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Me diving

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Three and a Half Hours of Breakwater

On Saturday, Rob, Kevin and I went to the Breakwater with Beto to do some drills, my favorite (note the extreme sarcasm). I needed to get my Fundies tech pass, so this was my checkoff dive for that. Then after that was finished, we were going to do some skills in midwater with Beto watching/videoing and giving us feedback for our theoretical future GUE Tech 1 class. So, we met up at 9 AM. We actually go there a bit early, and just after we arrived, someone left and we snagged a spot on the wall. Woohoo. We chatted with Ted, Cynthia, and Matt (sporting his new drysuit) for a bit, and also ran into John Yasaki. We all noted that the viz at the breakwater looked terrible, but unfortunately we were stuck there. While we were gearing up, ba_diving regulars Carol and Larry came over and introduced themselves. Carol also writes weekly dive reports, and I think we have exchanged email before but never met. There were also a bunch of BAUE people doing some survey practice.

Beto and Kevin eventually showed up and we chatted about our plans. Then we got dressed and headed down to the beach (where our gear was laid out on our tables). Rob and I got into the water after we got our suits on to cool off. While we were killing time on the beach, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Ted was standing on the beach with some fins that were, umm, clearly not his fins (a little too colorful for Ted fins). Then we realized that he was bending over (with his doubles on his back) to help someone who had wiped out on the beach. The person was waddling out of the water with their fins on (why do instructors teach people to do that?), and once she wiped out, Ted pulled off the fins and was helping her up. I guess she was there with an instructor, and next the instructor (who also was waddling out with fins on) wiped out. I guess this was the portion of the class where they teach you an alternate exit technique which you will never actually use :) Rob helped the woman back up the beach and then Ted helped the instructor up. This story didn't make it into my original report, but Ted complained that his daring rescue wasn't covered. I thought that this report was lacking, so I decided to add the story.

We finally got into the water and swam out to about 30 feet. I had to do all of the kicks from fundies and the usual drills (basic 5, valve drill, S drill), then shoot a bag and lead a min deco ascent. Then we went back down and I did a backup light deployment and an out of gas ascent. Rob and Kevin just watched, and I occasionally yelled at someone who fell out of position to show my "leadership" skills :) Okay, actually Kevin shot a bag when Rob and I were doing an out of gas ascent.

So, after all that was finished, the real fun began. We were going to practice valve drills and S drills in 20 feet of water, and then do a 6 minute ascent. First we went to the bottom to do a little search for the mask that Kevin dropped during our debrief on the surface. Unfortunately we did not find it. We suspect sabotage by Kevin's backup mask, who is very jealous of his primary mask. So, we went back up to 20 feet, and the viz was terrible. Above 20 feet, there was this layer of algae, I guess, which was reddish-yellow. Besides looking disgusting, it also meant that we essentially had to stay in touch contact above 20 feet. So we went down to 25 feet, which wasn't much better. Kevin did a valve drill, and then I decided that the viz was too bad for me to actually see what the others were doing, so I thumbed it. The ascent was pretty interesting, given the viz. We were in a triangle and everytime I back kicked to go up, Kevin would wave me back towards him :) We swam out further, hoping that in deeper water, the viz would be a bit better. We decided that we'd go deeper so we could actually see each other, but still far enough off of the bottom to simulate midwater. We descended in about 45 feet of water, and then ascended back up to about 35 to do drills. At this depth, we could not see the bottom. And it was dark. Really dark. Basically a night dive. We had to shine our lights on all of our hand signals, and the lights illuminating particles made it pretty hard to see areas around everyone's lights. But it was doable. So, we each did a valve drill, and then an S drill, and then did the 6 minute ascent, which was interesting given that the viz was even worse than the previous ascent. We were literally fist to fist in a triangle as we ascended.

After a quick debrief on the surface, we descended again to swim in. There were lots of Hermissendas scattered on the sand. Beto found these neat red shrimp in a big bat ray hole in the sand. There were a ton of them, but I've never seen them before. They had a sort of segmented look, with a white stripe at the edge of each segment. We also saw some cute little sculpin type fish, but you know my fish ID skills aren't the best. Rob also found this really cool orange fish, that had a long tail, like a gunnel or some sort of eel. I haven't been able to find it in any of the usual ID sources. It had its tail curled around, and it was sitting on a piece of kelp. Very cute. When we got out of the water, I was glad to see our tables were safe and sound. We had moved them onto the wide steps since there was supposed to be a high high tide. From the looks of it, we could have safely left them on the beach where they originally were. The high tide made for an easy walk up the beach :)

Sorry, no pictures today :(

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