Flood at Flagpole

Tell us your tale of coming nose-to-nose with a 6 gill [--this big--], or about your vacation to turquoise warm waters. Share your adventures here!
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Tom Nic
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Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:22 pm

And no, I don't mean flooding tide.

What a day…

BillZ tossed out an open invite on the board for a couple of Hood Canal dives departing from Mike's Beach Resort on Saturday morning. I jumped on it, and as we firmed up plans turned out I was the only one. I arrived at Mike's 5 minutes late due to miscalculating where it was (it's been awhile) and Bill and I did the meet and greet and proceeded to get my gear in the boat.

As we were loading the boat our conversation turned to Flagpole (my favorite site on Hood Canal). -BillZ "I've never done Flagpole." Me - "Hey, we are close to slack do you want to give it a try?" Bill agreed, and dive plans were changed.

As the day would turn out, it was a good thing... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

After wading out and jumping on board (because Mike's just pulled their dock, even though it is not even Sep 15, a rant for another day) we putted over to the WSA buoy, tied in and proceeded to gear up.

I back rolled in, and the trickle that I have been feeling for a few weeks and not been able to find got REAL strong. Crap. Bill - "You wanna call the dive? No problem if you do!" Me - "Screw it, we're at Flagpole, let's go and if it gets bad enough I'll thumb the dive. Let's go." Not sure in hindsight if that was the best decision, but it is what it is.

We surface swam against the somewhat stiff surface current, got to the buoy, and dropped down the line. As we did I could feel the trickle moving in my suit. We went from bathtub warm surface water, through a thermocline, and settled into the 51 degree water. Viz is about 20', with a pretty thick layer at around 20-25 fsw. The Orange Zoanthid covered boulders soon come into view and after an exchanged OK light signal we move along the Knuckle, my strobe firing as fast as my finger can go.

Wolf Eels. Check. Water is moving in my suit. Crap. Another Wolf Eel. Check. I can really feel it now. Double Crap. Big Ling. Cloud Sponge. Sweet! 4 species of Rockfish so far. Feeling a hair chilled. Crap. Water is moving. Double Crap. Not sure good trim is a good idea. Triple Crap.

I began to tighten our circle on the knuckle figuring that this was not going to last much longer. Two big Vermillions. Sweet! More Cloud Sponges. Nice! Squirrel!! (Just kidding!) I start working my way up the zoanthid covered rock face to where I know the buoy is moored. Puget Sound Rockfish! That's six species of Rockfish! How much more can I do? OCTOPUS tentacle! One more picture.

And I'm done.

Sideways light sweep in front of Bill to call his attention, hand waggle followed by a thumb - time to go.

We start to ascend up the line. I lift my shoulder the way I usually do to slow my ascent, although because of the weight of water in my suit I have vented too much and my ascent stops. Deep breath. No depth change. I kick up a few feet. That's better. Continue the ascent. 3 minute stop. The water in my suit is screwing with my trim and things just don't "feel right". Finish the stop and head up and break the surface 29 minutes after we dropped. It takes more air than normal for me to float well. Bill sheds his gear and gets on board, I shed my gear, and kick up hard and Bill helps haul my sorry and very heavy waterlogged ass out of the water and I do my obese Sea Lion imitation and roll back into the boat.

I shed my suit and the gallons of water along with it. I have "water cankles" as the water collects in my pant legs. And I have a quarter sized split in my boot. Not cool.

Obviously my diving is done for the day but we are only 2 minutes from home port so it's all good. I am not even cold, just very water logged.

I hesitate to say "great dive", except that it was. Bill was jazzed about Flagpole and we spent a half hour in an environment that few people (relatively) ever get to see. And we lived to tell the tale, more or less unscathed.

20 / 20 hindsight I probably should have called the dive as soon as I felt the water. We handled it, but a suit full of water is not only very unpleasant (understatement), but potentially dangerous as well. Accidents happen in part because unpleasant circumstances multiply… one thing becomes two becomes three, becomes a cluster. We avoided this well, but I wouldn't do it again. In fairness I have not had a suit flood in over 850 dives, so really didn't know all to expect. Lesson learned.

So… thanks for reading the story. And thanks Bill for a great morning on the water!

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Last edited by Tom Nic on Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Jan K
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Jan K » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:29 pm

Great report ( as usual) and fabulous pics, too bad about the flood.

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Tom Nic
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:34 pm

Jan K wrote:Great report ( as usual) and fabulous pics, too bad about the flood.


Now I have to start doing the dance of getting it repaired before my scheduled Barclay Sound trip on the 25th. Sigh... here we go, ready or not!
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"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
"Warning: No dive masters are going to be there, Just a bunch of old fat guys taking pictures of fish." -Bassman

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LCF
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by LCF » Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:50 pm

Some dives are worth a wet suit, and Flagpole is one of them.

One of the most sobering experiences, though, is discovering how hard it is to get your wing to lift your head out of the water, when the suit it is trying to lift is waterlogged. I learned that on an early dive at Edmonds, and have had profound respect for the loss of lift that goes with a flooded dry suit ever since -- not to mention the potential for hypothermia. Glad to hear you worked through both, and came home with some gorgeous photos, too!
"Sometimes, when your world is going sideways, the second best thing to everything working out right, is knowing you are loved..." ljjames

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Tom Nic
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:18 pm

LCF wrote:One of the most sobering experiences, though, is discovering how hard it is to get your wing to lift your head out of the water, when the suit it is trying to lift is waterlogged. I learned that on an early dive at Edmonds, and have had profound respect for the loss of lift that goes with a flooded dry suit ever since -- not to mention the potential for hypothermia.


Agreed Lynne, and thanks for telling that story here.
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"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
"Warning: No dive masters are going to be there, Just a bunch of old fat guys taking pictures of fish." -Bassman

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Dusty2
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Dusty2 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:26 am

Been there done that only mine was at redondo and I can say getting to the stairs and managing to make it up them is a whole new experience with several gallons of water in your suit. And what a wose I managed 45 min. :smt064
But I will say it is an experience I have no desire to repeat. Hope you can find the leak and get it patched in time. That's not a trip you want to miss.

Get yourself one of those cheap kids wading pools. Fill it with water and then add a cup or so of dish soap then inflate your suit dump it in and look for bubbles.

Oh and by the way that pink anemone? That's the type that usually has Candy stripe shrimp.

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Tom Nic
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:29 am

Oh trust me - finding the source of the flood is no problem. The hole in my boot is the size of a quarter. And I will keep you posted on the saga of getting the suit repaired.

I LOVE those Crimson anemones and usually spend more time snooping around them, but under the circumstances this time it wasn't going to happen.
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"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
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Seaslave
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Seaslave » Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:26 am

Nice report Tom and Great pics! I managed to dodge a flood last night when my zipper failed just prior to entry... This ought to be a cheap fix....


-Mathue

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Tom Nic
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:03 pm

Seaslave wrote:Nice report Tom and Great pics! I managed to dodge a flood last night when my zipper failed just prior to entry... This ought to be a cheap fix....


-Mathue


Thanks Mathue - and I sure hope so. I will be looking at options first thing tomorrow. New boots or socks should do it. Just have to decide which and hope that it can be done in time.
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"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
"Warning: No dive masters are going to be there, Just a bunch of old fat guys taking pictures of fish." -Bassman

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BillZ
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by BillZ » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:26 am

Hey Tom - Thanks for coming out and introducing me to Flagpole! Definitely a site that I need to dive again (and again and again). After you left I took the boat over and mapped it with the structure scan. I could spend an entire weekend just diving that site and probably still not catch everything.

If you get in a pinch and can't get you drysuit boots done in time for your trip let me know. I was thinking about it after you left and I could probably patch the cut in the boot and reinforce it enough to get you back in the water.

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Tom Nic
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:00 am

BillZ wrote:Hey Tom - Thanks for coming out and introducing me to Flagpole! Definitely a site that I need to dive again (and again and again). After you left I took the boat over and mapped it with the structure scan. I could spend an entire weekend just diving that site and probably still not catch everything.

If you get in a pinch and can't get you drysuit boots done in time for your trip let me know. I was thinking about it after you left and I could probably patch the cut in the boot and reinforce it enough to get you back in the water.


Thanks Bill - I'd love to do the exploring with you!

I'm sitting outside the dive shop ready to speak with the powers that be. I will get back to you on your kind offer. Barclay Sound is not something I want to miss.
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"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
"Warning: No dive masters are going to be there, Just a bunch of old fat guys taking pictures of fish." -Bassman

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Linedog
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Linedog » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:36 am

Awesome photos!
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Matt S.
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Matt S. » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:22 pm

Fantastic lighting on those photos, I can never seem to fully defeat backscatter.

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Tom Nic
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Re: Flood at Flagpole

Post by Tom Nic » Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:51 pm

Thanks Matt.

Backscatter is my nemesis as well. You will notice that none of my photos have open water in the background. That is intentional - the more open water I have in the background the more problem I have with backscatter. There is less when I have a solid background.

The other thing I did for mid range shots was move my strobe as far from the lens as I reasonably could. The ultimate solution is two strobes and longer arms that allow the light source to be far enough angled away from the subject to not let light bounce directly back into the lens.

Or so I've heard, anyway! :)
More Pics Than You Have Time To Look AT
"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
"Warning: No dive masters are going to be there, Just a bunch of old fat guys taking pictures of fish." -Bassman

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