Deep Diving – Pushing the limits and when things go wrong

Lately I felt I needed to push my limits once again, I wanted to see what it feels like to go scuba diving very deep. So I decided to go down almost twice as deep then I have ever gone down to before this dive. I know that other people have done it, including my partner, so I wasn’t worried about it… on the contrary I was very excited.

From the beginning, my first mistake was to not get myself familiarised with the new dry suit that I was renting out. I felt too complacent with diving, and from what I’m learning lately, this is not a very good state to be at because that’s when things start to go wrong.

We got all suited up, and went into the water, ready to submerge. Right from the beginning I had trouble with buoyancy, I couldn’t get the air out of my dry suit with ease, after a bit of a struggle I submerged to meet my partner who was waiting by a cliff that quickly drops off. We gave each other the Okay sign and began submerging down into the abyss. As we were submerging, the colors were slowly changing from green, to dark green, to eventually full black, until we couldn’t see any light at all. Eventually we reached our planned depth, where both of us stopped and gave each other another Okay sign. It felt unreal being that deep, I took a moment to appreciate being there. I then glanced at my gauges, and at that moment I had a huge head rush… I felt very light headed, and felt as if I was about to faint. Nitrogen Narcosis was playing its part on me…

At that moment, I felt scared. I thought I was going to die if I were to pass out. The place that I was initially excited and in awe of visiting now felt like a nightmare that I was trying to “wake up” from. I slowly started to ascend, breathing faster with each passing moment, trying my hardest to stay conscious. I looked at my partner, who was watching me ascent, knowing that there was something wrong.

As I was getting higher, my rate of climb was increasing due to the increase in buoyancy. I had to let some air out from my dry suit to allow a more gradual ascent.  This would allow the nitrogen in my body time to dissolve (it’s dangerous to shoot up very quickly to the surface).  For some reason though I was having trouble letting the air out from the dry suit, I was actually closing the valve instead of opening it.  Another example of how I did not familiarize myself with the new dry suit before starting the dive. At that point I started to panic a bit, and after some struggle, I realised I had still some air in the BCD and I let it out.  This stabilized me at that particular depth and I was able to relax and get my mind straight.

My partner caught up to me, signed me asking if I was all right, I pointed out that I had a problem with getting the air out from my dry suit. We stayed at that depth for a little while, until the point when I looked at my gauge and realised that I was low on air. I was really surprised how fast my air was gone!  I still needed some air to stay at 15 feet for a few minutes for decompression. So I pointed it out to my partner, and we started to ascend.

Once again I was having trouble with buoyancy when I went up higher, and I had to hold on the rocks to stay at 15 feet depth for decompression. As the decompression time was up, I was already taking the last breaths from my air tank. When I finally surfaced I had no more air in my tank.

I was lucky to have an experienced partner with me when things went wrong. He really helped me out in this situation. My partner told me that this is a good lesson for me to be diving with a partner, since as he told me: “You were getting too cocky with all your solo diving and all.” A good lesson for me it was…

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15 thoughts on “Deep Diving – Pushing the limits and when things go wrong

  1. Edgar ! I don’t know much about diving but this intense happening is written with beautiful suspense … I’m writing a story based on my brothers adventures where his 2 mates die together in a scuba diving accident so your writing really hit my heart .. Would you give me permission to reblog this into my post later when I get to this point in my story telling ? Xx

  2. Wow, that must have been a truly harrowing experience. I remember scuba diving in Andamans last year. Though I did not really go very deep, it was an experience I will never forget…
    I am looking forward to getting a PADI certificate now, sometime in the near future!
    Cheers,
    Sumithra.

  3. I’m a scuba diver (PADI Advanced & Rescue certified), and I am still learning new things with every dive. It looks like you have learned a few things too! A couple of thoughts I had though:

    How quickly were you decending? A quick vs a slow decent can have a large impact on nitrogen narcosis and how much of it you feel. If you descended very quickly try doing a slower decent next time.

    Looking at how you described your narcosis experience, it looks like you experienced something called a “dark narc” which is a form of nitrogen narcosis which gives you unpleasant feelings of narcosis, whereas typically nitrogen narcosis is usually more of a pleasant feeling for most other divers. Diving with Nitrox can help alleviate this a bit, as well as being nice and relaxed before a dive.

    I also have a Scubapro drysuit (It’s the Evertec LT), and the first time I used it I had a similar experience where I was trying to open the valve but I was actually closing it. It didn’t pose a problem during my dive, but hey, just thought it might help knowing I did the same thing. :p

    Whytecliff park also looks like a fantastic place to dive. I would absolutely love to come out to dive out there sometime. Do you have any recommendations on dive shops out there? (I don’t know anyone out there unfortunately)…

    But yeah, looked like an interesting dive indeed! Keep diving, keep learning, and above all, be safe and have fun!

    • Ray, thanks for your input. I have never heard of dark narc, but will have to do some research on it. I don’t think I went down too quickly, went down a relatively normal pace… but did go down much deeper than usual.
      I usually rent all my equipment from Edge Diving in north van, really nice people there!
      Whytecliff is a nice place to dive locally, but Vancouver Island has better locations to dive.
      Where do you usually dive?

  4. Ah. Well you did mention being very excited before the dive. I heard being nice and relaxed before making the plunge helps reduce various nitrogen narcosis symptoms. I’m personally guilty of being extremely excited before every dive though too, so I don’t have much room to speak lol.

    Anyways I’m currently in Illinois, less than 2 hours southwest of Chicago. Most of my diving here are in various lakes and rock quarries, however I’ve been expanding my dive site list considerably lately. I hope to do some Lake Michigan wreck dives here in the near future, as well as potentially taking a dive trip. But thanks for the recommendations. I’ll keep them in mind. 🙂

      • Lake Michigan is pretty cold, so a drysuit would definitely be recommended, especially for some of the deeper wreck dives. There are lots of great wreck sites in Lake Michigan, some are as shallow as 30ft while others are as deep down as 200ft (rebreather territory).

        But yeah, you are exactly right. There isn’t anything to not be excited about, lmao.

        But man, I’m jelous. It looks like you live by a great area to go diving. I’d love to go diving everyday provided I was in a better area geographically and I had a dive buddy. Thanks for the recommendations too!

      • Did a bit of research, and Lake Michigan has tons of cool wrecks to explore! I’d love to be able to explore some of the ships that are 300 feet deep!

        You know, I don’t think we are ever happy with our location, cause I wish that I lived somewhere tropical where I could dive and surf everyday lol.
        Cold water diving is cool, but it becomes somewhat of a pain to manage all the weight and equipment everydive

  5. Yeah Lake Michigan definitely has a lot of cool looking wrecks. But you are right about the dive location. Some advice I heard was to don’t worry about what you are not seeing, but to enjoy what you are seeing in a dive, and you won’t be disappointed.

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