Monday, September 30, 2013

Ultradeep constant weight spearfishing progress

Recently I have crossed paths with Trevor Hutton a good few times. We have spent a few good days at sea both learning from each other. Our mission being deep spearfishing on constant weight.  Back in 2009 Trevor and I spoke about spearing a fish deeper than 50 m. Then my goal was to do it on variable weight, i.e. extra disposable weights taking down to reduce the energy expenditure on the initial descent and reduce the descent time as well – the return to surface is also easier and assisted by the positive buoyancy of the wetsuit. Things were hectic back then for me and arrival of Griffin (my now 4 year old son) work etc. had me too distracted to follow up with sufficient focus.
Trevor was adamant it should be done constant weight(CWT) and I disagreed, but greatly respected the purist in him, and of course his capability. Later he went on to get the bankie in 60 m, cwt, in Durban on Number One reef.
As I often do when seeing something that fluffs out my tail feathers, I asked: “How can I do that?” and considering my then ability I left the topic labeled as “unobtanium”.
I had picked up some good tips on our freedive for spearfishing course swap that we did in 2009. I gradually worked these into my training and kept at it, quite often enthusiastically overtraining and getting sick. Gradually I swung around to less but more effective training and learning to know my body and how much I can subject it to.
Last year Trevor and I spoke about a mission he is on and I was challenged to up my performance. I also acquired his old monofin (a Chenbin swimfin) and embarked of my monofinning hobby. This added focus required that I drop serious spearfishing because I could not do it all and train my boy Zephyr (9 years old) to spearfish too.
Four recent dive outings with Trevor at sea finally saw me do my first -50 m spearfishing dive to 51 m (168 feet) constant weight using my Breier bifins. Finally we had a good day with 18 deg water, moderate swell and wind and little current. We anchored on Lucia reef 50-57 m. Background music was rolling – humpbacks singing and bellowing sufficiently to vibrate in my chest. Surface viz was about 10 m dropping to about 8 and then 5 m lower down. Trevor did the first dive reporting good viz down to 54 m.
I did a warm-up procedure which I adapted from Trevor’s one. I did not pack but just took a full breath and departed.  It was a long slow descent of about a minute and ten seconds,  17 deg  C on the bottom and a clearer 6-8m viz, all this to the tune of the bellowing and singing humpbacks. Though there were no fish worth spearing during my ~5 sec visit on the bottom. The ascent was 45 seconds dive, totaling 2:01 for the whole dive. It was a good comfortable dive that I did with ease despite swimming skew up the angled safety guide rope. In a new activity like this we must have good safety, for now I follow a rope for a number of reasons including: 1. a back-up for leg cramps(here I would pull up by hand if my leg/legs were not functional), 2. for direction guidance especially at 5 bar pressure where narcosis becomes a possibility, and 3. for the safety diver to know where to meet me - AN ABSOLUTE MUST for now. On completion of the dive I also run through the freedive surface protocol too. If I fail this protocol I will consider the dive a failure as I must be fresh and alert to ensure reduced risk. Such a failure will require attention to one or more aspects of the dive.

I must thank Trevor for my improved skill, I now find myself  laughing off 40 m CWT spearfishing dives and being confidently enthusiastic to attempt 50+CWT spearfishing. A nice expansion of my comfort zone. Perhaps most important is the seed he sowed in my mind back in 2009 was to do this CWT rather than variable. My insistence was to do it in Cape waters where dive conditions are a bit harder that up north. Let’s  see what the future holds and how I pass skills on to my son Zephyr who I know one day can far exceed what I do to now…
The awesome thing about my present mode of training is that it is just what I want – less is more – I do very little hard training – far less than before – I has truly dawned on me that I severely overtrained and that there are huge technical improvements to be had that far outweigh extra hours of running, tables, or pool training.

So, I have been trained: to train, and to rest right, and freedive a lot better (deeper and safer) but by no means will I stop here – I feel there is more in the engine room and will explore that plus I still need to get that fish, but that I now know is just a question of time.

Thanks Trevor you have greatly aided my ultradeep spearfishing. My weakest links are identified and being addressed. As I write this my chest has a slight soreness from last nights set of ribcage flexibility stretching exercises I did to enhance equalization.

Trevor is at present..., how should I put this,  He's undertaking a big challenge. Best of luck [Skill] to you  Trev.
 More to follow in the next few weeks...

Friday, July 19, 2013

Freediving in Mauritius in the Grand Baie Area

I just had a 10 day family holiday in Mauritius (early July). It was excellent for myself and the family. It was my first visit. Sea temp was at the lowest annual average of 23-24 deg C which was just great for me and air temp was nice with warm sun but not harsh UV conditions.
I stayed at hotel Merville Beach  just north of Grand Bay.
I had great viz deeper out and quite close in - typically 15-25 m  and max viz was 60 m. I dived by boat at Coin de Mire (an island about 10 km NW of Grand Bay)

Coin de Mire:


On Steve's boat - you can hire it, contact him on (230) 7607719


Robert Marie, Steve's brother was a great host on one day when we rented his water taxi for the day and he took us to dive with dolphins (the whole family was in with the spinner and bottlenose dolphins - Griffin on dad's back with a mask and no other attire!.)
Roberts rates were very reasonable  contact him on (230) 2637961 or 9325590.


Robert and Steve would come to the beach at teh hotel after breakfast to pick us up for whatever activity.



Zephyr and Ateya diving:



There was a nice shallow dive against the island and not far off was the wreck of Jabeda in 34m which made for a great dive with 30 m viz. It is close to the island. There I saw kakaap(green jobfish), dogtooth tuna, greater baracuda, ignobilis and some big rock salmon snappers on the wreck.





Freediving the wreck with short fins was a bit harder but I got used to them and slower descents - probably improved my dive response anyway. I filmed fishes there - got them close by using spearfishing hunting techniques(with no gun of course as spearfishing is not allowed in Mauritius).

I also dived with dolphins - whole family in the water and they loved that - I got pcis of them - we also dived shallow coral gardens which amazed the kids and even me too. Many of the boats will supply snorkelling gear (mask and fins).





A few days later when I had build up some fitness I dived the wreck of the Silver Star ( a convenient 15 minute boat ride from Grand Bay) It is a small ship lying almost perpendicular to the coast bow resting on reef and the stern on sand in 39m. I had one visit to the sand using shortfins - took me down slow 1:30 to get there but I was diving very light as well.
Currents were weak tidal movement and I was there on high tide in no current and a super 60 m viz - I could see the whole wreck from above.
Being solo I took it easy with long rests and good prep. There were a few rock salmon snappers which I filmed - footage was poor as the camera was "autozoomed" by the water pressure below 28 m - pity!



I did a no-fins dive to the wreck at 31m. Further out is a reef and it drops quickly to 60 m - this would be nice for freediving the area. I would love to stay for a month to focus on freediving only with competent back-up of course.

Watch my son Zephyr dive 11 meters  -  he did not look challenged if you ask me!

A great holiday and nice diving - next time I will take my monofin along for sure.

Super Deep Spearfishing Dive! Who else but Trevor Hutton, again.

Check out this unussual spearfishing dive:




I like what he has done with the camera and depth guage.

I have know Trevor for a good few years now and I remember the first time we talked about spearfishing below -50 m. I said variable weight is the way to go. Trevor disagreed strongly. Later we swapped spearfishing and freediving skills on one of his PE visits and I have followed those reccommendations.  Anyway time passed and now I agree that constant ballast best - thanks trevor - The mind shift has been worth it.

Doing that dive in the Cape is a good bit harder than in the clean warm waters where most deep spearing or freediving is done.

I wish you all the best down there in the deep...

Greatwhite comes too close for comfort



Another white at Deep pinnacles Thunderbolt reef. At least she was fairly calm. Eugene I guess you felt the spice of life that day.