As the subject hints, this has been a week of diving, fixing up stuff and gaming. Susi and I decided to do the PADI Deep Diver specialty, which many dive centers require before letting you go to locations in a depth of 30 meters or below. In the beginning of the week we had the theory session and watched the PADI video, chuckling at the clear blue waters and the tropical climes as opposed to the conditions we have here.
Algae & Moose Shit
On Wednesday we drove to Hanko’s Varisniemi with Dare, Mika, Jukka, Tube and Suvi. The latter two were doing their AOWD, Mika was refreshing his feel for the dry suit before Friday’s deep dives and Dare was getting generic experience points for diving. The place wasn’t quite in the aquarium mode it had been on last December. A big part of the sea bottom above 10 meters was covered with stringy algae, which Dare plowed up into swirly storms. I caught myself marveling at the algae, wondering what variety it is and thinking that instead of irritating it was also kind of beautiful.
On the way back home we almost hit a moose, which is not an uncommon way to die on Finnish roads. I was holding the steering wheel with one hand, getting a bottle of water, when I suddenly noticed a stupid young bull moose crossing the road over to our lane. When driving alone, I have tried to mentally practice for the situations and I was glad to see that the reflex took over. So, we almost missed the moose. The only thing that hit the hood and the windshield was a splatter of moose shit.
On Thursday I was supposed to go and help a marine archaeologist pal dig up the remains of Isoluoto sea battle, but the lady luck didn’t agree with the plan. I did a lot of extra hours at work in the beginning of the week and got the day free. Susi had to skip the trip because she got a bit coughy after Varisniemi and didn’t want to risk the Friday’s deep dive. It was sunny and sweltering hot, and I got on the road a bit later than I would have wanted. The highway to Turku was closed and I managed to make a couple of wrong turns, which cost me half an hour or so (that damn route has something against me, really).
When I got to the harbour, the gang got ashore from what turned out to be their last sonar sweep for the day. The boat had to leave and what do you know, all the interesting echoes were from places where one couldn’t get without a boat, so no diving for new wrecks then. The secondary plan was to go to an open mine to dive just for fun, but when I got back to the car, the starter engine stayed completely quiet. The starter cables didn’t help, so it looked like the starter engine itself had given up the ghost. We got the engine running by pushing the car, which of course meant that I had to drive it straight back to Helsinki and a car repair shop without a single stop.
Well, that’s one way to spend a day off: four plus hours in a car on a sunny weather, just to go and say hello to people. Well, on my back way home, I heard that the open mine was full of people taking their basic diving course, so there would have been no diving there either. Be it as it may, I was more than a little pissed off when I got home.
Deep Dive Course
The deep diving course includes four dives up to the depth of 40 meters. On Friday we had the first pair, the location being S/S Sundsborg. It’s a wreck of a large merchantman built on 1877 and sunk on 1929. The length of the wreck is 77 meters and it’s about 28-37 meters deep.
30-40 meters doesn’t sound that deep, but comparing it to buildings helps to understand the scale. One floor of a building is maybe 2,5-3 meters high, so imagine lying on the ground with the surface on the level with the roof of a 12-16 storey high building next to you. Also going that deep is pushing the limits of recreational diving, for which people use compressed air or nitrox, which is a gas mixture that has over 21% of air. You can stay that deep only a few minutes, because a) with a single tank you run out of air and b) because your body accumulates so much nitrogen that if you try to get straight up, you risk getting the bends. Then there’s of course the nitrogen narcosis to think about.
Both of the dives were interesting and fun. Instead of the balmy blue waters of a PADI video we went down to complete and utter darkness, with cold water and visibility of a couple of meters that went progressively worse as we kept kicking up silt from the deck of the ship. This was also my test run on the new MetalSub dive light, which was quite a change from our silly little lights. Yep, it cost 750€ as second hand gear, but it was worth every penny.
We managed to explore only a few square meters of the deck before we had to head up. I didn’t notice any signs of nitrogen narcosis, maybe apart from being more relaxed diving in a tight bunch than usual. While diving my personal bubble gets bigger than usual and bumping into people pisses me off, but this time I tolerated it better than usual. On our way up Jukka made us do some multiplication with a 7-8 digit numbers to test for the narcosis. I did the first half and Susi the second, and considering the fact that we were hanging on a damn rope under the sea and I suck at pen and paper multiplication, we got it correct enough.
The second dive was a bit more exciting for me. I got one of those thanks that were a bit underfilled. The 300 bar tank was on 220 bars when I connected it, and when we went under it was around 200. No wonder, I hit the turn back -limit of 150 pretty fast and when we were ascending to the decompression stop, it fell to 70. I got to try breathing from a pony bottle (which – and I can’t stress this enough – is not an euphemism for a furry blowjob) so I could make the ascent without hurrying up too much.
All in all, a very interesting experience. From the little I saw of it, S/S Sunsborg looks like a very interesting dive location. Also down there I felt for the first time that I was in a completely different element, foreign to humans. The feeling was not intimidating, just exciting and intriguing. Can’t wait to get back there.
Gaming and Tinkering
The weekend was spent gaming, eating well and tinkering around the house and various hobby equipment. I tried out MadWorld, which didn’t really impress me, and spent a great deal of time finishing Fallout 3’s Point Lookout. The DLC was pretty decent, but not without its faults. I was nice to get something that wasn’t a direct pipe-run such as Operation Anchorage and most of The Pitt, but somehow the whole didn’t work as well as it could have.
The swampland didn’t look that convincing and the whole southern flavour was squandered on tired old inbreeding and moonshine jokes. The swamp people were nicely challenging as an enemy, but the didn’t feel like they made much sense. In Fallout 3 tough enemies generally also look tough, so it felt stupid to have to shoot a half-naked guy on the face for a five minutes to get him down. Apart from that whining, the openness of the new areas and certain other storyline elements certainly worked.
The more challenging part was opening up my MacBook Pro and cleaning up the fans and the trackpad button, which has got semi stuck. Opening up the laptop, cleaning it and reassembling the thing wasn’t that hard in the end. There was only one leftover screw and the computer rebooted on the third try, after refastening the memory chips. Cleaning the fans was easy and after a bit of paper slip therapy the button now has a crisp click.
All in all, the week and the weekend was very relaxing and fun, apart from the car debacle. Just one hint, though – do not pick up Boom Blox Smash Party in the Sunday night at 11 o’clock. If you are lucky, at two in the morning the fourth “well, I’ll complete just this one with a gold medal” is the final one.