Saturday, March 27, 2010

Diving in Monterey

We've unfortunately had very little time for scuba diving since we've been in California. Chris was working 18 hour days for the first couple of months we were here. Plus we have opposite days off here. I'm off work on Wednesdays and Thursdays and Chris has the traditional weekend off. When we could manage to both get off work a little early we frequently could not dive because of high waves. Ten foot waves are not uncommon around here.
We did manage to dive a few times since we've been here and last night we had a great dive! The water is incredibly cold here so we are using drysuits instead of wetsuits. With a drysuit you wear thick, warm undergarments for diving. Adding more layers of undergarments plus the high salinity of the water here means carrying a lot more lead weight than we are used to. Another thing we've found around here is that easy water access is not easy to find; California divers are used to hiking a long ways in scuba gear and then swimming out from shore to find deep water.
We got into the water last night at 6 pm, just as the sun was starting to sink. We saw the usual in California - starfish in purple, yellow, and orange. Anenomes in white and purple. Sand dollars and snails littered the sand. The rocks of the jetty are covered in growth in purple, blue, orange, yellow, and pink. California has these huge starfish called sunstars - they come out at night and they are the size of an auto tire! We saw some new types of anenomes we hadn't seen before, and several fish were out. There were lots of very small halibut which are a weird flat fish. Apparently it was Sea Cucumbers Day Out; these looked like a spike-covered slug that's a foot or two long. They were everywhere! We turned at half our air supply and started heading back in along the wall. We were in about 30 feet of water when a group of harbor seals came up to play with us! There were 5 of them, we think. They move so fast! One looked straight at Chris, exhaling through his regulator, and it playfully blew bubbles at him in imitation. They played with us for about 15 minutes, disappearing and zooming back up. I'm so glad that we got to dive with seals!
On our way out of the water the surf was coming up. We made a mistake of walking in too near to the jetty. The water hits the wall here and circles back out, creating a washing machine between incoming and outgoing waves. We were both exhausted from our long dive and a long swim back to shore. Unfortunately the ocean was not done with us. Once we got into shallow water we kept trying to stand up but the sand was sucking out from under our feet and the waves would knock you right over! We had much more weight on than we are used to carrying and it was just about impossible to stand up! Chris finally got on his feet around the third try but I just had to give up and crawl out of the water. Of course there was a huge group of incoming divers and spectators on the stairs watching us struggle. I swear there must have been 40 people watching us get our asses kicked by the surf! Ha-ha-ha, we learned a good lesson about diving in the surf and we had a great time!

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