After years of talking about doing it, my friend, Mike, and I finally managed to take a dip into the waters of Monterey Bay. This was a first for both of us. It’s been a few years since I had scuba dived, and for me this was my first shore entry. This was also the first time I had to use a full body wetsuit. Mike, on the other hand, is a pretty experienced diver and worked with the coast guard. You can’t ask for a better dive partner than that! The day was perfect. Monterey Bay was calm, the water was glassy, and the fog had lifted by the time we rented our gear and hit the beach. Sounds like it would be a great day for a dive, but that’s where the day started going horribly wrong.
I have to admit, that I’ve been spoiled with my experiences with boat dives in the tropics, and I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of effort involved with carrying weights, tanks, and all of the apparatus a few hundred yards from the truck to the beach. By the time we were suited up and in the water, I was pretty exhausted. My inexperience with cold water also took it’s toll, and the shock of the water temperature (50°F/10°c) took it’s toll and my respiration shot up. We managed to work our way out to the kelp beds, and prepared to descend. Loaded down with 30+ lbs of weight, a massive tank and a fullbody wetsuit, should have made sinking pretty easy, but both of us would attempt to go down, and would simply float back up. As I later discovered, there’s a strata of high salinity on the top of bay waters. Eventually we managed to get the hang of descending with a kick start. Actually, i was suprised that the water temperature was quite comfortable, and not as cold as I had imagined.
Mike and I made it down to the _Dangerous_ depths of about 20 feet (woo!) and started to see the sandy shelf covered with star fish and various creatures that zipped around between little holes like mini Dune-ish worms. The new problem was the limited visibility. We could only see about a meter, and we had to stay in arms reach which made it difficult to maneuver about and explore. Even Mike with his experience wasn’t too comfortable diving blind, and there’s no fun in not being able to see anything interesting if you dive. I came across a cute little jelly fish on my ascent, but other than that, I didn’t see much.
By the time we got back to shore, I was spent. We had to fight a bit of an undertow to get back on the beach, and in the process I lost my mask. That ended the day. Despite having only gone through 70% of one tank, we were out in the bay for a few hours, and it seemed worth the effort, but there was no way I could do a second dive.
At least I can say that i’ve done it now. I’m not against trying it again, but next time I think I will opt for a boat dive with an experienced crew who know where to go see interesting things - with better visibility.