As per any other morning, i was awoken by the hustle and bustle of Kerri busying herself around the house; most likely cleaning something. I dragged my slightly hungover face to the mirror, concluded i looked acceptable to face other humans, and ventured into the kitchen. Liam and Wifebuddy were up very early. and seemed less affected by the OUJJIOZZO, or whatever that Croatian lager is called. I scanned the kitchen;
"We have to go and buy food Andy."
"In a foreign country? I don't even know how to do that at home"
It was soon evident i was not as cultured as Liam, who appeared to have no problem with nipping down to the local supermarket. So that's what we did.
The local 'supermarket' was the only shop the tiny village had to offer, so in the grand scheme of things i suppose it was 'super.'
We entered the super-market and immediately i was tasked with getting cheese; Liam could sense my inability to shop and obviously figured that i couldn't make a balls of such a simple task. I like Liam.
I gingerly made my way to a large glass covered counter thing; which displayed all sorts of wonderful variations of bacon, ham, salami, and cheese. I presumed if i spoke loudly in my finest Belfast accent the girl would know exactly what i wanted.
"Block 'o cheese please luv."
The blank stare that followed set me back a little, but i'm an adaptable fella and was soon pointing my way to victory. The girl behind the counter gave me the thumbs-up signal, which i reciprocated and all of a sudden i owned cheese. Success!
Well sort of. I didn't manage to buy very much cheese. I soon figured out the 'thumbs-up' was actually a signal for 1; 100g in fact. I'd bought 100g of cheese. Unable to figured out how to ask for more than 1, i returned to the counter and continually bought 100g portions until I had enough. Genius.
10 minutes later i had lots of packets of cheese, various slices of meat and even 2 loaves, one of which turned out to be rolls stuck together; looked like a bloody loaf to me. By this stage the Liam / Kerri combo had a full shop done, and Rich had appeared, who was staring, slightly slack jawed, at my international correspondence skill set.
As we wandered back to our apartment Liam asked;
"Do you guys travel much?"
I thought for a moment. I've been to Egypt, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Scotland.
"Aye. A fair bit."
"Ah yeah, cool. Travelling's great isn't it? This one time in Iran ... "
Liam, innocently unaware of my international CV, proceeded to tell a tale of getting a bus from London to Russia, and visiting all those 'something-istans' in between. Turns out i might not be as well travelled as i thought. I decided at that point Liam could buy the fucking cheese from then on.
|Croatian shopping haul|
A splendid breakfast of bread, cheese and cold meats followed, which pleased everyone greatly. Liam tucked in and stated to Kerri;
"This is lovely; lots of fresh bread and cheese. Fantastic"
"Yes Liam, it really is. Lovely fresh bread."
Oh how those words would come back to haunt them...
"Personally i'd rather have bacon."
Was my unwanted input to the whole thing, as I struggled to pour another cup of coffee from the rather random Croatian kettle.
|Liam & Kerri off to Tech 1 school|
It was soon 9am and time to go to school. Our team of three grabbed our school bags and headed down to lecture room to learn all about Tech 1 diving. I was totally thrilled about it. I (surprisingly) thoroughly enjoyed the academics at GUE-F level, so i knew the Tech 1 stuff was bound to be awesome.
Rich was waiting, laptop fired up and ready to educate. For the next few hours we were brain deep in gas management, minimum gas, rules of thirds, rules of halves, turn pressures and various other learning.
Kerri and I had previously taken a technical class, so it was more of a recap, but it was very interesting to see the slight variations between GUE and TDI.
For a man who knew nothing about tech diving, it was evident Liam was a pretty smart guy and he appeared to keep up no problem.
Classroom was closed for the day and we headed for food at a cafe thing beside the dive centre. I asked the waiter for a menu, and received a polite reply;
"Scampi or Kilimanjaro?"
I recognised the word 'scampi' and was fairly sure Kilimanjaro was a mountain, so i played it safe and went with scampi. I could sense Rich was impressed.
The rest of the table seemed happy ordering mountain.
Lunch arrived, and i have to admit i was a little taken aback by the dozen small lobsters, heads intact, that were set in front of me. I should have known it was going a little awry when the waiter gave me 'tools' to eat what i expected to be golden crumbed balls of fish meat.
Rich hung his head, and instigated my culinary education on how to eat scampi. Personally, I think Captain birdseye had the right idea... they were lovely though. The remainder of the table had ordered octopus; 'Calamari' apparently, not 'Kilimanjaro.'
Having given all our money away by mistake, as my jovial payment of the bill seemed to suggest to the waiter our change was in fact a tip, we kitted up and headed outside for some land drills.
Land drills included a conclusion to TekCamp's human centipede with 'The human centipede: second sequence,' and simple failures. It was soon apparent our skills dives were to be conducted whilst simultaneously using a reel. Awesome. Unlike Wifebuddy, my line work leaves a lot to be desired; i knew it was going to be tough going in water.
|(c) wreck & cave|
The simple failures were excellent. Rich explained how to deal with bubbles coming from the manifold area around the regulator first stage, on each side. The moment we started running through scenarios all our hard work at GUE Fundamentals seemed to fall into place. The dreaded 'valve drill' was all about what we were learning right then.
|Liam sorting Kerri's simple failure|
It was mind blowing.
All the muscle memory was aimed at sorting problems at tech 1 level to minimise gas loss, fix problems and continue with the dive. It was cracking fun and extremely useful stuff. I believe it is referred to as a 'light bulb moment.'
Drills done, we were finally ready for the sea. The guys at the dive centre ferried out twinsets, via van, down to the shore, and we waddled along behind. I was mega excited, and mega petrified.
|(c) wreck & cave|
I conducted GUE EDGE and the 3 of us followed our infamous leader into the drink. Rich dropped a marker bouy line and we descended 9m to the sea bed to begin the drills. We had stages with us, but wouldn't be using them; it was just to get us used to having the ali 80's, or pigs as i like to call them, with us diving. I soon forgot it was there.
|(c) wreck & cave|
Once settled 30cm from the sea bed, Rich demanded a valve drill from each diver, and an out-of-gas (OOG) drill. I went first, Kerri followed and Liam finished; all text book. It was a little strange to watch Liam conduct the drill identical to Kerri and I. I don't get to dive with other GUE trained divers at home, besides Wifebuddy, and it was great to see how our training was a mirror of each other. It made diving together so simple. The OOG drills were the same; everyone knew what the donor/donate(r) was going to do next - it was awesome.
Rich debreifed on the surface, explained he was happy with our skills, and quickly descended again to conduct some 'simple failures.'
During our briefing Rich explained he would be using 'Mr Squirty' on the dives. This amused me greatly. Mr Squirty was a weird device attached to an extra hose on Rich's regulators.
It appeared Mr Squirty was able to deliver a rampant surge of air bubbles on cue. It transpired Mr Squirty was some form of scuba-porn star. During the dive Rich would place Mr Squirty at a particular point on a manifold, and ejaculate compressed air behind your head; the money shot.
On our dive the three of us were continually laying random areas of line around the bay; tying off onto rocks or bottles embedded into the sand. That focus allowed Rich to sneak up behind me and make Mr Squirty crack off behind my right ear. It was rather startling. The bubbles indicated a leak; i signalled my team, and began the process of repairing the problem.
We continued for an hour conducting simple failures in this manner. It was particularly enjoyable to watch Wifebuddy practically jump out of her drysuit every time Mr Squirty blew off.
We surfaced, another debrief followed, and we descended for another round; more bubbles, more failures, more OOG. Just as i was feeling particularly pleased with myself i felt a tap on the lens of my mask; a mask-off request.
I hate mask off stuff, especially in salt water. I knew it would come eventually, but hoped not on the first dive. I immediately ripped off my mask and it disappeared into the sea (rescued by Rich of course) as i waved my light from side to side in the hope my team were watching me.
Thankfully Liam (it turned out) got a good hold of my arm as i searched for my back up mask. Unfortunately he developed a cramp at that exact moment and buoyancy got a bit wobbly all round.
Mask cleared, i sorted myself out only to be greeted by Liam having a non-fixable right post failure. We dealt with that and promptly headed back to the shot line. Lights flashed again as Liam had another failure, this time on his left post. I finned close to help sort it; missing the whole point of the exercise. Liam had no posts left and was about to shut off his twinset completely, which in effect left me watching Liam kill himself. Thankfully Kerri was a bit more switched on and donated her long hose to Liam, who seemed equally confused as me, but took it anyway.
We reached the shot, formed a lovely little triangle and began our final ascent of the day.
|(c) wreck & cave|
In water time: 3 hours.
We trailed our tired asses from the Adriatic and scuttled back to the dive centre for some well earned dinner at Luna. It was 9pm. It had been a long, hard day ... and it was only DAY ONE.