Like a good Girl Scout

Its important to always be prepared! So I spent last Friday evening putting together my awesome Save-A-Dive kit… Its important for dive professionals (really ANY diver) to be prepared to help themselves and others when they have a gear emergency, so having a good kit is really essential. Whether an O-ring blows or a fin strap break, being able to assist someone with minor (or sometimes major) gear issues can really make their day! Anyways, after perusing lots of info online and talking to friends at the dive shop, I put together my kit with what I feel to be essentials, and with the hope that down the line I’ll be able to add some not so much essentials, like a DIN – Yoke adaptors, and other more specific type spare gear. After hitting up a the dive shop… for spare Scuba parts, Home Depot… for some tools and Jo-Ann’s…for some jewlery cases (to hold O-rings and other smaller bits and bobs)… I headed home to get everything organized. Quite quickly I ran into a problem.

I wanted to write, “Kelli’s Save A Dive” on my nice new pelican case (god I love those things!) but was suddenly too nervous of my penmanship skills to continue. What if I messed it up? I was using Sharpie Paint Pens, so there would be no erasing if a sizing or spacing error was made. I had tested using a stencil, but the paint leaked around it a bit so that was no good. Here I sat on my bed with one line drawn on my case too nervous to contine. I realize this is pretty silly, but I felt good about my kit and wanted it to look good to! So I took a few deep breaths and just went for it. Luckily, it all turned out okay. My bubble lettering skills are still passable, and I didn’t make any shameful spelling errors.

So what goes into a good Save A Dive kit you ask? Well there are a ton of answers to that question, but it really boils down to where are you diving, and what type of diving do you typically do? My kit, as a future Instructor, will look alot different than your average recreation divers, which may just include a few o-rings, and 1 or two extra peices like mask strap, fin strap, etc… just enough to save their own dive. A technical diver or cave diver’s kit would be much different than mine, with more gear and probably more specific gear and spare gear.

My kit however is geared toward general recreational diving and being able to help student divers, or other divers with some typical problems.

I’ve got a bunch of tools that will be helpful, from allen wrenches, screwdrivers, regular wrenches, pliers and wire cutters (all with a life-time garuntee, so when the salty sea makes them rust I can replace them!). There are bunches of zip-ties, O-rings, snorkel keepers, octopus holders, duct tape, mask defog, silicone grease (for O-rings), spare mask straps, fin straps, a mouth peice, weight belt, glow sticks, hair ties, sharpies, bonine (anti seasick medicine) and some gear clips.

While its alot of extra stuff to carry around, its well worth the added weight. Case in point, Saturday when interning at the pool in the afternoon, we already had a student who had no snorkel keeper, so I helped him out. Then just after getting into the water, the instructor Ryan blew an O-ring in his fancy little air pressure guage and needed tools to remove it. Since I had brougt my awesome new kit in with me to give the student a snorkel keeper, we were able to grab the wrenches quickly and he fixed his problem. Let’s just say that made me feel good!

Happy (belated) Earth Day!!

Last Thursday was Earth Day, and to celebrate and help keep our Earth and oceans clean I participated in a beach clean up with Eco Dive Center. Our local California beaches really get trashed by the multitudes of people who show up, enjoy the day and take off without doing a good sweep of their area. People also are lazy and don't take the the time to walk 50 ft up the beach to one of the hundreds of trash cans available. We all want to our beaches to be clean and pristine, and from a distance they don't look too bad.

Its when you get in the sand and take a closer look that you see all the trash left by people. This trash gets washed out to sea and drifts into the oceans, or washed back up on shore.

You can find almost every type of trash on the beach, from straws, plastic bags, food wrappers, balloons, styrofoam, paper, condoms, band aids, even discarded toys, you name it its probably out there.

You even find things you wouldn't expect like discarded quarts of motor oil. Something like this probably fell off someones boat carelessly then was washed ashore with the tide.

What amazes me, is while these pics may make is seem like this is a horrible, really dirty beach it really wasn't. Our clean up was in the middle of April, which is before the times when these beaches are heavily used by summer visitors. One day of heavy beach traffic will produce so much more waste and garbage along our shores than you can imagine. All of this because most people are too lazy to keep their trash contained, or to even bother with packing it all up and tossing it on their way out of the beach.

Of course, part of the fun in taking part of an ocean clean up is the little treasures you discover along with all the trash. I came across an itty bitty snorkel, rose gem hair thing, shovel, and an animated character compass (looked like it came from a Happy Meal) all eventually went into the trash, but they were fun to find!

A few of the more interesting finds...

At the end of the trash pickup we all celebrated, drank and relaxed as the sun went down with a huge bonfire. Time to get rid of some of those huge pallets that start build up around the shop! Of course burning something seems odd for an Earth Day activity, but its fun, and who doesn't love watching a big 'ol bonfire!

And besides, bonfires are also great for roasting marshmallows! mmmmm s'mores!

Diver Down

Every time we strap a highly pressurized tank of air to our backs and descend below of the surface of the water we are taking a huge risk with our lives. We place ourselves in a foreign environment where we cannot survive alone and rely totally on our equipment, knowledge, skills and planning to return to the surface safely with each dive. 99% of the time we do. The diving industry has put such an emphasis on safety that equipment, works extremely well and in the rare event that they fail, they tend to fail safely (IE: in a way that won’t cut off air, or cause you to not be able to make it back to the surface). Dive depth and time limits have been tested and are set conservatively to prevent emergencies. However accidents do happen. They are primarily a result of poor judgement on the diver’s part such as diving in conditions you are not trained for, ignoring the rules of diving or being properly prepared with the gear or planning the dive requires. Sometimes though things just go wrong.

The best way to prepare against such accidents is to be informed. Get extra training, such as your Rescue certification, keep your gear in good working order, make sure to have proper equipment for each environment you dive,  check and recheck with your buddy and don’t dive out of your limits. Another great way to keep informed is by reading about other peoples mistakes. Diver Down is a book written by Michael Ange, technical editor of Scuba Diving magazine, and it basically gives several case stories about people who made a poor choice, or had an unfortunate equipment failure and were not able to properly respond. Many of the people in the book did not survive to learn from their errors, but we can.

I found the book to be great, so great that I could not put it down and finished it within two days (at work…shhhh). It scares you because many of the situations start in the same way many dives I’ve been on have started. But then there is the moment when a poor choice is made and things take a turn for the worse. Often I could identify this point, and in doing so I tried to think how I could react differently and if a different reaction would have made a difference in the outcome of that misfortune. The book reads really well, and include detailed descriptions of diving terms, equipment, and different types of diving (technical, wreck, etc) so that anyone (even non-divers) can easily enjoy and understand where and how mistakes were made. The book also leaves you with more respect for the nature of the sport we participate in and a desire to keep safety a top priority. I would highly recommend to all of my friends and fellow divers!

Dry Weekend: Grand Canyon Backpacking

This past weekend I took off from the crowded, loud and smoggy streets of LA for the spacious, quiet, clean air of the Grand Canyon. This is a yearly trip I’ve been taking with a small group of friends from college, and finally I feel like we’ve nailed our timing and planning down. Previously we headed out in March (too cold, with snow & ice on the rim!) and in May (blistering head made hiking miserable) but this year we planned and were able to get a permit for the  middle of April. Plagued by horrible blisters in previous years I also bought new, much better quality and properly fitting hiking boots. So early Friday we left the comfort of my Aunt and Uncles house just outside of Flagstaff and drove into the canyon. We arrived outside of Bright Angel Lodge, parked and walked to the shuttle stop just before 6:00AM anxious and excited.

Our plan for the weekend was fairly loose with certain camp points to hit…Cottonwood Campground on Day1, Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel Campgroup Day 2, and we were hiking out of the canyon Day 3. Originally our goal was to top the North Rim on Day 2 then hike back to Phantom making it a 20 mile total day, but after the exhaustion of Day 1’s 14 miles we decided that it would be more enjoyable to do a slightly shorter hike (about 12 miles) and see a few of the sights in the canyon instead.

Day 1: Friday – We left the South Kaibab trailhead a little after 7am. Making great time compared to past years we blew through Cedar Point in less than 45 minutes. The weather was fantastic, it started off chilly but soon we were stripping layers. I stayed in a long sleeve t-shirt most of the day not because it was cold, but mostly because the weather was cool enough that I could and it offered great sun protection. We continued on, hiking down switchback after switchback. Every now and then we’d stop for a little breather, but overall we kept up a solid pace. One nice little resting spot comes just before a huge set of switchbacks that bring you just about to the plateau.

This section had a neat little cave above the trail that offered a lovely view of the next section of switchbacks and the canyon itself. It also offered some nice shade and a spot to sit for a few minutes!

You can see the switchbacks just ahead, then the trail continues to wind down the canyon nearing the plateau before dropping into the inner canyon towards the river.

One important thing to note with the South Kaibab trail is that there is no water whatsoever. If you plan to hike down this way make sure to pack enough water to get you to the bottom safely. One nice thing with the trails we took this weekend is that they are some of the most traveled trails in the canyon which meant that there was very little chance of getting off trail or lost.

As we continued down the weather began to work even more in our favor by bringing in some clouds. The overcast sky cooled the temperatures and created stunning views and great picture taking opportunities! While some of the clouds looked a bit on the dark (ie: rain) side, we lucked out and had no wet weather.

Another great aspect of hiking the canyon in mid-April was the wildflowers. Every time i’ve been down the canyon before I haven’t seen so many bright and blooming flowers. Every color from reds and oranges, yellows, purple and blues. They were everywhere! Many of the cactus were in bloom as well, another beautiful sight.

Dropping into the inner canyon is always neat because immediately you get a sense of age. The rocks in this section just look and feel so much older than anything else. They are more jagged, and darker, and appear worn, almost tired. We finished the last round of switchbacks as we neared the river crossing. The hardest part I feel about this hike ends up being the switchbacks. Not because you’re going back and forth as you wind up or down the canyon, but because when they were built the trail makers spaced all the retaining logs so perfectly that you really only get 1 step in between each. This means that you always end up stepping down (or up) over the log with the same leg which tires quickly. Trying to hit the step with the other leg usually requires several shuffling steps and throws off your whole rhythm!

As always the black bridge across the river was a welcome sight, and we trekked across and down into the shade by Bright Angel Creek for lunch. 7 miles down, which put us at our halfway point for the day.


After lunch we barely managed to pull ourselves up to continue on. In previous years, this site had been our stopping point so at first it was difficult to wrap our minds around the fact that we still had another 7 miles to trek. As we left Phantom Ranch I was amazed at how GREEN everything was. Grass was blooming the trees were luch with leaves, and of course the wildflowers. It was all so gorgeous and different from my past canyon experiences.

Now on the North Kaibab trail we were heading towards and a little bit up the northern side of the canyon to Cottonwood campground. This section of trail is fairly easy, the elevation gain is not much and there are few switchbacks. Mostly you are just hiking back into the Bright Angel Canyon following the creek upstream. The hard aspect of this section of trail is usually the heat. The first part of the North Kaibab trail from Phantom is called “the Box” because the canyon is so narrow that its almost like you’re trapped in a box with steep walls on either side.

This also means that on bright sunny days the heat just radiates off the canyon walls creating almost an oven effect. Luckily for us, it was still over cast and with a slight breeze the intense oven like heat was not present.

What was still present of course were the wildflowers! Finally I came across some beautiful blue ones!

After a few more stream crossings and bridges we neared the campground. There is one stream crossing with no bridge that we were told is usually a trickling tiny stream that joins into the main creek we’ve been following. Well thanks to El Nino this year we ended up with a wide rushing creek that got to almost kneed deep. Feeling exhausted and wanting to be done some of use decided to not bother trying to take shoes off and crossed anyways which left a little less than a mile of hiking in squishy wet shoes. In retrospect it wasn’t the brightest idea, but my shoes dried out by the next morning so no harm, no foul. On the return trip though I would be sure to remove my shoes.

After just under a ten hour day on the trail with about seven hours of hardcore hiking we stumbled into camp.We had a few more hours of sunlight, so we shuffled around getting camp set then relaxing on a large flat rock nearby reading, chatting whatever. Shortly after was dinner (for Rob and I it was a delicious Orzo pasta with sundried tomatoes in olive oil and spinach with chicken for rob and albacore for me!). After dinner I had the boys keep the rest of the group busy on the rock while I snuck back over to the picnic tables to pull out the birthday cake and frosting I had lugged down the canyon in my pack. It survived better than I thought it would and I covered it with chocolate frosting and candles before slowly making my way to the group. We had two birthday’s this year, Steve’s the weekend before and Megan’s the weekend after our trip so I thought it would be fun, and completely unexpected to hike a full cake into the canyon. The only caveat was that everyone had to have a piece because I sure wasn’t going to carry it out! Luckily everyone was impressed and super excited to get to eat a big calorie filled, sugary piece of cake and it was gone in a matter of minutes!

It was decided that evening that we would forgo the attempt of Rim to Rim to Rim, and just hike a few miles up the trail to Roaring Springs before returning to camp, gathering our gear and heading back to Phantom Ranch and the second day’s campsite.

As we packed up for the short hike in the morning there was suddenly a loud thunderous noise that startled us all. Looking first at the cloudless sky I couldn’t figure out what it was until Steve pointed at a distance cliff where gigantic boulders were careening down the sides. Rock slides like this are not commonly seen in the canyon and it was pretty amazing to witness.

The hike up to Roaring Springs was nice, especially because other than my full bladder of water there was no weight in my pack. I felt light and free as we walked up the trail. The springs were beautiful, large waterfalls pouring out of the middle of the canyon wall into lush greenery as they formed a main vein of the creek system that supplies all the water inside the canyon. We hiked down to the top of the springs where a small creek starts down. There was lots of shade and several large pools. It was relaxing and cool, so we rested for a bit, explored the area (hoping to find a way to the top of the larger waterfalls, but no luck).

After a little while we decided to head back so we could pack up camp and get the hard part of the day done. We crossed back over the flooded creek crossing (no shoes this time) and rested while our feet dried. Then we continued on. The sun was out in full force today and it was starting to get hot. There is not much shade on this part of the trail as you walk along the river path, but overall the weather was fairly cool.


Another mile down the trail was the turn off for another sight, Ribbon Falls. We decided to make that our lunch spot, so we detoured from the main trail and hiked back into the falls.

Ribbon Falls is great because you are able to hike all the way up to the falls and even up behind it. Although five minutes ago every had been starving and talking about food, as soon as we got to the top of the falls the only thing on our mind was getting under that cold, refreshing water. Everyone began to strip away clothes and we all had nice refreshing waterfall showers!

After the shower, it was lunch time, then relaxation before we struck out on the trail again. The hike back to Phantom was fairly uneventful. Our morning hike and long lunch meant that we timed the section in “the Box” perfectly, arriving at that section of trail around 4pm. The sun had moved far enough west that most of the trail was shaded and it was much cooler. We got into Phantom Ranch and Bright Angel Campground with a little sun light left. Total hiking for Day 2 was about 12 miles which had us up and about for around 10 hours again, only about 6 hours of that time was actual hiking.

After setting up camp, and making dinner we all headed up to the Phatom Ranch Canteen for some cards and nice COLD beer and some card games. Somehow we managed to last until a little after 9:00pm when we walked back to camp and promptly passed out. Worried about the uphill hike tomorrow we set our alarms for 5:45 wanting to be up and on the trail before 7:00am. We almost made it, heading out from the water pump just around 7:20.

The first part of the hike along the river trail and into the canyon was still shaded which helped us keep our speed up and get some miles under way before the blazing sun hit us. We came into the sun with the first real brutal set of switchbacks called the “Devil’s Corkscrew”. Our pace slowed a bit as we started baking in the sun, but the overall temperature was still pretty nice. That and the wildflowers and scenery could not be beat!

After a few more switchbacks then a long section that lead back into the canyon along the small creek again (intermittent shade!) we strode into Indian Gardens. Impressed that the first half of the hike had taken us just about two hours, we sat, relaxed, ate and filled up our water before moving on. While chilling in the shade at the Gardens, we noticed a small sign that we had not seen before.


This little pictogram warned vistors of a new threat to the canyon…





It wants your blood!



So after a good laugh with that we were off… only 4.5 miles left to go. The nice thing with this section is that every 1.5 miles there was a rest house, which really breaks up the hike. The last bit of the hike was fairly uneventful. We continued up and up, resting every now and then, but keeping a good pace. We stopped at both rest houses, taking a nice long break to cool our bodies, give our legs a rest and get some snacks in. The fatigue might have been starting to set in while resting at the 1.5 mile house (1.5 miles from the top) as we started to worry about the dangerous canyon predators…the squirlociraptors…dangerous tiny rodent predators…they hunt in packs and are always watching. Yeah… don’t ask, honestly I’m sorry I told you, but its true. The canyon is full of dangerous squirrel type fiends.

Finally we began to near the top. Leapfrogging with a boyscout troop for the last mile and a half we passed them for the last time, and after pausing for a quick picture under one of the cut outs on the trail, we climbed out of the canyon. Total hiking distance for day three was 9.6 miles and it took about seven hours including our breaks. We finished with tired muscles but big smiles, mostly to be done and that much closer to a long hot shower and good meal! I was pleased because my troublesome knees behaved admirably and my new well fitting boots protected my feet and did not cause any excruciating blisters like I had experienced in years past. All in all we hiked about 35 miles over the course of 3 days.



Finals: Passed!

Last Tuesday and Wednesday (April 13 & 14th) we had our final two class sessions for the Divemaster Course. Tuesday class consisted of Physics, probably the hardest subject for me to wrap my mind around because it is so math based. Having not really pursued any math involved activities since my last math class freshman year of college, my skills are a bit rusty. Luckily most of the physics laws in relation to diving really boil down to fairly simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I was struggling a bit with the theories and laws going into class, but after having problems to solve, and Beth walking us through some of the steps it all started to click. That evening we took the Physics test, and I was amazed. I had to guess on one problem (which I guessed wrong) and for some silly reason I filled in a different bubble than what I knew the answer to be on another question thus getting it wrong. Other than that though I got every question right, including all the equation solving questions. I felt really good leaving the shop Tuesday.

Now that all the class sessions were over all that remained were the second round of tests. While it is not necessarily required, the way Eco was running the class was to have us take each subject’s test A after that subject was discussed during class. Then at the end of all the classes we would have 1 evening where we took all 8 tests (the B versions) in one night like a big final exam. Well now we were here, we’d had a month of twice a week classes, each lasting several hours into the night and it all boiled down to Wednesday. As luck typically goes, it also ended up being a crazy busy day at work leaving me rushing home from the valley after 6pm hoping to make it to the shop on time. This meant no last minute review prior to all the test taking. I’d either know it, or I wouldn’t.

So we sat down, chatted for a bit, then got to work. I finished a little over 2 hours later, worried that I had to make educated guesses more than I had hoped, stressed that I bombed the Physiology test (everything seemed different than what we had learned!) but feeling good about most of the others. After everyone had finished the test taking we swapped and began grading. Peeking over at my neighbor grading my test I was pleased to see that I was doing well. All the tests consist of 20 questions, and you have  to earn a C or better in order to pass, therefore you can’t miss more than 5 (75%). After I got the test back and looked over everything I found that the most I missed on any test was 3! While there were a few silly errors that could have earned me a few points but the meat of the information seems to be secured somewhere in my head. Funny enough also, I did the best on the Physiology test, only missing 1! So much for gut feelings.

Now all that is left to tuck this certification under my belt is 3 more confined water intern days and 1 open water intern day (leading certified divers). I’m planning to get in the pool Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, knocking 2 out, then finishing up the certification the second weekend in May. (weekend 1 is planned for a big fun “Mental Health” dive trip with a bunch of the folks in my DM class and several Eco Instructors out at San Clemente Island).

Bumpy Ride

Sunday April 11, 2010:

On Sunday I was scheduled to head out to Anacapa with some other DMC’s (Dive Master Candidates if I haven’t explained that one). We were leaving on the afternoon trip of the Raptor, a smaller dive vessel that lives in the Ventura Harbor. This boat is great, if you’re headed out to the island on a sunny afternoon in the middle of summer. However that Sunday threatened rain and a small craft advisory. I was in the middle of cleaning and packing for my upcoming Grand Canyon hike and not feeling like getting in the water or on a small boat with the not so great weather. However, my money had been paid so there was also no way I was going miss the trip. So I got my gear together, stuck my tongue out to the rain clouds and drove up to Ventura.

The folks coming off the morning boat when I arrived warned that it had been a bumpy trip back. I decided to risk anti-nausea medicine again with the decision that I was going to get seasick without it so if it made me nauseas then oh well I’d call it a draw, but if it actually worked then the battle was won. (I bring this up because I have a bad relationship with anti-nausea medicine not just seasickness medicine, the doctors prescribes it and says to take it if I feel nauseas and then I do and it always makes me feel worse and get sick) Anyways, another DMC, Morgan, had Bonine in little chewable tablets. I took one, and it was a success. (Bonine will become part of my regular boat gear from now on) I had only a twinging in my tummy as we neared the island, while several of the new Open Water students, who probably didn’t take any medication and were most likely new to boats in general, were extremely seasick… probably the first time I’ve ever seen someone literally green.

However in general we made it to the island in tact and ready to dive. Ron divided us up among him and his IDC students and Carlos (another instructor) and his open water students. I was assigned with Ron and the IDC class. It was similar to what we did in the pool, they were reviewing skill demonstration and in water instruction in the open water. There were four of us working with the IDC. On the first dive we were pretending to be a part of a Rescue Class doing panicked diver approaches under the instruction of one of the IDC students. After we met on the bottom for some skill review with the other student. That was all they needed to do and it was cold sitting still on the bottom so Ron released us to go swim and explore the dive site. On the second dive it was similar, the IDC’s had 2 skills each to go over, and we were split into two groups so each group was with one of the IDC students. We went over the skills, making sure to make the deliberate mistakes given to us by Ron. One of the skills was regulator recovery and my given mistake was to try and recover my reg on the wrong side. For the non-diver friends who check out my site every now and then let me explain. The regulator is what you breathe through, its attached to a hose that comes off your tank on the right side, so if it gets knocked from your mouth the easiest way to recover it is by leaning to the right and sweeping your arm back along your body and tank behind and around you in a big circle. In theory you will catch your regulator hose in your arm and be able to pull it in to your body. So you can understand how silly I felt leaning to the left and using my left arm to try and recover my reg. However the IDC student reacted properly and quickly, giving me his octo (spare regulator) and reminding me to use the right side. I then performed the skill again correctly for him. We went down the line with the rest of the skills then it was free time to dive again.

The site at Anacapa (Goldfish Bowl) had great varied terrain with rocky outcroppings, kelp and sandy patches. The water was cold, but the visibility was great. I didn’t take my camera down with me, because I didn’t want it to be a distraction while interning. Overall the day ended up being great and I really enjoyed diving with my fellow DMC’s we really are an awesome group. The ride back to shore wasn’t bad, especially since I slept through most of it, and as promised Ron signed off on a couple of my intern requirements which made the trip even more worthwhile!

Stamina and Skills Test

Okay, wow. I have been so busy these last few weeks that I have a small and slowly building list of blog posts to get through! While its not the end of the world, my stats page shows that a few people out there have been checking, sadly in vain, over these few weeks for new posts. Well, now the problem will be rectified! I have a slow day at work, and managed to put down my book to get some writing done! Here goes:

April 10th & 11th: Saturday marked another important day in my Divemaster Training. It was Stamina and Skills day where we had to prove that yes we can swim pretty well and that we know and can demonstrate the 20 basic Scuba skills. Each stamina effort and skill demonstration is graded based on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best.

Here’s the Good/Bad list for each:


  • It was a good day for having generally good fitness. I breezed through the 15 minute tread earning a 5 with my hands out  of the water for the last 2 minutes.
  • It was a good day for a swimming background. Even though I had been in the pool 1 time since my November race I knew that I’d be able to reasonable complete the 400yd swim and 800yd snorkel.
  • It was a good day for jumping into DM right after Rescue. All my rescue skills were still fresh in my mind and I did well on the Rescue scenario test. Only problem was when I realized that Shane was not wearing a thick wetsuit, but merely a 2/3mm skin which didn’t give him alot of buoyancy. But I got through it without “killing” him.
  • It was a bad day for not having been in the pool for about 4 months. The times for different grades were much steeper than I had anticipated, with a 5 requiring a 6 minute 400 yd swim. Thats faster than my best time, so I settled for aiming for a 4 (max 8 minutes) which I knew being out of shape would be difficult. I managed to hit the wall just in time earning a 4.
  • It was a bad day for crappy fins. I got a 4 on the snorkel swim as well, but damn was it an effort. I have some pretty old, fairly crappy fins that barely make the “good enough to dive with” limit in my mind. They sure didn’t help me any on the snorkel swim but I got through it.
  • It was a bad day for crappy fins. Wait have I said that already? Well again, poor fins meant that trying to do a 100yd tired diver tow is quite an exhausting effort. Pulling classmate Shane I pretty much felt like I wasn’t even wearing fins. Got a 3..but at this point it was fine, I’d already made the passing grade.

Overall I was happy with the stamina efforts, and how I performed. It did make me realize that its time to get back in the pool though. I’m planning on completing a 4.8 mile ocean swim this October, so I better get back some of that fitness! After the morning Stamina tests I stuck around and got a confined water intern spot checked off by helping Ron with his IDC (instructor devolopment course) student. I got to play student while they worked on demonstrating and teaching the skills required in Open Water certifications to us. Ron gave us things to make sure we did wrong in hopes that the IDC guys would catch and correct our mistakes as any good teacher should.

That afternoon I headed to a different pool for the skills circuit. Again, it was over all successful with some ups and downs throughout.

  • It was a good day for having practiced some of my skills and interned with an Open water class the weekend before. My personal review and the chance at getting to really demonstrate skills for others helped me be prepared to demonstrate the skills for our instructor Beth.
  • It was a good day for ANKLE WEIGHTS. I realized last weekend that my feet are slightly positively buoyant and start to float off the bottom of the pool while trying to do some skills like the fin pivot. So I bought a pair of ankle weights to keep those feet down and they worked like a charm. Not only that, but they worked well for half the class too when I passed them around to others having some difficulty with buoyant feet.
  • It was a bad day for my low pressure inflator hose. One of the skills is being able to disconnect the low pressure inflator underwater in the event that your BCD starts to free fill and you have to stop the air flowing into it. Well, my hose is pretty much brand new, and quite stiff, so I could not get it undone. It wasn’t until Beth swam over and showed me a neat trick (also easily disconnecting the hose in seconds making me feel silly) that I was able to do it. That trick? Push the hose in towards the connector then pull back the quick release and it should pop right off! Amazing.
  • It was a bad day for… well there really wasn’t any other bad stuff. I successfully compleeted all the skills, and only had a few minor issues with some (forgetting one critical attribute on a few, but learning and overall doing well.) I finished off the day feeling pretty good.

Pool and Ocean… another round of interning.

Intern Sessions # 2 and 3 check! Last weekend I worked with Instructor Jessica as she took a group of brand spanking newbies on their first SCUBA adventure. The weekend started on Saturday with the first round of confined water dives. These dives introduce the students to breathing underwater. We went through a ton of skills from regulator clearing, mask flooding and clearing, snorkel regulator exchange, fin pivot, giant stride and many more. This was my first pool (confined water) intern session. I met up with Jessica prior to the pool and we went over the flow of the class, what she’d like me to do, etc, which was great and I went into the day feeling prepared and ready.

I helped demonstrate proper equipment set up and break down, going over all the steps involved in setting up the SCUBA unit, things to make sure to check, how to make sure your tank is full and you’ve got good quality air. Afterwards we got the students into the water in the shallow end getting all the gear on and kneeling on the bottom. Immediately there were a bunch of weighting issues to aid with, making sure everyone had enough weight to keep them down. Once settled we started in on the skills. Myself and another DMC Morgan were at each end of the line of students ready to assist and help where needed. The students were pretty good, everyone was able to get through the skills with only one really struggling with some mask skills.

The second part of the pool session was over in the deeper water where I demonstrated the giant stride (a method for entering deeper water from a boat or dock or ledge of some sort). I did well, though forgot to mention one of the most important aspects – LOOK DOWN and make sure the area you’re jumping into is clear! OOPS! (I laugh because while Jessica was prepping the students I was looking into the water noting that there was a class below us that was moving out of the way and making sure everything else was clear, so I knew to do it!) We reminded them after I strode in so no harm no foul. In the deeper water we practiced buoyancy skills with the fin pivot and I learned that I need to pick up a pair of ankle weights before my test on skills demonstration this coming weekend. I practiced my fin pivot (something I don’t really remember doing with my open water class….) and discovered that my feet and fins kept wanting to float up which ruins the demonstration. I demo’ed mask removal, replacement and clearing successfully and Morgan and I demo’ed the use of your buddies alternate air source when low on air. Being at the pool before jumping into the ocean with the same group the following day really helped me because I felt I knew the students a bit better and was able to identify who might need help with various things out in the ocean.

Sunday we went out on the Island Time. This time with a real breakfast in my stomach I had no issues with the bumpy ride out and with everyone properly weighted and into the water. The visibility was great, until everyone settled on the sand. I was amazed at how quickly it went from great to crap with all the sand and silt getting stirred up, I could not even see all 7 students who were sitting within arms reach of each other! Dive one is just a tour, so I took up the rear and helped to keep the students going the right direction and fairly close together. Everyone seemed to do fairly well with buoyancy and were enjoying themselves. In the middle of the dive we paused before making another loop around some rocks and kelp and I noticed  the students were drifting a bit, so I did a quick head count. Coming up with only 6 I quickly searched for the 7th and could not find her. Crap. Then I thought to look up, and there she was floating on the surface after having a bit of trouble with buoyancy. I looked back to Jessica who was doing the count as well just before she looked at me and held up 6 fingers and questioning shrug. Happily I pointed up to the missing student and Jessica relaxed. Not going to lie, I felt good being on top of that one. Dive two included skills similar to what we did in the pool on Saturday and luckily the second site was more of a larger grain sand / rock bottom so visibility stayed okay. We finished the dive with another short “tour” then were back on the boat heading home.

The day ended with a stop at the crab pot for some clam chowder and a liter (yes…someone *ahem* Laura *ahem* had that great idea and we all went with it) of beer. It really not that bad, just a little more than 2 beers, but it looked huge in 1 big stein. Exhausted from the weekend I crashed early that night feeling like I did well and excited to continue on throughout these next couple of weeks.