After our last two dives on March 28th 2015 we were able to drop some weight from our rigs. However it just seemed that we were fighting the weighting issue. Both My dive buddy and I were using about 24 and 26 lbf of ballast respectively. Our AL80 tanks have a swing weight of about 6 lbf and end up positive 4lbf. The other problem is that on land our rig weighs close to 60lbf and it becomes very cumbersome trying to step over logs and rocks to get into the water.
We decided to talk to Mer about what she would recommend for steel tanks. After I sent probably have a dozen emails back and forth with her, and scoured the internet for a good deal, we settled on some new old-stock Worthington LP85’s. These tanks will give us the ability to subtract nearly 8lbf of lead that we were adding when using AL80’s. The other benefit of having the LP85’s now is that eventually we can convert them to doubles and it will be a good light tech rig.
I ended up ordering the tanks from Dive Right In Scuba and I’ve always had good service from them. They came with Faber convertible Blue Steel valves because I asked them not to send me the “Vindicator”.
We took two weeks off from diving partly to get some stuff done around the house and partly to just take a break. This gave me the opportunity to have the new tanks delivered. They came in 4 big heavy boxes from UPS on Friday the 17th and we had planned our next dive with some friends on Sunday.
That Saturday we took the tanks to Sea Sports Scuba in the Woodlands to get visuals. Sea Sports is great by the way. Both My dive buddy and I have always felt welcome in the Woodlands store. I’ve been in many dive shops where the staff can be standoff-ish and that drives me nuts. Not the case at Sea Sports. Now it must be said that I did ask if Sea Sports could order me the LP85 first, because I try to deal locally if I can. Unfortunately DRIS was the only place in the country still selling them. Zach and Jeff were wonderful and did the visuals while we waited. They even put up with my questions and let me look into the tanks with the inspection light. Being an engineer that has designed pressure vessels, I get all excited when i get to do stuff like that. We also told Zach (a certified cave diver and SSI instructor) that we would be diving at Main Beach of the Blue Lagoon and he was welcome to join us.
Sunday came early after a busy Saturday and we loaded up the truck and head up to Huntsville. We had planned to meet Zach and crew at 9. We arrived about 10 after and everybody was already at the shelter. It was a beautiful day and all the divers there were very friendly. My dive buddy and I geared up in our usual fashion and for the first time she didn’t need me to help her into her drysuit. I think with the combination of lighter undergarments and having had some experience under our belts, things are starting to get easier.
Once geared up I had to go jump in the water with my dry suit. I was hot already which was not surprising since the air temp was high 80’s. The water was a nice cool 69F and it felt good. I thought it might be warm enough to not wear a hood and gloves so I didn’t put them on. My dive buddy and I did our final gear checks, discussed the dive plan and headed for the water. This was to be My dive buddy’s 100th dive. My dive buddy was unaware that I had prepared a page of my wetnotes with a big 100 written on it with magic marker. I tore out the page, rolled up and hid it in the handle of my go pro. However I almost forgot to grab the gopro and had to march back the truck.
Once in the water we chatted with Zach and crew, decided on buddy teams and finally kicked out to a platform buoy. My dive buddy and I are still in the learning phase so we like to find a platform at the start of the dive and get situated before heading off. We reached the platform buoy and donned masks and regulators, gave the thumbs down signal and descended. The first thing I noticed was that I needed to add a TON of air to my BC. The tanks were heavy and I still had about a total of 24lbf of ballast including the 8lbf negative from the tank. Both My dive buddy and I finned around the platform for a few minutes. I saw My dive buddy looking pretty good in trim and decided to give her the “100” wetnote page. I tried to hand it to her and she refused. She thought I picked up some trash or something. Finally I showed it to her and she smiled and gave me the look of “Oh I see why you wanted to hand me that”. From then on I filmed the rest of the dive. It was a great dive. Things just felt right. Maybe the final piece of the puzzle was the steel tanks. I’m sure we will continue to work the bugs out but it was nice to get a really good dive where we could just have fun diving. We will definitely be dropping more weight on the next dive. I suspect I could get close to 18lbf. We’ll see how it goes. I still get a little floaty at 10 feet with a low tank and thats probably more a function of technique then anything.