David Smith organized a scuba diving trip to Bluestone Quarry near Thomasville, NC, on Sunday, August 9, 2015. The other two divers were his daughter Bethany Swaim and me, Bob Laney. Dave is an avid diver who goes to the Caribbean, often Bonaire Island, on a regular basis. I have been with him on maybe a half dozen of those trips. This outing was to keep our fins wet between trips - for practice and for fun.
The weather was delightful, sunny and warm. The water temperature was 86 degrees, the warmest I have ever experienced in Bluestone. The thermocline was at 20 feet, where the water temperature dropped about 10 degrees. In such nice conditions the quarry was busy, with both ends of the pond crowded with large groups of divers.
Thanks to David for the underwater photographs.
When we began our dive, we left the dock and on the way out Dave lead, Bethany was in the middle and I brought up the rear. That is, I was supposed to bring up the rear. But I had such tough experiences in Cozumel with the ripping strong current and the deep coral canyons – where I twice got swept away from the group and almost stayed lost – that it had been ingrained in me to stay right on the leader’s fins and keep him strictly in view. Today in Bluestone the visibility was poor and I trouble keeping Dave in view. Within a few minutes I had instinctively pushed ahead of Bethany and was stroking along beside Dave’s fins.
The last several trips I had made to the quarry with Dave, Paul Anderson and perhaps other divers, we had left the dock on our way out into the quarry water at a certain depth, say 12 feet. Then upon our return we had come back at a lower depth, say 20 feet. Both times we came back too low, could not see the landmarks and missed the dock. We ended up finning some distance past the dock. We had to surface, find the dock and swim back on the top of the water. This time, when we returned, our leader Dave motioned for me to go in front. I kept a close eye on our depth and managed to come back directly to the dock. Paul, here is your raspberry!
I also got to play Ranger Bob for real. At the end of the dive, I did not understand the plan. We all ate lunch; then I disconnected my gear and packed it away. Dave and Bethany got back in the water for a second dive, while I stayed on the shore. Another large group of divers arrived on the train carts and got ready to go in the quarry. I assisted when the leader asked me to take their group picture. They all lined up on the dock and one at a time made giant strides into the water six feet below. The youngest diver, a boy about 14 years old, kept sitting down on a bench on the dock and standing back up as he waited his turn to enter the water. I noticed that his tank was sliding up and down on his vest. I whistled for him to stop and barely kept him from striding into the water. His tank strap had come unhooked and his tank was falling off. If he had jumped in, the tank would have slid off his back, jerked his head backwards and likely left him in 10 feet of water with no air to breathe. The consequences could have been dire. I re-attached his tank and adjusted his straps. Then he had a good dive.
On the way home, near Clemmons, Bethany made a telephone to-go order at Ronni’s restaurant. We stopped and she loaded up with fresh pizza and hot wings for her husband. The rest of the way down the road our car smelled great!