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February 25, 2006

Dry-suit diving during Carnival

The Travel Channel

Since I got back to Trondheim almost two years ago I've been aching to do some more diving, but I preferred to do a course in dry-suit diving first to get a feel of how cold-water diving in Norway is different from doing it in the tropics. However as I'm a busy guy I've been unable to attend any of the courses held by DG until now, but today I've finally been in the water again! (But damn winter diving is cold!)

The course started yesterday with a refresher course in diving theory before getting into some new material on the technicalities of dry-suits and particular problems caused by diving in cold weather. Mostly things I already knew, but it was nice with a refresh since it has been a while since my last dive.

The next part of the course was this morning when we gathered outside of the Gym at Gløshaugen were the Diving Group of NTNUI has their storage room with a compressor and all the scuba-tanks. After loading up all the gear we head out towards Korsvika, a beach that is very popular among families during the summer but that was all but deserted this winter-morning, except for us and a few people on a morning stroll.
To avoid getting cold we quickly geared up and started getting in the water. I was paired with Stina Bentsen to be instructed by Are Johansen, however he had a an airleak in his BCD so we had to wait for Stig Skoflestad to gear up instead. With just 1°C in the air this meant we were getting a bit cold before we even got started with our dive, and it was only getting worse during the dive even when the deep water held 4°C.
We started out by going to about 10 meters and then swam along the bottom to a small shipwreck covered in actinia, just barely getting below 15 meters deep. After a while I noticed the sound of leaking-air but the instructor couldn't find anything wrong, until I discovered it was caused by my regulator. Since it wasn't a critical flaw I just changed to my spare regulator and continued with the dive.
After checking out the wreck we returned back towards the beach and spotted a flounder on the bottom, but we were a bit too close so it took off almost immediatly. Other than this all we saw was the sandy bottom and lots of kelp As we got back into shallow water the challenges of dry-suit diving appeared with it beeing more difficult to maintain neutral bouyancy. Suddenly I spotted Stine ascending quickly to the surface while I struggled to vent air from my own suit. I couldn't spot the instructor anywhere either, so I just did a short safety stop at 3 meters before going to the surface where I found the others waiting for me. She had gotten too much air in her suit that expanded as she got shallower causing an even faster ascent so she wasn't able to vent air fast enough to control it and then Stig had just followed her up to make sure she was fine.
Crawling back ashore I really started feeling how cold I was, and I could barely get my legs to carry me with the weights and heavy scuba-gear but I managed to stumble ashore eventually. Then I found that my fingers were so frozen that I couldn't even get my drysuit off, so I had to sit by the fire for half an hour before I tawed up again.
After having some food and chocolate and warming up again we suited up for another dive, but after we entered the water and were ready to descend I found that I was getting cold so quickly that I didn't feel like diving, so while the others did the dive I swam back ashore to sit by the fire with some of the others instead. After everyone had finished their dives we lighted some grills and had hotdogs, burgers and sandwiches for dinner before packing up all the gear and heading back to town to clean and refill everything and put it back into storage, after which I headed back home to Carina. At least I've now decided that winter-diving in Norway isn't really my cup of tea, so for the future I'll stick to diving in warmer climates or during summer.

Such a long and cold day out has made me dead tired, so while I took a long hot shower Carina made me a MangoChicken casserole for dinner, and afterwards we made homemade buns to celebrate Shrove sunday (Quinquagesima, Carnival, Fastelavn) tomorrow. YuM! In present day Norway we usually only celebrate Shrovetide on Shrove-sunday by having buns filled with jam and cream, but historically we also upheld Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday.

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