A big part of big trips is the preparation that goes into them. It’s nice to look at the results – great photos, new cave, nice maps, stories of epic adventure – but rare that the hours of practise and prep get the same publicity. So today’s photos aren’t spectacular or even very exciting. They are important though. Expedition diving is hard work, and a lot of that work occurs before the trip even begins. You have to put in the hours in advance to get results. Pretending that you were born a cave diving genius is fun but somewhat deceptive. It also encourages untrained or underexperienced divers to attempt things they probably shouldn’t.
With that in mind and an upcoming long-range scooter dive later this year, Mum, Dad and I have been spending time driving scooters up and down in fairly boring locations. So far we have checked out the delights of Little Blue sinkhole, a nondescript bit of sand off Cape Woolamai and Flinders Pier at scooter speed. Along the way I have refined my scooter attachment options, played with scooter trim and weighting, and determined my preferred trigger finger.
Flinders Pier is better known for beautiful weedy seadragons and nice macro life. From mid-water and at speed I spotted four or five surprised seadragons as well as a banjo shark and a massive stingray. Smaller life eluded me….macro spotting probably requires a slower speed. The pier gets pretty shallow at low tide. We weren’t sure how close to the beach we would be able to scooter, so the laps went from about halfway down the pier to the end and back again. This gave us an obvious turnaround spot (the platform halfway along) and allowed for an easy distance calculation on Google earth. With a return trip giving a 300m run, we chugged out laps and waited for the batteries to die.
While I had already done a bit of short range scooter time, the longer runs make problems more obvious. After the first kilometre my lower back was not happy with a towing position that had seemed great to start with. This was an improvement on a month ago but obviously isn’t going to cut it for the trip. My thermal comfort decreased significantly after an hour of cold water rushing past me. On the other hand, the arm and shoulder position was great and my trim in the water much more comfortably head down. I reckon there’s at least one more Sunday afternoon of cutting laps underwater in my future as it all starts to come together.