Quick M/V Spree Dive Trip Summary

I am not quite home, where I will be able to provide a proper trip report including pictures and summaries. I traveled with the M/V Spree out of Key West on a Wreck Tech trip. There were many technical divers doing decompression diving, but these wrecks are also in the recreational range. Here is a quick summary of the trip (we were diving HP 95 steel tanks containing 32% Nitrox):

Friday August 01, 2014
Spiegal Grove – 39 minute dive, 105 ft max depth
Spiegal Grove – 42 minute dive, 104 ft max depth
Spiegal Grove – 44 minute dive, 95 ft max depth
Spiegal Grove – 33 minute dive, 110 ft max depth

Saturday, August 02, 2014
USGS Duane – 36 minute dive, 100 ft max depth
USGS Duane – 33 minute dive, 105 ft max depth
Eagle – 38 minute dive, 107 ft max depth
Eagle – 41 minute dive, 113 ft max depth

Sunday, August 03, 2014
Thunderbolt – 38 minute dive, 106 ft max depth
Thunderbolt – 37 minute dive, 106 ft max depth
Adolphus Bush – 44 minute dive, 97 ft max depth

Monday, August 04, 2014
Vandenberg – 42 minute dive, 96 ft max depth
Vandenberg – 42 minute dive, 94 ft max depth
Vandenberg – 41 minute dive, 101 ft max depth

As you can see, it was a busy couple of days. I did 14 dives in four days with a total time underwater of 550 minutes (that’s over NINE HOURS) and an average max depth of 102 ft.

I have lots of pictures and video and will complete a proper trip report when I have time to process everything.

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Demonstration of color absorption as you descend underwater

I finally did it!  After several attempts, I made a video today demonstrating the depth at which different colors are absorbed by water.  I only went to 60 ft, but the effect is shown.   Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d_B4UmgT6Y


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Making a list, and checking it twice!

One of the things I have learned in my few years of hiking and backpacking is the importance of a packing list. By making a good list, one can ensure the needed items are taken, unnecessary items are left at home, and (if the list is really good) have an idea of the weight of your pack before you even actually weigh it. There have been trips where I have forgotten something or something did not work just right. That is part of the adventure in backpacking.

I am making a “new” list, though. I am just 9 more days away from departing to my first liveaboard SCUBA Trip. The importance of such a list is very prevalent as one considers the consequences of forgetting something…. In backpacking, forgetting something may make me slightly cold, hungry, wet, or otherwise uncomfortable until the weekend is over and I return home. On this liveaboard, we will be miles from shore and not return to the dock once we leave unless there is a medical emergency. Forgetting something can mean the difference between having the trip of a lifetime and watching others having the fun. If I forget something or if an item quits performing properly the consequences may be I become be a spectator instead of a participant. IF the item is relatively unimportant, I may be able to repair or borrow the item from someone.

So, making a list, checking it twice, and seeing what backup items are needed or required. For readers that have traveled on the M/V Spree or other liveaboard SCUBA trips, are there any suggestions or commonly forgotten items?

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Busy times and the countdown has started!

Wow, the past 30 days has been nonstop! I have earned my Advanced Diver and Enriched Air Certifications in SCUBA, been on a work related weeklong trip to Ogden, UT as well as another work related trip to Ft. Bragg, NC (which I was preparing for in a previous blog). I have picked up an older model of the GoPro camera (lost and recoverd while using it on the first dives) and HAD to practice with it before an item on my bucket list! In fact, this video was shot just two days ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQAOoMpEe2M It’s not super duper quality, but I’m still learning….

I have wanted to learn how to SCUBA dive after watching Wild Kingdom MANY years ago. Although I’ve been certified since 2009, my diving experience has been fairly limited as I only have approx 30+ dives. Well, that is about to change! In 16 days I begin my journey to an item on my bucket list – my first liveaboard dive trip. On Wednesday of that week, I drive to central Florida to my father in law’s house. The next day we will drive to Key West to board the boat. This trip I will be traveling/diving with my Father in law as well as his friend that is a professional photographer. Basically, you live on a boat and dive in different locations over several days. Not only will the diving be amazing, but we should have plenty of pictures of our adventure.

We board the MV Spree on Thursday (31 July) at night, and dive all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Just to give you an idea, we will do about 20 dives on that trip. We are doing the “Wreck Trek” trip, so most of our dives will be on shipwrecks – either “accidently” or purposely sunk for diving. The Florida Keys has a Shipwreck Trail (http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/shipwrecktrail/welcome.html) and we are scheduled to dive on all nine wrecks on the trail during this trip.

So I’m starting to gather my equipment and make a packing list. 16 more days….

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Back to work and it’s odd…

After living abroad for over a year (work related and it wasn’t exactly a tropical paradise), I’ve been back to my “normal” job for about six months. It seems like I have finally readjusted according to my superiors.

On Friday June 25th I was informed I would be traveling to Ogden, UT on Monday June 28th to lead training during a four day period. Toward the end of last week, I was informed I would be leaving for Ft. Bragg, NC on Sunday, July 6th for another 4 day training session. There’s also a two week trip to Germany scheduled for September. I also have a much anticipated SCUBA trip planned at the beginning of August or I would be taking a work trip to Hawaii! So at least I don’t have to always sit in the office – which is a good thing. I also get to see parts of the US (and world) that I have not yet traveled.

But there is this odd feeling I have been experiencing for the past few days. Returning to Ft. Bragg will be a walk down memory lane, and not necessarily a good one. I was stationed there in the early 90’s and haven’t returned. I know it has changed, but many things will be the same. The reason it will be odd is that I was a different person then. I was young, in the military, and I’ll just say the life I was living wasn’t “ideal.” I am somewhat ashamed of my life during that point. In fact, other than my two children being born at Ft. Bragg, there wasn’t much positive in my life during that time.

I don’t know if I want to drive by my old housing, barracks, or other places I visited while I was stationed there. It will be bittersweet to say the least. We are training literally blocks away and there is a good chance we will pass by even if I don’t plan it. Emotionally it will be trying as that is a part of my life I try to put behind me, only to have it force its way to the surface in the most unlikely set of circumstances.

So wish me luck and I’ll see you in the future between the trees or under the surface!

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What a GREAT Father’s Day Weekend!

At a later date I will have to provide an update with pictures (and video if possible).

This past weekend was awesome! For Father’s Day I was certified as an Advanced Diver and Nitrox – I’ve had my “basic” or open water diver certification since 2009. For the non-SCUBA people, the Advanced Diver certifies you to go past 60 ft. in depth (the max is 130 ft) and exposes/fine tunes some other skills – some of which are selected by the diver. For my advanced certification I selected Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Videography, and Search and Recovery. The Deep Dive (another blog post soon) and Underwater Navigation are mandatory dives as part of this certification.

The Nitrox certification allows you to use air with a higher percentage of Oxygen. The “normal” air is approx 21% oxygen and Nitrox allows you to go up to 40%. The most common is 32%. This exposes you to less Nitrogen (the bad stuff in SCUBA) but also affects your max bottom depth as well as too much oxygen CAN be a bad thing (go figure, right?) so this course teaches all of this.

We did a total of 5 dives in various conditions and had a GREAT time! I also played with my new GoPro camera which I will discuss in a longer post as well.

So this time of year, I’ll either see you between the trees or blowing bubbles….

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Thankful for listening to someone else

I’m a “glass-half-full” kind of guy – especially when it comes time to spending time outdoors. For example, if there’s a 40% chance it WON’T rain (instead of a 60% chance it will rain) I’m all for still going on the adventure. I refuse to be a “fair weather camper” and give those that are some friendly banter. That is one also of the benefits of having quality gear that has been tested as I know I will be protected in less than ideal conditions.

A prime example of my “glass-half-full”/stupidity is this past weekend. The men from my Sunday School Class had an overnight canoe trip planned on the Buffalo River in Tennessee. Although thunderstorms and rain were in the forecast, I was still “all in” on going through with the trip. One by one, less couragous (my opinion) men were backing out and I actually sent an email stating that “I wasn’t afraid of a little water.” To semi save the weekend, we agreed to meet for breakfast. I packed my gear in the car just in case someone wanted to follow through with the plans at the last minute.

At breakfast, we agreed that we could reschedule for a couple of weekends away. I was slightly bummed because I love the adventure regardless of the weather conditions. We did agree to go on a short day hike to at least spend SOME time outdoors. Of course, it was sunny and we remarked several times that it was perfect weather for being on the water. A great time was had by all.

Then Saturday night arrived as well as the “slight chance of some rain.” As I watched the weather on TV from the comfort of my home as thunder shook the house, I was REALLY thankful I listened to someone else. If it was up to me, I would have been out in the weather hanging between two trees on the riverbank. I am confident that my gear would have protected me from the rain, but I doubt I would have slept very well with the storm raging overhead. My gear would not have protected me if the trees were uprooted by the strong winds or debris flying through the air, though…. Maybe there would have been a great story from the trip, but I was just as happy to be inside.

I am blessed, alive, and the the adventure will continue another day. After all, the woods and river aren’t going anywhere!

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