After securing our small inflatable to the mooring line we readied our gear. Having just completed a quick 6ft dive just off the beach with Phil Ronko, the UAS Dive Safety Officer to test my full face mask and perform some mask removal drills I knew my gear was good to go. Next I double checked the integrity of my Aquatica camera housing. As the team was geared up, I struggled into my equipment which was made difficult by the incredibly thick drysuit underwear and 40 pounds of lead weight in my BC. With great assistance I was made ready and sitting awkwardly on the side of the inflatable boat. Now all that was left was to fall overboard into the grip of the icy water.
When you first hit very cold water your mind races and takes inventory of your entire sensory system. The first “system control” that is checked is breathing. Is my regulator working and can I breath? Check. Next, its whether or not you are floating. You need some time at the surface to settle into the gear and insure all the hoses and gauges are in their proper locations. Check. Then there is always a focused concentration on any location that may be experiencing a trickle of cold water. This is often times difficult due to the cooling effect of the surrounding water overall and because the thermals often delay any feeling of cold water inside your drysuit. (side note – this is NOT the case when one jumps in with a drysuit zipper undone. In these situations there is an instantaneous sensation one experiences that is not difficult to detect – and yes I speak from experience). With all the diving gear in place and functional you establish your buddy teams and agree to descend.