Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tahoe Altitude Dive

Had a fun trip to Tahoe a couple weekends back. Went and did an Altitude Dive Specialty with the Dive Club from Diver Dan's (http://www.dcosv.com/).

We had two days of diving. Saturday we did the certification, which entailed two dives from the DL Bliss state park. The first dive to about 50ft, the second slightly shallower at 40ft.

Visibility at the dive site was pretty good, 30 feet or so. Water temperature was great (compared to Monterey diving) at about 64F at the surface, staying warm all the way down to a thermocline at about 50ft.

There's not much to see in Tahoe, just a few Crayfish (crawdads as the locals call 'em) and one other type of fish that I haven't identified yet. The main thing to see is blueness and rocks.

The rock structure at the DL Bliss site is impressive. Because visibility is relatively good and these huge bolders 'perch' on a rock/sand gradient you have a view that is unlike any other I've seen on a dive. Great monoliths that emerge from the middle distance that you glide up to them.

Naturally the blueness of the lake, it's visibility and the lack of fish allows you to imagine you're flying between these mountains.

Saturday was a long day, two groups doing the certification (alternating) meant that we didn't complete the second dive and PADI paperwork until 5pm ish. We went back to the campsite for a shower, a couple of 'Arrogant Baster' Ale's then popped off to Tahoe City for dinner. Then I really was ready to crash.

Day two was an optional thing and not too many of us bothered to dive. Those who didn't certainly missed out.

We dove the second day at Sand Harbor. That's a bay on the other side of the lake (Nevada side) not far from the state line and Kings Beach. I think it's a state park.

Sand Harbor is a wonderful little beach area. It has a cafe, gift shop and visitor center with geology exhibit/diorama. Parking was $8 an d got very busy in the afternoon.

We started there around 9am (in the water a little after 10am). As with DL Bliss, it's straight in off the beach, weaving amongst the sunbathers.

The dive site here is much the same as DL Bliss. You can go out to a point between the two beaches and get into about 70ft of water, however we stayed a lot shallower today, not going much deeper than 30.

Be aware that there is a buoy line marking the beach area. If you dive outside of that area you need a float with you. Inside you don't. Apparently the Nevada coastguard is keen to enforce the rule. Provided you're in less than 30ft of water you're probably safely within the buoy area.

These dives were very relaxing. The lack of any kelp, the good visibility, the warm water mean there's practically no stress, just enjoy the dive. You can of course concentrate on some techniques, like improving your buoyancy or practicing your navigation skills.

On one dive we stayed inside the beach area (we had no dive float). We were told there was a submerged barge over by the buoys so we set out to find it. That took all of five minutes - it's quite a small area to search. The remainder of the dive was spend doing swim throughs of rocks, blowing bubbles at swimmers passing over head and generally 'getting wet'.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Great Dive Trip - Long Recovery

Had a great time on the channel islands trip.  My boat dive fears were unfounded, the patch (Transderm SCOP - scopolomine) worked great and I had no trouble with sea sickness.  There were some side effects after the trip though.

I was on the boat around 8pm Saturday and we hung out until bedtime.  The crew were not onboard at the time.  The boat left harbour around 4am I think - I woke up briefly - and headed for the North West end of Santa Cruz island (http://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/santa-cruz-island.htm).

Weather has been bad around the islands, with a large swell coming up from the south west, hence, we were destined to stay on the northwest end for the three days.

When I awoke, bleery, on Sunday morning around 8am the crew were still scoping out an appropriate dive site.  That gave me time for a little 'pre-breakfast' before the orientation and the first dive.

We had a schedule of five dives per day on the first two days.  As I hinted, the first dive of theday was before breakfast, but after a snack of bagel, toast, muffin, coffee, etc.  The last dive of the day was a night dive around 9pm, after dinner but before dessert!

In the morning it was generally foggy, so the first dive of the day was usually a little dark.  The third dive on both days was great in my opinion due to better light.  I did the first three dives, skipped the fourth, to rest-up for the night dive.  Night dives were good, the first night dive I didn't dive so well, but the second night dive I really enjoyed.  The shrimp, crill and eel made it.

On the last day we moved from Santa Cruz towards Anacapa island, then back to Ventura.  We had time for three dives on the last day.  I slept in so I entirely missed the first, but I wasn't too bothered.  The first dive was a wreck dive on "The Peacock".  The dive was great, visibility was amazing and the fish variety was good.  This is where I got my best spanish shawl photo.  There was a bit of an issue at the end of the dive.  I got my camera ina tangle with my inflater hose and fish ID chart, got in a bit of a panic, but recovered in time to ensure I made a SAFE accent ... With the exception of the full safety stop and a mere 350psi in my tank.

Second dive of the last day was the best of the trip.  Around the kelp forest at Anacapa.  We were bugged by Garibaldi and Sheephead, spotted lobster and glided through exquisit kelp.

The return to land from Anacapa was about 2 hours.

Once back on dry land that's when my troubles started.  Removing the SCOP patch I soon started with lack of balance and blurred vision.  These lasted from Wednesday until Sunday.  I was exhausted, had trouble sleeping and weird dreams.  10 dives also took a toll on my ears.  Got a ringing in my left ear for a week and ear ache started in both ears about Monday of the following week, which resulted in a doctor visit for antibiotics.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Live Aboard Dive Trip This Weekend

Just getting ready for a three day live aboard dive trip to the channel islands. 

Not sure how well it will go, given I don't really like boats!  I do have my travel sickness patches though, so hopefully that will help.

Taking my camera, which hasn't been underwater for quite some time.

First stop Bakersfield, for an overnighter Friday, then I'll have a leisurely day Saturday before we board at 8pm Saturday night for the overnight 'cruise' to the first dive site.  If I'm lucky and feeling well I could be in the water before breakfast on Sunday morning ... or I could be hurling over the side of the boat.