Sunday, April 20, 2008

They Don't Call it Pulau Hantu for Nothing

I just got back from an eventful day of diving in Pulau Hantu. Because of my ridiculous work schedule of late, I missed 2 prior opportunities to do some training dives with my Tech 2 team. Today was a last ditch effort and our only chance to dive together before the actual class in May. Michael flew all the way from Korea just to do this morning's dives - kudos to him for taking one for the team and putting up with the crappy conditions.

The last time I dove Hantu, the vis was so bad I could barely see my gauges, much less my buddy, so I approached today with some apprehension.

The day started at the ass crack of dawn and I made my way down to Living Seas, where I met up with Leon and Michael. We loaded all our tanks (1 set of doubles, 1 stage and 2 deco bottles each) and gear into Leon's borrowed car. We drove over to the Singapore Yacht Club, where the boat was waiting. I've got to say, loading and unloading tanks and gear has to be the least fun part of technical diving. It took a while to get all of our stuff on the boat and soon we were underway. The sun was up and it was VERY warm and uncomfortable on the surface.

It took about 30 min to get to a nice and secluded spot in Hantu. On the way, we analyzed all the tanks and found them mostly safe for consumption, but 2 tanks had to be toppped off with air. We anchored in about 12m of water. Then we jumped in in full Tech 2 gear - doubles, 1 stage and 2 deco bottles. The tanks were borrowed from various people and some of them had less than optimal setups (like small bolt snaps, bad inner tube, or stage kits that were too long or short - this made bottle handling interesting).

Vis was pretty bad, probably around 2-3m. The green water gave me flashbacks of my quarry exploration days in the Northeast US. Hey, at least the water wasn't brown. There was also a slight current, which forced us to be in wing-on-wing formation throughout the dives. We shot a bag and used the line as a visual reference. We spent about 2 hours in the water, mostly doing valve drills, s-drills, gas switches, bottle rotation, and ascent and descent drills. My first attempt at bottle rotation turned out to be anticlimactic - moving the bottles wasn't difficult but highlighted the importance of trim, buoyancy, and situational awareness. We all got the drills done but our buoyancy could have been better. We were varying by about 2m, instead of the 1m that is the standard for Tech 2.

It was a day of failures. It started on the boat when one of the deco bottles had a faulty valve that wouldn't take a regulator, so we dove the bottle without a reg. Leon's primary light failed first, followed by Michael's. My E/O cord was playing up and my light would go off if I put too much pressure on the cord.

After about 2 hours in the water, it was time to go. We packed up our gear and got way too much sun on the way back. This was followed by my favorite part - unloading the boat and humping all the tanks and gear back to the car.

Let me see:
Bad vis - check
Green water - check
Manual labor - check
Current - check
Unpleasant surface conditions - check
Faulty gear - check

Another great day of technical diving!

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