This morning was the first “official” meeting of a new new dive club: AMPM Dive Club. A small group of us started it because we were getting sick of the beach conditions being crappy on the weekends more often than not, and my friend Jessica was saddened that with all the teaching (SCUBA) she’s been doing lately she hasn’t been able to just go dive for fun. Our goal is 2 dives a month; one in the AM and one in the PM (get the name…clever eh?)
So we met up at Christmas Tree Cove in Palos Verdes at 6:15 this morning ready to tackle the giant climb down and get in the water. Christmas Tree is a very protected cove which makes it great for diving, however this morning you could see a bit of swell rolling through the normally smooth water. Noting this I knew it would probably be a little surgy and that we would have to be very careful entering the water. Unfortunately the entry for this dive is by scrambling over some large rocks then easing into the water (still over large rocks) and timing it perfectly to let the swell come in and take you out. I didn’t time well today.
I was all situated, air in the BCD, crouching over a rock when the swell came in. I tried to move out with it, but it was quickly followed by another larger swell that I wasn’t expecting. I was pushed back and flipped around. I came down hard on my chest, then was able to push off and out into the water with the receding swell. Immediately my BCD started to inflate (not a good sign, when I’m not pressing the button!). I scrambled in the water to pull the purge valve. Upon finding it I had to hold it open while i tried to un-jam my low pressure inflator. With my gloves on it wasn’t happening. One of the other divers, Chris swam over and helped turn off my air so we could try and get it unstuck, but with gloved hands, and kicking around without fins on (they were still on my arm from the entry) in the silty, surgy water it was basically impossible. I had to make a choice, risk it…dive by manually inflating my BCD or take a deep breath, swallow my pride and call the dive. I did the latter. I told the other 4 to go ahead and I scrambled (much more successfully than my entrance) out of the water back onto the rocks.
Upon examination I could see the scrapes where I hit the rock with the low pressure inflator, and could tell that it was jammed with grit and dirt. I was able to get it unstuck and working again, which is good, but I still had to miss the dive. Not wanting to waste the morning, I decided to snorkel around and enjoy being in the water… the snorkeling wasn’t great, the surge screwed the visibility near shore so I spent most of the time just floating and relaxing.
Dives like these make me miss Hawaii, where there was no waves, swell and little surge and most of our beach entries involved a casual walk across a warm sandy beach and strolling into the clear water. However I love the temperate reefs and kelp forests, so on days like this you just have to roll with the punches. Days like these also make you want to look at new BCD’s that have a different inflator system (mine has an integrated system which isn’t the norm and lately has been a bit hinky). Ah, if only money grew on trees and I had one in my back yard.