I’m back from my quick run to La Paz Mexico. I had ordered new scuba equipment and wanted to try it out.
Overall, I don’t have much to report. The trip was smooth, and the water cold and murky. I dived in the islands at La Paz a couple years ago and had an incredible experience. My hope was for the same crystal clear water this trip, and I’m sure it exists, but I couldn’t find it. It wasn’t a problem though, as my only real goal was to try out my equipment and see if it worked.
I bought a Oceanic VT 3 dive computer. The idea was that it would allow me to not have the usual depth/air pressure gauge dangling. Instead, I’d have a small transmitter attached to the tank, that would communicate with a wrist watch. Prior to the trip, I read the entire thick manual, twice, and learned nothing on either pass. I’m a software developer and supposed to be good at this stuff, but it was totally incomprehensible. I figured that I’d just try it, and once under water, it would suddenly work, as it did. I found it very useful. It comes with software I could use to go back and study my dives, although I can’t imagine why I’d want to.
There was one near-disaster…
I purchased a Zeagle Ranger BCD (inflation vest). It was very comfortable, and of high quality. However, something went very wrong during my second dive.
I was at 45 feet, when suddenly it seemed that my view was obstructed by an excess of air bubbles. At first, I assumed it was my own breath I was seeing, and couldn’t figure out why the bubbles were obstructing my view. I looked at my dive buddy to make sure they weren’t his, and then looked at my air: 1,700 pounds. This seemed a little light, in that we’d only been diving about 10 minutes, and I started with nearly 3,000. I then noted that the large hose which attached to my BCD, for inflation and deflation, had come unscrewed, and was floating in the water. Not good. Air didn’t seem to be leaking from the mouthpiece at the end of the deflator, so it didn’t seem it was causing the bubbles. I looked at my air pressure: 1,100 pounds. I calmly screwed it back in, noted that I was still seeing more air than I should, and looked again at my wrist to see the air pressure. 600 pounds! Uh oh .. definitely a problem. I started swimming over to my buddy, who had gotten a few feet away. “Time to surface” I remember thinking, and as I reached out to grab my buddy’s flipper, I started surfacing. The problem was that I didn’t quite want to surface yet. For some reason I was suddenly buoyant, and rising whether I liked it or not. I tried to alert my buddy, and just couldn’t get to him. I came up as slowly as I could, but I had almost no ability to control my ascent. I tried letting air out of the BCD, but, there didn’t appear to be any. And, with rapidly declining air, I wasn’t particularly motivated to slow down, although I did what I could. I had two primary thoughts; Was 45 feet deep enough to cause the bends? And, Would my partner be ok without me?
I popped to the surface just fine, and my buddy followed a minute later. Back on the boat I inspected all the equipment, and could find no problem. After swapping to another tank, I re-entered the water, and had a perfect dive.
So .. a few issues here: 1) What caused the air loss? 2) Was the detached BCD hose a factor? Almost certainly. 3) Why did I pop to the surface? My best theory is that some of the air found its’ way into pockets in the BCD or into my wetsuit. And, of course, there is 4) What would have happened if I had been at 100 feet instead of 45 feet. I don’t want to think about that one. Overall, my guess is that it was my own fault, and that the hose was not properly attached to the BCD. Lesson learned, and you can bet I’ll be triple-checking all hoses in the future.
PS I snapped a few photos from La Paz… unfortunately I forgot my camera, so these are from my iphone, and look it…
PSPS The water temperature was 65 degrees. I had a 5mm full body wetsuit and had no problem with the water temperature. My buddy had a full body 3mm wetsuit and was miserably cold. I am going to buy a 7mm for our circumnavigation. A few days ago the diver on our boat mentioned that he’d rather dive alone than with a rookie. I agree with him, but don’t plan on taking him all the way around the world with us. I need to be prepared to enter the water myself, even though my sincerest hope is to toss away the 7mm wetsuit, unused, many years from now.