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Confessions of a Quarryholic
Airworks - 9/02/2022 9:24 AM
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Category: Personal
Comments: 0
I am crazy hooked on scuba diving…in a local quarry lake.

Say again?!? What sane person could ever be excited about diving in cold, green, dirty, and “boring” freshwater?

With all of my wits intact, I reiterate that I am enthralled by my diving experiences at a local freshwater quarry lake.

I live in Fredericksburg, Va., and have regularly, almost weekly since 2018, been involved in self-reliant/solo scuba diving there. The quarry is privately-owned but managed by the VOC (Virginia Outdoor Center), and is only open to local dive instructors and their students, and used by first responders for training.

Visibility isn’t great; in fact, it tends to be pretty bad most of the time. Occasionally however, it can be as clear as a Florida spring. And speaking of the sunshine state, three of our grown children live in the Jupiter, West Palm Beach, and Loxahatchee areas, so I take the opportunity of chartering dives during our visits there.

For some underwater visuals of the quarry, check out my Youtube channel, Al’s Backyard Scuba.

The quarry managers have designated me its “keeper,” allowing me to dive in exchange for maintaining the premises. They are also aware of my vision to transform the quarry into a unique dive destination.

More of that in another article.

I’m a water guy by nature; always have been. Love being close to large bodies of H2O. There’s something very tranquilizing and mesmerizing about them.

The Fredericksburg Quarry has that affect on me. I am so grateful to The Creator for making and sustaining me, the water and all the creatures it contains, and very thankful to the owner and managers for giving me the great privilege of diving there for almost 5 years now.

What a blessing!!

We’re well into 2022, but the thrill of diving there hasn’t diminished one iota. There is joy every time I get in the water. It’s like having my own personal Shangri-La and training facility!

The weightlessness…the sense of flying and effortlessly gliding with each fin stroke…the slow water seepage into my semi-dry suit as I become “one” with my surroundings…the accompaniment of fish welcoming me each time…hearing the sound of my own bubbles as I mossy along ever mindful of God’s presence with me…ALL of it is a surreal, contemplative and worshipful experience.

I also take the opportunity of doing productive things while there like extracting dilapidated man-made objects, sawing an overabundance of fallen and submerged trees into manageable pieces for later removal, mowing the lawn, and landscaping.

Solo diving has sharpened my environmental and situational awareness to a higher degree and afforded plenty of opportunities to experience and manage panic.

For example, I have…

- had drastic and sudden visual transitions from decent visibility to complete darkness,
- glided several feet in zero viz smack into the middle of submerged trees with branches surrounding me
on every side like fingers from a horror movie,
- run into invisible fishing line, nearly entangling myself,
- sunken deeply into gooey, “bog-like” muck,
- dropped my new GoPro Hero Black10 in a Sago Pondweed and muck mix (found it using a metal
- hit my dive mask against something that dislodged it, causing 40 degree water to flood in while
engulfed in pitch black silt and sediment,
- had my second stage free-flow two times,
- experienced extreme temperature fluctuations within the same stratum, but especially entering the
thermocline where the temp easily drops 10 degrees or more,
- had Largemouth Bass and Bluegill attack me for invading their nesting spaces; a fairly large American
eel once “accidentally” rammed my dive mask,
- bumped into things I couldn’t see…or did they bump into me?

Scary and challenging stuff, but very stretching!

I am not easily bored because life in all of its manifestations is wonderful and compelling. Some people would find what I do to be trivial, repetitive, and lame. After all, isn’t "dive tourism" the goal? Shouldn’t divers strive to visit places like Bonaire, Bali, Dry Tortugas, Cayman Brac, Culebrita, etc.?

Sure. If you have the means and opportunity to check those places out, then have at it. Diving at exotic and popular destinations can be wonderful and life-expanding.

Some of life’s seasons, however, call for frugality and regularity. I’m in one of those. The quarry I have the privilege of diving in is only a few minutes away and can enjoyed any time I want.

But doesn’t it get boring? Maybe for some. However, if you find anything in life boring, then it is more a reflection of YOU as a boring person than anything else!

Intrigue and adventure can be found in virtually any subject of endeavor if your mind and soul are involved and engaged in the search to LEARN and EXPERIENCE life wherever you are.

I am very much into quarry diving, and loving every minute of it.