Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Great Day Out With My Family

We decided to take the whole family scuba diving yesterday. That's five divers; Steve (my husband), Adam (my son 17), Taylor (Steve's son 15), and Danielle (my daughter 15). We own almost enough gear for all five of us to dive; five tanks, four dry suits, three undergarments, four regulators, mask, snorkel, & fins for all of us, almost enough lights so that we all have a primary and a back-up light, almost enough weight for all of us to dive in our wonderful cold Puget Sound water, gloves, hoods, clips, computers, whistles, knives, and a few scissors. We packed the truck early Saturday morning, and jumped in the car to catch the matinee Iron Man 2 in Olympia. On the way home we stopped at Cabella's to pick up four fishing licenses (it's almost Ling spearfishing time), then over to Taco Del Mar for a quick bite to eat, back to the house to pick up the truck.

Still short on gear, we headed up to TL Sea Diving to grab two undergarments, one dry suit, one regulator, and top off a couple of tanks. The day was sunny and warm when we arrived at our favorite local dive site; Redondo Beach, WA. We unloaded all of the gear and started setting up. First problem, Taylor’s outgrown his BCD and there’s no way to make it fit him. I’m smaller than him so we trade BCD’s. Second problem, “mom, my tank only has 1800 psi.” Third problem, “where are my boots?” Already in my thermal protection, I jumped into the car and buzzed up to the dive center and returned in record time; all problems fixed.

PADI Underwater Scooter Specialty Course
PADI Underwater Scooter Specialty Course
Danielle and I were diving the first dive of the PADI DPV Diver specialty. She’s been waiting for a long time to take this class and she’s very excited. She and I entered the water first and entry was smooth. We made our way on the surface to the drop point and descended down the line to approximately 20 feet…pitch black and murky. The plankton bloom is in full swing and we can see each other as long as we are no further apart than six inches.

The dive was fantastic as far as skills and communication go. Using only my compass and site familiarity, we worked our way over to the PVC diamonds, some 400 yards from our entry point, and with some serious luck we found them. Danielle was stuck to me like Velcro on neoprene, and we scootered through the diamonds both demonstrating and performing the DPV skills. I held onto my DPV while we did the tandem skills in fear of losing it because of the bad viz. Finding the final diamond, we took a compass heading for the Geo-dome. Inside the dome we fine tuned some of the DPV skills. The visibility cleared a bit in the dome, but it was pitch black and our lights seemed almost useless.

Nothing to see and all skills completed, we took a compass heading for our exit point and zoomed back into the murky no-viz water, stopping only once to complete our three minute safety stop. Not a great dive, not even a good dive, just one of those dives where the best comment was “we made it out, never got lost, and stayed together.” Danielle and I climbed the stairs and started disassembling our gear.

Less than five minutes later the boys popped up and we rushed out to meet them to help them carry their gear in. Their dive was similar to ours….

The purpose of their dive was to give Adam and Taylor some experience setting up, diving with, firing, reloading, and maintaining their spearguns in preparation for their UW Hunter Specialty. They got into the water just minutes after we did, swam over to the descent line, and dropped into the murky water below. Steve found the large rope marking the path to the carousel, and moving at a snails pace, worked his way deeper hoping for better viz. Having moved only a few feet, Steve turned back to check on the boys…he found one, where’s the other? He moved his light within an inch of Adam’s face and scanned. Just as he figured out it’s Adam, Taylor’s light came into view. They continue this slow pace until they were 70 ft deep…and the viz was still awful. They stopped and settled into position to fire their guns.

During the descent, Adam determined that his dry suit and semi-dry glove configuration wasn’t working. He was slowly adding cold water to his suit through his right hand glove. He really wanted to try out the speargun, so he ignored the cold water entering his suit and pressed on.

Taylor, not having a lanyard to attach his speargun to this BCD, was extremely nervous that he was going to drop the gun and lose it in the murky landscape. Instead of moving into a diving position, he dove in a vertical position during the entire descent. He laughed to himself that if someone saw him they would think they were seeing Neptune himself with his speargun in one hand and his light in his other hand.

Not wanting to actually hit any fish, Steve searched an area with his light to be sure it was void of all life, and then he gave Adam the OK to fire his gun. After firing, retrieving his spear, and reloading his gun, Steve gave Taylor the OK to fire his gun. Taylor fired, retrieved, and reloaded his gun, and they all made their way back to their exit point.

With all the gear loaded into the truck and car, we discussed options for dinner and returned home to clean our gear and settle in for the night. The best part of the day started once everyone had finished devouring their dinner. One at a time we each took turns recounting the dive from our own point of view, everyone laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Turns out even a not-so-good dive can turn into a great dive when shared with family.