Gotta Dive...

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Posted by seahunt on February 22, 2000 at 14:23:49:

In Reply to: Big Sur--A Close Cal--Feb 19, 2000 posted by bigsurdiver on February 19, 2000 at 20:53:36:

Sounds like quite a dive. Sounds a bit familiar.
I was thinking about writing an essay for the boards about that aspect of California diving, but I didn't think most divers could relate. In California, if you do much shore diving, even in Southrn California, you are going to eventually get into some very scary situations. Past Southern
California, it tends to get scarier, because here are more rocks and bigger waves...
It sounds like you made the right judgement calls. You wrote about it afterwards. It sounds like you had no warning time in which to do much, otherwise I might ask why you didn't try to crawl into the rocks near shore.
I suspect that you were talking about feather boa kelp. It's a laminarea, a brown algae, but I can't offer its scientific name offhand. Sometimes you can hold onto it, but of course
that's only if you are there and it works at the time.
Survival in those conditions really is skill, strength and presence of mind. In those situations, your mind does work very well, it's just short of time and options.
Really, sometimes I have to wonder about some of these posts from people that say they are such great divers and have so many certification levels. I think there is no more of a challenge to a divers skill than shore diving in California, but it's not taught in a class. I think that many divers from out of California would die in a situation like you encountered. I suspect that what many California shore divers would call a poor but divable day, would be considered completely undivable by most divers from elsewhere. The hike to the water can be a major challenge.

There is one other thing that I might mention. I call it the 'forgiveness factor'. I used to occasionally find myself moving very rapidly, face first, straight at a rock. You know how that can happen. Amazingly, I would find a few seconds later that I had somehow managed to miss the rock. I figured out that since you are about the same density as water, as the water flows around a rock, so too, a diver tends to flow around a rock instead of hitting it directly. It's really convenient, but usually happens so fast that you don't know what happened or how you missed.
Sort of as a joke I posted something about skill levels. It rated a person according to their ability to rescue themselves and others in bad conditions. Then I said that the seahunt diver doesn't panic before drowning. It took some thought even for me to figure that one out. Not many divrs find out about that, but if you do much shore diving in California and like to push it, you are going to come pretty close to drowning at some point. If you have been at that point and know you didn't panic, even if you aren't sure how you made it out alive, you sort if have to smile at certification classes, because you've just passed the most difficult dive test of all. Any other diving, anywhere else,
is easy.
Still, I'm trying to figure out how to make a post that the warm water divers would understand. Just how do you explain that the local ocean here imposes a standard that will occasionally test if you can be drowned? Not only that, but you will only survive it with skills that most divers just have never considered... Then next weekend you'll go back and do it again.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt

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