About the Author Nathalie Lasselin
Awards winning filmmaker and producer, Nathalie is an avid Arctic, cave and wreck’s explorer. Between teaching tech diving, leading exploration, filming and giving lectures all around the world, she creates projects to empower people in water protection. WDHOF inductee, she went on a 70km unique dive journey to raise awareness for drinking water: Urban Water Odyssey.
I have been scootering for quite some time now. First in a quarry, then rivers and caves but I was going to experience way more and train myself for a really long long ride in treacherous conditions . Here is what I experienced from my Urban Water Odyssey scooter rides?
For years, I own a silent submerge scooter. Small, compact and efficient. This was going to be my tool of choice for my proof of concept dive. 21,1km (13 miles) in the St Lawrence River in Montreal. In August 2017, I was ready to do a 10 hours ride and I had 3 scooters ready to cover the distance. I was diving a APdiving evolution with 1 bailout 40cf and wearing a KM 48 full-face mask. So mu surface team could see me, and track my path plus gives me direction, I had to be attached to myself a surface marker. Yes, we you exactly hate, that thin line that pull on either your hand or body. In order not to have the line entangled, I kept it attached to my CCR and I had to adjust the line length according to my depth.
Finally, I was able to navigate through the waters and the seaway in 6 hours. But what amazed me the most was that i used the same minnus DPV for 5 consecutive hours without any trouble, and finished the last hour of the dive with another one. After that successful dive, I calculated that for 3.3 times the distance, I will have 6 scooters. The math was telling me 4 dpv were enough so I added 2 more just in case.
The proof of concept dive, I can say, it was a smooth ride. In order to orient myself in the river and not to be trapped under a ship, I attached a compass around the silent submerge. My head woman was giving me direction, I just had to follow. On that specific dive, I had no problem at all with power, nor direction and I was pretty confident in my equipment.
The following year, it was going to be at least 30 hours in the water in 2 days, most of them scootering and some of it resting, sleeping, eating in order to cover the 70 kilometres ( 44 miles) distance.
What I hadn’t planned was the fact that the 14th and 15th of September would be the last amazing hot weekend of the summer. So all you can imagine boaters decided to enjoy that day. I could understand them, but that didn’t make me happy at all. That would push me outside of my planned trajectory and I was forced to retreat in shallow waters where aquatic plants had a long hot summer to grow, reaching the surface for miles and miles.
That was the beginning of the worst challenge: scootering in thin aquatic plants for hours and hours. Basically, you loan the grass for hours of pleasure. Of course, I had to stop more than frequently to clean the props and all that resistance of the weeds entangling was consuming the batteries way faster. At some point I was running out of my available scooters, even if I had 6 of them and had to use others I didn’t have a chance to test prior to the dive.
If I know and can take for granted that my compass in front of the silent submerge does not suffer from the magnetic field of the motor switch. I can’t say the same for other scooters. I encounter various magnetic aberration and fast changes along the course of the dives. To make a story short. Navigation has been a challenge for sure. But hey, it was the first time someone intended that impossible 44 miles crossing several deadly rapids, crossing 8 bridges and more importantly in a seaway in a big city where boaters never see divers except a couple of scientific and commercial divers at specific spot.
What I really love about my submerge is that with the left handle, metal blade stabilisation, that dpv is fast to change direction, stable and comfortable to ride. I had to go through rapids in which I had to keep the scooter to be sure I was going in the right water vein. When the counter currents plus the rip, sideways ones decided to push me in all possible directions, I just grabbed the scooter firmly. Since it was not too long, it reacted well in the rapids without hurting me even if I did a couple of 360 degrees upside down.
What you need to be careful before going on a big DPV underwater trip:
- Test all-new piece of equipment prior to the dive.
- Be sure your battery is fully charged.
- Inspect all o’rings.
- Be sure you cleaned your props if you ever have fishing lines or plants or whatever around them.
- Adjust the length of the rope to your size.
- Take DPV training if not already done.
- Test your compass and when adjusted, never change its position on the scooter.
- Do not mount your dive computer near your compass.
- Make your own test. Each dive has different conditions and every single modification will impact the dive.
Thanks to :
my team www.urbanwaterodyssey.com
Silent Submerge for their supports
All my partners.