Project Journal, June 12th, 2012: “Wrecks”

 
 

Hello friends,

This past week has been full of big things. First, we had a team meeting, with all of our team members together for the first time in a couple of months. We started with some “paella”, which is a Spanish rice full of seafood, chicken and garlic sausage, cooked with wine and herbs, which Rudi specializes on, accompanied by a few bottles of Rioja, and even a bottle of very nice Turkish wine from Trachea. After some coffee to stay awake, we finally got to talk and discuss things. Nick had just come back from the Papua New Guinea in the Pacific, where to our surprise, he confirmed the weather is just as bad and the water as murky as here in the Atlantic. This is usually not the case, but given the circumstances, we decided that a trip that far from home, with people and gear, would be way too expensive not to have perfect conditions. David had been in the Western Caribbean recently as well and said that Cozumel, a mecca of diving that is usually not affected by dirty water given that strong currents always keep the water clean, was also suffering from murkiness. So, given that both the most protected areas of the Atlantic and the Pacific are not at their best right now, and given that we are already behind in our schedule, we made the decision to film the two episodes we had originally left for the end first, “Wrecks” and “Caves”.

On one hand, the wrecks that we’re planning to shoot are mostly very deep, between 30 and 50 meters, and at those depths, there is usually much better visibility than in the shallower water of the reefs. Likewise, the cave systems we want to visit almost always have visibility in excess of 40 meters, since they are not affected by bad weather the way the sea is. But with that positive comes a negative: the fact that these episodes will be, without a doubt, the most difficult to shoot both for the crew and myself. Which is why we had left them for the end of the series, when my training would allow me to do those difficult dives more easily and the team would be so accustomed to our procedures they would, too, be having an easier time dealing with the extreme requirements of those dives. Now however, in order to get episodes finished on time before the summer ends, we need to move our schedule forward and deal with the tremendous challenges that Wrecks and Caves will present us. I had a feeling this would be our only solution, which is why I had started training harder since last week, but I am still a little concerned about the challenges ahead. To give you an idea, on a typical diving day during the filming of Wrecks, I can very easily do the following. 20-30 dives to depths between 30-45 meters, and on each of those, I will go down on one point of the wreck, and as I’m coming back, the current will push me 80-100 meters from the point of descent, all of which is very tiring. My surface divers will need to follow me on all those dives, waiting for me at my exit point, ready to tow me back to the point of origin, not letting me use my legs so I don’t get too tired, using only their power. Then, the deep divers and the camera crew will easily stay underwater for up to 3 hours, including 45-60 minutes at the bottom, plus another long stretch for decompression. All of this while making sure we are not run over by boats passing by. And then, the next day, we need to do it all over again. But, hard as it may be, it is our only option right now so we need to get on with the program. So, this past weekend we went to test the gear, procedures and water quality at a couple of wrecks in the Florida Keys. On the first two photos, you’ll see me on the “Benwood”, a British boat that sunk off Key Largo in 1942, after being torpedoed by a German U-Boat. Lots of marine life there. The last two photos are from the Spiegel Grove, the largest artificial wreck in the world, at 156 meters in length. She was sunken in 2002 and, to the sadness of the organizers, she came to rest on her side instead of on her keel. Then, 3 years later, hurricane Dennis blew such high waves in the Keys, that even 40 meters below, the huge wreck was moved and landed on her keel as originally hoped for! As you can see, there are some very nice groupers in the wreck, including this “baby” Goliath grouper that, from his features, must be no more than 3 years old and already weighs over 130 kilos.

Stay tuned for more updates. If everything goes as planned, our “Wrecks” episode will be finished in about 5 weeks, and trust me, you won’t want to miss it!

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Yasemin Dalkilic

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