Mark Chase won a Nautilus Lifeline for his essay which grabbed 193 votes in just 1 week! Enjoy his story and then feel free to post your own story, picture or video.January 20, 2011
From the site www.ilearnedaboutdivingfromthat.com this is Mark Chase’s winning entry. Enjoy his story and then feel free to post your own story, picture or video at www.ilearnedaboutdivingfromthat.com and you could be the next winner of a Nautilus Lifeline!
Lost at sea
by Mark Chase
The trip out to the Moldavia takes about 2.5 hours on a flat sea but today it was a little choppy. The skipper had a nick name of Force 6 out of Brighton, so the fact we were bouncing a bit wasn’t going to make him call the dive.
Once on site over the wreck in 50m of water, I assessed the situation and the swell was not too bad and the forecast was for it to ease off in the afternoon. That and the fact we were hovering over one of the best shipwrecks in the English Channel left me in no doubt about jumping in.
Today I was half solo diving. My buddy didn’t want to do a long dive so we agreed that after 20mins on the bottom he’d bag off and id carry on alone. Once we hit the water I was very pleased to have made this pact as the conditions were fantastic. Visibility of 15-20m easily with the massive wreck looming into view well before we reached the end of the shot.
As usual when diving with a buddy I have only half my mind on the dive and the other on my buddy. As agreed 20mins in he signalled he was going up and I waited till he had his SMB up and was well on the ascent before I carried on my dive.
I love being alone on a large wreck. I don’t remember even seeing another diver that day and with no one else to worry about I relaxed and set about hunting for tonight’s dinner to apse the wife god. She who allows all diving to occur.
Soon my pray was at hand and a simply glorious 5-6lb lobster was tucked neatly in my goody bag. I drifted back toward the stern and noticed after 45mins at 45-50m the tide was picking up quite quickly, so after a last look at the magnificent gun pointing at the sky mid ships, I begrudgingly took out my reel and SMB and prepared for decompression.
Today I have an IPod that helps me pass the time, but back then after the two gas switches from back gas to deco gas at 40m and final deco gas at 9m, there was not a lot to do except contemplate the dive for the remaining half hour that Mr. Bhulman insisted I staid in the water.
At the 6m (20ft) stop I began to realise the surface of the sea was pretty rough. My SMB had been bouncing around a lot, but only when I could see the surface above could I appreciate the full extent of the situation.
White crested waves were apparent and they don’t happen 25miles out unless it’s pretty rough. As is often the case with the weather in the UK, the conditions were 180 degrees opposite to the forecast. It wasn’t backing off from a F3 it was now much much worse.
My main concern was getting back on the boat. I was in a heavy twinset and carrying two decompression tanks. I started to plan ahead and unclipped the back of the deco tanks in case I needed to ditch them on the surface. I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t have to ditch all my kit in order to get back on the boat. If things got really bad I would even have to ditch the lobster. Any one who’s met my wife will attest that this would indeed be a last resort.
Once on the surface this became the least of my worries.
The sea was horrible. The peeks and troughs of the swell were massive. In my mind at least 30ft high but in reality probably less. Suffice as to say it scared me. My other problem was I couldn’t see the dive boat.
I checked my computer and noted the time and id been on the surface for 10mins and I hadn’t seen the boat. I had already been in the water for getting of two hours but fortunately it was 15c and I was comfortable in my dry suit. Problem was, the waves were not letting me breathe the air. Mask off wasn’t an option and taking the regulator out made me swallow a lot of water when caught out by the spray.
I checked my computer again and 20mins has passed since I had surfaced and still no sign of a dive boat. I began to feel desperate and tried to rationalise my situation. But I could not. Every way I looked at it I was 25miles out and I felt the only way for me to be found was if the dive boat crested a wave at exactly the same time as me and someone spotted my little orange SMB a device in which I had total faith till this day and now it seemed utterly pathetic.
I had tired to stop looking at my computer but it was obviously hours since I had surfaced. Or so I thought. Looking down in between being hit in the face by the sea I found it had been a mear 40mins. I had to double check this as I felt sure it had been a life time. I pride my self on being totally confident in the water but my brain couldn’t help running through the negative implications of my situation. Once I ran out of gas id be trying to breath air and that was going to be hard unless the sea flattened out. I had maybe 20mins burn time left in my torch so once it got dark I wouldn’t be able to do much signalling. Ditching my decompression tanks would help keep my head up but right now I needed all the gas so I put up with being low in the water.
Just how long can you survive in 15c water in a dry suit?
Should I let the lobster go now? As a sacrifice to the wife it served a purpose but it was demeaning to let such a magnificent beast die of starvation in a mesh bag.
All these thoughts crossed my mind as suddenly the bow of the dive boat appeared towering above my head. The fact 20 tons of boat was about to come crashing down on me gave way to pure elation.
Needless to say the boat missed me and with surprisingly little drama I managed to grab the life line and tow my self towards the stern and the diver lift.
Normally the lift would lower into the water and the diver steps on the ample platform to be lifted gracefully into the boat. Today the entire stern of the boat was going under water one min and rising till the propellers showed the next.
So elated was I that when the boat submerged I dragged my self aboard with incredible adrenalin powered speed just before it rose up and flattened me on the deck. Multiple attempts at homo erectus failed miserably, I was battered and bruised but laughing with joy.
I even got the lobster on board.
After that dive I purchased a Sea Marshal PLB so if I were lost at sea I could be found. Some years later I upgraded to a full on GPS personal location beacon.
Now I think Ill be upgrading again to a Nautilus Lifeline.
It was 10 years ago this happened but the fear is still fresh in my mind. GPS location isn’t cheep but trust me it is a small price to pay to avoid feeling how I felt that day.
Powered by Facebook Comments
Categorised in: Archive
This post was written by admin