Six TSAC members went to London Diving Chamber in February to experience a dry dive to 40m. We changed into blue scrubs (only marginally more attractive than your average dry-suit) and went through a safety briefing, before clambering in to the chamber. Once inside, we had to don ear protectors as the decompressor makes quite a noisy hiss.
As we started to “descend”, I was struck by how quickly and how frequently we needed to clear our ears compared to when under the water. Unfortunately, Anne had some problems with her ears and had to bail out of the dive. The rest of us proceeded to 40m (the first 10m were definitely the worst).
At 29m, I started to feel a bit giggly (although that may just have been Gav pulling faces). Once at 40m, we removed our ear-protectors and that’s when the giggling really started. Bill sounded just like Orville the Duck and Gill developed a very funny lisp. Our guide, Ian, was very informative and entertaining (especially with his squeaky Liverpudlian accent) – particularly enjoyed him dropping a plastic cup to demonstrate how dense the air is at 4 bar (by gauge). We were at depth for 12 minutes but if felt like 2. As we ascended, it got quite cold and very humid (a cold sauna?) and became quite misty inside the chamber. We stopped for a very conservative 26 minutes at 6 metres and then emerged at “the surface”.
They gave us a mental agility test at the surface and again at 40m. Everyone performed better at the surface than at depth with the exception of Bill whose score was the same. There’s no doubt that at least some of us were feeling the effects of narcosis and it was very useful to experience this in a controlled environment. It was good fun and I would recommend it to anyone!