10 March 2012

Olivia's Final Certification Dives

 Olivia was anxious about the boat dive, but relaxed once she got in the water.  She came down the line then dropped on the boat and took off exploring. 
We swam around the wreck several times, then entered the hold.  We had air, so I started through the skills and she did just fine.   
 Finally, at 1200 psi, we headed back to the line and she and I made an alternative air source ascent. 
 We made a 3 minute safety stop and I decided to go back down and do the buddy breathing ascent.  It all went well and she was all smiles on the surface.
 The second dive was a shallow drift dive on Barefoot Reet, which is North of the Hillsboro Inlet. 
 We saw several Harlequin Bass
 a Townsend Angelfish
 and a few Blue Hamlets.
 There were two Foureye Butterfly fish who followed us a ways. 
 I spotted a Bearded Fire Worm crawling up a Vase Sponge. 
 A small Atlantic Stingray gracefully swam by me as I hurried to catch up to the others. 
 We don't often see Spotted Trunkfish. 
 But we frequently find Pederson Shrimp amoung Corkscrew Anemone. 
Olivia was quite pleased to have gotten certified and we hope she comes back to dive some more. 

09 March 2012

Samira and Oliva Make their First Open Water Dive

We got to the beach at almost high tide, which meant we had to fin up to get across the trench to the sand bar.  Laila, Samira and I went first.  I pulled Samira and the flag.  
 We had some trouble, but we did get out.  I left Laila and Samira beyond the breakers while I went back to get Olivia. 
 I got to the beach and pulled off my fins, when a wave pushed me face first into the sand.  The next wave moved me further onto the beach.  I crawled out the rest of the way.  Olivia was laughing.   
We got into deeper water quickly.  She finned up and we swam out to Laila and Samira, then continued out to the reef.  We got ready to descend, but Samira was nausous.  It did not pass quickly, so she and Laila went back to the beach. 
 Olivia and I descended into 3 ft visibility and continued East onto the reef, where the visibility  opened up to about 8 ft.  I thought we might be South of the Big Coral Knoll, so we headed North, but never found the Knoll or any familiar landmarks. 
 We ascended to regroup, then redescended to make our way back to the beach.
We swam SW with the current and saw a number of fish. 
 A French Angelfish, which was one of three that swam by us. We also saw an Orange Spotted Filefish. 
We had to get close to the beach before we could touch bottom and take off our fins.  I balanced on one leg and dug a small foothold in the step, then waited for the right wave, but I could not get my legs under me and splattered on the beach.  My fins escaped and I had to slip back into deeper water to retrieve them. 
Olivia went to her knees, but was much more controlled.   She got out intact.  I put myself together and tried again with almost identical results. 
Third times the charm, so they say, but I managed only to hold my fins as I splatted on the beach and crawled on my belly out of the surf zone.  We got a group picture once I got myself together.

05 March 2012

Diving After the Cold Front

Overnight the wind picked up and the temperature dropped from 84 degrees to 56 degrees.  The surf did not look bad on the webcam, so I headed to the beach.  I descended over the sand, but the visibility was less than 3 feet.  I headed East but there was a moderate North current and I got set quite a ways.
 I ended up just West of the Swept Rock where I photographed a large Sand Diver, who let me get pretty close.  Then I swam to the Big Coral Knoll and found a Hawksbill on the North Slope.  I got a video of that turtle as we swam North together.
I returned to the Knoll and found another Hawksbill curled up under the Eastern Ledge.  It did not seem to want to move, so I got a quick picture and moved on.  Then I turned and saw it swimming away.
 I kicked over to the turtle and got some action shots, but I did not try the video.
 I went back to the Knoll and photographed a Juvenile Striped Parrotfish
 a Yellowtail Snapper and a Blue Tang.  I also found a Black Sea Bass who was really curious about me and followed me part of the way to the beach.

I was wearing the Lavacore plush skin and my vest and hood, and I was cold.  I could not stop shivering.  The air, though was much colder than the water, which was 65 degrees.  The wind made everything worse.
Of course, today the beach was tricky.  Tide was low and the water over the sand bar was very shallow.  The 6-ft rollers were breaking.  I walked, swam and got rolled over the sand bar to deeper water where I took off my fins and stood up.

I walked from the trench to the beach, but the beach exit was very steep.  I could not get up in one step and the sand was loose. 
 I tried getting out and went to my knees on the beach.  I backed out and tried a second time.  Again, I was on my knees, so I crawled out.  Very humiliating.  Glad the Lifeguard was not around.

04 March 2012

Casey Duncan make her first and second Open Water Dives

Casey Duncan is a new student whose boyfriend gave her the Open Water certification course as a birthday present.  We completed the Pool Sessions on Saturday afternoon and were ready for the open water dives on Sunday morning.

Unfortunately, the Intova point 'n shoot that I usually have with me flooded during the pool session Saturday afternoon.  I think it will be fine, but it was not working this morning.  

I was very concerned about the weather.  The NOAA forecast called for 22 knot winds and 65 degree temperatures by noon.  We got in the water and made the surface swim out to the Eastern edge of the reef, where we found 33 feet of water for the ascents.  Casey had some trouble equalizing, but did okay.  She accomplished the ascents and we swam back along the reef.  She ran low on air, so she got to use my octopus while we swam back to the beach.
I wanted to spend time going over the decompression table problems, but the wind had picked up and there were clouds from the West, so we got back in the water to make her second dive.

On this dive, we descended at the swim buoy and she performed the various skills on the sand.  Once those were done, we headed off to the East.  I was hoping to find the Fish Camp Rocks or the Big Coral Knoll, but with the current, we managed to miss both.

 We ended up at the Eastern edge of the reef, again.  Apparently Guy and Casey spotted a turtle, but neither Luis nor I saw it.  I had added 4 pounds to Casey's weight, but she seemed to still be light with 20 pounds of lead.  Something else is going on there. She ran low on air again and shared with Luis on the way back to the beach.

When we got out around 11:00 am, and the surface weather had deteriorated considerably.   I had hoped to make a 3rd dive, but not in these conditions.