Nettie Goes Techie!
Today was going to include 1 dive to 42 metres in Ras Mohammed so as well as looking forward to my first deco dive I was also looking forward to a nap in the afternoon as this technical diving makes you tired.
John and I got to work on preparing our kit which is starting to come as second nature. Once we had set up the gear we prepared our slates with our planned dive and our ďbail outĒ plan, this is a plan just in case we go a little bit deeper than planned or stay a little bit longer. There were few skills to do but mainly I just had to follow the plan.
The recreational divers on the boat were heading first to Shark and Yolanda, only the best dive site in Sharm so thatís where we were going to dive to only a little deeper than normal. This isnít a normal site for a deco debut, but as the conditions were reported as good and Iíve dived the site on probably a 100 or more occasions John thought Iíd have no problems. Each time I dive the site the currents are doing something different so with that knowledge I was a little nervous, but if my instructor had confidence in my performance then so did I!
As we jumped in the surface conditions were completely flat. Looking down under the water the first thing spotted were the 100ís of snappers, beautiful. The second thing I noticed was that the current was now absolutely banging!
After we descended things flashed before my eyes, tuna, trevallys, Shark Reef! After 3 minutes we were at 35 metres and at the saddle between Shark and Yolanda reef. The outside current was heading very quickly out and current very close to the reef was against us. Interesting to say the least.
With nowhere to go, we stayed in the calm area, besides the reef and I counted my respiration rate at 40 metres, whilst swimming around. Iíd never been that deep there before so was unaware that after the steep slope on the saddle things flatten out. I also had time to check out some fairly massive tuna and a lot of trevallys swimming past. On the reef itself a ĎNemoí was quite happily going about its business and there was a whip coral that was bright purple which was petty impressive as I know that colour disappears the deeper you go.
After we had a bottom time of 8 minutes my computer showed me Iíd gone into deco for the first time. Iíd seen in the manual what would happen but never in real life, apart from an occasional 4 minute safety stop, so it was an experience to hear it bleeping and it told me I should not ascend to above 3 metres until the deco time had cleared. At minute 16 we signalled and prepared our slings. At minute 17 we started heading up to 22 metres. From what Iíd learnt you would normally head directly upwards to your next stop but due to the strong currents we hugged the reef. Looking up I saw all the anthias (the little gold fish we use to tell the strength of the current) with their heads in the air which meant we were going to go into a down current. Great, I couldnít wait with all the resistance of the twinset and sling on my back. My Sharm dive guide training came into practice well, hiding behind large coral heads as we ascended. It wasnít as tough as Iíd imagined.
After switching to the sling tank at 20 metres we then quickly headed to 9 metres for our next stop. By this time we were on the front of Yolanda with very little current. We bimbled along checking out the coral. With really great viz today the soft corals were very brightly coloured. It was then time to move onto our 6 metre stop as we turned the corner of Yolanda. During my 37th minute my deco cleared so if Iíd wanted to I could have ascended to the surface, but as our plan wasnít yet finished we had time to sail over the Yolanda wreckage and deploy smbís. John had suggested I should take a lot longer to surface than in a recreational dive so to impress him that Iíd taken this info on board I took 3 minutes exactly to ascend from 5 metres. Brilliant!
As it was flat on the surface it was fairly easy to get back on the boat despite Seagullís ladders being a little wonky. Another successful dive, if not a little hairy with those speedy currents. Definitely an experience!
After a an excellent lunch and a 30 minute sleep I was ready to take in all John knew about Oxygen toxicity, and I completed all my deco knowledge reviews. We also planned tomorrowís dive which will again be in Ras Mo Park area and Iíll be heading to 45 metres. Letís hope for some more forgiving currents!
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