Between the bad vis last week, and the nearshore leftovers from Hurricane Earl, our Rescue students and other Dive Team members have spent the last two weekends training with our boat and more surface rescue techniques.
We took Rescue 34 out (our 16 foot Zodiac rigid hull inflatable), first launching in Barnegat Bay and heading north up the Point Pleasant Canal, a manmade channel to Manasquan River, then out the busy inlet to the ocean.
An experienced crew member offered this advice about Rescue 34 to the new crew: "You don't ride in this boat; you hang on to it." We worked together to read the waves and shift body weight appropriately, allowing the driver to better get up on plane readily and maneuver efficiently. We also practiced coordinated surface scans and communication protocols with the boat operator about surrounding boat traffic.
Offshore, we had a little space to practice surface rescue techniques, such as dropping a rescuer off the boat to directly assist a victim in the water, and then extracting the victim. Chief Nesley and Tom C first demonstrated how to safely roll out of the boat at high speed (which, if you execute correctly, is a bit of fun). They then showed how to get yourself back into the boat unassisted, and how to assist a victim. Rescue students Milton and Joe took a few turns at it themselves and shortly showed improvement. We returned nearshore to practice closer to the beach swells, and at one point, two BayHead lifeguards even swam out through the waves to meet us. They got themselves into the boat, and we gave them a lift two beaches north back to where they came from. Milton and Joe demonstrated their new high speed dropoff-in-the-surf skills, which the lifeguards then replicated. They thought it was cool enough that they swam back out to the boat, climbed in again, and we dropped them off a second time at the beach where we started!
We've also taken advantage of the warm water to get in a little open ocean swimming and snorkeling. Today, we finally found clear water - 1 mile offshore! Free diving down from the surface, we found near-tropical water full of comb jellies and salps (aka "jellyblobs"). Fortunately, these organisms are not stingers, so we emerged unscathed.