Anacapa Island SCUBA dive
My first SCUBA dive experiences in the waters off Southern California were, for me anyway, not much fun. I went for my very first two certification dives at the SCUBA park on Catalina Island. Had it not been for equipment malfunctions I might have done my next two there to finish up the cert. I won’t go into details except to say I was never in danger but voluntarily called off the dives after becoming exhausted fighting powerful surges and taking a beating bouncing off rocks while trying to cope with faulty gear. I finished up my certification during a great week in Belize logging a total of twelve dives.
Back in California I signed in for a dive trip on a boat operating out of Ventura and was plagued with more problems. I read a saying once that went, “I’m not overweight, I’m undertall.” Well, at that time I was about 60-pounds ‘undertall’ standing 5’9″. The only wetsuit available for rental that would accomodate my girth was for a person at least six-foot-two-inches. That meant I had these wads of 7mm neoprene bunched up on arms and legs. Think Michelen Tire Man on Steroids. But I was determined and the crew was super acommodating. For some fortuitous reason I had decided to pay a few extra bucks for a private guide/instructor for the trip. He earned every $$. Almost as soon as we finished my weight check and headed down, the problems began. The air tanks on this particular boat were steel. Everything I’d used before were aluminum. My physique, in this case distribution of mass, was such that the extra weight of the steel on my back caused me to “turn-turtle” onto my back. I could not swim horizontal. My guide, I’ll call him Bill for now, managed to shift some of my lead ballast around so that I could stay mostly upright at the expense of using a lot of energy. That resulted in me using up my air supply much quicker than normal. You divers reading this understand exactly.
After that weekend, I decided to coin a phrase from Poe’s Raven for me diving in California — Nevermore! So as to not admit the undertall aspect of my personal problems, I blamed my rationale on the semi-frigid water temperatures and starting adding exotic locations like Belize, Cozumel, and Roatan to my logbook.
Some time back in August of this year, after listening to his many adventure stories of diving the Channel Islands, I hinted to my son Phillip that I might just give California another chance. I also might mention at this point that I had shed about 35 pounds. On September 19, I wadded my bulk into an XL-Short 7mm wetsuit, strapped on a (steel) tank, and did a giant-stride into the first of three great dives off Anacapa Island with Phil as my dive buddy. It wasn’t without some initial problems. Phil spent much of the first dive helping me adjust my gear to compensate for the differences from diving the Caribbean with just a thin rash-guard skin and that dang steel tank again. The second and third dives went with no glitches. By the way, the water temperature that weekend was 70 to 72 degrees making the heavy wetsuit overkill. Bottom line — an excellent experience
Here follows a few of the pictures I took:
We saw this Octopus hiding way, way back in a hole in the rocks. Look close at the upper left side of the body and you can see what looks like his eye: