Our most exciting progress report to date!
July 5, 2002 -
Six days following our "first ascent from the SS Tahoe"!
for our progress report of November 23, 2001
for our progress report of July 23, 2001
for our progress
report of May 1, 2001
for our progress report of December 11, 2000
for our progress report of September 24, 2000
for our chronological progress up to March 26, 2000
Unbelievable, emotional, prideful, awesome, exhilarating are just a few words that New Millennium used to describe the experience of accomplishment in which they partook on June 29, 2002. It was the epitome of teamwork demonstrated by an effort of incredible precision, training, perseverance and professionalism. After 3 1/2 years of striving to accomplish something no-one ever thought would be so complicated, (or by some beliefs...not possible) New Millennium's 15 member dive team put two professionally trained technical divers on the wreck of the SS Tahoe, which lives 350 to 425 feet below the surface of Tahoe's emerald waters, SAFELY and in a manner that represented SCUBA and Technical SCUBA diving in a very positive and responsible manner.
In 1998, New Millennium conceived the idea of diving the SS Tahoe as a project that would allow beta testing of the decompression software, Departure. Resulting from a number of strategy sessions and discussions, it was decided that a documentary film should be the ultimate result. Over the past 3 1/2 years through further developmental discussions, New Millennium's "ultimate" goal is a project that will search out, locate and document the other wrecks that lie on Tahoe's bottom: The Nevada, Meteor and the Marian B. The latter of which was not intentionally scuttled but sunk under mysterious conditions! So, as you can see we are going to be very busy at Lake Tahoe for years to come. We want to do the maritime history of Tahoe its due justice and therefore attention to a complete study is due.
As one can imagine, many facets and tangents of many different ideas and directions develop when working within a team environment. However, there was focus upon our first step and that was of diving the SS Tahoe safely and professionally while concurrently gathering historical, informational and educational data allowing us to produce a documentary film. On June 29, 2002 at approximately 10:30am, both Brian Morris and Martin McClellan descended the 350' - 370 depths and dove the SS Tahoe. It was a planned short dive just to confirm logistics (which in hindsight we now wish we would have planned a longer bottom time) but those logistics were confirmed and our infrastructure and team skills are complete and we are now in a position to continue our exploratory work leading to longer and deeper dives to come.
|This photo is our first official image of our expedition, 3 1/2 years after some intense project planning, organization and training. It is not great but it is our first. It must be kept in mind that we are shooting digital video and the capturing of this image is from a very low budget still photo capture software program. So hopefully our budgets will increase but until that time, we must use what we have. We know that you are enjoying this as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.|
|Let us describe what you are looking at. You
are looking at the starboard bow portion of the SS Tahoe from about 15 -20 south.
The bright light spot on the bow is from Brian's OMS Phantom 400 light shining from
my left side. If you look carefully (provided this image is appearing on your
browser clearly) about 1/3 the distance from the left edge of the photo along the
starboard gunwales of the SS Tahoe, you can see our titanium super-hook that was
manufactured by Gary Trimble and Robert Neives of Lockheed Martin Perry Technologies.
This hook was placed during our April 2002 ROV operation. Looking from this
point on the ship (a small vertical line reflection) back up toward the upper left
quadrant of the photo you can see faintly our white marker line that goes to the surface.
This is attached to a temporary buoy and this hook, line and temporary marker buoy,
when affixed taught to the surface is how we connect our dive station (down lines) to the
SS Tahoe. Without this, as we have done many times before, you drop into an abyss of
dark sloping sand and very rarely see anything else. We realized very early in our
project that in order to dive this wreck, you must descend directly upon her. This
point was also independently recognized by Gary and Robert of Lockheed and thus back in
March of 2000, they began to support our project. The dark oval looking shape toward
the bow is the starboard bow scupper and the brown line below that is a ridge of steel in
the manufacturing that was actually painted a brown stripe along both sides of the ship.
Again, we apologize for the bad quality of this image as the images on the video are quite sharp and exciting to look at but we do not have the technology or budget to do any better at this point in time.
From this point, we spent about 2 minutes on the bottom and then began our 80 minute ascent utilizing 4 different decompression gasses. One at 190', at 130', at 50' and then back to pure oxygen supplied from the surface at 20'. It was a great day for us all!
As we mentioned in our last report, our training in Akumal and our choice to change our equipment configurations was instrumental in getting us to this point. What we learned is that conducting a dive of this magnitude and complexity, you simply can not cut any corners. You must focus upon doing everything safe (right). It takes us close to 4 hours to simply set-up our dive site and another 2-3 hours to conduct the actual dive. Weather permitting! This latter issue has become an intense procedural issue as if there is any slight chances for winds, we simply can not do this dive. So we leave the dock at 6am and we are finished around 1 to 2 in the afternoon. A long day for all.
|This is an image of Brian descending past the 140' mark on our way down. During this phase of the dive, we carry our 190 and 130 deco bottles and then during our ascent, we pick up our 50 at 50 and then switch to our O2 at 20. All procedures we have practiced may times in anticipation of this day. However, this day was not our first try at this same dive. On June 1st, we were in the water dropping down and noticed as the pressure began to increase, Martin had a contaminated gas|
|supply and the dive had to be aborted well short of our objective the SS Tahoe. Not every dive goes smooth but we continue.|
Since November, the dive team has been in the water many times practicing, diving, refining and discussing all aspects of our successful dives and our "successful failures". Each dive we have learned volumes pertaining to this type of technical diving that we are conducting at altitude. Many, many realizations have occurred and in a group that is open-minded that emphasizes safety and professionalism, those multiple and complex realizations can be logically organized and procedures can be implemented. End result of all efforts to this point is that what we are doing is working and working well. We have procedures well beyond that of normal technical trimix training and rightfully so as our dive is well beyond the scope of the training standards currently utilized within the technical industry.
However, we still have much to learn and experience. We still have many issues and logistics to deal with as we have many more dives to conduct. To do a documentary film, we need at least 60 - 90 minutes of underwater footage. At 6-7 minutes of bottom time per dive (not including the time to descend), actual time at the wreck, we need at least another 10 - 15 dives. At a cost of $2500 to $3000 per dive and looking at our bank account we are quite a few dives short! So...remember, visit our sponsorship page as we are a fully recognized charitable organization by the IRS. Your help, referrals and input are critical.
We told you to look forward to a dynamic 2002 and we are trying our best to deliver. We have about 4 - 5 more planned dives for this season and then we will be going back to Akumal for more training later this year. Keep coming back and if we have not updated the site to your liking, send us an email and we will give you a personal update.
Thanks for your input and involvement and safe diving....we will be in touch!