Welcome to ScubaBoard, an online scuba diving forum community where you can join over 205,000 divers diving from around the world. If the topic is related to scuba diving, this is the place to find divers talking about it. To gain full access to ScubaBoard (and make this large box go away) you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:
Participate in over 500 dive topic forums and browse from over 5,500,000 posts.
Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
Post your own photos or view from well over 100,000 user submitted images.
Gain access to our free classifieds marketplace to buy, sell and trade gear, travel and services.
Use the calendar to organize your events and enroll in other members' events.
Find a dive buddy or communicate directly with scuba equipment manufacturers.
All this and much more is available to you absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!
If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact the ScubaBoard Support Team.
But there's only three of us! Well, I guess that's enough to call it an official Swamp Dive!
On Sunday, August 5th, Tom Vyles, wife Michelle (his), and myself loaded up the Suburban with our gear, hitched up Tom's boat and set out to Possum Kingdom lake to see what there was to see underwater at the other dives sites besides Scuba Point.
Weather was mostly sunny (very few clouds) with a surface air temp approx 87-92 degrees.
We arrived at Scuba Point about 11:00-11:30 and found out that the operators of the facility were nice enough not to charge us to put in the boat or park unless we were to actually dive within their area of control. So we transfered the gear to the boat and headed off first to Hell's Gate which is a large opening in the cliffs that leads into a large "no wake" area. After touring around the left hand cliff, we returned to the front and dropped anchor. We each donned our gear, and with a backroll entry started our dive. Dive Start time: 12:01 (by my computer). 10 feet down, the vis dropped to 10 feet and stayed there until below the thermoline at 40 feet where it improved slightly to 15 feet. But along with that good was the bad: A drop in temperature to 60 degrees F. I was okay in my new 2mil vest/hood and full 3-mil, but Tom was in his shorty and Michelle in just 3mil full suit so I came back up and led them in toward shore. (We later surmised that this could be the algae bloom season since the water at 35 feet was exceedingly green).
When we hit the uprising bottom, we turned towards the opening and navigated along the bottom. Not as much to see as along the ledges and outcroppings near Scuba Point, but we did spot lots of bottle and can fish having a rest along the bottom. Many of the Budwieiser species were seen as well as the rare Coors species. After about 125-150 yards, Tom tugged my fin to indicated that it was time to turn around due to air limitations. So we swamp back along our path until I came to what I thought was the point where we had found the rising bottom. I wrote on my slate that I wasn't sure, and Michelle made a crack that I should've asked directions at the cleaning station. So we mutually decided to ascend to 15 feet and do a hovering safety stop and then ascend. On the surface we saw that were were only 30 yard short and then surface swam back to Tom's boat.
The boat was small 15' pleasure boat that Tom usually uses for fishing, so ascending his short ladder for the first time was interesting since there was no counter weight on the other side. But we and the gear all got in safely and motored back to Scuba Point for air fills and a snack.
Max Depth, 54 feet, BT = 36 minutes, Avg. depth 40 feet. Temp observed was in the upper 60's, but I did see my computer display 62 at one point.
Notes of interest: Discovered interesting way to assist in maintaining particular depth. Since the thermocline was someone pronounced (within 2 feet), I found that I could determine how deep I was by the temp of the water against my face. Cold, getting towards 44 feet, wamer, 40 feet or above.
Also discovered that 12 lbs was not quite enough lead to sink me after adding the 2mil hooded vest. Additional weight was purchased during surface interval.
During dive I used a Trident "Lazer Stick" tank light. Since I led our threesome, both Tom & Michelle commented that it did help them keep me in view. Will not include it on all my dives in reduced visability settings.
The area of the next dive can be seen by viewing the map of PK. Scuba Point is near the Red "B", and we headed to the lower right-hand corner of the map. According to the dive site map obtained from the Scuba Point Shop, there was supposed to be a sunken boat for us to look at.
Upon arrival at the site, there was one large unmarked bouy (just a large floating platform with a metal pole sticking out of it and some other warning bouys informing boaters of rocks. We drop anchor, gear up and enter the water and then descend on the bouy line.
Again, the vis was good (16-18 feet) until 10 feet down where it dropped to 8 to 10 feet until I dropped below the thermocline. At about 25 feet, I encountered a HUGE chuck of concrete suspended below the the bouy. Fortunately, I was doing a flare style descent with one hand on the line so I was able to slow myself before slamming into it. It kinda was light a pendulum weight haning there. Now that I think of it, I guess I could have wrapped my legs around it like those tree swings and sat there blowing bubbles. But I switched to the concrete's mooring and continued my descent. I hit bottom at 79 feet to discovered no boat, just a large mooring block. Since I new the temp was too cold for Tom & Michelle to explore down here, I took a few seconds to get situated, and then ascended back up the line to meet them.
After checking okay, we found our bearings on our compass and swam towards the shore. Once the bottom rose up to us, we again headed to the right to see what we could see at 40 feet. One time I did find better vis at 50 feet and tried to motion Tom & Michelle to get them to drop down to me since the vis was better, but Michelle indicated that she was too cold at that depth. As we swam, we discovered lots more can and bottle fish. And the most interest one was the bottle fish that had somehow lodged itself upside down on top of a slender tree limb sticking up from the bottom. I never new that they were so acrobatic.
We toured the area until Michelle signalled that we need to return to the boat so we could leave on time to return home. So I led the us back to the point where we found the rising bottom.
But then I got separated from them because even though I checked with them to see if they were near by to see me, I didn't tell them that I was going lead a bearing that would hopefully find the buoy line. [NOTE TO SELF AND OTHERS: ALWAYS check in with your buddy(-ies) before you do a drastic directional or navigation change. Especially in bad vis]. Michelle said she saw me head off, but couldn't catch up with me to bring me back. So after swimming for 2 minutes, I look back and don't see them. After 30 seconds on a reciprical bearing, I still don't see them or their dive lights, so I surface. Turns out I was waaay off on my outbound course and would have swam all the way across the lake if I had kept going. Tom & Michelle had already surfaced and were swimming back to the boat. I got their attention, signaled I was okay and said I would swim below the surface to the boat. Descended back to 15 feet, and swam to the anchor line, performed 3 minute safety stop, then boarded the boat.
After I boarded, Michelle told me that she and Tom had done their stop below and then surfaced within a bunch of kids who were swimming off of a nearby moored boat. She said that as she surfaced, she was reminded of the scene in JAWS when you are shown lots of kicking legs from the shark's perspective. They kids said that they didn't know why the bubbles all of a sudden appeared and told their dad that there were some large black fish under them. I said they sould have tickled their feet.
Max Dept: 79 feet, BT = 33 minutes, Avgd depth, 44 feet. Again Temp
Lessons learned on this dive trip
In any situation where you are depending on terrain landmarks to determine where you are, especially the point where you will swim back to your down line, take at least 60 seconds to memorize your "exit" landmark. Especially how it will look when you return to it.
Tank marker lights are a good idea in low vis daylight diving.
Make sure your buddies know what you intend to do before you do it
I want to thank Tom Vyles for bringing his boat this trip. It was nice to reach areas not redilly accessible from shore. Hopefully next trip to PK the vis will be beter and we can discover some more interesting items.
Thanks for the compliments. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others. And if especially to help you remember key points about diving safely.
Kinda proves my instructors point of, "If you don't learn something or improve a certain skill, it was a wasted dive."
I will make sure to post future dive reports for you.
And I would like to read some of yours.
Kate: I used to live in Portland, OR for several years. I really miss the variety of micro brew beers that abound up there. And I definitely want to come diving up your way some day (Puget Sound). Once I get my dry suit and get comfortable in it, I'll drop you a line.
Hey TM, I'll be happy to dive with you if you make it here! & if I ever make it back to swamp-diver country I'll look you up too. Does San Antonio Hill Country count as Swamp Diving territory? I worked in SA from May to October one year & wow was that ever climate shock for this northwest girl!