This Was Diving

CopyRight @ 1997

Do you remember diving in the early 70's. It was different then. I was out on the Sea Bee from Port Hueneme on an open Wednesday trip. Art was the skipper. The boat had 8 large K bottles of air instead of a compressor and Coast Guard regulations limited fills to 1800 psi. The boat had ladders on both sides, but not a platform... Remember, this was before Scubapro made the first BC and before there were submersible pressure gauges. I liked it that way... Anyway...

We were heading up towards Santa Cruz Island and I went up and asked Art if we could do a deep dive. His response was we could "if everyone wanted to". So I of course went to the bunk room and told everyone that "hey, we're going to make a deep dive at Yellowbanks". No one objected, so that was fine. We stopped about a mile off the island where Art had metered a reef. Bob Presely and I jumped off with our steel 72's with J valves and headed for the bottom. In my beavertail wetsuit and short pants, I could tell that it was cold. When we landed on the sand at about 110 feet, it was calm and clear. You could easily see the disturbed trails where other divers had stirred up some sand as they went to look for a reef. We bounced off the other way. I was a bit narced, but that came up later...

We found a low reef that was about 15 feet wide and that went off into the haze. There were low laminarias growing on it, with numerous starfish and rock fish. I quickly found a ledge with a legal bug under it. Limit for bugs was 10 at this time. I signaled to Bob as best I could that the bug might come out fast when I grabbed at it. Sure enough, it smacked him in the face and he clutched it to his mask. He gave it to me. I guess that we expected to see more since this one showed up so fast. It turned out that this was one of only two legal bugs taken that day. Oh well. Then, under the swell of a rock, I saw a hubcap. This abalone was huge. I popped it in my bag and went on. I found 4 more like it, all measured 9 1/2 inches. At one point I found one a little bit under a rock. I was narced enough though to be a bit paranoid. That is the first symptom of narcosis, but I was not familiar with the effect and was too nervous to go under the rock. Well, it was obviously a rather short dive at that depth and a difficult swim up with these 4 big abs and the bug. It turned out that the abs were not all reds. One of them was a white... We found out that almost no one else had found the reefs. They had mostly puttered along through sand the whole dive. For me, it was a rare and spectacular dive.

One thing that I like about deep diving is how clear your vision works. At depth, the water tends to be quite clear, but the depth has removed pretty much all color. So your eyes see with the rod cells, not the cone cells. That is pretty much how night vision works. Well, under these conditions your rods make your vision incredibly clear and sharp. This has always fascinated me when I am at depth.

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