Before heading out of town on a whirlwind adventure I was able to sneak in one last dive and check off one more DMC requirement. My final open water internship marker was “leading certified divers.” While I lucked out and was able to brief and lead a small group at a site very familiar to me, I was also doing it at night, which adds some thrill because if you don’t stay close to each other, its easy to get separated in the oppressing darkness.
After gearing up on land I gave my first ever official briefing, stumbling a bit at points, but making sure to hit all the important aspects of diving Vet’s Park at night. We lucked out because the ocean looked as still as a lake, so the usual cautions of careful beach entry were unnecessary. After this we walked down to the beach and away we went.
Vet’s Park is a really easy dive site, in that its all sandy bottom and its typically an out and back site. My goals in leading the group was to not drop below our decided depth, and to resurface just off the stairs so we would not have a far walk out. The visibility was really crappy in the shallower water, but once we dropped below 40 ft things cleared out. Continually looking behind me, I made sure everyone was following as I lead down into the canyon. Immediately on dropping down to around 40ft we encountered a GIANT Sea Hare. This thing was larger than a basketball and by far the largest I’ve ever seen. Making note, I hoped we’d run into it again on return; it would serve as a perfect marker of where the steps were amongst the never changing sand bottom.
We capped our depth around 70ft, and headed south. I kept us a bit shallower at first so that we would run into the “Shrine”, a collection of dumped items that create something different to look at and homes for lots of little sea critters. After exploring around that for a bit we continued on. There was all the usual tiny octopus and sand dabs, etc. I tried to point them out as much as possible, but even then not everyone got to see them.
I think we went the furthest south on this dive then I ever have before mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t diving with my camera or a bunch of shutterbugs. We ran into a patch of weedy growth that I have never seen before. It was great to get to explore that area, I even found a small horn shark nestled in the weeds. This marked our turn around point and we cruised back at a slightly shallower depth. We indeed ran into the sea hare again (and I was sure glad we did, because it felt sooner than I anticipated where the stairs were). After hitting that I began moving everyone shallower hoping to be able to do our safety stop along the bottom, but the visibility deteriorated too quickly. We began our ascent and completed our safety stop mid water. Upon surfacing I was glad to see that we were just north of the stairs. The ocean had picked up a little bit, but over all was still an easy exit. After the dive we debriefed a bit on what we saw, how it went etc. Everyone had a good dive and there were no issues which was fantastic. One more pool session and a day out as back up DM next weekend and I’ll be putting through the DM cert and officially be a “Pro!”