Day 12 – Forty-three meters with air to spare …

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The dock pick up is at 7 a.m. allowing us some more time for bad weather and to get us back earlier. Unfortunately, finding a site that isn’t blown out or ripping with current takes up most of the extra time. In the end it’s worth it.

Hooked up on a deep mooring on the West Wall, we’re readying the sled for a 95m / 312ft drop and then a 102m / 335ft variable for Mandy. After Mandy, Martin will go to 67m / 220ft in constant ballast no-fins, and then Doc with some 40m and deeper variable. As Mandy and Martin suit up they mention that they can feel their arms from yesterday’s wave riding. Hmmm, this could prove interesting.

Joining us for the first time on the boat is Dave Faas, a friend of Spencer’s from Davco Diving. He’s going to be our second safety rebreather diver. Yesterday Dave and Spencer did some shore diving for equipment check out and today Dave is shadowing Spencer to get a feel for the tasks required. This will mean we’ll have both of them putting in some serious deco time today. In the days to come they will be able to split the work load.

Mandy makes her first attempt. The video camera is going along for the ride too. It’s the first time the video camera’s been mounted on the sled and we’re looking forward to the full view of the descent adventure. Sixty-one seconds after leaving the surface Mandy touches down. The average descent speed is 1.56m/s or 5.1ft/s. Just before reaching the bottom Mandy goes for her nose clip to remove it and flood her sinuses. Her sinuses are a little sticky from the flushing they got in the wave pool yesterday. On reaching the surface she looks fine, but says that her arms are burning and really tired. Guess we didn’t control ourselves at the wave pool like we thought we could :>)

Doc’s next. He goes for a successful 35m / 115ft equalizing practice session. His next 40m / 132ft looks even better, and then he makes a new personal best at 43m / 141ft. He’s definitely finding his groove. On his last run there’s no noticeable air loss from his mask at all. Forty-three meters with air to spare! He says, "I realize that the ocean is more powerful than me and the deeper I get, the more it wins. So I just have to submit to the ocean and let it give me the air I need. If it’s going to be there, it will be there." Doc realizes that trying to force equalizations isn’t going to work, but by simply relaxing into, and becoming a part of the ocean he will prove most successful.

Martin’s going for a constant ballast no-fins now. This is his third training session and there will be four more after this. He’s wearing his new Oceaner Performance Freediver Competitive 3mm. It’s a little bumpy for his breathe-up, so I move in to support his upper back and head/neck in the waves. He’s shifted his weight harness a little higher so my support really helps. Eight strokes to depth and he enters the sink phase. Soon I can’t see him. Thirty seconds later I head down to 40m / 132ft and shadow him on ascent until 20m / 66ft where I move in front. He’s looking really strong. His strokes are amazingly efficient for someone who claims he’s not a swimmer. Reaching the surface is simple for him. This is the easiest no-fins dive I’ve ever seen from Martin and he’s made a new personal best of 69m / 226ft in 2:20. Seventy-five meters is definitely in the cards and I’m sure that in four more sessions we’ll see that happen.

After Spencer and Dave finish their fifty minutes of deco, and we finish cleaning up the lines we head in to Lobster Pot dock. Marnie picks us up there and takes us back to Cobalt Coast. It’s another successful training day. We’ve got four more three-on-one-off training cycles to go before we start the records on the 8th.

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