Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dive In!

Yes, I know.  This is weird.  I never, EVER post anything on the blog.  Heidi does such a great job of it, I really can't hope to compete.  But I just got to do something cool that Heidi didn't do.  To be fair, she wasn't offered the choice of doing it (although I have my doubts whether she would want to...).

This "something" was a commercial diving course which will allow me to SCUBA dive as part of my work.  It was one of the most exhausting, cold, and WET things I have ever done in my life.  And also one of the most rewarding and fun.

Want to know more?  Then suit up, make sure your gear is working, and enjoy the pictorial journey.
And remember: don't forget to breathe!

Week 1: Kjelst, Denmark (10-14 February)

Setting up the equipment for our first dives in freezing (literally, FREEZING) cold water
Getting the diver dressed
Tending the line (and enjoying one of the rare moments when it wasn't raining or hailing)
My turn to go in.  Yes, the gear does make you look sexy, but know this:
it comes with the price of a seriously sore back the next day
Please don't let it be as cold as last time!

Evenings were spent practicing other skills, like tying knots.
We would eventually have to tie all the knots underwater.
Wearing 5 mm-thick gloves.  Blindfolded.  Yeup.
On the last day in Kjelst, the sun came out.  It was glorious.

Week 2: Hemmoor, Germany (March 23-27)

Diving in Hemmoor was awesome for several reasons.  First, and most importantly, the water was much warmer:
a balmy 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit) .  Second, look at that view from the dock!

Monitoring communications during the dive.  We used these cool helmets that had microphones in them so that we could talk to the people on the surface.  Came in handy sometimes.
Here is the helmet in action
In addition to the helmet, we also always had a rope connected to us so that we could be found (or pulled back) if we got into any trouble.  Luckily, that was never needed except during our rescue drills.
Looking at your own bubbles rise to the surface is a pretty special thing

Week 3: Fredericia, Denmark (April 7-11)

Our last dive site was near the bridge that connects the island where Heidi and I live to the mainland of Europe
One of our tasks we had to complete underwater was to sketch something to scale.  Not an easy task when you A) can't draw to begin with, B) are wearing thick, neoprene gloves, C) can only see a few feet in front of you at any time, and D) keep dropping the board and have to swim down to get it
One of my favorite tasks was photographing the animals growing on the piers.  Here are some sea squirts, sea anemones, and assorted other hydrozoans
And a green crab
Our final exam involved doing a little underwater carpentry.  Here you see our tool basket, complete with saw, hammer, chisel, clamp, and ruler.  Notice how the wood floats.  Usually, that isn't a problem.  But when you are trying to work with the dang stuff's a problem.
But despite the wood's best efforts to escape from us, we all managed to
complete our "Greek Crosses" and pass our final exam!
A great course with some great people.  Thanks for diving in!

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