MV Anscomb, March 2012

Posted on 04. Mar, 2012 by Greg Mossfeldt in Courses

Most of us had not been in the water since the ice lay over the water. This time of year brings thoughts of underwater adventure in which we often turn to the Kootenay area. Our destination is often Ainsworth and we reside at the Woodbury Resort, Kaslo Motel or Ainsworth Motel in which we base our stay.

This trip will yield a change to our diving endeavors in many ways. My pal Brian Nadwidny and his wife Laurie now own a fabulous property right near the dock at the Woodbury Resort. Brian has a state of the art fill station, which is perfect for technical diving on the MV Anscomb in which it’s stern, rests in 180’ depth. Brian has a 9CFM shop air compressor, which services divers that wish to simply stay above 130’ and also allows tech divers to top off their exotic mixes. He also has a low pressure, high volume compressor that allows him to drive his Haskel gas booster. All this was available to us this past weekend, which really opened the doors to safely dive the depths of the Anscomb and minimize our logistics. Thanks Brian this is quite a resource to the area!

It is awesome to see up and coming divers aspiring to join our team or understand aspects of exploration diving. This outing was not an exception as we had both Darron Froese and Paul Masiar looking to delve into the depths utilizing trimix as a breathing gas. Darron and Paul stood up to the plate and worked on their skills required for extended range diving on the first day of the trip. Once the fellows had reviewed the skill sets and portrayed some provenience it was back to Brian’s to mix for the upcoming excursion to the MV Anscomb.

Brian had called me while we were enroute to his place and he said there was a LOT of snow in the area. He suggested we have our backs stretched and in order for some shoveling so to access all the amenities associated with diving this time of year. We got near his driveway and could see exactly what was meant. That evening we found parking spots along the road in allowances or just plowed into the side drifts. Paul had already found his way to Brian’s and was comfortable before Darron, TL and I arrived. Brian pointed out our sleeping quarters and we tucked in for the evening but also anticipating the excitement of the next day.

It was up and off to the dock adjacent to the Woodbury Resort. The trail had yet to be broken from the trailer area up to the boat dock where we dive. I put my Tundra in 4H and began to set tracks so we could gain access close to our destination. Once the trail was set we began shoveling the snow off the dock, which would be our stage for the next three days of diving. We all pitched in to clear the dock of snow and while in between our duties we set up our gear and kept busy.

Once the dock was clear the order of the day was to splash and review skills then fine-tune them in anticipation of the trimix dives in the following days to come. We reviewed the head to toe pre dive equipment check, valve drill procedure, proper finning, SMB deployment and decompression methodology. The guys were putting a lot of effort into this winter excursion as the goal was set and competent practitioners were what they intended to become. Darron and Paul both worked diligently on the first day and part way into the next. It was then time to carry on to where trimix was to be used as a tool and exploration of the long anticipated shipwreck was at hand.

James Dixon came this same day with our helium and oxygen for the dives. James is an avid exploration diver and we have explored a number of sunken mysteries these past years. James is always keen to help in any possible way to get neophyte divers up to “A” Team standards. Thanks James you are well appreciated!

It was now time to focus our intention to diving the MV Anscomb. Our dives were planned to 150’ while breathing 21/35 trimix for our back gas, 50% nitrox for decompression along with 100% oxygen for completion of the process. The guys rigged their gear accordingly, we splashed and began the surface swim over to the buoy that James Dixon had made and prepared for this particular dive site. Once at the buoy we assured each other of the great experience ahead of us and began our journey down the line, which took us just over the wheelhouse of the Anscomb. Brian Nadwidny was diving his KISS rebreather and filmed us exploring the wreck. This tool is awesome to review each others skills in order to improve plus it is simply to cool to see ourselves exploring the wreck and viewing items we had overlooked in the process. Thanks for doing the video on this Brian as I am certain I may speak for all of us☺

James Dixon was also diving his rEvo closed circuit rebreather but this wasn’t an epiphany for either Paul or Darron. Paul had recently taken the rEvo training course in Seattle with Mel Clark and Darron just purchased a rEvo and will be taking the training in the near future with me. We are starting to build up to a full mixed gas training team of closed circuit rebreather divers.

Our team checked in and around the wheelhouse and then it was down the port side and over to the starboard to slide down to the bottom of the stern and check out the propeller on the Anscomb. The guys spent a short time getting acclimatized to their surroundings and then it was back up to the up line after a twenty minute run time. The dive was great and the decompression went smoothly up the chain line.

We met trimix dive two on Sunday morning and extended the profile to observe the deeper sections of the port side after checking out the prop. The water was 38ºF so the divers, even though earnest to apply themselves with this new found clarity at depth had concede to the cold surrounding their bodies and head back to our return point. On this dive we planned to swim back to the dock under the water and avoid a long surface swim at the end of the dive. Paul and Darron both did fantastic on the swim back and held their own with buoyancy and deco gas transitions so essential to diving in this overhead.

Paul finished off with two trimix dives this weekend as we anticipated foul weather for the return journey on the highways. Brian, Darron, James and I planned a third trimix dive and second for the day in the early afternoon and then off to catch the 4:20 PM Ferry back to Kootenay Bay and the home shot. We also had to leave ample time to hit the bakery but as it went the Ferry was a minute to loading when we arrived. Even at that James was out of his truck running to the bakery while Darron was left to hammer on the brakes!

Dive 3 was a truly enjoyable excursion down to the Anscomb. The four of us dropped down to depth right off the entry dock and swam out to the wreck. James put a strobe beacon on the bow of the Anscomb as he did on previous dives. The strobe works great for us in the darker water so we are able to navigate our way back to our exit. On the first two dives James placed the strobes strategically near and around the up line and again the bow so we could find our nearest point to shore.

Our team came upon the car deck and we proceeded further to check out a stairwell we had been pondering. We then pointed out the engine room entry point to Darron, which was followed by a brief out of air experience that Darron handled as second nature. We then dropped over the edge of the starboard side and down to our regular prop point. The prop was ingrained in our minds so we headed back up the wreck as some penetration was in order. Brian Nadwidny entered the passenger section of the wreck first with his HD video camera in hand. Darron followed while Brian turned the camera in our direction. Darron was at home inside the wreck and we were confident of his ability while we checked out the lifejackets and passenger seats on our way down to Brian’s roosting point.

I then took a left and beckoned Darron to follow. We swam through a corridor, which opened up to the port side passenger quarters. In this area we observed a number of passenger benches that had come off the floor and were all bunched together. Darron and I took a look through this and then turned around and made our way back out to the starboard side exit and open water. We then found the light strobe James Dixon had secured and Brian, Darron, James and I headed back to the dock area and our decompression in the cold, cold water! Great dive you guys and I thoroughly enjoyed that one.

It was then time to pack up, clear the dock and head back to Brian’s to pack up all of our gear. TL was already busy cleaning and packing up so things were going smoothly. James through the huge helium and oxygen cylinders over his shoulder and it was off to visit the Ferry and meet with our journey home.

I would like to thank everyone involved that made this March weekend very memorable to me and I am sure, just like the rest of us looking forward to the dives in the future☺