Back to the Yukon, part 3

The Yukon
  • The Yukon
  • Image by J.D. Cook

The boat that Waterhorse Charters owns is named the Humboldt. It is 45 feet long and designed for scuba diving. This dive to the wrecked HMCS Yukon will be the second time on the boat for Jason McLachlan, who is diving in my place. (I failed to complete the recertification scuba course, and Jason agreed to dive the Yukon for this story.)

Jason was relaxed when he was loading his gear on the Humboldt. Greg Hatem, owner and one of two captains, arranged for Jason to have a divemaster accompany him for the dives down to the Yukon. Several other divers on the boat were planning to go inside the ship. Jason’s dive would consist of dropping down to the bottom (about 100 feet), looking at the ship, and returning to the surface.

Preparations before the dive were overseen by Captain Anita. Before getting on the boat, Anita was checking qualifications. One prospective diver had not dived this deep in cold water and Anita gave him the okay, as long as he stayed with a divemaster.

J.D. Cook was Jason’s divemaster. On the first dive, they dropped down fast, immediately let go of the anchor line, and went to the stern of the ship. The ship is over 350 feet long. Jason went up to the ship and swam along the starboard side (the wreck lies on its port side) to about the middle of the hull. Visibility was about 15 feet, but the surge was disorienting.

Nearing his 20-minute air limit, Jason began his ascent. As he reached the surface, he realized he had come up too quickly. Captain Anita berated him. Jason realized he had failed to release enough air from his buoyancy compensator jacket on his way up; he promised to do so on his second dive.

The second dive was better because the surge was less and the visibility was better. This time they started in the middle of the ship. He saw one of the holes that were cut in the hull and, it was dark and scary in there. Only a few of the divers did go into the ship. Those divers were using nitrox, which has a higher ratio of oxygen to nitrogen than standard diving gas.

Jason felt better oriented on his second dive, so he looked around the exterior of the ship.

I asked Jason how he felt about diving the Yukon. He said the dive was “Awesome, and I want to do it again soon.” Next time, he wants to swim around the ship’s guns.

Part 1 | Part 2

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I have to say, I agree with Bill wholeheartedly. Diving is a wonderful sport and can be done safely with proper training.

I like to say that we must never forget that it's an entire sport built around not dying. Don't hold your breath, or your lungs could explode -- and you could die. Don't surface too quickly or you'll get decompression sickness (called the bends by non-divers) -- and you could die. (Possibly one of the most horrific deaths imaginable, BTW.) It is a remarkable feat of technology that we are allowed to spend time underwater for extended periods of time, but our bodies were not designed to be down there and that's why we must be properly trained and always follow said training.

Diving the way your friend dives is the equivalent of a person who says i don't really need to follow the lines on the freeway, go anywhere near the speed limit, wear seatbelts, or learn how to read street signs. A person who drives like that will end up dead.

Diving this way is beyond irresponsible. Writing about it as if it is normal practice is irreprehensible.

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