|Party at the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber? Report and Photos|
Posted by Elaine on October 18, 2006 at 13:53:13:|
Event Report and Photos
The "Washdown Party" at the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber
October 13 - 14, 2006
On Friday October 13th, I went out to the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber for the annual "Washdown Party".
Each year, all of the Chamber Crew (and Chamber Crew Interns - I'm still one of those) along with their families or a guest, are invited to spend the weekend at the Wrigley Center for Environmental Science. The purpose of the weekend is to clean the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. This is my "trip report" of the cleanup weekend.
One of the "perks" was housing other than the crew apartment. My assigned living space was a room with a harbor view in one of the cute little guest houses - the Plumleigh house. This four bedroom, two bathroom, townhouse has a small living room, dining room, and kitchenette.
On my way up the hill to visit the Crew apartment I noticed that work has begun on the USC Environmental Center expansion project. It was strange to see tractors and plows where two weeks before there had been scrub brush and deer. The plans indicate that this will be a nice addition to the complex when it is finished, but I couldn't help think of the song done by Joni Mitchell, and, more recently, by Counting Crows "Big Yellow Taxi".
The other group at Wrigley for the weekend was from Elderhostel. When I went through the dining hall, Alex Winqvist (also a Chamber Crew Intern) was leading an Elderhostel class on Algae Pressing. They were creating small works of art using ordinary local marine algae. I listened to part of the class and Alex invited me to make my own attempt at "seaweed art" (not pictured). Some photos from this class are below.
While waiting for more crew members to arrive, there was a terrific afternoon rainbow, and, in the pitch black of the Friday the 13th evening, a dramatic thunder storm.
Early Saturday morning, the work began at the Chamber. The compressor shed and the exterior of the chamber were cleaned from top to bottom.
When Karl began laying out the fire hoses, I knew that the fun part was coming - The Interior Washdown!
To prepare for this, we had to take everything that could be removed out of the Chamber. All remaining water perishable items were sealed in waterproof plastic.
We made what normally looks like this:
Look like this:
Then we donned our "Party Costumes" and prepared for the hard work of scrubbing down the interior.
Dressed, ready to go, and safely sealed inside, we were sent to 165 feet. It gets quite warm in the chamber during a rapid descent, and, when we finally reached 6 atmospheres the activation of the overhead sprinklers produced a welcomed cool shower. Some of us started scrubbing all exposed interior surfaces with soapy rags as others washed down the walls with the fire hoses. A few hose battles erupted. Taking pictures was difficult, not only due to the low light conditions, but every time I quit scrubbing someone would nail me with a spray from the hose. Narcosis, pressurized Donald Duck voices, hurling water, soap bubbles, and in my case a camera - life is good. These are some photos of pressurized interior cleaning.
We toweled the interior dry during the long ride back to the surface.
Next the floor and the bilge were removed in preparation for the sanding and repainting that gets done every 10 years..
We had everything taken apart and shiny clean. Soon it would be time for a relaxing lunch. The phone rang - a diver possibly needing recompression was on his way by boat to the dock. Everyone hussled to reassemble the chamber. All too soon, it was back to check lists and chamber start up procedures - business as usual at the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber.
I had to return home early to take care of my pets so I missed the spaghetti dinner. Karl didn't want me to feel "left out" so he sent this description of the part that I missed: "Sorry you were not able to stay over. The food was great! It felt like my stomach was going to explode by the end of the day (just one more scoop of pumpkin flan...).
Until next time.........
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