Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lessons Learned From A San Diego Boat Dive

Yesterday, the lads and I went out on the Waterhorse to dive the Point Loma kelp beds. We'd never done a boat dive here in San Diego. In the past, we'd started from La Jolla Cove and had to swim more than half a mile to get out to the kelp. Yours truly is getting a bit old for that sort of thing and while the kelp was interesting, there was always a warranted bit of fear about the swim back in full gear. We figured that hopping off a boat and exploring the kelp from there would be a lot less work and a lot more fun.

Boy, were we wrong. It could be fun in the future, but this trip was more of a painful education. Here's what we learned.
  1. Rent your gear from the charter boat store if they offer it. We rented from our favorite dive shop. When we picked up the gear, we didn't check it. One of the boys was given a wetsuit a size too small and they forgot to pack a hood for him. He's pretty ripped, so he looked like Batman in his medium wetsuit once he struggled into it. Without the hood, he couldn't stay in the cold water more than 5 minutes. He had to bail out almost immediately.
  2. If you're prone to get cold, use a wetsuit undershirt. We didn't even know these existed until we saw one of the more experienced divers on the boat with one. Our other son has almost no body fat at all. While he had a full wetsuit and hood, he was freezing to death below 25'. There is a warm layer near the surface, but it gets really cold deeper than that. We were in 60-90' of water and he was not able to go anywhere near that deep. With a 5 mil wetsuit undershirt beneath his 7 mil wetsuit, he probably would have been fine.
  3. If you're going to buy gear, buy the wetsuit first. If you do that, you'll always have one that fits and doesn't have severe wear and tear. Our rented wetsuits were in pretty bad shape.
  4. Bring your own mask-clearing liquid. This boat didn't have a bucket of soapy water for your mask to keep it from fogging up. Masks can fog up quickly in cold water.
  5. Don't go on an afternoon boat. The winds here in San Diego pick up in the afternoon as the desert to the east heats up and draws air. Winds mean waves which means difficulty getting on and off the boat and seasickness. We didn't get sick, but one of the women on the boat was leaning over the side, calling out for those two Irishmen, O'Rourke and McDougal soon after the first dive.
  6. Getting ready on shore is a lot easier than getting ready on a boat. A boat is crowded and pitching. If you're still a newbie like we are (we've only done about 20 dives each), it really helps to have space and time to make sure your gear is all properly set up. I improperly threaded the straps holding my tank on and had to have it rethreaded by the captain right at the back of the boat as I was about to jump in the water.
Thankfully, the winds really picked up after the first dive and the captain scrubbed the rest of the trip, skipping the two additional dives that were planned. One dive was enough for us yesterday.

I was able to get one decent video while I was down. Enjoy.

No comments: