Showing posts with label Scuba diving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scuba diving. Show all posts

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scuba Diving Adventurer Stacy Allen and Her Novel: Expedition Indigo



 Fiona - Stacy, last time I saw you, you were generously offering me your bathing suit, and that's how I
           learned that you are quite the under water adventurer. First, thank you for your kind generosity.

           Can you introduce yourself to the readers? 
Author, Stacy Allen

Stacy - Hi everyone, I'm Stacy Allen, author of the
            upcoming debut, Expedition Indigo, 
            (August 18, 2014), the first in
           my Riley Cooper Romantic Suspense
           series. Expedition Indigo introduces Dr. 
           Riley Cooper, an archaeology
           professor who is thrust into the world of
           wreck diving and treasure hunting when she
           travels to Italy with a team
           of treasure hunters to find and salvage The
           Indigo, a cargo ship that sank off the coast 
           of Sorrento in 808 A.D. Dr. Cooper is 
           persuaded by her mentor to take his
           place on an expedition to Italy, where she
           will assist a team of treasure hunters to
           salvage an ancient shipwreck
           off the coast of Sorrento, Italy. 

Fiona - What was your motivations
           writing this series?

Stacy - I wanted to write a novel that showed that we are all
            stronger than we think we are. All of us have
            self-doubts and misgivings of what we are capable of, and yet, when things get tough, the human
            condition shows us strength and courage we didn’t know existed, and gets us all through the tough,
            trying times that life throws at us. When you first meet Riley, she is unsure of herself and doubtful she
            has what it takes to go on this mission. By the end of the book, she has found out what the reader
            knew all along: that she is more than capable of the tasks she is given. She has a new respect for
            herself, when she realizes that without her courage and strength, lives would have been lost and
            treasures would have been stolen. I want the readers of this book to realize, through Riley’s story,
            that they are also capable of doing the difficult, seemingly impossible things that we are faced with in
            our lives. Even when we don’t think we can, we have what it takes.


Fiona - You've been researching this book through your personal adventures. Can you share your 
            credentials  and background with us?

Ron and Stacy kayaking on Lake Panama
Stacy - I have an Advanced Open Water Diver
            certificate, with specialties in wreck diving
            and night diving.
            I have traveled to Italy many times. My
            passion for adventure has taken me to six
            continents, in order to explore over 53
            countries. I have studied many languages,
            but am most comfortable with
            Italian and French, having studied both for
            many years. My love of history, treasure
            hunting, Italy, archaeology and wreck
            diving led me to my character, Dr. Riley
            Cooper, and sparked the fire to write
            Expedition Indigo, the first in the Riley
            Cooper series. 

Fiona - Just to fill everyone in, Stacy chose Italy 
            as the first location (it is her second home
            and she speaks Italian). The second book is
            set in Cyprus, 3rd in Egypt and the 4th in

Ron and Stacy, Giza, Egypt

Stacy - Yes, so other than that, I'm  married, living
             just north of Atlanta, Georgia. I play
             guitar, sing, and do a zillion things. Like
             most writers, I have a ton of interests. I
             was that little girl (now woman) who
             wanted to conquer the world and see
             every inch of it.

Fiona - And your experience diving? Tell me
            about taking the plunge.

Stacy - My very first SCUBA experience was in
             St. Thomas (U.S.V.I.) I was on vacation
             and I took an Intro to SCUBA course.
             After a bit of pool work, off we went. My
              very first dive was:   
              a) in the ocean 
              b) a wreck dive and 
              c) in very deep water. 
              I was immediately hooked. Ignorance is bliss, however. Years pass and I move to Atlanta, and I
              decide I should just go ahead and get my SCUBA certificate. I go sign up and start the classroom
              lessons and reading books and my reaction was "I am lucky to be alive!" I didn't know anything
              about current or nitrogen narcosis or any of the other dozens of things that could have killed me on
              the check-out dives I had done. I got my certification here in Atlanta after doing my required "open
              waters" in Cozumel, Mexico. 

              Open water dives are required because you can only learn so much in a class room.
              When you do your open water dives as your final step, you and an instructor go out - either in
               the open ocean or in a river or lake - some body of water other than a swimming pool. 
              There I was tested on my skills (mask clearing, equipment removal, that is taking off my gear and
               putting it back on underwater, underwater signals, buddy breathing, things like that. I then got my
               advanced certification pretty soon after that. For my advanced, I went to Crystal Springs, Florida.
               For my Open Waters I did a navigational dive (where you rely solely on your compass and not
               your eyes), a flora and fauna dive, and a cave dive.

               After I got my Advanced Certification, I then spent time in Key West, where I got my
               Nitrox certification.

Fiona - Did you always love being in the water?

Stacy - When I was young my family lived on a river. We swam
Yangtze River, China
            and played as much as we could. One afternoon,
            I dived in where I shouldn't have. There was a rock
            ledge and I hit it, scraping all down my side, and dazing
            me but not knocking me out. I remember every second
            of that experience. I floated gently to the bottom, and I 
            remember seeing the sun's rays coming through the
            water, and I blacked out. My brother Kevin dived in
            and found me, brought me up, and saved my life. You
            know they say your life passes before you, and it surely
           did that day. I think I was around six or seven years old.
            I wouldn't go near water for years. I was completely 
            panicked and terrified. So my mother told me I had to
            get over the fear, and she sent me to the Y to learn to
            swim when I was in Jr High. I couldn't do it. So I had to
            go back a second time. It was also a

            When I was about 21, I decided I had better learn to
            swim. I went to the Virgin Islands on a
            vacation. I decided the best way to get over my fear of water was to jump off a boat in the ocean.
            That's what I did! I hyperventilated and was terrified, but I stayed in the water. And some baby 
            steps later, on another vacation to St. Thomas, I took that fateful SCUBA intro class. So my biggest
            obstacle was my own fear. And that is now, thankfully, gone.

Fiona - Which is a great set up for any heroine - to face a fear of water to save the situation.

Stacy - Absoluetly!

Ostia Antica, Italy

Fiona - What are some of the things that a writer without your
             background might write by mistake that would have a
             SCUBA diver shaking their head and saying - I can't
              read this anymore, she got this all wrong!

Stacy  - Ha! Let's see. 

          * Calling air tanks "oxygen" drives us up
             the wall. It is a mixed gas air tank, and is basically
             surface air that has been compressed into a tank.
             Like using those Vacuum bags on big blankets. The
             blankets are in tact, they are just compressed and
             take up less space! 
          * Thinking that as long as you have air in your
              tank you can stay underwater. 
          * Thinking that if a diver is low on air, they can just 
              hold their breath as long as they can and only breathe when necessary to make the tank last
              longer. The first, and I do mean the first, rule of diving is BREATHE. We must inhale, followed by
              an exhale, continuously the entire dive. It can be deadly to hold your breath underwater. We must
              "off -gas" which means expel our breath so nitrogen does not build up in our bloodstream. If gases
              are stuck in our bloodstream, as we ascend to the surface, they will expand and cause The Bends
              which very often will kill a diver. That is why divers do Safety Stops at 25 or 20 feet (I do them
              around 25 feet), which is to hang there and off-gas for 3-5 minutes (3 is what we learned,
              experienced divers do a 5 minute stop).

Fiona - O
kay here is my last and most important question. What is your favorite scar and how did you get it?

Stacy - Hah! Wow. In August of 2000, I was living in Seattle. I was opening up a bottle of vitamins, or
            trying to, and the stupid plastic seal around the top wasn't budging. I was frustrated, so I grabbed a
            french boning knife out of my kitchen (can you say S.T.U.P.I.D.?) and in a split second I had sliced
            my left index finger nearly off. I held my hand up and my forearm was coated with blood in a tenth
            of  a second. I could see the bone in my finger! (insert "GROSS!" here). I went into shock
            immediately. I ended up having reconstruction on that finger, and it has taken years to recover, and I
            still can't bend it entirely. But I could play guitar again after a couple of years, and that is something I 
            didn't think I would ever be able to do again.

Fiona - That was a most excellent scar story! And having listened to you play and sing on several
            occasions, I can say it would be a big loss had you not regained your ability.Thank you so much
            for sharing. It's been a pleasure having you on ThrillWriting today.

Stacy in Portugal

Stacy Allen served on the Board of Trustees of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, the Pacific Northwest Mystery Writers of America chapter, and currently serves as Vice President of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA) chapter. She is represented by Jill Marr, of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Expedition Indigo will debut August 18, 2014, and will be available in all electronic formats and audio, from Entranced  Publishing. It will also be available in print.

You can get in touch with Stacy:

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 3, 2014

Police Dive Teams - How to Find People and Evidence Under Water: Information for Writers


Oxygen toxicity occurs when the lungs take in ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Last fall at the Writers' Police Academy, I attended a seminar in how the police dives for evidence and conducts searches for bodies that are underwater.

The divers that we interviewed were all police officers; they trained on a regular basis as a water recovery team. When a need arose, they would leave their normal workday duties and dive.

These divers were involved in cases that included:
* Evidence recovery
* Submerged body recovery, including:
   `victims of a crime

Teams might also participate in:
* Inspecting the hulls of ships in
   anti-narcotics operations
* Explosive Ordnance Disposal (bombs)
   in anti-terrorism efforts

The team that I interviewed maintained a minimum of three dive members per event.
* A below water surface diver
* An attendant diver who stayed on the surface to assist the underwater diver and to signal/communicate
* A supervisor who works on the surface to direct the operation

Video Quick Study (6:05) Norfolk, England but this is the same information that we received.

Most of the diving investigations are done in highly hazardous environments which might include
* Cold temperatures
* Zero visbility
* Contaminated waters including chemical hazards
* Sharp objects that the divers must feel with their hands since they can not see
* Entanglement and entrapment objects such as submerged trees, rocks, and debris

Video Quick Study (3:32) What it looks like under there.
Video Quick Study (8:21) Difficulties of suiting up, moving, and seeing underwater.

This is picture of one of our instructors, "Cookie." Cookie's technique for keeping the heebie-jeebies at bay while he's groping through pitch-black water for a dead body includes singing as loudly as he can. That's why he makes extra bubbles.

Video Quick Study (3:34) includes information on equipment, sonar, finding a car

US Navy 090628-N-5710P-319 A U.S. Navy diver c...
 A U.S. Navy diver conducts a dive supporting Infinite Response 09, a bilateral exercise between the U.S. Navy and the naval forces of a Middle Eastern country (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The team might be called to investigate:
* Natural water ways such as oceans, rivers,
   and ponds
* Dams
* Caves
* Sewage ponds - there's a nasty plot twist for

In some cases sonar is used to reduce diver exposure. This includes side-scan sonar and radial sonar. The sonar can help locate:
* Vessels
* Vehicles
* Planes
* Bodies
* Evidence

Search Patterns:

graphic from Wikipedia

Arc Search

* Also known as a pendulum search and a fishtail search
* The diver has a rope that is fed to him by his attendant diver.
* The diver will start on one side of a designated line (such as a shore
    line) and swim/grope through the water at the far reach of the line.
* At the end of the arc, the diver turns to go back the other way. The
   line is then released at a measured increment, knotted to maintain
   a record, and fed to the diver. For example: if the diver is looking for
   a bicycle the attendant might release a foot and a half of slack between
   arc rotations. If it is a gun, the arcs are much tighter.
* Once the diver has searched the area that can be conveniently reached
   with the rope line, the center point is moved to search another area. 
* This search works best when the general area is known.

graphic from Wikipedia

Circular Search

If the team was out in the water, away from a shore line, they would use a circular grid pattern.

This operates in a similar way as the arc search.
* Fixed central point
* Diver swims 360 degrees before his line is 

Other Search Patterns

* Jackstay - Has divers swimming a straight line along a shore then moving out a length to swim another
   straight line.
* Snagline - When an object is large enough, like a car or fridge, a line can be held in parallel swimmers'
   hands so that it will catch on the item.

English: An Engineer-Diver with KB Bandmask
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Underwater communication 

Can take place via
* Line signals 
* Communicators

Once an Object is found

* The diver sends up a signal marker
* The GPS coordinates are documented
* The item is elevated using air balloons

Video Quick Study (2:21) You can see the lift bags bringing up a car.

A Body 

* Does not lay flat on the floor of the water. The upper half is held at an angle buoyed by air trapped in the
* Will float after about seven days as the body fills with gases
* After several more days as cavities are punctured by fish, birds, and other animals, the body will sink back
   into the water.
* The rate of decomposition depends mostly on water temperatures. The colder the water, the longer the
   body will remain intact.
* The deceased is bagged underwater.
   `This is for the sake of the survivors watching from shore
   `This helps to maintain any evidence that will help investigators

Video Quick Study (2:26) Divers talk about their experience and shows arc, and signalling.
Video Quick Study (3:29) Canadian and American divers certify in ice diving. YIPES! 

Video LONG Study (47:00) If you are writing a SCUBA scene you may want to spend the time learning 
                                about the problems of hypothermia, dry suit, and choices.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Enhanced by Zemanta