A few weeks ago was my 4th wedding anniversary.
Like any good husband, I know how to treat my woman; flowers and a dive in sub zero temperatures to the bottom of an inland quarry 5 hours from home. Oh yeah ladies, she has it good.
The trip to Portroe Quarry in Tipperary (IRE) was on.
Kerri is the queen of organisation, to the point where she took my jeep to work so I could pack up the Ford Boring with dive kit; as i was off work for the day. I was especially amused to find she had taken all the car keys to work, and locked me in my own house.
Despite initial pre-trip organisational issues, by 3PM we were on the road. It was a fair 'oul hike down to Tipperary, but with the aid of the ithingy and some doom metal, we arrived at our posh hotel in no time.
|Kerri at the posh hotel|
I had been in charge of the posh hotel booking, and although Wifebuddy was happy to relinquish her standard organisational role for a brief moment, i was constantly grilled regarding the relevant documentation; and if i had printed the confirmation email. Of course it never occurred to me to 'print' something; I mean, this is a digital age, I would just show the receptionist my confirmation email on my iThingy. As I checked the email on my phone I also noted the price was a little higher than I recalled. Whoops; prices "from" not prices "are." Always read the small print people. I decided to retain that information until after the trip.
Booked into the posh hotel, I relaxed with a little Irish tv viewing, gaffa taped remote control and all; then we retired to the bar for a nice pint and a dry burger.
Satisfied with the dry burger and a Heineken, we hit the hay in preparation for the following days diving.
PORTROE INLAND DIVE SITE
Portroe is a 40m+ slate quarry. Entry is €20 per day, and offer air fills at €5 per cylinder. Parking is plentiful, it has a changing cabin and a couple of portaloo's.
The reception area has tea and coffee making facilities, which the owners are happy for divers to work away at. Portroe is a small operation, but it provides a much needed asset to irish diving: somewhere to train.
I enjoy training. The more I train, the more confident I feel in the water, and as a result my diving becomes more enjoyable. I appreciate not every diver subscribes to this, but it works for me. That said, I don't conduct skills training as much as I should; so Wifebuddy and I planned the quarry trip to spend all day conducting drills and skills in preparation for our GUE Tech 1 course.
Our good mate DIR Dave was joining us as well, in preparation for this GUE fundamentals class. On paper it was set to be a grand day out.
We arrived at 10.30am to find the dive site filling up, which was no real surprise for a weekend in the midst of appalling weather conditions. Dave arrived shortly after and we were set for our first dive of the day.
|Barry McGill hard at work with students|
|Kerri off to get changed|
|Kerri and lots of kit|
Kerri had a very clear plan for the first dive; basic 5, valve drill, OOG drills and propulsion, and no stages allowed (much to Dave's dismay - he loves stages). We trundled down the much too long entry slope, and stepped down into the 5 degree Celsius quarry water.
|The long walk|
Kerri was up to her waist and expressed she was mildly upset:
"My fucking pee valve is leaking."
Did I mention Kerri had a pee valve installed lately? Well, she did; and evidently incorrectly.
It was one of those horrible moments where you realise diving was ruined, and there was absolutely nothing we could do about it. Being rather stubborn, Kerri managed a 32 min dive wearing a dry suit with a 2 inch hole in it. Well done love, well done.
During the dive I noticed Kerri's trim was way off, her knees were dropped, and simply did not look her usual fabulous self. The dive was terminated, and once on dry land it all became rather apparent. We hauled the twinsets back up the slope and Kerri hurried to get changed into dry clothes; she was blue with cold.
I lifted her dry suit and was shocked by how heavy it was. It was heavy with water. I up-ended her suit and about 10 litres of water gushed out. It was met with various "oooooooooo's" and "ahhhhhhhhh's" from the dive fraternity around us; looks of sympathy and empathy ebbed from behind neoprene hoods.
Kerri's pee valve leaked; her diving was done. Balls.
|Kerri's it all packed up|
It never ceases to amaze me how many trips Kerri has planned for us and yet not managed to dive. Having said that, I always get to dive; the quarry trip was no different.
Despite having her day ruined, in true Wifebuddy fashion she insisted I continue on. As an adoring husband, I hung on every word and prepared for a second dive. Dave was more than happy to oblige and 40 mins later we were kitted up and ready to rock.
|Kerri not diving|
Just as we were getting ready to dive I had the pleasure of meeting another man from the Internet; I do so enjoy meeting the Facebook people. I was introduced to Daniel, a UTD instructor who had recently moved to Ireland, whom I had chatted with online on many occasions. The dive world is truly a small place.
We left Daniel and hit the cold stuff for a full-on training session. It was hard work layered up in undersuits, but the skills circuits were improving with every repetition; although I did forgo the mask removal drill - it was just too bloody cold. 40 mins later we surfaced, de-kitted, and spied Wifebuddy, who was at it again. She met Dave and I with soup, chicken sandwiches and chocolate. She does rock.
Half way thorough lunch I got to meet more Internet people; Frank and Anna. Again, I have chatted to Frank on Facebook and stuff, but it was cool to meet in the 'almost' real world.
Kerri continued to turn a paler shade of blue, while Dave and I psyched ourselves up for the third, and final dive of the day. Dave seemed a bit shocked by the prospect of a third dive, but i was intent on polishing my valve drill, and I wasn't going in alone. In hindsight I may have failed to appreciate Dave was getting cold; I was rather content in my lovely whites thermal fusion undersuit.
|Me and Dave kitting up|
|Ready to rock!|
Our final dive was to be repeat of all our drills, plus we agreed to take stages along. I don't use a stage bottle too often and I needed the practice, so was happy enough. In water I signalled we should simulate a gas switch. instead Dave unclipped his ali 80 and passed it over to me. It was good practice as I felt immediately task loaded swapping stage bottles over. I wasn't prepared for it at all, and admit I need practice finding that ever elusive rear bolt snap.
Frank joined us and snapped a few excellent pictures of Dave and I practicing skill sets. It's always nice to get some super shots underwater; thanks Frank!
|Dave stage handling|
40 mins later we called it a day and began our ascent. My ascent was poor, something i do need to sort out for tech 1. It wasn't a complete uncontrolled disaster, it just wasn't nice and smooth. Once ashore we left frank to carry his own twin 18's up the slope; what a crazy size of twinset to take diving!
By that stage of the day Kerri was completely foundered (Irish term for very frozen) and definitely ready for the posh hotel. We said our goodbyes to DIR Dave and the Internet people, then cruised the Ford Boring up the road.
Finally a little romance followed as we enjoyed a gorgeous 3 course meal, and a few cold pints. I thoroughly enjoyed the barman's attention to detail, recalling my preference for Heineken from their Carlsberg free bar. I'd like to add they need to address that for my future visits; no Carlsbeg? It be madness!
|Beer and dinner. Very posh.|
The following day we were up at dawn, shovelled a huge Irish breakfast, and hit the road. The journey home was piloted by Wifebuddy, as I appeared to have destroyed all the tendons on the back of both hands. Be careful conducting multiple bolt snap manipulations in cold conditions people. My hands have only just recovered; although I do suffer from tendonitis from years of guitar abuse without warming up properly - stupid heavy metal fan.
It was soon apparent I had neglected Bon Jovi over the years and he isn't "Going down on a bed of roses, looking for a bag of nails."
Apparently Suzie is much better company.
Overall, it was a fabulous weekend, but mostly for me; after all it was MY anniversary.
|Happy Anniversary to ME!|
Safe diving folks, and we should be back in Portroe soon.