Dive 59

Kyarra to 27.1 m

Coldest dive to date. Having been chilled for the last few months, the sea around Britain in early Spring can get very cold indeed (even colder than in January when there is still some residual summer heat left). On the Kyarra it was 7 degrees C and very dark. Three of us went down, but Martin decided this wasn't for him, and went back up to the surface leaving Paul and me to continue the dive. I have never been so cold underwater in my life. Even my good old 7 mm semi-dry suit didn't seem to warm me. I stuck to Paul like glue because the vis and light were so poor. Floated over rusted bits of wreck, unable to make head or tail of which part of the boat we were over. Hit some strong current and Paul made up some improvised signals trying to explain something to me. Couldn't understand what he was saying. The matter wasn't helped by his head-mounted torch which shone straight in my eyes whenever he looked at me to see if I understood. He told me after the dive that he had been trying to explain that the current was there because we had reached the exposed edge of the wreck and should swim back behind it where it was more sheltered. There was fat chance I could have understood that!

We reached a thick beam of metal at 45 degrees to the sea bed. Paul again tried some improvised signals which went straight over my head. He was trying to get me to hold onto the beam with my legs so that I could give him a hand with his delayed SMB. Again I really didn't understand what he was on about and he ended up doing it himself. Unfortunately the reel jammed as he was paying it out. If he hadn't been sitting astride the beam holding on with both legs he would have been pulled straight to the surface - not good news considering that all the time he had spent signalling in vain meant we had encroached into decompression stop time. Paul had to cut the line with his knife and we made a free ascent. I held onto his arm so that we wouldn't get separated.

I was wary of shooting to the surface in my new BC and dumped a bit too much air. We bounced between 6 and 9 metres for a couple of minutes. I had put my storm whistle next to my dump valve on my BC, so that when we reached 6 metres to stop I'd reach for the dump valve to ditch a bit of air, find my whistle, then fumble around and end up dumping more air than I needed because I was terrified of going up too quickly (my computer was telling me to do a stop). Paul was getting pretty irritated by this and kept showing me six fingers. One time he showed me six fingers in the same way someone might stick two fingers up in annoyance at someone. Finally I got my buoyancy right and we stayed more or less at six metres. By this time I was dangerously low on air. Paul had noticed this and showed me his octopus in case I needed it. After our stop had lasted six minutes we went for the surface and I got there without running out of air. Lesson learned: don't put any extra gadgets next to important controls on your BC. I have since moved my whistle to another D-ring on my BC.

According to the tables erring on the side of caution our dive had required a three minute stop at 6 metres. We had spent six minutes bobbing between six and nine so were pretty confident we were OK. However I had been very tired and cold and probably a little dehydrated- all factors predisposing a diver to decompression illness - and so was very angry with myself for cutting it so fine. I should have suggested to Paul we ended the dive much sooner than we actually did. On the bright side I had learned a lot. In particular to hold onto a wreck with my legs to assist my buddy releasing a delayed SMB. Also it was my first deep, dark wreck and so excellent experience. Given all the niggly things that had gone not quite right I was pleased not even to have come close to losing my head. This had been a pretty horrible dive, but I learned a lot.

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