Monday had me starting DM Mike’s Nitrox course, Aquanauts was great to let us use their classroom, and Multimedia. So, we had to do the dives on the Hard Deep. The one wreck I have wanted to dive since the first time I came to Pattaya back in September of 07.
Tuesday morning had us being picked up from Angels Guest house at 7:30 for the customary trip to the dive center where we needed to analyze the Nitrox loads for the days dive. The Hard Deep is in approximately 28metres of water so a 34% mix should work out just nicely.
So we all loaded on to the dive boat and waited the 20 – 40 minute boat ride to the dive site. As we approached it was obvious that the current though indicated to be at about .3, it was ripping through the wreck area. After a briefing and many questions, we Siggy, Mike and I were grouped as a buddy team…and since we were on NITROX, we did the dive without a guide, even though it was our first dive on the wreck. As we entered the water, it was even more obvious that current was ripping. It was nearly impossible to pull ourselves along the tag line. Once at the decent line, the current was still riping along, and now I know what a flag feels like in a strong wind, since this is what it was like for me to pull myself down the decent line.
Our group met up on the bottom, the current was still to strong to swim against so we decided to let it push us to the stern of the boat, and we were able to make it around to the keel of the wreck where there was still some current, but it was manageable. As we swam from the bow to the stern along the keel, I had the plan to make it around and head back along the deck to the ascent line. However, as I reached the stern area, it was very obvious that it would be impossible to make it around the stern in order to reach the ascent line. We were, now in a bit of trouble as we were low on air, and had quite a distance to swim to get to the bow again, and hopefully around to the ascent line that way. Needless to say the tour was over, and swimming and air conservation was the order to the day. As the turn point at the bow approached, once again we could feel the strong current that was nearly impossible to swim against. I was able to make it to a large steel fitting resting in the sand, and reach back to pull Siggy and Mike along, then Siggy did the same for Mike and I as he reached another piece of the wreck near the ascent line.
As I started my ascent, I was down to 300psi and fully aware that I would most likely not be able to make my safety stop with out breathing my tank out. As I was making my ascent, I got caught in a very strong up draft, and with the ascent line being a nice smooth wrapped melt line, it was like trying to hold on to ice…and I was not able to stop the up welling which shot me from 18 meters up to 6 meters in a matter of seconds. Thankfully I was not alone ans the same thing happened to Mike. As I settled in for what should have been a 3 minute safety stop, my computer was making it a 6 minute stop. I certainly did not have the gas I needed for that. Mike being right there beside me, I was able to share air with him as required in order to clear my stop.
After that dive, I was very much aware why this wreck is called HARD DEEP!