Diver Below

Friday morning Dad, Tyler, and I were up before the sun so we could get to the beach before the boatloads of tourists filled the ocean. I nursed Carson and pumped more milk so Mom would have some handy. By six am, we were downstairs unloading SCUBA gear from the cars. Each of us had a gear bag and a tank to carry nearly half a mile to the water. I threw my tank on my shoulder and started walking. By the time I reached the sand, I was sweating, and as I crested the first dune, my muscles were burning, but I just dug in deeper and kept walking. Only a few hundred more feet to go. We finally reached the shoreline, and Tara spread out a couple of beach towels so we could lay out our gear. I dropped my gear and somehow managed to get the tank off my shoulder without dropping it.

Between Dad and myself, we got Tyler’s gear together for him, and made sure he was comfortable before we headed into the water. We gave him a quick lesson on mask clearing, and I made sure he could clear his regulator underwater. Finally it was time to descend. We dumped the air from our BCD’s (buoyancy compensating devices) and dropped below the surface. Ah, peace at last. We turned to face each other to give the OK signal, and Dad checked his compass for an azimuth. I double-checked it on my compass as we headed towards the channel. Almost immediately the current picked up and started pulling us towards the harbor. I dumped more air in order to better fight it, but as we swam into deeper water, I noticed we weren’t making much progress against the current. At one point we stopped to check gauges, and I had to grab hold of Dad and Tyler to avoid getting swept away. And as we prepared to kick off, I noticed we weren’t moving forward at all, despite kicking furiously against the current. I dropped every last bit of air from my BCD, hoping I’d sink to the bottom and slow down, but I wasn’t carrying enough weight, and I fought the current the entire dive. It was the first time I couldn’t wait for a dive to be over. Finally, after the longest 25 minutes, we rose to the surface. I said, “well, that was the worst dive I’ve ever been on.” Dad agreed with me. We swam back towards Tara on the beach, and Dad and Tyler were prepared to head in. I started swimming toward the rocks. I told them, “I carried this gear down here, and I’m not getting out of the water until I’ve seen something interesting!” At first they were reluctant to follow me–after all, it was a few hundred yards’ swim to the rocks, and the current was still pretty stout. But, Dad wasn’t about to let me dive alone, and I was persistent. Since the current was now heading out to sea, there wasn’t much swimming involved–we mostly floated on our backs towards the rocks. Once again we descended under the surface, but this time, we began to see schools of fish right off the bat. By holding onto the rocks, I was able to avoid being swept out to sea. Unfortunately, the barnacles on the rocks were cutting my fingertips. But, they weren’t bleeding, and there was enough to look at to keep my mind off them. While it was nowhere near the spectacle Dad and I were used to seeing in the Bahamas or off the Keys, it was fun pointing out the various sea creatures to Tyler. We saw several large crabs, a few different species of reef fish, and tons of hermit crabs. We stayed on top of the rocks to avoid going out into the boat traffic, but when Dad and I saw a propeller pass over the top of us, it was enough to scare us even closer towards the shoreline. As we swam into shallower water, I could no longer fight the buoyancy. I tried hanging on to Dad, but it wasn’t doing any good. I checked my depth gauge. We were in six feet of water. I gave the ascent sign to Dad and let myself float the last few feet to the surface. We made the long swim back to Tara, fighting the current this time as it headed the opposite direction. I brought up the boat that had driven right over our heads; Dad and I figured we’d gone out a little further than we had intended. But, Tara told us that boat had been coming way too close to the shoreline the whole time we were diving, and the driver was blaring such loud music she couldn’t warn him there were divers below. Even the various dive flags out hadn’t dissuaded him. Idiot.

After that dive, Tyler announced he was hooked. Dad and I had a new SCUBA partner. We told him he hadn’t seen anything yet. That was nothing compared to reef dives. I guess we’ll be headed to the Keys next summer…


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