Nettie Goes Techie!
I was full of apprehension at the beginning of the day. As a recreational dive guide I was aware that diving in Tiran is always pretty amazing but it comes with a price of unpredictable conditions both above and below the surface.
Using my recreational dive gear this would not be a worry, but today Iíll be in a bulky twinset that wonít be quite as easy to manoeuvre in a current. As always in Tiran, the decision as to what sites are dived also has to be done about 30 minutes before the dive, as before then itís impossible to predict the surface conditions on each reef.
So as we head off I try to remember how to set up and analyse my gear. I didnít do too bad and was only criticised in the set-up of the sling tank. I drew a line on my label between the analysed percentage and the maximum operating depth, I thought I was making the information clearer but in fact this would be a problem on future courses, so I now know not to do this again! This seems quite petty but I understand if you use the incorrect gas at depth youíd have a big problem.
We then discussed the dive plan. Similar to yesterday in some ways but a little deeper and a few skills introduced at depth.
It was then decided that Thomas Reef would be dived, this is the smallest reef in Tiran so you can experience really strong currents both with and against you. It also has the world famous Thomas Canyon which is meant to be amazing. The recreational divers headed in first who advised us that there was very little current which relieved some of my worry. We jumped in, supposedly directly above the canyon but due to bad viz it just looked very dark down there. We followed the reef down fairly quickly which probably accounted for me struggling to get my balance in the twinset. I mentioned this to John afterwards and he said I looked fine so being off balance was probably in my head due to nerves.
At 30m, I was asked to perform a few shutdowns whilst hovering. Amazingly my arms seemed to have grown since yesterday as I could get hold of the handles far easier. I was also asked to take the sling tank off and I managed this much better than yesterday too. I think the clips were bigger so easier to get hold of rather than it being anything to do with my improved dexterity.
Once the skills were completed we continued our descent. When we arrived at the top of the Canyon I was surprised how clear it was. I sail over the top of it recreational diving at around 25 metres so it always looks a little hazy. I also thought how narrow it was if you went down into it you must have to go in single file. Iíve heard so many tech divers talk about it I guess I thought it would be wider but it did look like it would be fun to descend into it, but thatís for another day. We had 10 minutes down at 39 metres.
In our 9th minute we turned on our sling tank ready to switch to it at 22 metres. The whole task loading thing kicked in, controlling my ascent rate whilst changing to the sling tank mix of 50%. We signalled the switch and changed regs. I felt that the reg wasnít sitting right so followed the hose from the tank to my mouth. I had only put the reg in upside down. A fundamental open water error! Luckily the reg worked both ways up so there was no problem really but a definite blonde moment. John had also noticed the problem and was heading towards me to turn it round too so there was no hiding what Iíd done either. Doh!
At 9 metres I had to send up my SMB deployment. It didnít go too well as it was only filled to cocktail sausage proportions. I could see John writing something on his slate COULD DO BETTER, I was sure of it.
We then did a long stop at 6 metres and even had Hatem join us, his recreational group had decided he was going too slow so chose to change groups and follow Hassan instead. It was quite amusing in the shallows as there was a load of snorklers pointing and staring at us. A couple of snorklers even decided to use Hatemís SMB as a buoyancy aid tugging away at it bouncing him up and down.
Once we ascended, my next challenge was getting onto the boat in the swell. First unclipping the sling then getting up the ladders. I reckon this tech diving must be good for the figure as my gluteous maximus is aching quite a lot just now!
As the wind died down slightly it was decided the second dive site was going to be looking for Hammerheads at the back of Jackson. John decided that I had done quite well with the skills so we could have a non-course dive in our twinsets. John also said it would also be safer to jump in and get out onto the boat in the swell without the sling tanks. We jumped in with the rest of the group, went to 23 metres and hung there. Without the sling I felt I could manoeuvre far easier and without having to concentrate on specific times and depths I could give the job of shark hunting my full attention. I have dived the back of Jackson many times with about 50% success rate this summer. Even when you donít see sharks to dive in the blue with no reference is also somehow very relaxing.
Unfortunately today was not one of those successful days and after 15 minutes of nothing but plankton John suggested doing some skills. I surprised myself by managing to keep my depth whilst doing some shutdowns. Quite a confidence builder actually.
After 30 minutes John suggested we found somewhere slightly flatter to exit the water so we had to swim against the current for a while. Yes another reason why my buttocks ache! There were no dramas coming out of the water so that was it, Day 2 over.
My Advanced Nitrox Course is not quite over as I have my exam to look forward to this evening. If that all goes well I will be starting my deco course tomorrow.
BACK TO DAY ONE:
ON TO DAY THREE:
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