Divers' Talk:
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Carol Parrish left this one!!

Dear all, I know that you like to keep track of my diving life so I want to share my wonderful Saturday, March 25,2000.  I went Ice Diving . Before you worry, I was a 'support crew' member and not a diver. Our dive was a mountain reservoir at 7,000 feet.  Strawberry Reservoir , a large and beautiful treeless lake has varying depths and an unstable and often mucky bottom. The crawdads and weeds are abundant.
We descended a steep embankment to the lake shore, bearing a variety of equipment including scuba cylinders, a stove, ropes, buoyancy compensators (BC), a saw, ice screws, and an ominous white bucket to use as the WC for the day. I walked  thigh high through snow drifts and immediately found the only wet hole at the edge to sink into. On the first trek across the lake, I was wet to my knees, leather hiking boots, three pairs of socks, and four layers of pants. There were about 15 crossings to make throughout the day, for each of us.

Mike Weyland, our fearless leader, guessed where the water might be deep enough. He screwed an ice auger into the lake and drilled until he hit water, a depth gauge confirmed that it was only eight feet, not deep enough for a dive. All the men took turns (literally), on the 2 foot thick ice, Finally, on the fourth test, they hit a spot that was about 16 feet deep.  Sharon and I  portaged equipment, as the guys drilled another three holes for the dive site.

The holes were about 4 feet apart and formed a giant triangle. The men  sawed the ice until the triangle was free. Standing on the ice they pushed the great block under  one side and anchored it under the ice with a screw in the last hole. Two hours had gone by, Everyone was exhausted but excited.

Snow started blowing and the crystalline blue day began to get overcast. Quickly, we got the first three divers into the water. They were suited up with 2-4 layers of polartec under drysuits. They wore BC's and  three regulators and 2 tanks, one a little bottle called a Pony bottle,  had enough air to get one safely to the surface if the other tank had a problem. A harness attached each diver to a rope which was tended by a line tender (me) on the surface. A fourth diver was suited up with feet in the water, ready to perform as a rescue diver if there was any problem below.  Standing astride, the two tenders held a taut rope which allowed the diver freedom to swim but a life line when they needed to get back. A simple rope signal code let us know, basically what was going on below.

I was unprepared for this day, it was exhilarating and cool and gradually brightened up. The intense responsibility of my job really heightened the stress. The line I tended had one or two divers tethered to it. They relied on my paying attention the the smallest signals. They needed me to stay bare handed and level headed . When the emergency signal came, with four faint pulls, I didn't even understand for a second. Thankfully my partner got the same signal and started a quick hand over hand retrieval of rope as quickly as she could. Within a minute, a broiling of water signaled a free flowing regulator which can happen easily in cold water.

Sharon and I stood side by side and pulled the diver out of one of the points of the triangle. He rolled to the side and we unhooked his harnesses, BC and pulled off weights, gloves and  fins.  He looked a bit like a beached whale as he got his breath.  I love this part of diving most of all. We dive as a team or not at all. We rely on each other and appreciate the effort that everyone makes, or it doesn't happen. Being prepared is vital. Mike carried extra equipment and tools to repair problems rather than aborting a dive trip.

The dives proceeded as planned.  No one dived longer than 20 minutes on any dive. The thirty three degree water made chilling, head freeze, and exhaustion come quickly. We kept warm water and cocoa ready for the divers as they recovered. Between dives, it took at least 45 minutes to an hour to get the divers ready to jump in the water again.

Finally, after seven hours of tough work and play, we quickly packed up our gear before we lost all daylight. What a day. I really enjoyed the shear energy of the day in addition to the exhilaration of being needed in real life situations.
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We have a bit of a ongoing controversy!!!

      The point of view from one side is, it is just plain littering to place guide strings underwater to guide divers to eye
catching structures rather than using and documenting good navigation techniques to obtain the same results. (can you imagine how cluttered the American West would be if Jim Bridger, Kit Carson and other pioneering scouts would
have strung strings everywhere they went?  Talk about a major spiders web!!!)  We feel that all of the strings and or
cords that have been placed in Flaming Gorge are not only "UGLY litter", but, could very well be a death trap in turbid waters, as well as lead unskilled, untrained novice divers into situations (cramped quarters, overhead environments
and other pitfalls) that could easily end their life.

     On the flip side of the coin the believers of the guide lines feel they are explorers and have the god given right to
leave whatever means they wish to help them get back to the same places some of us have been diving for years.

     I'm sorry.  I thought I could write a non biased report concerning this problem. However, I admit, I can not.
It would be of the utmost help to get feedback from as many divers, instructors and dive leaders as possible to put
their feelings in print as to look at the big picture rather than just two opposing view.  Please send your comments
in to be posted so we can get a broader consensus of opinions.

Thank you,
Michael Weyland

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    I am not surprised that the whole rope story was not told. I am somewhat of a skeptical diver. I love guide lines, when I swim around them I use them as landmarks. I think that the that the local dive shop, and instructor are just trying to sell more gear and more air. The purpose for the rope is to show people where the  scenic formations are at.  Not every one wants to pay for a instructor /guide to show them an area that he wouldn't really know.

Scott Gudmundsen 12/11/00

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    Over the past thirty years, the scuba industry has gradually guided divers to progress from a mocho, full speed ahead, death defying, testosterone driven group of thrill seekers to a more knowledgeable, trained, relaxed, and experienced group of fun loving dive enthusiasts.  We dive professionals, believe in training and guidance, accompanied experience, and good judgment, based on that acquired training and guidance.  As a result of our (the scuba industry and dive professionals) efforts we can now purchase dive accident insurance for as little as $54.00 per year basic self coverage, $64.00 per year all covered in-water skin and scuba diving injuries occurring at any depth plus an additional $15,000 in accidental death or dismemberment coverage (the same benefits are available for entire families for a mere $74.00 per year).  Newer divers may not be aware that in the old days (60s/70s) and even today some insurance companies will not cover or even cancel your health and accident insurance if they learn that you participate in dangerous sports like Sky Diving and Scuba Diving!!!

    As a dive industry professional, I personally feel, we should be recognized for our efforts to improve training standards, lower incidents of dive related accidents and be appreciated enough to allow us the opportunity to make a living as do all of our friends and associates in other lines of work.  Even though I enjoy what I do for a living, it is still a job and I rely on it to meet my obligations.  I wish you to be successful in your chosen occupation and I sincerely hope you will support me in mine.

Thank you,

Michael Weyland 1/25/01

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    While browsing my January 2001 issue of Dive Trainer magazine, I happened upon an article written by Robert N. Rosier entitled Getting there Naturally  --  Tales of Bread Crumbs and Misdirection. At the beginning of the article there is a  Note:
    The events portrayed in this story are true.  The names have been changed to protect the innocent and to avoid undue embarrassment to directionally challenged divers.

    A very good article, please read.  Copies of the issue are Free at Atlantis Divers, Vernal, Utah.

Michael  12/15/00

    By the way, I have yet to collect a single dollar for guiding divers!!!  Some instructors just plain love to be with fellow divers and make joint discoveries as well!!!  1/26/01

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Let's replace my "Quote" with a genuine one. You may post it in its' entirety, without editing. Otherwise, you don't have permission to post it.
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I'm the person who placed the guidelines to various underwater landmarks at the gorge, and have written a small guidebook to the gorge on the world wide web. The guidelines were placed to assist other divers who are unfamiliar with the area and who might find it useful.

Not everyone lives within quick driving distance of the gorge and few dive the gorge weekly as I do. My intent is to share my knowledge and get others excited about diving at the gorge. Flaming Gorge, in my opinion, has the best diving anywhere within 500 miles. There are underwater rock formations at the gorge that remind me of Zions N.P. or Bryce. Spires rising from 100+ feet down often come
within thirty to forty feet of the surface.  There are rock fins, and canyons in many dive locations, including swimthru's and caverns. (I haven't come across a true cave yet in the gorge.) There are fabulous areas to dive at Flaming Gorge with excellent visibility... if you know where to look. A simple compass bearing would be inadequate to guide the unfamiliar visitor. I suppose I could write two
page long descriptions to various swim-thru's and spires with multiple way points and distances measured in feet or yards, I could turn it into an Orienteering Course. Divers could count their fin strokes and try to find the "secret spots".

But diving is supposed to be fun. Not everyone wants or needs to have advanced orienteering skills in diving. To draw a parallel to rock climbing or mountaineering, it has been an age old argument, brought up every few years by some "up-and-coming" climber, that published route descriptions take all the
fun out of climbing. They argue that real climbers who possess any skill should be able to find the route themselves without having to refer to a book for a description. They claim that guidebooks take the fun out of exploration. They do to an extent. But when a climber comes upon a new (to them) climbing area, or route, they rarely have the time, nor the inclination to "discover anew" the mountain or route that has already been pioneered. We don't always have the time to be pioneers, nor do we always wish to. We simply want to climb "that route" because it sounds like it's something we're interested in. Is the climb or dive less enjoyable because it was pioneered by someone else and we got a description of the way through other means than our first-hand knowledge? The answer depends on what we were trying to accomplish.

Just as fixed ropes, pitons, and bolts are common in climbing, fixed lines are used in diving. You don't need to follow a string if you're on a trail. Sign-posts are used (remember the hatchet hacks left in trees?) and a path is created which is easy to follow. In diving, lines are used frequently. We use lines when we ice dive, we use fixed lines going into caves or caverns. There are underwater parks on the California coast (Monterey specifically) that are sectioned off into acre sized rectangles. Marking an occasional route with a nylon cord stretched taut and close to the cliff-wall or bottom, to me, makes a lot of sense. I don't need the guideline to find the places I dive weekly. But others do if they are to maintain orientation and find specific underwater features in a three dimensional environment. Guidelines can also act as a reassuring safety line when negotiating drop-offs (some that go deeper than you ever want to go) by less experienced divers.

One can argue that perhaps guidelines entice inexperienced divers to "get in over their heads" by luring them to depths or underwater features that would endanger them. This can certainly be said of rock-climbing or mountaineering routes. Just as long stretches of highway out in the Nevada desert entice us to put the pedal down and see how fast the old cruiser will go, knowing that a route exists and
traveling it can tempt us to do something that we're neither trained nor prepared to deal with.

It can also be argued that fixed lines are an entanglement hazard. Sure they are. That's why divers are taught to always go over a fixed line, cable, or anchor chain, rather than under. Is a diver more prone to get fouled in turbid water around a fixed line? You bet he is. Deal with it. That's why we dive with a buddy and carry a sharp knife. (When I was seventeen I was diving one day at Dana Point in California. Visibility was about eight feet underwater and it was foggy with low light levels. I swam into a lobster traps' buoy line in mid-water about twenty feet down. I couldn't get loose because it was fouled around my tanks J-valve. I simply cut the rope, pulled the ends free and re-tied the line. It took all of about sixty seconds.) If a certified diver is unable to deal with entanglement hazards, they should stay out of Flaming Gorge. The gorge has 355 miles of shoreline reaching two states. All of it is fished by anglers who lose literally hundreds of miles of all weights of fishing line, from five pound test to one hundred pound test stainless steel cable. These lines can be wrapped over, under, and around every underwater feature at the gorge. Fin entanglements with filament are an almost daily occurrence in any dive here if your fin straps aren't taped down or reversed.

Divers, drivers, and climbers, as in all aspects of living, must gauge their training and past experience, then measure this against their ability to cope with a new adventure. If you want to live life perfectly safe, don't leave home. Or maybe leave home since fifty-five percent of all accidents occur at home... But certainly, "Don't ever go in the water!"

Scott Gudmundsen  1/22/01
Vernal, Utah

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The 'BE' Attitudes

                    Be understanding to your enemies.

                    Be loyal to your friends.

                    Be strong enough to face the world each day.

                    Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.

                    Be generous to those who need your help.

                    Be frugal with that you need yourself.

                    Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.

                    Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.

                    Be willing to share your joys.

                    Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

                    Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.

                    Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.

                    Be first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.

                    Be last to criticize a colleague who fails.

                    Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

                    Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.

                    Be loving to those who love you.

                    Be loving to those who do not love you; they may change.

                    Above all, be yourself.

                    ~Unknown

                                             via;  Treva Cooper 1/26/01

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Hi all,
I told Mike that I would have a hard time whining about this diving trip because it was so much fun.

Saturday, February 24, 2001,  our annual ice dive was canceled but Mike Weyland, Gary Merrell  and I really still wanted to go diving. We headed up to the Flaming Gorge  dam and were surprised to see ice covering our dive site. A thin, 100 foot, band of frigid black water lapped between the dam and the ice flow. BRRRRRRRRR.  After tromping through ankle high snow  down around the dam, we decided to scope other sites. Gary bought a parking pass so we would be legal wherever we stopped to dive. We pulled into every inlet/campground  that looked promising  around the reservoir. Each  location had a long walk to get to open water. Undaunted, we went back to the dam and reconsidered.

The air was a brisk 33 degrees. I resembled the Sta-Puff Marshmallow man when I suited up: swimsuit, dive skin, short wet suit, 7 mm wet suit, dive vest, 7 mm jacket, hood, three pair of socks and boots, and two pair of gloves.  I couldn't move very well but my buddies pitched in to get our gear over the gates, and down the three long steep, ice packed stairways.  I admit the guys did more than their share of the lifting. Everything was hard to do because fingers couldn't move in their neoprene cocoons. We were heavily weighted and it was hard to see all the buckles, snaps, valves and velcro straps that had to be closed or adjusted. We checked each other and pulled on each others' trapped or hidden closures until all were ready to descend.
As a final preparation,  Mike suggested that we  pour warm water from a thermos into our wet suits and over our hands and feet. I eased into the  30 degree water- not feeling anything, through all the layers, until I plunged my face into the water. If you have ever had a Slurpy or a Margarita 'brain freeze' you can imagine the pain in my whole head. Amazingly, the sensation soon disappeared and we slipped into the water descending in darkness to 65 feet. It was hard to swim in a streamlined position when I was weighted so heavily, Ankle weights just didn't work for me Saturday.

We swam along the shore using natural navigation. Most of the time we were under a canopy of ice. The visibility wasn't wonderful, I didn't see any fish and my mask kept fogging up, (here is the whining part Michael). The only true discomfort I felt was in my pinkies. There just wasn't enough padding and circulation to keep my hands comfortable.   There was  however, a great sense of accomplishment. I attempted something that was absolutely terrifying to me and succeeded.

Between dives I tried to pull off the ankle weights but the clasps and my fingers were frozen. We plunged our hands into warm water at the rest rooms in the visitor's center,  and felt better immediately. The surface interval between dives was a time of reflection for all of us. I had begun to shiver and couldn't get that stopped. The wind kicked up and the ice flow could move across the water, sealing our entry and exit. I knew that my body temperature would go down in the water and the moving ice  was worrisome. One of the rights every diver has is to decide when to dive. I decided to stand watch while the men descended.

I don't know what they saw down there, if you ask Mike and Gary they probably have a lot of great lies and stories about the second dive. What I do know is that diving is a lot more then water and fish and a lot of fancy equipment, Diving takes concentration, courage, calmness and companionship. You were great buddies and I will do that dive again, just name the time and place.

Carol Anne Parrish
a new and proud DiveCon  2/28/01

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Hi
    I got back from Antarctica last Friday at noon still feel a little tired, but I am working on that.   The experience was awesome.  Sure was glad I took the ice class from you guys, it showed a lot of deficiencies in my equipment.  All of the equipment I took worked great.  We ended up with 15 divers, 5 from the USA, 3 from Switzerland, 3 from Germany, 3 from Holland, 1 from Belgium and the divemasters were from Sweden.  We were on a Russian crewed boat out of Argentina. but almost all the divers spoke English.  Five of the Europeans were professional photographers.

    The visibility was not that good. being late in the summer there was to much dirty run-off they figured. this was only the second time they have run this trip and they claim they were still learning and working out what time of year to run these trips.  All the diving was in open water and at no time were we allowed to swim near ice burgs.  Max depth was 80 ft.. we did manage to make one dive on the south side of the Antarctic circle.  As far as diving went it was a "been there done that trip".  The surface scenery was what made it, and the interaction with the wild life.  All and all, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  It was a great trip.  I never took any underwater pictures and those that did were few and far between.

    I still want to take on a river dive below the dam if you ever get around to running another one.

    thanks for all the letters and e-mail         Randy Strand 3/6/01

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