Archive for the 'Diving' Category

Aug 23 2010

Busy week ending with a fun day of diving……

Published by under Diving

The Weekend of 08/08/10 was a lazy resting weekend for me and also i found that i had put on weight and not only that but my body fat percentage had increased. So it was time to take some action, it meant going to gym and being more active during the weekdays.

Mon, Tues went to gym after work, wednesday was going to meet with a newbie for climbing in the gym. After being almost dropped by her, i ended up just bouldering since wasn’t confident in her belaying skills and she also got some rope burns.

Thursday Night: Malibu Road Dive with Dana and Andy.

We were planning to dive Vets first but then it was lake pacific and malibu lifeguard reported a viz of 15 ft so we decided to head out to Malibu Road for diving.

As i was driving out to malibu, the ocean was absolutely flat and the conditions on surface looked great. We suited up and as then swam out to the kelp in dark where the main or one of the reefs would be. We dropped down next to the kelp bed but then the viz wasn’t that great, it was about 10 ft and we missed the reef. :(

We were just swimming around trying to find the reef but couldn’t, even though we were going over the sand still came across a lot of critters. Saw a big nudi, large brown shrimps, mating purple glove crabs in different sizes. But since we were going no where and not finding the reef, we decided to surface and then tried to head over to the place where the kelp was.

We did find the reef but it was little late and i was at 1500 psi, it was going to be a long swim back underwater so couldn’t afford to stay longer at the reef. On the way back we again found some cool critters, some octopuses, purple glove crabs, pair of hermissenda’s, long pipe fishes and few big lizard fish.

It was a really nice dive, i thought about staying in water and swimming to the exit point but then decided to get out and walk the distance to the car.

Santa Barbara Island Trip:

Thursday morning i came to know about trip to Santa Barbara Island organized by Laguna Sea Dwellers and i got interested in it. There was still room on it and then the ocean looked calm so it would be an easy crossing over to the island which really made me consider this trip.

It also meant that i would have had to kick out the german couchsurfers at my place but then i had warned them about it before agreeing to host them and they were pretty chill about it too so it was all working out.

I signed up for the trip on friday afternoon and after an evening of climbing indoors i was all set to head out to board Magician. We were going to leave the dock at 2 am so that we could reach Santa Barbara Island early in morning.

I got to the boat, did the paperwork and then immediately went to bed in the single bunk which was assigned to me. It was a comfy spot i got and even though i was next to the engine room i wasn’t complaining. I woke up briefly when the boat started and checked the time, it was 4 am so i figured we weren’t going to Santa Barbara Island :(

Woke up in the morning and we were briefed about the situation, even though the crossing to SBI wasn’t so bad the swells due to the winds were upto 3-4 ft and the conditions for diving would have been miserable. It was decided that we would try to do 4 dives at catalina, goat harbor for the GSB, Rock Quarry for the Scythe Butterfly fish and then Captain Jerry knew a secret spot where the squids were laying eggs and bat rays were close by to feast on them.

I was excited after hearing the plan for the day since i haven’t seen a GSB this year, failed to find the butterfly fish during previous dive to the quarry and have never seen squids either.

First Dive: Goat Harbor.

We all got ready and there was a very weak current running, few people jumped in and the current started getting stronger and Captain Jerry asked us to watch out for it. But as soon as I jumped in it got really strong, we didn’t get close to the site before descending and when we descended i could feel the current, i was kicking hard but going no where.

I was just having a hard time staying at one place, the viz in shallows wasn’t great and later on as it cleared i could see the kelp was jus flat parallel to the bottom, the current was that strong. I had no intention of fighting the current and since the viz wasn’t that great either i decided to end the dive.

I signaled to my dive buddy that i planned on aborting the dive, also since the max depth was 100 ft i had to ascend slowly. I was just having a hard time in preventing myself from being swept by the current, i didn’t want to fight it but had to work hard so that it wouldn’t take me with it.

Upon ascending, i saw that we were really far from the boat and had to swim against the current to get to it. The current line was out too but still i was far from it so i had to swim hard to get to the boat. I was really in trouble at this point because i wasn’t making any progress towards reaching the boat, luckily after a while the raft from the sand dollar came to our rescue and picked us up.

The deckhand on the magician also came out in kayak and helped us around. The boat had removed the anchor and it came to pick us up. It took another half a hour to get everyone back on board safely and it was an interesting experience which i would not like to repeat. Even while doing drift dives in egypt didn’t face such strong currents.

Second Dive: Rock Quarry.

It was now time to move to Rock Quarry where the Scythe Butterfly fish reside, i have dove here once before but didn’t manage to find them, this time i really wanted to. Captain Jerry explained us exactly where to look for them so with excitement i jumped into water.

Everyone, including me wanted to make sure there was no current and that was the case. We descended down the anchor line and started our hunt for the butterfly fish. I came across some funky jelly like thing and then after taking its pic all of sudden my camera started fogging up.

It was really annoying, i didn’t want to miss out on the picture of the butterfly fish but as it turns out when we did find them, they were really skittish and swam away fast. There was no chance for me to take its picture and i didn’t have the patience to wait for it. I was so glad that we managed to find it, as we were heading back to the boat, i came across one of the biggest navanax that i have seen so far.

I brought my dive buddy back and had to show it to him. Saw bat ray at the end of the dive but then we were headed to bat ray city next. I was happy to see it but the joy next dive brought is something that i will not forget for a long time to come :)

Third Dive: Bat Ray City (name given by me)

We then moved to the mystery spot, which i called bat ray city, where there are bat rays along with the squid eggs. Everyone knows about the bat rays but the squids were a recent discovery and the squid eggs are the main reason why rays are there at this spot. In night they like to feed on the squid eggs in the depths and during the day they just hang out and chill in the shallows.

We anchored in a spot such that both the dive sites were easily accessible, since the squids were in 105-110 ft range not everyone wanted to dive down there since it was our third dive of the day. My dive buddy was on 32% nitrox so had to be careful about the depth too.

The plan was to follow the anchor and then go try to find the squid eggs and then on the way back we could visit the site of the bat rays. It would be like best of the both worlds.

We descended down the anchor which was resting in 70 ft of water so had to swim further to find the eggs. Also i didn’t know how steep the floor was so as we kept on going in the same direction as the anchor. It was a gentle slope, 80, 90 ft and 100 ft and no sign of squids.

We saw one or two eggs lying around but not the entire cluster that i was expecting. I didn’t want to continue further because i wasn’t sure if we would have enough gas to get back and do our safety stops and then also if we kept going further it would mean we were getting closer to MOD of my buddy so didn’t want to take that chance.

Little disappointed we headed back and in the shallows reached the spot where all the bat rays were chilling. As soon as we got there all of my disappointment went away. There were so many bat rays at that spot and in all sizes. As soon as we got closer they would swim away, they were alert all the time and would just take off as we got closer.

It was so much fun to see them all over the place, i was beyond thrilled. I was bummed that despite borrowing a new desiccant for my camera it was fogging up but anyway the bat rays were too quick. They never allowed us to get any closer to them so that i could take good pictures.

Swimming around i came across one of the guys from the boat taking pics of the ray, it was as if the ray was posing for him. It wasn’t moving at all, just laying there in sand. I tried taking pictures of this ray but had to be careful so that i don’t disturb it and roeland misses out on some photo opportunities.

Pics Courtesy Roeland.

We swam around for a bit and the reef structure also seemed interesting to explore but we were low on air so it was almost time to end the dive. Once back on board, Cathy and others mentioned how they found the squid eggs, the key was to go north from the anchor and we just went straight ahead.

Fourth Dive: Bat Ray City

I was bummed that we missed out on the eggs but Cathy agreed so lead the next dive and show us the eggs, that was so kind of her. After lunch we geared up and Cathy led us to the eggs. We got down the anchor and instead of going straight up we headed north and all of sudden at 100 ft there were hundreds of squids.

It was such a cool site so see all the squids, the ocean floor was covered with their eggs and hundreds of them were just floating around, mating and laying eggs. It is a sight that i am not going to forget anytime soon. We stayed there for sometime, i tried taking pictures but my camera wouldn’t co-operate.

Pics Courtesy Roeland.

I had 9 mins left on my deco time and my buddy had 4 mins left  and this was our 4th dive of the day so we decided not to push it and headed back to find the bat rays. This time i think we went too far southwest and hence didn’t find as many bat rays as the previous dive but still saw some swimming by.

As we were heading back to the boat, in sand we came across 5-6 skates. I was totally surprised because i swam over top of them and then all of sudden 5-6 of them swam away. It was pretty cool, i was like how the hell i missed them. Moving on i could spot one under the sand barely visible because of its eyes and i knew why i missed them first time.

I was excited to see them and then after a while it was time to end the dive. I was really thankful to Cathy for leading the dive and showing us the squids. I have always wanted to see them at Redondo Canyon but then never got a chance to do so.

Even though it started off not so good it was a great day of diving where i saw different critters and enjoyed diving with Laguna Sea Dwellers.

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Jun 07 2010

Memorial Day Weekend dive trip to Catalina and Santa Barbara Island.

Published by under Diving

When i first saw this trip posted on the sundiver website, i was really interested but then when i found out that we would be trying to head out to San Nicholas island i signed up for this trip, my other option for memorial day weekend was ski trip to mammoth but i was told that it could get really crowded there. So booking this trip seemed a no brainer to me.

When i booked my spot i was one of the few people signed so far, so this trip wasn’t 100% but then about a week earlier there were enough people on the boat so i breathed a sigh of relief. It turned out that it was going to be a light load of only 10 people onboard instead of the maximum of 16 which was great.

We were planning to leave at 2 am for one of the islands so i took my sweet time to get to the boat but i was there before midnight and since i was the only one left, as soon as i reached the boat we left for catalina island. I was under the impression that we would try to make it out to san clemente but then the weather wasn’t that great so catalina it was.

One of the best things about having only 10 divers onboard is that there was plenty of bunk space and i had a 2 person bunk to myself, the crossing over to the island wasn’t rough and i manage to get decent sleep.

Day 1: Catalina Island.

After breakfast we decided to go over to little farnsworth and see if it was possible to dive there. Last time when we had tried to dive it the currents were too strong but this time around it wasn’t the case. It was a terrific way to start the trip.

Since i had filled my tank with 37% Nitrox, i swapped my tank with one on the boat which had air and it mean’t i was using a LP 80 with 2442 psi instead of my steel 130. The reason for doing that was that the dive site, little farnsworth, is a deep dive and the sandy part where last time divers found tons of angel sharks is in 110-120 ft range.

Dive 1: Little Farnsworth, Catalina

The plan was to drop down the bow anchor to the pinnacles and then come back up the same way. It was going to be my first 100 ft + dive with my dry suit so i was little nervous but it turned out to be perfectly fine. Dropped down on the anchor line and then started exploring the pinnacles but since the main action was supposed to be in deeper sand i started heading down towards that area.

As soon i started in that area i came across a big Navanax, followed by a porter’s dorid. It was awesome, i was beyond happy and my joy knew no bounds when i found tiny baby porter’s dorid. I took its picture with my finger and it was probably 3/4th of an inch.

Baby Nudibranch

One disadvantage of diving with air that you can’t stay longer at bottom so it was time for me to start heading back. I found couple more nudis before started the ascent and then my dive computer had slapped me a 1 min stop at 10 ft. I decided to do 1 min stops at 70,60,50 and so on so by the time i reached 30 my dive computer was happy with me again that mandatory stop was removed. I didn’t want to piss my computer off on the first dive of a 3 day dive trip :)

On the surface from the boat, we saw a baby mola pass by in 10-15 ft of water, i was bummed that didn’t get a chance to see it while i was in water, oh well i am sure some day.

Captain Ray then decided to head east or possibly backside of catalina and then in evening maybe do the crossing over to San Clemente but as soon as he ventured little out, he saw it wasn’t worth it and immediately turned around. We decided to do our second dive of the day at Twin Rock which isn’t too far from Little Farnsworth.

Dive 2: Twin Rock, Catalina

Since this dive spot sits in 40-50 ft of water i decided to use my big tank and take advantage of Nitrox :). Descended down on the reef and there were sea hare’s all over the place. It was like a sea hare garden, they were huge and black. Laying eggs, mating all over the place. This dive site was a typical rocky reef dive, under the rocks found shrimps hiding, lobsters and the kelp was growing nicely. Even managed to find a moray eel and a navanax.

Sea Hare’s Laying Eggs

After this dive we decided to head to the west side of the island, so after a bit of traveling we came to our next dive site called Candump. Not sure about the name but it was an amazing dive site which had what you would call an underwater garden.

Dive 3: Candump West

It was a short swim to the actual dive site and as i started heading towards it, i ended up going in the area which i wanted to avoid because of it being shallow and it was little surgy. At this point i should mention that during the first dive i was comfortable with my dry suit but then on the shallow dive i had little trouble staying down. It wasn’t a huge deal but i wasn’t 100% comfortable as i would have liked to.

So when i started swimming towards the actual dive site through this path of rocks, i saw a shark swim by. It was a big one too about 4-5 ft, i tried following it but it was surgy and the shark was too quick. I didn’t get a good look at it and no pic either. But i was excited and extra alert to find it again but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

I explored the rest of the dive site and it was absolutely gorgeous. There weren’t many small critters to find or fishes but i was stunned by the underwater flora. There was little bit of surge so i was trying to enjoy that. I stayed at 20-25 ft in the surge and enjoy the view. During dives like this, i really wish i had a better under water rig with strobes and all so i could take better wide angle shots. Currently i have to take them without my flash on and it they don’t come out to be that good :(.

It was almost time to end my dive and big school of bait fish went by me, it was cool. I then saw a purple jelly hanging out at about 10ft or so, i didn’t want to ascend and swim in its direction because i would have then liked to end my end rather than dive down to depth again n explore more. I tried taking its picture from a distance but it wasn’t good so i told to myself what the hell i will end my dive after getting close to it.

Purple Jelly

So i swam upto the jelly and took its pictures and then headed back to the boat. Our next dive was going to be Sea Fan Grotto, as suggested by name in this case this dive site has walls which are covered by Sea Fans.

Dive 4: Sea Fan Grotto

For some reason we were anchored little farther from this site and it was a fair amount of swim underwater to find the actual site along the walls. As we were traveling along the walls i came across an octopus hiding in one of the holes. Finally managed to find the site and it was great, sea fans all along the wall. It was really nice.

At the end of the dive, i was just hanging out at 15 ft doing a safety stop and a huge school of bait fish went past me, it was such a surreal experience watching them go past me so close. For a moment i was in state of trance with their shining scales reflecting the sunlight and they were in thousands. It was a truly amazing experience for me, i can never forget it. I just wanted to stay there and watch them swim by me over and over again. That definitely made my day.

We settled down at eel cove for the night and it seemed like i was the only one who was keen on the night dive :(, so it didn’t happen and everyone called it an early night. Since San Clemente crossing didn’t look good, it was decided that we will try to make it to Santa Barbara

Day 2: Catalina and Santa Barbara

Dive 5: White Rock, Catalina.

We moved over to dive white rock which is very close to sea fan grotto and absolutely amazing site with some caves. As i started going towards the area where the caves are located, this dive site seemed like a typical one but then i got a different impression as soon as i got to the caves.

In the small ledge, there was 4-5 ft horn shark resting which was great and there were few kelp bass and a giant sea bass hanging out with the shark it was cool. Unfortunately none of us could manage to get a good picture of that shark, the entrance to the cave was from the other side and i decided to venture in there.

It was a very unique experience and it gave me a feeling of what it is like to do cave diving. My light wasn’t that strong enough so i didn’t want to venture too much in and knowing there was a shark already there, i didn’t know what else could be lurking around so after just going in about 20 ft or so i decided to head back. :).

View from Inside the Cave

A spooky and very interesting experience, i have mixed feelings about it but i think i will dig cave diving for sure. It was very different experience from the wrecks that i have penetrated in red sea, just wasn’t the same.

On the way back, i spent time exploring the rest of the reef and came across few horn sharks but these were juveniles more like 1-2 feet long. This dive gave me first taste of cave diving and i was happy about it.

Dive 6: Yellowtail Reef, Catalina.

I was really glad to see that the sargassum was dying on most of the dive sites and the kelp was growing really well. This dive site was also the same, even though i didn’t come across any exciting or spectacular marine life as such but i still had a good time exploring the reef and going through the kelp.

Even though it was bright and sunny outside, there were times when the kelp got so thick that it blocked all the sunlight and it got really dark. Again, It was little weird and spooky but i still enjoyed it.

Dive 7: Starlite cove, Catalina.

Before this dive i changed my camera battery and in the process some moisture got in and the silicon gel wasn’t absorbing the moisture. I was hoping that i didn’t come across something really cool during this dive and not be able to take its picture. :)

I think i found few interesting critters on this dive but nothing exceptional, it was a typical rocky reef with all the usual suspects. We were moving to the west side of the island so that we could head over to santa barbara island for a twilight/night dive.

Dive 8: Iron Bound, Catalina

This dive site had quite a bit of surge and probably the thickest kelp i have ever encountered. If you were to surface under the kelp chances are you would still be in 5-10 ft of water. There was an area of the site where quite a few kelp holdfasts were off the ground.

Kelp off the ground

I just explored the site and was just having fun hanging out in the surf zone and let the surge push me around. I really enjoy doing that, just practice my buoyancy and let the surge take me whereever and push me around. I have to admit, i was getting little bored of the site since the previous one was also very similar but then i got a reminder of why i love diving.

Even if you dive the same site over and over again the underwater environment is so dynamic that it is never going to be the same, that is the nature of diving. I was about to end the dive and a big bat ray zoomed right past me, i tried following it and wasn’t very successful but still managed to get a decent shot of it.

It was now time to do the channel crossing and head over to Santa Barbara, it also mean’t that after lunch there was time for a nice nap :)

Dive 9: Rookery, Santa Barbara Island.

After a refreshing nap it was time to do the twilight dive, my ears were bothering me somewhat since the second dive and at this point they were practically shut. I had popped in sudafed and was hoping for the best, i decided to attempt to dive and see how it goes.

I discovered a day later that this is the dive site at Santa Barbara which is famous for sea lions and there were couple of curious ones approaching us but they weren’t in mood to play. For this dive only 3 of us ventured into the water, there were another two divers planning on joining us but the possibility of a fog approaching deterred them. Luckily for us that fog never rolled in which was great.

As we dropped down my ears weren’t co-operating with me and for a while i thought about heading back to the boat. But me being me, i persisted and tried to clear out my ears and voila i managed to get down to 25ft. I knew it wasn’t going to be a deep dive so thats the depth i needed my ears to equalize and i was glad.

I wasn’t going to lead or navigate this dive so i was more than happy to follow the others, we didn’t come across something spectacular, it wasn’t too dark so there was still some natural light left. The dive site was a garden for Sea Hare’s but the ones out here were not big black ones like catalina but more of small medium sized and brownish colored.

Brown Sea Hare

After this dive, i was excited but worried as well for tomorrow. We were planning to dive the black caverns, which sits in a depth of 60-100 ft so i wasn’t sure if my ears would equalize but i didn’t want to miss out on the dive either. I popped in another dosage of sudafed and hoped for the best. :)

Day 3: Santa Barbara Island

I woke up and my ears felt alrite they weren’t puffy but not totally clear either. I tried equalizing them on surface and one of them opened little but other was still blocked. I was offered some nasal rinse and i gladly took it up, its not advised but i was really keen to dive this spot and i am glad i took it.

We tried to anchor at some better spot than black caverns but being out in the ocean there was some current out there so we moved to black caverns. This is also out in middle of the ocean but closer to the island and the current was non-existent out there.

Dive 10: Black Caverns, Santa Barbara Island.

The anchor was siting in 100+ ft of water and were supposed to follow it to the cavern which rests in 60-90 ft of water. I was glad that there was an anchor chain to descend so that i could take my sweet time to clear out my ears and then descend but then it was a pleasant surprise that my ears cleared out perfectly. I had no issues whatsoever.

The viz was great and as soon i got to the bottom of the anchor, i saw that the sea floor was littered with hydriods, brittle stars and some huge sun stars. It was a sign of things to come and then as i came to the caverns, they were amazing. It had a huge tunnel which was about 50-60 ft long, i went through the other end and then wanted to ascend on top to explore the reef but then i decided against it. There was a sea lion following us inside the tunnel which was cool.

I didn’t know the exact topography of the site and the tunnel was in 80-90 ft of water so didn’t want to get low on air or something if had to swim back through it again. So i headed back and explored the reef structure. After a while i had to stop counting the number of nudis i was finding, they were all over the place, mainly dorids and hermisenda crassonis.

Anemone, my best pics so far are of them.

As i was hanging around and about to end my dive, Chris, who is a marine biologist, asked me to come over to the other side and take picture of something. I was excited about but unfortunately it was a fish he had never seen before and it swam away before i got there. :(

It was time for me to head back, do the safety stops and all that stuff. I didn’t want to descend down to 100ft again and try to find the anchor and following it up, instead i just followed my gut and tried to locate the chain midway at about 60 ft. Not a smart move without a compass heading or a compass and it also mean’t that i would out in the middle of the ocean without any reference.

It was an interesting experience to do safety stops out in middle of ocean where i could have been easily been carried away by any current but i had rough idea where i was and there were no currents. I was little bit tensed but a sea lion and some pelagic tunicates accompanied me during this interesting phase of the dive which helped me a lot.

It seemed like a foolish decision but i experienced something which made it worthwhile, it was a moment where you know its very easy to go in panic mode but still you have to keep your calm. Being in middle of ocean 15-30 ft underwater with nothing for visual reference you get this feeling of how small and insignificant you are compared to everything else around you. I am glad i got to experience it and when i popped up on the surface, i wasn’t too far from the boat. :)

I had such an amazing dive that if we decided to return at that point, i would have been content. I was glad that we were doing 2 more dives before returning but i would have been ok if the trip would come to an end.

Dive 11: Third Rock, Santa Barbara Island.

We didn’t move too far from the first dive site and then were anchored in this open ocean again but this time we were lot closer to the island and the depth was only 45 ft. Captain Ray mention that this site is like a ridge with quite a few tunnels and lot of structure. The anchor laid directly on top of the dive site so all we had to do is follow it.

The viz was so good that we could see the bottom from the surface, dropped down and then proceeded to explore the dive site. The was this nice narrow tunnel which was lot shorter than the one at black caverns and this time i came out from the other side and explored the structure behind.

The reef was littered with all kinds of stuff and had lot of structure to it. There were legdes, some small caves, some small holes through which you could barely swim through, it was superb. I managed to find some nudis but there was quite a bit of surge and it was hard to stay in one place to be able to take pics.

I came across a jelly/salp i am not sure what exactly it was, haven’t bothered to id it yet, apart from that nothing too exciting but i was just having a great time exploring the structure and enjoying the surge.

Jelly mostly

Dive 12: Rookery, Santa Barbara Island.

For the final dive we decided to head back to rookerie which is famous for sea lion interaction but unfortunately for us not many were interested. I didn’t know earlier that it was the same site where we did the twilight dive. It came as no surprise to me because i again mainly found only sea hares :)

There were two patches of kelp out there, one was thin because of the sea urchins where as other side seperated by sand patch was a thick area of kelp. At the end of the dive, i decided to hang at 15ft in a bid to attract some sea lions if they wanted to come out and play but they would just swim around me for sometime. They were in no mood to play. It was a nice relaxing dive to end what had been a great weekend.

It had been an amazing weekend for me and with the variety of dive sites we dove i came to realize something important. While diving it is the fear/excitement of the unknown which gives me that adrenaline rush. When inside the cave, the dark area of site covered with kelp, the shark which swam away or the safety stop in middle of ocean all these times i felt challenged to keep my calm, i was on the edge all the time. It was something that i have never felt before and i have come to realize that i really relished that challenge. There will be many more such situations and i hope that i do manage to keep my cool :).

Facebook link for more pics.

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Mar 16 2010

Diving Oil Rigs and a mistake.

Published by under Diving

It has been a very long time since i have last dove the oil rigs, it was in May 09, so when Chris posted on Scubaboard about Sea Bass being an open boat with free nitrox it was hard for me to resist. The only problem was that i was going to head out to Santa Barbara to chill out with Paras and everyone but when that didn’t materialize, i booked my spot on the boat. I knew i had to dive wet because i wasn’t totally comfortable using my dry suit on the rigs yet and i was glad that i made that decision.

The plan was to dive the rigs on Saturday and then head over to Baldy for a day of Skiing on Sunday which could have been a bad mistake, more on that later. I decided to check my regulators on Thursday evening only to find out that they were free flowing, tried to soak them in water, clean them to no avail so i decided to head out to Hollywood Divers, got a nitrox fill and rental regulators while mine were being serviced.

Woke up at 5am and still had to pack up my things, was being lazy last night. So did that and made it to the boat by 6.45. It was a light load with only 9 onboard and was supposed to be a nice sunny day with winds picking up in the afternoon. It was little chilly and everyone almost started gearing up, its a short boat ride to the rigs.

We first headed over to Eureka which is the farthest rig but there was already a dive boat there so Captain Richard decided to head back to twin rigs of Eily and Eileen. We were going to dive the rig called Eileen. Earl, the divemaster noted that there was little bit of current on the surface but i had no idea that it would be strong.

Jumped into the water and the current was pushing us already so we decided to descend immediately, Cyrille mentioned that visibility wasn’t great, i assured him that as soon as we descend it should clear up a lot. During the descent we had to stay really close so we didn’t loose sight of each other, came across a Sea Butterfly but didn’t have chance to take its picture.

Male Sheephead

At 90 feet or so it was time to explore the rigs and it cleared a whole lot, the viz was about 10-15 feet now. I had to be really careful about my depth,was on 32% nitrox, but with the current pushing us and it wasn’t easy, i looked at my computer and i was at 105 ft whoa, ascended little and then we settled downed behind a column where we had some shelter from the current.

I was little bummed by the fact that my dive light stopped working, for some reason it doesn’t like the rigs and it has happened to me on more than one occasion. Still there was some amount of light and i could see the life on the rigs, even managed to find a nudi. The fishes were thriving on the rigs, there was huge colony of Sheepheads, the rock fishes were big. came across big ling cod and a cabezon too. Minus the current it was really an awesome dive, there were times when we had no choice but to hold onto the rigs for a brief period. I had to be really careful, that i didn’t break the big soft sponge. just gave it a few pokes, nothing too bad happened to it :).

I saw a huge star fish but had to swim against the current to get to it and take its pics. I tried going across but the current was too much and i didn’t want to tire myself out. When we ascended, swell was minimal and the boat picked us up. During the surface interval, a whale came about 60ft within the boat. It didn’t linger for too long, just gave us a sneak peek at it.

Whale passing by

Dive 1:

Max Depth: 105 ft

Total Dive Time: 45 mins

Avg Depth: 58.6 ft

For the second and third dives we moved back to the farthest rig of Eureka. I tried to see what was going on with my dive light but it wouldn’t budge, Cyrille had a spare so decided to borrow that and it was really helpful. Even though the current wasn’t that strong we had to deal with the swell on this dive.

We descended down and had to fight the light current on this dive but it wasn’t as strong. We got behind one of the column structures and were sheltered by it somewhat. Since i had a nice bright light for this dive it was much better for it because at about 90ft it got really dark. Sun was playing hide and seek with us all day long and it almost felt that this was a night dive.

The life was spectacular as usual, though not as many big fishes as the first dive but we still found few nudis. Lots of Hermissenda crassicornis in particular. At one point we thought about going between the columns and exploring more but then didn’t have the urge to really fight the current. So we just were exploring the structures which were sheltering us from the current.

Hermisenda and Dorid

During our ascent, the swell had picked up and we could feel it at 30 ft or so. We came across a huge lemon dorid, it was about 8-10 inches in length and i was amazed at its size, easily the largest nudibranch i have seen it socal and without a doubt it was highlight of this dive trip.

Huge Lemon Dorid

Dive 2:

Max Depth: 104 ft

Total Dive Time: 44 mins

Avg Depth: 60.8 ft

It was time for lunch and after enjoying the sandwich time for the final dive of the day. The swell had picked up considerably and once in a while there would be a 5 footer. We got into the water and immediately dropped down. We were both little cold at the end of last dive so we decided that it would be a short one but it didn’t happen to be case.

The viz had dropped all of sudden and even at 90ft it wasn’t that good as one would hope to be. We started exploring one of the columns and after a while we decided to do more exploring and were carried to a different section of the rig by the current. I was little disoriented and thought that did the current change directions or what, but i know as long as we had the rig structure in sight it was nothing to worry about.

Found a few more nudis and then about 15-20 mins into the dive while we were hanging at 70ft, Cyrille pointed me to his dive computer and wanted to ascend. I figured it must be getting close to the NDL and he didn’t want to get into deco. He was diving using air while i was on Nitrox so i wasn’t faced with the same problem yet.

We got to about 50 ft and could really feel the swell, the current not so much but definitely the swell. I have always enjoyed diving in the swell, i let it push me around while i maintain my buoyancy. There was a school of blacksmiths and i could see them moving up and down in the swell, i wanted to be in sync with them. :) Even though we could feel the swell at 50ft it wasn’t huge, i figure it was moving us about 3-5 ft vertically.

Dive 3:

Max Depth: 94 ft

Total Dive Time: 44 mins

Avg Depth: 57.5 ft

During the ascent we came across a lot of sea butterflies, they were all over the place and it was fun to watch them glide by. It was a very nice way to end the dive and the day. We got back to dock at about 4.30 or so and after dealing with traffic reached home around 6ish.

The Mistake which could have gone bad:

The plan for the next day was to go skiing at Mt Baldy which rests at an elevation of 6800′ at base and 8600′ at the top of the chair. It didn’t even occur to me that it would be a foolish thing to do after 3 deep dives.

I realized my mistake when i got back home from skiing and was going to transfer dives from my dive computer to laptop. My computer showed me that i still had 2 hours before i would be completely Nitrogen free and then it hit me.

Luckily for me because i was using Nitrox, my dive computer calculated a no fly time of 18 hours and i just came close to blowing it off. I ended my final dive at around 2.30 pm or so and then didn’t get to Mt Baldy till about 9.15 am. So i had a surface interval of 19 hours before i got to 6800′ but then it was also end of day light savings so i lost an hour.

I personally think Nitrox really saved me this time, because my dive buddy came really close to deco so if i was using air then i probably would have been close to it as well and my no fly time would have been closer to 24 hours. Lesson learnt and thankfully no harm done. Next time, i shall go skiing first and then diving not the other way around.

If you are unsure why could this be a problem, for non-diving folks, here is an article about DCS.

Finally the video which my dive buddy Cyrille shot,

Sorry about the quality of pics had to keep the file size down, more are uploaded here

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Dec 24 2009

Diving in Dry Suit and much more…..

Published by under Diving

I knew what my plans for the night of Saturday 19th Dec plans were going to be about two months in advance or so but then all of sudden lot of things happened around it and this week/weekend turned out to be really fun/crazy.

Thursday 17th Dec 2009, Downtown Walk and Avatar:

It all started out with thursday evening where first i went to a meetup with Downtown Indian Social club. We met at union station and then walked around in downtown, looking at the various decorations and catching up a small show at LA Live. We tried to go different restaurants for dinner but both had private parties so finally decided on this thai restaurant Soi 7. Its a fairly new restaurant and the yellow curry was good.

I had to rush out of that place because i didn’t want to be late for Avatar. I wasn’t planning on catching it first day first show but then the tickets were available and so i went for it. Wanted to see it in IMAX but in my excitement i got fooled and didn’t get IMAX but it was 3D so i was happy about it. I was there late but then i got a very nice seat so didn’t have much to complain about.

The movie story is pretty predictable but the visuals are absolutely stunning, I am fan of CG so i have a bias but then still this is something that has never been done before. I am sure you have read other reviews of the movie so won’t be going too much into it.

Friday Office Party and Saturday Dry Suit Class:

Come Friday evening, there was office Christmas party to attend. I had my dry suit class on saturday so wasn’t planning on drinking too much but still ended up having a shot and couple of beers. I did make sure to drink lots of water to go along with it so i that i didn’t dehydrate myself too much.

Came home at 1 and woke up at 4 to catch the 6.15 am Catalina Express. Met Lars who was also doing the dry suit course and we took a cab to Casino point. I was worried that i had forgotten my rain jacket but then it was going to be a clear beautiful clear day with temperature in 70’s. It was surprising that i didn’t see any kelp at the park and later on as we dove saw tons of eel grass which has grown there.

We got suited up for the first dive and it was going to be the wreck of Sue Jack. At the end of the dive we were going to do skills of forward and backward rolls, i found that to be little odd since if anyone had uncontrolled ascent it would be lot less harmful at beginning of dive rather than end of dive. But i am sure Nikki knew what she was doing and all of us were experienced divers.

We got into the water and it was a different feeling to get used to, during the pool session i thought that it felt as if i was learning diving all over again with the dry suit and i wasn’t wrong. We dropped down and started swimming towards the wreck, the viz was amazing about 20-30 ft and suddenly i got the feeling that my suit had developed a leak or something. I wasn’t exactly toasty but then i didn’t feel that cold either, i was having mixed feelings about the suit.

I was doing great in terms of my buoyancy and air consumption, didn’t see anything too exciting but there were schools of fishes and saw a huge china or yellow rockfish. We got to the wreck and then it was time to turn around and then things started to go all downhill for me.

There was a little bit of current against us while coming back so it wasn’t fun and then my new fins aren’t exactly snug so i was having trouble with that. I have XL and i think i will go back to the shop and see if the large ones fit me. With my socks and everything getting compressed little bit the fins flap around and its not fun.

As we were almost back to the buoy, i was really having a hard time staying down and prevent myself from ascending, the dry suit valve was fully open and all the air from my BC was dumped too but to no avail. I tried to fight it but with little success and soon had no choice but to pop up. I was in control all the time and it wasn’t a rapid ascend and was from about 25-30 ft so i wasn’t too worried about DCS.

Nikki came over to see if i was doing ok, she asked me to take my time and join others to do the rolls. I waited on the surface to catch my breath and after few mins descended again to join others and finish doing the rolls. After doing those, again i just couldn’t stay down and slowly ascended. This time i decided to call it a dive and didn’t go down again.

When we got out, my fears about the leak were not true and it was just the sweat condensation in the undergarment which i was feeling. If it was a flood or a tear, i was assured that it would be very different and i got to experience it in the next dive.

For the second dive, i decided to add couple of pounds of weight and see how it went. So after a couple of hours of surface interval we started out second dive. This time we were going to swim in opposite direction and try to find the dive platforms. At the end of the dive we would practice removing the dry suit inflator hose and connecting it again and then try to vent through the seals. We would also be doing the one minute timed hover and supposed to stay in one position for that minute.

We dropped down and soon a cormorant also dropped down to go after the school of fishes, it was nice to watch it. This dive was way better and in terms of having that feeling of leak totally went away for me, i was getting more comfortable and used to the dry suit. But still i wasn’t too happy with how my fins fitted and am going to change them for sure.

After few minutes, we found the swim platforms and it was nice to see them for the first time, i might have encountered them previously but don’t remember them as such. We then swam around and did the hover in the sandy area, i didn’t have any problems with that.

I had some problem with air getting into my feet and having a slow ascend, so when nikki asked me to disconnect the hose and put it back, i had to take my time to relax and maintain my trim. It will take few more dives for sure to be totally comfortable with the suit. Now it was time for us to practice venting air out of the seals, it was easy to do so in the pool without the gloves and hood but then with gloves and hood on it wasn’t going to be easy.

I barely had any air in my suit so when i was asked to vent it, i first had to add some air to it and it also mean’t that i was ascending slowly but i did manage to get air out of my wrists and get myself back, there was no ascent to the surface like the first dive. Venting air out of my neck seal was another adventure, i added some air to the suit to get it out. I am not sure if i managed to let some air or not but some water did enter through the seal. Now i knew the feeling of leak and how different it was from the first time i thought it happened.

We ended the dive soon and this time i was able to easily make the safety stop at 15 feet so that extra couple of pounds really helped though next time i am going to add another two pounds to see how it goes. Before heading out to the island i had thought about doing one or two more dives after the required dives but i wasn’t in the mood now. I want to change my fins before i get into the water with my suit again. It will lot more comfortable for me, i am sure.

The best part about drysuit is that you don’t get wet :D, i know its ironic but you don’t have to worry about the cold and all the wetness, i just love it. We decided to have lunch at Antonio’s and the veggie calzone was really good.

Dinner and Infected Mushroom Saturday Night:

I had to meet a client in west la to discuss about a possible project so i decided to head out directly there after landing in long beach at about 5pm, i was planning on meeting with them on friday but then didn’t want to drive in traffic to west la. So after finalizing about the project, i went directly to Chakra Cuisine of India in Beverly Hills for another dinner meetup with Indian/Bollywood Social group.

Google has wrong location of this place in their database but still i managed to reach on time at around 7. The restaurant is supposed to be upscale and the ambience definitely suggested so. We were 15 in all attending the meetup and it was a nice group of people. The appetizers at this place made me look forward to the food but the entrees were disappointing. I wasn’t impressed at all by the main course and i don’t think i would be visiting this place again.

I choose to bid early goodbye to the group since i had to get to avalon early to see Infected Mushroom, i had got tickets like 2 months in advance for this and didn’t want to be late and stand in the line for too long. I got home and then left as soon as i could. I had never been to avalon before but then i managed to find it without any problems.

When i got there, i had to look around to find the right line because there were few of them. I managed to find the right one and got in after like 15 mins of waiting so it wasn’t that bad. Duddev started DJ’ing at about 11.15 and then around mid night the whole band came to the stage to rock us for over 3 hours. It was simply mind blowing, the speakers were little loud but i didn’t mind it.

I wasn’t too pleased with the crowd, quite a few people were just standing on the dance floor and it was little annoying but its ok, i just had to be little restrained ;-). The party would have continued on till 8 in the morning but i had enough and decided to head back at around 3.15. I was seriously considering going hiking on sunday but the hike was a 10 mile one and i didn’t want to push myself too far.

By the time i went back to bed it was almost 4 and my saturday finally came to an end. Sunday was spend watching movies on TV and relaxing :)

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Jul 22 2009

LA County Advance Divers Program 2009

Published by under Diving

This is going to be an ongoing blog about my experience taking LA County ADP program, I wanted to take this course last year but unfortunately i couldn’t so this year i have decided to go ahead with it.

It started this weekend 11th July and is going to be running till end of september, with something going on almost every weekend. My main objective to take this course is to be more comfortable doing beach dives and also to build upon my existing dive skills.

Shawn, one of the volunteers at ADP has written this cool post at scubaboard about his experience assisting this year and i have borrowed some of his content into this blog as well.

This blog is going to be a work in progress till the course ends in September.

Day 1, 11th July : Orientation, Equipment Function, Emergency Accident Management and Skills Evaluation.

Day 2, 12th July : Dive Fitness, Bubble Trouble and Pool Session.

Day 3, 18th July : Cabrillo Beach Dives and Cabrillo Aquarium Tour

Day 4: 25th July: Lectures, Physics in Depth, Oceanography, Efficient Shore diving and Underwater Mapping.

Day 5: 1st August: Reef Point Dives.

Day 6: 2nd August: Nitrox, Dry suit diving and Pool Session (Dry suit trying, fin testing, rescue)

Day 7: 8th August: Photography, Underwater Submarine Rescue Unit and Pool Session.

Day 8: 15th August: Deep and Navigation Dives, Veterans Park, Redondo Beach

Day 9: 22nd August: Salvage, Rescue,CPR, Technical Diving and Dry Suit Demo,Victoria Pool

Day 10: 23rd August: Search Patterns conducted by Long Beach Lifeguards, Long Beach Harbor

Day 11: 30th August: Boat Diving and Chamber Tour (Missed it)

Day 12: 12th September: White Point (Missed it)

Day 13,14: 19th, 20th September: Camping Weekend Sycamore Cove

Day 15: Graduation and Conclusion.

Day 1:

The previous night was nothing too exciting but i didn’t sleep early yet managed to wake up on time and with little difficulty got to the Victoria Pool in Carson at about 7.50 or so. The formal paperwork was completed and there were 38 students in the class which was way more than i expected.

I don’t mind it a single bit and it gives an opportunity to meet new divers, the orientation was brief. Staff and Volunteers were introduced and we were divided into 4 groups initially. We were going to go over the basic equipment everyone had and what would be required etc.

I have a 7ft long hose tech configuration with a back plate and stuff. It always feels good when other divers appreciate your gear and it re-affirms my decision in the gear i choose or rather was suggested by awesome guys at hollywood divers :). I am going to change my weight system because the integrated weights i have could pose a problem in an emergency situation but apart from that i should be ok. Oh yes will have to get used to the snorkel, i always carry one on me but never use it while diving.

Now it was time for Hal Wells, one of the owners of Hollywood Divers, to talk about equipment function and it was very informative. I learned about different types of regulators, air delivery systems and tanks. He could have carried on for the entire day without boring us but then we had to stop somewhere, at the end of the lecture i was more aware about my own gear and how to maintain it more properly. Hal left 5 free Nitrox fill cards for everyone to use which was awesome, I plan to do most of my ADP dives on Nitrox.

Next lecture of the day was from a Registered Nurse, I forgot the name, she works with LA County Fire Department and training them specifically for dive related emergencies.  She discussed neurological exams, evaluating the condition of the victim, differences between DCS I/II, DCI, etc. Covered some info about embolisms, pnuemathorax, etc. Locations of Hyberbaric chambers in LA County, what to do in case of dive emergency and general procedures.

We had a very quick lunch break and then we were going to assemble in the pool for swimming evaluations and basic skill checks. I knew from the start that i was going to suck in these evaluations, I am not a good swimmer at all and just need to get better at it. I managed to swim four lengths of the pool but it was all on my back taking my sweet time. It was embarrassing in a way but i have to work at it and get better. The treading part was easy for me because i can easily float on my back without any problems so i did that.

Now that we had got the difficult part out of the way the rest was easy, got into the scuba gear and then we had to do mask clearing, regulator recovery, those basic skills. I didn’t have that much of a problem doing regulator recovery, even though it was my first time trying it out with my long hose configuration.

This was it for the day, it had been a long and slightly tiring day but was helpful. I then headed out to Irvine to mayur’s place and then after a night of poker, finally reached home at 1 only to wake up at 7 for another day of ADP.

Day 2:

Woke up and headed out to Victoria Pool in Carson for what was going to be another eventful day. It started off by lecture from Gretchen Ashton – She discussed about how one should train for scuba diving and what we should do to get in better shape. She gave out a workout which targets scuba divers and it was very interesting to learn about how she came about developing this particular program. She had looked at the various statistics from the DAN website, causes of accidents, the age group and all that. Being a scuba diver herself, she also realizes herself what muscle groups are most used and all that good stuff.

The next lecture was “Decompression Theory” by Dr. Tabby Stone, M.D. He discussed Caisson Disease (Bends), AGE, DCI and DCS and the various differences between them. He started off by briefly discussing the various laws (Boyle’s, Charles’, Dalton’s, Fick’s, and Henry’s), how it applies to divers, then moving on to dissolved gasses and how bubbles form what they are, and how it causes DCS. He then discussed various symtoms (general, musculoskeletol, cardio, neural, etc. How you can avoid them (never go diving!) (er, minimizing the risk), then how tables and bubble theory came to be, halftimes, and so on, and then treatment via hyperbaric chamber. He then discussed a bit about various risk factors for DCI (obesity, dehydration) and mitigation (excercise, hydration, etc).

One interesting point he mentioned which i took special note of was his recommendation of using Nitrox as if it was air. It is a very misleading statement but he clarified by what actually he mean’t by it. Most people use Nitrox to extend bottom times and if we do that then according to him we are actually defeating one of the purposes of Nitrox, i.e. to prevent our body from absorbing more nitrogen. If we use Nitrox as if it was air, ofcourse we have be careful of our depths, but with the same bottom times as one would have on air we are definitely absorbing less nitrogen into our system and thus less chances of getting bent. Very interesting point of view.

We were then briefly introduced to the Rescue techniques and what would we cover more into depth in the coming weeks. We just touched on the topic of tows, emergency procedures etc. After a brief break for lunch it was time for the pool session.

This time we were going to practice a lot of skin diving in the pool and so i decided not to wear my wetsuit yet. We started off by doing some swimming laps because the staff just wanted to see swimming skills and how u do it. Next it was time for some skin diving, we were introduced to the pike dive, tuck dive techniques. We did quite a few laps in the pool doing skin dives, recovering weights from the bottom of the pool. I had some difficulty but i managed to do well and was getting more comfortable doing it.

We also did some entries, like the back roll and the front roll etc and then it was time to don on the scuba gear and do the same skills again. We were going to do buoyancy check but then time had ran out so we kept that for later. Over the course ofcourse buoyancy checks were going to happen.

Day 3:

We were supposed to be at the beach early in the morning and ready to jump into the water at 8am. I woke up at 6 got ready and was at the beach by 7.20 or so, didn’t have much difficulty finding the beach and most of the folks were already there.

We first got into our skin gear and then we were going to practice some skin diving. I had changed my weight system specifically for this, the previous one wasn’t a good one to dump during emergency. I wasn’t sure how much weight i should be carrying in my weight belt so i decided to go little light, which didn’t turn out to be a good idea. Carried 6lbs next time i plan to go with 10 and see how it goes.

I fell while going through the surf zone, i think it was due to the fact that i was wearing my fins while going through it, something which i don’t plan to do it again. I had difficulty doing the skins dives and couldn’t touch the bottom even once. It was because i had less weight on me, I am not a fan of free diving anyway but i would like to try it out further and see if i can get better at it.

The viz was awful, 3-4 ft would be a over statement, we then started practicing the different tows and then it was time to get in with all our gear and do the basic skills. We donned our scuba gear and this time with the fins off, i didn’t have much of a problem going through the surf zone.

We first practiced removing all of the gear in water and putting it back on. I thought i would have to remove my mask while practicing this because i have a necklace bungee but i could remove my octo without having to removing my mask, only if there wasn’t any snorkel attached to it. I was surprised that i could get it back on without having the unclip the buckle on my shoulder strap.

We were planning to do the same skills,that we practiced in pool last week, at the bottom along with buddy breathing. The viz was awful, it didn’t matter whether we kicked up any sand or not. We were at 12ft only but then myself and Ariel,my buddy, were holding onto each other for most of the time so as not to get separated, it was really bad down there. But at the same time it was fun trying to maintain your buoyancy while getting pushed around in surge.

It wasn’t going to a long dive anyway, the main goal was to get used to beach entry/exits and then checking of basic skills. Practiced an ESA (emergency surface ascent) and then waited for everyone to get to the surface. Getting out of water didn’t turn out to be that bad either.

Now after lunch it was time for us to get the tour of Cabrillo Aquarium but before that we finalized our team color and name. We stuck with Turquoise and i was partial to name Nefarious Nudibranchs which Chad suggested, Jason suggested Bat Rays with a Batman kind of design on the T-shirt which was cool too and we decided to name our team that.

We were told in the schedule it was going to be tour of Museum but it was actually an Aquarium. Kora Webber was going to be our personal tour guide for it, she manages the nursery out there. We went through the main area where they had native species, the Giant Sea Bass, White Sea Bass, Rock fishes etc and then there was one of the biggest lobsters in the crustacean tank. There was also a female one who was carrying eggs with her which was cool to see.

We moved to the tide pool there, where saw some leopard sharks, red abalones, star fishes and plenty of urchins along with rock fishes. The backside had a holding tank which contained plenty of red abalones and a few of breeding swell shark couples. We got to pet one of the sharks and saw California skate poking its head out of water, those things look really funny from underneath.

Next stop was to check out the real life whale skeletons they have on displays and then we moved onto the section where they had an tunnel under the tank, it was cool and the kids were having a blast. They had quite a few samples under microscope for us to check, close up of anemones, podium of starfish etc.

The best and the final stop was the nursery where they take care of all the young fishes, crustaceans etc. The food for them is also grown/cultured and we were shown how a lobster begins its life as a plankton rather than a crustacean like shell. They just look like tiny spiders till they are year old or so, simply fascinating.

They had lots of jelly fishes, lobsters in larval form, most of them were so tiny that we could barely see them with naked eyes. There were also few juvenile lobsters, sea horses along with mating pairs of sea horses. It was the first time i remember seeing a sea horse in captivity too, maybe i have seen them in sea world, but i will remember these for a long time :).

Since i started diving, after lobsters now sea horses have caught my fascination. It was really an amazing experience to see it all and i would highly recommend going to the aquarium for anyone visiting Cabrillo Beach. The aquarium isn’t big but its a different experience and the nursery is actually a research lab which is open to public, how cool.

Day 4:

The previous night i was out till 3 enjoying some old desi music at Rashmi uncle’s place in Irvine. It was going to be a challenge for me to stay awake throughout the 4 lectures planned in the day. :)

I managed to get up and got to the Victoria pool where the lectures for the day were going to be Physics in Depth, Oceanography, Beach diving Techniques and Underwater Mapping.

Chris Niemann, a physicist, was going to be the first speaker of the day and he was going to talk about physics as applied to diving. It was an awesome lecture mainly because Chris had some practical demonstrations for us.

He started off by getting into the differences in properties of air and water and how it affects things like light, sound, heat propagation. To demonstrate refraction effects he had a transparent cube inside a glass and upon adding benzene into the glass the cube disappeared, very cool.

He then talked about pressure and how to do various calculations where we have to use absolute values, the same principle of using absolute values applies for pressure changes due to temperature. Another cool demonstration was when he shrank a balloon using liquid air which is almost at absolute zero, i didn’t even know something like liquid air exists :D.

Chris then explained the gas laws and they affect the diffusion and the reason why we have to fear nitrogen underwater and then finally ended his awesome lecture by talking about buoyancy. We had to calculate how much air would be required at a certain depth, to lift a certain amount of weight. At the end we were given a quiz to take home, it almost felt like being back in school again, only there wasn’t going to be any grading on the quiz :).

Next lecture was by Holger Brix, PhD from UCLA, he was going to talk about Oceanography. He talked about the reasons why we have the currents, surfs, waves, tides etc.

He started off by explaining the ocean currents and showed us the major current systems around the globe. He explained how tides are caused by the gravitational forces between earth and moon, how some regions due to their topography can have intense tidal changes etc. Then we covered the different types of waves, how they are formed, rip currents were touched upon. It was a very informative lecture.

I was expecting that at this point we would get a lunch break but since we were already running behind schedule we went ahead with the next lecture after a short break of 5 mins.

Jess Rosas, team leader for the red team, was going to talk about efficient shore diving. He discussed what factors we have to keep in mind while planning a beach dive. The direction of the beach, time of year and the storm systems, if any, so that we can decide when to dive. Once we get to the beach we have to make sure that we know the swell direction, the intensity, frequency, identifying the rip currents, avoiding them and how to escape them all these things were discussed.

We also talked about tides, the tide cycles and how to plan the dive in relation with the tide cycles. It was overwhelming to learn that so many things should be kept in mind while planning a beach dive though i am not sure how many people give attention to all the details.

At the end of this lecture, it was pretty clear that beach diving is something you cannot take it lightly at all, lot of things have to be taken into account.

We decided to keep the marathon going and David Bunch, our last speaker was going to make it a short presentation. He is from UICC 13 so i am guessing he has been diving and teaching for atleast 40-50 years, to hear someone with so much experience talk was really nice.

He showed us and talked about the equipment used back in the day to carry out underwater mapping, the maps they created, how they used foam cups to mark the regions and prepare floats etc. He talked in length how they used lake castaic for training purposes and developed certain areas by dropping platforms, bricks etc. Too bad this year we won’t be doing any training in the muck and zero viz conditions at lake castaic.

At the end of it we were supposed to get briefing by our team leaders but there was no leader for our team present, it sucked. Finally Bill Lidyoff, program director, gave us the briefing about Reef point and we were going to bring two tanks to do navigation as well a fun dive.

Day 5:

I woke up at about 5am for what was going to be a long and exciting day at Reef point. It was going to be a long drive for me so i left at 6.15 or so and got at the parking lot without much hiccup at about 7.15.

A lot of folks were already there and i suited up, carried all my stuff down the steep ramp, it wasn’t bad early in the morning but i knew carry that tank at the end of dive wasn’t going to be fun at all. As i got down to the beach i saw the other teams, Blue Sharks and Red Rouges had prepared dive flags, banners etc but our team had none of that fancy stuff. But we had potluck to look forward to which turned out to be great. 😀

Mike, our team leader, was already there and as soon as everyone in our team or most of our team was there we started off with navigation.

I had decided to use my tiny compass which i could strap on my dive computer, i thought i had a handle on it but then i sucked once i got confused with the idea that we have to add to heading when we turn right and then subtract when we turn left. It wasn’t fun but i was sure i will be fine once i get my usual compass with me.

We did some practice on land with squares, so that we could get handle on the basic stuff. Before heading out with the floats and skin gear to practice navigation on surface we decided to get into the surf zone to get used to diving under the waves and general techniques. The beach had lot of small dunes so it was nice to get used to that feeling before we jumped in water with our scuba gear.

So with the floats and our skin gear we headed out into the surf zone, I didn’t want to put on my fins at the beach and then enter the water but Mike wanted to get us used to that idea so reluctantly i put on my fins and then started moving backwards through the surf zone. I didn’t fall down this time, unlike last time but i began swimming immediately as soon as i entered waist deep water. Much better to swim with fins on than walk backwards for sure :).

We were divided into teams and were supposed to set the floats to form a square which we would first navigate on surface and then underwater with our scuba gear. It was myself, Ariel and Ben who were going to work together setting up the float as well as navigating the course.

So with the floats all setup we just had to navigate from one float to the next initially and i sucked at it. I had my tiny compass to blame for my pathetic navigation skills, so when it came time to navigate the entire course in one go i decided to follow Ben.

Ben was going to lead, i was in between with Ariel following me. We found the first float alrite but then as soon as we reached the second float I didn’t look behind to see if Ariel was there and myself and Ben took off leaving Ariel behind which was not right. I need to be less adventures and look out for my buddies even though we were on skin gear and not scuba but still, its not nice.

It was time to put our skills to test underwater, we had to navigate the entire course without having to surface, i forgot to mention that while navigating from one float to another we had to count our kick cycles so that underwater if we are off track we would know if we had gotten too far or not.

It was really surgy out there and when we got back to the beach some people were feeling queasy and sea sick. I rushed back to the car to get my cool compass and was more confident about running the course underwater. The floats were moved to be more accurate and now the anchors were perfectly lined up at right angles so that it would be much easier for us to find them underwater. It also meant that the kick cycles were no longer useful, it was going to be 20 kicks for them so i figured we would be lost if it took us more than 30 kicks to get from one anchor to the next.

Chad while exiting the water lost one of fins to a wave and it was a reminder of how powerful the water can be, there was nothing he could have done differently to prevent it from happening. He had the fin secured on his leg but the wave hit him and took off the fin, we have to be careful all the time while beach diving.

This time with our scuba gear, I entered the water with my fins in hand and put them in water after getting past the surf zone. It was me and ben along with Harold who was going to see watch how efficiently we navigate the course. We reached out to one of the floats and dropped down, the viz was like 10-15 feet which was nice and the water felt really warm. It was a nice toasty 73F.

I was going to lead and Ben was going to be along my side using his compass as well. We started navigating towards the second float and didn’t have problems find it. Yay I was so happy and I did it, see i knew my compass was the problem earlier. But that happiness lasted only for so long, we started heading towards the next target but then the surge was really out there and it threw me off by a very long distance. its like if you get tossed in the direction parallel to the heading you are going then you are going to be off target, lesson learnt.

We surfaced about 10-15 yards away from the float and now after swimming to it, we decided to target the the next float underwater. This time Ben was going to lead and we were still being tossed around in the surge, we looked and looked for the anchor but it was no where in sight and when we surfaced we found it like 3-4 feet away from us, grrrr it was annoying and sad. But the good thing is despite the surge we weren’t off by much :).

All this surfacing and going under wasn’t being liked by my ears, i wasn’t too concerned about being bent since we were working in like 10-15 ft of water. It was time to target the final float now but then we spent too much time loitering around and trying to find the floats so it was time to pack up the floats and head out.

We wrapped up the float and got back out without any significant problems, i thought i would get rolled over when a wave hit me on the way out but i somehow managed to regain my balance and stand up. Back out on the beach now it was time to have our potluck lunch. We took a vote and we decided to have it near the parking lot so that there won’t be any sand in the food.

We had lots of yummy food, veggie wraps, pizza, water melon, salad, pasta, hummus, pita bread, soda, khus khus, veggies, chips, cookies. It was a feast and a well deserved one too, the rest of teams only had their flags to look at ;). We also finally finalized the team logo, color.

It was time for me to don the monster steel 133 and head out for the fun beach dive, Ariel was feeling lot better now and he was going to be my buddy with Mike joining us. I had got warm on the previous dive so this time i decided to get rid of my hood and jumped in without it. It was going to be only an half hour dive at most because we wanted to wrap up by 2 and go home. I was again going to enter the water with my fins off and made it past the surf zone but wait there is this huge wave coming. It was a big one about 4-5 ft and wasn’t going to be pretty, i dove under the wave but still got tossed around but made it past it without any damage and gear all intact :). We got past the surf zone and realized it was getting more surgy and the waves were getting bigger too.

I was going to lead the dive, which didn’t turn out to be a good idea, I descended and got tossed around in surge lost my sense of direction was heading towards the beach. *sigh* so much for navigation course early in the day, I was having too much fun in the surge, just wait when its against you and with a couple of kicks go a long distance with the surge.

Ariel tried to grab my attention a few times but it didn’t do much and finally after couple of minutes with me heading in wrong direction, though eventually i saw mike point me towards the right way, it was too much for Ariel. He didn’t feel comfortable with me heading out in wrong direction and the surge tossing around, classic task loading, so we decided to end that dive. I wanted to play in the surge but then i was being stupid for not checking the direction so i am to blame for us ending the dive.

Getting out of the surf was another story, no crazy wave hit me but for some reason i didn’t get my fins off. It has happened to me a couple of times that on the way out i don’t take my fins off just because i can’t seem to find the right time always. The dunes at the beach were not helping and i ended up falling. I was going to crawl my way out to the beach but then Bill was in water helping people out. He took off my fins and i was able to get back on my feet.

Now it was time to carry everything up the hill to the car, i wasn’t going to wait to drop off my gear so i just took off with my tank still on and with some difficulty i managed to get to the car. It required another trip to get the rest of stuff back to the car and after using the showers and getting clean it was time to head home.

Sports Chalet in Huntington Beach was having a gear sale and i was tempted to go in there to buy another tank but i decided against it. I was dreading the traffic on way back home but it didn’t turn out to be bad. Reached in about hour and half on the 5.

I didn’t take all of my gear out of the car since the pool session tomorrow would provide an excellent opportunity to get off all the sand :D, so only the regs and the computer was out of car and rinsed. I wasn’t too much worried about the smell either since it doesn’t get bad if i don’t close the bag.

I wasn’t sure if i was going to head out to Circus for another night of trance but after taking a nap from 5-9 i felt a lot refreshed so i headed out to Circus Disco. I didn’t end up staying late there since had another pool session at Victoria park so came home and ended up going to bed by 3.

Day 6:

Woke up at about 7 and hurriedly packed my stuff for the pool session and i ended up forgetting my glasses, notebook but it wasn’t a big deal. Mike was going to do the Nitrox lecture and after that Karim,one of the owners of hollywood divers, was going to talk about dry suits. We were going to go over some rescue skills, free diving skills, fin testing and dry suit demos in the pool. A lot going on so we were going to be split into 4 groups.

I am already Nitrox certified so i didn’t necessarily have to be there for the lecture but then its always interesting to hear on the same topic from different people and learn more. Mike went over the advantages/disadvantages of nitrox and the whole deal about equipment handling etc. He presented a different way to do calculations of MOD, the partial pressures etc which was cool to know and a lot easier to what i had previously learnt. It was nice to keep that stuff in my head :).

Karim was going to present next and he was representing DUI for the lecture. He started off with a DUI video which showed how the dry suits are made and the entire ordering process etc. He didn’t have presentation but instead we had an interactive Q&A session where he clarified the myths/questions about dry suits.

We had 45 mins for lunch, unlike last time where we had none, Chad, myself and Bryan decided to head out to subway but we found lunch buffet at Shakey’s Pizza. The food was alrite nothing too exciting and we were little late to get to the pool.

I was going to start off with doing the rescue where we would bring unresponsive diver to surface in our skin gear, its not easy and i had to resurface because i couldn’t hold my breath for long. We practiced it in only 4 feet of water. We were told to ditch the persons weight belt immediately after shaking them but it would be a good idea only if we were on skin and not scuba.

I won’t feel good about ditching someone’s weight immediately if i was on scuba, it could mean a rapid ascent for that person as well as myself. Rescue is a tricky process and there is no hard and fast rule, it all depends on the conditions and the persons gear. Shaking the person and getting help as soon as you are on surface and maintaining the airway open while giving rescue breaths are the only constants. Ditching weight belt, getting the person out of BCD etc it all depends on the conditions. you wouldn’t wanna get rid of BCD if the person is not in a wetsuit, similarly if someone is wearing a 7mm and a weight belt, getting rid of weight belt could immediately send the person to the surface uncontrollably. So it depends on a variety of factors i would say, even if you are on skin i would still use the person’s BCD to ascend if they have air left in their tank. Personally though i don’t think i am confident as of now to rescue someone from 30ft only on skin gear.

It was now time to do fin testing, someone from Manta Ray was there and we were testing out their fins. Some people had success using the new fins while others were more efficient using their split fins. Its another tricky thing and interesting thing to see how some fins work for some people, it again depends on a lot of factors. I barely had success moving the weight on the machine using either of fins. I liked how light those fins were compared to my atomic split ones though not sure if i liked the feeling of them being very flappy.

Now it was time to test out the dry suit, my first time using one. Karim handed me the medium one and it was little big for me but not too bad to try it out. I put it on and jumped into the pool and immediately felt a squeeze on my legs but as soon as i descended and was horizontal it was gone. It was a very interesting experience and i am going to have to get used to it because i plan to buy one eventually for sure.

Next it was time for me to move onto the free diving and skin diving section where i got more comfortable doing the skin dives and free diving for a bit. But it was cut short because we were out of time and the pool had to be open to the public, feeling more confident about my free diving skills i headed back home after another eventful day of ADP. I wanted to go to bed by 8 but ended up playing AOE and going to bed at about midnight. :)

Day 7:

The schedule for today was supposed to be lectures on Photography, Deep Diving and Navigation followed by a pool session but the day didn’t go as planned.

Got to Victoria Park on time and then our first speaker for the day was late so Bill started off by giving us briefing about the next week. We would be doing two dives at Redondo Beach, one deep dive and another navigation.

We have to solve some sort of simple puzzle at 100′ which should be fun and then for the next dive,create and navigate a course. It would be again be challenging depending on the conditions but i will try to do better this time and keep in mind how much i get tossed in surge, things like that.

Kelly Bracken, president of LAUPS (Los Angeles Underwater Photographic Society), was going to talk about under water photography. She didn’t have a presentation for us but had notes on which she was going to base her talk on. It ended up being more of a Q&A session and was interesting but i was disappointed.

Maybe i got my expectations too high, i wanted to learn more about the basics of photography, the lenses, f stops, ISO and all that jargon that comes with it. I thought the whole point of attending a class was that they would have someone teach us about all these things rather than hear someone talk in general and answer our questions. I wasn’t too impressed on how the lecture turned out to be, not that it wasn’t good just that the content wasn’t what i had expected it be.

Unfortunately the same thing happened with the next lecture too. Commander Dave Lemlin, talked about underwater submarine rescue unit of the navy. It was very cool and exciting to hear all about this unit and how they are prepared to do underwater submarine rescues anywhere in the world in less than 2000 ft of water within 72 hours. It was informative lecture but it wasn’t the reason i was there to attend ADP.

The lecture briefly touched on decompression theory and mixed gasses but it was only for couple of minutes. When the class is about diving i expect the lectures to be relevant to the intended topics. Personally i would have loved to hear someone talk about deep diving, navigation rather than know about the cool toys which US Navy has for underwater submarine rescues. Don’t get me wrong the lecture was informative it was nice knowing about the systems and the suit which one can wear to 2000ft but then it wasn’t the reason i was attending the class. I have taken this course to learn more about diving and be a better scuba diver, i just don’t see how this lecture relates to it.

We broke for lunch and then we had pool session, we started off by doing skin DNR, we had to free dive take off our fins, mask at the bottom of pool, get back up and then go back to recover it. I didn’t realize i am inherently buoyant and as i dove down i had a hard time staying at the bottom of the pool. I managed to take off my fins and mask but my fins are little positively buoyant so they started floating and wouldn’t stay at the bottom of pool.

I tried using weight belt but still wasn’t able to stay at the bottom and so next time i will have to wear a couple of pounds on me so that i can stay at the bottom without any problems. Next we moved onto rescue on the surface and again the same discussion happened.

Bill earlier in the day talked briefly about it and mentioned that the first thing about bring someone to the surface was to shake them etc and then ditch their weight belt even if you are on scuba and i completely disagree with that. If asked to perform this where i have to ditch someone’s waist belt to bring them to surface while i am on scuba there is no way i am going to do it. Mike and Jan both agree with me and we discussed it briefly with others too.

We practiced bringing unconscious diver to surface when we are on skin and it highlighted the inconsistency of the program. Last week we were asked to remove and ditch all the gear of the person being rescued while today we were asked not to do it. I am clear in my head about what i should do while rescuing someone, it all depends on the situation and the conditions. I have mentioned it earlier but i am not sure about what other students in the class think about it.

Next we got into scuba gear and practiced something which i haven’t done before and it was a fun exercise. We had to buddy breathe while swimming the length of the pool, not ascending but just maintaing our buoyancy and swimming horizontally. It wasn’t easy but me and Ariel managed to do so without much problems.

Our last exercise, which we couldn’t completely finish, was to arrange the tanks in a circle, take a couple of breaths from a regulator and then move onto the next tank without surfacing. We were supposed to reduce the number of tanks after a while and keep on going till one tank was left. It was another fun exercise and it went well except for the fact that we couldn’t finish it till only one tank was left and people had a hard time to find the purge button on my regulator. It is on the side but everyone was trying to press the front and it wouldn’t purge thus confusing them.

We decided to not do a potluck for Redondo Beach dive and instead we are going to have a pizza party. It wasn’t a great day for me and its sad to say but so far i have learnt more about rescue in my PADI rescue class than i have in this class. Hopefully it will change at the end with quite a lot remaining to be covered but i don’t have my expectations too high. The same view has been expressed to me by few other students as well this course isn’t turning out to be what they had in mind.

Day 8:

I was contemplating whether to go out or not on friday but i couldn’t resist and ended up going to LAX, the nightclub, but i was back home by 1.

Woke up at around 5.30 got ready and reached Veteran’s Park on time. Most of us were already there and after a short briefing we were ready to get into the water for a deep dive, followed by another navigation exercise. I had read conflicting surf reports, one said 4-5ft waves while other said 1-2ft and it turned out that the latter was right so it was going to be an awesome day.

I was little bummed that i forgot my Yoke to DIN convertor so i couldn’t use my second tank but as it turned out after the first dive my Steel 130 cu ft had enough air for the second dive.

The plan was to set the floats in 40ft of water, drop down and then lay a line along the bottom till we reached 100ft depth. Then we would do some simple math problem at depth and try to stay there for 10 mins, air permitting ofcourse. I wasn’t worried about getting narced since i was on 32% Nitrox and my tank would give me plenty of air too. On our way back we were going to do a safety stop by switching to a stage bottle anchored on the float to simulate a deco situation.

Myself, Ariel, Tiffany and Jessica were going to dive with Jan and Ben. Me and Ariel headed out without any problems, i put on my fins in water and i am getting more comfortable doing so. It was after 15-20 mins that we got everything set and went ahead with the dive.

Dropped down the float and then followed others and a trail of dust which was being left behind. The viz was abt 5-10 feet but as we got deeper and away from our dust trail it opened up to a nice 15-20 ft.

As we were coasting along the slope trying to get to 100′, it was very easy to see why this place is considered to be one of the best muck diving spot by some, i came across quite a few baby flounders, pipe fish or the lizard fish i am not sure, couple of crabs and lots of star fishes.

We were told that the slope was really steep but it turned out to be a gentle one but as we were getting deeper it was getting cold. When we hit the 100′ mark my computer showed a temperature reading of 51F brrrrrr.

We had to write multiplication table of 6 on the slate and then after spending 5 mins in cold water at 100′, we headed back. While waiting for the previous buddy team to do a safety stop using the stage bottle we ran into a couple of crabs hiding in the sand. Switched to the hanging bottle to do our safety stop and headed to surface. Exiting the water I managed to take off my fins and got out without any problems. I still had about 1700 psi left at the end of this dive so i was glad that i didn’t have to worry about trying to get another tank.

It turned out that our group was the only on to hit 100′ in our team, the rest ran out of the line or air and didn’t get to 3 figure mark. We were going to order the pizza after our second dive, so just chilled out, fed the parking meters with quarters and took a breather before the next dive.

For the navigation dive i buddied up with Javier, the plan was that me and Javier would lay the transect line from the anchor of float towards the shore at 90 degree heading and then the other team would attach a bottle, which was used as float, at center of transect line so that we could do our kick cycles for 50ft.

We swam for 50ft and counted the kick cycles, i am not that good at it and i always get a rough estimate of the number of kick cycles it takes me for a particular distance. I did that and then we started off doing the first square which would be 50×50. Went ahead and it wasn’t a problem, i wasn’t 100% accurate but was off by about 10ft or so which isn’t bad i suppose.

Now it was time to take things further out and do the 100×100 square so we started off and then after two turns i encountered an octopus, it wouldn’t move and i saw that he was feasting on a crab. It threw me off slightly, i shouldn’t have paid attention to it but then i can’t help but to look around even when doing training dives.

This time i was off by about 20ft or so but the good thing was that we managed to find the transect line, while trying to do a triangle i managed to do a trapezoid so that was totally off but i am improving for sure.

I was at 800 psi or so at this point but there was enough air for Javier to lead a course, i asked him earlier as well but for some reason he wanted me to lead. He lead this time and then at the end of it it was time to wrap things up.

Myself and Javier got the transect line out while Mike took care of the anchor, this time while getting out i didn’t manage to remove my fins and ended up crawling, Harold came to my rescue and got rid of my fins so that i could stand up and get out.

I have to work on getting the fins out every time i exit the water, will take more practice. I intended on taking them out but the soft sand made it difficult for me to balance myself while i took them out, the slope at the beach didn’t help either.

We had ordered pizza before heading out for the navigation dive so they were ready for us when we got out of water. The breaded eggplant one was specially yummy.

After we were done with the lunch we were asked to get back in water with our skin gear to practice egresses in the surf zone but then that decision was revoked because they didn’t want it to be a long day though i didn’t see any reason why it couldn’t be one.

This is one of my main complains about this course its not organized well, its kinda haphazard and we are always short on time, its not easy with 38 divers but then maybe they shouldn’t have let so many people in it. I know earlier i said i didn’t mind it but then now that i look at it, it doesn’t make sense to me.

We were debriefed and told what to expect next week at Victoria park. It would be a pool session only, starting at 9 with a bunch of stations setup for us to work with. Not too excited, prefer keeping my expectations low and take it one day at a time :). Got home, took a nap and then headed out to Social for what turned out to be a rocking desi music night.

Day 9:

Friday evening i headed out to watch screening of select scenes from James Camerons next movie Avatar and it was awesome. The 3D i am not fan of but the graphics are so realistic, unlike anything seen before, WETA rocks.

We were supposed to be at 9 for an entire day session at Victoria pool and were going to be divided into smaller groups so that we could rotate between the various stations. As usual little confusion prevailed before we got started and the first station was with Dave Bunch.

We were going to practice some search and salvage skills. We lifted some objects from the bottom using lift bags, it was surprising how little air is required at depth to send something zooming to the surface. The key is when something is being lifted to the surface you have to get away from it and not be under it, it could fall u never know.

We practiced using a vacuum which was surprisingly hard to keep in place by one person. Then we divided into 3 person teams to do a circular search pattern something we were going to do tomorrow with the Long beach lifeguards but lot differently. We were using blackened masks for this exercise so that we could simulate low visibility environment.

We did two runs at the pattern and then it was time to move to the next station which was going to be rescue. It was same repeat thing about bringing a diver to the surface when the diver was on scuba and you were on skin. We were planning on doing egresses but we didn’t have to practice that.

I managed to bring the diver on surface after ditching their weights, as i have mentioned earlier the only time i would do that is when i am on skin. I am getting more comfortable free diving which is a very good thing, i have to hit the pool often now to work on my swimming and i shall be golden. We also talked about what to do in case the diver is panicked on surface but didn’t get to practice any of that stuff, just theory.

We then moved outside to the next station with the long beach lifeguards dive rescue team. They briefed us about what we should be expecting tomorrow and we practiced the search patterns on the surface. It was going to be a two person team doing the search. We first practiced the circular search pattern where one diver is the stationary and in control of search. It is the responsibility of this diver to give the other person line so that he could search a particular area.

All the communication is done using the reel line since we would be working in an environment of 2ft viz max, you tug the line to communicate with your buddy so the main thing is to keep that line tight. After the circular search pattern, we practiced the procedure for doing a perpendicular search using a bar held along the transect line deployed. In this case communication is done by using the bar and you never let go of your buddy which is achieved by interlocking hands.

Then it was time for lunch but before that we briefly touched upon the semi circular sweep pattern. Its similar to the circular except that you search in an arc, depending on the area being searched that arc could vary. I wasn’t expecting a long lunch break today since we had a lot to cover but the break was for 45 mins, i guess it was a welcome relief for some of the staff who were going to be in the pool for entire day.

After the break we moved onto the CPR and Oxygen station, we were not going to be certified so it was mainly a demonstration thats about it. I didn’t have to worry about it since i already am First Aid/CPR certified, it was a nice refresher for me nevertheless.

Next we moved to the technical diving section where Karim had all the tech gear out and he explained to us the reason behind every gear selection.

A backplate was need to ensure that the double tanks are stable, a HID light would allow divers to communicate easily, its not only a source of light but also important source of communication. Two backup lights were needed to ensure that you don’t exceed the burn time, if your deco time is like 3-4 hours then you need to make sure that the backup lights can last that long too.

Low volume mask was required so that if you flood your mask, you can clear it without using too much of air and thus not affecting your buoyancy. Long hose allows diver without air to get into a single file and it would be useful in a kelp forest as well, so not a bad idea for recreational diving either. Fins are not split because certain types of kicks are not easily possible with them and they can get caught in the reel, an entanglement hazard. It was surprising to know that GUE fundamentals class had a passing percentage of 50% for recreational level and 96% for technical level, Karim requires you to take that class if you want him to teach you any type of tech course. I certainly look forward to taking some of those courses in future.

The final station was the dry suit testing, we were going to try out viking dry suits which are mainly used in commercial diving and the material is very rugged. I wasn’t too impressed, i can’t tell the difference between the comfort level and usage between the DUI drysuit i tried earlier and this one but i have my reasons why i am not going to give them a second look. The advantage of viking is that they don’t stitch these so there is less chance of leakage through the seam but there are lot of other disadvantages i think.

I am no expert on dry suits, it is something i plan to buy in the future and all the tech divers that i have seen have the DUI ones so maybe i am little biased, i dunno. The first concern is the inflator valve, you require a special hose for that, a general BCD connector can’t work so if for some reason you forget to attach that hose and then can’t find it easily, you can’t disconnect your BCD hose to inflate your suit and relieve the squeeze. I just checked their website and they have a hose recall for a particular dry suit, why not have a generic valve and not worry about special hoses.

I am not sure about their distributor network and how much time will it take to get a suit repaired in case of tear or whatever. They had a representative from Florida come for the session so i am guessing they are not local for west coast people where as DUI is located in San Diego and not to mention Hollywood divers is only 3 miles away for me. :)

It was the final station for us and we were done, there was time to try on the full face mask but for some reason i wasn’t too interested in them. The cool thing about them is that they can’t flood because they maintain the air pressure in them so water can’t seep in.

We were debriefed about the plans for tomorrow and what to expect etc. The long beach lifeguards were going to be running the show so we would have to follow their orders and none of the staff would be involved as such. It was going to be an interesting day and the lifeguards had already warned us that they were going to treat us as one of their own person so the language etc was going to be the same and we shouldn’t get offended because of that.

I got home and went out for dinner with Daniel followed by a laser show at the newly opened laserium and then to a bar for a drink which wasn’t a good idea but i couldn’t resist.

Day 10:

I was planning on being in Long Beach as early as i could to find better parking. Woke up at 5.30 got ready and reached the place at about 7.15, didn’t have too many problems finding it. It wasn’t until 8.30 or so the lifeguard get everything in place for us and we got our briefings. We were assigned our boats for the next week but it didn’t matter since i am not planning to do the boat dives. At the end of all the 4 stations we were going to have competition among us and we would have two teams to do a real scenario but it didn’t turn out to be the case :(.

We were going to be divided into 4 teams and then rotating between stations they had setup. Our first station was going to be circular pattern one, i buddied up with Bryan. We went over the signals again, 1 tug for ok, 2 for giving out the slack, 3 for start or stop, 4 if we find something and 5 for emergency. We had 10 mins to get suited up, do the buddy check and everything but most of us were already in the wet suits so it didn’t take that long.

The dive supervisor at the station was also going to do a check and we had to make sure that we had enough air, the primary and secondary were working etc and then our initial air pressure was also noted down. I was using the steel 72 i have and had only 1500 psi but i knew that a lot of air won’t be required for today so didn’t want to use my big tank though i did carry it with me.

Me and Bryan were the first team to go and do a search while the other team was going to be our safety. We got to the PLS (point last seen) buoy and then descended, the viz was 2 ft at max and we didn’t hold the anchor line so we lost it. We were supposed to start our search from the anchor but we had missed it but we deployed the reel anyway and i was going to search.

I started making a circle and was trying to look for things and after less than couple of minutes found an aircraft part. I signaled for Bryan to come over and we surfaced. Our mission was a success even though we didn’t start at the anchor.

The next team got into water to do the same drill and we were going to be the safety divers for them so we waited in the water. They surfaced after some time and without acknowledging the dive supervisor they descended to do another search. So as safety divers we were asked to go down there and ask them to surface. This time we made sure that we descended along the anchor and then found the reel being used by them, gave it 4 tugs to ask them to come over and then signaled them to ascend.

We swam over to the next station where we were going to employ a semi circular search pattern, one of us would be holding line on the surface and the other diver would dive to look for objects. Using the line we would have to tell the diver when to stop and what would be search area. I was the first one to go and in the first sweep itself i came across a pair of legs, of course it was mannequin but some people were little freaked out.

Each of us had a go at it and the main key to this one was not to get entangled in the line and to keep the line taut so that the signals can be easily communicated. Next we moved to practice the random search drill.

The main objective of this search is to conduct a random search of the area from PLS before the actual dive team arrives. Once the main dive team arrives they do a proper search and the random search is abandoned. We were given an anchor and a PLS where the anchor would be deployed and then we would do a random search.

We were in the second team, the first team had to search a different area before they could locate the anchored head at the bottom. When it was our turn, we had a hard time deploying the anchor because it was caught up in the bag. When we descended, me and Bryan were holding hands and spread as wide as we could so that we could sweep the ocean floor. We managed to find the head and then came to the surface. The main thing is deploying the anchor at PLS, no search is carried out unless there is a PLS given to the lifeguards by a reliable witness.

The final station was carrying out a perpendicular search, we were going to sweep the ocean floor with the plastic bar and try to located a dead body or any evidence. When i say sweep the ocean floor, it literally means sweeping the ocean floor, the viz was 0ft, i couldn’t see a cm in front of my mask and to read my gauges i would have to bring the computer rite upto the mask.

The first dive team didn’t get to the bottom in shallow water so they blew the first 20 ft or so of the line and then at the end the bar got caught while turning around. The second team went in to retrieve the bar and we were the third team.

It wasn’t easy keeping the bar perpendicular to the line, i had to stop and continuously position ourselves. I was closest to the line so had to make sure that the bar was always perpendicular. We were less than 6 inches along the bottom and going down the line, there was 0 viz and had to feel the bottom all the time.

We reached the end and then turning the bar was another adventure, i though i lost bryan at this point as we were turning the bar in other direction, he ran into the dead body aka mannequin but i didn’t see it at all. We regrouped and then continued the search along the other side. This was the end of the main things to do and then confusion prevailed.

No one was sure what was the next thing, lunch or going visiting the fire ship anchored in the harbor or the team drill mentioned earlier in day. There was mention of something called Hammer toss where we would be required to find a hammer tossed in by lifeguards. Some people had already changed, i tossed my scuba gear in the car, got it back and then again had to take it back.

Ultimately it was decided that whoever wanted to visit the fire ship could swim upto it and get a little tour and then have the BBQ lunch planned for the day. But there wasn’t going to be any more exercise so we didn’t need our scuba gear. I wasn’t planning on staying for the BBQ anyway and was in two minds about the ship visit but i ended up swimming to the ship.

It was a fire ship with bunch of cannons capable of shooting water at speeds of 10k to 2.5k Gallon per minute. They have two main pumps which take water from the source and then divert it to the cannon. The main one can be elevated to reach height of about 60ft so that it can reach decks of big ships. A dive compressor made sure that dive team could also operate from it, it was pretty cool to know all that.

That was it for me for the day, i didn’t stick around for BBQ. It was an interesting day, got to experience 0 viz environment and how to handle it. Search patterns, i have learnt about them before but never have got to practice them in a real scenario so it was nice to do that too.

Final Weekend
I missed the last two sessions of ADP and the boat dives were in awesome conditions but i was more bummed about missing the Chamber tour.

White point was combined with 3R’s which i should be attending next year. From what i heard the viz sucked out there and the main thing people practiced was rocky beach entry as well as washing up on the rocks.

Camping at Sycamore Cove.

I wasn’t sure if i would be going Friday night to Sycamore cove or on Saturday morning but then since i had to get some stuff from REI i decided to go there Friday. Tiffany lives in West LA so we decided to car pool.

I picker her up, went to REI and then reached Sycamore Cove around 9.30 or so. Only Javier and Ariel were there from our team. Rest of them were going to show up Saturday morning. It was eventful Friday night with some boozing happening.

I was surprised to see that mainly because we were told that it was going to be a dry weekend and we would be allowed alcohol after finishing up on Sunday. Taking a Tequila shot from an ice glass was highlight of the night and we ended up staying up till 1.30. We could see the bioluminescence in full effect, the waves would really lit up with it but the best part was just going through the wet sand. As i ran my fingers through the sand, you could see the green luminescence, it was pretty cool.

The surf wasn’t exactly small and so instead of starting at 8 in the morning we were going to start at 10. We had pitched out tents closer to the Blue team camp where they had setup a projector and a huge screen. The area where all the action was going to be and could be noisy but i wasn’t too concerned.

Blue team was planning to do a night dive today but they called it off because of the conditions.

Woke up around 8 Saturday morning and most of the team members were starting to arrive. The conditions hadn’t improved by much. We all got ready in our skin gear and just got in the ocean to get used to the surf. We played in the surf little bit, ducking under the waves and getting tossed around etc and some of us were on the shore as a unfortunate incident happened.

One of the team members friend was out with her dog in the surf zone and then a wave hit her taking the dog underwater. She lost the dog in the surf and was crying out for help. Several of us rushed over to help her find the dog but before it was found, it was atleast 2 mins underwater. He was found at the bottom like a dead weight and wasn’t moving.

Someone tried CPR on it but it was too late, interestingly enough the life guard didn’t even jump into water to search for it and refused to do CPR either. His point being that there were other people in the water and he had to worry about them.

We continued on with our class and after a break we going to do a dive. The surf was about 2-3 ft with occasional 4ft but with proper timing it wasn’t that bad to get in and out. My buddy was going to be Jessica and the aim was to do a navigation exercise.

With the surf being the way it was, i wasn’t keen on getting into the water with my big heavy st 130 so i decided to use the smaller st 72 and the depth wasn’t going to exceed 30 ft so the smaller tank would be just fine for me.

As soon as we dropped down, i had problems equalizing so had to resurface, tried it again but same problem. Jessica suggested that i should try to equalize by tilting my head sideways and it seemed to work. Got down to about 20ft without any problems, didn’t want to go any deeper though not sure if it was possible for us to go any deeper on this beach.

I tried to get a square pattern going but without any visual reference and the conditions that we were in, it was going to be a pointless exercise. So i decided to practice buoyancy control instead. Most of the dive was spent by me trying to work on my buoyancy. I asked Jessica to lead a few times but she also didn’t have much clue as to where we were. The only way we knew that we hadn’t gone too far was by the fact that we saw some of the other team members.

In terms of marine life there wasn’t much to see, saw a few crabs, sand dollars, few fishes and lots and lots of sand :). Getting out with proper timing also turned out to be not that bad. Now it was time for us to relax and chill for the rest of the evening and then do the night dive. It was about 3 pm or so when i finished cleaning up all the gear and hanging out everything to dry.

At this point after having lunch etc, i had no interest in doing the night dive. Few other people showed up to do the night dive but it turned out that it was called off because the conditions didn’t get any better. I wasn’t sure if i wanted to get into the water tomorrow.

Dinner time was spent boozing on Coconut Rum and helping Chad make salsa and guacamole for the Carne Asadas. Roy made awesome Rice cakes and we had a food fest going on with hot dogs, all sorts of BBQ stuff. I wasn’t that hungry and earlier i had helped myself to lot of cake so i was really full. I didn’t stay up late as the previous night and crashed early. The party went on till i dunno what time but it just grew louder as the night progressed thats for sure.


Mike wanted us to get into water by 8 am but i knew there was no way that everyone would wake up so soon and be ready. So woke up at about 8 and initially had no intentions of going into the water at all. I was just planning to watch people do skin rescues. Mike told that it was a requirement and he would be willing to help me get it done some other time if i wanted. I really felt bad and i was like ok even if in real life situation i might not be comfortable pulling someone out on skin but i should still give it a try and at the end of it i was glad that i did do it. 😀

Tiffany who wasn’t on planning on getting into water got suited up as well. The plan was for everyone to be on skin gear and then to pull someone at bottom to the surface and tow them. We were going to dive only to about 10 ft to bring them up, not super deep.

When my turn came i found that it was surprisingly easy for me to dive down while wearing 10lbs weight belt on me and then bring them up to the surface. I was really happy that i did practice it and it gave me lots of confidence. I am thinking about just heading out to casino point or some safe place as such just to practice some freediving, i felt really good.

We took a small break and now it was time to practice rescue, probably the best part of the course. Roy gave us a briefing on how to tow a person out of the surf zone and bring them to out to the land. He also gave us demonstration of the different methods we could use to carry them.

We were split up into 2 teams of 4 each and one person was going to be the victim, one person the rescuer, one person the tether (person to take the gear of the rescuer) and a bystander who would call 911 and then help the rescuer carry the person to the land.

Each one of us would have to play the rescuer so this whole thing would have to be repeated 4 times. It really tired us out but it was fun nonetheless practicing all these skills. I played the victim twice and according to Mike, he has never seen a person being so happy about being rescued and dragged around in surf. :)

I also carried my victim (Tiffany) diagonally for some reason, i wasn’t super confident with my fin straps. Yesterday sand had got into them and i had to borrow Mike’s fins for the dive. I cleaned the straps, tried using Frank’s but they still were loose and i had lost faith in them to put them really tight. I have since ended up replacing them with spring straps.

The main thing to remember is to protect victims airway from the wave, it is done by turning your back against the wave and sheltering victims face using your body. So when the wave crashes the rescuer should be facing towards the beach with the victim being at right angles to the shore and his/her face being shielded by rescuers back from the wave.

At the end when everyone managed to practice the rescue drill atleast once we called it a day. Blue team had misfortune of losing lot of gear so their session had turned into a full search and recovery. In the end they did manage to find most of the lost gear.

I had to be back by 4 pm so immediately starting packing up everything and then after dropping Tiffany off, was home just in time to get ready and head out for the concert at Hollywood Bowl.

Graduation and Conclusion

Graduation Banquet was next week at the LA Downtown Athletic club where everyone of us got the cert cards. We had bought gift certificates for all our awesome instructors. The test for ADP had arrived in email but a due date wasn’t specified. My guess is once the graduation ceremony is over most of us will forget about it, myself included. I might end up doing the physics problems for fun if i feel bored and have nothing else to do :).


I have mixed feelings about this course, before coming into ADP i had 90+ dives (most of them in calif, boat diving and only 1 beach dive) and am PADI Rescue certified. My main aim was to get more comfortable with beach diving so that i could dive off the local beaches here and i successfully managed to get more comfortable doing beach dives. But i was disappointed with the rescue part of the course and general organization/planning.

There wasn’t any consistency in teaching as i have mentioned earlier and then also emphasis was laid on skin techniques more. Some of the skills that i learn’t in my PADI Rescue class were touched upon briefly but not at all practiced. This course is supposed to give you NAUI Rescue certification too but then if these are the only skills which NAUI requires you to practice then i would say than PADI Rescue course is way more better than NAUI Rescue.

Disclaimer: This is a personal point of view obtained by going through both the courses and i am not trying to discredit any organization or endorse another. None of the PADI courses that i am aware of teach specifically how to beach dive and what factors one needs to take into account for that.

We briefly once discussed about panicked diver on the surface and then how to calm that person down but never got a chance to practice it. The different towing techniques, we mainly practiced the dolcie do one but not the other two i.e. holding the persons tank valve and his/her tank between your knees or pushing the persons legs and towing him.

We just talked briefly about bringing an unconscious diver to surface when you are on scuba as well but a formal lecture wasn’t given for it. We never practiced that skill either, in my PADI rescue we did that in pool as well ocean.

Just to give you an idea about my expectations from the course, I was hoping for it to be lot more intense i.e. atleast long days in pool or at the beach. This is the schedule from ADP 2008.

This year it was almost half of the lectures and we had to finish those by 3pm. No make up sessions were/are scheduled and in general the whole thing wasn’t that well organized at all.

Even though the course didn’t meet my expectations in every way, i am still satisfied with and way more confident doing beach dives and skin diving. I have met a whole bunch of cool people, made new friends and i am happy for it.

18 responses so far

May 11 2009

My Fun Weekend. Movies, Clubbing, Diving and Rock Climbing.

Published by under Diving,Rock Climbing

This weekend I was supposed to dive Farnsworth Banks off Catalina Island, it had got cancelled last weekend, but due to lack of people signing up for the boat, it was cancelled this time as well. I already had plans for friday evening, saturday evening and sunday afternoon and yet i decided to try to make a weekend mammoth ski trip happen which obviously didn’t.


It has been a while since i have dove the oil rigs, last time it was in Sepetember 08 and have been wanting to dive there again for a long time so when this weekend when there were spots on Sea Bass, i couldn’t resist. I still tried to make ski plans and when that didn’t work out it was time to dive the rigs.


Friday Evening was going to be a rendezvous with Hollywood Night Life meetup group, I was planning on going for dinner, movie and dancing but since i had to get air filled at Hollywoodivers, I decided to skip the dinner. I planned on diving with Nitrox (32% O2 instead of 20.9% which is there in Air) so that the extra O2 would help me feel less tired because i had planned a lot of things this weekend mainly rock climbing after more than two years.


I got the fills done and then came home and went for the movie, Star Trek, at the Arclight Dome. I really enjoyed the movie and even though i didn’t know anything about star trek before i get the whole idea now, admittedly the movie is a prequel but the story was very well told nevertheless. I love acting of Zachary Quinto from Heros and he was awesome in the movie too.


Dancing part of the meetup was going to happen at Club Halo, I wasn’t sure about whether to go or not but then since i had never been to this club before i decided to give it a try. I only had one drink there and was back home at around 1.15 am. Its not a bad place and i enjoyed it. Since i started enjoying trance, i never thought i would be able to enjoy Hip/Hop again but i was proved wrong. I guess it doesn’t matter once u have few drinks anyway 😉


I hadn’t packed completely for tomorrow so i decided to get things organized and to check the air pressure in my tank i connected the regulator and it started to free flow. I was like WTF, i didn’t want to miss out on another dive trip because of equipment failure. I tried various things to make it work, switched tanks, put the tank in bath tub and see if the reg worked under water but nope it was busted. DAMN there is some voodoo at work for sure i told myself and then before going to bed i was like let me try one more time. I tried it and all of sudden my regs worked fine, there was no free flow. Whoa what a relief.


By the time i was done with the regs, it was already 2.10 or so and i had to pack rest of the stuff too. I decided to wake up early and then do the rest of packing. I woke up at 4.30, packing didn’t take that long and left my place at 6 and reached Sea Bass on time.


We were going to be only 6 people on the boat and it was a totally different scene than it usually is on the sea bass. There were no doubles, only one person was going to be in a dry suit that too it wasn’t a DUI one. For a change i was one of the experienced divers onboard and the only one who was planning to dive using Nitrox.


On the way to rigs i realized that i forgot my dive light, what a bummer i was so pissed about it. I didn’t want to be without my dive light on the oil rig and that too when it was highly overcast without any sign of the sun. Sigh.


The ride out to the rigs was little rough and i tried to take a nap since there was a chance to do so. I wasn’t successful in taking a nap because of the swells. I buddied up with Michael, Nick and Jim and we were going to dive as a group. Jim and Nick were relatively newly certified with less than 10 dives.


Oil Rig, Eureka

Dive 1:


I was going to hang out with Nick but we all were going to dive as a group. We decided on max depth not to exceed 100 ft, since they were new and i was on Nitrox. We descended and as we started going down, I noticed something long hanging down from Nick’s leg, i brought it to his attention and i held it in my arm. As i held it, i felt slight current, it was weird. It was a some stupid shark shield, he was wearing on his leg, i would love to have some shark encounter on the rigs and not scare them away. If the shark wants to eat me, its easier to play a game of hide and seek on the rigs ;).


We started to descent slowly and it got little confusing, we didn’t seem to go anywhere and were just hanging in the center of the rigs. No one was taking a lead exploring things and at this point i didn’t know what to do. Also i realized that Nick was no where in sight and for some reason i thought he surfaced while letting others know.


We started to descent further and hit 90 feet and still no one wanted to explore the rigs, I pointed towards the row of columns and started swimming through them. I was also missing my dive light a whole lot since i couldn’t see any small critters on the columns. As i reached the end of columns, i didn’t see Jim or Michael following me so i swam back towards them and to my surprise they were ascending.


I had no choice but to ascend with them and so slowly we came back to the surface. Jim was low on air so he made a slow controlled ascent to the surface. I wasn’t worried that much about the safety stop since the dive time was 16 mins and i was on 32% nitrox. While ascending, i came across a really long salp, not sure if i would call it a piece or a group but it was pretty long.


Long Salp, had to turn off the Flash.


At the surface we weren’t sure about where Nick was so Michael decided to descend and look around, I asked him if he needed me to come along with him but he said he was fine. Reluctantly I decided to accompany Jim back to the boat and we could see Nick already there. He had a panic attack at about 60 feet and decided to make a controlled ascent to the surface.


The other two people on the boat made a dive to 160 feet on Air and from what i heard their first safety stop was at 30 ft, they switched to nitrox 50 or 60% at that point. I am no expert on technical diving but i know for a fact that from what i have learnt, read and heard among divers that this is not a usual way of diving this deep. No wonder they did a short second dive and called it a day which was a smart thing to do.


Dive 2:


For this dive Jim was feeling very nauseous and Nick seemed to have recovered from his panic attack. We had decided to split up but then since Jim decided to skip this dive we decided to head out as a group. I had about 2100 psi left in my tank so instead of getting a nitrox fill i decided to get it topped off with air. Now i had 28% nitrox in my tank.


Michael was taking video so he wasn’t going to use his dive light which he offered it to me and i gladly accepted. I was happy that now i had a light and it would be a much better dive experience. We also decided the max depth for this dive was going to be 60 ft since we wanted Nick to feel more comfortable.


We jumped into the water and descended to about 60 ft. We moved to the outer part of the rigs where there seemed to be more natural light and it was nice to explore the rigs using the dive light. About 15 mins into the dive, Michael signaled me to ascent and i figured Nick might be having some problems.


We decided to slowly ascent, i was at below everyone and at about 20 ft or so i saw Michael descent, I thought he might have helped Nick to the surface and then wanted to continue the dive with me but it didn’t seem the case. He just came to check on me and then we ascended to the surface. This time Nick was low on air and hence we started ascending. It was disappointing but then thats the nature of diving, you dive as a team and work with your buddy. There have been times when i have been low on air and the others have had to surface because of me. So i am not complaining here. :)


Dives 1 and 2 were really cold dives, I got a reading of 50F and 51F respectively on my dive computer.


Dive 3:


It was now time for lunch and this time we decided that if Nick was low on air we would make sure he got to the surface and then Michael and myself would continue the dive. I had about 1900 psi left and so again i decided to top it off with air and now my tank had 25% O2. Also we decided to move towards the twin rigs called Emily and Eileen.


Jim was still feeling nauseous and didn’t want to dive. As we were about to get into the water Nick decided not to come and so it was just me and Michael for the dive. It was definitely going to be a longer dive. :). We were not planning  to dive deep on this one either.


We descended to about 60 ft and then moved to 40-50 ft range where we stayed for the most part of the dive. We could really feel the swell at that depth, it was tossing us around and it was hard not to brush against the columns of the rig. Even though there was this swell and some current it turned out to be my best dive on the rigs yet.


There was a large school of Blacksmith and the group of sheepheads was huge. I have seen male ones who are about 3-4 ft but this one had females which were also about the same size. Saw one feasting on a scallop with his big mouth and sharp teeth, he looked threatening. The rock fishes were abundant too and they were almost as big as the sheepheads. I get confused whether they were the kelp rock fish or grass rock fish but i am leaning towards the latter. Will have to go through my reef check cards and notes to finalize one over the other. Saw a lingcod resting and had fun with a painted greenling. I found something to hold onto and was in a position to take its picture but that fella wouldn’t come and rest in the frame. It was disappointing but also lot of fun.


The swell was really powerful and there was slight current too. When i stopped finning, I moved quite a bit of distance and had to start finning again so that i wouldn’t go away from the rigs. I had turned on the dive light but it wasn’t working and then all of sudden it started working which was nice.


As i explored some of the columns, I found some nudi eggs and i told myself that there has to be some nudi in the vicinity. I started looking and i found some. I was so happy so come across another species of nudi and as i looked i saw that they were all over the place. I couldn’t be more excited and came across 2 more diff species. Michael who was busy taking video all this time, i pointed out one to him. I must have seen atleast 20 nudis, the max on a single dive so far.




Diff Nudies, Hermissenda crassicornis, Doriopsilla gemala or orange gills and Lemon Dorid (mostly) respectively.

I came across something which looked like fire coral that i have seen while diving in egypt but its not possible. I am mistaken for sure and have no clue what it was. There was also a star fish, floating trying to find something to hang onto. It was kinda cool. 



I also came across some nice anemones and when i checked out its pic i think it turned out to be the best pic i have ever taken and my computer desktop has finally changed :). Both of us were doing really good on air but then Michael started getting little cold and so we decided to ascent.


Anemone. my best pic so far and my new desktop pic. A higher res version does justice and if you want to see it let me know.


As we were ascending, the sea lions came out to play and it was fun. We were making a safety stop at 15 ft and i saw i had about 1600 psi left. I pressed the stop watch button on my computer and boom it went blank. All of sudden I don’t know what happened but my dive computer screen went blank and i couldn’t do anything about it. It was really weird but i was glad that it didn’t happen earlier or during the dive otherwise i would have had to stop diving. We got back on the boat and my computer had stopped working.


On way back, I again tried to take a nap but it didn’t happen. We were back on dock at about 1.15 and I decided to go straight to Hollywood Divers to see what was going on with my dive computer. I had no choice but it would go back to the manufacturer and then they would fix it. My concern was the dives i had logged in my computer, I had to reset windows ( i use it in Fusion on a mac) and i lost all the dive data on my computer. I was going to transfer all my dives today but wouldn’t be able to do so and i didn’t want to loose them. I wrote a note about it and hope the logged dives are not lost.


Bill (one of owners of Hollywood Divers) offered me his dive computer in case mine doesn’t come back in time, since i have to finish the reef check course this coming weekend. I love these guys and the customer support they offer. When my dive light went bad i was a given a new one even before the old one came back from the manufacturer. During the time period when my regs were being serviced i could have taken a rental free of cost. This is what customer service is all about, I would gladly spend few extra bucks with Hollywood Divers (not that they are expensive rather sometimes way cheaper than others) then going without customer service when i buy things online. you guys rock now only if you would put a decent website up ;).


I spent the afternoon doing time pass in general, was planning to take a nap after washing all the gear but that didn’t happen. Donna had convinced me to come for a desi party instead of going to Circus for a night of trance with the LA Trance meetup group. But as the time to go came near it was learnt that the DJ was going to play mainly bhangra and so the junta wasn’t interested anymore.


I was in two moods whether to go out for the trance thingy or just go to bed, sleep in and get ready for a day of rock climbing tomorrow. I decided on the former and headed out to Circus about 10 so that i wouldn’t run into the crowds later, it was empty but around 11 it started to fill up. Met up with the folks and it turned out to be an awesome night. Rank1 rocked the house but after he left Talla 2XLC got little bit boring for me and so at around 3 am i decided to bail out. Its one thing listening to same repetitive trance beat while doing other things but at a live event it tends to get boring.


I love Circus Disco saturdays, its free to get in, the drinks are cheap and there is no dress code. The cafe serves mexican food so you can grab a snack as well. Looking forward to going there for more trance events.


A Day of Rock Climbing: 


The next morning i woke up at about 10.30 to get ready for rock climbing. I was going to car pool with June, who i met online on meetup. I had to go to her place and then we would head out to Pt Dume. It took me a while to get ready and i was hungry so decided to grab a bite at subway. I reached June’s place at around 1 and we reached Pt Dume at about 2 pm.


There was a group of climbers already there and they had taken up all the routes but luckily for us they were just about to leave and we could set up a top rope on the center easy route. It was the first time i was going to hike to the top at Pt Dume to set a top rope, every time other people have done it or i have led the climbs to set up a top rope.


We did the short hike to the top and set up a top rope on the center climb, I was going to rappel down but June decided to hike down instead and by the time June was ready to climb rest of the folks who were supposed to join us arrived. We were a group of 7 people now.


I got on the rock for the first time in over two years and it felt nice. Didn’t have too many hiccups but still wasn’t super confident that i could think about leading this climb yet. I had also forgotten how uncomfortable climbing shoes can be :). Another rope was setup on the 5.9 climb to the far left.


All of sudden there was a girl in bikini, who was part of group, on the top trying to throw a rope down, she wasn’t anchored in or anything and we were like WTF is going on, however none of us minded the view 😉 but still no one had a clue what those guys were upto. The group finally managed to get a rope down and then the gal in bikini was rappelling down. She wanted to go fast and jump during the rappel but the rope was too thick for her to gain any speed. It was funny as hell.


I started doing some traverses, something which i always have enjoyed at Pt Dume, but then i really had to be wary of the bikini gal and their group. They were just doing stupid things and it could have very well injured someone. It wasn’t funny anymore.


We moved my rope over to the left to do another climb and i also did the 5.9 which i have led a few times. I am very comfortable on this climb but i wasn’t feeling exactly the same this time so i just took it easy. I managed to climb it without any problems and was happy about it.


We were also thinking about moving to the other side where the harder climbs are but there were ropes already out there. The climbers didn’t mind us using their ropes as long as they could use ours. So the deal was done so to say and we moved over to the other side to do the pumpy 5.9 which i am not exactly a fan of and have never led it.


It was starting to get cold, the wind had picked up and i forgot my jacket so i decided not to wait for my turn on that climb and instead just traverse on the front side. Again i had to be careful of the crazy group and it wasn’t that much fun but the good thing was that the group was about to leave soon so i could traverse in peace after that.


It was time to leave and i offered to take the anchors of both the ropes down. I was planning on climbing the 5.9 to the far left and then traverse over to reach out to the anchor on right, take it down and then get back to take the other anchor down. Easier said that done :).


This time on the 5.9  i was more confident and after i climbed it i felt that i could lead the climb now :). I had few anxious moments traversing over to the other anchor since essentially i was on lead then. It wasn’t that bad but taking that anchor out was little tricky.


The second anchor didn’t give me that much problems and we just wrapped up at about 7.45 or so. It was a nice relaxing day of climbing at the beach. Reached home at about 9ish and then after dinner it was time to go to bed.

5 responses so far

Feb 13 2009

Weekend of Diving Catalina

Published by under Diving

This weekend (02/07 – 02/08) i spent two days aboard Sundiver diving around Catalina Island mainly the west side. The original plan was that we would head out to Santa Barbara Island and dive with the sea lions and then the next day we would spend at the backside of Catalina. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t co-operative and we ended up spending two days on Catalina.


Looking at the meetup site i was under the impression that it would be a full boat but it wasn’t the case. It turned out that we were only 12 people on board and it was nice because it wasn’t that cramped up. I reached the boat at about 11pm friday night and found myself a bunk. After setting up my gear i went to bed and didn’t have problems sleeping. As it turned out we didn’t leave the dock until 4 am since we were not going to Santa Barbara.


It was 7 in the morning and the sun wasn’t out but it seemed to be a pretty good day for diving, we didn’t do the early morning dive since everyone was asleep and once awake it took while getting geared up, the cold wasn’t helping as well.


I buddied up with Mike and he warned me that he was a air hog but i was fine with it. I didn’t have that much issue with it, it was all good.


The first dive site was going to be African Cove or something like that.


I asked Mike to lead the dive since he had more dives under his belt but then into the dive we were going back and forth. We dropped to 44ft and were going to cruise along the sandy bottom before we would come across the reef. The bottom was full of orange tree worms it was cool. I wasn’t able to get any really good pics of them.


We hit the reefs and saw the usual suspects, exploring further i came across a tiny nudibranch, I was glad to find it since it wasn’t the usual spanish shawls i come across. I think this was a lemon dorid not sure.


I also played with my camera and flash light to see if i could get some cool effects with it but it turned out to be alright. We continued exploring the reefs more and didn’t come across anything too exciting.


Dive 1 Details:

Dive Time: 37 mins

Max Depth: 45ft

Avg Depth: 27.8 ft

Air Consumed: 1276 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 13.6 – 14.8 C



Next dive was at a site called Dead Mans. We dropped down onto the reefs and the place was littered with Limpets, there were so many of them. We came across a horn shark, it was resting peacefully and we didn’t disturb it. I also saw 3-4 spanish shawls on this dive, no new nudis. I was trying hard to play with my camera settings to get nice pics of these guys but i didn’t do that gr8 of a job. 



As we were cruising around there were so many of juvenile sheepheads, those guys wouldn’t stay still for the pics they would just dart around. It was fun watching them. At the end of the dive, we came across this big rock on top of a boulder and this rock was covered with these white plants (need to id them), It was really pretty. I tried taking pics but they didn’t come out that good. 



Dive 2 Details:

Dive Time: 35 mins

Max Depth: 51ft

Avg Depth: 30.4 ft

Air Consumed: 1272 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 14 – 14.8 C



For the 3rd dive we moved towards Indian Rock, It was a dive site where i have dove before but we anchored towards the east side so not exactly the same dive site. In the earlier dive, Mike had little trouble clearing out his ears so he was going to take it really easy on this one. 


There were some really big boulders to be explored at this dive site, mike descended slowly and could clear his ears so we proceeded with the dive. The boulders were really huge and in the crevices we found some fishes lurking, saw a big cod (not yet sure) and a tree fish hiding. There were few lobsters too. I led the dive and just went around the big reef, but the time we finished one circle it was time to head back.



I would have loved to spend more time underwater but then mike was almost down to 600psi so we had to do the safety stop and then surface. 



Dive 3 Details:

Dive Time: 27 mins

Max Depth: 54ft

Avg Depth: 37.1 ft

Air Consumed: 1070 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 13.6 – 14.8 C


After this dive Mike wasn’t feeling that good with his sinuses so he decided to call it a day, he also wanted to save himself for the sea lion dives which we could be doing tomorrow. For this 4th dive, i buddied up with Chris and Rema and also i didn’t carry my camera on this dive. I should have but its ok. 


They asked me to lead the dive and i obliged, we dropped down and started exploring the reefs. I was leading them through the thick kelp it was fun. I came across a cute tree worm and asked chris to take a pic of the same. After a while i saw a ray and tried to get Chris’s attention but the time he and rema caught upto me, the ray just took off. 


There wasn’t anything else exciting on this dive and after a while Rema was getting cold so we decided to abort the dive. It was the 4th dive of the day and i wasn’t exactly warm either 😀



Dive 4 Details:

Dive Time: 37 mins

Max Depth: 35ft

Avg Depth: 25.9 ft

Air Consumed: 1215 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 13.6 – 14.4 C


We were going to anchor near two harbors for the night and that would be our dive site for the night dive. For this dive i decided to buddy up with Tina, Albert, Adam and William. We all were going to go together as a group. They were going to follow me into the darkness of the night and it was going to be fun. 


We dropped down to about 50 ft and i started to head out in the direction where the reefs were supposed to be located in about 30ft of water. I love night dives, its fun to watch the tiny critters that come out at night specially the shrimps,crabs etc. 



I didn’t see crabs but there were plenty of shrimps, i had little difficulty taking pictures but i managed to get couple of good ones. I also saw a moray but it went into hiding as soon as my light fell on it. Watching the resting fishes at night is also cool, they act so differently. Fishes would be just laying still inside crevices, afraid of us and hoping that we don’t do anything to them, its interesting. You have to be extra careful because the urchins come out and are all over the place.


About 20 mins into the dive, i asked the group how much air did they have left and for some reason they were having a hard time letting me know. We didn’t co-ordinate the signals and hence it was little frustrating. I was doing fine on air but wasn’t sure about others, also one of us decided to head out for the surface. He let couple of other guys know but i wasn’t aware of it so i was little concerned. 


At this point we decided to end the dive and head back to the boat. I stayed underwater following the others on surface and made it to the boat. I love night dives and was ready to jump into the water after dinner but it wasn’t going to happen :)



Dive 5 Details:

Dive Time: 33 mins

Max Depth: 62 ft

Avg Depth: 41.1 ft

Air Consumed: 1484 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 13.6 – 14.8 C


Dinner was an excellent stir fry with Soy Chicken, followed by dessert of berries,chocolate and Ice cream. Yummy, even though i had a sore throat i couldn’t say no to that :). It was time for me to head to bed and get myself ready for the next day.


The weather hadn’t improved on Santa Barbara Island so we ended up staying on Catalina. I woke up at 7 in morning and wasn’t feeling that great. Very few members of the group were up and ready to dive and we moved towards Indian rock where few were going to do a deep hunting dive in currents. 


I wanted to re-hydrate myself before venturing out in the water, I gulped down atleast 1.5 ltrs of water along with banana and a Clementine. It helped me a lot and by the time everyone was up and ready for diving I was ready to go as well. Mike didn’t feel good about his sinuses and wasn’t going to do any diving so i decided to dive along with the big group.


We moved back to Bird Rock, it was promising to be a clear and a sunny day. We got into the water and Tina she was going to lead the dive. I was just going to follow them at my easy pace, taking pictures etc. It was a nice dive and the reef was full of life. There was light amount of surge and i was enjoying working with it.


15 mins or so into the dive the group was looking at this transparent weird fish like creature. It was a salp i think but just looked like a transparent fish. It was really a cool thing and easily the highlight of the trip so far but there was more to come on the subsequent dives. Finally after posting on boards and trying to find out more about i figured out that it is a heteropod.



As we started to head back to the boat, i found a nudi in the reefs. I had found the same species couple of weeks ago but wasn’t sure if it was a nudi but this time i saw it move and spent a min taking his pics :).



Dive 6 Details:

Dive Time: 49 mins

Max Depth: 43 ft

Avg Depth: 24.5 ft

Air Consumed: 1505 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 13.6 – 14.4 C


We quickly moved to other spot but it was very windy out there so we had to move again and came to a spot called Yellowfin something. This was a good site where there were supposed to be lots of abalones and horn sharks but our dive ended up showing us something else. 


The reefs were located in 30-40 ft of water about 100 ft directly behind the stern of the boat. Tina was going to lead this dive and as we dropped down she started heading out in the opposite direction towards the deeper, sandy ocean floor. 


We had disagreement about the direction to go in but then i let it go and followed her. Considering the fact that 5 mins into the dive we saw a ray just hovering about 5 feet off the sea floor i wasn’t complaining at all. I didn’t think that rays would just hover like that and then i saw its dorsal fin and i thought this could be an angel shark. It turned out to be a torpedo ray. 



There was one more just cruising along next to it and it was really tempting to touch them but good thing i didn’t because they can send some serious electrical shock which i found out later. Was glad i didn’t try to experience it first hand :). Tina realized that we were not in the right place so she let me lead the way. 



As i started heading out to the reefs, i saw another nudi on the ocean floor, yippeeeee one more nudi species i came across. I was happy or what. I also realized that my dive computer had slapped me a level stop at 10ft, my max depth was 87ft and prior to this dive the SI was only 50 mins so at this point i didn’t want to continue trying to head in the direction of the reefs. 




We had been at 60+ft for more than 21 mins so everyone had consumed more air and i had to worry about getting those level stops in. My Computer had increased it to 5 mins now. So as we headed back in the direction of the boat, i started doing my 40,30,20 ft stops and by the time i got to 10 ft, the 10 ft level stop was only a min. I love that.



Dive 7 Details:

Dive Time: 33 mins

Max Depth: 87 ft

Avg Depth: 55.9 ft

Air Consumed: 1906 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 12.4 – 18.4 C


We then moved to a place called Wash Rock for our final dive of the weekend. The weather seemed to be turning worse and it was about time to get back into the dock. It was only going to be 6 people doing this dive, our 4 people group, Chris and Rema. This time before heading back in the water, myself and Tina agreed on the direction we were planning to head into :).


As soon as we dropped down, I saw a big bat ray coming in our direction but something happened. I think it didn’t like us dropping in its path and it just turned around quickly and swam back into the ocean. I took off in its direction but he was headed into the deeper ocean and was too quick for me. I got a good look at it but wasn’t able to take its picture. 


I wasn’t sure if the rest of the group saw that ray, we got together and then we headed towards the reefs. There was so much eel grass, i was just having fun going through it and trying to find something interesting in there. I wasn’t having much luck with that but still it was nice to go through that grass nevertheless. 


10 mins or so into the dive as i was coming out of the grass cover, We saw a Skate. I didn’t try to go after it to take its picture or anything, I took one shot and let that guy be on its way. Rest of the dive was pretty mellow, i was just cruising around, trying to maintain my buoyancy and stay 6-12 inches above the ocean floor without stirring up any sand. 



As we were approaching the end of the dive, Tina pointed out a big nudibranch to me. It is something called Sea Hare and those things are big and have body structure like snail with flap like thing on top. It was perfect way to end two days of awesome diving. 



Dive 8 Details:

Dive Time: 46 mins

Max Depth: 41 ft

Avg Depth: 29.8 ft

Air Consumed: 1618 psi

Min/Max Water Temp: 13.6 – 18 C


We were heading out to the dock, as usual i took a nap not before finishing off the yummy potato and mushroom curry. :)

It was a wonderful day of diving aboard Sundiver and i am glad i booked the trip through Dolphin Dive Center. They posted it on their meetup group.

3 responses so far

Jan 19 2009

Diving Catalina West Side.

Published by under Diving

Last weekend i dove Catalina on Sun Diver but i haven’t written a blog about it since it wasn’t anything too exciting, i got some good pics but we did only 2 dives and i didn’t feel like writing a blog entry. Pictures


This weekend I went out to Catalina again on Sand Dollar which was chartered by Eco Dive Center. I am not a big fan of Eco but i have been on Sand Dollar before and it was a nice experience though it changed this time. The main reason for me hoping onto this boat was Kim and Anne from ValleyScuba were going to be there and the price was too good to resist. Otherwise i like to stay away from Eco dive center as much as i can.  I don’t want to take the focus away from the main purpose of this blog and therefore the reasons of me not liking Eco and the boat on this trip are stated at end. 



The previous night i checked Eco’s website and they said the boat was going to be full, i didn’t expect that and wasn’t too pleased about it. I woke up at 5am and after getting ready i reached the dock at about 6.30 am, I was probably the last guy on the boat. Kim and Anne were already there and luckily i found an empty spot right next to them. I setup my gear and then managed to find myself a bunk.


It was going to be a long ride out to Catalina and so i just tried to take a nap. I woke up when we were closer and then got geared up to dive. We were headed out to the west side of the island and Indian Rock was going to be our first dive site. Anne wasn’t too pleased about it because Eric, her BF, and herself have dove this place a lot and it is a invertebrate preserve so they weren’t able to hunt for lobsters here. 


Dive 1:


The viz didn’t seem that good and hence the captain decided to move to a different spot. It was called Pebble and the viz was lot better here. I was planning to tag along with Kim and Anne. We had decided to go the deepest point of the dive and then just head back towards the shore were the shallow reefs were but the actual dive turned out to be something different :)


We got into the water and I took a compass bearing for the boat something which i normally don’t do. We dropped down to about 60ft and started exploring the reefs there. Didn’t find anything too exciting initially just the usual Calif reef suspects. 





We explored the boulders in the area, there were quite a few lobsters in the crevices and a lot of fish life. 15-20 mins into the dive we were not sure where to explore next and at that time i saw a seal behind Anne, he didn’t wanna play and was hanging out there. It happened all of sudden and i didn’t get time to take its pic, it wouldn’t have come out good since he was far anyway. I was pointing towards Anne, she had her back towards the seal, but i couldn’t get her to turn. We ventured little further out and  i managed to find a tiny spanish shawl. It was nice finding a nudi but at the same time little frustrating because i can’t seem to find any other species :( 



Dive Details:


Max Depth: 68 ft.

Avg Depth: 45.2 ft.

Time: 38 mins

Air Consumption: 1608 psi

Min/Max Temp: 12.8 – 17.6 Celcius



We moved to a different spot for our next dive, it was going to be Lu Lu. i have no clue why this name was chosen for the dive site. I put on my rig and i saw that i was loosing some air, i did a closer inspection and there was some hissing sound coming from the tank. I tried putting on the rig again and taking it off several times but it didn’t help, the deckhand was new and didn’t have a clue so the captain had to take a look at it and when he put it on it seemed fine. 


For this dive we decided to follow Eric and Craig, as we got into water i asked Eric to take a look at the tank to see if it was leaking or not i wanted to be 100% sure. Also i mentioned it to Kim that there might be a minor leak but i should be able to do the dive nevertheless.


We descended, Eric and Craig just took off into the depths, as we were following them I was thinking to myself why do they have to go farther out. There were plenty of reefs around the boat waiting to be explored, i was taking my own time following them. The viz was good and it allowed me to keep an eye out for Anne while following the group. 


After a while they stopped exploring the reefs but then took off again. This time Anne and myself were left behind and Kim had a hard time following the guys.  Along the way i saw couple of nice tube worms but the sad part was that as soon as i tried taking a picture they would hide, it was kinda disappointing. Anne found a big Cabezon (I think, after looking at the pic it seems to be scorpion fish and had something in its mouth) chilling on the rock and it didn’t mind me taking pics of it, It was kinda nice. There was also a big group of sheepheads playing around.



Since me and Anne were by ourselves, we didn’t try to follow the others into the ocean and decided to head back towards the boat. We explored the reefs for little more and then headed back to the boat. 



Dive Details:

Max Depth: 54 ft.

Avg Depth: 32.5 ft.

Time: 46 mins

Air Consumption: 1740 psi

Min/Max Temp: 12.4 – 20 Celcius


For our final dive, We headed out farther west and Anne got excited because we were going to get out of the preserve and she could hunt for lobsters. We were going to anchor but then the conditions weren’t good so the captain decided to head back. We came back and anchored at Indian Rock, back to where we had started in the morning. 


We weren’t going to follow Eric and Craig for this dive and decided to head out on our own, we decided to do a long swim around the big rock which marks this dive site. This time when i put my rig back on, i wasn’t loosing any air which was a good sign. My camera battery was almost dead but still i decided to take my camera with me to see if i could get some pics. 


We dropped down and were following Anne, she took off in the direction of the rock and we had a hard time catching up with her. It was really nice though, the Eel grass was few feet high and it was a very dense jungle out there.  We were in 10-15 feet of water and the surge was pretty powerful but at the same time it was fun. I just love hanging out in the surge zone, we had to work with the surge to swim. 


We were in about 6 ft of water now and i couldn’t help resurfacing and as i popped my head out of the water i saw that we were in a completely different part, i couldn’t see the dive boat and was little worried. I signaled Anne to surface as well and talked with her about my unwarranted concern since she knew exactly where we were. The rock didn’t seem that big to me from the boat but it was really huge and i was reassured of our location :). 


We swam towards the boat, going around the rock and let the surge move us to where we wanted to go and it was fun, when we got to the other side of the rock i found a halibut chilling in the sand. 



Kinda sad to see tracks made by fins, some divers don’t mind it or are not conscious of the fact that they are dragging their fins. It wasn’t us, that i am sure :)


We then just explored the reefs nearby and even though we had plenty of air left, we ended the dive early and it was a good thing because the people on the boat were waiting for us. Got back on the boat and had to wait like 15-10 mins to take the shower because there was a water problem in one of the heads and then had to wait for another half hr to get food. Finally it was time to take a nap and head back home but not before i tried bargaining for a new car :).


PS: The views expressed are personal and its not influenced by anyone else. 


Since I have mentioned that i wasn’t too happy with the dive center and the boat, i think it will be a nice idea to state the reasons out here. Earlier before I had an experience with this guy Ron from Eco on Spectre sometime in April last year. Coming back from one of the dives i dropped my camera by accident, Ron found it and gave it back to me. It was very nice of him. Later in the day he asked me to help out with the rescue class they were teaching and he made it a point to mention that since he had found my camera i had to help him. He didn’t have to mention that i would have helped him anyway.


For this trip, i booked it online and so i called Eco Dive Center to let them know i am a vegetarian and they asked me to let the boat know. It was fine by me but then after cpl of hours i got call from the shop and they asked me to confirm my registration and also asked about my diet preferences. I didn’t bother to call the boat now since i thought that eco guys will let boat know but i was wrong about it. 


When i went to have breakfast, the cook offered to fry me an egg and i said that i was a vegetarian and he was like ok. After the first dive there was chilli for everyone but all i had to be satisfied with was chips, thats fine. At the end of the dive for the main lunch the cook made veggie marinara sauce which was great. Unfortunately it was also pitiful in terms of the quantity, it would have barely sufficed one person let alone 3 people sharing it. 


The dive boat didn’t have enough crew, there was the captain, cook and just one deckhand who didn’t have a clue. He seemed to be a new guy who was not trained to even check for a leaking o-ring. The cook had to help him out with refills and hence there was delay in him preparing the lunch (its my guess). It was a full boat with 34 people on it they could have easily used an extra person but it wasn’t to be the case. I think this is the last time i am going to dive off sand dollar and use services of eco dive center.


2 responses so far

Dec 01 2008

My Red Sea live-aboard experience…

Published by under Diving,Egypt

After spending a week traveling in egypt, it was time for the some diving. The main reason i came to egypt was to dive into the depths of the Red Sea.


Getting to Sharm El Sheikh

Meeting Our Fellow Divers

Day 1 My First Wreck Penetration

Day 2 Amazing Wreck Dives

Day 3 Garden of Corals

Day 4 Attack of the Lion Fish 😉

Day 5 Tragedy Strikes :(

Day 6 Wrapping it up


Getting to Sharm


Before going to bed the previous night i had decided to skip walk to al azhar park and just chill at the hotel before heading down to the airport to catch my flight for Sharm El Sheikh (sharm). I realized that for some reason Egypt Air cancelled the 3 pm flight and i would be now on the 4 pm flight to sharm.


I left the hotel at about noon and half hr later i was at the small terminal from where the flight to sharm would depart. Jeanne showed up half hour later and she was also moved to the 4pm flight so it was cool. We just spent time chatting at the airport and our small flight to sharm was nothing exciting as such. The flight took off at about 4.20 pm and we landed in Sharm at 5 pm. Taking a cab from the airport to the hotel was going to be interesting since i would have had to haggle about the price and in the end even though i didn’t think the price was right, we had to give in and take a high priced cab to the hotel.


Crown Plaza Resort as the name suggests is a resort and it is one beautiful place to relax. It over looks the red sea and has all sorts of facilities one can imagine, tennis/squash courts, a discotheque, spa, pools etc. It would make up for a very nice place to relax. We met up with George and Pam, they were also going to be on the King Snefro Crown live-aboard. George and Pam do a lot of live-aboards and George might have just talked me into hopping on the Galapagos trip.


After checking into our room, it was time for dinner and we found this italian place where we had some good pasta and lasagna. I went to bed early while Jeanne went out to take pictures.


Meeting the Group


If it wasn’t for Jeanne’s alarm we would have slept way past noon, luckily the alarm went off at 11 am and we got ready and checked out of the hotel on time. King Snefro guys were going to pick us up at about 1 pm and so we just waited outside for them to show up. They picked us up and then followed by George and Pam.


Ashia and Peter (South Africa), Paloma and Miguel (Spain), Neil (U.K.), Markus and Mira (Finland), Olga and Armana (Kazagkhstan), Marcus and Yoshi (Father, Son from Germany) were going to be the rest of our fellow divers. Two divers didn’t make it on the boat for some unknown reason.


We reached the boat by about 2.30 or so and then after a quick briefing we had lunch. The food throughout was really good, they had some veggie stuff, lots of salads and things like that, it was nice. We waited at the dock till 9 pm and then we headed out to a local dive spot where we would be doing our first checkout dive.


The boat was really nice, it was my first live-aboard so i didn’t know what to expect but George and Pam have been on several so i got a good idea about the quality of the boat from them. The galley was pretty big and it could fit in all of us at the same time and there was a saloon which had a dvd player and a wide screen LCD, it looked really royal. The cabins downstairs were pretty big though there wasn’t enough storage space in them. Overall the boat was really nice and comfortable with a big dive deck where an entire group could wait to jump in.


The Dive Area.


Also they had AL 80’s and most of us were going to dive nitrox 32%, since Ashia, Peter and Neil weren’t nitrox certified they decided to get nitrox certified during this trip. We headed out to the first dive spot at about 9 pm or so. We were supposed to get up at 6 am and out first dive briefing was going to be at 6.30 am.


Day 1 Dives


We all woke up at 6 am and then we had our dive briefing, since all the weights were in Kg, we had to first see if we all were properly weighted before we started diving. We were split into two groups of 8 and 7. George, Pam, Ashia, Peter, Neil, Jeanne and myself were going to be one group with Khaled being our guide where as the others were going to be with Yasser.


We did the calculation and Khaled asked me to take 8 kgs but i decided to go with 6 instead since 8 would be too heavy. I was perfectly weighted with 6 kgs and didn’t have any problems at all with my buoyancy.


Dive 1: Ras Katy


Ras Katy is a local dive spot from Sharm and lot of dive boats, submarines frequent this place. This was kinda a beach dive as well since it was very close to the shore. We got into water and started going along the reef, it was very pretty.


One of the Many Coral Pinnacles.


Immediately we saw a blue spotted ray and it was just a sign of things to come. Jeanne saw a big octopus but we all were far ahead by that time. The reefs were teeming with life, plenty of orange anthias, big corals, sea fans it was nice. We also spotted a lion fish, I played with my camera settings and only a few pics have come out to be good. I saw a baby peppered moray eel and a crab hiding inside a coral.

Baby Eel.


At the end of the dive there was this lone anemone fish which came out towards me and was playing with me, it was really fun to watch him zoom by me. Those things are very curious fish but then they won’t leave the anemone as such I was kinda surprised that one guy came upto me. I tried taking few good pics but he was too fast for me.


This was only a sample of the things to come and i was really excited by the prospect of seeing more of red sea.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 59 mins

Max Depth: 66 ft

Air Consumed: 2299 psi.

Avg Depth: 43.2 ft


Dive 2: Ras Ghozlani


After having breakfast our second dive was going to be at Ras Ghozlani and it was going to be a drift dive. I had never done a drift dive and was kinda curious about how fast the currents would be etc but it didn’t turn out to be that bad. We were going to go along with the current and then at the end of the dive the zodiac (small inflatable boat) was going to pick us up to take us back to the boat.


Ours was the first group to get into water and as i have mentioned earlier the current wasn’t strong at all, it was a pretty mellow dive. As we got into water we were greeted by vast areas of corals it was really nice. I came across a big arabian angel fish, moving on it was a sea bed of different corals, fans, etc.


There were so many anemone fishes hiding among the anemones it was very pretty, i was determined to get a shot similar to the mac desktop picture that i have and in the later dives i came very close to getting that perfect shot.


During the course of the dive, i came too close to pam and i tried getting away from her fins but as i was doing that she didn’t realize that i was underneath and she turned. Her tank hit me good on the head and i had to make sure that i wasn’t bleeding and didn’t crack up my skull. I ended up having a nice big lump on my head after that dive but it wasn’t that bad :).


We had to get back on the boat using that zodiac which was an experience. We have to get close to it and then take off all our gear except for mask and fins so that the tanks can be pulled in first into the zodiac and then we pull ourselves up into it. I took my mask off and gave it to the guys in the boat since i had to get the secondary regulator off my neck. I realized that i should have kept the mask with me after taking the secondary off and corrected that on subsequent zodiac entries.


Me and Neil talked about how cool it would be to do a dive using a zodiac, rolling backwards into water like navy seals and our wish was granted on the next dive itself :).


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 53 mins

Max Depth: 75 ft

Air Consumed: 2468 psi.

Avg Depth: 49.5 ft.


Dive 3: Ghiannis D


After the second dive we were planning on crossing on Strait of Gubal and do some wreck dives on the reef called Shaab Abu Nahas. The weather was really nice so we crossed across and the wreck of Ghiannis D was going to be our next dive.


We were going to penetrate the wreck so i was really excited by that prospect. This wreck and all the other wrecks are relatively easy and safe to penetrate as such mainly because there is no danger of too much silting, most of it is iron so the main caution to take is not to cut yourself against the sharp edges.


Ghiannis D

Type of Ship: Cargo (Timbers)

Nationality: Greek

Year of Construction: 1969

Length: 99.5 m

Width: 16 m

Tonnage: 2.932 Ton

Date of Wreck: 19th April 1983

Depth: 27 m


We were going to take the zodiac to the dive site and had to do a roll back entry into the water, it was going to be my first. All of us were supposed to be in the water at the same time so that we don’t hit anyone but i messed up the exit. Jeanne was in front of me on the other side and her fins were on top of mine so i was worried that we would get caught up and therefore i jumped in late and ended up hitting pam with my fins. It wasn’t that bad but still i could have done it right.


We dropped down to the bow section of the boat. I came across a box fish and a blue spotted ray. We then swam towards the stern section of the boat and while doing that we could see a group of dolphins on the surface. Also came across Pyjama Chromodorid nudibranch and it was time to penetrate the wreck.




We entered the engine room of the ship and i was just surprised on how big the room was, all 7 of us were able to fit into that room without bumping into each other or anything like that. It was simply amazing, i didn’t expect that at all. We then came out of wreck through a series of ups and downs, it wasn’t that straightforward at all. I would have been completely lost if i was by myself, i tried to keep a track of the path we were going inside the wreck but then i completely lost it. I was more than happy following the group. It was nice to see schools of glass fish in there, the silhouette of them against the surface was cool.


We then swam back towards the bow section of the wreck, did our safety stop and then got back into the zodiac and back on the boat.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 50 mins

Max Depth: 77 ft

Air Consumed: 2505 psi.

Avg Depth: 52.1 ft


Dive 4: Night Dive Shaab Abu Nahas Reef


Our night dive was going to be at the reef where we were anchored and neither Khaled or Yaseer were going to jump into water with us. The dive was supposed to be really easy with no currents and only 30 ft of water. Jeanne didn’t want to go in the water at night without someone who is familiar with the dive site coming along with us, it was a valid concern and i wasn’t sure if because of liability reasons it would be a smart thing to do for the guides.


Khaled then decided to get into water with us. George and Pam got into water only because of the lure of seeing a spanish dancer (nudibranch).


We got into the water and after few mins came across two spanish dancers , i also saw eggs of the spanish dancer. They lay them in a nice circular fashion, now that i think about it i should have tried to take a better picture of the eggs.


I came across a arrow spider crab and tried to get jeanne’s attention, by the time she got there the crab hid under the coral. After 15 mins into the dive we came across another spanish dancer and this guy was all by himself. I just thought they were some huge nudis and didn’t know that they were called spanish dancers until i got back on the boat. The reason they are called dancers because they can swim and their movement is very graceful and really nice to watch.


Spanish Dancer.


Arrow Spider Crab.


We were supposed to be in water for only 30 mins max but the dive time was 40 mins. It was a nice dive and the spanish dancers are just big beautiful nudis. We also spotted a lone starfish it was the pebbled star fish, I found a hermit crab or something similar but he was inside the coral and i couldn’t get a good pic of him.

Star Fish.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 40 mins

Max Depth: 51 ft

Air Consumed: 1480 psi.

Avg Depth: 31.5 ft


After having dinner it was time for me to head off to sleep it was a long day of some good diving and even awesome diving to follow. We were supposed to get up at 6 am again and 6.30 am would be our dive briefing.


Day 2 Dives, Beautiful Wreck Diving


We were going to do two dives on the wrecks in the Shaab Abu Nahas reef and then head off to the grand daddy of all the wrecks, Thistlegorm which is considered to be one of the top wrecks in the world to dive.


Dive 5: Carnatic


Carnatic was going to be the first wreck of the day, this is probably the oldest wreck in the region and the boat is full of life. It hit the reef but the captain didn’t think the situation was bad and the crew as well as passengers were waiting to be rescued but then after 11 hours when the captain gave evacuation orders all of sudden the ship snapped into two and 31 people out of 34 passengers and 176 crew perished. Ship had a cargo of cotton bales, finest bottles of wine, soda and about 40,000 sterling in gold some of which is still believed to be buried inside the hold.



Type of Ship: Steamer

Nationality: British

Year of Construction: 1862

Length: 89.8 m

Width: 11.6 m

Tonnage: 1.776 Ton

Date of Shipwreck: 12-13th Sept 1869

Depth: 27 m


We were going to drop on the bow section of the wreck and then head out all the way to the stern, where the propeller still remains and then head back along the other side upto the bow. Zodiac was going to be the means of transport from the boat and this time around i got into the water properly, there weren’t any incidents.


As we got to the bow section and were swimming along the wreck i saw a fish going after some kind of worm/eel/snake, the fish couldn’t get a hold of it and the little guy managed to get away. We still have to ID what that thing was, it looks like a snake but then its too small mostly its a type of eel or a worm.


Not sure if this was a snake or eel.


We saw a lot of fish life bannerfish, gobies, damsel fishes, butterfly fishes etc, plenty of corals it was really nice. The wreck has turned into a skeleton as such and you can see how the boat was constructed at that time with huge steel columns running across from the port side to starboard side.


Carnatic Wreck


Once we got into the zodiac as we were heading back to the boat there were dolphins in the water so all of us put our masks and fins on again and jumped right back in. Unfortunately the dolphins were not in a mood to play so we had to get back in.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 49 mins

Max Depth: 87 ft

Air Consumed: 2343 psi.

Avg Depth: 56.5 ft.


Dive 6: Marcus or Chrisoula K.


After breakfast it was time to dive the wreck of Marcus and it turned out to be the best dive so far. This is also known as the “wreck of the tiles” because this german ship was carrying a cargo of italian tiles to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia when it hit the reef at its maximum speed and met its fate. Apparently the true identity of this ship is still a mystery and hence its known as marcus or chirsoula k but the general opinion is the latter.


Chrisoula K

Type of Ship: Cargo

Nationality: German

Year of Construction: 1954

Length: 98m

Width: 14.8 m

Tonnage: 3.720 Ton

Date of Shipwreck: 31st Aug 1981

Depth: 4 – 26 m


We were going to use the zodiac again and drop down to the bow section of the boat which lies slanted along the reef. As we continued along the side of the boat and came to the main funnel, there was a lion fish waiting for us and then as we continued along just near the mast there was a big crocodile fish resting peacefully. On the previous dive i found a pipe fish and thought it to be a crocodile fish, they are so different and the size is also different. Pipe fish is a tiny thing with few cms in width and about a foot long where as the crocodile fish is a big fish with about a foot wide and 3-4 ft in length.


Crocodile Fish


We then continued towards the stern section and came around to penetrate the wreck. We entered the cargo holding section and could see tons of tiles still laying around everywhere, it was interesting to see how well they were preserved. As we got out of the wreck, i came across a flatworm lying on a column, initially we thought it was a nudi but then we identified it to be a gold dotted flatworm.


Flat Worm.


We moved along the deck of the boat and found a HUGE moray resting, it was easily atleast 6 ft in length and about 2 ft in diameter, it was amazing. In general this wreck had lots of corals both soft and hard, plenty of fish life as well.


During the course of this dive my computer slapped me a 2 min level stop at 10 ft which then increased to 3 mins after a while but then i hung at 40 ft for couple of mins and then did level stops at 30 ft and 20 ft so my computer just cleared out those 10 ft level stop requirements it was really cool to see the theory which Jeanne has been teaching into action.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 52 mins

Max Depth: 86 ft

Air Consumed: 2389 psi.

Avg Depth: 52 ft.


Now it was time to cross the strait of gubal again and head off to Thistlegorm. I had already planned to take a nap during the time we cross the strait and since it was after lunch, it certainly helped me sleep :).


Dive 7: Thistlegorm


When i woke up for the briefing, we had already anchored at the wreck site and the current at this site dictates what the plan for the dive is. Khaled had dove down to get our boat anchored to wreck and there were already 5-6 other boats at this site. This is one of the most popular wrecks in the entire world so it was bound to be crowded. According to the book, this wreck brings in more tourist money than the pyramids of giza, it is sad though that the wreck is not being looked after as such.


The reason this wreck is so amazing because of the cargo it was carrying when it was sunk by german bombers. When it left Glasgow, Scotland to deliver its cargo to the British 8th Army stationed in Egypt and Libya during the WWII it had to take the long route across africa since the western side of Mediterranean was controlled by German forces. Its cargo consisted of ammunitions, bombs of different kinds, anti tank mines, Lee Enfield MK III rifles, a hundred of BSA Motorcycles, BSA W-M20, Matchless G3L and Norton 16 H, Bedford, Morris and Ford Trucks, two light Bren Carrier MK II tanks, two steam Stanier 8 F locomotives complete with two coal tenders and water tankers necessary for travel in desert zones, transport trucks, portable field generators, spare parts for airplanes and automobiles, medicine, tyres and rubber boots. phew so much stuff and most of it can be seen in the wreck.



Type of ship: Steam Freighter

Nationality: British

Construction Date: 1940

Propulsion: Steam

Length: 126.5 m

Width: 17.5 m

Tonnage: displacement of 9.009 Ton

Date of Shipwreck: 5-6 October 1941

Depth: 15 – 30 m


Since the current at this site is very strong we had to descend on the bow using the rope by which our ship was anchored. We were then going to go along with the current and then on the way back penetrate some of the holds of the wreck. Since Yasser was the only guide going along with us we were one big group and it was really crowded while penetrating the wreck, the other divers were not helping as well.


As we went into the wreck you could see all this awesome cargo lying around and it wasn’t hard to figure out why this is considered one of the best wrecks but the sad thing is its too crowded and some of the divers have no regard for the conservation of the wreck or the safety procedures to follow while penetrating the wreck etc. At one point this chick in pink popped up all of sudden between me and Jeanne and she didn’t have any idea where she was or what was going on, it was really annoying and her buddy was a guy in doubles.


Also since all of us went as a single group some people lost their buddies, were not following everyone properly etc and it was kinda messy. We were supposed to return to the boat and do our safety stop by hanging onto the rope.


As we were doing our safety stop by hanging on the ropes there were schools of baitfish and glass fish and we saw a big ass Barracuda hunting among them. It was about 5-6 ft in length, Santo the ones we saw in florida were tiny as compared to the size of this baby :). I didn’t take my camera on this dive.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 46 mins

Max Depth: 83 ft

Air Consumed: 2337 psi.

Avg Depth: 52.5 ft.


Our night dive was going to be on Thistlegorm again and because of the crowded dive etc Jeanne decided to skip the night dive and relaxed with a glass of wine.


Dive 8: Thistlegorm Night


The current had really picked up and for this night dive none of the ladies were going to jump into the water. Jeanne would have come with us but she didn’t know that there were going to be only 8 people on this dive and she already had started drinking wine.


I had to buddy up with Miguel for this dive and we weren’t going to go farther out on the wreck, it was going to be close from the rope on the stern to which our boat was tied. I came across couple of box fishes lurking beneath one of the columns, we were not going to penetrate the wreck just go around the first hold couple of times and then surface up.


I saw a couple of guys on scooters and doubles penetrating the wreck they seem to be having a good time and so were we. At the end of the dive, George who was in front of me almost kicked a crocodile fish and then we saw another crocodile fish beside a big rock fish.


We ascended along the rope and it was a pretty short mellow night dive.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 33 mins

Max Depth: 64 ft

Air Consumed: 1772 psi.

Avg Depth: 48.5 ft.


Next day we were planning on doing another dive on Thistlegorm and to beat the rest of the boats we were going to get into the water at around 6.30 am. For that to happen we had to get up at 5.30 and our briefing was going to be at 6 am.


Sea of Table Corals


Dive 9: Thistlegorm Stern


For this dive we were going to see the locomotive on the side of the wreck as well go all the way to the stern. Also there was going to be minimal penetration on this one and since both yaseer and khaled were going to be leading their individual groups this was going to be less crowded for us but there were certainly going to be other divers in the water.


The current as usual was going to be there but it wasn’t that bad. We descended and then moved to the side where the locomotive was going to be and the current carried us there. I was slightly disappointed by the size of it, i was expecting it to be something big but it wasn’t that huge. We then moved to the stern side where the big propeller is and there some of the artillery shells lay, the manufacture date 1929 on one of them is clearly visible.


Locomotive on Side of Thistlegorm.


We then moved to the other side of the wreck, did some penetration but it didn’t last for long just like a small chamber. Since we were moving against the current i stayed closer to the wreck and passed through one of the galleries rather than stay on the side of ship trying to battle the current.


The Artillery Shells.



As we ended our dive there were couple of yellow tunas hunting the school of glass fish and baitfish. This was the best part of the dive for me, watching those schools of fish react to the sudden movement of the tunas. I could have held onto the rope for ages watching them. When the tiny bait fish school moves together they glitter and shine light to confuse the predators. I just loved it.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 44 mins

Max Depth: 101 ft

Air Consumed: 2433 psi.


Dive 10: Shag Rock (Kingston Wreck)


This was supposed to be a wreck dive but it ended up being an awesome dive over the corals at the Shag Rock. The wreck was a small one as compared to the other wrecks which we have dove.


We descended on the wreck and then just headed off away in other direction where there were only corals till your eyes could see. It was simply amazing.


Lovely Coral.


We came across so many clams, they came in all different colors and sizes, when i saw the pics i was very disappointed because the colors didn’t come out at all for some reason. Jeanne had a blast playing with a small anemone fish, that little guy was coming right upto her and would just dart away. She also came across a Christmas tree worm but she couldn’t get a pic of it, it just went in. I then waited a min or two for it to reappear but it wasn’t co-operating so i moved on but then later on i came across another one and got few nice pics of it.


Christmas Tree Worm.


There were all kinds of reef fishes on this dive, the damsels, parrots, groupers small ones though, anthias, gobies. It was simply awesome a field of corals, you just couldn’t see even a small area of sand. We then returned to explore the wreck and did our safety stop out there. I got the best anemone fish pics on this dive really loved it.


A lot of fishes were there on the wreck but as i was doing my safety stop this surgeon fish first chased a small fish away and then as i came closer he came after me. The little guy was really aggressive, he didn’t try to bite me or something but just charged me and was one hyper aggresive fish. I wasn’t the only person chased by this one, others were also kinda attacked. It was really fun though nothing scary as such.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 59 mins

Max Depth: 60 ft

Air Consumed: 2266 psi.


Everyone was raving about this dive at the end of it, it was just amazing. This was easily the best dive so far.


Dive 11: Small Crack


We were in the same area and going to do this drift dive called small crack, its located in the reef called Shaab Mahmud. This was going to be a drift dive along this narrow passage. We were going to jump in from the boat and then the zodiac would pick us up at the end of the dive.


Our group was going to be the first one into water and then as we descended and were drifting along this lion fish was swimming in opposite direction. Further along the way there were a couple of lion fish swimming merrily, one of them was really big and the other seemed like a baby.


After sometime we found a nudi the same kind Pyjama chromodorid, moving along it was a sea bed of corals but there weren’t that many fishes. This was a proper drift dive in the sense that we were moving at a pretty good pace along with the current. No work was required from our part to move.


When we surfaced, everyone was in the zodiac except for me and Jeanne and the conditions were getting bad as well so the zodiac guy was in hurry to get everyone on board and then to the boat. Jeanne got out of her gear and then she was handing her rig to the zodiac guy, as she was doing that the guy pulled early and Jeanne’s finger got caught between the tank and the plate.


Jeanne was in lot of pain and thought that she broke her finger but luckily it didn’t turn out to be the case. There were no broken fingers.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 52 mins

Max Depth: 65 ft

Air Consumed: 2245 psi.


Wind was picking up and the conditions weren’t that good at all for the night dive so sadly enough the night dive was cancelled. Tomorrow we were going to dive the world famous dive sites of Yolanda And Shark Reef in Ras Mohammed Park and then head out to Tiran Island to do the rest of the dives.


Reefs and Lion Fish attack on night dive


Our first dive was going to be on the Yolanda and the Shark Reef in Ras Mohammed, we were going to drop near the shark reef and then the current would take us over to Yolanda wreck.


Dive 12: Shark and Yolanda Reef


Ours was the second group in water and shark reef is a wall, we dropped about 100 ft exploring the walls.


I really liked the wall of corals at the Shark reef but then we didn’t spend that much time there. 15 mins into the dive we were still at 85 ft, i was at about 1500 psi and so i had to be at shallow depths so that i didn’t suck up all my air.


We didn’t come across anything too exciting just the usual schools of fishes among the corals etc and a big Napoleon Wrasse swimming away. As we neared the wreck of yolanda there were too many bathtubs and toilets which just lay scattered. I didn’t get down there to take pics or something since i was running low on air and decided to stay shallow as compared to others.


I was little disappointed at the end of the dive mainly because this is supposed to be one of the best places to dive in the world and we didn’t see that much at all. It was just the usual stuff that we have seen on the previous dives. We took the zodiac and returned back to the boat.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 48 mins

Max Depth: 104 ft

Air Consumed: 2663 psi.


Dive 13: Jackfish Alley


This was going to be our final dive in Ras Mohammed Park before we move to Tiran Island for the rest of the dives. As we did that we were going to dock for little while to get the garbage out and get a supply of fresh water.


This was also going to be a drift dive and it turned out to be a nice one too. As soon as we descended a turtle was swimming by us, it was the first a time that we saw a turtle during our dives. On this dive we were going to enter some small caves and it was kinda interesting even though there wasn’t anything to see in those caves.




We then came across the usual vast expanses of table corals, fire corals etc with the fish life that goes with them. After getting into the zodiac, we then proceeded to Tiran Island for the rest of our dives.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 53 mins

Max Depth: 69 ft

Air Consumed: 2484 psi.


Dive 14: Gordon Reef


This was going to be our first of the many dives to come in Tiran Island. It was going to be a drift dive and as soon as we descended we came across a swimming moray.


The Moray swam for sometime and then lodged itself in a coral, Khaled signaled that there were two of them and i was expecting to find another big moray but actually there was a small one. I didn’t bother to look around for the small one and missed it.


We kept on swimming for a bit and then saw a big grouper chilling in front of us, we were approaching it cautiously and it was a shy one. I took some pics from a distance and then the grouper went behind a coral. I saw this as my chance to get closer to him and swam towards him with full speed. This guy saw me coming and ran away, George tried to chase it towards the group but then it was too late. I got some good pics up close but then also i ended chasing the poor guy away.


Big grouper.


Swimming through the sandy bottoms we expected to see some garden eels hanging out but unfortunately there were none. I also came across 3 nudis but then all of them were the same old pyjama choromodorid, it was kinda frustrating. I was able to find nudis but they were the same species.


We then came across some coral fields and its was nice. The fire corals out here formed a circular shape and i should have tried to see if there was something hidden in there but didn’t do that. I came across a big rock fish and my friend lion fish but apart from the big grouper there wasn’t anything exciting on this dive either.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 47 mins

Max Depth: 56 ft

Air Consumed: 2035 psi.


Dive 15: Night Dive Gordon Reef (Close Shave with Lion Fish)


Jeanne wasn’t feeling good so she decided to skip this dive and this turned out to be the most exciting dive of all. I buddied up with Neil for this dive. We were not going to do the previous drift dive but only going to explore the reefs where our boat was moored.


As soon as we got into water we started seeing a lot of stuff, almost every coral had some crab in it. 5 mins or so into the dive as Yasser was leading us, i saw Neil heading in different direction, I came upto him and grabbed his fin but i realized it late that he was taking a picture.


At this time Pam she came upto me and grabbed me by the arm and asked me to follow her, I went there and a spanish dancer was sitting merrily. After a while it lifted off the surface and then it started its graceful dance, I started to take its video but i didn’t manage to do a good job. Neil managed to get its graceful movement. The video i took shows the nudi landing happily on the reef. It was not yet the highlight of this dive for me.


Lovely Coral.


We then came across a different nudi this time but unfortunately both neil and myself couldn’t get a good picture of this guy. Floating in mid air we found a jelly fish, it was really pretty with its shining luminescence, i tried taking pics but it was hard and then i decided to take its video which turned out to be pretty decent.


While taking picture of a crab inside a coral both neil and me struggled for a while and then neil found that there was a Scorpion fish right next to this crab. He pointed that out to me but i didn’t realize it was fish, i saw something with orange boundaries and took a picture. Later when i saw this picture finally i could make out that there was a fish there.


I was getting really excited on this dive with all the stuff that we were finding, i managed to located another star fish. Looking back at one of the pics i found that i had taken a pic of shrimp hiding inside the coral, I just love to find these tiny critters they are really amusing.




At the end of the dive was the most scary or rather too exciting part. I found another shrimp inside a coral and wanted to take a good look at it, there was no way that i could have taken its picture and hence i didn’t bother as well. All of sudden, Neil pushed me away and the reason for that was that a lion fish was approaching me. If he hadn’t pushed me away, i would have got a full dosage of this guy’s venom. This was a close shave but the next one was closer.


We continued exploring the reefs and i found a big crab hiding in one of the cracks. I took some pictures of it and was trying to get a good shot and as i looked up there was this lion fish swimming directly towards my face. It must have been only a few inches away and i had to take some quick evasive action.


At this point we were almost 40 mins into the dive and i was really freaked out. So it was time to end this wonderful adventure, even though we had lots of air left and could have easily explored for another 20 mins but i had enough of close calls with lion fish. They seem to be attracted towards my light, could have also been the red tank light as well. I observed a lion fish feeding from top, i didn’t want to go down and let them think that some part of me could have been their meal.


As soon as i came on the boat, I asked Yasser of another dive would be possible after dinner but that wasn’t the case. I guess i didn’t mind those lion fishes after all but certainly would have liked to keep my distance. This was easily the most exciting dive so far but unfortunately it turned out to be my last deep dive on this trip as well.


One of the best pics of the trip on this dive.


Dive Details:

Dive Time: 50 mins

Max Depth: 35 ft

Air Consumed: 1791 psi.



The Tragedy


Don’t worry about the title, its nothing major as such. Its all part of the game, sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t.


We woke up early in the morning for the briefing and I thought about using the sinus rinse but being the lazy bum that i am i didn’t, things could have turned out to be different if i had did but its ok.


The dive was going to be on thomas reef and we were going to jump from the boat. I wasn’t feeling any cold or anything when i got into water. But then as we dropped down at about 70 ft i couldn’t equalize, my right ear just wouldn’t clear. So I ascended to about 25 ft or so and tried clearing again but then it didn’t help either, at this point i wasn’t paying that much attention to my depth and clearing out my ear seemed to be a lost cause.


I decided to abort the dive and head to the surface, Khaled ascended after a while and wanted to try out something to help me equalize. He saw some bloody discharge from my nose and hence he didn’t bother and asked me to swim back to the boat. I thought it was a wise decision as well and i started swimming towards the boat.


As i was swimming towards a the boat, I saw a spotted eagle ray going by, boy was i glad or what. I started following the ray to take couple of good snaps of it and they turned out to be great. I took off all my gear etc and then waited for others to show up. The rest of the group also saw the same ray and other than that the dive was pretty mellow.


Spotted Eagle Ray


During breakfast my ear still felt fluffy and it hadn’t cleared out. Khaled asked me not to get into water for the next dive and i obeyed, there was no point in even attempting to dive with this messed up ear.


I took a nap and then i decided to give it another try during the third dive. I asked Khaled if it was ok for me to snorkel near the boat incase i couldn’t equalize again and had to abort the dive, he said it wasn’t a problem.


So i got ready to jump in for the dive but also had my snorkel outside just in case i wouldn’t be able to clear my ears. I jumped in and was planning on descending very slowly but i hit 10 ft or so and i knew i wouldn’t be able to clear so i decided to call it quits and was going to snorkel.


As soon as i got into the water to snorkel, there were couple of barracudas (atleast that is what i thought) but something was not right about them, they were too skinny and their face was elongated. It turned out that they were needle fish.


I was not getting closer to the reefs because the current would really drag me into them, i saw a triggerfish and some yellow fin tunas swimming below. It wasn’t that bad at all, initially i jumped in without my camera but then i decided to go back and get my camera.


I saw a school of needlefish but they were scared of me and didn’t want to come any closer. In the depths below me i could see 3 big fish swimming but they were too far and i couldn’t find out exactly what they were but one of them looked like a big grouper. I was having a really good time just snorkeling, the sargent majors would come right upto me and they were a curious lot.


When the dive groups returned, it was time for me to head back to the boat we were going to move to a new location for the night dive. I wasn’t even going to attempt the night dive but instead just snorkel near the reef. Also i was going to hang my tank light on the anchor rope so that it would be easier for the divers to find out where the boat was located.


I jumped into water before everyone else and then tied the light to the rope. I was hoping that fishes would get attracted to this light and it would be kinda cool to watch them get curious by it but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. No fishes were attracted to the light.


I headed out to the reef and started snorkeling around, there were very few active fishes. I was very wary about lion fishes after the encounters previous night and i spotted one swimming at about 15 ft or so but the good thing was this guy seemed to be distracted by the light and didn’t want to come any closer. I spotted couple of shrimps, star fish and few interesting things but the current was picking up and i decided to head back. I waited for the dive groups to come aboard and then removed the light.






I was really hoping that my ear cleared out in the morning and i would be able to dive again. I took some pain killers, sudafed and couple of herb tablets which Jeanne handed out to me.



Wrapping it up


When i woke up in the morning i felt a lot better, I used the nasal rinse, gargled with salt water did everything which i should have been doing regularly all the while and as i was about to head out i felt my right ear go pop. I was really excited by that.


I put on my dive gear etc and then jumped into water with everyone else, i was planning on descending really slowly. This was going to be a drift dive where we would jump from the boat swim along with the current and then get back into the zodiacs at the end of the dive.


As we started to descend, I was able to clear out my ears at 15 ft and i was glad, taking it slow i started going deeper but as soon as i got to about 23 ft, i just couldn’t clear out my ears. It was a bummer. I let Jeanne know that i was going to ascend and then head back to the boat.


I came upto the surface and surprisingly enough i found myself far away from the boat. In a few mins the current can really take you away, I spotted the boat more than 200 – 300 ft away, it could have been further away as well. There was no way i would have been able to swim upto the boat without completely exhausting myself, the waves were not that helpful at all.


I decided to drop to about 8 ft or so and then swim towards the boat since it would be very easy for me that way. After swimming for couple of minutes i heard a noise and then as i looked upward, i saw a zodiac out there. It was our zodiac and so i took off my gear and got back into the boat on the zodiac. It turned out that the boat i was swimming towards was the wrong boat and it had started moving away. If it wouldn’t have been for the zodiac, i could have been in little trouble :).


The currents near the boat were strong so i decided not to snorkel and instead called it as the end of my diving trip. Rest of the guys came up and they saw a white tip shark, apart from that nothing exciting. Also it wasn’t a close encounter with the shark they saw it from a distance so i don’t think i missed out on anything as such 😉


We then moved from Tiran Island and headed off to local Sharm Dive spots, we were moored near this beach where a ton of people were snorkeling, i could have gone snorkeling but then a brilliant idea hit me.


I could equalize at 15 ft so i could technically do a dive but not descend below 15 ft. I asked Yasser about it and he allowed me to go for a dive by myself at the place all the people were snorkeling. It was music to my ears, I was hoping he would allow me to just join the group and i could stay above everyone. But he said i could dive solo and as long as i was in the boundaries of this place. I also had to adhere to a time restriction of 50 mins, since i wasn’t going to go below 15 ft i could have gone on for atleast couple of hours.


I got into my gear and then headed over to reefs and they were very cool. It was like a cavern system and lot of stuff to see underneath, because of this cave like system the snorkelers wouldn’t be able to see all the stuff which i was able to and my torch light would have come in handy. The fishes here weren’t shy, they were not running away from me and it was quite fun. Most of the usual suspects that we have been seeing on the dives were there but i also saw few cool gobies.


Ofcourse my friends the lion fish were also there but this time they were resting and lurking underneath the reefs, we kept a distance from each other without any problems. There was a family of anemone fishes (i am guessing that because there were two big ones and a one small guy) and since i didn’t have to make room for anyone to take pics i had all the time in world to take few pics of them.


I also managed to find eggs of spanish dancers and this time while taking pics i made sure that i would capture the circular pattern of the eggs and i was successful in doing so. 40 mins or so into the dive one of the guys came in to check on me which was very nice. It was also a signal for me that i shouldn’t try to exceed 50 mins, i didn’t plan on doing that as it is.




At the beginning of the dive i took a compass reading of the boat and i was checking on it from time to time during the entire dive, on my way back i managed to find the boat quite easily. It turns out that my navigational skills aren’t as bad as i think they are :).


I really enjoyed this shallow dive and i was proud of the fact that i was in control of my buoyancy all the time, I didn’t surface even once due to lack of control on my buoyancy. My max depth was 14 ft and min was 5 ft with average depth being 9.5 ft. Total dive time was 50 mins.


Rest of the group returned from their dives and then later in afternoon they were heading out for one final dive. I could have dove again in the reef system while maintaining my depth but i was done for the trip. I didn’t want to exert myself too much and Khaled was going to take me to the doctor once we got to the Jetty.


The rest of the group did a short final dive and it was time to head back. Armana and Oleg wanted to do a sunset dive but then since they were going to be the only ones on that dive they decided to skip it. We reached the jetty by 4.15 pm and Khaled walked me upto the Hyperbaric chamber where i would be able to see the doc.


It was a very short visit, the doc asked me to equalize my ears as he took a look at them and immediately came to a conclusion that i had suffered from barotrauma. I tried too hard to equalize and my ear drum wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t think i would have any problems flying back and asked me to take plenty of hot fluids as well as chew gum while flying. A nasal decongestant was prescribed, i was glad that i didn’t have to worry about taking antibiotics or anything like that for infection.


Once at the jetty it was time for good bye’s but before that after dinner most of us decided to head out to Naama bay for a drink. I wasn’t going to go but then at the last moment i decided to join the gang. It was me, Neil, Ashia, Peter, George, Pam, Paloma, Miguel, Markus and Mira who headed out to Naama bay.


We managed to find taxis after a while and this was a crazy party town. It was in complete contrast to Cairo or Luxor, the party went on for the entire night out here. We were planning on going to a place called camel bar but then ended up at this place called Zaza something. It was a pretty nice place with a traditional setting.


I only had a stella and didn’t even try to smoke the sheesha which was ordered by miguel and markus. I had enough of sheesha experience in Luxor. There was a belly dancer girl performing at the center, Mira and Paloma showed everyone their moves along with her. We had a good time at this place, everyone returned early except for Markus and Mira who came back after an hour or so.


The next day morning slowly everyone started leaving according to their schedules and i was the last one off the boat since my flight out of sharm was at 9 pm. Thus my first live-aboard experience came to an end.


This was one of the best vacations i have taken, it was so relaxing and we had a great group of people. Even though i had some problems at the end of the trip, I enjoyed every moment of it. Red Sea diving was little disappointing since we actually didn’t see that much of cool stuff, I would have expected some ugly frog fishes :), some sea horses, more nudis and some big animals. The corals and wrecks out here were simply amazing, i guess they are the ones who can’t move away from all the divers who frequent this place.


I am not sure when my next trip to the red sea would be but one thing i am sure of is that i would be taking more vacations on live-aboards :).


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Oct 24 2008

My first beach dive…..

Published by under Diving

The cherry had to pop sometime 😉 and it was meant to be yesterday 10/23/08, i have heard a lot of people complain about beach diving with the sand, getting in through the surf and just getting in one dive etc. So it was about time i saw for myself what was the fuss about. 


Corral Beach in Malibu was going to be the dive and Ice, Kim the buddies, thank you for letting me tag along :) . The plan was to meet at 8pm and then go ahead with the dive. I had to get an air fill so it took me while and i reached the site almost at 8ish, Kim was there almost half an hour early.  


Ice briefed us about the dive site and since it was my first beach dive we decided to go towards the little reef which is easily accessible and also the conditions were great with 1ft waves and 1-2 ft surge etc. that mean’t the visibility would also be good and it indeed turned out to be so. 


So we geared up, did all the buddy check and then headed out. Even with the small waves and surge you have to put in fair amount of effort so that you don’t get tossed around. It wasn’t that easy getting in but wasn’t that bad as well. Ice was going to lead this dive since he knew the site well. I was getting toasted in my wet suit but as soon as we entered the water i was fine. 


After a surface swim of about 100ft or so, we decided to drop down and then head towards the reefs. After 5 mins or so, swimming through the sandy bottom we hit the reefs. We came across a lobster and Ice grabbed it but it was below the legal size. There were quite a fishes which would show up all of sudden and it was cool. My dive light was doing its job very well and it seemed that the fishes were less active. This was my second night dive so i didn’t know what to expect as such.


There were times on the reef because of me kicking up the bottom or something the vis would drop to 2-3 ft but through out the dive there were lot of particles in water and most of my pics sucked. We spotted a couple of spanish shawls, there were these shells which i have never seen before in water. I have played a lot with those things in india but never seen the creatures as such. There were lots of kelp fishes, Gorgonians, star fishes and it was really nice.

I was enjoying the dive a lot, being pushed around in the swell, let the water do all the work in moving me rather than me spending energy. I got few good pics but then i had difficulty managing everything, the light was hanging, holding my new camera isn’t easy and then i wasn’t checking my computer often as well. 


Since I was the one with the smallest tank in terms of air it was because of me we had to end the dive, i started with about 2100 PSI courtesy my steel 72 and then at about 900 psi it was time to head to back, had to save some air for the way out. 33 mins of dive time, wasn’t that bad at all. When we ended the dive the plan was go out and then head back in since Ice and Kim had about 1800 psi left. 


Getting out wasn’t that hard, i tried to take off my fins but could manage to only get one out, i was able to walk backwards so it wasn’t a big deal as such. By the time I reached the car was exhausted and didn’t want to be back for second dive. Also it was 10 pm already so it was time to head out home. I had a great time and i enjoyed every bit of beach diving, specially at night. 


For future dives, I need a bigger tank a HP 100 or 95 for sure so that i can fill that sucker with lots of air. :)

Dive Details:

Max Depth: 28 ft.

Time: 33 mins

Air Consumption: 1031 psi

Min/Max Temp: 15.6 – 17.6 Celcius

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