Monday, May 26, 2014

Day of Recovery...

The team got to try out some of their recovery skills on Sunday. We were asked a few weeks back to remove some sunken dock boxes out of some boat slips, which we did. We moved them into an area out of the way of any boats knowing we would be coming back for them.

Well Sunday was the day! Divers Joe (OJ) Ali, Linda with Karen and bob for surface support recovered the boxes. The water was 62 degrees, we knew we would be working so we all broke out the wet suits and that was a good call, cause after an hour and a half in the water no one was cold. The visibility was 3-5 feet right up till the time we started moving the box’s around then it was 0.
One box was over 8 feet long and the small one was 4 feet long. Joe and I started digging the box out of the mud that big Joe put the box in. I don't remember putting the box that deep in the mud. While Joe was digging Ali and Linda found the top to the long box and took it down and around the bulkhead to the boat ramp. Not an easy job as at the end of the bulkhead they were in the current that was running at over two knots.

While Joe was digging out the box’s some people in the marine who were watching us asked if we could find a pair of glass’s that were dropped off a boat a few weeks ago. I told them I would give it a try and swam over to the boat that they were dropped off. The bottom under the boat was so soft that anything dropped would be under the mud! So they should still be there. I started out doing a pass over the area staying just off the bottom so I didn’t mess up the visibility. Nothing ever goes straight down so I started there and worked out from that point searching up current and down current moving out as I went. After six passes I found them under an inch of mud. You should have seen the faces of the guy and his wife! They couldn’t believe I found them. They did ask how I did that and I told her “this is what we do!”

Once we got the boxes up on to shore we went back in the water to check out the area and see what we could find. OJ came back with a really nice round bottom bottle and Linda and Ali got some nice soda bottles. I came back with a case milk bottle and a round tape top milk bottle in pretty good shape and a brand new ten inch pipe wrench.

We started cleaning the boxes as best we could right there at the boat ramp and finished cleaning them at the building. OJ and Karen did a great job on the boxes, with a little from Bob and his power washer. All the bottles will take a little more time to clean. We did get one bottle that none from us have ever seen.

So it turned out to be a really good day, we recovered the boxes and found the lost glasses and found some nice bottles and answered some first aid calls and did our dive duty crew. Everybody did a really great job working with no visibility and a strong current and still had fun doing it!!


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Surf & Inlet Extraction Drill 2014....

Sunday was the teams drill to get ready for the upcoming summer season. It was a tune up of the teams surface rescue skills. Tom, Joe X2, Sue, Ali, Bob, Greg and Linda were suited up and ready to go. First aiders Max, Sarah, Corinne and Captain Jerry were also there as surface support.

We started out with using a rescue can as an aid for swimmers, and moved on to entry in to the water with the rescue can with both fins on and without fins. It is not always easy getting in to the water. With waves and currents it can become difficult. With some divers acting as victim and other as rescuers the divers were in and out of the water many times. Entering water and swimming out to the victim and towing the victim back in to the beach and getting the victim out of the water and into the hands of the first aiders.

   We also trained on the miller man back board. This is a piece of equipment that we have on the dive truck and all the squad’s ambulances. It is used if there is a neck or back injury. It has a lot of straps and it’s not the easiest thing to use when you can’t stand and you’re floating. So we do train using it. So if we need it to get a victim out of the water we’ll be ready.

   After a few hours of all of this we called it a day, Tom wanted to get a picture and we lined up so he could get his shot, he has us all jump up in the air and I got a great group shot of all of us in mid air.
In the debriefing after the drill I reminded the team and the first aiders “anything can happen “so you have to be ready.

As we started back towards the building we stopped to check the inlet to see if we had any visibility so we could dive. What no one knew was I had planned to have Sue jump in to the water and play the victim. She did it so well! No one saw her jump in and it was a surprise to everyone. Linda was the first to act and was in the water in seconds holding sue afloat, she was followed by OJ, Ali, Greg and Bob. The first aiders got the miller man and passed down to the divers and working as a team had Sue strapped down and ready to be lifted out of the water in minutes. Lines were tried on the board and the first aiders had Sue up and out of the water and into the ambulance in seconds.

Photos by Tom Conroy...


Thursday, May 01, 2014

What to do with two Dive Team members and 225 miles from the Ocean...

Had the pleasure of hosting a weekend here in central Virginia when team members Chet and Sue came down for the annual bottle show in Harrisonburg. Pretty much had one day (Saturday) to keep them busy and happy so had a list of things to do ready when they arrived on Friday night. The Blue Ridge mountain range is impressive but no real open water for 211 miles in Virginia Beach.

First stop was along Skyline Drive where we took a short hike along the Appalachian Trail to a side trail I found 5 or 6 years ago while hiking this area. There is a gravestone of a Confederate soldier that died in 1861 and was buried here when the confederate army was held up at Browns Gap during the Civil War. I did a post on this back in 2009 and had a friend respond with additional info on the soldier. It can be viewed here... We stopped here to scrub down and clean the marker for being in the shade along the side of the mountain moss covers the name and info....

Next we hiked up to Blackrock Summit also along the Skyline Drive and is a large boulder field outcropping along the ridge line. Pictures do not give it credit and something you need to see if you are in the area. Sue made several sketches and numerous photos were taken...

Then we moved on to the Blue Ridge Tunnel in Afton Virginia at the intersection of Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. This train tunnel was built back in 1850's and is 16 feet wide, 20 feet tall, and 4,237 feet long and built in a curving line. At one point the tunnel is over 700 feet below the summit of the mountain at Afton Gap. The tunnel was cut by hand drilling and blasted by Black Powder for Dynamite had not been invented yet. The tunnel progressed at an average of 26 feet a month and when the two sections met in the middle they were off by only 4 inches. The newer and bigger tunnel that replaced it in the 1950's was off by over 6 feet when they broke through. Confederate General Stonewall Jackson moved his Civil war troops through this tunnel during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of the Civil War. After the original tunnel was retired a large section was walled off with two 14 foot thick walls creating a chamber that was to hold & store Propane gas. Unfortunately this never worked and the project was abandoned but it does make an interesting end to the hike. 

The Western opening of the tunnel had "Softer" rock than the Eastern opening and they had to brick the opening for about 300 feet into the tunnel using 168,000 bricks made onsite...