watery wonder world

This weekend I was in Monterey finishing up my open water scuba certifications. Apparently Monterey is the place to go for scuba lessons. There were several other classes out there even though the weather wasn’t all that great. The class I was a part of was pretty small, just me, my buddy Tim, and a guy named Jimmy. When I met Jimmy I thought, this is the biggest dude I’ve ever seen. Apparently he plays football for the Arizona Cardinals. Crazy– I’ve never met an NFL player before.

It was nice being in such a small class. Things went really smoothly and quickly, so it seemed like we had extra time to tour the ocean bottom. One of the instructors had an underwater camera so he took pictures.

Here is a picture he took from our pool dives a couple of weekends ago. It’s hard not to look like a dork wearing all that scuba equipment. Plus I felt about as graceful as a penguin– a drunken obese penguin. Seriously it’s hard to walk with all that heavy gear while wearing fins.

Here’s a picture from Monterey. I think we were at about 25 feet under here. I think I’m the one on the right in this picture. There was a bit of surge at the bottom, which rocked us back and forth, so the instructors put down a line so we can hold on while we waited to do our exercises.

In general the conditions were pretty crappy that day. When we arrived at the beach, I looked at the waves crashing in, and thought “Man… this is really going to suck.” Then when I first put my head under the water, I couldn’t see anything. Visibility was maybe ten feet max. All I could see was a rope down to the bottom, which I followed. But then when I got to the bottom things were okay and I started to get more comfortable. When we got out of the water, it started raining cats and dogs, so it was just as wet out of the water. By then I couldn’t wait to get back underwater. I guess in a way it’s good to learn in tougher conditions, that way any recreational dives would be easy and fun in comparison.

Afterwards we went to the Monterey aquarium. It was pretty crowded there, so I didn’t take much pictures. I tried to find something in the aquarium that matched what I saw when scuba diving. I guess this was the closest I could find. After we did our underwater exercises the instructor led us on a tour. We came upon an underwater field filled with anemones and starfish, which looked sort of like this.

One of the big exhibits at the aquarium is the kelp forest. I remember our instructor saying his favorite place to dive was Monterey because of the kelp forests. When we caught up with him for dinner I asked him if diving in a kelp forest was anything like the exhibit at the aquarium. He said it was pretty much exactly like the exhibit depicts. Originally I was thinking about spending a weekend in Socal somewhere to get my advanced diving certifications, but now I’m considering doing those in Monterey.

For me, everything I’d want to do around Monterey revolves around the ocean in some way. There’s a famous cypress tree out by the ocean which I wanted to take a sunset picture of. So we drove out along the 17mile scenic drive to try and find it. Unfortunately the clouds weren’t cooperating so I couldn’t get the sunset shot I wanted.

And of course a trip to the ocean side is not complete without seafood. Before we headed out of town we had some chowder. This wasn’t the best clam chowder I’ve had, it was sort of watery and bland, but they get an A for effort for making it fresh for us.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Scuba Fusion- Bill and Daniel are awesome instructors
  • the ocean and all the wonders with in it
  • the watery wonder world of Monterey

the plunge

I have liked watches for as long as I can remember. Ever since my first job out of high school I’ve been sort of shopping for a watch, but haven’t gotten around to buying one until now. I finally made the plunge and bought one this week because of my scuba class. It’s not a requirement for the basic open water class I took this weekend, but it’s a requirement to have a watch for the advanced certifications that I’m planning on taking in the future.

Since it would be used for diving, I decided to get a somewhat decent watch– something that would be reliable and sturdy. In my mind the quintessential diving watch is the Omega Seamaster, the so called James Bond watch, of which I really like the Planet Ocean series, particularly the Planet Ocean Chrono. But I couldn’t justify spending the two thousand bucks for a Seamaster, let alone the four or five thousand plus for a new Planet Ocean Chrono. So I ended up buying a Swiss Army Dive Master watch for around a tenth of the cost.

As a side note, I believe in gender equality. Nowadays women make pretty much the same amount of money as men do. So I think it’s only fair that if a man has to buy an engagement ring that’s worth several months of his salary, he should at least get a watch that’s at least worth one months of his fiance’s salary in return. It’s only fair. (If I could get a hypothetical future fiance to agree with this, this would probably be the only way I can get my hands on a Seamaster.)

When I started shopping for my watch, I learned a lot about why watches are designed the way they are. A lot of the features on a watch are related to diving. I noticed my watch had an extension built into the clasp mechanism– I learned that this is so the watch can fit over a wetsuit. The rotating bezel that a lot of nicer watches have is for setting a time limit on a dive. They only rotate in one direction, so that if it happens to get knocked against something during a dive, it will only shorten the dive time. When planning your dive you look up your no decompression limit on the table, then rotate the bezel for the number of minutes on your dive. When the glowing minute hand starts to approach the glowing triangle, you know that it’s time to start surfacing. Pretty cool. But in truth it’s somewhat archaic. Nowadays any diver would use a diving computer which would do a much better time of tracking your depth and time remaining before you hit your no decompression limit. So in the end I was basically just using the class as an excuse to buy a watch.

The diving class was fun. I was hooked from the first breath I took underwater. This weekend’s “dives” were all in swimming pools– it was cool learning all the skills in a warm water environment. But I’m looking forward to my first ocean dive in Monterey at the end of the month. I’ll be taking the plunge, wearing my watch.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Swiss time pieces
  • PADI certified dive instructors