Once we had progressed through the skills and drills dives discussed in the last post, it was on to the deeper stuff. This meant many of the same flashcards seen previously with the added pressure of extra depth. Rather than swimming out from shore we also added some very small boats to the fun. The second photo here is me fully geared up in my rEvo as we chugged towards the dive site.
On arrival in the right location it was a sideways manoeuvre to get fins on and slip over the side of the boat. The driver then passed in my three stages and we did a floating S drill as a team. It’s the rainy season in Bali at the moment. That means the top layer of the water is relatively murky (for the tropics) and on descent we would break through into darker, clearer water.
The deeper dives allowed for a set bottom time followed by ascent to the decompression schedule. Strangely enough we normally had half to three quarters of the bottom time relatively incident free. Then in the last five minutes before time was up, the poop would hit the windmill. The third photo here was taken by Marc on deco. If you look closely you can see that Tommi’s oxygen addition button has been cable tied in, leaving him to feather the tank valve on and off each time he needs to add O2.
In the middle my primary Shearwater Petrel is turned down on my wrist to simulate failure, and I’m controlling the ppO2 of the unit using the rEvo dream HUDs. I’m also magically “out of oxygen”, and the extra deco bottle is feeding the bottom of my MAV block. On the right hand side Andreas is bailed out following a simulated hypercapnia event and was glad to see the extra oxygen drop down from the boat above. All of this happened on the bottom and made for interesting ppO2 control on the ascent from 60m for Tommi and I.
On the last day we had a 100m dive planned. The afternoon before I put an IP gauge on my rEvo. It’s a manual unit with an absolute pressure oxygen reg, so when the depth equals the intermediate pressure, oxygen is going to stop coming out. The IP is set relatively high between 11 and 12, so I was hopeful of manual addition still working at our planned maximum depth. The alternative plan was to put my deco hot mix in through the MAV block until we moved up enough to get the O2 working again.
Our descent on the 100m dive was interrupted by a feeding eagle ray at about 40m. From there it was straight down the wall, adding 10/60 dil, managing ears and trying to unfold the camera in case of another eagle ray. By 70m I just about had the camera ready and was starting to bring my ppO2 up a little. This was good timing for the thresher shark who turned up at 85m. I refrained from flashing him in the hope he would come a little closer for a better shot. Unfortunately not and we watched his long tail flick off into the darkness.
From there it was down to 100m, flicking over my standalone Petrel to the bottom set point and stabilising the ppO2 in the loop. I was very happy to discover my O2 inject button was working, albeit with a little “psssht” noise rather than the usual gush of gas. I was briefly distracted from computer readouts and camera fiddling by a passing mola mola out in the black water. Despite my best efforts at getting closer he wasn’t keen on being flashed in the eyeballs. After two too-far-away-to-be-good shots he scuttled off into the depths. The current pushed us gently along the wall and Marc was kind enough to take a quick snapshot of me. I turned my wrists out in hope of reading the number, but obviously not far enough! This dive was a big first for me and having the photo to capture the moment is awesome.
The ascent up the wall was uneventful apart from a small whitetip reef shark heading past at about 60m. We surfaced to big clouds and warm rain on the surface. After a late lunch and some theory exams it was all done. Mission accomplished – 100m qualification achieved. Big thanks to Marc Crane of TekDeep Asia for his pedantry, particularness and patience. Now it’s time to go and use some of these newly acquired skills in the less friendly Melbourne oceans, and see what there is to be seen.
If you missed the first half of this course write up, it can be found here.