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'.