Thursday, February 16, 2006

Diving in Santa Catalina Island, California

We got to the island on Sunday night around 7pm and had the lovely Vicki, meet us with a huge smile and big hugs! We got there just in time for dinner and then bed time since we had 3 days of testing ahead of us! We had 20 regulators to test in 3 days and there were 8 of us testing and we were taking the island time boat to the dive site each day.

A bunch of us stayed at Hotel Mac Rae which was great because it was cheap, central and had free coffee and danishes/muffins every morning! It was a cute little hotel and was perfect for what we needed. Every morning, we reported at the dock at 9:20am where we met everyone else who was coming in from Long Beach. But every morning, the boat arrived promptly on time and we headed out to the dive site which was only a 5-10 min boat ride away. As we got on the boat, we immediately started suiting up getting ready to hit the 59 degree water! Yikes.. I had completely psyched myself up for this cold diving, but needless to say- It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be! I got cold on only a couple of dives but was able to manage writing on my slate and trying to figure out how much weight I needed, but still desperately need to get that down, along with my buoancy in these cold waters! In between dives, we would undress halfway and the sun definitely warmed us up... thank god for the beautiful weather.

Mary let me use her 7 mil (you saved my life Mary!), I bought a 2 mil skin suit and a new mask, I wore a hood- then of course booties and gloves-- definitely a lot of gear to say the least! It was well worth it once it was said and done because the diving was amazing! We dove in these beautiful kelp beds and saw a ton of girbaldi (of course!), a horn shark, an eel, lobsters, a ton of cool flounder, halibut, etc.. some other things I don't know the name-yet. The coolest was eating 2 scallops underwater!!! We found them and would sneak up to them and before they could close their shell, you would jam your knife in and be able to get the scallop out and eat it right there... just take your reg out of your mouth and quickly stuff it in your mouth. It was the coolest thing I've ever done in the water and the scallops were delicious!!!!!

This was also the trip that I used my new canon 20D underwater and just got the Ikelite system for the first time!!! I had a couple of minor malfunctions but once I was able to get topside, wash off my camera and take the battery out and pop it back in- it went back to normal (I know I need to find a better way to troubleshoot!). I was able to get some amazing shots under the water though so i was pleased (you know, 3 out of a hundred)! I shot fully automatic for all dives- trying to figure out my depth of field and just overall handling of the machine underwater. Its tough to see what mode you are in, so I was trying to just mess with all the buttons while I was down there. I definitely need more time to play underwater with my new camera and think I will book another dive vacation so I can continue to test and learn. My brother Roger, my boy, CP and his friend (my new friend) Ryan at Reef Photo and Video have helped me with every step of this research/purchasing process! Thanks guys and hope that I can get better and become CP one day!

It was great to see John Brumm and John Francis since there is no FinTest this year.. but after Day 1- John Brumm came down with something. I hope he is ok and plan on calling him when I get back to New Orleans. I was really bummed I couldn't spend more time with him. I hope to do the women's BC test in the summer for them now that I will be experienced a bit in diving in Catalina. It was really a good time and I hope to continue doing these tests for a long time! Johns, if you are reading this-- you can count on me anytime, anywhere!


Roger Jr said...

Thx for the shout-out Ate. "...washed off your camera"- water got in your housing! Yikes! It's hard enough learning to use your camera on land, I can't imagine starting off underwater ;) But I guess that's double the fun! Nonetheless, the pics look good!

Live scallops underwater? Sounds daring and adventurous but the thought makes my stomach turn... I'll stick to veggies.

Rachelle said...

wow! sounds like an awesome trip and great pics too!! makes me miss diving... but it's so wierd how things change as you get older and accumulate kids! guess i'm not as adventurous these days as i used to be...

yeah, i agree rog... live scallops underwater?? I thought I was the biggest sushi fan ever, but eating live scallops underwater sounds a little TOO raw for me!!

love ya!