For those who share our love of diving, my husband is providing Part II of a great dive he had a couple of weeks ago on the USS Spiegel Grove in the Key Largo area. Two pieces of information before I get into his post. My husband is the one who introduced me to scuba diving when we were stationed in Hawaii. I mean, if you’re going to learn to dive, what better place? There are actually two types of diving – recreational and technical – and then there are specialities within recreational and technical. The primary difference is that recreational diving (like I do) is restricted to no deeper than 130 feet underwater. When you cross into the technical side, you can go deeper and/or stay longer because you have additional equipment and training. My husband, the scuba instructor, decided to get into technical diving several months ago and he is thoroughly enjoying the new dimension. The previous post he did for me and this one are chock full of “tech diving” terms, but even if you have never had the pleasure of slipping beneath the waves (that will be a future post), I think you will pick up on the wonderful sensation of diving.
Part II of diving inside the Spiegel Grove:
Fast forward to Wednesday, Stephanie, Mike, and I are busily preparing for a different type of dive on the Spiegel Grove. Double tanks with two regulators, 100% Oxygen
for our last deco stop, multiple lights, reels and much more are setup and checked and checked again. We’re going Tech Diving. Deeper, longer and with planned decompression (letting the excess Nitrogen in our bodies escape safely) means we will plan our dive carefully and execute it exactly. We’ll be doing 40 minutes at 110 feet and
will then take 20 minutes to return to the surface. The weather is beautiful as we
pull away from the dock on Cheeca View ( thanks again Dan) and on the ride out
we continue our discussion of the dive.
Our plan is to drop through a hatch just forward of the port crane to the second deck and then work our way forward as far as we can go. We’ll then retrace our route back to another hatch and pop out of the wreck. With our remaining time and gas we will
explore a little of the main deck and the well deck before starting up. Light current and good visibility greets us as we tie up on the best spot for us, the portside crane.
Most of the other divers on the boat will be doing two shorter dives with a one hour surface interval so we let them get in first as we do our final pre-dive checks. We shuffle forward and drop in,then it’s hand over hand forward and down the mooring line. As we reach the ship there is one last check of equipment, then lights on and into the “Technical Diving” realm of the Spiegel Grove.
Mike leads and Steph trails with me in between. The first 40 feet or so are through an open corridor with several holes cut to the outside. At the stairway that is our planned exit Mike deploys his reel and ties the line off. This line will be our guide to safety in case of any loss of visibility due to light failure or more likely silt being stirred up or falling down from above. We move forward through the darkness being careful not to snag any of our equipment or to get tangled in any of the wires and lines we encounter.
The corridor is tight with lots of interesting rooms off to either side. I see arrow crabs and shrimp in several nooks and crannies, but so far no Lionfish. Then a cloud of silt
billows between Mike and I and a “small” Goliath Grouper shoots under me. I look back and get an OK sign from Steph. As I look back forward to Mike a second larger (70 – 80 Lbs?) Grouper careens toward me. I fend him off with my left arm as he “thumps” us then turns and scoots by Mike and into a side room. After several deep breaths we move forward to our turn point in the last room we can get through.
With Stephanie now in the lead we work our way back, up, and out to open water on the side of the ship. After a quick check of time and gas remaining we head back inside and drop into the Well Deck, swimming all the way forward under the superstructure. We explore an equipment room containing a large capstan winch which was used to pull boats in to the Spiegel. Nearing the end of our bottom time we swim back toward the crane and our mooring line. We slowly ascend stopping at 40 and 30 feet to
allow nitrogen to leave our bodies. At 20 feet we execute a gas switch, going from the Nitrox in our double tanks to the pure Oxygen in our small deco tanks. This switch will allow our remaining excess nitrogen to be eliminated much more quickly, saving almost 20 minutes. Since pure O2 can be toxic below 20 feet we carefully check each other’s depth and that we are switching to the correct gas. After our required time and a slow ascent, it’s up the ladder and the beginning of our discussion of just how big those Groupers had been. All in all a great dive with great friends and dive buddies!!