I apologize in advance, this post is kind of long and picture-heavy.
This past weekend, we set out for our first river dives of 2014. We had some friends we met on a dive trip last summer come into town from Wisconsin to take the course from a good friend of ours, Rich Synowiec, and then complete their check out dives. We were invited along to dive with them on Saturday and Sunday.
Of course, the first step for any day of diving is to load the gear into the truck: two dry suits (White's bag); an argon set up (for me since I get cold easily); dry suit undergarments (Fourth Element bag); two hoods, masks, sets of gloves (wet for Aaron and dry for me) and fins; two sets of regulators (in bag farthest to left); 45 pounds of extra weight; two river tools with two goodie bags; and an extra change of clothes, just in case the dry suit isn't so dry. We have really gotten this whole thing down to a science and can be loaded up and ready to go in about a half hour.
Have we ever mentioned that diving is an equipment-intensive hobby? No, we haven't? Well, it is. The picture to the right is the gear just for one person. Well, plus some other, non-diving related, stuff
On Saturday, we were diving on Gross Ile, a small island in the Detroit River. The weather was nice, relatively speaking. The air temperature was 38F, no wind, and the sun was trying to peak out. But the river, well, she was raging, quite literally. That was the fastest current we had ever dove in. A couple of things were working against us - the location is shallow, the water level is about 3 feet lower than normal, and the shipping channel of the Detroit river (on the other side of a very small, unihabitated island) was frozen over still. All the water that would usually flow through both the shallow side where we were diving, and the larger and deeper shipping channel, had to go right past our dive site. Talking about a ripping current. The water temperature wasn't terrible, 32F, but with all the work we had to do in order not to get swept away by the current, we barely felt it. Both of us ended up calling the dive about 10 minutes in. Better to be alive to dive another day.
Sunday took us up to Harsen's Island. Harsen's is in the middle of the St. Clair river, right where it opens into Lake St. Clair, and you need to take a ferry to get there. It's actually quite interesting to sit in your car as you are crossing a river. We met with friends (lots of them, actually - Rich even snagged a quick picture of everyone before everyone got kitted up) for breakfast at a local place before hitting the river. The weather was much colder on Sunday - 16F and windy, but sunny. Colder weather (and of course cold water), is a problem for some regulators. It can cause them to freeze and free flow. However, some regulators are better than others. The ones below both continued to function perfectly, despite the fact that they were incased in ice. Note to self: need to get myself one of these
Both Aaron and I got our gear set up, and then donned our undergarments and drysuits, hopped in the water annnd....free flow. A small one, but still an issue. Poured in some warm tea (that's all I had on hand) to thaw it, and then try again. We both were able to get down, but Aaron's started to free flow again, and he couldn't get it thawed He ended up calling the dive. I was able to get in a half hour dive before I overworked mine, froze it, and had it free flow on me. I did learn something interesting this weekend - I can reach my own air to turn it off if need be (don't worry, I was on the surface when I turned it off). Good to know. One dive and a frozen reg later, and I called it a day. Below is a picture of me as I was doffing my gear (dry suit is off, undergarments are still on). Please excuse the state of my hair.
Unfortunately, since Aaron wasn't able to dive, he wasn't able to find any treasures. I found a few cool bottles, but I have no idea what kind they are. They still need to be cleaned and researched, if I get a chance.