Advanced Open Water!

After some delay due to illness, and then a few scheduling mishaps, I finally made it into the PADI Advanced Open Water course.  Started in March, which often competes with February for the coldest diving month in San Diego.  For the AOW course, there is some flexibility.  You need to complete 5 adventure dives.  Two of them are required: Underwater Navigation, and Deeper Diving.  

After that you can choose 3 others.  At the orientation, the instructor Patrick suggested the best other 3 for us to do but gave some leeway in case we wanted to do something different.  Thankfully everyone was fairly laid back and agreed to go with the offered suggestion:  Underwater Naturalist, Wreck Diving, and Night Diving.  

Winter storms delayed the start, but we finally made it out to La Jolla Cove on a very nice Saturday for our first two dives: Underwater Naturalist and Underwater Navigation.  

After a brief delay (someone forgot their weight pouches)  we started with Underwater Naturalist.  Thanks to a good bit of experience due to my normal buddy's photography, I had a fairly good knowledge of the regulars we would see before we even got started.  I ended up with a nice survey of marine life and easily passed the requirements. For Underwater Navigation, we just had to do a simple rectangle, with compass headings, and using kick stroke counting to "measure" the distances.  We ended up more team almost triangular ;-) but I think in the end we all had it figured out.  Unfortunately we weren't able to find the instructor's dive cache.  That was supposed to be a stretch goal, but alas it didn't turn up.

A few more winter storms interrupted the continuation of our instruction.  Two weeks later we finally got out again on the Waterhorse boat.  This time over to the Yukon.  It's really amazing to see for yourself.  Dropping down the line above the mid section of the ship, seeing the big guns and the outline of the whole ship under you.  It is just one of those things that pictures really don't do it justice.  We had a huge school of blacksmiths (fish) swirling around us.  It was great!  Unfortunately we were limited by air to a short Deeper Dive.  The partial color loss was obvious at 95 feet deep.  Otherwise nothing to it.  I was kind of expecting to go deep enough to find out what nitrogen narcosis feels like but no luck (or lack of luck) this time.

After a surface interval we were ready to get back into the water for the Wreck Dive.  And there I made mistake #3.  Just to rehash... Mistake #1 was flooding my underwater video camera.  Mistake #2 was flooding my first dive light.  Both just expensive stupid mistakes.  I guess you could say I had my first "real" mistake. 

Mistake #3.  My buddy and I didn't do buddy checks.  We did them the first dive.  Everything good, and ready to go.  But alas, on the 2nd dive we didn't.  He's much less experienced (not that I have all that much, but I certainly had more, and know better).  Thankfully it had no serious reprecussions.  My buddy didn't remove the regulator from the tank between dives.  And thus the boat crew didn't fill his tank.  He was back in the water with the same amount of air he'd come out with!  So, back on the boat he went.

Thankfully there was an already full tank, to swap to.  It didn't hold up our Wreck dive too long.  But... I spent the whole dive, that evening, and even the next day, burning the idea into my brain.  That shouldn't have happened.  Thank goodness we didn't get any futher before he found out.  So I plan on being the really annoying, very particular and detail oriented buddy from now on to make sure that doesn't happen again.

With the threat of more storms coming we decided to try (and succeeded) in pulling off the Night Dive two days later (tonight).  We dove La Jolla Shores.  Thankfully its very familiar to me now.  Not quite to the point where I have a mental map, but I have a decent idea of where things are.  We dropped in a bit after sunset. Unfortunately, a little too shallow.  Thats usually no big deal, but the particulates were thick.  It was a no fun swim out to the canyon. We traversed the main wall for a good while, and then headed in.  Got to see an Octopus, a Juvenile Horn Shark, and numerous crabs, nudibrachs and the typical La Jolla Shores flora.  Something big kicked up a cloud of silt as we were approaching one part of the wall.  I really wanted to know what it was but it was either hiding well in the silt cloud or already gone.  We surface to a beautiful night sky, and a nice easy kick in to shore.




May 2012

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