Getting Ready to Dive

Photos from UAB in Antarctica group on Flickr, related to this post
By Chuck
Posted on 03/25/10

In my last post, I talked about how my day starts with planning for the day’s diving. So sticking with that “details of daily life” theme (while I let the others tell you about more exciting stuff and wax poetic), I thought I’d tell you a little about the nuts and bolts of getting ready to dive.

    Before anyone can dive, we need air in our SCUBA diving tanks. Pretty much every morning when I stop into the dive locker before our group’s morning meeting, I run into Brian Nelson, who goes by the nickname “Rex.” Rex is the Palmer Station Research Associate. The Research Associate oversees data collection for a large number of atmospheric and other physical science projects that are ongoing here at Palmer Station. And that is just the beginning of his many responsibilities. Those responsibilities include supporting our science by filling our dive tanks.

    At the morning meeting we decide who is diving and who is dive tending that day. Many days we have dives going on in both the morning and afternoon so someone can be a diver and a tender in the same day (for example, Kate dove this morning with Ruth while I dive tended with Rex; Kate dive tended along with Maggie this afternoon while I dove with our University of South Florida colleague, Alan Maschek).

    After our meeting, the morning divers generally get going pretty quickly on getting their gear ready. As I’ve said, we meet at 8:00, and it is usually sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 when we agree that the divers will have their gear ready for the tenders to load into the dive boat. Each diver has a personal dive bin (really big drawer) that we keep most of our smaller gear in. Our bigger/heavier gear (drysuits, drysuit underwear, regulators, buoyancy compensator vests, and weight belts) is stored in other places. Each diver gets their gear ready and puts it out on the porch of the dive locker for the tenders to load into the dive boat.

    We have a very short video of the process of getting the gear from the dive locker to the boat on our YouTube channel. Just click on the small YouTube link under the photos over on the right side of this page. Also there are videos of Kate getting into her drysuit before a dive and getting out afterwards.

    After the divers are suited up, they head for the boat. Sometimes they get zipped into their drysuits in the dive locker as you can see in the video and sometimes they wait until just before they get into the boat as in the Flickr photo over on the right. Either way, they get zipped in before getting into the dive boat.

    Once the divers and their gear are all in the boat, they and the tenders head out to the dive site for the morning or afternoon. And the scientific diving (and fun) soon begins.




  1. Re: Getting Ready to Dive
    Posted by Terri Schoenrock on 03/26/10

    We were talking this morning about what it was like 20 years ago for the families and loved ones of scientists. No Facebook, Youtube, digital cameras, or blogs to keep us in the loop. No Internet. No email. Probably no telephone.

    Thank you so much for helping us share the adventures with you all. It makes everything so much easier - we miss you but we are with you.

    1. Posted by Chuck on 03/26/10
      Terri -- I can tell you what it was like 30 years ago for family, as I was the one at home (actually in my senior year at college) while Maggie was here at Palmer for her first season. We had short phone patches via ham radio operators about once a week, although the sun spot cycle was such that year that the radio transmission was too poor for patches a number of times. They were one way at a time communications so we would take notes about what the other said before saying "over" so that we'd remember to reply to everything. Paper mail came back and forth through Argentina about every month, but with a two to three week delay on the southbound mail and about two weeks on the northbound. Occasionally there would be 50-word maximum, telegraph-like messages called MARS-grames (MARS = Military Amateur Radio Service) but those took a week or so to go both ways because they were mailed to or from the radio operator to the person in the States. We've come a long way in 30 years!

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