Thursday, June 22, 2006 

Best 20' Dive in Puget Sound

I have been training and volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium the last few months.

We had the 5 session "boot camp" and then have been working around the exhibits, as well as taking an additional 5-6 "Aquaversity" classes on different animals, giving presentations, infrastructure, etc. Maybe 50 hrs of training or more. We were supposed to work 100 hours in the exhibits before moving on to other things if we wanted to.

But as they are short of divers, they moved us up into the dive program a lot sooner. We provided some documentation and had our open water check out dives. Safety drill review and basic skills assessment.

Mine was interesting as the Diving Safety Officer Jeff not only had me do buddy breathing (as well as air sharing), but had me do a buddy breathing ascent. Said since I was an old timer I had that training and he wanted to see me use it. Yeah right, about 30 years ago...My buddy's skills weren't the best and he had a us rocketing up from 40' and I had to ask him for air twice on the way up! Oh well, we passed, and it was a good skill review. Glad I didn't go pop!

So now I had my orientation dive in the dome tank this morning. Of course, I can't just go in with scuba. No, Jeff has me train up on an Aga full face mask (in 15 mins), surface supplied air and comms. Also their new backpack, bc, etc. So I have to figure out a weight belt, best way to work my hood with the mask, etc. as well as where everything is and how the system works. How to clear my nose and all that good stuff. Not to mention all the dome stuff and watch out for the sturgeon! And don't forget to breathe deeply and fully, so you don't get a CO2 build-up and pass out! Intense!

I think Jeff just throws stuff at you and you literally sink or swim with it! He does gauge his trainees ability to learn pretty well though.

The first attempt he had me put my hood inside out (skin side out) and the mask cinched over it. OK, except I was an instant cone head with air inside the hood. So then we just put the hood on like normal and the mask on, then peeled the hood over the lip of the mask. Golden.

I was paired with Eric, who was an excellent teacher and professional diver. Great, patient guy who took me through all of the above. Using the Aga went away quickly and after raising the tank on the backpack (to the delight of the crowd inside watching), my trim and weighting was fine. Having comms was amazing - to be able to talk and discuss situations and dome infrastructure was very cool. Nice to have your face out of the water and the visibility from the Aga was very good. We will also be able to talk to the crowd and have them ask questions too. He showed me around and went over a few basic tasks around the tank.

It was all too fun and I am totally psyched to do the Tues afternoon feedings every other week. Hell, I might do something every week if I have the time.

Of course I'm totally trying to get on the 6 gill shark tagging dive team, but i've gotta walk before I can run (swim before we can dive?)...I wanna shoot some of them 12' sharkies with my dome lens! Being a photographer helps my cause.

Volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium, while a big time commitment, it is truly a lot of fun.

About Jack

  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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