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You can have a good dive, even in bad conditions

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by DukeAMO, Aug 25, 2012.

  1. DukeAMO

    DukeAMO Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: North Carolina, United States
    DH and I went to the scuba club cookout today (well, sort of... we got there too late for food).

    It was only about 70-75 degrees out, and drizzling a little. It's been unseasonably cool for August this week. Fortunately, the water was still about 85 degrees. I was just fine in a shorty, until we got out of the water.

    On the downside, the water was extremely green and murky from algae and other stuff. Murky enough that looking down below us, the water looked black, even in full daylight. Visibility was around 6-8 feet. Really, we didn't see much at all on the dive. A few fish, a few things that were sunk in the lake.

    On the upside, it was a perfect time to practice basic skills, which is why we were there.
    1) Nitrox - this was our first Nitrox dive. It was nice to practice the "nitrox ritual" while it was still fresh in my mind.
    2) Buddy skills - you *really* have to stay close together when this vis is that bad. And not kick each other too much.
    3) Compass navigation - we set a heading for the bus and headed out underwater. We didn't actually find the bus right away, but we figured out what we were doing wrong for next time. We did find an underwater dock.
    4) Air-sharing drills - we had planned to do these at the bus, but the dock worked well. :)
    5) Visual navigation - we followed some lines that people had set. Hey, there's the bus! We also found a car and the rock crusher this way. The rock crusher, unfortunately, is boring when you can only see 5 feet. It was black as night below the top of it (at only 40 feet deep), so we didn't even drop down next to it. Then we followed the line back to the bus.
    6) Hovering - we tried to do this by the bus, and realized that we needed to move more weight up next time. It's always a learning experience when you use different exposure protection on every dive!
    7) More compass navagation - this time we did it correctly, using a reciprocal heading from the bus, and we ended up right back at the beach where we started.
    6) Shooting SMBs - when we got back to safety stop depth, we both sent up our SMBs. It took a minute to get it, but we did get it. The hardest parts were not tangling the line and not getting pulled up.
    7) Mask-off drills - back at the beach, we both did mask removal and replacement drills a couple of times. I'll never like them, but they are actually getting easy.
    8) Weight checks - we also checked our weighting right at the end of the dive. DH needs to try less next time, and my weight was fine.

    So, actually - it was a great dive, even though we didn't really see anything worth noting. :cheers:
    LoonDiver, Colliam7 and Hawkwood like this.
  2. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    Here in Puget Sound, I call winter the time when the viz is fabulous and there is nothing in it to see . . . And dives where there isn't much to see are PERFECT dives to practice skills. Good for you!
  3. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: The Atlantic Northeast (Maine)
    Very nice use of the bottom time. When we have those conditions the critters get brave and if you can wander around you may see a few surprises. Anytime you can get neutral it's a good day!
  4. Jim Lapenta

    Jim Lapenta Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Canonsburg, Pa
    This is the kind of practice good instructors dream of their students doing. I will never stop talking about the incredible benefits that local diving, even in these types of conditions, offers to new divers who want to become good and even great divers. And from my perspective I would have to say that you saw quite a lot. If not externally, you did see quite a bit about yourselves. Next time do the same dive, but go a little slower, and try to find some of the things I always seem to locate. Last weekend we were out at Gilboa and as I was working on keeping about 6 inches off of the fuselage of the plane I saw them. Hundreds of fry (baby fish) all swimming within 3 inches or so of the surface of the plane. Moving in formation. I have learned to look for these in every body of freshwater I go in. Most divers don't even see them until they are pointed out. And even then some need to be told what they are looking at.

    There's always something to see if you want to see it. Thanks for the post and thanks for seeing the possibilities that local diving and what some might call poor vis offers. Good on you.
    DukeAMO likes this.
  5. Hawkwood

    Hawkwood MSDT

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: NA

    I really enjoy reading your posts about your "discovery" of Scuba diving. Thanks for sharing through all these posts.

    DukeAMO likes this.
  6. DivemasterDennis

    DivemasterDennis DivemasterDennis ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, Colorado
    DukeAMO,your dive and exercises, particularly the compass work and smb deployment, was fantastic. I agree with Jim, those are the dives that grow us as divers. Conditions in our local reservoir are similar to your dive conditions, except that the water temp is 20 degrees cooler. After training here, diving in 75 feet viz 80 degree water is very relaxing.
  7. LoonDiver

    LoonDiver Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Ohio
    Awesome post - Thanks for sharing! I'm trying to do more local diving, but I do hate low-viz, so we would rather drive an hour and a half longer just to get to the quarry with the better viz. You've given me food for thought. We would certainly go more often if we went to the lower-viz quarries that are closer to home.
  8. DukeAMO

    DukeAMO Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: North Carolina, United States
    I'm glad y'all enjoyed the write-up. We did really have fun. I think shooting an SMB is my favorite new trick. It's a bit like flying a kite.
  9. buddhasummer

    buddhasummer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Totally agree, my local dive sight isn't that great, vis is usually 3-5 on good days, gets a little chilly at times and not a whole lot to see, but like you I use the time to hone my skills. To be honest I'm always happy to be in the water regardless of conditions. Of course to be diving somewhere nice, warm and clear with an abundance of aquatic life is just magical.
  10. Agility

    Agility Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Austria
    Task loading under benign conditions was a really humbling experience for me last weekend :wink:
    I am so glad I found a buddy who loves to practice skills with me in our local lake.
    We took a line and colored clothes pegs and tried the ascent and descent exercise Steve Lewis described in his book The Six Skills and Other Discussions available at Techdiver Training with Steve Lewis.
    Lessions I learned:
    I need to practice ascents in my drysuit - I was all over the place instead of hovering in front of the line
    task loading throws me aut of trim and I use three times the air I need for a relaxed dive blowing bubbles and watching fish
    a liftbag is not the correct tool to keep the line up, a much smaller floating device is better.

    there is no bad weather for diving, just wrong thermal protection :cool2:
    Doppler and DukeAMO like this.

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