I drove up to Derry New Hampshire to pick up the interns camera and accessories. When I arrived at Underwater Phototec I got to play with all the new toys! I have a small amount of experience with video cameras as I filmed youth football games, but other than turning it on and messing with the zoom, I am largely clueless. So we took all the cameras out, they showed me some basic maintenance. Then we charged up both the video camera, still camera, and the video light. In the meantime I was given lots of literature on filming and photographing techniques. After allowing the cameras to charge up I played around with them for a bit and learned how to use them in general terms. The next day I met with a professional for a more hands-on, in the water experience.
I met Peter Ventorous in Jamestown in the morning, and talked briefly to some divers who were getting out of the water… Peter Venoutsos and I begin discussing the great macro capabilities of my camera. After some dry training we geared up and hit the water! He used the camera for a while, then we switched and he gave me some pointers. Viz was definitely only great for macro shooting, so we decided to only do one dive. After the dive we packed up and he treated me to lunch on the island. During lunch we talked about his life as a professional diver and photographer, and he gave me some more tips. Overall it was a great, interesting and very informative day!
On Monday I met Vin in Quincy at 8am to assist him with some private work he was doing for Batelle. Batelle is a large, private engineering company who, in this case, was working for NOAA doing buoy maintenance. The specific buoy we worked on can actual be found here! Basically our job was to dive on an offshore weather buoy at about 20ft off water and scrape mussels off of an instrument, remove the bolts from it, and bring it to the surface to be cleaned and inspected by the engineers. Sounds simple right? Well when you are 11 miles offshore, there is a ripping current, and the bottom is at about 200ft, nothing is exactly simple. After about an hour long boat ride to get to the buoy, the engineers began their work. Maybe half an hour later we were geared up and jumping in the water… and then climbing out because the current was too strong to fight. Take two: we are dropped up-current we successfully make the buoy, locate the instrument panel, clean it off, and remove it (without dropping it or any tools into the abyss). Following that we get back on board the vessel where we wait approximately 3-4hrs for the engineers to finish their work so we could reinstall the instrument. During this time they were replacing old sensors, downloading data, and installing a new camera system so you can view pictures. Unfortunately the weather was deteriorating, after quite a while it was decided we would not be doing a second dive that day. Fortunately the engineers were able to get mostly everything else on the buoy working the way they wanted. We made it back to the dock around 5pm. It was a long day for a 20min dive, but I got to see another possible career path in the engineering world and experience a bit of professional diving, and amy day on the water is a good day!
I had the opportunity to do a day of fun diving with Ricky on Saturday July 6th. We met at Cape Ann Divers in Gloucester at 7am and headed out on the water shortly thereafter. Our first dive was on the Chester Polling. The polling is a beautiful wreck whose deck sits in about 80-90ft of water. Once in the water I quickly learned I had not put my DUI Zipseals in correctly (a mistake I’m sure not to make again!). I was almost about to call the dive on the descent, but decided to keep going once I was down there. The water was certainly cold (low 50Fs, but the polar-tec undergarments worked and I managed to finish the dive. I was really amazed at how insulative the undergarments were, even when wet. I did about a 12min tour of the deck where I saw plenty of marine life and I experienced my first wreck (I don’t count the other one I’ve done in Mexico, just didn’t give me the same feeling). Something about peering down into the ship and down the ladders gave me a feeling I don’t think I’ll forget anytime soon.
Our second dive was a more casual dive that we spent mostly in about 30ft of water. The dive was riddled with cool rock features, including interesting “cracks” in the rock that lead down past 60ft. I was responsible for running the reel on this dive, and I think I did pretty well until the end where I tangled it a little bit and had a slightly difficult time communicating with Ricky. Other than that it was a great, dry dive!
The final days of the sub races went a little bit smoother (a little smoke, but no fire). All the paperwork was mostly taken care of, and the teams got a lot more races in. Omer 8 set a world record for a single person, propeller driven sub, they went over 7 knots while underwater! Also, I was able to dive a lot more. One team was short a few members, so they requested some support. There sub was, to put it simply, just a plastic nose-cone with a SCUBA breathing system stowed inside. It was propelled by simply dolphin kicking with a whale-tail mono-fin. Amy and I got in the water to help him at the start line. After a run or two they decided to let me try it out. It was quite the struggle to enter the sub, but once in it was quite amazing. This is not for anyone remotely claustrophobic, you can’t really move at all, but its quite amazing! Once in the sub I was lowered to the starting line by Amy and the other teammate, where I awaited the command to go. Once underway I started to feel out the buoyancy and maneuverability (or lack-there-of). At one point I started skimming the bottom and couldn’t pull up, so I made everyone topside very nervous that I would break the lights on the course. I managed to finish and I don’t think I disgraced the dive support team or the Sea Rovers too badly. On the last day of races there were some closing festivities including a race for swimmers to collect rubber duckies. After we left the pool we headed over to another building on-base where we had dinner and a little award ceremonies. Some of the awards were joking, one team got a pile of debris for causing a record amount of course destruction. Some were more serious though, like we discussed engineering lessons learned–trust me, there were a lot of them!
This was one amazing week! I met some awesome people from all over the world, not only were the races fun, but I also made some great professional contacts along the way. This certainly was a great week!
So after a few days off for college orientation, I headed down to Marion to meet with Vin again on Friday June 21st. I met his friend and coworker, Neil, at his house. From Vin’s house we headed to Rodger Williams University, to pick up his daughter, Amy. So basically we left Vin’s house at noon, and arrived at the hotel in Maryland around 1130. Subtracting a little while for food and gas, that was probably about 10 hours in Vin’s truck. Without headphones. I thought 6 hour rides to Maine were long… this was something else.
The international sub races are basically an engineering competition on who can build the best human powered submarine. They are held at a military base in Maryland that contains the David Taylor Model Basin, which is really just a really deep and really really really long pool.
The next few days were a lot of paperwork and getting stuff together. On Saturday Vin went to the base to do fancy official things, and the minions (Neil, Amy, and myself) were left to pick up another member of the group at the airport. After that we relaxed for a bit (not too long, don’t worry) before going to a volunteers dinner. After that we got back to the hotel (eventually, Vin had a littleeeee trouble with the gps) and went to bed to get on the base bright and early the next morning. Sunday we went on base for the first time. I really don’t think I can do it justice in the blog, but basically it is giant, long building with a pool 20ft deep, 50feet across, and a couple of THOUSAND feet long. So Sunday was a weird day, a lot of the paperwork was backlogged, so we weren’t too hectic at the dive station. We inspected a lot of the participants tanks, but other than that didn’t do too much. I was able to suit up with Amy and splash to take a look around underwater! We did a little work underwater to help set up the course. Diving in the basin is truly indescribable, just the immense size and the dark lighting. After getting out we headed back to the hotel where the participants were briefed and we did more paperwork!
Monday was a little boring, a lot of people around and things got very crowded and hectic. I did not get in the water and ended up just doing a lot of paperwork. Tuesday was much better though! We started off diving with Dan Dozier, who is sort of the liaison between ISR and the military. He works at caderrock and immensely helps coordinate the sub races. So, Amy and I got in the water with him first thing to help him inspect some support structures for the diving platform. Following that I stayed in the water most of the day, observing wet safety inspections on the subs or otherwise helping out where I could. One of the subs props hit and broke a light on the course, so I ended up swimming from one end of the course to the other to get a replacement. Thanks to Ricky, who tried to convince me that line cutters were generally better than knives, no way I could have gotten the replacement light un-zip-tied without damaging it with a knife! Also, Ed (instructor who I worked with at Ricky’s) was there with a bunch of there students. I was very happy to see them successfully complete the course after a number of setbacks.
Thursday Ricky crewed a trip on the Canned Air (the boat he’s been crewing for since he was a teenager), so basically he was responsible for tying into the wreck and untying. Basically, Brown University hired the charter through various grant sources and a few scientists were able to do some graduate research work. They were mostly graduate students focused on invertebrates, particularly jellies. They actually travelled internationally looking for these specific jellies, but had little luck. In the New England region not many people are interested in blue water diving (open water diving watching whatever is in the water column). So they had no idea many of these jellies could be found right in Brown’s backyard! The work they were doing was very interesting, but it certainly was not my area of interest for a career. They kept saying fancy words like Cnidaria, and although biology is not my favorite subject, I think my high school marine teacher would be proud that I at least vaguely knew what those words mean! When Ricky went to untie I was able to jump in for an open water dive. I went to 130ft on the anchorline, and wow was that an experience. Very dark and my first experience with narcosis certainly made that dive memorable for me, definitely in my top 5 most memorable dives. After the dive we headed to Diver’s Cove where ricky was teaching a basic open water class, he gave the final exam that day and I got to take the exam as well. I managed to pass.
Friday morning we had to go to the DMV. That is all I will say on that subject.
After that we went to his shop to do some work, I got to try my hand at welding for the first time. Following that we went back to Diver’s cove where Rick taught an advanced class I got to sit in on.
The next day we went back to divers cove for an open water class. Once in the water Ricky and the other instructor, Ed decided to mess with me and test my skills. On the first dive Ricky took my mask a few times and stole my fin once. The second dive was purely a “gag drill.” Basically I went out a bit with Ed and then he started messing with me. Took my mask, shutoff some of my valves (doubles), and, best of all, unzipped my drysuit. I think I reacted pretty well to most situations, I definitely need to work on valve drills because I could not reach too well, and I was surprised by how much buoyancy the drysuit really supplied, but otherwise I thought the drill was exciting and a great learning experience.
Overall the week with Ricky was a superb learning experience. I learned how dive gear was manufactured and some of how that business worked, and the technical diving knowledge I gained was excellent! Talking with Ricky, his father, and everyone at the dive shop really gave me some great perspectives on diving and my future careers. I really hope I get to work with Ricky again, it was truly a spectacular week.
The following day, Monday, I arrived at Ricky’s shop at 9:30 (half an hour late—thanks dad for taking my car to the shop before I woke up!) We did several things in the shop, he taught me how to rig a backplate and harness, assemble reels, and learned to tie a few new knots. Also we did some classroom work for the intro to tech class. During the day I learned some basic dive planning items that I should have remembered from my advanced course. I spent that night at his farmhouse where I met his wonderful dogs, horses, chickens, ducks, and his beautiful ass (donkey)! That night I discovered Ricky really wasn’t exaggerating (for once) about his cooking abilities. He made a great, hand-breaded chicken dinner. After dinner we got down to business and banged out a presentation for the class. Then we grabbed some sleep before heading to his shop in the morning.
The next day, Tuesday, we got up and headed over to his shop to do some more shop work and class work for the class. I got to hang out with his fathers Rhodesian Ridgebacks at the shop a little more. I also got to try my hand at sewing (not my thing).Then we went out for lunch and headed over to Divers Cove. We prepped a little bit, then headed over to the pool. Ricky had some students who wanted just a little more practice time, and I got to use the pool to practice more with the drysuit and try out a backplate and doubles. Definitely a big change from what I was used to! After the pool we headed home and prepared to dive in the quarry the next day.
Wednesday was my first dive in a quarry! (For those of you who have dove quarries, you probably don’t find that too exciting). I got to try out the drysuit and doubles again, basically got to work on some skills with the unfamiliar equipment. I was told the quarry would be a miserable, cold, zero viz dive. Yet I was pleasantly to find that that was only true at certain depths. Between 20 and 40 feet the visibility was halfway decent and the temperature wasn’t bad. Below forty feet… visibility dropped to zero and it got really cold…. we didn’t really try to go below that. After the quarry we were supposed to shoot guns, but we had a lot to do around the house and for diving… so instead we did farm things! We picked up hay because his supplies were running low. Once we returned we took care of all of his animals (dogs, chickens, ducks, horses, goat, and I’m sure some I missed). Later I got my first ride on a horse (I think I prefer my transportation not to have a mind of its own). Following that we toured his property on an ATV, I went fishing for a bit, we had a little dinner, and then we went to bed early to get at 4 for a boat trip the next morning. Busy day!
This experience consisted of working with Rick Simons of Manta Industries/High Seas Millwork for a week. Ricky owns and operates a dive equipment manufacturing company, making reels, backplates, harnesses, etc. He is also a highly qualified instructor, ranging from open water to advanced rebreathers. Ricky was also the Sea Rover’s intern a few years ago, you can find his blog here! I worked in the Manta Industries/High Sea Millworks Shop learning how to assemble back plates and harnesses and reels. I was also working to complete an intro to tech certification as well this week. I’ll put this experience in multiple parts because we did so much.
So the first day, Sunday, I met Ricky in Jamestown, Rhode Island to dive with one of his open water classes through the shop Divers Cove. I love Jamestown; I dove there a number of years ago and loved it. The weather was perfect when I pulled in, blue skies, light wind, and calm seas.
Unfortunately, once we all got suited up and in the water, we realized visibility was about a foot! That doesn’t really work with open water students so we got out, packed up, and went over to a local pond. This would be my second drysuit dive, and my first dive with Ricky. When I got in the water I felt a little bit timid because this was my first time with everyone. Rick paired me up with a private student going for her adventure diver cert. We originally planned to follow Ricky and his open water students, but had to return to get more weight for her, so we changed the plan to go out and follow a heading towards their flag, then just turn around at 2000psi. Well like I said I was a little bit timid, so I did not exactly assert myself when we took the wrong reciprocal heading to return… so basically we surfaced way away from the beach and had a nice alongshore swim back where she managed to get tangled in several fishermen’s monofilament. Fun! The following dives were less eventful and I basically just used them to get more comfortable with the drysuit and realize how poorly I set up all my new equipment (not streamlined or clipped off). Once the dives were over for the day we had a great barbeque, talked and hung out for awhile. After that I headed back to mass for the night, the road back from the pond was under construction so I hit a large pothole bent my rim, which made the next morning interesting!
So my summer has begun! My first real experience for the internship is spending three days at Undersea Divers learning to fill tanks and generally how a dive shop works. Undersea Divers is basically a dive shop in Beverly MA that offers tank fills, gear maintenance and all sorts of training. The shop is run by Bobby Boyle, Sea Rovers 2013 Diver of the year and strong supporter of the internship. Every year he donates a set of dive gear that really helps make the internship possible.
So I spent most of my time with Shawn (Mr. Boyle, his daughter, and Shawn are the only ones who run the shop) following him around the shop. I think I got very good at vacuuming and cramming cardboard recycling boxes into a van! But seriously as far as dive experience I got to really learn how to service a regulator (1st and 2nd stage), fill tanks, ring up orders, and talk to customers about diving. I thought it was really neat to get a kind of “backstage pass” to see how his shop really works, and considering I had never really filled a tank before it was very educational and enjoyable! I forgot to get a picture with everyone though, so I may have to return eventually!
Thanks to these awesome people at DUI, I was able to attend the DUI Demo in the drysuit they donated to me for the internship! The demo day was an awesome event where everyone was able to try out new suits to see what worked, and what didn’t. I spent the day diving with Vin Malkoski, and this was the first day in the water for the internship! All went well on the first dive, typical diving conditions for me: 15ft of sandy bottom with around 5ft of viz (I normally dive Cape Cod Bay around Sesuit harbor). On the second dive though, I had an embarrassing snag. After about halfway through my dive I couldn’t kick with my left foot, I had so much air in it that I couldn;t get out! Finally right before we were supposed to surface I had to try to flip to get it out, which immediately dislodged my fin, but it was right at the end of the dive, so it was just a little embarassing that my buddies surfaced 20ft in front of me. Outside of the diving it was awesome just talking to people from DUI and mass fisheries, also the barbecue was great. I really want to thank DUI and Undersea Divers for donating the gear I’m wearing here that really made this internship possible!