Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The first of many.

**Note to readers: in my absence, it seems as if blogger has deleted links to many a photo on my blog. I will work on getting those back up when I get a chance.**

Well hello world!! Still working on the internet situation down here in good ol’ Jersey, but I really wanted to get blogging again. Text at a minimum… We’ll see how long the library puts up with me. So, quick summary for those that aren’t totally in the loop. About a month ago, I quit my job, moved to NJ and began attending a commercial diving program! I’m open to where it takes me, but mostly I’m trying to get into dive-engineering with a focus in bridge inspection. 

Or this could be me... welding underwater.

Up until now, we’ve been learning mostly the theory behind everything. Well, that and the 1001 ways that we can die. It’s fun when every page of your chapter has at least one big bold warning – “Warning, you could die diving if you do X.” Thanks. Luckily, the dive medicine book did confirm that women are not more prone to shark attacks while on their periods. Yes, it really said that. So no, I’m not more likely to die that way than anybody else.

Today though, man… today was THE DAY. I know it sounds cheesey, but honestly it’s probably a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. My first day doing a legit commercial style dive. Holy awesome!!! So not at all like scuba. Most of my class of course had done their orientation dives a few days ago but I was behind (funny story). The rest of the class was going to be starting their first projects. Basically they send a bucket down with a bunch of pipes and elbow fittings that you have to put together to make a square. I was only supposed to be doing my orientation dive though (hold that thought).

A desco hat - the type we used for our first dives.

So I go and get ready to get in the water. They suit me up, I walk over, I manage to conquer the ladder (seems silly, but climbing down that ladder in all your gear is actually mildly terrifying) and get in the water. First part of orientation dives – loss of air drills. Basically, they turn off your air so you can get used to how it feels so you won’t panic if it really does happen and then you have to try out the various backup systems (we have multiple! – yay for safety!) Now in the classroom, when we practiced on land, I didn’t really get to experience the feel of this at all. The neck dams that seal you into the hat are generally huge on my. So even with the air off, I still get a very good amount of air from outside and can’t really tell a difference. Definitely different in the water though! It doesn’t go off all at once, but you can feel it starting to back off and slowly get harder to breath. So I finally got to experience it a little more.

Then we start making out way over to the descent line. In commercial diving, you’re really heavily weighted down. For scuba, you want to be neutral in the water, but commercial is negative buoyancy. So when you’re in the water, you’re going to sink. So to descend, you have to lower yourself down a line slowly so you have time to clear your ears. I finally get to the bottom (only about 30’ down) and then they start sending me out to go walk around. It’s trippy and awesome and I don’t have good enough words to describe it. I had a hard time getting my footing (we wear boots instead of fins because we’re walking around, not swimming) but was pretty comfortable.

What I'll look like soon.... (in a dry suit with a superlite hat)

Finally, done walking around and I think they’re going to bring me back up. Nope. Bam! Here’s your project coming down, better be ready. Minus having gloves that were way too big on me, I was pretty ok. Got it all fitted up, sent it back up and found out I passed. And then my girly moment. We’re supposed to be professional over the communication lines and I of course SQUEAL out “Oooh! A fish” as this foot long fish starts swimming around with me. Sorry topside. I eventually get over to the descent line, make my way back up (mind you, you then have to hoist yourself up the line when you’re all done – my back is going to be ripped when I get outta here!), and re-conquer the ladder!

And that my friends, was basically my first day diving! Holy cool Batman!

And finally, me doing my "dry dive" during class.