August 7, 1999 – another fine diving day. We continued with the same procedures for our tune-up dives with two dives for each team to 180 to 190 fsw. Rather than travel a long distance to a wreck in this depth range, we opted for the ever present sand. This was actually useful today because we wanted to test an experimental dredge that we hope to use for excavation around and in the turret once we start work on the Monitor. This dredge was built by Chris Cote of the NOAA Diving Program. Chris assembled the dredge and briefed the all the team members on its operation during the boat ride out to the site.
Both teams had an opportunity to handle and operate the dredge, and valuable information about its operation was obtained. The dredge is powered by a high pressure cylinder with a regulator and is connected by a low pressure hose through a one quarter turn valve. As the air flows into the 3 inch diameter main body of the dredge, it rises up a 10 foot section of pipe. The air expands and accelerates as it travels up this pipe and creates suction on the other end by pulling water in to replace the water and air forced out the top. The diver moves the opening around and near where he wants to clear the sand and can adjust the flow of gas with the valve.
Besides working with the dredge, all of the dives also included our standard skill development of time, depth and psi checks at various intervals, lift bag deployment, drift decompression, live-boating procedures and gas shut downs. Cindy Creamer joined the team today and helped with the dive supervisor duties on deck. As the team continues to come together, we are planning one more dive tomorrow before starting the scientific operations on the Monitor on Tuesday.