Monday, March 31, 2014

Nanaimo Wrecks 29/03/2014

Jim Dixon arranged a dive of the Nanaimo Wrecks with Sea Dragon Charters. Thanks Jim! I almost had to cancel the trip, however. The night before while picking up my cylinders, I stopped to run an errand. When I tried to start the truck, it was completely dead. I called Heather and she helped me jump start it, and I was able to get it into Canadian Tire just in time. It turned out to be the battery, and that had to be replaced. Pretty good, since the battery in the truck was the original one. Lucky as well that it failed the night before, and not when we were trying to drive onto the ferry! I counted it as lucky anyway...

Vlad and I planned for the 630 am ferry, so we had to get up very early. The weather report was for rain all day, so it looked quite dismal. The ride over was uneventful, and we planned our dives. We were going to do two tech dives, expecting the first one to average 36 meters, and the second to average 33 meters. We had brought our scooters, and decided to use them for the second dive.

Once over on the island, we met up at the Marinaside resort. Glen and Christine were already on the Sea Dragon, and Drew and Damien were there already too. Jim and Greg arrived soon after and we started getting things loaded onto the boat. Mark had been scheduled to go, but had to cancel unfortunately. This meant that we had a nice number on the boat, and it wasn't too crowded.

Even though the weather report was not good, it did end up cooperating pretty well. It rained some, but when we needed it to stop, it did (on the surface interval for example). The sun even peaked out a few times!

Due to the unsettled weather, we weren't even sure that we'd be able to dive the wrecks at all. Glen took us out around the island, and we checked it out. Thankfully it wasn't too bad. There were swells, but it was doable. We tied up on the Cape Breton first. On the dive, Vlad and I decided to run a line and do a short drop down through the skylight. We checked out the engine room, and it was good fun. Vlad took some photos, and they are here.

For the deco, I was looking forward to trying out my new Thermulation heated vest. I pulled out the wireless controller and clicked it on. After a few minutes, I didn't feel any different. I tried the higher setting, and still nothing. I was convinced that I had made a poor purchase! But back on the boat, I realized that I had the remote too far away from my body. The unit would vibrate when it was activated, and on the dive I thought that I just couldn't feel it. Two things I learned: you definitely could feel the buzzing, and you really could feel the heat! Jim and Greg both said they had similar initial problems. It was an easy fix, and boy was it nice having the vest on. I kept it on low for most of the surface interval as well.

For the surface interval we pulled in behind Snake Island where it was calmer. The rain stopped and the sun even came out. The Sea Dragon provided some yummy quesadillas, and we watched the seals sun themselves on the rocks.

For the second dive, we visited the Saskatchewan. Vlad and I took our scooters and had a great tour of the ship. We circled it at least twice, and also scootered through the hull via one of the cut-outs. We saw one mother of a ling cod near the bow, making its lair where the hull met the bottom. We checked out the bow and the guns, and a gash in the hull near the bow. We couldn't figure out how the gash could have happened, other than during it's journey to the bottom. Vlad spotted a huge cabezon, but before he could call attention to it, it swam off into the depths quickly. It did not want any attention, that was for sure. For this deco, I made sure to turn on my vest. I felt it made a big difference. I had it on the middle heat setting, and that seemed quite comfortable. Because we were doing a repetitive tech dive, the deco for the second dive was just as long as the first, even though we were shallower and had a shorter bottom time. On our deco, Damien, Drew and Christine passed us on their ascent up, and we waved as they went by. The scooters helped on the deco as well, making it quite easy to stay in position near the line with very little effort. Vlad had made a comment a few days before, you really wanted your scooter on every dive once you got used to i.

The day came to an end too quickly, and soon we were motoring back to Nanaimo to catch the ferry. Again the weather cooperated with the rain holding off. We soon got the boat unloaded and were on our way, saying our good byes. Vlad and I had an interesting experience with BC Ferries when we declared our "dangerous goods". They actually requested to inspect them. When they did, they said that they had to check if the cylinders needed to be upright! I was quite surprised, as anyone who transports scuba cylinders knows that having them lying down is much more secure. The BC Ferries person checked the regulations and told us that indeed they just had to be secure. And since I had them all tied down, we were good to go. However, I was a bit worried for a while, thinking we'd have to re-pack the entire truck. We figured later that the regulation of standing cylinders must apply to the large commercial gas cylinders. Having incidents like this made me second guess declaring anything at all, and I'm sure the same goes for a lot of divers. It was too bad, because if I was BC Ferries, I'd make it a heck of a lot easier for divers to declare what they actually have, and not give them such a hard time. However it must be a very limited issue.

But, once again, another great day of diving!

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