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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Jan 14 2010

Auto Scrolling in Flex 4

Published by under Flex

In Flex 4 they have changed the scrollbar, it doesn’t have the scrollPosition property which can be used to set its position.

We have to access the verticalScrollposition through the viewport property of the scrollbar. Since this interface IViewport is implemented by groupbase, we can use any group to scroll which is pretty neat.

Here is the example and the code can be accessed by the viewsource url. Clicking on the start button will set the scroll in action.

I have used the scroller component but the same code will work with the VScrollbar, you just have to set the VGroup as its viewport and specify the dimensions of the viewport. I will post the code in a new blog post.

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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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Oct 21 2009

Using PHP Data Services in Flex 4 with Shopping Cart

Published by under Flex,Work Examples

I was at Adobe Max this year and Using PHP Data services with Flex was one of the sessions i attended. It was a very informative one and showed how one needs to do very little work to use remoting with PHP.

Flex 4 has some powerful wizards to use data services and it makes it lot easier to get data into Flash. The value objects are created for you and all the heavy lifting is done by Flex.

It uses Zend Framework for remoting but the best part is you don’t have to write any php code, only some MySQL queries to get the required data.

This is not a tutorial but a working example of how i was able to connect a Zen Cart database with my Flex Application and it took me less than a day to get this working, the main part was spent of learning the zen cart db structure and then writing the MySQL query to get the products list. I am sure any shopping cart can be easily connected.

To have little more fun with it, i also threw in the layout managers which come with Flex 4 and demonstrated how easy it is to change the look and feel of your application. I am not a designer but using Flash Catalyst one can easily make this application very visually appealing too. This is the Flex application which pulls in the products from the zen cart. This is the HTML default version which comes with the Zen Cart. admin/admin if you want to change the products and then see them update in the Flex application.

This was very easy to accomplish, i am not going to share the code sorry. The Flex 4 data services makes it so easy todevelop a CRUD system.

Edit: I have rebuilt my server so the html version of zen cart doesn’t work need to update it. But the flex works.

5 responses so far

Oct 20 2009

Groups and Layouts in Flex 4

Published by under Flex

When i first started playing in Flex 4, i wasn’t sure what groups was all about but then after a closer look i realized that its a very neat concept and the layouts go with it.

Using any provided layout or writing your own custom layout classes the elements in the group can be easily arranged on stage in any pattern that you wish. Take a look at the following example to see what i mean.

Select the choose layout button to swap between the horizontal and vertical layouts. You will need Flash player 10 to view this.

You can view the source by right clicking into the application.

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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

Jul 09 2009

Posting to Twitter from Flash using Tiny Url

Published by under AS 3.0,Flash

I had to find a way to post a link to twitter directly from Flash. Twitter has its own API but then they expect us to collect username and password.
If you don’t want to collect usernames and passwords on your site and still manage to post stuff to twitter directly there is a way to do. Since I wanted a tiny url link included as well so had to integrate Tiny Url along with twitter.
It turned out to be really easy and here is how,



function postToTwitter(event:MouseEvent):void{
tinyLoader.load(new URLRequest('' ));

var tinyLoader:URLLoader = new URLLoader();
tinyLoader.dataFormat = URLLoaderDataFormat.TEXT;


function gotTinyURL(event:Event):void{
var reqString:String =  ' this out ' +  encodeURIComponent(;
navigateToURL(new URLRequest(reqString),"_blank");

The first thing is to get a tinyurl link and they have a api for it, the best thing is they also have a crossdomain.xml so we don’t have to worry about getting the response back within Flash.
Since it returns just the url, I have set the dataFormat for my URLLoader to be text so that it gets stored in the data property and i can use it directly.
Now when we get our tinyurl back its time to post it to twitter. Twitter API doesn’t mention this one possibility where you can submit any message as a post var and the main page captures it, if you are already logged in then it will populate the share screen.
Its a neat little way, if you don’t want to deal with usernames and passwords on your website.

The swf file is embedded above, if you click this button then we call tinyurl, get the link and then open a new window for twitter. If no window opens, it might be because of popup blocker. To avoid popups from Flash i have written another post, Avoiding Popup Blockers

Download the fla file here.

12 responses so far

Jun 30 2009

Controlling Timeline Sounds in AS 3.0

Published by under AS 3.0,Flash

I came across this very useful feature of AS 3.0, previously to control timeline sounds you had to do a lot of crazy things. Yes it was possible using AS 2.0 as well but not as straightforward.

If you have a document class for your main movie, this piece of code is all you need.

var effectSounds:SoundTransform = new SoundTransform();
effectSounds.volume = 0.3;
this.soundTransform = effectSounds;

Yep only 3 lines of code and it controls sound for every swf loaded and if you want to increase the sound in certain Movieclip you can just add another sound transform to it and control the audio.

No responses yet

Jun 15 2009

Zion and Bryce Canyon Weekend

Published by under General,Hiking

I had this trip in mind for a long time now and it was finally time to execute it. I tried to find as many people who would be interested in this 3 day road trip, camping fun but finally Bhanik, Shraddha and Nishant agreed to join me.


The plan was to drive to Las Vegas on Thursday, 4th June evening, spend the night in vegas and then head out to zion early Friday morning so that we could spend two days there and then head out to Bryce or do whatever on Sunday.



I got stuck at work and so did Bhanik. Myself, Shraddha and Nishant left from my place at about 7.30 or so and met up Bhanik at park and ride in Hesperia around 10ish and by the time we got to Vegas it was almost 1am. Ofcourse you don’t sleep that early in vegas :), me and bhanik gambled little bit and then after losing few bucks we both retired to the room at 2.30.


We wanted to leave as early as we could so but then by the time we woke up and got ready to leave it was around 8.30 and we reached the beautiful canyon of Zion around 11 and by the time we got settled in it was noon. I had booked Watchman campground for two nights but since i was late in doing so we didn’t get the same campsite for both nights. First was a RV site and the second one was a tent only site.


First View of Zion


The weather was pleasant, it was overcast and just perfect for hiking. We pitched our tents in the wind and then after having lunch decided to do the Narrows Hike. We weren’t planning to hike the entire way, just go into the narrows as far as we could till 4 pm and then head back.


I really like the policy of not allowing any private vehicles along the scenic highway in Zion, you have to take the park shuttles and they run every 6-8 mins. It is a very convenient and environment friendly way of going around in the park. We were going to get down at the last stop of Temple of Sinawava, do the riverside walk hike which leads to the narrows.


Our plan wasn’t to head into the narrows all the way, we had a time restriction in place and were going to adhere to that but things turned out to be different. We started hiking the riverside walk and it was nice walking along the properly maintained trail, the canyon was really beautiful too.


Riverside Walk Views


The water in virgin river was cold, not as quite as the waters in am used to diving in but still it wasn’t exactly tropical. There were lot of folks who were returning almost completely drenched and i did not want to be one of them.


Walking in the Virgin River, Narrows Hike


We walked along the narrows for about half an hr or so and the views were nice but nothing too breathtaking that i expected. At the point where the river was waist deep we decided to head back, I already knew that narrows would require a special trip to zion and i want to do it as a backpacking trip to enjoy its beauty so i wasn’t keen at getting wet at all. Shraddha and Nishant also didn’t want to get that wet, Bhanik wanted to continue but then he decided not to. So we turned back at this point.


We were back at the Temple of Sinawava at about 3 – 3.30 and we had plenty of time on our hands so we decided to get down on every stop on the way back and enjoy zion, take pics and stuff.


The Weeping Rock:

This is a short hike with little steepness and gives you nice views of the canyon. Weeping rock gets its name from the water which continuously flows, its not a waterfall just a small continuous droplets. Also this has hanging gardens, because of the continuous water flow and moisture trapped in the rock, it provides a perfect environment for the plants to grow. Its pretty cool.


Weeping Rock


At this point the weather was improving and the sun was coming out too. It got really nice, our next stop was the trailhead to the emerald pool hikes.


Emerald Pool Loop :


This is again a well maintained trail and some people just head out to the lower emerald pool and turn but we decided to do the entire loop and see the middle and upper pools as well.


The trail to lower emerald pool is a slow gradual ascent along a very well maintained path and we didn’t have any problems whatsoever. This pool was little disappointing because there wasn’t much water in there and it gets its name from the color of water which we didn’t get to see.


Lower Emerald Pool.


We decided to continue further to the middle and upper pools and along the path we were warned about a snake. I was excited when i got a look at it, I thought it was a rattle snake and was a baby probably few months old. It was just chilling out there and wasn’t on the trail so it was nice.


I took some pics of it and left it alone, i was excited that it could have been my first rattlesnake sighting but then at the same time its tail was hidden and there wasn’t any rattle visible which was little disappointing.




We reached the middle pool and there was barely any water left in there and so we continued onto the upper pool, this was the first time we weren’t walking on a cemented trail and it felt like we were doing some real hiking :). It was little exhausting to get to the upper pool but it was totally worth it.


The upper pool was by far the best of three and i would definitely recommend doing it. The views from the pool were really nice and the high walls of the canyon so intimidating, yet very inviting for rock climbing :). We spent about 15 mins at the pool and then headed back.


Nice Clear Sky on way back.


The sky had cleared up at this point and it was nice and sunny providing us with some really good views of the canyon. We then took the shuttle and got down at the Court of Patriarchs to take pictures of the three peaks, i forgot the names. But the sun was also up out there and blinded by the sun we could hardly see them. Waiting for the sun to go down would mean spending more than half hour at the view point and we were not in a mood to do that.


That was our last stop in the canyon and we wanted to get back to our campsite and start drinking 😀  but before that we had to get booze first which was an adventure in itself. We stopped at the visitor information center to see what else we could do and find out more about our plan to head out to Vermillion Cliffs.


It wasn’t a good idea for us to spend Sunday driving around and trying to cover as much as we could but so we decided to take it easy and visit few places at our mellow pace and not try to rush into things. So we dropped the vermillion cliffs idea and we were going to do angels landing hike first thing in the morning and then depending on the time left we would go to the tunnel and then probably visit the Pink Corral Sand Dunes park.


We headed out to town to find booze and firewood for the night. Firewood was easy to get but the store only had beer and no hard liquor. We asked around and then someone mentioned that Utah was a dry state and only few shops sold hard liquor. Panic button was pressed and we started searching frantically on iPhone n stuff to find info. We were told to try our luck at the other store and as we got there lady luck smiled. It was a gold mine and it took us good 10 mins to decide what to buy.


So with a bottle of Orange Rum, Coke and Firewood finally it was time to head back to the campsite, make dinner, light fire and drink some booze :). I had bought the dinner entree from REI and we were going to make Lasagna for dinner. It said for 4 but then it didn’t seem enough for all of us but then we complimented it with muffins.


We got the fire going, somewhat and then spend the rest of night drinking. It wasn’t a night of partying just couple of drinks since we had decided to wake up early in the morning for the hike. We called it a night at around 10.30 or so, moon had risen by this time and since it was full moon the entire canyon was lit up by it.


I wanted to go for a night hike but i wasn’t sure if it was allowed, so i just went for a small stroll around the campground and enjoyed the moonlight. It was really awesome, too bad i was alone for that stroll 😉


Day 2 Angels Landing:

This is a must do hike if you are visiting Zion and it doesn’t disappoint. It comes with a thrill of going along a ridge with few hundred feet drop offs on either side and where a lot of people hang onto the chains for their dear life.


We woke up at 7 am and our plan was to get on the trail by 9 atleast so that we can finish the hike in decent amount of time and have time to do other stuff as well. Had our breakfast and then we were at the trail by 9.30ish which was an acceptable time as per the schedule we had set ourselves. We also had to move the campsite, I checked with the ranger and the campsite that we were going to move to was vacated so we decided to check in and move before we headed over for the hike. We carried over our tents to the new site since it wasn’t that far at all, it was easy to do so without packing them up.


It is a 5 mile round trip with 1488′ of elevation gain so its a steep one but it happens in stages so its not that bad at all. The first part of hike is a gradual climb and then a series of switchbacks takes you into the canyon where the trail is flat for a section. Then again you gain a lot of elevation till you hit the saddle where the best part of hike begins. You have to walk the last half mile along this narrow ridge where they have placed steel chains.


This is where we were headed.


Slowly but surely we made up good ground and we got to the saddle within an hour or so, we took breaks along the way, taking pictures and all the good stuff. The sun was out, it was nice and warm and the views started to get better. The best part of this trail so far was the series of switchbacks you had to take to get to the saddle.


The Switchbacks during the hike.


Now it was time to do the last 0.5 miles along the ridge. We had to wait for people to descent and so it was slow going. Not to mention we had to be careful not to slip and fall into the valley on either side. At some places the trail was only few feet wide but it was on stable rock and there wasn’t any danger of slipping as such. The steel chains definitely helped. It wasn’t as bad as walking on a rope but it wasn’t exactly highway either, we had to be careful of every step and take it slow and easy.


The trail along the ridge.


We reached the top after almost an hour since we left the saddle and the views were totally worth the effort. Had some sandwiches at the top and we started descending after half an hour. Chipmunks at the top were all over the place and very courageous, i am sure they would eat out of your hand but then its not advisable to do so and i wouldn’t try it for sure.


Views from top.


On our way down the wind was picking up and the sun was starting to disappear behind the clouds as well. We didn’t take too many breaks on the way down, it was downhill anyway for the most part. We completed the hike in about 5 hours including all the breaks we took. It gave us time to drive to the tunnel and east side entrance of the park and then to the Pink Corral sand dunes park.



We got back to the visitor center and asked about the chances of rain since it seemed that it could rain anytime. I was told that the chance was 20% so i wasn’t sure if i should put on the rainfly on or not. I decided to be better safe than sorry so i put on the rainfly and as soon as we finished lunch, it started raining.


It seemed like a passing shower but i was glad that i put the rainfly on, we also took stuff out of Shradhha and Nishant’s tent because it didn’t seem that it would be able to keep the water out. We started driving towards the famous Zion tunnel and stopped on the way to take some pics.


We were going to the Pink corral sand dunes park and decided to take the scenic route to get there. Its a very nice drive and the weather was awesome too. It was overcast with slight drizzle, the wind made it colder but the scenes were really beautiful.


Pink Corral Sand Dunes park as the name suggests is a park of sand dunes but the color of the sand was more orangish to me. It was a nice change in the scenery and to see sand dunes in middle of no where was something unique. We played around for sometime in the sand and thought about riding ATV’s out there but then it was overcast and drizzling so none of us were in a mood to do so.


Pink Dunes.


We headed back to the campsite and stopped along the scenic points. This time around dinner was early since we had to pack up and leave for Bryce as early as we could. The rice pilaf was yummy and so was the cheesecake. I didn’t listen to bhanik about the quantity of water to be added to the blueberry sauce and messed it up but it was all good.


We made sure that the bottle of rum was finished, properly recycled too, and so was coke, it was kept cool thanks to the neighboring camper whose cooler we used. It was time to call it a night and when i went to the restrooms, caught sight of deer in the campground which was surprising. No midnight strolls for me tonite, no i wasn’t feeling lonely ;), but had to wake up at 6 to pack up the campsite and then drive out to Bryce Canyon.


It rained intermittently at night but it wasn’t that bad just a few showers. I was glad because if water got into the tents then it wouldn’t be fun at all.


Bryce Canyon:

We woke up at 6 and after having breakfast were ready to head out to Bryce by 8.30ish, It was going to be about 2 hrs of drive to there and it turned out to be a beautiful one too.


We passed through the Red Canyon Park and while getting more information at the visitor center it was clear that this whole area demands a minimum of week long road trip. Sometime in future i had to be back on this beautiful road for sure.

Red Canyon 


Bryce Canyon has shuttles but its not as extensive as Zion and you can drive into the park to see all the viewing points. We decided to go to the farthest one and then stop on our way back at every point. Got little annoyed by the slow car in front of us but we made it fine.


Rainbow Point, Natural Bridge and all those view points gave us a glimpse of the beautiful Bryce Canyon but it wasn’t until we visited the Inspiration point we saw where the true beauty of Bryce lies. The formation of the rocks and colors is simply awesome, words cannot describe it you have to see it for yourself.

One of the lookout points.


Bryce Canyon, its awesome.


I wanted to do some hiking here as well and see those amazing formations close up but we didn’t have too much time on our hands. I could see trails all over but most of them were long ones so it would require another visit to do some hiking in Bryce.


Amazing formations.


We then headed off to the final viewing point on our list and i wanted to just descend on the trail for a few mins so that i could see the rock formations at eye level but then this Navajo Loop was only 1.2 miles so i convinced the gang to do the entire hike. It was weird because it was a impromptu hike we didn’t have water or anything on us, just cameras and we set of.


Hiking into Canyon.

Towering Cliffs.


It was really awesome to do that hike and it gave us really nice views of the canyon from below as well as at the eye level. Our appetite was going to be increased by the hike for sure, we completed the hike in about 45 mins or so, it was little steep on the way out because we descended into the canyon so had to ascend as well :).


For Lunch pizza at one of the local places, Ruby’s Inn was good. It was interesting to see the signs written in one oriental language and two european languages at this restaurant. Finally at around 2 it was time to make the long drive back to LA from what had been an awesome trip.


We drove through the beautiful Dixie National Forest which meets the 15 and it was lovely. Navajo Lake had this natural bridge across it which looked only few feet under water and it seemed as if you could walk across it. We also stopped to see the logs being carried by helicopter from one location to another and then at the Zion lookout point where we bid one last adieu to Zion for the time being.


Navajo Lake


Nice views all along.


Final View of Zion.


The drive back to LA wasn’t boring as i was trying to have fun with other drivers, didn’t let one good looking chick pass me and then there was this couple making out in the car behind us. The gal was constantly hugging the guy and i brought this to everyone’s attention. I think they saw us looking at them and then they started making out on purpose, it was weird.


Reached LA at about 10ish finally, 1200 miles on the road was a very fun experience complete with some of the best scenic views you would come across.



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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.

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