I cleared one of my goals last weekend – that of getting my Open Water dive certification. It was a bit more difficult than I anticipated. Maybe that’s because I was the senior member of my dive class (with a little over thirty years to spare!). At left with me is my dive buddy for the first two of my certification dives – a delightful English lad at least 45 years my junior. I successfully completed the requirements for my certification – and did not drown, obviously – but I am keenly aware of my limitations for this activity. I wish I’d done this 15 years ago when we first started sailing. Besides, I don’t know how much recreational diving I’ll get to do during our cruise, since the equipment is expensive, bulky and we are space-constrained on Madge. I wanted the training, though, since we plan to use a hookah dive system (surface air pumped to you under water by hose) to maintain the underside of the boat. Anyone capable of snorkeling can dive with a hookah system, but I wanted the additional training that comes with a full SCUBA rating.
The utility of being able to dive is illustrated in this photo. We put our dinghy in the water roughly four weeks ago, and yesterday we hauled it up on the bow of our boat and scraped off about a half-inch of barnacles that were firmly attached to the bottom. Before it splashes again, I’ll coat the bottom with anti-fouling biocide paint, just like we do with Madge. It was foolish of me to think I could skip the bottom paint on the dinghy and just scrape it periodically. Marine growth is just too aggressive without some deterrent. Lesson learned. I’m sure Suzy will appreciate not having to deal with the effort – not to mention the mess – of doing this every couple of weeks.
Another advantage of being able to dive is that you can clean your own boat. We had Madge hauled out at the boat yard today and discovered the results of the “bottom scraping” work we hired out a couple of weeks ago. Granted, the working environment underwater in a murky, flowing river is a difficult one, and Madge was moving through the water much better after the scraping than before, but this job looks as if it only cleared 50-60 percent of the hard growth (read, barnacles). The bottom should be much cleaner, and the best way to insure that is to be able to do it yourself. So, now we have the capability to do so.
As I mentioned, we hauled Madge today, so now she is “on the hard” until Labor Day. During that time, we have to repaint the bottom; install a new discharge pump for the sanitary holding tank; replace the Genoa winches; install a new 2000 watt 120V inverter; and replace the ceiling and wall finishes in the aft cabin. We’ll take a break in a couple of weeks to celebrate my niece’s wedding in Memphis, but other than that it’s a race to the end of the month. We have to “splash” Madge by Labor Day, because Grandchild No. Four will be delivered on the following Wednesday, and we definitely want to be there when she arrives. It will be hard to get much done during September, and we’re planning on some short trips with friends in October.
It suddenly seems like our November departure date is right on top of us. Time to “hunker down,” as we say here in Georgia (h/t Larry Munson).