October 26, 2021
I woke up feeling rested which actually surprised me considering I have have struggled in previous classes to get good sleep and not have tons of anxiousness. I remarked to myself “Day 2 here we go”. I got out of bed and gathered my things in what now had become a routine. I made some Tim Hortons coffee (pretty tasty) and had a nice big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast while I waited for the garage to open. I also reviewed my homework from the previous days and jotted down some questions I had for Guy.
Before long, the garage opened up and I found my way over. Jon and I also got into a routine of analyzing gas and prepping for the day. We’d be doing simulated tech dives with a simulated bottom stage and bottle rotations. So we had to analyze our Oxygen, our 50%, and a 32% bottle, in addition to our back gas. I was excited but also a little nervous. I’d actually not done an official bottle rotation before but had my fair share of bottle shuffling on multi stage cave dives and while bottle muling for the WKPP. None the less I’ve never really been shown the proper bottle rotation procedure and the thought did cross my mind that I’d probably fuck that up royally. I was just hoping I didn’t drop my oxygen.
Guy went over the gas planning homework and we did another lecture. We also did the bottle rotation land drill. The one thing I’ve gotten lazy on a bit with cave diving is always just using my outside bottle and not have to clip or unclip an inside bottle. In cave diving we have the luxury of unclipping gear and temporarily stowing it on the continuous guideline if you need to get it out of the way while you clean up gear. However this is not possible on tech dives because you typically are doing all your clean up mid water and letting go of a bottle is not ideal to say the least. I did learn from my T1 class that it’s not ok to unclip a bottle and swing it out in front of you to stow the reg, so I’d been practicing that in my cave diving since T1 and gotten fairly used to cleaning up a stage by feel. The bottle rotation was fairly intuitive on land but I wondered how that would go in the water with a heavy o2 bottle and an empty bottom stage.
We loaded our gear and headed back over to Maple Bay, this time with much more gear. We arrived and began shuttling bottles down to the shore and everyone did their thing as they geared up. This time I didn’t struggle with the dry gloves which was a relief. It was also my turn to run the GUE EDGE. I didn’t really do a great job with it, I suppose old habits die hard but Guy was firm yet nice about explaining what he expected and I understood and corrected my mistakes. Once we completed the EDGE the four of us made our way to the water. It would be the first time I would be diving with three bottles and dry gloves and I walked about waste deep into the water to begin clipping bottles on. I got my 50% and oxygen leashed on my hip, I took a few more steps to get into deeper water to take some weight off, when suddenly I felt a surge of cold water. “Fuck!” my drysuit zipper must not have been fully closed. I quickly backed up to get my waste above water. I had to offload my 32%, and 50% back to the leash, without while avoiding falling over from the logs and small waves trying making life difficult. This annoyed me because things were going fairly well and now I was wet. Fortunately it wasn’t a full flood but it was enough that I knew I would be cold. I made sure my zipper was closed and tried again. This time with most of my left hip soaked with cold water and I waited to see if the cold I was feeling now was water from before or more water coming in. After a few minutes I was satisfied that I had actually closed the zipper this time and began to clip the bottles back on. I really struggled with the inside bottle. The thick santi dry gloves were actually kind of slippery and I just didn’t have the dexterity that I needed. I remembered a lesson from Mark Messersmith. “Just slow down” he would say. I slowed down, and was able to get the bottles clipped, finally. It wasn’t shaping up to be a great dive if I was struggling this much on the surface but I tried to not let that get to me. Meanwhile my team was waiting and I felt like everyone was staring. Even though I felt maybe they were waiting for me, I took the a moment to chill out and do my drowning seal stretch which was my routine to get settled. In the past I would have rushed and gone ahead with the dive, knowing I wasn’t in a good place, but taking a 30 second pause to collect your shit does wonders for the head and my team didn’t mind because we’ve all been there.
Once I was settled, I let the water melt away my worried and we descended. We swam back over to the cinder block and Jon shot a bag. We immediately began to do some bottle rotations. It actually went fairly ok but we were right on the bottom with a nice visual reference of the cinder block. I didn’t feel like I looked awesome but I got it done. Though I started to think I’d struggle on a midwater ascent with no visual reference. Jon was a rockstar on this skill and I watched him carefully for any tips I could glean. Jon and I each did a number of rotations until Guy was sufficiently satisfied. Next he motioned us to switch to the bottom stage and take a swim in a random direction like we had done the previous day. Only this time we were in full tech 2 gear, and the real fun was about to begin. As per usual we had lots of emergencies to handle. By the time we made it back to the cinderblock we were on a gas share and began our ascent. The ascent went surprisingly smooth, as we were able to both get switched over to our 50% bottles and clean up the gas share. From there we made a simulated ascent doing bottle rotations and running deco in increments of 5 feet all the way to the surface. It wasn’t great, we bobbled up and down some, but I was feeling pretty confident. I some how managed to keep my shit together but was still struggling with the clipping and my stupid thick ass dry gloves.
At the surface guy gave us (mostly me) some tips on the skills which I happily accepted. He also told me we’d go down again and I’d shoot a bag. We would be doing a similar dive as dive 1 only I’d lead. No problem let’s do this. We descended back down to the cinder block and I shot the bag. As was feeding the spool through the cinder block something must have punctured my my glove on my left hand. I could feel a trickle of cold water coming in. It wasn’t terrible so we continued the dive. Within a few minutes we were deep in the shit of exploding first stages, back gas failures and even broken deco bottle (if I recall, one may have gone “missing” during a failure). By this time my hand was completely soaked. Jon and I resolved issue after issue as we made our way back to the ascent line (probably on another gas share). We did our simulate ascent and made our way to the surface performing a compressed tech 2 ascent. Most of it went fine until my bottle rotations. My hand was virtually numb a this point and to make matters worst it was my left hand. I tried to go nice and slow to unclip my bottles, rotate my bottom stage back and bring my oxygen forward. I actually somehow fumbled my way through it despite not being able to feel much. I did however drop a bolt snap. Fortunately I always have a spare in my pocket so it was a non issue. I think Guy or Kelvin even caught it as it fell so I was able to get it back. We finished our “deco” and made it to the surface without getting simulated bent or simulated dying. Again the ascent wasn’t super clean stair steps like I’d want to see but it was “ok” for learning a new skill. I was feeling pretty good about it all. Once at the surface I could see an obvious hole in my glove, and I showed the team. My hand was painfully numb and we quickly got out of the water.
We quickly got geared down and head back to the classroom. Guy did some more lectures and debriefed us on what skills we did good with and what can improve. I made it through day 2 and I was feeling confident so far. Most importantly I was having fun. After class I had some more homework so I made a quick meal and settled into the breakfast nook to work on my tasks. The sun came out briefly in the evening and it was really beautiful to see the mountains in the distance.
There was talk about when and where to do the swim test and really hoped I’d be good on the test since I was unable to get to a pool in the last year due to covid. I started to wonder if Guy would ask us to swim in that 50deg water. I was able to get to bed fairly early after the routine of taking care of gear was settled.