Imperial Eagle – Wreck Diver Speciality (Dive 4)

Me with the sidemount, breathing from a third stage at the Jesus statue on the return journey from the Imperial Eagle

Me with the sidemount, breathing from a third stage at the Jesus statue on the return journey from the Imperial Eagle

This is to be my last speciality dive, and it was going to be a a corker. It combined so many of the skills that I learnt over the last 3 weeks that I was blown away by it all. It even brought in new ones.

By the end of  Wreck Dive 4, students should be able to:

  • Plan and perform an actual wreck penetration under your direct supervision:
    • Determining air supply and penetration limits.
    • Swimming without causing excessive silt disturbance.
    • Maintaining contact with the line.
    • Using a dive light while following a penetration line.
  • Navigate on a wreck so that the ascent point can be located without surfacing.

Alan briefed me thoroughly on what we were going to do. The plan was to descend using a stage, swim to the wreck, once at the wreck leave the stage and then explore – me following him. Both of us would be using sidemounts. On the dive were the swedish guys from the previous day (one on a rebreather, one on a twin-set with stage, and one on a single cylinder).

We met Skipper Danny at the Qawra Point. He had the boat set up and ready to go, all we needed to do was get on.  We suited up, loaded the boat, and quickly grabbed a small lunch from the nearby bar. The journey to the descent line took only a couple of minutes it took longer for us all to get our cylinders and stages on. We were lucky that it wasn’t a rough sea, in fact the water was almost like glass. It would have been difficult to do rough weather. Perhaps I need more practice on boat dives with the sidemount. I set up the harness with the two side stages, all that was left to do was attach the third stage. I would be using the third stage to descend to and ascend from the wreck. I clipped it on my harness between my legs and flipped backwards over the boat.

We descended down the shot line and swam across the reef to the wreck. I was concentrating on my depth as I didn’t want to have an PO2 of more than 1.5 bar / ata and suffer from Oxygen toxicity. I quickly removed my stage and switched to my sidemount. This had a lower level of Oxygen than in my stage, that meant my PO2 would be much lower. Alan then dashed off through the wreck, I followed him. We whizzed through the open corridors and stairwells. Rising and falling.It was tough work keeping an eye on my depth, and my SPGs. Soon my NDL was getting too low. I mentioned it to Alan and he told me to head back to the stage. I swam through the wreck and popped out beside my stage. I switched over. It was time to ascend. Alan and I left the three other divers on the wreck (these guys were tech divers – they could handle themselves) and we swam back towards the shot-line.

We passed the Jesus statue and I had my photo taken with it. Alan instructed me to switch from the stage back to the sidemount if the air in it got too low. He left me at the shot-line (to ascend) and he went back for the others. I slowly ascended to the surface. I made my safety stop. I only required 3 minutes, which was quite a shock as I thought I would have needed more. I stayed for 5 just to be sure. By then the others were below me having a stop at 9m.

Getting back on board was difficult but Skipper Danny was really helpful. To that comment he would say “Fuck off, I fucking wasn’t.”  That’s just the way he is. I wouldn’t want to be trying to get back on board if the sea was rough. Perhaps a twin-set would be a good thing to learn to dive with. Tech 40 anyone?

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