Diving in Farne Islands, Oct 2020

15.10.2020

Before my travel to Scotland I exchanged a few emails and phone calls with William Shiel from Seahouses in advance about 10 days before my planned travel. I initially planned to go to Danmark, but epidemics situation changing from day to day forced me to change my initial plan that the air trip I will do in November. I anticipated that in Nov borders may get closed. Ryanair not fully made me informed I subject to new quarantine policy. That finally I analyzed fully and in details. Now I know everything about conditions, COVID19 policy in the UK, fines, phone calls from NHS (3 calls you do not receive and they report you to the police) and police intervention possibilities. Due to that policy I was initially informed by Hindu burreaucrat at the airport that I can enter the UK but have to self isolate for 14 days. I took it very seriously and personally but then started to read more detailed guides because claustrophobic and completely unrealistic scenario did not count in my case. I treated quarantine principles as serious advice but not suicide instruction how to die from hunger for example. In the hotel room. My hotel is booked still till Tuesday! I do not have even a single person to call in Scotland, I did not visit any country before my travel, I live alone and isolate by my nature not due to COVID19 so this was absurd situation. The greater fear I should have than Scots. But ok. This is politics. Not health domain. The list of professionals subject to quarantine is a mockery of people from every single sector of economy. Even most specialized ones are simply mocked. This is just sad. As I learned non human rules of being in Scotland under such circumstances I decided that it does not make sense not to fulfil my plans at all. But does not make sense to stay any longer than what my greatest goals used to be. So the day after diving from Seahouses I booked another flight back home. Of course I did not want to pay 480 pounds fine. But also I did not want to irritate NHS burreaucrats as well. It is not my intention to check foreign country security policy. I fully understand the rate of COVID19 cases, irresposibility of UK citizens, multicultural issues of course involved, excuses that otherwise everyone would have. I traveled to meet my friends in times of epidemics, so with all safety measures and especially do something for my experience and health. Diving requires being highly intuitive and insightful about own health and physiology. First, if I suspected to even carry virus I would not go for diving. Viruses can make our bodies so weak that not only diving is dangerous then. Every single walk outside during autumn can make our health worse. So how I prepared myself to go to Seahouses to bathe in cold waters of North Sea is probably the best example how to prepare own body for autumn and winter (I have spent in cold time between 8 AM and 3 PM) and new threats to our bodies! I got email from NHS on 14th Oct as my form has been sent before my border crossing on 13th but they subtly (alomost subliminally) informed me that will not bother me wrongfully. I was not exempt of the rules. But also no one will be rude to me as well as they know who I am and know I am not stupid or irresposible as well. So I did not touch, have a contact with any person during that travel.  Also in order to reply to NHS advisor with all his questions simply 'NO'. But it does not mean I did not interact and suffocated in the hotel room. This is stupid. And of course in my case would be. If someone has no other option because has to continue life in the UK and get back to work for example – I advise you to take quarantine seriously. To my knowledge from many interactions people who got back to work after being abroad can be arrested in the UK. Police does not spy people like intelligence. But if someone is totally igonrant to quarantine and gets back to normal interactive life can prepare for serious problems. This is not only 480 pounds fine. But regular arrest, interrogation by the police etc. takes place as a rule. Why? Because in practice, employers call NHS that someone who should isolate came to work. So not to annoy anyone in such circumstances I do not want to provocatively describe details how I was spending my time during shortened travel. But the diving that was the great doze of new experiences had only positive sides even during epidemia. When we all know it can get worse. Every time we do something what gains our knowledge, experience is worth all efforts or even political risk when we consider just burreaurats like that funny Hinduman at the airport. I think these are the worst sections of this chain of control. People who so seriously are forced to enforce so straight rules, probably selected sadists and perfectionists by nature with lack of sin, moral instinct can mess lives of millions of people like me whose experiences should be gained, especially during situation we have now. Especially during epidemia. Viruses attack our bodies what meets with immune system response. Diving and cold weather is a challenge for the immune system. All what I decided to do is in fact science. And a little step to gain very individual expertise. There is no NHS or political premise that rationally could treat me equally with law breakers, criminals etc. So my reflections are not about how not to be subject to quarantine. Even in this entry I want to inform all of curious and intelligent chance-takers that now we all subject to higher force we should respect. If what you do is entertainment, fun it is not enough. If you experiment with system, body or whatever for science, this may turn out to be fruitful for all involved.

In the hotel on 14.10.2020

Finally I got there. At 7:10 I stepped out of the train in Alnmouth. Skipper Mike picked up me there.

On 15th Oct I experienced many new situations. Also I faced life-threatening condition during that boat trip. But I was involved only as an observer. It was the moment. We all – 9 people on a boat started to get convinced that something could happen to 3 divers who did not ascent almost afer 1 hour being all the time underwater! When almost 1 hours passes, many people who know how much air can be compressed in regualr tank probably realize that even with best and the most efficient breath rapte there will be the iron limit of getting out of air. And compressed air is for everything you do underwater – for your breathing, BCD, drysuit. You can use the majoirty of it even during 15 minutes since first descending because you feel stressed, have irregular breath, you are exhaousted, not fit, maybe you feel cold – like me this time. It was scary but I had for the first time in my life an opportunity to look at faces of somehow responsible but sober people how to react to getting every second more probable fact that someone we saw just some time ago already died. I had such situation in 2009 but it happened 20 meters underwater. And it was me who was directly involved in taking someone else who a bit got deluded safely to back to the surface. When you all depart on a regular sized boat mainly desigined for small trips. You spend a couple of hours altogether preparing and then realize that it may fulfil the worst scenario that can get back as a group shortened by 3 people it is scary. And everyone can react to such vision that lasts as long as you are nervous if they get back to the surface, completely differently. On a  boat I did not let stress to embrace me. But my digestive response appeared a few hours later. And now I can recall situation in 2007 when I was the witness of first air crash in my life I observed from the very beginning, the moment of crash and everything after that. In extreme sports like gliders or other aircraft acrobations or for example diving it can happen. In diving it can happen due to simply too many bad factors, coincidence of them. Not as many as in more advanced mechanics like in aviation it is regularly as much hydraulics, mechanics as human factor. But also a great dose of conditions like psychological, physiological, fitness, preparation, equipment, orgaization, team work etc. In scuba diving there are many factors but also in terms of many categories of factors. It starts I can say sometimes a few weeks before specific dive. How you prepare, how much you analyze in advance, what turns out to be one hour before dive and a few minutes before. What happens during dive etc. It is interesting. Yesterday at EDI airport I talked with Eugeniusz from Bytom from dive center and it was typical talk with shop owner and serviceman of regulators, stages, manometers but turned to be my report about the whole my experience that he listened to with a lot of attention finally. I shared many emotions and reflections during that talk then rushed to the gate during final call at gate 14 for Wrocław! One Polish girl talked to me and this is how I realized it is much past 12:00 in fact!

But my adventure on 15th Oct started also from series of my mistakes. I hope I can enlist them as a kind of warning:

  • I did not take winter cap and had to use that part of hoodie and windstopper. A very serious mistake. We cover our heads between dives even in September and when it is 20 degree Celsius.
  • I did not take undergarmet, shell, warmener, even simply clother under my neoprene Scubapro drysuit. I dived in it for the first time. In fact my first jump near Longstone was that weight check I should have do anyway. But not all realized I still need to adjust how much weights in fact may need. No matter I wasn’t even sure if eg. drysuit is 100% waterproof. This was another stress. Another condition I risked taking into account that normally dive trip can end at ca. 1 PM. But this time ended at 3 PM!
  • So another premise after previous one is that I did not take enough weights. On a 3 mins movie from cheap „gopro” – almost the only footage of that dive (I dived only once out of 2 I had an opportunity to have) – you can hear by the end how Peter Black gives me instructions how to descent. I simply could not even submerge from the surface just to 0,5 to 1 meter below. What to say – descend to the bottom. So we all had to ascend. Or they all returned and waiting for me on the surface – Peter gave me spoken instructions as was designed to be responsible for guiding me, giving instructions and communicating with me for the whole dive as dive boat trip is only getting you to Longstone, giving tank and weights – namely. But they have also equipment. This way I borrowed nice white Aqualung fins. But instructor RAID from Deep Blue Pirates – Pete took responsibility of giving me support when needed. Finally I got down to almost 23 meters. I had drysuit squeeze and felt extreme cold. I was shivering, using too much air. But at 15 meters one beautiful seal just swam between our grup. It was beautiful. But my Seal Life camera discharged maybe 1 minute earlier just after taking 2 photos and a few seconds of video. And at 23 meters it was ok, but when I once or twice have hit beatiful natural little reef bottom and did not want to again I added too much air but my arm valve (outlet) did not work good enough. When I was moving between ca. 22 and 18 meters my whole drysuit was getting blown so I had to do that circus trick to roll over to ease off the suit of excess air. But did not know well how to operate this particular valve to release excess air. In my another volcanized rubber drysuit Viking Pro I can namely press the putton. Here I have only the possiblity to turn valve to + or – to regulate pressure of spring that automatically releases. I did not realize then underwater due to too much stress how to turn it to make releasing air fast enough and suddently I started to float, slowly but ascending. At 15 I had huge amount of air in legs and like astronaut detached from spacecrarft started to float being deprived of opportunity to roll over again (too much) air. I released all air from BCD and focused on breathing not to have barotrauma. My time at 23 meters was short enough that no dec time was relatively safe so in such rate of ascending (the rule is 18 meters for 3 minutes with safety stop at 5 to 3 for 3 or max. 5 minutes within AOWD standard no dec limits) but of course between 15 and surface it took me much faster. So focusing on breathing was the best choice. Yesterday in airplane I felt in sinuses much release but after air travel I feel a bit trauma in my lungs. I had cough yesterday morning. Initially suspiciously not wet. But food wasn’t good. Preservatives, additives and black pepper in everything made that I had also esophagus reflux what contributed to cough in the morning but I realized lungs were a bit traumatized but hopefully it wasn’t a virus! Look that something happens eg. on 15th. But on 17th you can fully realize the damage to your body! Diving and risk scribbed in this sport is vary tricky, how you discover all the effects on your body. It teaches to be very attentive and careful to what happens to your tissues, even stomach and intestines, sinuses, ears, lungs, teeth etc.
  • Another thing is that I did not take for that trip my own SMB. Since AOWD and especially in open waters, cold water it is must. Especially on a boat diving trip. I did not take own and also borrowed but another mistake. Just too many. So when I ascended afert so short as 17 minutes! So exactly inflating it just before getting pulled completely to the surface I inflated it with my mouth (version that you cannot use an octopus) – it helped the boat crew to spot me when they should not expect anyone after so short period of time. But for me floating for 20 minutes to be recogized could be another stress! But I think the cold was the greatest and outweighted premises to dive for another time that day.
  • I did not test-dive new suit in more pleasant conditions.
  • Finally, did not charge my Sea Life camera enough and wasted 40 zł for buing shitty cheap go pro that HD or 4K has only in its description on Internet action I think and on little screen when you turn it and see little LCD. Both discharged. I have only that poor go pro footage. But I captured even that pup-seal! But only one for my whole experience. So lack of documenting equipment also made me reluctant to get back to cold water.
  • I also had stomach problems due to seasickness that I had as a very young child during travel by car. Then for years did not. And the year ago in Florida I realized again I had seasickness. This time it was half trauma of previous year October in Florida. But also again salt water, lack of sleep, bad decision what I ate in the evening previous day. Divers often encourage that you have to get back to the water the fastest. Also being focused on mounting something, mantling, tangling, packing, reading, scrolling content of camera is also the worst thing to do when only the loss of horizon for even 10 seconds can increase experience of seasickness. This time I was about 4 hours only on a floating boat! It was another thing of the category „too much”
  • I dressed neoprene quite rigid as before first use Scubapro Exodry drysuit. And that day boat trip has set off not at 9 AM as normally. But due to low tides and relocated boat it slipped in time 1-2 hours. I was standing at the harbour in that suit what did not make me fully warm. I used then HD neoprene hood and diving gloves to heat myself. But my stomach was to tight kept in the suit for too long. Then I was sitting in it for too long. So to my final sensations contributed many factors. And of course lack of tolerance for such a discomfort. Last year in Florida I thought namenly it is the last time. Like the last time alcoholics get drunk that lose consciousness and vomit and then comes another opportunity and follows the same pattern. But this is sport. This is good addiction. This addiction prepares me for cold, for autumn, winter, teacher how to tolerate with humility conditions like boat floating on relatively intensified waves or when wind changes all the time etc. It is tiring and you cannot just release that grip. Once you release self-control how to look or seek for the sense at least of horizon – condition like seasickness prevails your sensations and again and again – so it is educative in terms of self-control, tolerance to more uncomfortable experiences. From life perspective it is good. It prepares to worse things. That may not happen. But when happen in life we are not so miserable or desperate. This is why everyone needs some sports etc. Not rivalry, competition like many regard sports. But rather challenge of physical kind, own limits, discomfort to overcome to have more own fitness.

But also accident happened to me:

  • My manometer high pressure (HP) hose exploded in two sections. One just besides the screw monuting it to the 1st stage and another near manometer. I had it since 2004 so alomst 16 years used more or less the same. I could predict it. Same situation happened during opening valve of compressed air in a tank in Zurich during my drysuit specialization course with Remo Vontobel. Then a bit newer but also ca. 15 years old hose exploded near metal clamp. It is rubber. It can tear. So it happened once in 2019 and I used another as much old and not often used hose so it could happen now and it happened. It was rather cool temperature of the air outside. Ca. 8 degree Celsius different than when I normally used this hose earlier. Rubber hose was thicker no matter the fact that gets that under 200 bar pressure. The lucky side of such incidents is that it is most likely to happen when you mount your eg. DIN screw to a tank and then open valve and test 2nd stage regulator. But the most likely just once you turn even a bit the valve. So it happened. I could predict it but didn’t. I had to borrow manometer from other diver what a bit distressed me that I did not have even one to replace when knew it may happen. My fault. In 2004 I knew that needed to buy 2 manometers during one first buy of my diving equipment. And in 2020 I was naive that do not have to have enough spare parts for such worn things. I can be sure of o-rings in regulator as serviced it in June 2018. It was 10 years too late but luckily serviceman had even one rubber part that should have to be replaced 10 years ago. There was even obligation by Scubapro for every single regulator during yearly service. My wasn’t serviced then since maybe 10 years. Earlier it was (maybe once). Not like that not at all from the date of buy. But there was a long break. And rubber elements do not care we do not use them. They wear out anyway.

Various photos from boat. I still need to cut a bit what captured underwater.

Jump in my new drysuit (the only check of waterproof I actually did! I was scared and on full length clip you can hear it in my voice in a few talks just after jump).

I had too few weights

The only video from diving with a seal neal Longstone

VID_20200122_222721.CUT.01’00-01’21

It was generally beautiful day. But too many woories and stresses shortened every experience for me.

The only video I captured with SeaLife DC2000 camera before the battery discharged:

From smartphone:

My logbook:

After diving:

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