Dive Report: Bird Rock/ S.H.A.A.R.K.

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Posted by geoa on August 29, 2001 at 10:33:45:

The L.A. County Sheriff's in conjunction with the City of Industry and Laguna Sea Sports have an ongoing program of introducing scuba diving to "at risk" kids from the bedroom communities surrounding Los Angeles.

For those of us that have not been having "fun" scuba diving, I can affirm that this is the remedy.

After 1 week of intense training in the City of Industry's pool which happens to be 19 ft deep, 17 kids are ready to be taken aboard the "Encore" and escorted out to Catalina for a day of snorkeling and diving in front of the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber where planned maximum depths are not to exceed 30fsw.

The drill is to have one kid each escorted by LSS Staff DM's and 2 kids each escorted by LSS instructors for a 15 minute tour under Captain Pamela's boat.

After arriving at the "Encore" at 0630 A.J. Plesset, myself, Gord Boivin and Dominique watched the kids and several Sheriff's Deputies load up the boat with tanks, wetsuits and other gear at 0730. By 0830 we were off to our first stop--the Hyperbaric Chamber at the Isthmus. The kids enjoyed the Leopard Shark breeding pen and got a full tour of the facilities by Karl Huggins and Gord Boivin.

By 1100 we set off for the 10 minute ride to our dive site. The DM's and Instructors giant strided off the sides where we swam over to the swim step and were handed down the kids by the Deputies who got them all geared up on the step. Two weighted descent lines hung off the fantail and after collecting my charge, we headed down fins first thru the clear, aquarium like water. Man, what a beautiful day. The vis as probably 80 ft and I kept feeling like the little plastic scuba diver that blows air into your home aquarium. The only thing missing was the pirate treasure chest. Set timer, Ok sign, grab kids console, check location of boat-lets go. There was absolutely no current yesterday and the kelp stood straight up. We were immediately greeted by Sheeps and Gari's looking for handouts. My first kid loved it when the bright orange fish would come over his head and give him the once over from about 3 inches in front of his mask. Many juvenile Sheeps but also a few adults. Investigating the cracks and ledges, I reminded myself to come back later and take those few scallops that were there. Check position of boat. We could easily see the stream of bubbles from the rest of the divers, so I decided to pull my charge over to see what all the commotion was about. Gord Boivin, a Deputy and 2 kids had uuncovered a 2 ft Octopus and fought valiantly to keep the Sheep's away from the exposed Cephalapod. (sp) What a scene. Bing! Times up. I signalled to my kid that we were going up and as I did so he reached for his power inflator, WHACK! you did'nt learn that from us, so I guess it was his idea. Getting him to the surface, I saw that the anxious kids were lined up waiting to go for a dive.

As the day progressed with assemblyline tours, I noticed that most of the kids really were quite comfortable diving. And this is what it's all about, having fun, doing something different than watching it on television. Unfortunately, the most enthusiastic kid had asthma, but was more than content to watch the adventure from the surface with snorkel. Not a problem being in 20 ft of H20 with 80 + vis.

After a great lunch provided by Frank, all the kids opted for a second dive. So we did it all over again. I did six tours and I think the rest of the staffers did six as well.

Fun day of diving and not a single debate over Gas, Gear or Gotcha ;-)

BTW, SHAARK stands for Sheriff's High Adventure for At Risk Kids.

Props to L.A. County Sheriff's Deputies, Scotty (who got his BOW cert yesterday,) Brucie, John and the rest. San Gabriel Valley Tribune for the reporter with the great cameras. Capt. Pamela and Frank and crew. Karl Huggins at the Chamber, Dominique, Gord Boivin (Instructors) A.J Plesset (NAUI DM)and especially the "kids"

Dive on.

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