Our Progress: An
Date September 24, 2000
First, an apology. It has been over 5 months since we last updated you, as well as our website. For that we are sorry.
for our chronological progress up to March 26, 2000
Many exciting things have happened to New Millennium since March 26th of this year.
As you know by now, or maybe you do not, we have had to postpone our planned expedition dives until next summer. We plan to make our first expedition dive in late June to early July of 2001. Many reasons for this have occurred. We will try to explain the major issues below.
Our last incredible milestone was the location of the SS Tahoe with the incredible support of Lockheed Martin Perry Technologies and their Lead Man, Gary Trimble. Then our training officially began. Efforts that, in and of themselves, were delayed, but once began, took much longer than expected; ending on July 17th. We completed 18 training dives focusing upon deep trimix diving which was a rigorous feat in and of itself. We completed Trimix Training with an emphasis upon Altitude Freshwater/Coldwater Diving! Much more complex than that of sea level diving.
Schedules, weather and primarily uncooperative behaviors from a few of our initial team members were the causes for our tardiness in accomplishing this aspect of our SS Tahoe preparations. Specifically the behaviors, by a few of New Millennium's incepted team, created incredible delays and much frustration. Issues and complications that completely sidetracked New Millennium from its main objective. We wasted so much time training unappreciative egoists that did not display the maturity and dedication necessary for this type of project, that we never got to practice, really practice, for the dive on the SS Tahoe. However, if you will take note of our "Members" page, these members have resigned and we have gone from nine Expedition Team Members to three. Progress in the past 2 months relating to "training for the SS Tahoe", has tripled that from March to July with this decreased number of Expedition Divers.
The bright spot on our team has been our Safety Staff. This vital group of professionally talented and incredibly patient divers has grown from 8 to 12! Soon we will add Wendy Baldwin, Ian Beach, Mark Briseno, Steve Parker and Anna Solano to our Safety Staff pages.
Concurrently, we have trained our boat crew on the issues of "diving". The crew of the dive boat Prophet, Captains John and Scott along with deck hand Michael have made great students of dive boat operation and procedure. These guys are invaluable to our success and they have been there for every dive milestone we have accomplished this year. Without them our dives would not have been possible. Thank you John, Scott and Michael of Tahoe Sport Fishing!
Now we are practicing specifically for the SS Tahoe and the increased team work and cooperation we are making the most efficient use of all our time spent. We have a team of highly talented, knowledgeable, dedicated, cooperative, compassionate and understanding human beings. As a result of the chemistry of all involved we are making strides not previously possible. On Saturday September 16th, we pierced the 300' mark in Glenbrook with a professionally and safely executed dive. We were out above the SS Tahoe on the wall on which she sits. We were close. We could feel her. But we were just far enough away where she still remained invisible to us. This was our third completely dedicated practice dive since July 16th. Hopefully, in October we will have the same results on our 4th, a 350' practice dive in Glenbrook. During the winter months, our team has been invited to a variety of dive sites in Florida and Mexico to practice with other deep technical teams.
To emphasize the critical need for SS Tahoe specific training,
lets put some perspective upon what we are doing. the Andria Doria has been deemed
Technical Diving's, Mt. Everest. Well....the AD lies in 250' of water at sea level
in 45 degree water. With that being said, the SS Tahoe, at 385' (bow) to 463'
(stern), in a lake at 6229 feet of elevation in water that is 39 degrees, is a "Moon
Shot" and needs to be addressed with the respect as such. As you can imagine there
are many complex
procedures that need to be addressed for this expedition. As an example we need 5 decompression gasses for our ascent of over 2 hours requiring 25 + decompression stops. We can only carry 4! Where do we put the 5th? Well, we are placing the 5th at the surface that is supplied to us by 35 foot hoses floating down. Our first decompression stop is around 300 feet. How do we get a spare tank of decompression gas should one of ours fail at this depth? We have devised a procedure for this specific need and have implemented its practice. You can see, these and many other logistical issues needed to be and still need to be solved.
Other logistical issues that have forced New Millennium to move its SS Tahoe expedition attempt to the summer of 2001 are 1) marking the wreck for efficient location and dive site set-up, 2) the positioning of a diving platform/barge, directly above this marker, 3) recompression chamber and medical staff and 4) funding. Our philosophy is that if we can not "do it safely" then we will wait until we can. We do not subscribe to the "doing it right" philosophy as we feel that there are many ways to conduct deep decompression technical diving and thus we implement the methods that we think will make our dives the safest and most conservative possible. Claiming to be, "doing it right" means that we know all and our way is the only way [attitude that is very prevalent in this world of technical diving] and we do not subscribe to this attitude. In fact, we believe that we can learn much from others and keep a very open mind when contacted with support or criticism for that matter.
Lets briefly explore the four above mentioned issues:
1) On a dive like this where the descent can take up to half the
allowed dive time, 5 minutes in our case, we can not afford to drop 50 feet to the port or
starboard. We need to have complete certainty that when we hit 385' - 463' we are
right on the SS Tahoe herself. Now our friend and avid supporter, Gary Trimble, of
Lockheed Martin Perry Technologies, can put this
marker on and guide us to the SS Tahoe with no problem. Unfortunately this presents us with a liability issue. If we were to mark the SS Tahoe and leave this marker unattended, irresponsible and negligent divers could try to make an attempt. An attempt without the knowledge of the safety, planning and infrastructure requirements critical to the responsible and professional execution of this dive. An attempt that could result in injury or death. Thus involving New Millennium in an ugly lawsuit. Therefore, we are working on ways to mark the SS Tahoe confidentially. This marker is critical however, as we need it to position anchors around the SS Tahoe for the positioning of our diving platform.
2) Presently we are looking to purchase an old pontoon boat. If we can find something that will suit our needs, about 8' X 20', then the anchors that will need to be place won't have to be as large and heavy. But we will need to set anchors, three of them. What this will do is give us a three point mooring around the SS Tahoe and the Platform can be drawn in and positioned exactly where we need it. Directly above the wreck site. We have permission from the State of Nevada to position these anchors but only if we show plans for anchor removal. This is going to be a costly operation as placing anchors in 300-500 feet of water will require some heavy equipment. All of which is available at the lake but not cheep. Once we solve these issues, we can then utilize a medium sized vessel or two to transport all of us out with our equipment, move the diving platform into place, place it into position by simply hooking up to our previously placed anchors and begin to set-up our dive. We have not done this yet so I am sure that it will create new logistical issues to address. That is the fun part of this "tech diving".
3) Recompression Chamber. This is a much more complicated issue. Unfortunately the source that assured us support has not materialized. So we are looking to actually get grant money to put in place a multi-person, double lock, full medical chamber at a site at Lake Tahoe. Right now, we are taking quite a risk in diving without a chamber on site but we feel our planning, preparation and attention to detail along with our conservative dive planning minimizes this risk. Still, we must have a chamber just in case and I hope that we can accomplish this. A chamber shell (not plumbed and working) could cost as much as $25,000. New... is more than a house and the portable chambers which only hold one maybe two divers are $30,000. These prices do not include operators, initial installation, support equipment and a location to place the chamber however, the operators and location may have already been secured. Keep your fingers crossed. We are very focused upon acquiring a chamber and a full staff to operate it and the long term benefits to the local divers, stores and clubs will keep it a priority of ours until accomplished.
4) Funding. We just did not do a good enough job this past year showing the corporate money that the media interest was definitely there. We spent so much time training, important but as mentioned above, much wasted time was spent, that we just did not get the chance to really focus and develop the contacts that did show interest. Now, this is a major focus of New Millennium going forward. This project can really benefit a sponsor in the amount of promotional value it has. To date we have had interest from and aired on, all 4 major networks on their news shows, The Discovery Channel, PBS programming, four local radio stations, we have had coverage in 3 national magazines and have been in print in at least 50 plus newspaper articles nationwide. Of course now that we are moving the dive to next year the interest has dropped and that is unfortunate because this story is great and is going to need that much lead time to develop.
So...we are still short about $50,000 and more if we have to buy
our own chamber but we will keep plugging along until we have set in place the
infrastructure necessary to do this dive safe! Training and practice are continuing
with much excitement and momentum. However, the end result is now not just a
light at the end of the tunnel but the end of the tunnel itself. The tunnel...the
gateway to the wreck of the SS Tahoe. Our goals are very close to becoming a
reality! We are so close we can feel it!