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Another Lesson Learned

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by TMHeimer, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
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    So, we dived from my house, a site I obviously know. Lots of chop and debatable as to whether to dive. Got out a ways, surface, and see we are way off to the North. Viz only 7 feet, so I opt to surface swim toward shore. Then a compass reading and descend for the rest of the way. The "holy crap" thing came into play. We did the "stop, think, act" thing and finished the dive. A message to new divers to do that and remember the ocean doesn't care about you.
     
    Sandie7 likes this.
  2. Linedog

    Linedog Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Washington state
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    Live to dive another day.
     
  3. SKMoss

    SKMoss Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: So Cal
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    TM, I've read this a few times and I'm not sure what the lesson you're trying to impart is. I'm not intentionally trying to be obtuse, I promise.
     
    Steve_C likes this.
  4. CptTightPants21

    CptTightPants21 Solo Diver

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    My thoughts exactly. Did you get lost again when you descended the second time?
     
    DownDiver and abyss_scuba like this.
  5. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Stop think act. I just always try to remember, I still have air. I've got time to work this out. On the other hand if I'm getting rolled over and over in surf . . .

    So TMHeimer, you had a come to God moment but aren't prepared to share all the nitty gritty? that gets in one's shorts?
     
    Diver Dan 28 likes this.
  6. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    13,239
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    Well, when I descended (from 25') I got turned around apparently due to motion created by the nasty surface chop. The compass was not much help as I was being blown "sideways", even on the bottom (not a normal thing here). Same thing the second descent. So a bit of a strong surface swim to get closer to shore seemed a good idea. Then I was shallow enough to descend and pull myself along the rocks (sans compass) to the exit. It wasn't a come to God moment (though I did say Holy Crap), just a situation where thinking what's the best course was what you do. I've been in a very few other situations dealing with currents and was fortunate I was able to "stop, think and act". That is the lesson-- keep your head and firgure out the options. And know that you have plenty of air. I suppose another lesson for new (and all) divers is things can change even if you've dived the same site for 10 years.
     
    Sandie7 likes this.
  7. dumpsterDiver

    dumpsterDiver Banned

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
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    You did a pretty weak job of explaining what the situation was, but diving from shore with no boat for support in in rough conditions can be challenging. I used to dive in Maine (from shore in a wetsuit) and the sea is not forgiving up there.

    If you get blown along the shore by a current, you can be presented with rocks or a shoreline that precludes an exit (since you will get smashed onto rocks). The tidal currents there can be strong and change quickly and even if you are a strong swimmer, the water temperature is such that you will not be able to swim for very long in a wetsuit. You will become chilled and exhausted trying to swim in scuba gear in coldwater and fighting currents and waves. You are MUCH weaker and more helpless when the water is that cold.

    If the sea state was questionable, I prefer to freedive there, simply because I can swim faster and scramble up and over rocks so much easier and safer without scuba gear.
     
    Sandie7 likes this.
  8. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    13,239
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    dumpsterD, We don't get very strong tidal currents here unless it's an unusual shoreline, and even then it's just a directional thing (I would imagine tidal currents in Maine are stronger, particularly in the north near Fundy). I was amazed being so far off course.
    There wasn't really much surge (it has been way worse), just a lot of chop and windy. I hear what you're saying about getting exhausted. I wasn't too worried about cold (one dive wet in 48F is fine) unless I got too far from shore. I knew the site and once I was closer in I just headed right for the rocks to one side of the easy exit, then followed them in safely in 10'.
     
  9. freewillie

    freewillie Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: SoCal Beach Cities
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    Didn't really get a chance to answer earlier. I've had one of those moments when conditions changed. Part of the reason to dive that morning was my friend was trying to complete his OW check out dives with his son before they left for Hawaii in a week. Surf had been running a little high so we weren't quite sure we would get the dives in. I was tagging along to make 4 divers instead of 3 so each diver would have a buddy. We headed out to the beach that morning to find conditions marginal. Surf about 2-3 feet or so with a few bigger swells intermittently. Not great conditions but they weren't prohibitive either. I had several shore dives by that time and felt pretty comfortable trying it. The instructor felt the conditions should be okay and we headed out.

    Somewhere during the dive the surge underwater really started to pick up. Conditions weren't great to begin with but we soon discovered visibility went from 10-15 feet to less than 5 with the surge. At one point it was becoming difficult to see your buddy even at arms length. The instructor called the dive at that point and we started to head back. Once we were closer to shore and surfaced waves had picked up to 4-6 feet. It was the only time I've been diving when exiting the water was really a challenge. I timed my exit with my buddy and although nearly knocked over did stay on my feet and we got out without being tumbled. My friend's son was exiting with the instructor. He failed to keep his hand over his mask and face and lost the mask and fins when a wave hit them and crashed over the top. We got the fins back but not his brand new prescription mask. On a positive note a diver found it a few weeks later and returned it to the LDS and they got it back.

    For all of the new divers reading this post the take home message is it might be nice to have the skill and experience to dive challenging conditions but it's better not to be in those conditions in the first place. In hind sight the check out dives could have been done in Hawaii under warmer and better conditions. While we did fine the visibility sucked and you couldn't see anything anyways. Conditions also change so if it's marginal going in if the tide changes the conditions can deteriorate and when you end your dive they might be worse. In fact when we got back to our cars the Lifeguards came up to us to close the beach to diving. Better to be on the shore wishing you could be diving than to be in the water diving wishing you were back on shore.
     
  10. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    13,239
    3,202
    113
    freewillie, Although my situation was more of a current being increased apparently by the wind & waves, it was definately a change in conditions--in that I had never experienced that here at our house before. I can see exactly what happened to you, as we basically live on open ocean, despite a couple of islands to the side. I have seen wave heights change enough during what would be a normal dive time- say half an hour- to make an exit very difficult.
     

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