Sunday, May 19, 2013

Equipment Course 18/05/2013

Alan Johnson of IDC ran an equipment maintenance course for myself, Daniel Wei and Greg. I had previously taken an equipment course at Oceanquest, but more practice was always good. Alan would also take us through more regulator and valve maintenance, as well as putting together a set of doubles. I took the opportunity to take my steel 100's and turn them into a double set.

Alan was great, as always. The level of detail and the ability to practice on real equipment was invaluable. We stripped down regulators, valves and other components, then assembled them all back together and tested them. This gave a great deal more understanding on how all our gear operated.

This course would not certify us for anything, but in terms of knowledge and comfort for field repairs, it was invaluable.

Hat's off the Alan for such a great experience!

Saskatchewan and Clark Rock 11/05/2013

The previous weekend I was supposed to go dive China Creek with Greg, but I got a bad cold. I got over it during the week, and went out on the Sea Dragon (Heather was away in Vancouver for Dragon Boating). I hadn't been out on the Sea Dragon for some time. They had moved spots from the government dock by the pub near the ferry terminal to just below the new hotel and restaurant complex that was built further along. They worked out a very good deal. They got a reduced room rate at the hotel for divers, and were able to build a shed under the restaurant for the compressor, and to dry gear. A pretty nice setup!

I forgot that I had met the new captain as well, and vice versa. We figured it out when we realized that we lived quite close together. Dan was a great host. It was very interesting talking to him about his years as a tug operator on Vancouver Island. Christine was the same gracious hostess as well.

I teamed up with a couple visiting from Oregon, Dave and Cindy I think. There was a big group down from Kamloops as well, who got together and ran dive trips down to the Vancouver area. It was a full boat. It was a good day for diving too, since it was overcast and not too hot.

Our first dive was on the Saskatchewan. Visibility was not great, maybe 15 feet. There was some current as well, but not bad. Our plan was to check out the deck guns and stay at an average of 70 feet. On the descent, things went well. Once we hit the deck, we started forward with me leading. I made sure to check behind me often, as I was diving with new buddies. I turned forward for maybe a minute, then looked back and only Cindy was there! I asked her if she knew where our third member was, and she couldn't see him either. We did the standard look for a minute, then began to surface. Once we did, sure enough, Dave had had a problem coughing, and didn't have enough time to get our attention before he had to head up. Since we verified he was fine, we decided to continue the dive. It was a good lesson for me to remember to pay even more attention when diving with new people. It was also a very good reminder for everyone to take a light along on every dive (they didn't bring their lights). Cindy and I had a pretty good dive after descending back down. Nothing spectacular in terms of life, but the deck guns were interesting, and they had a large resident tiger rockfish living inside the turret. All in all, a good dive.

Back on the boat, we had some lovely soup courtesy of Christine, and some great home made banana bread courtesy of the Kamloops crew. The second dive, we decided to go to a site I’d not done before called Clark Rock. This was pretty nice, because almost always if you go out on the Sea Dragon everyone wants to do both wrecks.

Clark Rock turned out to be awesome. It was near Piper’s Lagoon, north of Nanaimo. The best part about it was all the wolf eels and the octopus. Basically there was a rocky reef at about 60 feet that was full of nooks and crannies. There was an anchor line too, and very close to that was one of the biggest wolf eels I had ever seen. And next to that, was an octopus den, and next to that was another wolf eel! It was so easy to find this den, it wasn't funny. All you had to do was drop down the anchor line, and then follow an existing line along the bottom to a no parking sign (it used to be a stop sign, and obviously was placed there as a joke). Right beside that was a pile of rocks, and that’s where the wolf eels were. To the left of that was a big boulder and under that was the octopus. The head on the male wolf eel was the biggest I’d ever seen. We saw some nice swimming nudibranchs, and swimming scallops. Visibility was a bit better on this dive, but still only about 20 feet.

I didn't get any video on the dives, because the visibility was just a little bit too bad. I just enjoyed leaving the camera in my pocket, and keeping memories.