We went on a full day trip to dive the wreck near Qaruh Island. I found out that Qaruh (pronounced garou) is named for the oil seeps that are near the island. With so much oil and gas in the ground the island got this name as in Kuwaiti Arabic gar is the word for tar.
So anyhow, the diving day began as all others, with the tanks and diving gear in baskets on trolleys getting pushed to the boat. The dive gear is normally carried in square plastic laundry baskets as the size is ideal and the baskets fit under the seats on the boat.
We walk beside the trolleys that are being pushed by the Indian workers to make sure nothing falls off. Well, the trolley with my basket was not being watched closely enough by someone else and my basket fell off into the water.
Fortunately, as I was warned some time back to make sure to fasten the bungee cords that we cross over the top of the basket through the heel strap of the fins. That way, if it does fall the fins don’t fall out and everything stays in the basket. This was advised by someone who dove in the disgusting muck of the dock to get a fin that sank. (Not all fins sink, mine do.) So, everything stayed in the basket and we managed to grab it before it sunk. So all was well.
Then off on the 90 minute boat trip Qaruh. It is a boat that was sunk by a helicopter in the First Gulf War. It is a challenging dive. And can be a challenge to find. But that is good, otherwise there would be too many people going to it and damaging some of the pristine and unique corals developing on it.
I was leading a couple of other divers on their deep dive specialty. As part of this specialty it is important for the divers to do an exercise to show them how their judgment can be impaired and reactions delayed at depth due to nitrogen narcosis.
So the plan was to give them a simulated out of air situation by me.
So here’s how it went.
Well, the visibility wasn’t great and I was with the two of them and we were circling the upper portion of the wreck. Then we got separated as there were some other buddy teams on the wreck and I mistook them for the two I was with. So when I saw it wasn’t the right two, I circled back around to the top of the conning tower and waited for them to return.
When they appeared and then I remembered, time for the drill.
So I went up to one of them and gave one of them the out of air signal from about half a meter away.
And he just looked at me with the signal “I don’t know” (In other words “huh?“.) This is an example of impaired judgment due to the narcosis and also the challenging dive conditions.
So I gave the signal harder. By then the other guy who was about a meter away and slightly below quickly swam up to me and offered his spare regulator which I took. Then he gave me the OK signal.
And he made good eye contact and gave the signal to ascend.
All very good in accordance with training and proper practices. Then I gave him the OK signal and showed him my pressure gauge that I had plenty of air so we don’t need to ascend. Then he understood, it was a drill. Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of laughs about this.
But wait there’s more
But in doing this drill we drifted off the wreck. And with limited visibility is isn’t worth trying to find it at the end of a dive. (This isn’t the plan, as it when there is a current if you don’t ascend the line you may come up far from the boat. Then the boat would have to possibly raise anchor and come and get you if you can’t make the swim back on the surface.)
But, we are prepared for this possibility so I took out the surface marker buoy tied it to the finger spool and launched it. Then we ascended together on this line. And well, we got to the surface and fortunately we were within 20 meters of the boat.
Then the second dive. The current was massive. Some of us made it to the wreck and the three of us stayed together and had a short dive. I turned it around early as the current was so strong.
We came back and ascended the line to the buoy. We got to the buoy and were hanging on hard in the strong current and met the other two that had made it down. The float on the line that normally hangs at 7 meters below the surface was at 14 because of the angle the current was pressing it to. So that we were all together, I again floated the marker buoy and then we drifted together and slowly ascended together
Again we surfaced together very near the boat. The current had eased off when we surfaced much to our surprise. And that was that.