Black Dragon 7/27/08

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Joshua Smith
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Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:23 pm

A group of us went out to dive the wreck of the Black Dragon on Lu Jack's Quest, Sunday 7/27/08. The charter was put together by Ron Akeson and Barb Roy,of Adventures Down Under in Bellingham, WA. In addition to Barb and Ron, Rob Wilson, Paul Hangarter, Dan Warter, Ken Gustafson, Mari Jachetta, Mark Tooney,James, and Kirby were present- sorry,if I didn't get your last names, or spelled them wrong, my apologies. After a looooong motor into Canadian waters, and clearing customs in Oak Bay, we headed over to the wreck site to try and grapple the wreck. (I understand there used to be a buoy of some kind on it, but it's no longer there.)

Grappling the wreck turned out to be somewhat more of a challenge than we thought it would be, but after several attempts, we finally felt some positive resistance on the down line, so we tied the line off to a buoy and attached the deco station to the line. The Deco station is sort of like a floating series of trapeze bars, set at 10 foot intervals starting at 50 fsw, up to 10 fsw. It's very nice to be able to hang on the bars while completing one's staged decompression stops, especially in a current, and especially when the last diver up the line unhooks it from the down line, and the whole contraption just floats freely while the boat follows the attached surface buoys! Each team of divers attaches a strobe to the line, and retrieves it when they return. The team that retrieves their strobe last is tasked with unhooking the deco station. It's a great system; very well thought out, and it works flawlessly.

Ken and I splashed first- Ken was diving his doubles, with a single stage of deco gas, I was on my COPIS Megalodon CCR, with a stage of bailout gas. On the surface, we noted that slack current might not actually happen on this dive- the water was moving pretty fast, but we judged it to be worth a try. As we descended, it quickly became apparent that pulling ourselves down the line hand over hand was the only way we could get to the bottom! The current was right on the edge of what I would consider dive-able, at least without a scooter. As we finally came to depth, at approximately 150 fsw,
we stopped to attach our strobe, check on each other and catch our breath. We started looking around, the powerful lights from our HID lights stabbing through the dark green water.....the wreck was nowhere to be seen, however! We chased the down line a short distance horizontally to the grapple, and found that instead of hooking the wreck, it had fouled up in a rope that was pulled tight by the current and wind tugging on our buoys attached to the down line.....and it was starting to work itself free! As I watched, I could see the unidentified line slip through the grapple- we had more divers above us starting to descend, so I grabbed the mystery line and tied a couple fast knots with loops into it, and hooked them to the grapple. Ken and I looked at each other, and then down at the line stretching out into the gloom. We pulled hard on the line, and determined that it was firmly attached to something...we shrugged, and started following it to see if we could find the wreck. Visibility was perhaps 20 feet at depth, possibly a bit more. After travelling 20 or 30 feet, the starboard side of the hull suddenly loomed in front of us- the Black Dragon isn't a terribly big boat, compared to some other local wrecks like the Cape Breton, for example, but it seemed huge to me at that moment! I will never lose my sense of wonder and awe at seeing a shipwreck suddenly appear like that, seemingly like magic.
My first priority was to make sure our new line was firmly attached to the wreck- it disappeared behind the rudder at the stern, and I tried to follow it, but we had come up on the wreck on the lee side of the current, and the port side was getting hammered. As soon as I left the protection of the wreck, I was hit by the full force of it, and it was too strong to swim against. I pulled on the line one more time, and decided it was attached firmly enough for me! Ken and I headed slowly towards the bow. The boat had hit the bottom very hard when it sank, I'm told, and it is sitting in a sort of "crater." Which
means that you can see a fair ways underneath it- there is a kind of "cavern zone" under it- too small for a diver, but big enough for some MONSTER sized Ling cod and rock fish- they were very impressive; there is a lot of life on the wreck, and most of it is covered in plumose anemones as well. We rose up to the level of the deck rail a few times, but when we tried to swim across the deck, we were blown off and had to deflate and make ourselves negatively buoyant in order to get back into the protected zone, or else risk being blown off the wreck entirely! When we got to the bow, we could see the current ripping past, and decided that we were pretty happy sticking to the port side! But we needed to see just a bit more. We leisurely worked our way back towards the stern, and came back up to the deck level.
One thing I noticed that I really didn't like is that the wreck is covered in cave line- the kind we all use on our reels and spools. Divers are apparently tying off to the wreck, swimming around it, and simply cutting their lines off when they're done. We've noticed this more and more, especially on the lake Washington wrecks. It's unnecessary, irritating, it detracts from the wreck, and it creates entanglement hazards- besides which, it's littering, plain and simple. Clean your line up, people- these are not virgin caves that need guidelines. Forward of the pilot house, we worked our way onto the deck by staying low and using handholds. A large hatch in the deck appeared in front of us, and we dropped down into it- we went in single file, but it was actually big enough for two divers to move through side by side.
The interior was dark and foreboding- I thought about the 130 illegal immigrants who had endured a Pacific crossing, crammed into these dark confines, and shuddered. We didn't move very far from the hatch we had entered- there were hazards everywhere- pipes, wires, lumber and beams criss-crossed everywhere I looked! We did, in fact, exit the hatch side by side as we left.
Dropping back down to the protected port side, we saw other divers arriving, their lights sweeping slowly over the hull as they approached. Dan Warter was filming, and Rob and Paul were headed over to try and access a door they had found closed on a previous trip. Even though we still had a few minutes of bottom time left on the plan we had made, and Ken had plenty of gas, I thumbed the dive at approximately 20 minutes of run time. I had gotten a healthy shot of water through my neck seal when I jerked my head around at one point on the descent, and was feeling a little bit cold and soggy. I knew we had to pay for our bottom time by doing decompression, and I was in the mood to keep that payment on the lower end of the scale! We followed the line back over to the grapple, retrieved our strobe, and started our ascent. At 120 feet, we encountered the line leading over to the deco station, and followed it up. After completing some short deeper stops, we hit the first deco bar at 50'. It's very relaxing to be able to hang there and meditate without worrying about depth, buoyancy, and trim- I'm a big fan of the deco station! Other divers joined us as we hung above them- I thought they seemed early, but we found out when we got back on board that 4 people had bagged the dive before they ever hit bottom, due to the current, which had given them minimal deco obligations, and explained their presence ahead of schedule.
After 40 or so minutes of decompression, Ken and I were clear, and ascended to the surface.....right at the same moment that Rob cut the deco station loose from the down line, allowing it, and the divers hanging on it, to drift freely and comfortably with the tides, instead of flapping around like flags on a pole, which is what Ken and I had done for our entire deco!
Back on board, we were grinning from ear to ear over our successful dive. The crew had laid food out for us, and we helped ourselves to chili, sandwiches, and hot dogs. After we finally gathered the last of our divers on board, we retrieved our grapple and the deco station, and started back towards home, while exchanging stories of each other's dives. Dan, Rob, and Paul had stayed on the wreck for all of their planned 40 minutes of bottom time- Dan had gotten a lot of the shots he wanted to film, while Rob and Paul had managed to open the door they were curious about, although the area beyond it was not very accessible. These 3 guys are pretty much the epitome of hard-core wreck divers: NOTHING stops them from getting a job done!
On our return trip, we ran across a pod of orcas and followed them for a while from a respectful distance, unlike the fleet of whale watching boats that almost seemed to be herding them around. That was a real treat for me- I'd never seen an Orca before. Tired and weary, but still smiling, we offloaded the boat and said our goodbyes. A long day, but well worth it! I want to thank everyone who was on the trip- especially Captain Phil for being a great skipper, and Barb and
Ron, for putting the trip together. Lets do it again soon!

For more info, pictures, and film of the Black Dragon, and a bunch of other cool wrecks:


http://www.dcsfilms.com/Site_4/DCS_Website_24.html
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Burntchef » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:45 pm

nice report, i cant freakin wait for next month. booked on both days with ken and most of the same posse.
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by LCF » Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:18 pm

Lovely report! I enjoyed the description of having the wreck come into view -- There's something amazing and eerie about that dark blob that slowly resolves into structure. Sound like a pretty cool dive.
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Ken G » Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:35 pm

Nice report Josh. It was a far from easy diving yesterday but well worth it. After a long 3-4 hours boat trip I was ready to get off that boat and down to the wreck. I was a little sea sick from the ride out and the water was a welcome relief.
Getting there was not easy but once we were down on the wreck it provided us with just enough protection from the rippin current that we could cover the length of the ship. It was like a storm going on around us as the particles in the water shot past us just feet away. Turning the dive early was the right move and I was ready to begin my slow ascent to the surface. The conditions were less than ideal but we were able to do everything we set out to do. Find and dive the Black Dragon with good friends. I'm really looking forward to diving it with the crew again next month.


Lets see that HD footage DAN!

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by rjw » Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:58 am

I have to agree with you about the amount of line left on the wreck. There is no reason to just cut and leave line here. Its a small (140'), shallow wreck sitting upright and is somewhat intact. Doesn't get much better than that.
The BD is really a fun dive. Nice report Josh. You and Ken did a nice job making sure the hook was secure. :salute:
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by BASSMAN » Tue Jul 29, 2008 6:28 am

rjw wrote: Its a small (140'), shallow wreck sitting upright and is somewhat intact. Doesn't get much better than that.

Shallow Wreck? !! 150fsw?
Is the 140' the depth or the length of the wreck?
That must mean shallow in terms of a Tech dive :dontknow:


Anyhoo!
Great Dive report Josh! :supz:
Keep em' coming. =D>
I don't have allot of desire to dive at those kind of depths, but it sure is fun to read about them!
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Grateful Diver » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:17 am

Excellent report, Josh ... the BD's on my "to do" list, for sure ...

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by jackieg » Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:52 am

What a great adventure! Thanks for the detailed report, Josh!

I also liked the description of the wreck suddenly coming into view. (The BD sounds way more impressive than the blocks at the Narrows that loomed into view for me with the 10 foot viz on Sunday.)
Well done!

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:53 am

BASSMAN wrote:
rjw wrote: Its a small (140'), shallow wreck sitting upright and is somewhat intact. Doesn't get much better than that.

Shallow Wreck? !! 150fsw?
Is the 140' the depth or the length of the wreck?
That must mean shallow in terms of a Tech dive :dontknow:


Anyhoo!
Great Dive report Josh! :supz:
Keep em' coming. =D>
I don't have allot of desire to dive at those kind of depths, but it sure is fun to read about them!



Lol. Ok, sure, it's deep enough to be beyond recreational, but it's just barely a technical dive- shallow by those standards. The real point is that there's no reason to be running guideline on it, but if you do, at least have the courtesy to clean it up!
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Tom Nic » Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:08 am

Great report Josh! =D>

Thanks for taking the time to write it up and then share it. I know that's not quick and easy, and there's a ton of folks who don't do it - thanks for the effort! Well done! :notworthy:
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Romer Treece » Tue Jul 29, 2008 12:24 pm

BASSMAN wrote:
rjw wrote: Its a small (140'), shallow wreck sitting upright and is somewhat intact. Doesn't get much better than that.

Shallow Wreck? !! 150fsw?
Is the 140' the depth or the length of the wreck?
That must mean shallow in terms of a Tech dive :dontknow:

Shallow is a relative term. The wrecks that we visiting on a regular basis are in the 200-300 foot range. It IS still deep, but when you are doing the 250'-300' wrecks on a regular basis, this one is hardly a warm-up dive for those. It's kind of a warm up for a warm up dive. \:D/ Although the spider webs of cave line all around the wreck does make it a bit more interesting. [-X [-X

Btw EXCELLENT report Josh!! :smt038 :notworthy:

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Thu Jul 31, 2008 8:57 am

Some stills from Dan's video showing the cave line all over the wreck:








:angryfire:
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by LCF » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:00 am

I don't do this kind of diving at all, but I'm completely confused as to why people would run line and leave it. Isn't the purpose of the line to return to your starting point? Does it get so tangled in the wreck you CAN'T get it back off? And if you cut it, how do you get back to where you started?
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by dsteding » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:03 am

Maybe we should post this in the various western Canada forums.

Makes no sense to me too, and it looks like they don't even know how to run line . . .
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:09 am

LCF wrote:I don't do this kind of diving at all, but I'm completely confused as to why people would run line and leave it. Isn't the purpose of the line to return to your starting point? Does it get so tangled in the wreck you CAN'T get it back off? And if you cut it, how do you get back to where you started?


I agree. It makes no sense. In class, we were taught that if the clock is ticking, and it's time to do your ascent, and you tangle your reel, you cut it, or just leave it there attached to the down line, but you don't waste any time with underwater knot unravelling. But that would be the knot or wrap in the very end of the line- hardly anything at all. Somebody has been leaving hundreds of feet of line all over local wrecks- particularly in Lake Washington. Why, I don't know. Maybe they're getting tangled in the line and having an emergency situation on every single dive they do? Maybe they circumnavigate the wreck running line, get back to their starting point, and just cut it because they don't care?
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by BDub » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:16 am

Holy cow! That is ridiculous! What a mess...

I dived the BD on Memorial Day Weekend last year, and I don't remember seeing any line at all.

Makes absolutely no sense to me.
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:29 am

Given the amount of this stuff on the Lake WA wrecks, I'm convinced that it's a local tech diver (or divers). I don't know what can be done to stop it, short of trying to raise awareness of it, and perhaps shame whoever's doing it into stopping.That seemed to work on the area around the I beams in Cove 2- that used to be a real rat nest of tangled lines, and after enough people complained about it, it got cleaned up. There are quite a few tech divers around here.......but it's still a small world.
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Romer Treece » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:17 am

LCF wrote:I don't do this kind of diving at all, but I'm completely confused as to why people would run line and leave it. Isn't the purpose of the line to return to your starting point? Does it get so tangled in the wreck you CAN'T get it back off? And if you cut it, how do you get back to where you started?


I have been doing this kind of diving for a while and I'M bewildered as to why people do this. It doesn't make any sense! ESPECIALLY when the wreck is so small. There is a lot of talk as to how we need to preserve the Lake Wa. wrecks and not disturb them, hell even to keep people off of them if they don't have proper diving techniques, but leaving cave line strewn all over them is ok!!?? :dontknow: :dontknow: PLEASE CLEAN UP YOUR LINE!!
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by rjw » Thu Jul 31, 2008 10:29 am

BDub wrote:Holy cow! That is ridiculous! What a mess...

I dived the BD on Memorial Day Weekend last year, and I don't remember seeing any line at all.

Makes absolutely no sense to me.


My last trip to the BD was back in April. I was quite surprised to see the amount of line that had been left in the mean time. It was everywhere and seemed to run in all directions.
As I stated in an earlier post this is a small wreck and is shallow enough to allow for some nice BT. Whoever is doing this needs to allow 2-3 min in the dive plan to clean up.
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Grateful Diver » Thu Jul 31, 2008 11:08 am

Unfortunately, what you're running up against is human nature.

Tech diving is becoming increasingly popular ... not to mention increasingly accessible to people who, in past years, wouldn't have been qualified for it. In former years, it was a small community where everybody knew everybody else who was doing it. That's no longer the case. And like any activity, the larger the pool of people doing it, the more likely that you're going to have some participants who are in it strictly for themselves ... and really don't give a crap about how their actions are going to affect others who might want to share the resources.

What happened to the Warren car is a perfect example.

Some of this might be attributable to ignorance ... people who are fairly new at tech diving, and haven't really thought about either the aesthetic or safety damage they're causing with their line. In which case, perhaps the tech instructors might want to consider stressing this a little more during training. But I think for the most part it's just people who don't care, rather than don't know, that what they're doing isn't a good idea for the community as a whole.

You get those types no matter what activity you're engaged in ... and the larger the pool of participants, the more likely you are to run into them ...

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Romer Treece » Thu Jul 31, 2008 1:42 pm

Grateful Diver wrote:Unfortunately, what you're running up against is human nature.

Tech diving is becoming increasingly popular ... not to mention increasingly accessible to people who, in past years, wouldn't have been qualified for it. In former years, it was a small community where everybody knew everybody else who was doing it. That's no longer the case. And like any activity, the larger the pool of people doing it, the more likely that you're going to have some participants who are in it strictly for themselves ... and really don't give a crap about how their actions are going to affect others who might want to share the resources.

What happened to the Warren car is a perfect example.

Some of this might be attributable to ignorance ... people who are fairly new at tech diving, and haven't really thought about either the aesthetic or safety damage they're causing with their line. In which case, perhaps the tech instructors might want to consider stressing this a little more during training. But I think for the most part it's just people who don't care, rather than don't know, that what they're doing isn't a good idea for the community as a whole.

You get those types no matter what activity you're engaged in ... and the larger the pool of participants, the more likely you are to run into them ...

... Bob (Grateful Diver)



I couldn't agree more! That's why I hope we can make some kind of change by bringing it out to the open on these forums. I don't know maybe that doesn't work, I'm kinda new to this forum arena, but I'd like to hope this public display of what NOT to do could make a change. :violent1: :violent1:

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:04 pm

Like I said, it worked in cove 2. At least we can try and spread the word. Maybe somewhere, somehow, the people responsible will see the light, and stop doing it. Or not. But at least we tried.
And if they decide to keep doing it, I hope they get so tangled in their own line that they juuuuuuust barely make it back to the surface, and get scared so bad they quit diving.
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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Romer Treece » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:07 pm

Damn tootin brother!! :axe:

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Grateful Diver » Fri Aug 01, 2008 5:27 am

What would be the possibility of cleaning up some of the line that's already on there ... so that doesn't happen to somebody else?

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Re: Black Dragon 7/27/08

Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Aug 01, 2008 6:34 am

Grateful Diver wrote:What would be the possibility of cleaning up some of the line that's already on there ... so that doesn't happen to somebody else?

... Bob (Grateful Diver)



I've been thinking I should devote some bottom time to that.
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