That's gotta hurt or just some more inane ramblings


Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by seahunt on April 28, 2003 at 10:17:44:


Hmmmm. I realized even if this picture shows, it is only so dive related... So I had better find something about diving to add to it.
Here's the pic

.
Here is an essay I wrote a while ago, but never posted. It's .... a bit different, so you might find it of minor interest.... and it is about diving... eventually. Diving that few people ever do. It seems appropriate that I am listening to the Kingston Trio singing songs about the old Mesquites.
I hope you enjoy and are amused, seahunt
.
They Have No Concept Of Sport Diving

I guess this is a diving story. The diving wasn't so special, but getting there
was quite a trip, so why not. Plus, it was the furthest south I have ever
done what would be called California diving where there is cold water and
lush kelp.
.
Basically, the area probably started out as another fish camp in the big
cove with a headland that protected the boat landing and allowed the
fishermen to get past the surf. It grew into a town, but it was pretty
remote by most standards. They did get in a paved road finally and
running water a couple of years ago. Just a couple. The urchin fishery
had brought a new "wealth" to what must have been an incredibly poor
town. It was still pretty dang poor.
.
Called me a jack of all trades.
.
In the travels and events of my ill spent youth, it was not unusual for
me to encounter entrapenuers of commodities frowned upon by the powers
that be. This might seem an aspiration on my character, but instead I
say it was a predictable consequence of my skills and habits. You see,
I seem to have a knack that allows me to fix or manufacture most
mechanical contrivances a person could need, especially electrical
systems. Unfortunately, that which gives me that ability makes me
an artisan more than a craftsman, so I am more suited to performing
the exotic, rather than the common. The impossible I get done today,
the easy I don't bother with. Then when I am done, it has the
quality of art, not a product. After the Northridge earthquake, it
was said by my Aunt that the only things undamaged in her house were
what I had put together... Oh, this is a family traite, though each
child specializes differently. You want custom electronics or a custom
super truck, talk to my brothers. Anyhow, I digress, but the upshoot is
that we, I, present a very valuable resource to those who have a need
for any difficult or unusual task to be accomplished. I was really
good at all kinds of odd jobs. On the other hand, I like my
diving and wandering better than working for someone. Plus if you
consider the comtemplation required over the years to produce the
other side of my web site, I was, as expected, extremely spacy.
Some people don't notice things like that. They keep their eyes
on their goals, which I can help them achieve and anyway, my
spaciness just amused people with any of their own direction.
Better than that, I was cheap. At one place I used to set up
numerical milling machines with power conversion transformers. My
charge was $250. When I left and could no longer do it, the charge was
$1400 from an electrical company. Rick that owned the shop, said that
that was when he started male bonding with me. He also had figured out
(as others did for me and my brothers) that his best bet was to give
me money up front and I would eventually show up to do the work.
Another group of people that needed things done, wanted them
done very discretely and had the money to do these projects, were those
in illegal markets. It was fascinating who I met. The people I met
them through often weren't supposed to admit they even knew the person.
I tended not to be judgemental and there were some things that we didn't
know a whole lot about the consequences of back then in the 80's and so
were likely to be less critical of. I didn't much care. It's how I got
paid to do interesting things.
So that was how I got to doing things for George. George had made a
lucritive business of selling surplus U.S. military 45's in Mexico. He had
family there that was part of the local social structure. Mostly George
was in LA, where there was more family, two of whom I had gone to
school with since kindergarden. Initially I wired in his AC in this ancient
house he lived in and his brother (a city inspector) looked at my bombproof
industrial wiring job and said wow. That's how I came to be friends with him.
He had lots of ideas and his businesses had possibilities in all
directions.
Once while at Geoirge's house, I got paged. My friend was having a spat with
a neighbor and was asking suggestions. I said that if the neighbor wanted to
be difficult about a stupid guitar, I could talk to him. About this time,
George comes out with a Mack 10 .45 Caliber machine gun with sound suppressor
and asked me what the address of the problem is. No no no. That's not
really needed just at this point.
There was a complicated family and I had grown up with some and knew
others from different associations including a marriage of my friend
Kevin to one of the sisters... It just gets more complicated from there,
so enough to say, I had gone with them from LA on family trips for long
weekends to this small fishing town that was well south of Ensenada and
the border tourist areas. This was really different. All were welcomed by
this large family that were socially prominent members of the community.
Many family members were prosperous in the Estados Unitos. They were part
of the old Mexican culture of Southern California that I had grown up with,
not recent immigrants from the poor farming interiors of Mexico like so many
others. The family was extremely nice and always welcoming to all who came.
We would bring bacon, lunch meats, turkey and other meats that were harder
to get locally... and a big jar of mayonaise for Luis ,the patriarch of
the family. Meals were many and many courses. The tortillas were hand
made and just out of the oven.
No one cared that I spoke no Spanish. I liked to communicate and was
quite open. I fixed broken switches, plugs and other fixtures as I tend
to do where ever I visit. I also fixed the stereo in the truck. Here
that was really appreciated and speaks for me. I have lousy hearing and
don't speak the lingo as I said, but I know enough about speech
therapy to could help Luis' daughters clean up their English
accents. "The", "the", like "za", not "da".. and other stuff.
Talk about family complexity, I'm not going to mention Luis' mistriss.
I had enough trouble figuring out family dynamics without that Latin
habit.
So how this trip started was that George wanted to be able to live down
there comfortably with a couple of his brothers. In the family, somewhere,
it turned out that somebody owned an old adobe house in the riverbed.
George wanted me to come down and redo the electrical. I basically said
"pay my due bills and give me $400 and I'll go do it". I was pretty foot
loose at the time and anyway, I had never been diving there yet.
.
Luis is a crab fisherman and a prominent member of the local fishing
cooperative. The main harvest there though is urchins. The divers use
hookah rigs (old, rusty and funky) and are not what you call high tech.
They do decompression stops on the way down as well as on the way up.
Some instructor that knows spanish should talk to the cooperative... It
was a fishing town with enough tradition to understand that sometimes
the ocean claims its due. There always seemed to be some young cocky
diver that believed that you could just shuck your weight belt when
surfacing. I met one... in his wheel chair. They usually had 2 deaths
or major DCS accidents per year.
I went out with Luis and his son in their panga to check their crab
traps and do a couple of tanks. They were pulling up traps and I
was willing to help. Luis showed me how to place the line in my hand
so as not to let it slip and rip up my hand. In his own boat and as I
worked with him, Luis' English got much better. he seemed suprised that
I just fell into the job at hand and helped.
It was beautiful out in this small boat. I didn't know where I was then
and I'm still not clear on that now.
The water is cold here from the California current. At about 54 degrees,
it was colder than the waters near LA. This was what fostered the
abundent kelp that fed the urchins.
.
It was time to stop and manage the crabs. It was time for me to do my
first dive. The vis was no more than 10 feet when I found the flat
rocky bottom that was littered with urchins. I was looking around
for a direction to go when all of a sudden, crabs started to fall
around me. Luis and his son were taking off the crab claws and then
throwing the crabs back. They were fairly panicked to start with, I
suppose for good reason, and so when they saw me they would try to
escape away. Unfortunately, without their claws they were unbalanced
so running made them just flip over backwards.
I continued on over the flat rocks. It was different than the diving I
had done in California. It was mostly flat rocks completely covered
with urchins. Their size, mostly less than 3 inches, told me that the
area was under stiff harvest pressure no matter how productive it
seemed.
Even in the bad vis, I was moving fairly fast. There were lots of
sea stars, small fish like perch and just different little things
like crabs or turbin snails. The dive was different, but uneventful.
When I got back on the boat, Luis was finished with the crabs, so I
suggested we go deeper where there might be less dive pressure and
different stuff to see.
I went down to 80 feet and it was the same poor vis, flat rock and
bigger urchins. I did find a couple of deep ledges with fish and other
things hiding deep inside. There were vividly colored orange and cobolt
sponges as well as other filter feeders. While it was pretty, deep in the
cracks, most of the diving was not that interesting, so I figured, while
in Mexico, be a pinatta, so I started collecting the bigger urchins I saw.
I came back to the boat with a pretty good sack.
Back at shore, the other fishermen all cooperated to get ours and other
boats up the road to the top of the bluff. The urchins were given to some
ladys, that from my experience, must have been really good at cleaning
urchins. In about 15 minutes, they gave us back a plate of urchin row. I
expect that in a sushi bar, that plate would have cost more than $200. We
had Ritz crackers and I tried them with ketchup, but that was a waste.
With lime juice they were really good and quite surprisingly, they were
sweet. They were also really strange. This was the first time I had ever
had urchin. They were good.
.
The next day, we went out to this old, very old, adobe house built in
the river bed... ..In it.
That made me wonder. The electrical was an abomination. I had
brought a weather tight Square D industrial (light) grade panel,
breakers and a bunch of other parts I figured would be handy. The next
day, they brought me EMT and parts that I requested. As they ripped off
the roof, I fixed or replaced the electrical and put outlets to where
they wanted them. Realize that by the time I finished the job, this was
about the best electical construction for probably at least 100 miles.
This job would have passed inspection by a commercial inspector in the
Bay Area (as long as there had been no inspector bribery busts
recently).
.
Oh yah, there was that rotten kid too. Talk about odd jobs. George had
a fat brat of about 12 years or so that that mostly stayed with his
mother. He was along on this trip and basically hated it in Mexico and
I don't think he was real fond of George either. George had health
problems and there was no way he could discipline that little.. er ..
huge ... brat.
... How did it come about? The problem came up. I was asked what to do
with him. I dunno. It's none of my business and what do I know about
parenting beyond theory. Then he was "helping" me clean out a room at
the house by dumping the wheelbarrow when I filled it with junk. The
barrow had fallen into the large trash hole. I fished it out and told
the kid to be careful, but by then I knew which way the wind was blowing.
So next load I watched him and he tipped the wheelbarrow right
into the hole again. By now I understood that George was desperately
hoping that I would discipline the kid. I got a plastic sheathing
from some romex and figured I would apply a parental whupping. It
wouldn't really hurt any, but that is not the main intention of a
whupping. I just wanted his attention to make a point. Have you ever
tried to hold onto a fat 12 year old that goes limp on you? As I said,
I'll do just about any job... I guess I did it right enough. He was far
more tractable after that. I dunno if it helped George much.
.
I spent the evenings drinking with George, his brothers and some locals
or out riding the Honda ATC along the shore.
One evening, George asked me to come with him as he had some business to
do. He knows me and gave me a small gun. Just what a foreigner needs to
carry in Mexico. Well, whatever. We went to a house in his pickup truck
and he went in while I waited outside by the truck. There were two other
guys standing there waiting too. I noticed them, but wasn't interested in
paying attention. I was just spacing out a bit enjoying the evening
when a bunch of my automatic alarms went off. Crapola. These guys had on
the uniform. Very neet clothes. Cowboy boots, jeans and plad shirts.
They were indiginous local Mexican mafia (not California prison Mexican
mafia). They are noted for being talented with knives because of how
illegal guns are in Mexico. They were about to demonstrate just how
talented for me. You see, they were bodyguards for someone else inside
doing business and I had really, really pissed them off. First I had
ignored them and was just spacing out. Second, I was in flops and shorts
and if you are in shorts in Mexico, you are not a man. Oh goody. I knew I
had challenged them and they were about to go for it. The language barrier
was not gonna be a problem for them. I jumped way up in the air and kicked
both my flops off into the back of the pickup truck. My form was perfect.
Luckily, that made the point, but I didn't space out any more and was glad
when George came back.
.
One evening I saw some guys, probably in their late teens, walking in the
tidal rocks. When they found small mollusks, mostly turnab shells, they
would pull out the feet and eat them. Coming from the wealthy United States,
I had never witnessed hungry people subsiding on what protein they could
pull from the sea rocks, but I understood. This also dictates something
about the existing ecology. It is pressured just like the people.
.
God, did those people want out of that town and can I blame them!
.
I spent the next day working on the adobe again. It was a fair sized ranch
style house. The walls were from about 15 to 18 inches thick. Adobe is
basically just mud, so drill a hole through a wall, you can rotate a sharp
stick and make a fine hole right through the wall. Whoever did the original
work had put pipe in the walls and had actually connected the boxes to the
pipe. Then they put in what wire they had around. That included a solid #10
green wire for the common. Whatever. It all worked fine when I
finished.
That evening I went out on the ATC as I had before. I usually went along
the road to the south of town. There was a good dirt road that went along
the shore above the sea cliffs. The cliffs were mostly about 20 feet high
and it was pretty easy to get down to the beach. The locals don't much pay
attention to the shore here and this area was little visited. I don't know
how far that road goes. I went less than 5 miles, but it was all the same
empty, misty shore. The solitude was complete nd inspiring.
This time I took off up the road north from the town to the headlands that
protected the fishermen's boats from north swell. Here the sea cliffs were
a bit higher and the scenery much more wild and dramatic. Offshore, waves
continually pound amoung rocks and send spray up the weather carved stacks.
Looking closely at the ground, you can see just the remains of the adobe
walls of two sizable houses. They would have had a spectacular
view.
So that's how I ended up spending my evening riding a Honda ATC along
the bluffs, somewhere fairly far south of Ensenada watching the surf, sea
mists and the colors of the sunset, with a bottle of Joseph Black Bird in
my pocket.
.
Small boat, big seas, much Spanish, whopping hangover...
Where am I? How did I get here? Did I enjoy last night???
Oh, it's time to dive again, but first a big breakfast with bacon and
eggs cooked in about 1/2 inch of that bacon grease, with beans, cheeses
and other things I'm not sure I had names for.
I was going home tomorrow, so this time I wanted to find something more
interesting to see. Well, there were those shallow rocks sticking up in
the cove. Shallow water diving can be great.
It was like a washing machine with bad vis. I saw stuff as I flew by.
There were many tiny scallops, purple urchins and small fish, but that
was a sucko dive. All that swishing around with a hangover was
great. The only time I wasn't flying in the surge was when I found a
ledge to go in that was full of 4 inch langusa (lobsters). Well, that
was interesting.
I suggested that we head out to deeper water...
We went out to where some urchin fishers had their boats working. Some
divers were in the water, some in their boats resting. Luis was trying
to keep a straight face while telling the other fishers that he had
brought down some hot American diver to harvest urchins the right way.
At 80 feet, it was a flat rock bottom with bad vis again, but the urchins
were bigger here. I figured to navigate a big circle to try to find
something different to see. Out of the gloom, boulders appeared. They
are completely covered with colorful filter feeders including anemones
and small scallops. The rocks were about 2 feet apart, perfectly spaced
to swim between. Around their bottoms are hundreds of small crabs and
a few morays
.
Well, it was time to go, but I will always remain in some way. Gads how
far I have gone and how many people I have met. They all make me
rich.




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