to 1100 psi, so we turned the dive and headed West. Daryn was disappointed, but he came with us. As we left the tiered reef, Milton was down to about 500 psi, so I gave him my alternate and we swam together over the sand to the algae patch and then across the algae to the sand, where I indicated to him that he should get back on his own tank, which he did.  I had lots of air, but the flag and flag line were getting to be a problem. We weren't well paired. The alternate hose was pressing into my head and I couldn't feel Milton, so I kept having to contort myself to look back and see him without winding the flag line around my legs. Need to work on that.  

Dive Time was 79 minutes; Consumption rate at an average 15 ft of depth was 29.57 psi/minute; SAC rate was 20.33 psi/minute.  Water temperature was 78 degrees.