TDI Adv Nitrox & Deco Procedures – Part 4

DAY 5 

It was clear at this stage that Kerri and I despite not being the most unfit divers in the world were starting to suffer fatigue from the long days, challenging dives and lugging around the bad boy tech diving twin sets. Physically I was a bit stiff and a little sore, Kerri was suffering more, but true to form her stubbornness overtook any possibility of giving up; hence the reason we are still married. We trailed ourselves from the apartment and made our way to the concentration camp, sorry, I mean Maltaqua to meet Josef Mengle, sorry, I mean David.

The usual proceedings of kit assembly, gas checking and truck loading ensued. I was really enjoying carrying Kerri’s twinset around as well as my own, that would be 4 sets of doubles I was carting around all day. I don’t remember that section in the wedding vows. “For better, for worse," - yes, "In sickness and in health”  - yes. “In twinsets or single cylinders” – no, I don’t recall that one. Either way I carried them on and off the truck religiously like a good husband. See what you’re missing ladies?

A 20 minute journey later, on what I think was a road, but to be honest that’s a very loose term for the stuff that goes under the tyres in Malta, Um El Faroud was our dive site for the day. It is a Libyan wreck that suffered a severe explosion while docked in which 9 Maltese workers were killed. In 1998, 3 years after the accident, it was scuttled for divers in roughly 36m of water. We had watched quite a few you tube videos of the site and were quite excited about the dive. Then we got there.

Let’s just say the sea looked a little rougher than I would have liked. There were also a number of steps that led down to the entry point. Not looking like a good day out. Once kitted up it was blatantly clear that Kerri was approaching knackered. With the twin set and stage cylinder poor wife-buddy was having a few problems getting up from the seated position. I too was feeling over heated, shattered and was not enjoying standing around in the sunshine fully kitted. I tried to help but I was exhausted too and only succeeded in throwing Kerri off balance. Finally we got in, the vibe wasn’t good. Perhaps it was one of those moments when a dive should have been thumbed. I don’t know and never will I guess, maybe we should have.

Blue swims again
All the usual formalities too place and the dive began. Now that I was in the water things started to slot back into place as I cooled off a bit, but I was still preoccupied with getting out. A blue swim later we reached the wreck and did our circuit. It’s a great dive and we enjoyed the site pretty much on our own. We signalled to David that we had reached our turnaround time and the 3 of us headed down a final walk way and off the wreck into the blue.

Kerri looking for a capstan
Just as we were leaving, a team of Jedi on rebreathers loomed over the bow. I immediately switched on and really got myself together in the hope of regaining some dignity after the rather embarrassing stage handling display from my previous encounter with these guys. Oh I looked good this time; perfect trim, slow breathing, can light blazing, I was the text book tech diver. I turned slightly to give Kerri a nod to make sure she was doing the same. She was. Ah, look at us in all our tech diving glory! Then, a moment later, just as the Jedi were cruising past and giving appreciative nods, Kerri swam straight into a capstan. It was outrageous. The crotch strap on her harness seemingly hooked over the lip on the capstan and she effectively “went over the handle bars.” I then had my first experience of full on hysterical laughing through a regulator while simultaneously wishing I had a p-valve. She actually had to reverse to “unhook” herself then continue on, hanging her head in shame, and shameful it was. Poor dear, she does try. I was really looking forward to winding her up about that one, Mastercard or not, this was priceless, comedy gold. I couldn’t wait.

Decompression stops were required, but at 18m David signalled that we would be doing a skill or two. This included; LPI failure drill, mask off / replace, relocate stages, smb deployment as a team and gas switching. It was a pretty crazy 15 mins and the task loading got the better of us. Task fixation became the order of the day and we drifted about the reef not really paying any attention to what out buddy was doing. Bad divers. To be honest I was so worn out, a little downing would have been fine by me.

Then came the exit. The sea was really rough now and it was clear the clamber up the slipway was going to be a nightmare. David managed first, but with only a single cylinder he had a real advantage over us. Kerri was next and did fantastically well even though she was completely knackered, plus a breakdown in communication with the shore confused the matter further. I struggled out amongst the swell and was finally on dry land. Bugger that for a game of soldiers. Diving for the day was over. No second dive.

A rather fantastic hot chocolate at the Blue Cave was enjoyed over the dive debrief. The whole dive had gone to shit at the exit and unfortunately that was all we were focussing on, well, that and the hot chocolate which David seemed particularly pleased with. The dive was good, but it was overshadowed by exit problems. We were both really disappointed by the whole thing and basically wrote if off as “experience.”

Back in the classroom we were a bit subdued but did our best to learn the final deco procedures stuff and were shown how to use from PC software to aid dive planning. The classroom session was finished off with the TDI Decompression Procedures exam. I was really impressed we managed to get it together to complete the test after the day we had. Nevertheless we both passed! Another hard days tech diving over.

DAY 6 

It was clear that egos were bruised and bodies were aching so we took Sunday off and did a little sightseeing of Malta in the cool sunshine. We found English breakfast, ice cream and strange shops. There was even an area in the town square with free wi-fi in the street, not that we could get it to work. To be honest after a few hours we missed the diving, and even David to a certain degree, got a bit bored and went for a siesta. Dinner that evening and another early night followed in preparation for the final dive of our course. We just hoped it would be better than the last. To be honest though, could it really get any worse?

Where you buy,,,,, things...

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Safe diving buddy.