In which an ageing climber comes to terms with life closer to the ground.

24/3/2009

New Skills

Filed under: — Mike Chapman @ 8:37 pm

After a Monday at work I did not expect to be learning the new skill of extricating yourself from this situation

To find out why and how

We have booked a holiday in Egypt on the red sea coast to go diving. The first problem was that we did not know how to dive so I booked a course. It was considerably more challenging than I thought. For a start we did 7 hours in a swimming pool being shown skills, practising them and then being tested. Mixed in with this was about 9 hours of classroom work with frequent tests and an exam at the end. This was all done in one weekend.

This is the first half of the course and is called the confined water sessions. Lynne and I were both disappointed to be told on Sunday evening that they would like us back the next evening Monday. Not because we had failed the first sessions but that using a dry suit was required for the open water sessions and this is an extra course.

To control your buoyancy we have been taught that you use a jacket that you can inflate and deflate. A dry suit also has valves that let air in with a button but there is a one way deflate valve in the left arm. This can cause problems. The image shows a person wearing a dry suit in a difficult position upside down. It would be reasonable at this point to suggest that you would not get into this position but once your legs are slightly higher than the rest of your body the air goes into your legs and you can become destabilised very quickly.

In this position the air ends up in the feet and the deflate valve is in the arm. This is a problem! If you cannot right yourself you would rise to the surface and exit like a Polaris missile. So Monday evening was spent learning the skills of maintaining neutral buoyancy that included doing a forward roll under water to get your left hand above your legs (from the position shown in the photograph) to vent air and stop an out of control ascent.

All of the above leads us to the envious position of diving in a quarry for two days next weekend to prove that we can do emergency ascents and other unknown skills. The fact that is going to be extremely cold and challenging means that neither Lynne or I have worried about pressures at work recently.

Why? Well we hope to end up with an open water diving certificate that will allow us to dive unsupervised in warmer places, hopefully.

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