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View Full Version : AOW down, but boat dives still make me nervous....



rkj1969
05-02-2010, 17:13
I'm excited to have completed my Advanced cert this weekend - we did Deep, Nav and Night all as shore dives but went out on the boat for Wreck and Photography. I'd had 4 other boat dives prior to this (we are lucky to have a lot of shore diving in Guam).

Our wreck dive was inside Apra Harbor at the Tokai Maru/SS Cormoran site (which is famous for being a WWII wreck sitting on top of a WWI wreck). The vis was bad, maybe 10 feet. I got a little nervous on the descent so I slowed down to give myself a "pep talk" - my buddy stayed with me - and we were soon separated from our group! We did as we were supposed to, stopped (at 53'), looked around and when we couldn't see anyone we ascended - it turned out the current had pushed us in the opposite direction from the dive site and we ended up on the far side of the boat.

We swam around to the other side of the boat just as our instructor popped up to find us, right on time. I guess if I had to "screw up" at least I followed procedure....

We descended again, this time closer to the mooring line and joined the rest of our class. Touring the wreck was very cool - but I only got about 50 minutes out of my tank - drat! As a comparison...we did a 60 minute night (shore) dive and I came up with 1000 psi.

The photography dive was a little worse - I descended fine, it was another blind (no line) descent but the vis was much better at this site, so I'm sure that helped. I had a bit of trouble with buoyancy while fiddling around with camera settings and such, so this was another short dive (45 min). We ascended to 15' and started the short swim back to the boat (in lieu of a static safety stop). The drama started at 500 psi!

As we were heading back to the boat I was at 500, I felt my air getting low, looked at my gauge and it was at 0 all of a sudden. I had managed to suck down all 500 psi in about two minutes! I looked around and my instructor was closer than my buddy was, so I swam up to her, tapped her shoulder and signaled, then showed her my gauge.

Instructor had a new octo (she's used to using an Air2, but got the octo for classes), so she gave it to me upside down, yay. But once I got that straightened out - we ascended and weren't very far from the boat at all.

On the boat she told me she was glad I'd stayed so calm - my classmates said they didn't even know anything was wrong til they saw us ascending with our arms linked.....so again, I'm glad that I at least know what I'm supposed to do when things go wonky.

I do want to work on my confidence level with this boat diving thing. I'm not sure if I just get nervous because I don't feel sure of where the boat is, or what. Our dive sites really aren't far from shore (in fact lots of folks do a 20 min snorkel out to our second site) - so I really shouldn't be freaking out like I'm going to be left hundreds of miles out or anything.

I've tried looking up boat diving articles, but they mostly talk about getting off and on the boat - that part I'm ok with - it's the darn descending and air usage (nerves?) that I seem to have issues with. It's only been about 3 months since my OW - 18 dives total.....so I'm sure I need practice, practice, practice....

Any tips you guys are willing to share??

comet24
05-02-2010, 17:51
If the boat is tied into the wreck or a buoy then use the line to ascend and descend. Almost all of my dives are boat dive and I always use the line. Heck most times I have no choice because of the current.

You talked about how long your gas lasted on the different dives but don't mention the depth. Many things effect gas usage.

UCFKnightDiver
05-02-2010, 17:56
Ascending when you get to 500 psi is an extremely arbitrary number, and is really not a good one to use, you shouldn't be running out of gas with 18 dives under your belt in my opinion. There are ways to calculate rock bottom (amount of gas you need to ascend in an emergency with a buddy), and charts that make it easy to remember, or to have written down.

As to ascents and decents, if there's a mooring line, use it. in Low Vis, look at your buddy, and your depth guage as you descend and ascend.

Finally, calm down, breath deep and slowly, and just enjoy the dive.

rkj1969
05-02-2010, 18:15
If the boat is tied into the wreck or a buoy then use the line to ascend and descend. Almost all of my dives are boat dive and I always use the line. Heck most times I have no choice because of the current.

You talked about how long your gas lasted on the different dives but don't mention the depth. Many things effect gas usage.

You're right, I should clarify - we went to about 90 on the wreck dive, but most of the dive was at 63-67. We were never lower than 65 on the photo dive. Same for the night dive....

I think I'm mostly comparing myself to the rest of the divers in my class - they did the same dive but came up with more air than I did.....so I'm presuming I'm doing something differently.

I do think the line helps me descend more calmly - I definitely need to stick closer to the mooring line. On the second site the boat was just moored to the buoy, but we descended to about 50 and then followed our compass heading to the site - that one didn't seem to bother me.

Maybe I will take up yoga so I can do meditative breathing underwater!:smiley13:

rkj1969
05-02-2010, 18:34
Ascending when you get to 500 psi is an extremely arbitrary number, and is really not a good one to use, you shouldn't be running out of gas with 18 dives under your belt in my opinion.

I feel this was an unusual situation - maybe I was nervous about getting back to the boat or whatever and hyperventilated a little.....based on past performance, I should have been able to make a 3 minute swim back to the boat without hitting 0.

Chilly
05-02-2010, 18:59
First, thank you so much for sharing your experience. I think we all learn the most from the dives that donít go perfectly.

I think you did great! Youíre an aggressive diver who takes responsibility for your own safety - you showed good judgment not continuing your descent when you werenít ready. You maintained mutual support with your buddy. You had a contingency plan for losing your instructor, you recognized that you needed to execute it, then you and your buddy calmly executed as briefed.

You even ran out of air and handled that in a text book manner. Iíve never been tested that way, but if it happens to me, hopefully Iíll perform just like you did.

Things I would have debriefed with my instructor and dive buddy after the dive:


How did I get so low on air? Did we not plan enough air for the ascent, safety stop, and swim to the boat? Did I lose track of my remaining air? Did I not communicate my low air state to the instructor/dive buddy? Was my attention channelized on the camera work and not on my air? What techniques to fix any root causes?
For my dive buddy Ė were you aware of my low air state? Were you in a position to provide mutual support when I ran out of air? If not, why not?
Descent and ascent techniques to improve your confidence.Things Iíll take away from your experience:


Ensure to spend sufficient time briefing your response to contingencies Ė out of air, lost dive buddy etc
Practice contingency drills to maintain proficiency and build confidence in skills.
Channelized attention Ė when is it going to happen (camera work, etc) and techniques to mitigate the risk Finally, I have learned a lot from the Scuba Diving Magazine site. Iíll start you off with this article.

http://www.scubadiving.com/training/basic-skills/2007/12/swept-away (http://www.scubadiving.com/training/basic-skills/2007/12/swept-away)

My son and I always brief one of the ďLessons for LifeĒ before the first dive of the day and tie it in to what we are doing on the dive and plan a related drill.

Again, great job Ė you can be my dive buddy any time.

Quero
05-02-2010, 18:59
Yoga isn't a bad idea at all. :smiley1: It can help you develop breath control so that when you hear yourself puffing away, you can get into your yoga breathing rhythm.

Secondly, anxiety and task loading (for example, being unaccustomed to using a camera on a dive) definitely contribute to increased air consumption. The more confident and relaxed you are, the less your brain releases adrenaline to keep your muscles in a tensed, ready-for-action/fight-or-flight state. I don't guess it's the fact of a boat dive that leaves you so uneasy, but instead the insecurity you feel about descents and ascents without a reference. When you walk in from shore, the bottom is right there, and when you return along the bottom of a shore dive, the bottom is still right there, so you are never dealing with "blue" water. We (instructors) know that these kinds of ascents/descents are stressful to divers who have not experienced them before, and they become even more stressful in low-viz conditions like those present on your dives. What you felt is natural, and you'll feel better with more experience.

Lastly, you can't compare your own consumption with that of others without considering your biotype. Bigger people with bigger lungs breathe their tanks down faster than smaller people with smaller lungs. I don't know what your biotype is, but practically all men use air faster than women, all else being equal. Cut yourself some slack and gauge your progress against your own past performances rather than the performances of your classmates. A 50-minute dive is not unreasonable (assuming a standard 80 cu. ft. tank) for a dive at the depth you describe.

As far as tips go for descents and ascents without a reference:
1) Keep in mind what you learned in your Nav training--if you pause on descent, as you did, you need to pay attention to whether you are drifting and in what direction (check your compass). That will make it possible for you use an opposite bearing to swim back towards your objective when you begin to descend again.
2) When navigating ascents, remember that close enough is good enough. That is, if you navigate back to your boat by using a compass and you come up near enough to the boat for an easy swim on the surface (which in effect you did), you are close enough.
3) Until you can defeat your heightened anxiety, plan your dives with a bigger cushion for those stressful blue-water ascents--that is, plan for the contingency that you may use more air than you would expect to according to your SAC calculations.

Chilly
05-02-2010, 19:27
As far as tips go for descents and ascents without a reference:
1) Keep in mind what you learned in your Nav training--if you pause on descent, as you did, you need to pay attention to whether you are drifting and in what direction (check your compass). That will make it possible for you use an opposite bearing to swim back towards your objective when you begin to descend again.

Quero,

Please help me out as I've not heard this technique before - if I can see neither the boat nor the objective and I am drifting with the current, how do I determine the direction of drift with my compass?

Any tips on determining distance?

Thanks!

rkj1969
05-02-2010, 19:33
<snip>
Things I would have debriefed with my instructor and dive buddy after the dive:

How did I get so low on air? Did we not plan enough air for the ascent, safety stop, and swim to the boat? Did I lose track of my remaining air? Did I not communicate my low air state to the instructor/dive buddy? Was my attention channelized on the camera work and not on my air? What techniques to fix any root causes?
For my dive buddy Ė were you aware of my low air state? Were you in a position to provide mutual support when I ran out of air? If not, why not?
Descent and ascent techniques to improve your confidence.

Thanks Chilly - those are great questions for me to think about and plan better for on the next dive. I did lose track a little on the photo dive - I remember signalling when I was at 1000, my buddy was at the same psi. We swam around a little more and next thing I knew I was at 500 - our plan was to let the instructor know when we were at 750 - so I blew that.

I like the article you referenced - coming up with a good plan in case I do get disoriented will certainly help me relax....after all, I was able to handle the OOA situation calmly because I've run that scenario in my head enough times that I felt completely confident that I knew what to do! I guess the same practice would work for this too....

rkj1969
05-02-2010, 19:46
I don't guess it's the fact of a boat dive that leaves you so uneasy, but instead the insecurity you feel about descents and ascents without a reference. When you walk in from shore, the bottom is right there, and when you return along the bottom of a shore dive, the bottom is still right there, so you are never dealing with "blue" water.

EXACTLY!!!!


Lastly, you can't compare your own consumption with that of others without considering your biotype. Bigger people with bigger lungs breathe their tanks down faster than smaller people with smaller lungs. A 50-minute dive is not unreasonable (assuming a standard 80 cu. ft. tank) for a dive at the depth you describe.

This is true, I'm sure - my dive buddy (daughter, 18) is about 5 inches and 100 pounds smaller than me, so she almost always ends up with more air (and yes, we generally dive compact 80s). My instructor also "blames" my being a classically trained singer with giant lungs....



As far as tips go for descents and ascents without a reference:
1) Keep in mind what you learned in your Nav training--if you pause on descent, as you did, you need to pay attention to whether you are drifting and in what direction (check your compass). That will make it possible for you use an opposite bearing to swim back towards your objective when you begin to descend again.


This is a very good idea - though it was difficult on the first dive because the wreck was screwing with our compasses.....it worked much better on the second dive!


2) When navigating ascents, remember that close enough is good enough. That is, if you navigate back to your boat by using a compass and you come up near enough to the boat for an easy swim on the surface (which in effect you did), you are close enough.

good point - I need to remember to tell myself that there's really no way for me to get terribly far when we're inside the darn harbor! worst case scenario would probably be coming up closer to the beach than the boat - embarrassing, but not deadly!


3) Until you can defeat your heightened anxiety, plan your dives with a bigger cushion for those stressful blue-water ascents--that is, plan for the contingency that you may use more air than you would expect to according to your SAC calculations.

Very very good point. I'm definitely going to get back on the boat soon to work on this some more - maybe visualizing successful ascents will help me be more calm - as it did with the OOA situation.

Thank you very much for the tips! I really appreciate knowing that you have had students with the same issues and I'm not just some crazy swimming chicken.....

Quero
05-02-2010, 19:53
As far as tips go for descents and ascents without a reference:
1) Keep in mind what you learned in your Nav training--if you pause on descent, as you did, you need to pay attention to whether you are drifting and in what direction (check your compass). That will make it possible for you use an opposite bearing to swim back towards your objective when you begin to descend again.

Quero,

Please help me out as I've not heard this technique before - if I can see neither the boat nor the objective and I am drifting with the current, how do I determine the direction of drift with my compass?

Any tips on determining distance?

Thanks!

Presuming you dropped in from the boat on the dive site, or at an appropriate distance from the dive site to account for drift on descent, you can align your body with the direction of the drift (usually facing into it). With your compass held in the standard manner for whatever sort of compass you have, you align the luber line with your body. That will give you the compass heading for the drift as well as for the reciprocal heading. (Think of a wind sock on an airfield.)

Distance is much more difficult and depends on the velocity of the drift. It's possible (though unlikely on a normal training dive or a simple fun dive) that the current is moving too much water to swim against it in order to effectively reach the objective, or even only strong enough that it would pull a diver too far away to justify trying to reach it by swimming (i.e., it could make a diver blow through too much air in the attempt). When this happens, the only alternative is to surface, climb back on the boat and start over, dropping in on the dive site again. This is a judgment call.

Helpful?

scubadiver888
05-02-2010, 20:39
rkj1969,

I'd like to add a few things I've learned about getting better air consumption.

You might want to have a more experienced diver watch you as you dive or take a Peak Performance Buoyancy course. A lot of times a diver thinks they are neutrally buoyant but they are actually a little negative. Without even realizing it they are constantly finning to stop sinking. This will increase your air consumption.

When you are deep diving, being a little overweight will have a greater affect. If you had to add some air to the BCD to compensate for the extra weight at the surface then as you go deeper you will need to add more and more air to remain neutral.

Additionally, have you learned to never use your hands? If you are unbalanced (more weight on one side) you will be expending energy (which also means air) trying not to roll to one side. You might even be using your hands to achieve this. Practicing to hover in the pool is good. You should be able to float around 5 feet from the surface, legs crossed and hands on your knees. Breath in and you go up a little, breath out and you go down a little.

Proper weighting (so you need a minimal amount of air in the BCD) and being able to hover will have an amazing affect on your air consumption.

There is more you can do but these two things will have the biggest affect.

Chilly
05-02-2010, 20:41
As far as tips go for descents and ascents without a reference:
1) Keep in mind what you learned in your Nav training--if you pause on descent, as you did, you need to pay attention to whether you are drifting and in what direction (check your compass). That will make it possible for you use an opposite bearing to swim back towards your objective when you begin to descend again.

Quero,

Please help me out as I've not heard this technique before - if I can see neither the boat nor the objective and I am drifting with the current, how do I determine the direction of drift with my compass?

Any tips on determining distance?

Thanks!

Presuming you dropped in from the boat on the dive site, or at an appropriate distance from the dive site to account for drift on descent, you can align your body with the direction of the drift (usually facing into it). With your compass held in the standard manner for whatever sort of compass you have, you align the luber line with your body. That will give you the compass heading for the drift as well as for the reciprocal heading. (Think of a wind sock on an airfield.)

Distance is much more difficult and depends on the velocity of the drift. It's possible (though unlikely on a normal training dive or a simple fun dive) that the current is moving too much water to swim against it in order to effectively reach the objective, or even only strong enough that it would pull a diver too far away to justify trying to reach it by swimming (i.e., it could make a diver blow through too much air in the attempt). When this happens, the only alternative is to surface, climb back on the boat and start over, dropping in on the dive site again. This is a judgment call.

Helpful?

Quero,

Thanks for your reply. I agree with your distance estimation call.

Let me read back the drift correction technique: In the absence of visual references, you would 1) know the bearing to the target from a fixed postion, 2) from the fixed postion, do the underwater windsock thing to determine the direction of the current, 3) apply Kentucky Windage to the target bearing based on the direction of the current, 4) if target not in sight after a reasonable amount of kicks, surface and try again.

Quero
05-02-2010, 20:59
As far as tips go for descents and ascents without a reference:
1) Keep in mind what you learned in your Nav training--if you pause on descent, as you did, you need to pay attention to whether you are drifting and in what direction (check your compass). That will make it possible for you use an opposite bearing to swim back towards your objective when you begin to descend again.

Quero,

Please help me out as I've not heard this technique before - if I can see neither the boat nor the objective and I am drifting with the current, how do I determine the direction of drift with my compass?

Any tips on determining distance?

Thanks!

Presuming you dropped in from the boat on the dive site, or at an appropriate distance from the dive site to account for drift on descent, you can align your body with the direction of the drift (usually facing into it). With your compass held in the standard manner for whatever sort of compass you have, you align the luber line with your body. That will give you the compass heading for the drift as well as for the reciprocal heading. (Think of a wind sock on an airfield.)

Distance is much more difficult and depends on the velocity of the drift. It's possible (though unlikely on a normal training dive or a simple fun dive) that the current is moving too much water to swim against it in order to effectively reach the objective, or even only strong enough that it would pull a diver too far away to justify trying to reach it by swimming (i.e., it could make a diver blow through too much air in the attempt). When this happens, the only alternative is to surface, climb back on the boat and start over, dropping in on the dive site again. This is a judgment call.

Helpful?

Quero,

Thanks for your reply. I agree with your distance estimation call.

Let me read back the drift correction technique: In the absence of visual references, you would 1) know the bearing to the target from a fixed postion, 2) from the fixed postion, do the underwater windsock thing to determine the direction of the current, 3) apply Kentucky Windage to the target bearing based on the direction of the current, 4) if target not in sight after a reasonable amount of kicks, surface and try again.

:smiley20: This is most likely what the instructor did when she surfaced to regroup with the OP and his buddy since there is no mention of getting back on the boat. In that particular case, the current was apparently manageable enough to descend and swim back to meet up with the remainder of the group.

rkj1969
05-02-2010, 23:57
rkj1969,

[QUOTE]You might want to have a more experienced diver watch you as you dive or take a Peak Performance Buoyancy course. A lot of times a diver thinks they are neutrally buoyant but they are actually a little negative.

I completely agree and I did do the PPB Specialty before starting AOW. We did those dives as shore dives, though - if I tried it again from a boat I might have a different experience!


When you are deep diving, being a little overweight will have a greater affect.

My instructor had us all add two extra pounds to ensure we would be able to hover midwater for the safety stop - so I was a little overweight and did struggle to stay off the wreck until I got my air balanced out after a few minutes. Good point!

I'll definitely keep working on it....thanks for the reminders!

cutter77
05-02-2010, 23:57
"Practicing to hover in the pool is good. You should be able to float around 5 feet from the surface, legs crossed and hands on your knees. Breath in and you go up a little, breath out and you go down a little.

Proper weighting (so you need a minimal amount of air in the BCD) and being able to hover will have an amazing affect on your air consumption."
__________________________________________________ ___

Good tips.

The best way to build your confidence and skills is to stay wet. That's not usually cheap. A good alternative is to spend a lot of time in a pool....practice drills, make up your own drills, get to where you can do them with your eyes closed. You'll feel much more confident next time you're in blue water.

rkj1969
05-03-2010, 00:02
:smiley20: This is most likely what the instructor did when she surfaced to regroup with the OP and his buddy since there is no mention of getting back on the boat. In that particular case, the current was apparently manageable enough to descend and swim back to meet up with the remainder of the group.

Yes, we surfaced not very far from the boat - just on the opposite side of where we went down at.....so we just swam back over to where our class originally went down.

If I hadn't paused midwater, we'd have been fine - but just those few seconds (in the low vis) were enough to allow the current to carry us where we could no longer see the mooring line....next time I will definitely remember to observe more carefully - just in case!

rkj1969
05-03-2010, 00:08
The best way to build your confidence and skills is to stay wet. That's not usually cheap. A good alternative is to spend a lot of time in a pool....practice drills, make up your own drills, get to where you can do them with your eyes closed. You'll feel much more confident next time you're in blue water.

No pools available for diving here, just ocean (which is a real adventure for those first confined dives, believe me)....but I do know what you mean -Even though my trouble is in blue water - the shore dives help build confidence overall and the cost is only a couple of tank rental fees....

I'll just have to get back on the boat as much as I can. Luckily for us, my membership at the LDS buys $38 seats + tanks on any of the boat dives - so it's not prohibitively expensive!

I really appreciate all the ideas and reminders!

scubastud
05-03-2010, 04:25
Anxiety eats up air fast. Take it from someone who has been there.
May I suggest a few "slow and easy" dives that I know MDA offers, and the free shore dives they offer. These dives are led by an experienced staff member.
I know it is tempting, but leave your camera at home until you are more confident and a master at bouyancy.
Remember above all else, diving is s'posed to be fun!

BUDMAN
05-03-2010, 06:24
not trying to hijack thread but just out of curiosity. I don't know if I'm reading this correctly or not so if not someone correct me.

but unless you are drift diving why would there ever be an instance where the boat is not anchored or tied into a buoy for a downline for ascents /descents?

why would you have a blue water descent?

navyhmc
05-03-2010, 06:27
Actually, I have had several dives that weren't drift dives and the boat dropped us off and then retired to asafe distance away and circled the area-no anochors or moorings as it would damage the reef. In these cases, the DM popped a SMB at we started a safety stop and the boat came in to get us.

Lulubelle
05-03-2010, 06:29
Good thread:smiley20: I have actually never done a shore dive, you should have seen me trying to get into the water from the "shore" when I went to the quarry the first time! If you are tied off on the wreck itself, why not use the mooring line the whole way down? We have to here in NC, otherwise one could easily end up miles from the boat. An added benefit is that you will use far less air getting to the wreck. Typically, I avoid finning on my way down too and just use my arms for the first bit until I can drift down.

The only time I don't use the mooring line on ascent is when there is a clump of divers on the line, the visibility is very good, and the currents not very strong. It is a great exercise in buoyancy control.

One suggestion might be to meet your buddy on the mooring line and get your bearings before descent so that you don't find yourself at depth being anxious and trying to get your bearings for the first time down there.

Another would be to recommend that you are far more conservative with your air reserves, both now and after you resolves these concerns, especially when you are on the deeper dives. 500 PSI is nothing in the ocean if you are ascending from 90 feet in a variety of conditions. I always hit my NDL before I hit my rock bottom, but if I did not, I would be starting my ascents with 1000 at a minimum. I suspect that your training as a classical singer can ultimately be to your benefit big lungs or not. They probably are more efficient that others of the same size. My bro has big lungs from swimming. He has great air consumption. The yoga breathing should help.

Well done on working through the UW challenges.

scubastud
05-03-2010, 06:38
Actually, I have had several dives that weren't drift dives and the boat dropped us off and then retired to asafe distance away and circled the area-no anochors or moorings as it would damage the reef. In these cases, the DM popped a SMB at we started a safety stop and the boat came in to get us.

Sure Navy, me too but.... this was a wreck dive. That is the question. Why the heck no mooring at a wreck site..?

navyhmc
05-03-2010, 07:03
That, I can't answer SS, every wreck dive I've been on has moored to the wreck. Depending on the wreck, it's a permanent mooring. Seems that the bow is still the favorite location.

Quero
05-03-2010, 08:40
I've been on wrecks that don't have a mooring, especially ones in small bays where there's enough boat traffic that you don't want a boat moored right in the middle. I've also been on wrecks where a different boat is already moored and a second one cannot tie up. It's not unheard of.

However (and I may be mistaken here), in the OPs case it sounds to me like the students were swimming to a mooring that they were supposed to follow down, and when the OP paused, he lost sight of the line he was meant to be swimming towards.

Could be like this--the dive boat was tied to the mooring at the bow (of course) and the divers dropped in from the stern. If there was current, it would mean divers would swim against it for the length of the dive boat until they reached the line--and we all know it's easier to do this underwater. If a diver doen't quite make it to the line and stops swimming, s/he can easily drift off far enough to lose sight of the line.

This is just speculation, though...

rkj1969
05-03-2010, 14:37
sorry I missed all the lovely discussion while I was asleep! darn time zones.....



However (and I may be mistaken here), in the OPs case it sounds to me like the students were swimming to a mooring that they were supposed to follow down, and when the OP paused, he lost sight of the line he was meant to be swimming towards.

Could be like this--the dive boat was tied to the mooring at the bow (of course) and the divers dropped in from the stern. If there was current, it would mean divers would swim against it for the length of the dive boat until they reached the line--and we all know it's easier to do this underwater. If a diver doen't quite make it to the line and stops swimming, s/he can easily drift off far enough to lose sight of the line.

This is just speculation, though...

Yes, this is what happened - on the wreck dive - the boat did tie off to the wreck. We were fairly close to the mooring line but A) there is some sort of algae/plant that has grown on the rope and we were advised not to touch it because it would cause a severe rash so we were just suppposed to descend in sight of it

and B) we were pushed away from the optimum drop point while waiting on surface for everyone to get in the water. As Quero mentioned, because of all the chop we were supposed to descend to about 30 and start swimming back towards the mooring line to do the full descent - but the vis really was just horrible.

When I paused my descent (or thought I did - I actually ended up at 53') - I lost sight of my instructor's fins in the murk, couldn't see the boat or the line - so I felt like I was lost! I could see a tip of the wreck off in the distance, but as I knew we were not in the right place and I'd only seen the wreck on paper, I really couldn't estimate what part of the wreck I was looking at or how far away my group actually was...

At our second site - Gab Gab 2 - the buoy is not directly at the site. It's about a 5 minute snorkel away - or you can drop at the boat and swim underwater. Both times I've been there we did the second option. In that case, it doesn't make sense to follow the line because it would point you in the wrong direction. So we descend in blue water and follow our compass due north.

Maybe it's because we usually have such clear water here, but it seems to be quite common to drop without a line.

rkj1969
05-03-2010, 14:52
Another would be to recommend that you are far more conservative with your air reserves, both now and after you resolves these concerns, especially when you are on the deeper dives. 500 PSI is nothing in the ocean if you are ascending from 90 feet in a variety of conditions. I always hit my NDL before I hit my rock bottom, but if I did not, I would be starting my ascents with 1000 at a minimum. I suspect that your training as a classical singer can ultimately be to your benefit big lungs or not. They probably are more efficient that others of the same size. My bro has big lungs from swimming. He has great air consumption. The yoga breathing should help.

Well done on working through the UW challenges.

I am definitely going to use a more conservative limit AND yoga breathing on the next dive. I know part of it is that I feel bad for making the group head up so early, so I try to wait til the last minute.....but the more logical part of my brain knows it is better to cut a dive a little short than to drown. Talk about ruining someone's dive!!

Thanks everyone - after much discussion (in real life as well as here!) I've decided to get back on the boat this weekend for a mother's day dive to "The Crevice" with the hubby and daughter. My instructor will go with us as a DM, since I do know I'm much more relaxed with a guide. Hopefully the vis will be much better and I can work on my nav skills as far as keeping up with where the boat is - since I know this is an area of anxiety for me.

On my first boat attempt - I got completely freaked out about finding my way around even though the reef was only 20' down and practically right underneath the boat (a slow and easy dive that wasn't so easy for me!).

But every time I try again I add something I've learned and do a little better.....so I'll keep working on it!

rkj1969
05-03-2010, 15:03
Anxiety eats up air fast. Take it from someone who has been there.
May I suggest a few "slow and easy" dives that I know MDA offers, and the free shore dives they offer. These dives are led by an experienced staff member.
I know it is tempting, but leave your camera at home until you are more confident and a master at bouyancy.
Remember above all else, diving is s'posed to be fun!

Yes, the anxiety is what really gets me - on shore dives I'm calm and cool - but on boat dives I turn into a giant air hog!

The camera is definitely staying off the boat a while, as far as I'm concerned - or the hubby can take it! It definitely complicates things.....it's really amazing how many things we are thinking about on descent, as a newbie anyway......adding another piece of gear can really cause overload in a hurry!

rkj1969
05-03-2010, 16:51
http://mdaguam.com/images/tokai-cormorandraw.gif
That, I can't answer SS, every wreck dive I've been on has moored to the wreck. Depending on the wreck, it's a permanent mooring. Seems that the bow is still the favorite location.

Just to throw it in for conversational purposes - this site (Tokai Maru/SS Cormoran for those who don't feel like scrolling back) has the mooring line attached midship - because of the way the first boat sits on the second boat. TM is parallel to the water, Cormoran is underneath it. People love to take pics of touching both wrecks at once - so the mooring line was attached at about the point you are supposed swim over the hull (as the TM lists on her side) to see the second wreck.

The SS Cormoran isn't a major part of most dives, as it is much deeper than the Tokai Maru - I've been told that the wreck specialty uses it for penetrations, but most recreational divers wouldn't see much.

Quero
05-06-2010, 00:56
Have a great Mom's Day dive! I wish I could go out diving with my kids to celebrate, too. Lucky you!

You are doing everything right--gaining insights here and from local divers, preparing mentally, taking along your instructor for extra help and debriefing afterwards (she'll give you kudos when deserved, too, which is a great thing when you've met a challenge), including your regular dive buddies in your efforts to improve, etc. Make sure to let us know how it went!

Chilly
05-06-2010, 11:15
You are doing everything right--gaining insights here and from local divers, preparing mentally, taking along your instructor for extra help and debriefing afterwards (she'll give you kudos when deserved, too, which is a great thing when you've met a challenge), including your regular dive buddies in your efforts to improve, etc. Make sure to let us know how it went!

Quero,

Iíve been a member of this forum for only a short amount of time, but it didnít take me long to recognize that you are an incredibly skilled instructor of the highest caliber. Iím not a dive instructor myself, but I do have 17 years of professional instructor experience upgrading individuals from basic to advanced qualifications.

One of the most critical skills is the ability to sufficiently reconstruct events such that you can effectively identify the desired focus points. This can be difficult, especially when the student may have had little to no situational awareness during the event.

Another skill, once the desired focus point is identified, is to communicate effective techniques to resolve any performance deficits. It is equally important to identify performance highlights to reinforce correct behavior and enhance student confidence.

Finally, itís outstanding instructor technique, and the instructorís responsibility in my opinion, to send them out the door with the tools and motivation to succeed and improve their skills.

You do all these things with great skill and professionalism Ė I consider myself very fortunate to be able to share this forum with you.

Thank you!

rkj1969
05-06-2010, 14:41
Have a great Mom's Day dive! I wish I could go out diving with my kids to celebrate, too. Lucky you!

You are doing everything right--gaining insights here and from local divers, preparing mentally, taking along your instructor for extra help and debriefing afterwards (she'll give you kudos when deserved, too, which is a great thing when you've met a challenge), including your regular dive buddies in your efforts to improve, etc. Make sure to let us know how it went!


Thanks Quero! I really appreciate your advice....

Quero
05-06-2010, 19:38
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to share this forum with you.

Thank you!

Wow! What a nice thing to wake up to read!

You know, when I saw your own first post on this thread which first pointed out to the OP what she did right followed by suggestions for topics to discuss during a debriefing session, I was impressed as well. I'm not surprised to learn that you are a professional instructor, albeit in a different field.

Receiving this kind of praise from peer-level pros is an authentic honor. Thanks!

rkj1969
05-09-2010, 02:09
well, I'm happy to report that this weekend's dives went much much better. dive 1 was to 95ft, 33 minutes and I came up with 600psi....the second dive was only to 54ft, 57 minutes and I came up with 1100.

As my instructor noted, I am clearly more comfortable with the shallower reef sites within the harbor, as was the second dive of this trip, but I'm working my way up (or should I say down?)....

I took lots of the advice from here - left the camera at home, concentrated on my breathing (long and slow and deep) and started heading back earlier so I didn't get all nervous about having enough air for the safety stop.

I'm feeling much better about it all! Just need to keep practicing! :smiley20:

Quero
05-09-2010, 02:28
I'm feeling much better about it all! Just need to keep practicing! :smiley20:

Great to hear! :shaka:

How did you feel about navigating the dive sites this time? Descents and ascents?

rkj1969
05-09-2010, 15:07
I'm feeling much better about it all! Just need to keep practicing! :smiley20:

Great to hear! :shaka:

How did you feel about navigating the dive sites this time? Descents and ascents?


The visibility was much better on our first, deep dive, so I believe that helped a lot. I was able to see the objective and the line (even though we didn't directly follow it down) - and I was able to look back and see where the boat was, so I was able to stay calm. I remember looking at my gauge, seeing 80ish ft and getting a little nervous - but I gave myself a talk and counted out my breaths for a minute or so and it passed....

Sadie (my instructor) and I did decide to head back a bit earlier this time, so I'm sure that having that plan helped ease my mind a lot as I didn't blow thru my air at the safety stop this time!

The second dive was more shallow we could follow the reef out and back, like I do on shore dives - so I was especially comfortable....

I felt really good about the whole thing! I know we'll dive again next weekend, as we are cramming in as many as we can before my daughter leaves for college in the states, so if I can book the boat again, i will be happy to get in more practice!

Thanks so much for all your great advice!!!!

Davetowz
05-17-2010, 18:37
You said your guage showed 0psi. did you hit the real OOA before getting Octo air? I have always been told pressure guages are calibrated at a certain point and when not near that such as way high reading or way low reading they are not really accurate. Possibly did you have more air than you thought? Great recovery on the low air situ though. Calm and smooth seems to be the answer to issues under water. I am pretty new at this myself, just trying to think through your situ before I get there!

rkj1969
05-17-2010, 19:14
You said your guage showed 0psi. did you hit the real OOA before getting Octo air? I have always been told pressure guages are calibrated at a certain point and when not near that such as way high reading or way low reading they are not really accurate. Possibly did you have more air than you thought? Great recovery on the low air situ though. Calm and smooth seems to be the answer to issues under water. I am pretty new at this myself, just trying to think through your situ before I get there!

I wish!! I was kind of thinking the same thing as it was happening....."I wonder if it's like when your car is on E, but it keeps running for a while?"

But I was definitely really out of air - it felt just like that experiment we do in OW class where your instructor turns your air off. It was lucky that we were already at 15' and close to the boat, I might not be as calm in more dire conditions - but I'm really hoping not to have to try it again!

Davetowz
05-17-2010, 19:27
Yeah, I hate that feeling. My first event with the gas shut off got confusing when I removed my reg too early and as I was reaching for buddies octo had the instructor shove my reg back in my face. Thinking, wow he must have turned my gas back on I drop buddies octo and put my 2nd back in, after using last of my air to clear and then suck in nothing, I did the cork thing. The instructor was only trying to tell me not to drop my reg until I had something better to put in, I misread and the scared the bejesus out of myself. Hindsight, should have calmly retrieved buddies octo, used purge to clear and been ok. You did wonderful having it happen for real and calmly dealing with it. I believe that is the secret to most Oh S@@t moments under water. Hope I can be as calm if it happens to me.

rkj1969
05-17-2010, 19:35
Hope I can be as calm if it happens to me.

Thanks Dave - I hope you don't have to find out!

However, visualization and practice are the things everyone on this board has recommended doing to prevent panic!

So I took the advice and I spend a little time "rehearsing" what could go wrong before every dive and it is really helpful!

Quero
05-17-2010, 19:39
I was going to say, in reply, that I do the OOA exercise in the pool that includes closing the valve so that students can watch the needle drop and get a feel for what happens. I always let them know by hand signals that I'm going to do it, and I never do this in the ocean, so it's as safe as I can make it as an exercise. Since your exercise in the pool got messed up, Dave, next time you get a tank and have some pool time, do it. Have your buddy/instructor turn the air off and then just wait to see what happens. It is sort of like the E marker in a car in that it takes several breaths before all the air in the hoses is depleted. At some point taking a breath gets hard, and then you know that you are OOA and need to get on an octopus.

When I was doing some tech training, the instructor would randomly turn off people's air while we were on open water training dives (not pool dives), so we never knew when it was going to happen. Once, subconsciously knowing that it was a drill (I felt him back there messing with my gear), I very calmly reached back and turned the air back on--doh! I was supposed to go get air from a team mate, LOL.

Chilly
05-17-2010, 20:15
I was going to say, in reply, that I do the OOA exercise in the pool that includes closing the valve so that students can watch the needle drop and get a feel for what happens. I always let them know by hand signals that I'm going to do it, and I never do this in the ocean, so it's as safe as I can make it as an exercise. Since your exercise in the pool got messed up, Dave, next time you get a tank and have some pool time, do it. Have your buddy/instructor turn the air off and then just wait to see what happens. It is sort of like the E marker in a car in that it takes several breaths before all the air in the hoses is depleted. At some point taking a breath gets hard, and then you know that you are OOA and need to get on an octopus.

Quero,

Thanks for sharing how you conduct the OOA exercise. Are there contingency exercises you recommend that divers conduct on a regular basis? If so, what are they and what are the common student errors you've observed?

Any exercises to improve gas awareness?

Thanks!

chris1999
06-01-2010, 13:06
I do want to work on my confidence level with this boat diving thing. I'm not sure if I just get nervous because I don't feel sure of where the boat is, or what. Our dive sites really aren't far from shore (in fact lots of folks do a 20 min snorkel out to our second site) - so I really shouldn't be freaking out like I'm going to be left hundreds of miles out or anything.

I've tried looking up boat diving articles, but they mostly talk about getting off and on the boat - that part I'm ok with - it's the darn descending and air usage (nerves?) that I seem to have issues with. It's only been about 3 months since my OW - 18 dives total.....so I'm sure I need practice, practice, practice....

Any tips you guys are willing to share??

just sounds like nerves to me. i prefer boat diving. at 18 dives, your air consumption is going to get better regardless. mine did. you can also get safety things like a dive alert, whistle, mirror, smb, if youre worried about being forgotten.

rkj1969
06-01-2010, 14:37
just sounds like nerves to me. i prefer boat diving. at 18 dives, your air consumption is going to get better regardless. mine did. you can also get safety things like a dive alert, whistle, mirror, smb, if youre worried about being forgotten.

I think you're probably right - I'm up to 40 dives now, 8 more of them from the boat and it's definitely getting easier....

This past weekend I did the same site with the midwater swim back to the boat (GabGab2) - where I went OOA before - but this time I concentrated on slow breathing and tried to pay better attention to my compass so I felt much more in control of the situation. This time I came up with plenty of air.....I'm definitely getting more relaxed!!

Largo
06-01-2010, 20:22
I consider myself to be an experienced diver, with a lot to learn.

But, if I am diving somewhere new, or with conditions that I am not used to, I hire a dive guide to dive with me.

That is the best money that you can spend on scuba. You will be amazed at how much you learn in a non-learning environment just by having paid a buddy to show you around.

Quero
06-01-2010, 20:57
I was going to say, in reply, that I do the OOA exercise in the pool that includes closing the valve so that students can watch the needle drop and get a feel for what happens. I always let them know by hand signals that I'm going to do it, and I never do this in the ocean, so it's as safe as I can make it as an exercise. Since your exercise in the pool got messed up, Dave, next time you get a tank and have some pool time, do it. Have your buddy/instructor turn the air off and then just wait to see what happens. It is sort of like the E marker in a car in that it takes several breaths before all the air in the hoses is depleted. At some point taking a breath gets hard, and then you know that you are OOA and need to get on an octopus.

Quero,

Thanks for sharing how you conduct the OOA exercise. Are there contingency exercises you recommend that divers conduct on a regular basis? If so, what are they and what are the common student errors you've observed?

Any exercises to improve gas awareness?

Thanks!

Sorry for the late reply. I've been teaching diving and somehow simply missed this post.

First of all, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by contingency exercises (do you mean "what if..."?). So I can't really answer those questions just yet, but for the third question, about improving gas awareness, I might have some insight to share.

Gas awareness is a matter of paying attention. But I do think it's paying attention to more than the gauge. For one thing, we divers should monitor our breathing patterns and become aware of when we are panting rather than inhaling and exhaling full, slow breaths. We also need to pay attention to our stress levels because when we are anxious, our bodies respond with muscle tension, including the muscles around our rib cage. When these things happen (panting and anxiety), gas consumption increases and a diver can suddenly find him/herself out of air when it might have been avoided if s/he had been aware enough of breathing patterns and anxiety to correct the problems before they led to gas depletion. It's not hard to learn how to breathe effectively or to relax rib cage muscles, but it's sometimes hard to remember to do it. And that's where paying attention comes in.

In terms of specific techniques, I recommend listening to breathing patterns and counting, at least until slow breathing becomes more or less automatic. Breathe four counts in and eight counts out at a rate of one count per second. (By the way, it's actually quite easy to breathe more slowly at depth than at sea level because of the effect of hyperbaric oxygen partial pressure.) I generally start out sitting on the bottom of the pool to teach this, yoga style. In yoga, when you breathe with a partner for a while, your breathing patterns become synchronized. I work to help students synchronize their breathing with mine so that they get a "feel" for the pattern and can implement it themselves on a dive. When students become anxious during a dive and start to pant while underwater, I stop them, have them look at me, and get them to breathe synchronously with me until the anxiety subsides. If I can notice another person's breathing patterns, panting, anxiety, etc., the diver him/herself can certainly learn to monitor them as well.

Another thing I do is to show students what happens to breath control when the rib cage is locked into tight muscles as opposed to what happens when those muscles are relaxed. All it takes is one demonstration on land and signaling underwater to get students to let those muscles go so that the diaphragm can do its job.

I realize you asked about gas awareness and not about breathing, but to my mind they are inextricably linked. The other thing that can make a difference is awareness of personal RMV or SAC rates. Once divers are proficient and gas consumpion rates don't vary much from one dive to the next (this is rarely the case with brand-new student divers, though), we can use that information in our dive planning. For those who have no idea what I'm referring to, it's sort of like knowing your car's gas mileage under different circumstances (city driving, highway driving, fully loaded vehicle or nearly empty vehicle) so that you can plan how much gas you need to get where you want to go, or where you need to stop to refuel. When you know the rate at which you breathe the air in your tank in different circumstances (daytime or nighttime diving, with a current or against, cold or warm water), you can calculate how long and how deep your dive can be.

Does that "essay" answer at least the third question?

bigman241
06-01-2010, 23:34
When we did our 3rd ow dive we where on a wreck in ft lauderdale. We went down on a line tired to the wreck. One group paired with another guy or was on his own. They talked and planned to slide over the wreck we where on and head to the wreck across current from the wreck we tired to. I guess they got alittle down current of it and missed the wreck by 10 feet so when they headed back to the boat one guy got down to 500 psi and they had to head up. They ended up at about 1/4 mile down from the boat. The captain was not happy

Chilly
06-02-2010, 13:11
Quero,

Thank you for taking the time to compose such an in-depth reply - excellent instruction as always.

This is a different way for me to look at gas awareness, but it makes perfect sense. Conversely, when you know your SAC is higher than planned, you can anticipate more frequent gauge checks and/or proactively modify the dive plan.

With respect to "contingency" exercises, I'm referring to practicing emergency skills such as air sharing. Do you feel these exercises should be confined to a pool or would you conduct them in an O/W environment? Are there other emergency skills you recommend practicing? How and in what environment would you conduct them?

Thanks,

Quero
06-02-2010, 18:29
Quero,

Thank you for taking the time to compose such an in-depth reply - excellent instruction as always.

This is a different way for me to look at gas awareness, but it makes perfect sense. Conversely, when you know your SAC is higher than planned, you can anticipate more frequent gauge checks and/or proactively modify the dive plan.
Precisely. And the SAC will increase if your breathing rate and pattern become quicker, so if you hear that happening, it's important to check the gauge more frequently.


With respect to "contingency" exercises, I'm referring to practicing emergency skills such as air sharing. Do you feel these exercises should be confined to a pool or would you conduct them in an O/W environment? Are there other emergency skills you recommend practicing? How and in what environment would you conduct them?That's the "what if" I was thinking you might mean.

In answer, I believe it's a good idea for a diver to practice whatever rescue/self-rescue skills have been learned, and to practice them in open water environments, not just in a pool. I don't require my fun divers to demo rescue skills before we dive, but of course students have to demo these in certain courses.
1) The best "insurance" for OOA is an extra gas supply, provided either by way of a buddy or a pony tank. Carrying a pony requires a bit more information and practice, so for divers who don't have/want that, it's essential to stay within a few kicks of their buddy. I stress that "skill" all the time, even for fun divers.
2) I wouldn't recommend frequent CESAs at the beginning of a dive, but from a safety stop depth, it's a good thing to practice once in a while to keep the neural pathways strong and remain confident that it's not only possible, but not too hard.
3) Air sharing is another good one to practice, and ideally it should be practiced in mid-water, while swimming so that the divers get comfortable with which side to stay on (receiver on the right, donor on the left), and remember to link arms so hoses don't inadvertently get yanked off.

These are the basic OOA rescue skills we teach--good buddy skills, good CESA skills, good air-sharing skills. But any time this really happens, expect high levels of stress and a need to get the victim's breathing under control, so do not forget to leave time while practicing for the victim to "pull him/herself together" and get calm. You may need to do the "yoga breathing thing" with a diver you actually need to rescue from an OOA situation.

Again, the short answer: yes, do practice these occasionally if you are a recreational diver. Tech divers practice S-drills (s is for "safety") before every dive because the risk factor in tech diving is significantly higher.

Chilly
06-02-2010, 20:09
Quero,

This is exactly what I was looking for to validate and fine-tune my exercises.

We brief and execute a "formation" contract so that both the dive buddy and lead are mutually supportive throughout the dive. I never thought of it as a skill, but from the perspective of managing your alternate air source - I guess it is! :smiley20:

Our CESA is good from the safety stop, but we were conducting the air sharing exercise from that position as well. I'll enhance the training with some swimming to further reinforce the sub-tasks associated with that skill.

Thanks again!