My very first dive trip venturing out alone onto a boat full of strangers...Diving Strangers, though...What an AWESOME trip! I just have to share it with all my DiveBuddy Buddies!!! (This is also my 2nd Salt water dive).
CalBoat Diving - 1575 Spinnaker Dr, Suite 105B-75, Ventura Harbor, CA 93001 - firstname.lastname@example.org
1-866-CAL-DIVE (I was on the "Peace" boat)
I tell you, it was a great experience on that dive boat...I was VERY impressed!!!
The boat was 65 ft long, sleeps 32 people in single and double bunks. I think there were 7 crew members. Anyway, what they told me on the phone that was included in the price, was 3 dives, all air fills, lunch, wet suit and hoodie, weight belt and tank...$135 (I brought all my other gear with me from TX). At first I thought that was a great deal...until the end of the day...I would have paid Double that price for that trip, it was amazing!!!
After I claimed my bunk to put my ’dry’ stuff in (Which, btw...the skipper told me on the phone the day before, that anyone going on the trip could sleep on the boat the night before for free...i thought that was cool !) i went to sign in and sign the liability form. Met the skipper and he told me to go get some breakfast...BREAKFAST??? Wow...ok! Cereal, bananas, apples, oatmeal, toast, English muffins, muffins, butter, jelly, grapes, coffee galore, hot chocolate, cereal bars, juice, and FOUNTAIN DRINKS...6 different flavors of soda! lol. Also on the tables are baskets...large baskets of crackers and assorted candy...and a big cosco sized bucket of Red Vine licorice!!! As i’m signing in, there’s an older man behind me (Jim) and strikes up a conversation with me. I was standing out on the back of the boat where all the tanks were, there were 24 divers that day, all from different places, Sweden, Germany, England, Australia, Seattle, and I think there was a few from Denmark...anyway, the guy that i was talking to at sign in was talking to a couple of other ladies (from Cambridge England) and he kinda pulled me into the conversation, did the introductions and by this time we were already taking off...they had all noticed that I was by myself and Jim said if there’s no one for me to buddy up with that i was more than welcome to join him and his buddy, Chris. Just as long as I didn’t mind him taking lots of pictures, didn’t want me to get bored. I told him I didn’t mind at all, I didn’t have an agenda per say, I’d be taking pictures too, just not of anything specific. Told him they didn’t have to worry about me wandering off...I’d have them in my sight at all times lol. We all broke off from the huddle group to do our own thing for a while...it was an hour and 45 minute boat ride to the first spot...i’m standing at the back of the boat by myself and Jim comes over from the front of the boat and says...get your camera and come up front, you don’t want to miss this! So, I followed...and just in front of the boat, there were about 8 dolphins swimming in front of the boat, right at the boat’s edge...like leading us...it was so cool to watch. I got some really good shots of that!! (I just don’t have them on my computer yet!)
So, we get to our first dive spot, everyone’s getting geared up and one of the Dive Masters comes up to me and says..."you have your wetsuit on backwards" LMAO...both of mine at home zip up the front...this one was supposed to zip up the back lol. had to peel it off and start over again. So...the marine layer stayed around all day long, it was sooooo foggy!! the temperature outside that morning was 63 degrees...when I walked off the boat all geared up, hoodie tucked in nice an tight, I was expecting to be screaming with the temp of the water...I was surprised at myself...it really wasn’t all that cold to me. the temp of the water at that spot was 61 and 59 at the other 2 spots. So, with our emergency plan and dive plan already discussed, we started to descend...HA...THEY did, anyway. Here’s me trying to push up with my hands in the water because i’m...just...not...sinking!!! The guys had to re-surface (they were only about 7 feet down or so). I swam back to the boat to get more weights...Jim put them in my BCD pocket...let’s try this again...nope, Lori isn’t sinking! so, Jim goes down and yanks really hard on my fins just to get me deep enough to where i’d start to sink on my own. It worked...thank God. we get to the bottom (deepest dive was the 2nd one, 48 ft.) and i mean...i hit bottom, i was too weighted at that point...so i had to put air back in my bcd to get it all worked out. Swimming along...I’m seeing all different colors of star fish, cucumbers out the wazoo, Kelp is everywhere, like a freakin’ forest...then...Sheepshead fish!!!! I was excited, they were swimming all around me. Pink middle and purple on the either end. Next thing i know, i’m a good bit above the guys, and i’m getting further away...wtf?!?!?! I’m starting to float up!!! sht! so, i pointed downwards and started kicking. Jim saw i was having trouble, came up behind me and squeezed...my BCD was filling with air! All was fine then...off again...10 minutes later...i’m floating up AGAIN. i was working furiously to get back to the bottom...it was kind of freakin’ me out a little. When i finally made it back to Jim, he turned me upside down, opened my dump valve and squeezed me again...bubbles bubble bubbles...my bcd was completely full of air. Ok, let’s try this again...more little fishies, cucumbers, sheepshead...omg I’M FLOATING UP AGAIN!!! by this time, i’m pretty tired...first time i ever used up my air like that! Jim sees me struggling again and this time he unhooks my air line to my bcd and re-attaches it, squeezes me again and No problems whatsoever after that. PHEW!!! What a work out!!! I had 500 psi when i surfaced. Just before we surfaced, Jim and Chris were swimming in front of me and I couldn’t get their attention fast enough for them to see the funny little sea lion doing flips above Jim’s head...nose pointed straight down towards the top of his head and just going in circles. I was so excited!!! I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough...and he took off. :( Oh...forgot to mention...there were no DM’s that went with us, it was basically "you’re on your own" kind of diving. They of course told us which direction the current was going and so forth and what to look for under the water. Back to the diving...I felt bad for Jim because he was having to mess around with my gear for most of the dive...i apologized to him when we surfaced. After the 2nd and 3rd dive, though...he told me i was doing a great job and he had a great time diving with me. Awww. When we surfaced we were further away from the boat than we thought we were so we had some swimming to do...all of us were low on air so instead of descending and swimming back to the boat we had to do it on our backs. The way they had the boat setup for getting back in was great, too. there was a platform on the back of the boat that you heisted yourself up on (it was easy as pie!) on your hands and knees. One of the DM’s was on the platform, telling you to get on your hands and knees on the platform (what a site!), and he would take your fins off and hand them to someone in the boat and they would hold your fins until you got up the ladder. Out of 24 divers, there were only 4 of us that weren’t shivering...i was one of them...but i chalked it up to all the work i had to do when i was under...got my blood warmed up LOL.
So, we’re back in the boat after the first dive and what’s that I smell??? FOOD!!! It couldn’t be lunch time yet, could it? Oh no...it was just snack time!!! They had 2 different types of soups ready and everything you’d need to make some nachos!!! I was floored! The soup was YUMMY!!! by the time snack time was over...we were already at our 2nd dive spot! Boy, that went by fast! Geared back up and off again...................................
This time, Jim put his hand on the top of my head and pushed me really hard under water so i’d get deep enough to start sinking lol. This dive was colder, well, the water was lol. There was tons more kelp on this dive and lots of sheepshead fishies...and then, out of NOWHERE...2 HUGE Giant Sea Bass!!! I mean...HUGE!!! Longer than me!!! Jim got some really good pictures - my batteries died on the first dive and where were my extras? At home of course. lol Didn’t see any sea lions on this dive for some reason. But the main attraction on the 2nd dive, was definitely the Giant Sea Bass. The only issue i had on this dive was that i was having some trouble with my ears. they were hurting quite a bit and i told jim we might have to surface if it doesn’t stop soon. after about 5 minutes, i was fine again. I wasn’t sure if i should do the 3rd dive b/c of my ears, but i had no pain whatsoever when we were done with that dive, so I went for it. We get back in the boat, and there’s a gigantic bowl of salad and 2 different kinds of pastas for lunch. a Vegetarian pasta and a meat pasta. Seriously...this chef was Sych!!! He was diving every single dive with us and still had time to cook every meal!!! He was also the nicest of the whole crew. Finished with lunch...gear up again! We were at the 3rd dive location faster than the 2nd!
The 3rd dive, was by all means...THE BEST!!!!!!! When we got there, they pointed out that we were pretty close to the edge...or cliff and the waves were pretty strong...so we had to be careful. When you looked out across the water, all you could see was hundreds, and hundreds of little Sea Lion heads poking out of the water...wondering what we were doing. There was apparently a cut-through to the other side of the cliff, but we didn’t go there...we were having too much fun....SWIMMING AND PLAYING WITH THE SEA LIONS!!! LOL...not 2 minutes in the water, following the anchor line to the bottom, we were surrounded by them...SO playful!! I was having a blast! that’s basically all we did on that dive...we swam around for a while looking for other stuff, but shortly made our way back to where the sea lions were playing :). Towards the end of this dive, i was pooped out! I didn’t have my hoodie tucked all the way in in the back on this dive, so the frigid water just poured into my wetsuit down my back, so i got cold on this dive. When we finished the 3rd dive, i was so tired that one of the DM’s had to help me up the stairs on the back of the boat LOL...i was weak and shivering. Peeled my wetsuit off, my toe nails were purple i was so cold...and everyone on the boat could hear my teeth chattering lol. The DM was laughing at me because it was so loud. When i finally got the wetsuit off, i looked at the 2 guys in the hot tub....OH YES...I SAID HOT TUB!!!...and said, watch it boys...I’m diving in!!! lol...i basically did just that, too. they made room for me and i hunkered down in the warm water just below my chin. you weren’t allowed in the hot tub with your wetsuit on, it was just for people with no wetsuit on and to dump warm water inside your wetsuit when you get out of the water or just before you go in...or just to warm up even. it was a great idea!!! They used big plastic Folgers buckets for dipping into the water so you could poor it into your wetsuit. Oh...one of the DM’s...the cook, too...grabbed my gloves from me just before the first dive...said, i’ll be back...have to show you something...poured hot water in my gloves...then looked at me and said "Ah man!!! this ain’t gonna work with mesh gloves!" lol then, "your hands are gonna be FROZEN". he was trying to fill the gloves with warm water for me to put my hands in lol. I think i was the only one wearing mesh gloves...i wasn’t too bad, though, i didn’t really notice the cold on my hands...or my feet, really. I sure did look like a prune, though!!! Did i mention already that the Cook dove every time, and still managed to have everything ready for snack/lunch/dessert....yes...DESSERT!!!!
After warming up in the hot tub, i got out and the wind hit me...and i started chattering my teeth again...the Cook said, weren’t you just warm a second ago? lol
I walked in to where the food has been going on all day and there in front of my chattering face and bulging eyes, is an enormous pan of the gooiest, chocolatiest, warm brownies I have every tasted!!! and next to that, a big pan of apple crisp dessert. I got some coffee, one each of the desserts lol...and then i look over on one of the tables...NO JOKE...there’s a gigantic tub of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, maraschino cherries, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup and nuts, all for making Sundaes! They were out of control on the food!!! I was super impressed though. i’m sitting at the table trying to eat my brownie, and there was a man sitting at the table with me...i couldn’t stop laughing at myself because i couldn’t keep my fork still from shaking so bad...being cold...the man said "i’m making bets that the brownie doesn’t make it to your mouth" LOL...oh but it did! I was determined! hahahaha.
Let me just say this...i was the ONLY person on that boat that didn’t have to make 2 or more trips back to the boat to get more gear. I had just what I needed in that black mesh bag and my dry clothes and towels in a back pack. I was like Super Scuba Diver LOL. Even the DM/Cook said "is that ALL you brought? how in the world did you manage that?!" LOL (And to those of you who know me...I was NOT the last one IN the water, nor was I the last one OUT of the water :O) lol)
ok, i think my story is finished now. :-)
If you make it out to Ventura Harbor - I highly recommend you look this outfit up!!!