Sunday, May 15, 2011

Night Swimming

Since I first started diving in October of 2009, I've made a total of fifty dives. Tonight was my 51st, and my third night dive ever. I'm up in the small town of Hoodsport, on the lovely Hood Canal in Washington, taking some specialty training classes so I can improve my skills. What was weird about tonight was just how bad it was. I saw very clearly how a few small things can rapidly snowball into the kinds of diving problems that could result in serious injuries.

It all started simply enough: we were going to swim around the training course in the cove across from The Yellow House, a lovely 100-year-old farmhouse owned by Don Kinney of Edmonds Technical Diving Services. I dove the site several times in the daylight past March, and thought it would be easy and even a little boring. What I ended up with was a lot of bouyancy issues which resulted in a runaway ascent from 24 feet of water to the surface. In between I experienced mounting frustrations. The major lesson I learned is that its very easy to get complacent. A few good dives in a row and I feel like I can take on the undersea world. But little things really do matter, like how I changed the distribution of four out of 34 pounds of weight I was carrying, or what side of my body I attached my dive light to. Dry suit diving is a little like going on a space walk, astronauts have a methodical checklist for everything, and a plan for every contingency. I need to think more like an astronaut to keep the good dives coming.

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