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Dive Logs for Vance Stevens
PADI open water scuba instructor #64181
Dive 380
February 22, 2001
Abu Dhabi, Old Cement Barge

Diving with:Marina Divers
Dive sites: Old Cement Barge
Dive buddy: Bob Campbell, final Certification dive, and Rebecca Woll, first ocean dive ever
Others in dive party: Wayne at the helm, Tommy 13 years old, and another advanced dive candidate
Conditions: 1-2 meter swell, queasy on the boat, too hazy in atmosphere to see city from OCB
Water Temp: 20 degrees C on dive computer
Visibility: 2-3 meters,
Wetsuit combo: typhoon top and farmer john inside
Weight: 8 kg
Diving from: Al's boat

Training conducted:
PADI Open Water dive #4, final certification, for Bob Campbell
PADI Open Water dive #1 for Rebecca Woll

Dive 380

Data from dive computer:

Time down on dive computer: 11:31
Max depth: 11.9 meters
Time started up from chart: 00:33
Dive time from computer: 32 min.
Min Temp: 20 degrees C (now it seems warm)
Nitrox 21% (normal air), no deco

Pressure group out, from tables: Bob work it out

PSI/Bar in: 210
PSI/Bar out: 90

Description of dive:

With no double check from transits due to haze, the site was found on GPS, Wayne letting me know by fishfinder when to drop the anchor. Swells made kitting up nauseous for Bob and Rebecca, who was doing her first boat dive after one try-dive and one pool session. Inexperience coupled with swells washing over her snorkel and the boat jerking her in and out of the water where she held the anchor line caused her some distress at first but she kept her head and followed instructions, mainly to hang on to me for stability, not the boat, and go under as soon as possible. Things smoothed out as we went down the anchor line though the line was jerking in swells until we were almost to the bottom. Fortunately, Rebecca adjusted well to the underwater environment and neither she nor Bob had any problem descending, Bob looking quite confident in the water by this point.

Wayne had seemed sure that the anchor was firmly caught on something, presumably on the wreck, so it was not good news to arrive at the bottom and find that the anchor had left a trail where it had been dragging. The trail pointed south west, probably a wind effect, since the current was pushing northeast. It seemed that the wreck would lie to the north, so to keep compass bearings straight I headed that way and counted 12 kicks. No wreck in sight, and pea soup vis. There was danger of loosing both the anchor and my divers and I really had no idea where the wreck was. Seemed I should have seen it by then, so I decided to head east, counted 12 kicks and stopped, no wreck. I was worried I'd loose the anchor if I went too far with the current pushing as strong as it was. Rebecca and Bob were both keeping close and on the bottom, good news. I headed to the south 12 kicks, still no boat, and then went west 12 and damn, no anchor either. But I could hear it clinking, so I did a circle round that point and found it. Not sure now what to do I tried one more tack. I went west from the anchor 12 kicks and then south etc and on the forth leg arrived almost immediately on the anchor, showing that my squares were getting skewed by the current.

I checked my divers. Air was fine, well over a hundred each one. I decided to surface up the anchor line. Rebecca's first ascent, from almost 12 meters, and we took it a little fast as indicated by the chart, though without a computer, we'd never have noticed (ascent was fine in other words). At the surface, we got instructions from Wayne who got the bearing to the wreck off his GPS, 320 degrees. I should have got the distance as well, but I was in a hurry to get back under water to keep my divers out of the swell.

So we went back down the line, Rebecca much more comfortable second time down, and Bob having no problem at all. Down the anchor, I followed 320 through the disorienting haze. I lost track of kicks and realized there was now no way to regain the anchor, certainly no chance of hitting it with the current shear on a reciprocal bearing. Fortunately we came on to a bit of debris and something made me think the wreck would be to the west. I headed that way and now we were really lost. A few discouraging minutes later we came on a tire and I figured that was from the Land Rover that used to be just east of the wreck. Another minute to the west and we ran smack into it. Bob gave an inaudible congratulatory clap underwater.

We settled in the sand by the hull and I had Bob remove his mask and replace it, which he did flawlessly, a good model for Rebecca. We then popped up over the side and into the interior. A lot of fish were there, a welcome change from the austerity of the sand bottom. We tried a bit of hovering. Bob seemed contstrained by the sides of the barge, so I took us over the side and down where a huge meter-long grouper ran for cover. Here I led us around the stern (north end? I think it's the stern) and up the other side. I noticed here we were having current effects, so I led us the length of the boat and back up the other side, where Bob hovered in the lee of the current, more successfully this time. Rebecca signalled 60 bar and I took us up top of the wreck where some bat fish were hanging out, drifting in on us out of the cloudy water. When Rebecca signalled 50 I figured we should head for the anchor, so I led us south west back over the sand. When Rebecca got to 40 bar with no anchor in sight or earshot, I signalled up and we came up with no references except my computer depth indicator. The ascent this time was well executed. But we were a bit distant from the boat, maybe 50 meters or more. Fortunately the swell carried us that way and we didn't even have to paddle, just keep Rebecca breathing through her snorkel, and she was fine. We got her aboard, and Bob and I finished off with snorkel/reg exchanges around the boat to wind up his dive course. Congrats, Bob.

I learned some lessons as always. Number 1, I didn't bring my GPS, thinking Wayne would be able to locate the wreck, and he did, but on hindsight, if I'd had a bearing on it myself before going down the first time I might have been more confident to look for it to the north. And second big thing, I left my reel and submersible marker buoy in my dive bag thinking there was no way I was going to use and SMB, and why be lumbered down with it. But of course I could have used it. I could have attached it to the anchor and played out the cord as I went in search of the wreck, not only keeping track of the location of the anchor, but also marking a trail for the second lot down. Perhaps it was more challenging and rewarding to find the wreck in soup on dead reckoning, but not entirely smart. Next time I take ALL my kit. You never know what you'll need.

Vance Stevens, |
Page updated March 23, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0