Site: Sandy Point, Kihei, Maui - Offshsore Jack Nicholson's Beach House
Dive Time: 60 min.
Max Depth: 47 fsw
Visibility: 80+ feet
Water Temp: 73F
Buddies: Nancy, Wes, Colby
Stepped into liquid and free fell to about 30 feet then headed offshore. There was a lot of sand with intermittent reef structure. Soon came across a big sea turtle napping under a ledge, and ran across two others paddling about the reef. All were very healthy specimens and quite unconcerned about divers. Soon our dive master David came across a tako (octopus), about four pounds or so. It didn't take much to coax him out of his den and he was soon siphoning away from us leaving a trail of ink. David was able to catch him and he seemed content at that point to rest in his arms as we pet him. Suddenly he darted toward Nancy and lodged himself amidst the high pressure hoses of Nancy's first stage regulator. As we tried to dislodge him, he stubbornly gripped the hoses and even put an arm across the front of Nancy's mask and one across the front of her neck. The latter action left a nice hickey that was the subject of fodder on the boat after the dive.... anyway, after we left him alone, we decided to continue on. At that point he lifted his head up out of the hoses and, hanging on to the tank valve, rode along as free as a biker on a Harley on Route 66. Looked like he was having fun, but soon tired of it and darted down into the reef where he immediately changed color to match his surroundings. I'd never seen an octopus that big, or that bold - it was amazing! Lots of tropical fish on this dive including a mated couple of raccoon butterfly fish. After a nice long hour dive we surfaced and soon headed in.
I must say I'm very happy with B&B Scuba. They were knowledgeable about sites, quick to lend a hand with gear and very service oriented. Thanks also to Brad who was instructing Blake and did a fantastic job all day. Blake had a great time while he was learning and he's only two dives from getting his open water certification. Of course on this dive I was really kicking myself for not bringing the camera. Not too sure if I'll get an opportunity to take a picture of an octopus wrapped around Nancy's head like that again!! Oh well... I just felt under the circumstances I couldn't afford to be distracted from watching the family.
Site: Reef's End, Molokini Crater
Dive Time: 47 min.
Max Depth: 100 fsw
Visibility: 100+ feet
Water Temp: 71F
Buddies: Nancy, Wes, Colby
Met up with Brad from B&B Scuba at O Dark:30, loaded up the boat and headed out to the crater. Despite building swell and wind we dropped into the blue and excellent conditions. During the first two minutes of the dive a large pregnant white tip reef shark swam straight toward us, then lazily around us, no care and no worries. :-) We also saw four beautiful moray eels, another awesome gray reef shark and a cute little white tipped shark nursery under a ledge. All the while we were accompanies by the woeful song of humpback whales. I kept looking off into the blue to see them, even though I knew they were quite a ways away. A couple huge ahi swam by to check us out too. Blake completed his first open water dive and passed with flying colors. He even had a shark brush his mask as it moseyed past him as he peeked under a ledge. Brad dove with Blake for a full 45 minutes, practicing skills and showing him the reef. I would have to say he did a fantastic job and I would recommend B&B highly. Gotta head out to dinner now I'll write about the second dive later - it was awesome too!!
Location: El Camino Country Club Pool, Oceanside (not as classy as it sounds - it's Behind Hooters)
Dive Time: 66 minutes
Max Depth: 10 feet
Surf: 0 to 1 inch
Surge: 0 to 2 inches
Buddy: Blake, my 12-year-old son and Nancy for shore support
Blake loved his first time getting wet with SCUBA gear on. Nancy arranged for us to use the pool at her tennis club as the site for our little discover SCUBA class. Blake took to the water quite well as we practiced the giant stride, equalizing, mask clearing, sharing air and underwater hand signals. Kind of a boring dive for me - although there were two couples swimming above us with some cool tattoos. Also, we had a plastic underwater torpedo to throw around. Blake loved every minute of it and he mastered all the skills quite quickly. Afterward, he said it was the coolest thing he had ever done in his life. Just wait until he goes in the Ocean!
Our trip to Maui is only a day away and it's been a crazy week with work, getting Blake to do all his homework for his Open Water certification, watching the open water video again with the family as a refresher, and prepping dive gear for all five of us. On top of that I start my rescue class as soon as we get back so I'm slowly picking away at the reading. Mike (SoCalSwami) was cool enough to set the class up with a great instructor, and we'll be taking it together, so I'm really looking forward to it.
Blake seems to be getting the academic part of his Open Water stuff pretty easily, and after a bit of frustration and even some tears, figured out how to read the PADI dive tables. Didn't have the heart to tell the poor kid he'll probably never use the tables after the final test, since dive computers do all those calculations anyway.
All this week I've been thinking about the risk verses reward in diving. I've been diving just long enough to see close friends get severely bent up and oxy toxed, and friends and acquaintances suffer even more serious injuries from diving. I used to worry about stuff like that, but taking two years off has given me a new perspective. The rewards far and away justify the risks. To go places and see things few people will ever see, to enter such a beautiful and unique world as a temporary visitor, gives life a much deeper meaning. And to share that profound experience with my family makes it even more meaningful, because it's like giving them one of life's greatest gifts. I used to fear injury or worse from diving, but no more. If something bad happens at least I can say I was living life to the fullest, and doing what I love the most. I see the same perspective in many of the people I dive with - not to dive is out of the question because it's truly part of who they are. Besides, great whites usually take their prey by surprise anyway, so we will even know what happened. ;-)
I guess I bring this up since my whole family dives now, and since I am trusting them to King Neptune. Of course, we'll do everything we can to keep anything bad from happening, and statistics are on our side.
I was hoping to get another local dive in this week, but with all the busyness and marginal conditions, just didn't get to it.... I'll write more on Moweeeeeeeeeeee.
Visibility: 15 to 20 in the canyon, 5 to 15 shallow
Bottom Time: 86 minutes
Max Depth: 73 fsw
Surf: 1 to 2 with an occasional 3 ft.
Surge:1 to 2 ft shallow
Buddies:Kim, Terry, Pirate John, Spencer, Soraya for shore support.Steve, Calvin and Allison kept reappearing all morning.
Pulled up at 6:59:31.3 am to see a menacing gang of shifty divers parked near the lifeguard tower. I was pretty scared because the most infamous of Scalliwags Pirate John was staring at me in a very intimidating fashion as I drove by.I cautiously got out of my car and prepared for the worst, but having made it for the first few minutes without any serious trouble, I knew I was probably being accepted by the gang and they might even watch my back all morning.
After trading a few lighthearted insults we geared up at a relaxed pace, and trudged across the sand.The surface swim was uneventful but interesting because we had a northerly current to about 50 yards out, then a southerly current until our lineups at the end of Scripps Pier and the lifeguard tower.
We dropped down through a layer of light brown gunk to beautiful vis in the canyon at about 70 feet, and started finning south for the point.Now at my seventh or eighth dive since my absence from the LJS barrio, I felt my perception broadening away from my gauges and gear and onto the underwater scene and life surrounding me.
We arrived at the point in good order and there were plenty of critters.Highlights for me were the White Spotted Porostomes, a San Diego dorid, an octopus and a little school of juvenile delinquent painted greenlings trying to bully an adult.There was also a nice cluster of market squid eggs but few of the eggs actually contained squid.I poked around at my leisure, enjoying zero gravity and nice conditions.About five minutes to decompression I turned the dive and headed east across the sand.I had plenty of air at that point so I took my time crossing the sand dollar beds, and spent a full ten minutes watching a pipefish trying to hide from me in a patch of eel grass.I surfaced in four feet of water after a nice long 86 minute dive, and exited the surf without incident.
After the dive we enjoyed a hearty breakfast at Honey’s on Balboa Avenue, conveniently located near San Diego Underwater Adventures.Perhaps the best part of the dive, aside from seeing Pirate John again after a long time, was that I was finally feeling more relaxed, had much improved buoyancy control and a decent SAC rate.Thanks for inviting me Kim and including me in the dive all, I truly had a fantastic morning!
Oh yeah, the camera housing arrived yesterday and it's freakin' cool looking. And intimidating.
Should get the housing, strobe, etc. for the G10 tomorrow or the next day. Wahoo! A new toy! In the meantime, I gave the G10 a little test run at the flower fields in Carlsbad. :-) Constructive criticism from more experienced photographers is encouraged. :-)
Location: Vallecitos Point, La Jolla Shores, San Diego
Visibility: 10 feet
Bottom Time: 67 minutes
Max Depth: 74 fsw
Surge: None to light in the shallows
Surface Conditions: Wind chop, light swell
Buddy: Mike (SoCalSwami), Terry (Divinman), Spencer and Laura
I arrived quite early and made two observations. First, it has become increasingly difficult to determine where the beach ends and where my vehicle begins. My floor mats are host to miniature sand dunes. Seawater freely sloshes about in the plastic bins I use to transport wet dive gear. And a residue of sea salt has taken up residence on my exterior. Second, it takes seven city employees to weld a lifeguard tower. One to weld, two to stand over the guy welding and drink coffee from 7-11, two to blatantly ogle sunbathers, and two to smoke cigarettes.
Met up with Spencer and Laura first around 6:30 pm, then Terry arrived with his main squeeze Soraya, and then Mike. We geared up, completed our surface swim and Mike, Terry and I dropped down to about 50 fsw and pretty crappy vis. Mike and I lost Terry right away but knowing his experience level, it wasn’t really a concern. We worked our way west and down into the canyon, then headed south along the 70 foot contour. Soon we were at Vallecitos point and there was plenty of life on the ledges and in the muck holes. We saw rockfish, several excellent octopus specimens and some smaller stuff, including A LOT of shrimp, a few nudibranchs and gobys and blennies of all races creed and color. Highlights for me were seeing a free swimming cusk eel and my first ever sea porcupine. J
At about 1,400 psi we turned the dive and started east across the sand. Vis was still only around 10 feet and I was having difficulty keeping my mask from fogging. Our lights were plenty sufficient to keep track of each other though. I was determined to drop two pounds off my belt and was successful, and I was being really careful to vent my wing and dry suit to remain slightly negative. We ran across a few tiny crabs, some little round stingrays and a beautiful Hermissenda on the return leg, and surfaced in about five feet of water after a nice 67 minute dive.
We had a few good laughs as we doffed our gear, debriefed on the critters we saw and everyone headed home having cheated death once again. It was truly a pleasure meeting Spencer and Laura, diving with Mike once again and I might add that Terry seems quite relaxed and happy these days. Perhaps we have Soraya to thank for that. :-)
Location: Shaw’s Cove, Laguna Beach
Visibility: 20 in the shallows, 15 give or take elsewhere
Bottom Time: 86 minutes
Max Depth: 43 fsw
Surge:1 to 3 feet, very manageable
Tide:High and dropping
Ruth Harris and Bob Arnold continued the Lagunanian tradition of excellent hospitality toward San Diegoites as I visited for a very enjoyable dive today at Shaw’s Cove .On the drive up I stopped at HeislerPark to relieve myself of my morning coffee and immediately noticed two dramatic improvements.First, HeislerPark has been completely re-landscaped with a crowning jewel of what has to be the most beautiful beach restroom facility in the United States, perhaps even the World.Second, it is being paid for by the doubling of parking fees in metered spots.Fortunately, we no longer need to carry rolls of quarters to park in Laguna, because they have conveniently installed meters that now take all major credit cards! It cost me around $17 to take a leak, but hey, the increased revenues probably pays the salary of the highly talented City of Laguna Beach Deputy Director of Beach Bathroom Interior Remodeling. ;-)
As I pulled up to Shaw’s and began suiting up, Ruth arrived and Bob soon after.Ruth is as charming in person as she is online and I was quite impressed with her high degree of organization and efficiency when it comes to beach diving.Most impressive was a tank holder that her husband Larry had installed inside her vehicle.Perhaps she is willing to share some photos of that!Bob immediately proved to be a very pleasant and engaging fellow, and as an added bonus he looks something like a very handsome version of Uncle Fester.He was also quite willing to share his extensive knowledge of videography and photography, and encouraged me to perhaps spend some time and money on those most noble diversions.
Following a very pleasant surface swim, we dropped down and headed under the archway and into the crevice.Shaw’s was quite different than what I had remembered from three years ago, perhaps because visibility was so good.The structure was, as always, quite impressive.Right away we spotted a large Cabezon, and a plethora of Hopkins Rose.As we made our way through the crevice and back out onto the sand, we spotted octopus, lobster, Black Dorids, Rock Wrasse, lots and lots of Blacksmith, Garibaldi, juvenile Garibaldi, Blue-banded and Black-eyed Gobys and Senoritas.
Ruth proved herself the Queen of Shaw’s Cove as she expertly navigated us through the crevice and out to Shelley of Shaws, which was very impressive and I had never seen.She almost coaxed a curious octopus out of a crack with her bare hand without even touching it, and that was quite entertaining.She also was able to capture a picture of a Zebra Goby, a difficult thing at Shaw’s, and performed her signature happy dance.For those that have never seen it, the happy dance is somewhat like an underwater Cha-cha with a bit of Salsa mixed in.All the while Bob was poking about behind us, taking video and still shots, and pointing critters out as he discovered them.
Perhaps two of the biggest highlights for me was seeing a tiny Teardrop Crab, which I had never seen, and seeing a male Painted Greenling guarding a nest of eggs.Ruth later told me that the male and female trade off guarding the eggs, and I briefly wondered if there had been a historical Painted Greenling Equal Rights Amendment allowing the female Painted Greenlings equal opportunity and equal pay and spurring the males to be more of a help around the nest.Who knows, since Painted Greenlings can’t talk.
Anyway, if you have read this far than you really should be out diving.After a nice long, relaxing dive, we exited the surf without incident and climbed the stairs.Bob generously offered me a cup of coffee as we chatted, and before long I thanked my new friends for an excellent morning and bid them adieu. They did their best to coax me into a second dive, but duty was calling. Hopefully, when these fine Lagunanians come to visit us San Diegoatians we can provide them with such gracious hospitality.Thank you again Ruth and Bob – I had a great time!
I figure I'll start a blog. It will consist mostly of dive reports but don't be surprised if I rant, rave or write weird stream-of-consciousness stuff that seems random and off topic. Hopefully, somebody out there will find my musings mildly entertaining but if not, there are plenty of blogs written by other divers on this site (and I know a lot of 'em) who can think clearly and in a linear fashion. So feel free to find the diving blog that suits your style. Now where the heck was I? ;-)
Oh ya.... The other reason I'm doing a blog is because I am in the process of procuring an entry-level underwater camera with housing and all that good stuff.... a Canon G10 with Ikelite housing, DS-51 strobe, wide angle W-4 lens and focus light. So pretty soon I'll spice up all this random, disconnected copy with crappy entry-level underwater pictures for all to ogle. Errrrrr..... where was I going with this?
Oh now I remember... I play the dad/husband role in a diving family. There are five of us:
1) Me, advanced open water diver working on a rescue certification. I put in about 130 dives here in So Cal and on some warm water trips, took a brief hiatus to screw up my career and now I'm back to diving around here again. I'm trying to dive at least once a week if not more.
2) Nancy, open water diver. Loves warm water diving in Hawaii and the Caribbean and can occasionally be coaxed into a local cold water dive;
3) Wes, age 18, open water diver. Only will dive in warm, clear water. Likes to swim with a huge knife because it's cool.
4) Colby, age 16, open water diver. Pretty much ready to dive whenever and wherever. Always sleeps on the way to the divesite and home again. Local dives must include lunch and a $20 loan.
5) Blake, age 12, currently working on his open water certification. Blake will do his open water dives when we go to Maui at the end of this month. Oh ya, did I mention we are going to Maui at the end of this month? Yahooooooooo! :-O
6) Our therapist.... oh yeah he's not really part of the family and doesn't dive. Never mind.