Sunday, February 7, 2010

The cold, hard embrace of crabs in love.

Saturday I returned to the cold, murky PNW waters via an easy mud-pit dive at Whalen Island. Despite a chill, despite rain, despite the substantial increase in complication of preparing for cold water diving (including gear rental), despite a lackluster dive location... it was awesome.

It is different from my week on Cozumel, of course. I'm glad I tried cold water first during the OW dive weekend, then went to warm water. To do otherwise would have been a much greater shock.

In day to day life, my preferred state is sans shoes, and clothes that are loose and flowing. Wrapping myself in ample amounts of latex and neoprene--tightly--from head to toe is a hell of a lot of unfamiliar (and unwanted) tactile stimulation. That coupled with reduced mobility and gloves on the fingers... The feeling is horrible disconnection. It annoys the hell out of me while we prep; but once in the water, it (mostly) fades away.

A nearby crabber and an ambulance crew who just so happened to be cruising through the park approached us as we geared up, both asking the same thing, rather incredulously: "What's there to see in there, anyway?"

Well... we saw a lot of things. Like crab. BIG crabs. Pissed off crabs trying to scare us. Crabs having sex. (Dana took that great photo.) Shrimp. Monkey-faced Prickleback. Beyond that: it's water. If you love diving, that'll make sense. If not, you'll wonder what all the fuss is about.

Only about 25 ft at its deepest, and visibility was good for the area. My buddy was having post-cold clearing issues. Despite dealing with a bad pain from a failed attempt to equalize, she offered to hang out at a shallow depth comfortable for her while I tootled around. This gave me free time to practice some skills. As my compass hadn't come in yet, I gave myself a pre-training skills test in keeping my bearings without visibility.

As expected, I failed miserably. Thinking the direction of the current would allow me to at least get some bearing, I'd go down to about 15 feet in an area with pretty much greened-out viz, roll, do a horizontal 360, move about a bit and then guestimate where I'd be facing when I came up... and I was wrong every damn time. (At least I had a solid hold on "sand is down there, air is up there"  So I hung out in the green void and tested my ability to judge whether I was sinking or not. Yeah, I failed that, too. (Add wrist computer to the growing Dive Toys Wish List because grabbing/holding the console got annoying.)

Practiced a lot of silly little things probably only important to someone pedantic like me. It made for a wonderful day. I got to know a great dive buddy and new friend, and proved to myself that it wasn't just some Tropical Delusion that I was madly and passionately in love with diving.

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