Diving at St Abbs this weekend in perfect weather conditions and a practically flat sea.
Diving at Black Carr for the first dive, so nothing too strenuous, towards the end of the dive at about 15 metres, as per the norm, I set about putting my dsmb up. For the past few weeks I’ve been using a spool rather than a reel, which is easier to stow away in my right hand side bcd pocket, and with no moving parts has nowt to go wrong. Haven’t had a problem with it until today...
Firstly, I simply couldn’t reach round to unzip the pocket, much as I tried, don’t know why, I just couldn’t. Also, my hands were cold, which undoubtedly didn’t help. This led to me breathing a lot heavier than normal, which led to my computer chirping furiously at me for overbreathing, which led to even heavier breathing, which led to my air dropping below 50 bar, which caused the computer to go into meltdown, which caused me to get annoyed with myself, and so on. Finally got the spool and smb out, and then proceeded to fanny about trying to fill it firstly with my main reg, which simply caused lots of bubbles in my face, and then with my front-slung pony reg.
By the time I got sorted, my main air was way down, my computer was screaming “FFS MARTYN!!!” in computer-ish, the spool was on the deck, and there was line everywhere. I gave the pony reg a good squirt of air into the smb, then switched to it from my main reg. By the time I started to head up, the aforementioned loose line had drifted hither and thither and proceeded to wrap itself around my pony’s first stage, my torch, which I hadn’t clipped off prior to this, and my fins, and the spool was somewhere in the depths below me...
Hit the surface after ascending faster than I would have liked after a safety stop, but not unsafely so, and fully inflated both my bcd and my suit. By the time the dive boat got to me, the line was everywhere and the spool was still out of sight. I attempted to wind the line around my hand while waiting to be picked up, but gave in. My main worry at that point was the line getting wrapped round the boat, but I was more than prepared to cut it and accept the loss. Got on the dive lift and somehow passed the smb and line to the skipper, who proceeded to fetch the spool up from the depths and wind the line back on it. I had to be undone from the mess by 2 angels on the boat, and tbh, it was a real mess!! I’d also cut my forehead, how or on what I have no idea. Only a small cut, but blood all over didn’t help matters along.
Other than making a complete and utter twat of myself, I don’t believe I was in any mortal danger at any time. My pony was fully charged, I could have omitted the safety stop, and I had full access to all my buttons and valves. However, what did I learn? Firstly, since falling off the wagon last year, quite literally and not an alcoholic euphemism, my right arm isn’t as mobile as it used to be, so attempting to contort myself doesn’t work. Secondly, cold hands don’t help. Thirdly, the dsmb and crack bottle that I bought a few weeks back, which I subsequently clipped to my left side bcd ring and deployed perfectly on the second dive, will now be part of my normal kit and used on every boat dive that requires it. No idea why I didn’t take it with me on the first dive, I even bought a decanting whip at the same time to recharge it from my main cylinder...I simply cannot reach far enough around my r/h side, so left hip it is from now on.
I fully appreciate that it could have ended badly, and I’ve berated myself quite vehemently for this. Thankfully, it didn’t, lessons have been learned, and changes to my practices have been made.