Diving the Markham/Hyde, June 14, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011 0:20 | Filled in Dive Training, NC diving

Johanna Swimming Through the Hyde

Johanna Swimming Through the Hyde

Anthony and I wake up early, again, to go out diving. This time we are joined by Johanna, Anthony’s wife.  I am teaching her for her Advanced Open Water certification.  We are headed to the John D. Gill Markham/Hyde. The marine forecast is not kind to us and there are 3-5 foot swells as we head out on the 30 foot Aquatic Safaris II. The 48 foot Aquatic Safaris I is headed to the Hyde taking a large group of divers from the Charlotte, NC area. Our captain, Roy Taylor, puts us in the wake of the Aquatic Safaris I to make our ride a little more pleasant, but it is still quite a bumpy and slow ride.


 

John Relaxing Before the Dive

John Relaxing Before the Dive

As we are putting our gear together on the boat, I hear one of the divers ask, ‘Frank, do you have a sister, Joann?’  ‘Wha?’  I turn to see a guy in sunglasses that looks familiar.  It is John, a friend of the family’s that we knew when I was growing up.  It is always fun to re-meet people I know and find out that they are divers too.  We spend a bit of the trip out, bouncing in the waves catching up and talking about scuba diving.

 

When we get to the Hyde/Markham dive site, we make a decision to stay there rather than riding out another 7 miles to the John D. Gill in the rough conditions.  Of course, I do not mind since these wrecks are some of my favorites.  We anchor on the Markham first since the other boat with all of its divers are on the Hyde.  The seas don’t seem too bad, but, I tell people I will dive in any conditions!  Luckily, the seas seemed to get better as the day went on and we did not have too much trouble from Mother Nature.

 

Johanna at the Markham

Johanna at the Markham

We splash in the water and the first thing we notice is that Johanna is having problems getting down.  Even though we tested her in the pool the previous day and adjusted the weight for salt water, she was still a little light.  Andre, our ever present divemaster, helps out and hands me four more pounds of lead which we put into her weight pockets.  We go down the line to the wreck, with me periodically checking to make sure Anthony and Johanna are doing well.  Johanna and I get to the bottom and settle ourselves onto the sand.

 

Anthony has my Polecam, which is an aluminum pole that has my GoPro camera attached to the end.  The camera can swivel to shoot video in front of the diver or turn around so one can shoot video of themselves as they swim.  He is getting pretty good with the Polecam, after a couple dives.  We are at 77 feet on the sand.  He records Johanna and I as I start going over the effects of deep diving, including narcosis and visibility.

 

I start writing a math problem for Johanna to do in her head to show her the effects of narcosis when my pencil stops working.  I take my knife out to sharpen it.  I resume trying to write and it still is not working.  I, again, get my knife and sharpen the pencil.  I repeat this process several times, slowly getting the problem written on the slate.  I try to get Johanna to give me the answer using hand signals but this just is not working too well.  Finally, after multiple sharpenings, and getting the point of the lesson across, I pitch my pencil in frustration and decide we should have fun diving.

 

The funny thing, is that while all of this is going on, Anthony is swimming around, recording us and other things around us.  He notices a large female Sand Tiger shark approaching and records her as she approaches Johanna and I.  She gets pretty close to us before she darts away with an amazing burst of speed.  Meanwhile, Johanna and I knew nothing of what was going on just over our heads!

 

Once we finished our class, it was time to have some fun diving.  We started swimming towards the stern, swimming along the open corridors of the Markham.  Soon, we saw another large female Sand Tiger shark.  We took some pictures as she lazily approached us.  I dropped below a part of the wreck to get some shots from underneath her.  She turned around and started going the other way, slowly drifting along.  I swam up beside her and started to film some video.  As I swam next to her recording video, I noticed that we were getting closer to each other.  I peeked over the LCD screen of my camera to see and saw that she was probably 4 to 6 feet away from me.  This was a great experience since the sharks tend to swim away when you get this close.  Once again, I find a shark in a photogenic mood.

 

Green(?) Sea Turtle

Green(?) Sea Turtle

Soon, it is time to turn back.  We swim to the anchor line and are sitting on the hull of the Markham checking our gauges before we ascend.  As we are looking at them, I see a sea turtle on the by the keel.  I point it out to everyone and decide we have time for a quick swim to it for a picture or two.  I am not sure whether it was a Green sea turtle or a Loggerhead sea turtle.  I am not an expert at identification and the two can be tricky to differentiate.  If you can positively identify which species of turtle this is, let me know!  Too soon, the turtle swims away and it is time for us to surface.

 

John at the Hyde

John at the Hyde

We surface, excited by all the great things we saw and shot.  It is not often we see a sea turtle scuba diving on these wrecks, so that was a bonus.  We do our surface interval and move the boat to the Hyde.  The Aquatic Safaris I is there and we share stories about all we saw on our first dives.  We drop down to the Hyde and start swimming and enjoying ourselves.  The water is nice and we swim through some of the openings in the wreck.

 

We drop down to the sand near the bow and see three juvenile Sand Tiger sharks lazily swimming around the bottom.  I catch a glimpse of the Gray Triggerfish again, and look around for cool things to point out to Anthony and Johanna.  Early into the dive, the main battery on my camera alerts me that it is empty so I am not able to shoot any more pictures.  I am disappointed that I can’t get the shots, but I don’t really mind, since I am still enjoying the dive.

 

We end the dive and get back on the boat without too much trouble.  The ride back is much smoother since we are able to ride with the waves a bit and I believe that the seas have flattened down a little.  Overall, a great day with some exciting new pictures and memories.  I can never complain when I am able to dive!

 

-Frank

 

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2 Comments to Diving the Markham/Hyde, June 14, 2011

  1. Jennifer says:

    June 16th, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Sounds like a terrific way to spend a day with family and new-old friends. Your demonstration with the pencil and the lesson intended will probably be all the more memorable for its near miss — I’ve had more than a few of those when teaching! My favorite part was the split screen images from the two video cameras — very cool!

  2. fyue says:

    June 16th, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Thanks! It was indeed a lot of fun. Lots of cool things to see when you scuba dive here, and doing it with friends/family makes it all the better.

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