Category Archives: Diving

Course Descriptions and Prerequisites

Basic CCR 40 Meter Class

This class is designed for the new CCR diver and is done over a period of 7 days.

Prerequisites

  1. Must be qualified in IANTD EANx Diver or equivalent.
  2. Must be qualified in IANTD Deep Diver or RCCR Deep Diver or equivalent.
  3. Proof of a minimum of 50 logged dives.

Class Content and Equipment

  1. Classroom academics
  2. Build class
  3. Confined water
  4. Minimum 7 open water dives
  5. Maximum 15 minutes decompression
  6. SMB and reel

Skills included but not limited to:

  1. Open circuit bail out drills
  2. Hypoxia, hyperoxia, hypercapnia and “boom” drills.
  3. Valve shut offs.
  4. Remove and replace rebreather under water (ditch and don).
  5. No mask swim.
  6. Remove and replace bailout bottles while swimming.
  7. Switch bailout bottle with buddy.
  8. Open circuit bailout to the surface.
  9. Open circuit bailout to the surface with a decompression obligation.

This list is by no means all inclusive and is intended to give the student a feel for what is done in a typical class. I do not teach to a minimum standard so expect to do more than the minimum number of dives and minutes required. I tailor classes around the students needs and abilities so he or she will reap the maximum benefit. When we finish I want you to be both comfortable and confident on your new rebreather.

Crossover Class From CCR to Another

Prerequisites & Dive Requirements

a. To qualify from one Closed Circuit Rebreather to another Closed Circuit Rebreather, a diver must:
I. Have 12 CCR dives of which one (1) must have been within 45 days of the program on the new CCR
II. Must complete a minimum of 200 minutes training in a combination of Confined Water and Open Water environments with at least two (2) Open Water dives.

i. If the Diver is already certified as Recreational Rebreather Diver and Adv. EANx Diver (OC) or a Recreational Rebreather Mixed Gas Diver, the program must include:
a. A minimum of 400 minutes training in a combination of Confined Water and Open Water environments.
b. A minimum of 4 Open Water dives of in-water training time using the specific Rebreather on which they are being trained.
III. Two dives must be deeper than 50 fsw (15 msw)
IV. Two dives must be deeper than 132 fsw (40 msw)
► NOTE: Decompression bottle must also be carried on the deep dives.

Trimix Classes – CCR and Open Circuit

Normoxic Trimix – CCR and Open Circuit

Provides training and certification for those wishing to safely execute dives to depths up to 60 meters (200 feet) OR with Normoxic Plus to 70 meters (233 feet)

Prerequisites

Open Circuit

  1. IANTD Advanced EANx Diver or higher or equivalent.
  2. Must provide proof of a minimum of 100 logged dives, of which at least 30 were deeper than 90 fsw (27 msw).

Rebreather

  1. IANTD Advanced EANx CCR or IANTD Advanced EANx SCR diver or equivalent.
  2. Must provide proof of a minimum of 100 logged dives of which at least 25 rebreather dives and 50 hours on the unit with at least 50% of them logged on the same CCR to be used in the course. At least 30 dives were deeper than 90 fsw (27 msw).

Class Content and Equipment

  1. Classroom academics.
  2. Confined water
  3. Minimum 7 dives for CCR and 4 dives for Open Circuit.
  4. Minimum 300 minutes in water time for Open circuit and 360 for CCR.
  5. Maximum 2 deco bottles for Open Circuit. 2 bailout bottles required for CCR
  6. 1 lift bag, 1 SMB and 2 reels. No Spools!

Skills and Topics included but not limited to:

  1. Open circuit bail out drills – CCR
  2. Hypoxia, hyperoxia, hypercapnia and “boom” drills – CCR.
  3. Valve shut offs – OC and CCR.
  4. Remove and replace rebreather or doubles under water (ditch and don).
  5. No mask swim.
  6. Remove and replace bailout or deco bottles while swimming – OC and CCR.
  7. Switch bottle with buddy.
  8. Depth appropriate bottle and or gas switches.
  9. 2 gas Open circuit bailout to the surface from maximum depth with a full decompression obligation – CCR.
  10. Lift bag deployment from depth – CCR and OC.
  11. Survival strategies – semi closed – use of alternate gas sources – open loop – CCR.
  12. Survival strategies – OC and CCR
  13. Gas planning – OC and CCR
  14. Full decompression obligation ascents without benefit of upline or lift bag. (one is available if you need it but the idea is to not use it).
  15. Decompression theory.
  16. Gradient factor selection and theory.
  17. PO2 selection.

Once again, this list is by no means all inclusive and is intended to give the student a feel for what is done in a typical class. I do not teach to a minimum standard so expect to do more than the minimum number of dives and or minutes required. I tailor classes around the students needs and abilities so he or she will reap the maximum benefit. When we finish I want you to be both comfortable and confident in the water.

 

Hypoxic 100 Meter Trimix – CCR and Open Circuit

Prerequisites

Open Circuit:

  1. Must provide proof of a minimum of 200 logged dives
  2. At least 25 dives to depths between 140 fsw (42 msw) and 200 fsw (60 msw).

Rebreather:

  1. Must provide proof of a minimum of 200 logged dives
  2. At least 100 hours on the rebreather to be used.
  3. At least 25 dives to depths between 132 fsw (40 msw) and 200 fsw (60 msw).
  4. NOTE: If already certified as Rebreather Normoxic Trimix Diver on another recognized unit by IANTD, 25 rebreather dives and 50 hours must be on the unit specific for the class.

Class Content and Equipment

  1. Classroom academics.
  2. Confined water
  3. Minimum 7 dives for CCR and 4 dives for Open Circuit.
  4. Minimum 300 minutes in water time for Open circuit and 360 for CCR.
  5. 2 deco gasses for Open Circuit. 2 bailout gasses for CCR
  6. 1 lift bag, 1 SMB and 2 reels. No Spools!

Skills and Topics included but not limited to:

The 100 meter class covers many of the same things as the 60 meter class but in greater depth and intensity.

  1. Open circuit bail out drills – CCR
  2. Hypoxia, hyperoxia, hypercapnia and “boom” drills – CCR.
  3. Valve shut offs – OC and CCR.
  4. Remove and replace rebreather or doubles under water (ditch and don).
  5. No mask swim.
  6. Remove and replace bailout or deco bottles while swimming – OC and CCR.
  7. Switch bottle with buddy.
  8. Depth appropriate bottle and or gas switches.
  9. 2 gas Open circuit bailout to the surface from maximum depth with a full decompression obligation – CCR.
  10. Lift bag deployment from depth – CCR and OC.
  11. Survival strategies – semi closed – use of alternate gas sources – open loop – CCR.
  12. Survival strategies – OC and CCR
  13. Gas planning – OC and CCR
  14. Full decompression obligation ascents without benefit of upline or lift bag (one is available if you need it but the idea is to not use it).
  15. Decompression theory.
  16. Gradient factor selection and theory.
  17. PO2 selection.

Once again, this list is by no means all inclusive and is intended to give the student a feel for what is done in a typical class. I do not teach to a minimum standard so expect to do more than the minimum number of dives and or minutes required. I tailor classes around the students needs and abilities so he or she will reap the maximum benefit. When we finish I want you to be both comfortable and confident in the water.

 

Cave

Cave diving is a very serious but very rewarding endeavor. I do not subscribe to the modular approach for training. You are either a Cave Diver or you are not and I do not believe in giving someone access to an environment they are not fully trained for. That said, I expect my students to demonstrate not only the skills but the attitude necessary to be a successful and safe Full Cave Diver. To accomplish this you must have a commitment to constantly work on perfecting your skills and maintaining them. Cave diving is an attitude, a passion and a mindset.

Prerequisites

Open Circuit:

  1. Must have proof of 100 dives or sufficient experience doing technical dives to satisfy the instructor that the student has the ability and knowledge to continue into this level of training.

Rebreather:

  1. Must have proof of 100 rebreather dives.
  2. OC Cave Diver to Rebreather Cave Diver Crossover: Must be qualified as Rebreather Diver on the unit to be used and have 25 rebreather dives with 50 hours of dive time on the Rebreather.

Class Content and Equipment

  1. Classroom academics.
  2. Land line drills
  3. Minimum 10 dives for CCR and 12 dives for Open Circuit.
  4. Minimum 500 minutes in water time for Open circuit and 600 for CCR.
  5. 1 staged deco bottle for Open Circuit. 1 bailout bottle required for CCR plus appropriate staged decompression gas.
  6. Minimum of 3 Reels. A 400 foot primary, a 140 foot Safety and a 50 foot jump reel. Spools are acceptable.
  7. Line Arrows and Cookies or other non directional marker.

Skills and Topics included but not limited to:

  1. Proper use of reels.
  2. Interpreting line markers.
  3. Running a primary reel.
  4. Use of jump and gap reels.
  5. Navigation. Safe execution of circuits and traverses.
  6. Lost line drill.
  7. Lights out or blackout drills.
  8. Lost diver procedures.
  9. Broken line.
  10. “Reading” the cave for both navigation and safety.
  11. Signaling – light and hand.
  12. Gas management.
  13. Bailout exit for CCR
  14. Semi Closed drills and exit for CCR
  15. Dive planning.
  16. Cave conservation.

 

More Old Trip Reports

As (good) luck would have it, my digging paid off.  Michael Barnette was undoubtedly the most diligent of the group in recording our adventures.  I discovered a bunch of his trip reports and was able to copy many of them to preserve here.

As time went on our numbers expanded and our “core” group grew to about 10.  In these reports you will see new members Leslie Jacques, Heather Choat (Armstrong) and Mike Pizzio,  If I left anyone out its probably because I sometimes can’t remember what day it is

Many more great memories in these pages.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

 

SEPTEMBER 2006:  HMHS BRITANNIC EXPEDITION (.WMV SLIDESHOW)

AUGUST 2006:  “28 FATHOM WRECK” IDENTIFIED AS THE MILLIE R. BOHANNON AND “MEXICAN PRIDE”

SEPTEMBER 2005:  LAKE MURRAY B-25C RECOVERY

AUGUST 2005:  HANGING WITH TEAM HEADHUNTER

AUGUST 2005:  CITIES SERVICE EMPIRE, MARYLAND, MOHICAN, CITY OF VERA CRUZ, MADAKET, LESLIE

JULY 2005:  CITIES SERVICE EMPIRE

JULY 2005:  SOUTH CAROLINA VIRGIN WRECK DIVING

MAY 2005:  AUE IDENTIFIES THE STEAMER PECONIC

JUNE 2003:  USS WILKES BARRE AND USS KENDRICK

JUNE 2003:  LUBRAFOL AND CITIES SERVICE EMPIRE

MAY 2003:  ROATAN EXPRESS AND FANTASTICO

AUGUST 2002:  FUGGEDABOUDIT WRECK AND PAN MASSACHUSETTS

JUNE 2002:  RHEIN AND COMPASS ROSE TRAWLER

MAY 2002:  MYSTERY WRECK AND USS S-16

APRIL 2002:  USS MULIPHEN, USS RANKIN, AMAZONE, AND HALSEY

OCTOBER 2001:  NOAA ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION – ISLAMORADA WRECK (QUEEN OF NASSAU)

OCTOBER 2001:  OCULINA RESEARCH DIVES – FUGGEDABOUDIT WRECK AND CITIES SERVICE EMPIRE

SEPTEMBER 2001:  RHEIN AND ARABY MAID

SEPTEMBER 2001:  ARABY MAID, U-2513, AND OIL WRECK

JULY 2001:  USS S-16, USS KENDRICK, USS WILKES BARRE

JULY 2001:  ANDREA DORIA, OREGON, SAN DIEGO

JUNE 2001:  PAN MASSACHUSETTS

JUNE 2001:  CITIES SERVICE EMPIRE

MAY 2001:  RHEIN AND ARABY MAID

MAY 2001:  ARABY MAID, U-2513, AND OIL WRECK

MAY 2001:  OIL WRECK AND BAJA CALIFORNIA

JANUARY 2001:  BFE 423 (SUSPECTED MARINE SULPHUR QUEEN EXPLORATION DIVE)

NOVEMBER 2000:  NORTHERN LIGHT, USCGC DUANE, AND VITRIC

OCTOBER 2000:  USS WILKES BARRE

SEPTEMBER 2000:  RHEIN

SEPTEMBER 2000:  ARABY MAID, U-2513, AND OIL WRECK

SEPTEMBER 2000:  OIL WRECK AND BAJA CALIFORNIA

MAY 2000:  RHEIN

MAY 2000:  ARABY MAID, U-2513, AND OIL WRECK

MAY 2000:  OIL WRECK AND BAJA CALIFORNIA

MAY 2000:  VITRIC, NORTHERN LIGHT, AND CARYSFORT DEEP

 

Gas Matching For Cylinders Of Different Volumes

 


The Chart Below Shows The Volumes of Different Tanks At The Pressures Shown On The Left

PSIG Al 80 Steel 85 Steel 95 Steel 104 LP Steel 121 HP Steel 100 HP Steel 120
1000 26 32 36 43 50 29 34
1100 38 35 40 48 55 31 38
1200 31 39 43 52 61 34 41
1300 34 42 47 56 66 37 45
1400 36 45 50 61 71 40 48
1500 39 48 54 65 76 43 51
1600 41 52 58 69 81 46 55
1700 44 55 61 74 86 49 58
1800 46 58 65 78 91 51 62
1900 49 61 68 82 96 54 65
2000 52 64 72 87 101 57 69
2100 54 68 76 91 106 60 72
2200 57 71 79 95 111 63 75
2300 59 74 83 100 116 66 79
2400 62 77 86 104 121 69 82
2500 65 80 90 108 126 71 86
2600 67 84 94 113 131 74 89
2700 70 87 97 117 136 77 93
2800 72 90 101 121 141 80 96
2900 75 93 104 126 146 83 99
3000 77 97 108 130 151 86 103
3100 83 100 112 134 156 89 106
3200 85 103 115 139 161 91 110
3300 106 119 143 166 94 113
3400 109 122 147 171 97 117
3500 113 129 152 176 100 120
singles 2.7 3.2 3.6 3.9 4.6 2.9 3.4
doubles 5.3 6.4 7.2 7.9 9.2 5.7 6.9

CONVERSION FACTORS ARE THE 2 LINES ABOVE

The table above shows the volume of various cylinders at various pressures.  The numbers are derived by dividing the cubic inch capacity by the rated pressure.   For example: a steel 104 contains 104 cubic feet at 2640 psi because 104 / 2640=.039 for 1 psi of gas so .039 X 100 = 3.9 cu ft of gas.

The table below that shows the volume of the various cylinders per 100 psi. For example: a steel 104 contains 3.9 cubic feet of gas for every 100 psi in the tank.

EXAMPLE OF CALCULATING GAS MATCHING

Two cave divers are planning a dive together and have different sized tanks. One set of doubles happens to be 104’s filled to 3400 psi, the other set of tanks are aluminum 80’s. filled to 3000 psi.

In order to determine each divers time to turn the dive we have to actually calculate thirds based on volume and then convert that volume to pressure.

The Aluminum 80’s have 154 cubic feet of gas in them (77 X 2). 1/3 of that volume is 51 cubic feet. Thus, that diver must turn after s/he has used 51 cubic feet.

The double 104’s have 294 cubic feet of gas in them (147 X 2). 1/3 of that volume is 98 cubic feet. We see from these calculations that the Aluminum 80’s must be the tanks used to “control” the turnaround.

The turn pressure for the aluminum 80’s then is 2000 psi. So, after the diver uses the 1st 1000 psi s/he must turn the dive.

In order to determine the divers turnpoint with the 104’s you must calculate that tank pressure when 51 cubic feet has been used up. Each 100 psi = 7.9 cubic feet. So…to determine the psi for 51 cubic feet use the conversion factor & divide 51 by 7.9 and the answer is: 6.46. Then 6.46 X 100 = 646 psi. This answer means that subtract 646 from starting pressure and that is the turn pressure for the 104’s. Round 646 up to 700 and subtract 700 from 3400 and get 2700 psi as the turn pressure.

Loop Leaks and Water Intrusion

Leaks are bad, no matter if they are in Congress or in your rebreather loop.  They are annoying and dangerous.
Prior to diving we should all use a check list and do our pre-dive checks, two of which are the “positive and negative” tests.  Their purpose is to detect system leaks  before entering the water.  We pressurize the loop for a positive test and draw a vacuum for a negative test.  We then look for changes in counter lung volume and or listen for hissing sounds.  If they deflate, inflate or hiss we suspect a leak.  If they hold pressure and are silent we say they passed and are safe to dive.
But, are they?  It is quite possible you have a leak that eludes this process.
The Mouthpiece
Probably the most common leak is from a split or torn mouthpiece.  It can also be quite difficult to find.  A tiny tear or hole in a mouthpiece can present quite the mystery.  The loop will pass positive and negative testing and seem fine. Then, during the dive you hear that ever so annoying “gurgling” sound.  You listen for bubbles and hear none.  You signal your buddy to check above you looking for leaks and he tells you there are none.  But you keep draining the water from your loop so it has to be coming from somewhere.  To further complicate things, the loop might only take in water on inhalation or when you tilt your head in a certain position.  You may look for the leak on every exposed part of your rig and not find it. 
So what Do You Do?
If you are getting water in your loop and cannot find the source, even after checking all of the prime suspects, change the mouthpiece, even if it looks good.  This will often solve the problem or at the very least eliminate the mouthpiece as its’ cause.  Sometimes the leak is so minuscule that only an exaggerated stretch, bend or twist will reveal the tear or pinhole.   
Sometimes the cause of the leak is not a tear or a pin hole.  Believe it or not, if your DSV or BOV is angled incorrectly it will cause the side of your mouth to twist open when you move in certain positions and allow water in.  This could potentially cascade into a very unpleasant event if it causes the loop to pop out of your mouth.  If you are fighting your loop to keep it in your mouth straight it needs to be adjusted to fit you properly.  Loosen the hose clamps and move it so it sits at the same angle as your mouth and does not pull up, down or sideways.  Of course be sure to retighten the hose clamps properly.
Loop Hoses
A small split in the crevices of a loop hose can be very difficult to find.  It may only leak when the hose is stretched or turned in a specific way.  All other times it may be fine.  Because of this it is important to perform a visual inspection of your hoses as part of your pre-dive ritual.  Do this when you check your mushroom or flapper valves by stretching the hose.  Look for cracks or splits in the crevices between the ridges and where they are clamped to anything (DSV, TEE Pieces etc.).    Anything suspect should be visually inspected and tested with a soapy water bubble test or by submersion.  Remember, this type of leak can easily pass your standard positive and negative testing, so while I am not suggesting it is something to be paranoid about, it is not something to ignore.  This is why I do not like hose covers.  They may look cool but can conceal dangerous leaks.  High quality loop hoses are quite robust and do not need covers.
Be wary of rubber sleeves covering loop hose clamps.  They make the loop look pretty but they can conceal a large tear.  In the image below the loop hose was torn by the clamp but it passed a positive and negative test because the clamp was covered with a rubber sleeve which in effect, sealed the leak.
Should you find yourself in the water with this type of leak, the safest solution is to bail out.  If that is not practical or possible, an alternate solution is to grasp the hose with both hands and hold it in a position where it doesn’t leak, IE, press the offending crevice together to stop the leak while you abort the dive.  Obviously, this is only practical in a limited number of circumstances where the split is small and in which staying on the loop is a better choice than bailing out.  Remember, a flooded loop can lead to a caustic cocktail and cascade into a series of very unpleasant, potentially fatal events so if you make this choice, do so judiciously.
ORINGS
The next source of leaks and water intrusion are orings.  They should be inspected every time you build your unit.  Change any orings that have flat spots, nicks or cracks.  Lubricate any orings that require it but don’t over do it.  Remember that lube is also a dirt magnet so use care to not pick up any grit while the orings are exposed to the environment.  Also visually inspect oring grooves and clean any accumulated dirt or excess grease.  If necessary, remove the oring and clean the groove.  Use a plastic pick or something similar for removal to help prevent accidental damage.
DEWATERING
Every rebreather diver should be proficient at removing water from the loop.  He should also be cognizant of how water will collect in his particular rebreather so he does not do anything to worsen his situation.  For example, if you suspect water is in the unit and proximate to the scrubber you need to understand the unit well enough to avoid positions that will facilitate  water reaching the sorb.  I will not go into specifics here because every unit is different.  What works well on one unit might be bad on another.  If you do not understand this process well or if you understand it but are not good at it you should remedy this deficiency as soon as possible.  Practice the procedure often so it becomes second nature.  If you do not understand the path necessary to facilitate water removal, call your instructor and ask him to clarify it for you.  Once you thoroughly understand the flow of the unit, dewatering becomes very simple.  If your rebreather does not permit removing water from its breathing loop you need to account for that in your dive planning and factor in extra conservatism to account for it.  Avoid dives or situations where the probability of water ingress into the loop is higher than usual and access to the surface is limited.  You don’t want a flood 5000 feet back in a cave with no well rehearsed plan of escape.  Remember that a flooded unit becomes extremely negative, making swimming on open circuit bailout more difficult.  Even if you can no longer stay on the loop, the ability to remove water from it is important.
The Best Leak Test
 So, what is the best leak test?  At the beginning of every dive buddies should hover above one and other and look for bubbles.  The predive positive and negative tests will find any larger leaks but nothing surpasses an in water bubble check at depth to find any smaller leaks.  This can be accomplished at 20 feet in conjunction with a cell linearity check.  If this is not practical do it at depth before you begin the actual dive.  In any event, this should always be done.  Other indications of a leak include gurgling sounds in the loop, hissing noises behind your head, an unexpected change in buoyancy or an increase in the work of breathing.  The silence afforded us by diving a rebreather permits hearing the smallest of leaks so be acutely aware of any unusual sounds.  Do not ignore them.
I hope some of you, especially newer rebreather divers, find this information useful.
Until the next time, thank you for reading.
Joe
 
 

 

The Ring of Death

Over the years I have come to realize that in this sport we all love so much every diver is responsible for their own safety and well being.  The notion that anyone else will care about or protect you as well as you will do for yourself is flawed.  It won’t happen, which of course begs the question; how does one effectively ensure safety?

You Don’t Need A Crystal Ball

You need a little common sense which unfortunately, is often times not so common.  Most events having negative outcomes are usually highly predictable.  They have signs that are like billboards once we learn to recognize them.

Beware Of

Advanced tech dive trips or projects that are in search of participants.  They are always suspect.  If it is such a good trip or project why isn’t it filled?  The good ones fill up as fast as they are announced.  If the only requirement to get on an advanced Tech trip or participate in an advanced project is a certification card you should be wary.

Right about now you might be asking yourself, “Why is this so?”

Well, the answer is simple.  Tech trips and projects require larger numbers of qualified divers to make them viable.  By industry standards the only requirement is that participants hold the appropriate certifications which of course say nothing about experience levels.  It is only the level of human decency the organizers may or may not have that dictate how well they vet participating divers.  A well organized, safely run trip or project will always incorporate some sort of vetting process before divers who are unknown entities are allowed to participate.  Be happy when an organizer asks for a reference to vouch for you.  It means someone cares about the project or trip, you and your family.  They don’t want to make the phone call that all team leaders dread.

If you have no one to vouch for your abilities and experience level, DON’T LIE!  There are not that many participants at this level of diving.  Everyone knows everyone else and a good team leader will be able to vet you by who trained you and who you dive with.   You will fare much better by telling the truth and saying that you’d like to participate and would be happy to go on a benign “shakeout dive” to demonstrate your abilities.

It Works Both Ways

Just as trip and project organizers should vet you, it is in your best interests to vet them.  While anyone can have an accident or a bad day, if you pay attention you will find that whenever there is a negative event it is often the same people, places and operations that keep popping up.  Learn to recognize them and judiciously avoid the “Ring of Death”.   Don’t be afraid to question procedures and protocols.  Review their track record.  Is there a history of avoidable accidents?  Is there a history of incidents occurring because participants are diving past their experience levels?  If so, walk away.  If they don’t seem safe they probably aren’t.  The Wreck, Cave or whatever will be there for a long time.  There is nothing worth losing your life or your health to see there.

If It Sounds Stupid, It Probably Is

Learn to listen to that inner voice we all have and don’t be intimidated by someone who is vastly more experienced than you if the proposition sounds stupid.  You are probably right so don’t be afraid to ask questions and walk away if you don’t get satisfactory answers.  Often times there is a desperation to fill a boat or run a project dive and when the organizers can’t attract their “preferred” participants they open things up to anyone with a certification and dollars.  You might be tempted to think “Well I know I am experienced enough to do these dives so it’s not a problem for me”.  Well, it is unless you have no heart or soul.  I would like to believe that all of us would render assistance to a fellow diver in trouble even if we otherwise don’t know or even dislike the person.  By default this puts you in harms way.  The possibility of a panicked diver taking others to the hospital or grave is very real.  It is in your best interests to recognize that fact.  You don’t want to be surrounded by well meaning people who are diving beyond their experience levels.  If they have a problem you are most likely going to render aid and be in jeopardy.  The best option is to not be there.  Twice in my life I “dodged the bullet” this way.  Both times I was scheduled to go on a trip and when I heard who was going and what they were doing I suddenly had a scheduling conflict.  Both times there were fatalities.  My ego likes to believe had I been there those accidents would not have occurred; that I would have seen them coming and prevented them.   The realist in me knows that is not so.  You can’t save the world.

So, the next time you want to dive on a Tech trip or project, or do advanced dives with a group unknown to you, it is in your best interests to vet them first.  If all you need is a certification or the necessary dollars, run away.  If no one asks for your diving resume, run away.  If the operation or group has a dismal safety record, run away.  If you keep these “rules” in mind you will increase the odds of not being in or near the “Ring of Death” and enjoy many years of safe diving.

 

LIFT BAGS and SURFACE MARKER BUOYS

 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO PURCHASE

The origin of this post is a Facebook discussion about lift bags.  After reading all of the varying methods and opinions, I decided to add my thoughts to the conversation.  Those thoughts are here in addition to a few things I did not post on Facebook because they were not germane to the conversation.  I hope newer divers and students will find this useful.

I give preference to 400′ reels with #36 line. The heavier line reduces the length to probably around 250′ or so but the trade off in durability is worth it.  I also avoid reels with complex mechanisms.  Spring loaded snaps, latches or locking mechanisms just add to the complexity of something that should be as simple as possible.  Don’t read this as a condemnation of any particular style of reel.  I just think that a spool in a well constructed frame controlled with a bolt is pretty much as safe and simple as it gets.

I always carry 2 reels and 2 bags or SMB’s (Surface Marker Buoys). I prefer one of each. My SMB’s always have enough lift to get me off the bottom in the event of a catastrophe.   They also have my name on them and the words “Diver Below” so boaters won’t think they are just lost floats.  You should not be able to pull an SMB under the surface once properly deployed.  If you can, get another one.  Bear in mind that while a lift bag may have more lift, an SMB has less drag in the water.  This will make a big difference in strong current.

My reels have bolt snaps tied to the bottom of the handle as opposed to the double enders they usually come with. This is to lessen the chance of losing them and to facilitate clipping a second reel to the bottom of the first reel should you encounter a current sheer (currents moving in opposite directions in the same column of water).  This will cause the bag to travel horizontally and if your deco is long and begins deep you will most likely be dragged past your first stops if you do not do this.

Bags are always deployed from the wreck, no matter how deep. If you wait until you are shallow to deploy the bag you will most likely be lost. Currents in South Florida are quite severe and it is not unusual to drift 5-6 miles or more on a long deco.

Whatever emergency signal protocol is decided on, communicating it with the Captain and crew is paramount. Every team and boat will usually have their own protocols.  If you don’t communicate which one you intend to use the probability of a problem increases exponentially.  Never assume the crew will recognize a certain color or type of bag as an emergency signal.  It and any associated nuances should be discussed in detail before the dive.  The crew should have a clear picture of what to look for.  My preference is to send up a second bag on an already deployed reel and bag combination.  Do this by clipping the second bag’s bolt snap to the already deployed line and putting air in it.  Be sure to pull the line taut and the bag will rise to the surface easily and quickly.  There can be no mistaking this signal which is why I prefer it.

Re spools – they are great navigational tools but they are not appropriate for deploying a lift bag from depth. They are the wrong tool for the job. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but a simple reel is much easier to manage.

I clip my reels and bags to a D-Ring that is easily accessible and hopefully minimizes their impact on trim. Wherever stowed, I need to be able to access it easily and quickly. I also try to anticipate my needs.  If deep and in a raging current I want to have the second reel ready to attach to the first in the event a current sheer drags the bag or SMB horizontally.  I always deploy with my back to the current and in a position that will clear the wrecks superstructure.

I also use the bag / SMB as a tool to take me to my first stop as opposed to allowing the reel to play out and then begin the task of unnecessarily reeling in line. To do this I deploy the bag and when it gains velocity I lock up the spinning reel with my hand over the spool (never use the lock down screw for this – it needs to be very easy to release). I have the reel in one hand and my inflator in the other and when I approach my first stop I release the reel and dump gas. I can stop immediately using this method.

Deployment of a lift bag or SMB on a deep dive can be extremely hazardous if done incorrectly.  While there are several acceptable methods what is most critical is to minimize the risk of entanglement.  First, your back must be to the current so any potentially loose line will drift away from you.  If you are not sure which way that might be, release a few feet of line and see which way it drifts.  Turn so it drifts away from you and your back will be to the current.

When you are ready to deploy the bag it is best to be horizontal.  This minimizes the risk of entanglement because there is a smaller area exposed to the ascending line.  My preferred method is to get horizontal and secure the bag to the reel.  Then unlock the reel and let the bag drop 5-10 feet below you.  Next lock the reel and drop it while bringing the bag back up.  You are now horizontal with the bag  in hand and in front of you and with the reel dangling a few feet below.  Holding the bag away from your body put just enough gas in it to make it buoyant.  You should be able to hold it in place similar to a kids helium balloon if necessary.  When ready, release the bag while “OK’ing” the line and when the reel rises to your hand release the spool locking bolt and deploy as you would normally.  This method minimizes the risk of entanglement.

If you have a buddy with you the 2 man method is safest.  The man with the bag puts his back to the current and gets to the side and a bit above the man with the reel.  When ready, the man with the reel signals the man with the bag to deploy it.  When he does so the bag will rise above and away from both divers ensuring there will be no entanglements.

When working a reel anywhere, but especially in high flow situations it is very important to keep the line taut at all times.  If you allow it to go limp it can easily wrap itself around you, a potentially dangerous and at the very least embarrassing situation.

Lift bag skills are very important to the technical diver.  Often, divers are shy about deploying them because they don’t do it enough.  Don’t be.  That bag can save your life not only as a marker buoy but as an alternate form of flotation.  BC’s and Wings can fail.  Dry suits can blow gas out the neck seal and can be unwieldy as your only form of flotation.  A diver skilled in the use of a lift bag can get himself safely to the surface using it alone or in combination with a failed Wing / BC or dry suit.  Consider it your “ace in the hole” or a get out of jail free card.

Why Manual? The Debate Goes On

“Regardless of where the ‘parachute’ is set, nobody has yet explained why this is anything other than a daft idea.”

The above quote was taken from a recent discussion on an internet dive forum about gradient factors.  As per the norm, it eventually morphed into a sub-discussion about about the benefits (or lack thereof) of diving an ECCR (Electronic Closed Circuit Rebreather) manually.  I considered joining the fray but then thought better of it. Having wasted time discussing topics with people who don’t want to hear what you have to say, I decided it would be more productive to write an article expressing my views.

For me … the concept of using the solenoid as a failsafe or parachute is for the express purpose of developing both muscle memory and an internal clock in your head.  This will eventually enable you to intuitively know when the solenoid is supposed to fire.  Contrary to the opinions of some, it is NOT because anyone believes the electronics are unreliable.

When I dive I often like to use a controller set point of 1.0 and maintain a 1.2 or 1.3 manually.  When I hear the solenoid fire I view it as the machine telling me “Hey, dummy!  Pay attention!”  To make it interesting I try to make a game out of it.  I like to see how long I can go without the solenoid firing.  In the spirit of “every dive is a training dive” I use this as a learning / teaching tool.  If the machine fails I will (hopefully) easily catch it because I have trained myself to be acutely aware of what is going on with my ppO2, all by making it a game rather than a “chore”.  Of course, when I have a “busy” dive, I use the solenoid and fully appreciate the convenience it brings to the table.  Interestingly, I also find that subconsciously I know about when I should hear it fire and have found myself reaching for the manual add O2 button at the same time the solenoid is doing its job.  This kind of validates the main purpose of the exercise.

For a seriously deep dive I favor not using the solenoid at depth.  My preference is to dial it back to a safe level that is well below the desired set point.  The idea is that it is far less likely to stick in the open position if it is not opening and closing.  Also, remembering that it is not necessary to add O2 on descent, if you use the correct diluent, you should be close to your desired set point once you reach target depth.  My rationale is that a stuck open solenoid at say 5 – 600 feet is quite serious and its risk should be minimized.  I mitigate that risk by using the proper diluent gas for the dive; one that gives me an acceptable ppO2 at depth, manually tweaking it when necessary.  I use the solenoid on ascent where a stuck open failure is not quite so serious and much easier to manage.

To those whose opinions differ and believe utilizing the electronics is the preferred way to dive I say fine.  I agree that the human hand on a button is no match for the precision with which todays modern controllers hold set point.  I just prefer to retain as much control over the unit as is reasonably possible.  If I were to buy a Ferrari or a Lamborghini I would want a manual transmission even if an automatic was available because I want to DRIVE the car, not the other way around.  In that same spirit, I want to DIVE my rebreather.

 

Eye On Fire

I recently read a Facebook post where someone reported a serious eye injury after using Dawn Dish Washing Liquid as a mask defog agent.  Now one might think that using dish washing soap as a defog agent is not the wisest choice but I assure you it is not as bad a choice as one might think when you compare it to commercially available products that we assume are safe.  Some time ago I was with a group of friends diving at Peacock Springs (now named Wes Skyles) State Park when this unexpected incident happened to me.

I was parked in the lot adjacent to Orange Grove Sink.  The plan was to swim the Grand Traverse (Orange Grove to Peacock, a 4000 foot plus swim).  After prepping gear on the tailgate of my truck I put Sea Drops in my mask.  Some how the cap on the squeeze bottle was knocked loose or removed and improperly replaced.   Somewhat annoyed with myself I spread the excess over the mask face plate an propped it over my forehead for the walk down to the water.  My intention was to thoroughly rinse the excess defog off at the water and proceed with my dive.

The Road To Hell Is Often Paved With Good Intentions.

As I walked to the waters edge the mask slipped from my forehead and somehow the Sea Drops covered face plate smacked my open eye and coated part of its surface with the Sea Drops gel.  Annoyed at my own stupidity I continued my walk to the water and immediately immersed my head with my eyes open and violently shook it sideways, back and forth and up and down in an attempt to wash the Sea Drops out of my eyes.  I then addressed the mask and washed the excess defog from it.  Everything felt fine and thinking nothing of it I began my dive.

About 800 – 900 feet into the cave my eye began to “itch”.  Thinking nothing of it I continued on to Challenge sink.  By that time my eye was getting progressively more distressed.  I surfaced in the sinkhole, removed my mask and tried to wash out my eye.  I also asked my dive buddies to look for a foreign object in the unlikely event I had somehow picked up something in the water when “rinsing” my eye earlier.  Nothing was found and washing my eye brought no relief.

“I gotta get out of here NOW!”….

was the only thing I remember saying to my dive buddies and I began to exit like a bull in a china shop, swimming most of the exit at maximum speed with my eyes closed.  It was beginning to feel like my eye was on fire and closing my eye was the only thing that brought any relief.

By the time I reached the steps the pain was quite severe and my only thoughts were thank God Peacock is shallow and I had no decompression obligation and to get to an emergency room as quickly as possible.  I tossed my gear in the back of my pickup and left it at Dive Outpost.  The owner, Cathy Lesh very graciously rendered first aid,  trying to irrigate the eye while giving us directions to the nearest ER.

After Being Driven At Warp Speed…

I arrived at the ER about 30 minutes later.  When the registration process began the only words out of my mouth were “I don’t have time for this.  I have a chemical burn in my eye.  If you can’t care for me immediately give me the name of another ER or a walk in clinic and I’ll go there.”

They immediately dropped everything and rushed me into the ER where a nurse irrigated my eye and began a cursory examination.  At some point a doctor came and examined my eye, spoke with the nurse and left.  The nurse advised that there were 3 layers of skin or membrane covering the eye and the Sea Drops had burned through 2 of them, hence the extreme pain.  She also advised that the ph of the chemical was unrealistically high and was surprised that a product designed for use near the eyes would have such a high ph.  She also said the ph of my eye was very high and that I could not leave until it was normal.  Three or four hours and six bags of normal saline irrigation (or whatever they were using) later and I was free to go but still in pain.  The Doctor gave me some Oxycontin to take for the pain and it didn’t even touch it.  Just for the record, I don’t even take aspirin so this stuff should have knocked me out and it had nil effect.

I knew I was not fit to drive back to south Florida so the next day I made my way to an eye doctor and planned on spending an extra day to recuperate.  The doctor examined me and said there would be some discomfort but no permanent damage and proceeded to cover the eye with a contact lens.  The pain left instantly.  I guess the exposure to the air exacerbated the pain and sealing it off with a contact lens gave relief.  I was then advised to wait a few days and make an appointment with a local doctor who would examine me again and remove the lens.

I Arrived Home Looking Like A Pirate…

with a patched eye but with no pain.  I scheduled an appointment with a local MD who reaffirmed there was no permanent damage to the eye and removed the contact lens.  When I commented about the extreme pain she stated that the eye was one of the two most pain sensitive areas of the body, the other being an unmentionable.

I filed a claim with my Dive Accident insurer and all of the medical expenses were covered completely but I was dismayed by the reply I got when I suggested a caution be published in their quarterly dive magazine.  It seemed that there was a greater concern for advertising dollars than there was for diver safety.

So, the take away from all of this is to never assume (as I did) that just because we think a product meets a certain expectation that it actually does.  While Sea Drops is a good product for its intended purpose, shame on me for assuming that a cursory rinse would mitigate any potential injury from direct contact with ones eye.  After all, it is manufactured for use near the eyes.

I hope this serves to make people aware of the potential dangers of ANY  chemical in the eye, no matter how benign we think it might be.

 

 

 

TANK SPECIFICATION TABLES

Manufacturer

Material

Cubic Feet

Service Pressure

PSI per ft3

Outside Diameter

Length Inches

Weight lbs

Buoyancy Full lbs

Buoyancy
Empty lbs

Luxfer

Alum

77.4

3000

38.75

7.25

26.1

26.9

-1.6

+4.1

OMS

Steel

85

2400

28.23

7.00

26.0

31.0

-6.7

neutral

Faber/ScubaPro

Steel

95.1

2640

27.76

8.02

23.8

37.6

-8.5

-1.2

OMS

Steel

98

2400

24.48

8.00

24.0

38.0

-7.7

neutral

Luxfer

Alum

98.8

3300

33.40

8.00

26.2

40.2

-3.3

+3.5

Pressed Steel

Steel

100.1

3500

34.96

7.25

23.9

33.0

-7.5

neutral

Pressed Steel

Steel

104

2400

23.07

8.00

26.2

46.0

-5.3

-2.5

OMS

Steel

112

2400

21.42

8.00

26.0

41.0

-8.0

-1

Pressed Steel

Steel

120

3500

29.16

7.25

27.9

38.0

-10.0

+1

Pressed Steel

Steel

120

2400

20.00

8.00

29.4

52.0

-7.0

-2

Heiser/Beauchat

Steel

120

3190

26.58

8.03

25.8

55.0

-26.4

-17.82

OMS

Steel

125

2400

21.12

3.00

29.0

45.0

-9.5

neutral

OMS

Steel

131

2400

18.32

8.00

30.7

47.0

10.3

+0.75

Heiser/Beauchat

Steel

140

3190

22.78

8.03

29.9

63.0

-28.4

-18.04

Heiser/Beauchat

Steel

190

4400

23.15

8.03

31.3

87.0

-62.3

-46.86

 

Material

Volume

Rated
Capacity

Capacity @
10% OF

Service
Pressure

Overfill
Pressure

Hydrotest
Pressure

Cubic In
Empty
Cap

Length
Inches

Diameter
Inches-OD

Mean Wall
Thickness

Empty Wght
Lbs.

Bouyancy
Empty-SW

Bouyancy
Full-SW

Dist.

MFG.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEEL

95

86.30

95.00

2900

3190

4833

 

21.85

8.03

 

47.00

 

 

BEUCHAT

HAISER

STEEL

120

109.10

120.00

2900

3190

4833

 

25.78

8.03

 

55.00

 

 

BEUCHAT

HAISER

STEEL

140

127.30

140.00

2900

3190

4833

 

29.92

8.03

 

63.00

 

 

BEUCHAT

HAISER

STEEL

190

172.70

N/A

4400

#

7333

 

31.29

8.03

 

87.00

 

 

BEUCHAT

HAISER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEEL

71.4

64.90

71.40

3000

3300

5000

 

25.39

6.00

 

26.00

-7.00

0.20

SCUBAPRO

FABER

STEEL

71.4

64.90

71.40

3000

3300

5000

 

20.47

6.84

 

29.00

-8.80

3.20

SCUBAPRO

FABER

STEEL

75.8

68.90

75.80

2400

2640

4000

 

26.18

6.76

 

29.50

-4.00

0.63

SCUBAPRO

FABER

STEEL

95.1

86.40

95.10

2400

2640

4000

 

23.82

8.02

 

37.62

-6.08

0.10

SCUBAPRO

FABER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEEL

65

59.00

65.10

2400

2640

4000

632

21.40

7.25

 

28.50

-3.28

7.78

DOLPHIN

COYNE

STEEL

80

71.00

78.10

2400

2640

4000

754

24.00

7.27

 

31.90

-2.02

7.92

DOLPHIN

COYNE

STEEL

95

87.00

95.70

2400

2640

4000

924

23.80

8.00

 

38.80

-2.98

10.08

DOLPHIN

COYNE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEEL

50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMS

FABER

STEEL

72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMS

FABER

STEEL

100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMS

FABER

STEEL

121

110.00

121.00

2400

2640

4000

 

29.00

8.00

 

45.00

 

 

OMS

FABER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEEL

120

120.00

N/A

3500

#

5250

923

27.87

7.30

0.190

38.00

 

 

USD,SHERWD

PST

STEEL

100

100.00

N/A

3500

#

5250

768

23.94

7.30

0.190

33.00

0.00

 

USD,SHERWD

PST

STEEL

80

80.00

N/A

3500

#

5250

613

19.75

7.30

0.190

27.00

-1.00

 

USD,SHERWD

PST

STEEL

65

65.00

N/A

3500

#

5250

601

16.75

7.30

0.190

24.00

 

 

USD,SHERWD

PST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALUMINUM

13

13.30

N/A

3000

#

5000

116

12.87

4.37

0.321

5.80

-0.60

-1.60

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

14

13.70

N/A

2015

#

3358

172

16.50

4.37

0.224

5.50

1.60

0.60

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

19

19.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

175

18.21

4.37

0.321

8.20

 

 

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

30

30.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

266

21.77

4.87

0.353

11.90

1.10

-1.10

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

40

40.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

350

24.75

5.25

0.378

15.30

2.10

-0.90

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

50

48.50

N/A

3000

#

5000

425

19.00

6.89

0.497

15.30

1.00

-2.60

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

63

63.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

552

21.85

7.25

0.521

26.90

2.40

-2.30

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

67

67.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

588

19.77

8.00

0.597

31.00

1.20

-3.90

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

74

74.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

648

25.00

7.25

0.521

30.30

3.80

-1.70

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

80

77.40

N/A

3000

#

5000

678

26.00

7.25

0.521

31.70

4.10

-1.80

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

80

80.00

N/A

3000

#

5000

701

22.88

8.00

0.597

35.20

2.70

-3.30

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

92

91.50

N/A

3200

#

5333

760

24.63

8.00

0.597

36.40

3.50

-3.40

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

100

100.00

N/A

3300

#

5500

807

26.21

8.00

0.615

40.20

3.50

-4.00

USD,DACOR

LUXFER

STEEL

15

14.24

16.65

3000

3300

5000

120

13.80

4.00

 

7.50

-1.30

-2.50

UNKNOWN

UNKNOWN

ALUMINUM

14

14.06

N/A

2015

#

3358

176

16.60

4.40

 

5.40

3.20

2.10

VARIOUS

VARIOUS

ALUMINUM

50

50.43

N/A

3000

#

5000

425

19.00

6.90

 

21.50

2.25

-1.80

 

 

STEEL

45

40.99

45.09

2015

2216

3358

513

19.10

6.80

 

20.00

1.40

-2.20

 

 

STEEL

38

37.86

41.65

1800

1980

3000

530

19.10

6.80

 

20.00

1.40

-1.60

 

 

STEEL

42

38.00

41.77

1800

1980

3000

532

19.10

6.80

 

20.10

1.40

-1.90

 

 

STEEL

52.2

47.43

52.14

2250

2475

4125

532

19.37

6.90

 

22.00

0.00

-4.20

 

 

STEEL

53

47.43

52.14

2250

2475

3750

532

19.10

6.80

 

20.50

1.40

-2.80

 

 

ALUMINUM

63

63.13

N/A

3000

#

5000

532

18.70

7.25

 

25.10

0.80

-3.04

 

 

STEEL

71.4

65.15

71.39

3000

3300

5000

549

20.47

6.84

 

28.60

-4.60

-10.30

 

 

ALUMINUM

72

69.60

N/A

3000

#

5000

610

26.00

6.89

 

28.50

3.60

-1.80

 

 

STEEL

55

44.79

49.23

1800

1980

3000

627

22.50

6.80

 

20.80

2.40

1.40

 

 

ALUMINUM

80

79.87

N/A

3000

#

5000

673

26.40

7.25

 

33.30

4.00

-1.90

 

LUXFER

ALUMINUM

80

80.70

N/A

3000

#

5000

680

27.00

7.25

 

34.50

4.10

-1.90

 

LUXFER

STEEL

71.2

65.08

71.55

2250

2475

3750

730

25.00

6.80

 

29.50

3.50

-2.00

 

 

ALUMINUM

71.2

71.55

N/A

2475

#

4125

730

28.80

6.90

 

30.60

10.60

5.20

 

LUXFER

STEEL

75.8

69.39

76.29

2400

2640

4000

730

26.18

6.76

 

29.30

1.50

-4.60

 

 

STEEL

94.6/96

86.63

95.25

3000

3300

5000

730

25.00

7.00

 

39.00

-6.00

-13.30

SHERWOOD

PST

STEEL

95.1

85.98

95.62

2400

2640

4000

915

23.82

8.02

 

37.20

1.50

-6.20

 

 

STEEL

103.5/104

96.01

105.55

2400

2640

4000

1010

26.50

7.80

 

44.00

0.00

-8.20