Sunday, August 27, 2017

Nomash River Cave GUE-BC 14-18/08/2017

It was time to dive Nomash River cave with GUE-BC once again!

Several months of planning were involved. Unfortunately not as many people ended up attending this year. The roster was Jim Dixon, Dennis Diamond, Joakim Hjelm, Dan Wei and myself.

Dan and I went over from Vancouver very early on Monday. I ended up getting up at 2 am to get him and catch the 5:15 ferry from Tswasssen. It was dark! The ferry guy was funny when he stopped to check our dangerous goods paperwork. He said “scuba cylinders, those aren't dangerous those are fun!”. Glad he had a sense of humor so early.

Fortunately we were able to sleep on the ferry. I actually used my sleeping bag because the air conditioning was so chilly. Landing at Duke Point showed a fabulous morning.

We stopped for some much needed coffee and breakfast in Parksville and then headed to Comox to pickup some final gear. Then it was off to Campbell River for final fuel and we left civilization behind. Although this year, thanks to Dan, we had access to a satellite phone. It was very nice to know we had such a tool along, because we would be at least an hour away from any phone contact. We paused for a moment at the Roberts Lake rest stop and chatted to a few cyclists who were going to Victoria. They reported that there was rain on the way. Hopefully it would help some of the dry conditions.

The day was excellent for driving: clear and sunny. We made great time and made it to Nomash River at around 2pm as planned. We stopped at the bridge as usual for a photo shot, as this was Dan's first trip up. The river sure looked good!

On the way to the cave, I made a wrong turn. The fork in the road that led to Nomash Cave had a much more traveled section which looked to be the way to go. It actually led to the Nomash power plant. As we drove up this road, we were stopped by a forest truck, who asked us what we were doing. I said we were meeting several people up ahead to dive Nomash Cave. He said this was an active logging road and that he hadn't seen anyone like that. I assured him they were just ahead, and he told us to be careful. We continued driving; me confident that we were almost there. Then we passed a gate that I didn't remember, and the actual power plant building. I commented to Dan that it “must have been a very new building”. We went a bit more and I finally realized when the big logging truck almost ran us over that we should get the hell out of there! It didn't take long to get back to the fork and back on the right track. I would remember for next time that after the Nomash bridge to stay right and follow the power lines. If I went through a gate or saw a power building, it was a sign to go back!

We pulled in to the cave road and quickly saw Dennis’ Jeep. When I stopped, I head a strange hissing noise. I thought it was a cylinder jarred open, but quickly realized it was a flat front tire. I could see the hole and it was quite impressive. It must have happened just as we pulled in. Later the tire got replaced with a spare and all was well. But it certainly reminded me that we were a long way from home!

We met Jim and Dennis, and got in a dive on that first day. Jo had yet to arrive. It was great to get Dan in for his first dive of Nomash Cave!

The next day Jo did photogrammetry with us. It was super cool playing with the Bug Blue lights. He was able to make a model of the Eyes of Nomash that night. Technology was certainly impressive. The insects liked his warm laptop, and there were many jokes about bugs in his computer. Here was a picture of the gear-up area, with Jo and Dennis trying to avoid the mosquitos.

The scenery around camp was excellent as usual.

Wednesday Dennis, Jim and I made an expedition to another cave, Reappearing River. Unfortunately when we stopped to ask for directions we were told that all parks were closed. due to the fire ban. So instead we had a nice lunch in Port McNeil. Dan and Jo did more photos while we were gone. We brought them back chicken wings as their reward. With the mosquitoes so bad, Dennis bought the last bug hat in Port McNeil, much to Jim's chagrin. He looked pretty goofy, but it did work pretty well. For the next years, I made a note to bring one too, along with some mosquito repellent coils.

Thursday had Dan and myself diving together. We did a nice long dive past the chimney to the 30 meter mark, came back, recalculated our gas and Dan ran a main line past the jump at the Eyes of Nomash. Unfortunately the line there was broken so we came back. It was a great dive. We rounded out the day doing trail building and interviews for a documentary of the cave that Joakim was doing. I was in charge of filming him and put him out of focus! Fortunately the interview got re-shot later.

Friday had one last dive, and it was a big one. Both teams were in with multiple objectives. Jim and Dennis would clean up their stage bottles, while Jo, Dan and myself would do photogrammetry at the entrance. After that Jo wanted to film line replacement work, scooters, and we had to place a temperature sensor that had been built by Vlad Chernavsky. Unfortunately Jo's camera flooded just after finishing the entrance photogrammetry and we had to end the dive. Dennis and Jim placed the sensor and fixed some line, and it was all done!

During the trip, we had the luxury of a wilderness fill station. Sean had let Jim take his generator, Jo brought his Haskel pump booster, and Nick Bowman let us borrow his compressor. So we were able to do a lot of fills on-site with a bit of creativity. We couldn't figure out how to attach the fan guard to Nick's compressor, so it earned the nick-name Finger-chomper, but thankfully that never happened.

The last day brought a considerable amount of rain during the night. Here was a picture of the entrance.

If you compared it to the picture from the first day, you could see the water had rose considerably. You could actually notice it rise during the morning. It gave us great feedback on how quickly rainfall affected the water level. Throughout the week it had dropped continually by an inch or two every day. On the last day with the rain, it rose at least six inches in the matter of hours. Quite dramatic.

As always, good things came to an end and we had to pack. We learned a lot again this year. The depth and temperature sensor that was placed would give us even more information on how the cave water level behaved for next time. We planned on recovering it next spring. Until then!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Britannia Beach 05/07/2017

Vlad needed to recover the temperature sensor that we placed at Project Baseline Britannia Beach, so we went out to get it. It was a great evening for it.

The trail down to the beach past the park was showing large signs of erosion due to wave action. From the trail you couldn't see it, so it could be a safety issue at some point. Walking directly on top of the eroded area in full gear could cause it to collapse. It was definitely something to keep in mind. Here was a picture.

The visibility in the first 10 feet was not good, touch contact at best. But under that it was quite good. We measured the visibility at Station A at 3.8 meters and at Station B at 5.8 meters. Here was a picture of Vlad beside one of the stations.

The sensor was deployed at Station A. It had sunk due to something clamped on to the line. I really couldn't figure out what it was or how it got there.

Once we recovered the sensor, we headed off to Station B. The orange line connecting the two stations was still in place if a bit brown and dirty.

On the way we came across some big red rock crabs.

And a very nice fried-egg jellyfish.

When we surfaced, we scarred the crap out of a dog on a walk with his owner. He couldn't figure out what these strange things coming out of the ocean was!