Cold and Wet

It was second week of December here in Indiana and it finally got super cold. We had our first snow that week. Perfect diving weather! This is our first winter as divers and we wanted to share some of the experiences we’ve had. This particular dive happened to be full of them. Sometimes, you just have to laugh. Enjoy!

Since I was in Muncie all week for work related training, Ben and I decided to take advantage and dive Philip’s Quarry. It was a beautiful, clear, frigid afternoon. We mustered at the dive shop about 4:30 in the afternoon and headed over with the gate key. We fired up the heater in the bath house and assembled our gear.

I still haven’t bought my own weight yet, but Ben has accumulated way more weight than he’ll ever need at flea markets and yard sales, so I just borrow his. This particular day, Ben didn’t bring his extra weight. It was kind of funny listening to him apologize all over for being a bad dive buddy, but I stopped him and we ran to the shop. Tom was nice enough to loan me some weight as long as I promised to come back and buy a drysuit from him. We climb back into my Mazda and hustle back to the quarry. Since the gear was already assembled, we turned the air on and started our pre dive checks. I checked my regulator to see how it was breathing and it started to free flow slightly. I blew into the mouthpiece, twirled a few knobs, fiddled with levers, etc. with no luck. So we secured the gear and headed to the shop again. By this time, the sun is going down and we know we’re in for a night dive. Brooke looked pretty surprised when I walked back in with my regulator. After I explained the issue, she tossed a service tag on the reg set and handed me a rental. I pulled out my wallet and she said, “Go get in the water!” before practically shoving us out the door. We heard her laughing as the door closed behind us. It was starting to be too ridiculous not to laugh. So we get back out to the quarry and it’s pitch black. We finish gear setup and do our checks.

FINALLY, we are ready to jump in. You can never be really ready for the cold, you just know it’s going to be freezing. I’ve found it’s best to just jump in before you have time to reconsider. Once the water starts to fill your wetsuit, you have to dive. You’re already cold and wet so who cares? Once the water worked its way into my suit and warmed up, I was ready. Ben gave me the thumbs down and we deflated our BCD’s. As we sank, there was the realization that we couldn’t see a thing.  We found the west wall and followed it around to familiar territory where more comedy awaited.

Visibility was awful. The fresh cold had caused very poor visibility in the quarry (Eventually, it is supposed to settle out and become pristine in the winter). This was our second night dive. We were both pretty uncomfortable. We made our way to the submerged pontoon boat and hung there for a minute sort of looking at each other like what do we do now? I decided to sit on the edge of the pontoon and stare out into the gray to black darkness. Ben joined me and we sat breathing on SCUBA like we were on a corner in Morocco smoking the hookah or sheesha or whatever they call it in that part of the world. A dream of mine. Anyway, we just took a few minutes to relax and get used to being in the cold blackness. We were also contending with a bright green algae cloud that just washed over us and wrapped us up like a blanket. Not a warm blanket, fresh out the dryer, and smelling like gain. You get the idea though. The algae blanket didn’t take long to lose its ….uh…. appeal ? so I kicked over to another boat about 20 feet away. It didn’t take long to realize Ben hadn’t followed me so I turned around and swim back toward the pontoon. As I approach, I can see Ben flailing around near the bottom with a wayward fin in one hand and trying to dump air out of his suit with the other while fighting off the green algae cloud. His new fins did not have spring straps (yet) and one had slipped off. Normally, I’d be trying not to spit out my regulator laughing, but given the circumstances of the whole evening, we both needed a pass. He finally wrestled the fin back on (with neither grace nor dignity I might add) and we kick over to the other boat where we see a whole bunch of inky black nothing. Over the gunnel of the boat towards the east of the quarry was nothing but an impenetrable black abyss that even his 2100 lumen light could not penetrate.

I asked Ben for the time and it’s been a little over 15 minutes so we head back to the shore, avoiding further embarrassment. We agree to do this more often. Well, the cold water diving part, not all the shenanigans. Every dive has a story. This one was definately a comedy.