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Bahamas Return, 2009

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
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Well, its been 4 years and both boat and divers (Me, unirdna (Ted) and my 16 year old son, Preston) were very glad to get back to the Bahamas. I've been doing these trips for many years and most are amazingly smooth, mostly. 2005 changed that. I went three times that year and hit the edges of hurricanes twice, very different experience. One developed right over the top of us. Diving in 30 knots of wind is just not my cup of tea. So I decided that flying to diving sounded good and, over the next 3 years, spent time at Little Cayman, Traverse City, and Vancouver Island, Canada. Great destinations all, but they just aren't the Bahamas.

After a while the pull became too strong and we decided to make another try at Bimini and south. The plan was to stay on my 24 ft power boat, spend 7 days diving, including 3 or 4 days at Riding Rock, 40 miles south of Bimini and out of range of most boats. Hoping for lots of tame fish and big coral. Great diving buddies, great place, good boat, what could possibly go wrong? However, I had not counted on how much my island skills had slipped in a 4 year absence. More on that later. Ted will soon post some of the fabulous pics and video he took, so enjoy.

It looked like Ted's incredible weather luck, juju, or whatever you call it, was working great. The forecast was fabulous way in advance of the trip. Too good, because by trip day south Florida was getting pounded by huge thunder storms. Ever been in a storm that rains 8 inches(20 cm) in 4 hours and blows 40-60 knots for most of that? Ruin your day if you get caught offshore in one of those. And these were big boys, extended for miles. Ted's plane landed into a 50 knot squall. But, true to form, by the time his taxi arrived at the boat, his magic was in full force and all was calm. The weather radio was still freaking out about 60 knot gusts and nickel sized (2 cm) hail and I had more than a little doubt about crossing the Gulf Stream that day, but we got a look at the weather radar and found a 30 mile gap in between lines of big storms, just for us. We slipped across in that gap, a bit bumpy, but no problem.

The first day started with the obligatory visit to the “Sapoma”, a wrecked freighter constructed of concrete during WWI. It went ashore in the 20s and was used a storage depot for smuggled liquor during Prohibition and a bombing target during WWII. The bomber pilots must not have been very good, because its still in surprisingly good shape and is an excellent shallow dive. Ted got some great pics this year. Next followed visits to well known conch and lobster sites to collect dinner and a long, long wait at Cat Cay to top off fuel for the trip south. I don't quite know how it can take 3 hours to get 40 gallons of gas from a fuel dock that is open, but it did. Charge it off to being on Bahamian time and a holiday to boot. We were probably lucky to get fuel at all.

Now comes the point when you make some bad karma and it waits to get you. As we left Cat Cay, a sailboat was going up on the rock reef in the pass. I tried to get in close enough to get him a line before he got too grounded, but something was not right with my reverse gear and it seemed like too much chance of loosing my own boat. The weather was calm with only a little swell, so he was in no personal danger, but I figured his boat was toast. Within minutes it was already too high on the reef for me to pull it off. Anyway, a small dingy was on the way and I couldn't help him, so we radioed the marina for help(the guy had no radio or engine) and went on our way. I should have known better.

That night it started. Turns out absence has done damage to my boating and anchoring skills. I did a miserable job of anchoring the second night and we played drag the anchor towards the rocks for an hour or so when the thunder storms caught up with us at sunset. Took two attempts(and two drags) to finally get anchored right. Ah, nothing like being back in the Bahamas. But, the lobster and conch were soooo good! They are my excuse.

The next day was working south in still familiar territory. I tried out FRC as a spearfishing technique and it worked great at 15 m when I wasn't in a hurry. Very long dives. Seems like the slow descent required for FRC doesn't spook the fish near as much as full lung diving. I was getting very close to lots of good sized fish.

We are now 15 miles south of Cat and the nearest help, behind an uninhabited island, ready to strike out for Riding Rock. Get up in the am, beautiful day, and then bad karma came to get us. Ted gets buzzed by a 5 ft reef shark while he is doing his morning business behind the boat. Amazing how fast he got back in the boat. Then, the engine won't start and somehow I had not checked to make sure starting fluid was in the boat. This engine floods easy and starter fluid is a standard part of the stores list. I ALWAYS carry some, but have never needed it in the Bahamas. We did everything. Waited to get over being flooded, pull the plugs to dry it out, wait some more, Checked operation of ignition components and fuel system, changed all the ignition components and spark plugs anyway. You name it, we did it and got nothing, absolutely nothing. So, no help for it, I crank op the kicker(small auxiliary engine) and off we go, back to Cat Cay at 4 knots, ugh. First time in 14 years of carrying that kicker around that I needed to use it. Got back to Cat, found some carb cleaner, almost as flammable as starter fluid, and it cranked right up. Ran back to Bimini and found some of the real stuff and we were back in business. Ended the day with a nice line dive in deep water that used up some more bad karma. As we were still warming up, Ted B0ed on a perfectly reasonable 80 ft, 1:45 dive, well within his capabilities. It shocked us all and we have yet to figure it out. He had the video on until the BO and we can tell from it that he lost little or no memory time prior to the BO. Felt perfect, not sign of any problem. I was watching him come up and all of a sudden he wasn't moving like a surfacing diver, he was a jelly fish. I was maybe 6-8 ft away and moving before I figured out what was going on. He was above water and breathing within 5-6 seconds with no adverse effect. Came around very fast. Ted will provide some more detail and if any of you very experienced types can shed any light on this, I would appreciate it.

Seems like that experience had expended the last of our bad karma. I losing track here, but the next days were near perfect, found a new area with tall, beautiful heads in 50 ft (15 m), gorgeous diving. Ted's taking pics like mad. Preston started exploring spearfishing, Lots of fish, pretty reef, nothing spectacular, but everything just the way its supposed to be. One morning we dove the caves inside of Beach Cay and then headed for Riding Rock. RR turned out to be quite good, although we didn't find the fabled deep water heads that I had heard about. The spearfishing in 10 meters was excellent, seeing a few big grouper and lots and lots of small ones and hogfish. Preston got his first fish. Ted and I both got a kick out of watching him. It's amazing to watch a beginner and realize just how much there is to shooting fish. Also how fast the beginner learns. There is not enough ice on the boat to shoot a lot, so we stop when dinner is in the boat. Really, better anyway. Ah, fresh hogfish and small grouper! Absolutely heavenly. We stuffed out faces very night until we couldn't eat any more and started having hogfish sandwiches for lunch.

The only drawback we discovered with RR is lack of an anchorage. With lots of thundercells around, it might get real uncomfortable anchored in the open, so we went back to Beach Cay for the night. Another great day the next morning, but a thundercell ended it by noon. More fish for Preston. Then it was back to Cat to fuel up for the trip home. Huge thunder storms that night, you could have read the newspaper by the continuous flashes for at least 20 minutes or so.

With listening to further freaking out from the weather radio, we decided to call it quits and head back early, so as to be in before any possible boomers could develop. On the trip home we ran into some kind of oceanic dolphin, much smaller than the bottlenose dolphin in shallow water, but looked just like them. They were feeding and as we went by pretty close, they came over to play. They would ride our bow, jump beside the boat, great stuff. I haven't seen the video yet, but it should be below if it came out.

All in all, a great but a bit challenging trip: a good time was had by all.

Connor
 
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azapa

azapa

51% freediver 49% spearo
Jan 31, 2007
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Sounds great Connor. Even the bad karma hits don't sound too bad, call 'em learning experiences. Can't wait to see the pictures and videos too. I assume you were pole spearing or using an Hawaiian sling? Would love to see some footage of that. Funny to read how Preston caught the hunting bug, it is truly fascinating and I can understand why. Regarding the BO, well, *hit happens, had my first ever one too three weeks ago in a static comp. As usual: didn't see it coming, or even believe it 'till I saw the vid. Glad all worked out OK.

Is there a form I need to fill in to come on the 2010 trip?
 
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,067
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Hi Simon,

I'm working on a new boat, capable of Bahama trips year round. If it arrives, there will be lots and lots of trips. You're invited.

Connor
 
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,067
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I was using a sling, the others pole spears. Ted and Preston shot almost all the fish. Pres has got the bug pretty bad, I think. Its more fun for me to watch than shoot. Ted has some great video of pole spearing. One of them looks just like Harry Potter riding a broomstick in a quiddich match. Its a scream.

Connor
 
unirdna

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
1,016
220
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I finished my first vid. This first one is mostly nature and scenery. The next one will deal more with the boys on the boat.

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8knI1QUNyfc]YouTube - Bahamas 2009 - HS[/ame]

I've attached a few photos. Here are the captions:

003 - SAPONA. The Sapona, which was a ferro-concrete steamer is also known as the Concrete Wreck. She was a 350 foot concrete hulled freighter, designed by Henry Ford and built in 1919 by Liberty Ship Building Co. in Brunswick, Ga. This 2,795 ton vessel was originally christened the Lone Star. She was one of a handful of ships built with steel reinforced concrete. This type of construction was done in an effort to conserve on precious steel during World War I. ln 1926, a severe hurricane hit Bimini. Even though the Sapona had been moved to a safe protected area, she was -broken into two after being bounced off of the sea bed by massive merciless waves. During World War II, the Sapona was utilized once again, this time as a target for bombing practice. Air Force and Navy planes flew from Florida to Bimini to drop bombs on the Sapona. Accuracy of their staffing runs were improved by firing 30 caliber bullets into her rusting hulk.

010 - Sapona hull - I climbed 10 feet high with fins on to get this shot. Before I climbed up, I didn't check if there were any jagged metal objects where I would jump back in, so I had to climb all the way back down.

012 - Sapona - engine room looking into the hull

016 - Sapona hull

030 - First (of two) hogfish I tagged during the trip. Unfortunately, both were so big that we didn't need to spear [m]any more fish for those nights. Next trip - let big fish go - blast more little guys = more fun for all.

An osprey shares our anchorage site (Honeymoon Harbor) on day 4.

Hogfish #2. Taken with a gat-ku polespear with sliptip.

The 24ft "Wild Hare" was our home for the week.

Our only trip to land (20 min). Beach Key.

Morning of departure - the first calm day we had...of cours
 

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unirdna

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
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The other pics:
 

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Adrian

Adrian

Deeper Blue Beachcomber
Supporter
Nov 23, 2002
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Connor and Ted,
Thanks for the great story and video. As usual, you guys nailed the description and images. The BO is scary, because, the mentality could have been "Lets spearfish 50 yards apart to not get in each other's way, after all, it's only 80 feet deep." By being close, you respected the sea, and lived to tell the tale.
 
unirdna

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
1,016
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Right on, Adrian. And yes, we absolutely DO keep an eye on one another - even when we are only making 1 min dives to 50 feet. As Connor mentioned, this BO absolutely caught me off guard. No contractions. No panic. No hyperventilation. Decent (3.5 min) surface interval between my previous dive of 1.5 min to 48 feet. No major blunders.

I did have a camera out in front of me, so there was considerable drag. And I took an angular ascent line against the current - so, there was more work involved. But still - nothing I haven't done 100 times before. Maybe it was just a perfect storm of events. Jon suspects dehydration or my slow ascent speed may also have been involved. Maybe he'll pipe in after he sees the video. - Oh Yeah, the video!

I even recorded the entire ascent on my camera. I'll post that raw footage this evening. I keep my subject in the lens the entire time, and even exhale at the surface. Then....
 
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unirdna

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
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As promised...

This is the raw footage I was shooting when I got hit with a blackout - no editing. Connor recognized what had happened immediately, and saved my ass for the 2nd time. I had done this dive 100 times before, and I never felt any panic or contractions. I did not hyperventilate, and my surface interval was not overly short. It's abundantly clear to me now that SWB can happen at any time to any of us - not just when you're going for a PB. Watch your buddy. Be smart. Dive safely.

...and I still have no idea why I hit the shutter when I blacked out. I wish I hadn't, and allowed the camera to keep rolling.

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i_0Kf9X_p0]YouTube - Shallow Water Blackout[/ame]
 
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unirdna

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
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More photos:

Connor at the kicker.

Woohoo - 4 knots!

Ted at the kicker.

Preston's first fish!

Preston deep in a food coma.
 

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laminar

laminar

Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2001
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Awesome stuff! Save me some space on the next boat!

Looks like you had some good squalls roll through... :)

Thanks for sharing the story and video.
 
Jon

Jon

Dairyland diver
Supporter
Apr 7, 2001
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I think dehydration played a part in it because you can't loose 12 pounds in a single week and have it all be fat or muscle- especially when you didn't have that much to loose to begin with. Drinking plain water may not be enough and some type of electrolyte drink may be needed to supplement the fluid loss.

As far as turning the camera off I've read of many spearfishing SWB's where the diver shot off his gun as the black out hit- kind of like a spasm or reflex.

Glad you're OK and Conner was there to save your butt.

Jon
 
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azapa

azapa

51% freediver 49% spearo
Jan 31, 2007
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Was Ted's BO on one of the first days (if not the first day) of diving? Adaptation plays such a huge part to being comfortable (deep down relaxed) on a dive, that an easy dive on the last day of a week long session 3 weeks ago will be a very tough first dive for the next session. I don't believe much in the no warm up route.
 
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unirdna

unirdna

tropical wuss
Sep 16, 2002
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Jon,
I lost 12 pounds by the time I got home - and have gained 5 of them back since returning. I think that I did return home dehydrated. But, I think that most of that was from my lack of drinking during the airline travel. Still, I'm not accustomed to salty diving - I only do it once or twice a year. So, you may very well be right. I could have been dehydrated on that dive.

Simon,
Yes, the dive was an "early" one. I think it happened on day 2, and it was the deepest, longest dive I had done so far. I "warmed up" very quickly - faster than I normally do. Did a 1 min dive to 30 feet (hanging on the line). Then a 3 min surface interval. Did a 1:30 min dive to 50 feet (hanging on the line). Then 3.5 min surface interval. Did a 1:45 min dive to 80 feet (not using the line) - that was the BO.

Chris messaged me and believes that my filming definitely played a part. You lose all hydrodynamics when you have a camera out in front of you (you're basically "plowing" water). Add that to the angular ascent path, and me fighting the current (as well as possible dehydration, and lack of proper warm up), and there may have been the perfect storm of events to knock me over.

ALL good thoughts/advise!
 
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Fondueset

Fondueset

Carp Whisperer
Jul 27, 2004
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Hey Ted,

Just watched it - were you looking up the whole way? Huge exertion just in that.

The intense concentration involved in keeping the camera aimed combined with breathhold and exertion not only really expends energy - it tends to mask the sensations that warn you. I've come up from some dives and not realized how far I'd pushed it until I started breathing again.

On the dehydration theme. Eric Fattah brought oral rehydration salts along to Dean's Blue Hole and let me use some. You mix them right in with your juice or water or whatever. They recommend 1/4 the theraputic dose for exercise rehydration - I did a little more than that but I can tell you they make a HUGE difference. I would never have imagined they could make that much difference. I now consider them essential for any long dives.

That is radical weight loss for such a short period of time.
 
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Erik

Erik

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2001
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Great stuff dues. I look forward to joining you at some point!
 
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ILDiver

ILDiver

I just wanna dive
Jul 11, 2005
1,639
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Glad your ok Ted. That Connor ain't as bad a guy as you said he was huh? LOL, kidding.

Connor, Hopefully I can get a dive in with you this year. Having scheduling issues...
 
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,067
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With any luck I will be able to say "ya'll come" pretty soon. The boat I'm lusting after is back up for sale. Maybe the owner will be a bit more price reasonable.

From past experience on similar trips, it doesn't seem like Ted's weight loss is all that unusual. On a normally intense trip, I'll lose 5-7 lb and I'm MUCH skinnier than Ted, takes several weeks/months to put it back on. We were diving pretty hard and he eats less than half what I do. You just can't eat enough to replace the calories you expend out there. However, we don't drink as much as I think we should have to, so maybe dehydration played a part.

Where do I get "rehydration salts" ?]

Something I don't understand. Ted dives with a long, almost static, first part of the dive. He allows plenty of time for his DR to kick in hard. True to that, he didn't feel any C02 stress on the way up, but he also didn't mention (correct me, Ted, if this is wrong) any leg burn. That seems inconsistant. Strong DR should = little C02 hit but lots of leg burn and little chance of a BO. Poor DR could result in little leg burn and a BO, but there should have been a strong C02 hit to go with it. What gives?

Interesting observation: Thanks to Ted, I'm getting very "automatic" when a B0 appears, moving before I'm consciously aware of what is happening. Technique is pretty miserable, but reaction is very fast!

Connor
 
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cigarlung

cigarlung

Well-Known Member
Jul 6, 2006
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Here is a cheap rehydration recipe put out by the World health org one level teaspoon salt 8 level teaspoons of sugar one litter of water
 
Fondueset

Fondueset

Carp Whisperer
Jul 27, 2004
4,604
734
203
17
Just do a google search on Oral Rehydration salts
 
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