Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Underwater at Ganges

Winter underwater at Ganges Harbour is cold and dark and miserable. I knocked the trombone bit off the dorade box when I launched the dinghy. First time I rescued it before it sought the ocean floor. The wood where the screws had mounted it had become mushy so I had only to turn it a bit and remount it with new drill holes. Before I did that though, the next day, I knocked it overboard when I was cleaning the deck of mollusk shells that had fallen off the bottom of the boat. For anyone who has lost something over the side of sailboats, and I've lost wrenches, screwdrivers, cups and outboard engines, there's that sad moment when one watches as the item sinks out of sight, gone to Davy Jones Locker, like a lost friend.

But I have a wet suit on board, albeit a summer wet suit, not the winter wet suit I have in storage or the dry suit I have in storage. But a wet suit. And flippers and goggles and snorkel. I slipped into tights and tshirt, donned the wet suit, doing contortions with the zipper on the back, climbed in the dinghy, got on the flippers and mask and snorkle, then rolled over the side. Darkness and cold greeted me as I reversed direction and porpoised back to the surface and scrambled into the dinghy. Now that was a stupid idea I thought! Time to rethink.

I checked the depth sounder 20 feet. I found my dive light. Battery needed recharging. I found my buddy air bottle and filled it from my main tank, missing my BCG and finding only a few tank weights I could use to counter my own buoyancy. I jury rigged a grossly inadequate weight belt.

A few hours later when the sun was still up and I couldn't put it off any longer, I donned the still damp gear and with yellow buddy air bottle and dive lamp I set out. I'd also hung a rope over the side of the boat with a weight that I could follow to the ground and use for bearing for search. Well, the water was just as cold but I sucked air from the buddy bottle kicking down with ears refusing to equalize but finally reaching the bottom thankful for the white rope. The darkness at the bottom was still really dark despite the dive light. I looked quickly around from the rope, maybe 10 feet circumference, irritated by my lack of counter buoyancy and astonished by the dark and cold. It was even scarey.

In a matter of seconds, I concluded the little trumpet end for the dorade box, could be replaced cheaply at Poppy's Second Hand Marine. I certainly didn't need fresh air funneling through the cabin right now. They're a hot climate item. I basically wasn't happy at all doing this. Indeed I was already feeling better heading to the surface. In the dinghy I was very happy. I was even happier in the hot shower. Maybe tomorrow I thought.

Today, it's windy in the harbor and choppy. Definitely worse conditions for diving. I can't believe I did my advanced and rescue Padi training in these conditions. Yes, I had the proper equipment and great instructors from Granville Island. What I have on board right now is only for emergencies such as fouled rudder. I'll have to get my weightbelt, BCG and winter wet suit from the storage locker. Still.

If one is going to go diving it's far better to do it in the Northern Mariana Islands. Now there's the place to drop something over the side of a sailboat, just to have the excuse to go diving.

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