CopyRight @ 2004
Can you believe how many years ago it was. The sounds of boats and water. The harsh lights in the late night darkness. The the docks creak and a gentle cold breeze blows. It was the smell though. It was the smell that told the story. Whether it was the stink of yesterdays fish or the salt, you couldn't mistake that you were at the docks.
It was late, but I was always alert. I was there again. It was time to load gear on the boat and find a bunk. There might be some people up to say hello to, but it is usually just quiet with the night sounds of water and the occasional squawk of a sea gull passing. It was cold and crisp and perfect for exploring the unfamiliar paraphernalia of the sea farers that used the dock. At that age and with my curiosity, it was all completely new. I passed by just looking, as quiet as a ghost. I could trot out to the end of the breaklwall just to taste the air. My energy allowed me to go anywhere and do anything. I always chose to explore.
I haven't really liked going diving for a long time. Don't get me wrong, I like diving, I just don't like getting all the gear together, driving to the boat, loading up and preparing everything. Later you unload, drive back, clean game, clean gear and the rest. It's a lot of work. I have to think about the diving itself. Then I'm OK and will do the work it takes.
I've told before how intoxicating the beauty and excitement of diving is to me. I get to race along the ridges in the wide open of Talcott looking for a big lobster, lay in a crack in a dark reef peacefully feeding kelp to abalone, crawl in a hole to find out who is hiding in there or swim straight out to find what I have never seen before. Diving does make me happy and I still don't get cold..
I remember my first dive. Now, after so many years of it being so much of my life, I sometimes ask when will be my last dive? I've been tough on my body and I feel my age. My back has always provided problems. My knee has been getting worse for years and now is an issue with anything more than walking. I've been neglecting my health. I'm no couch potato, but I am in lousy shape and weight. I've put things off and need a couple teeth fixed, a toenail outgrown and then there is that squammy on my neck that I'll get looked at next week. Really, I've been working too hard, been too busy, too distracted and too stressed to keep track of little things like my health. Life has been a real beater lately. I seems like I just get busier and busier. I didn't really waste time, but it sure does waste me.
So it's lobster season and you know I've got to dive. Who Ra! The chores will wait for me. They always do. I'll miss the wife and kids in less than an hour after leaving. Then there is that I now have so much responsibility and there is some real danger from diving, perhaps especially the way I do it. I'm not getting any younger. Then there are my writings that are enough to cure any sane person.... Such distraction from diving or is diving the distraction?
I haven't been diving much lately. Funny that my idea of a warm up dive is to hunt deep at the outer Northern Islands. I did sort of pass on a couple dives that sounded fun, but were right there at the top of the gnarly scale. Really, I just want to test my knee, see if my back and sinuses are still comfortable with all this. They always seem game, but I figure it's time to wonder.
Maybe I'll become a summer diver and forget the long swims for lobster. I'll just eat whatever gets in my way. I still have to do the walks and carry my gear. I get older and feel so much more mortal let alone fragile. I wonder about my diving. I know about the paranoia of narcosis, but what about the night fears that come with age. Though they will fade as soon as I am in the water, they are what get in the way as I plan to go and wonder how to fit it into available time and energy. It's not just diving on my mind. It is a question of how long will my knee work? Could I be set up for stroke or heart attack? Is diving seriously looking for trouble? A weight belt crippled me for more than a year, though I won't repeat that maneuver ever again.
Maybe it's not so bad. Maybe it's diving that will dispel the cobwebs and revitalize my dimmed outlook. Maybe it's not diving that is the problem. Maybe it's diving that is the solution. It gets the circulation going. It could refresh my view and perhaps offer some inspiration. I could use it. Oh, it's going to leave me tired, but it will be worth it.
I'll get to the docks at midnight. The lights are harsh in the darkness and the occasional squawk of a seagull will add to the creaking sounds of the dock at night. I'll drag my gear down and find a bunk. Still, it's that smell. The smell of fish and salt that will tell me I am there and it is time to relax and go to another world. I'll think about my first dive instead of worrying about my last. The roar of the diesel and the smell of its smoke will tell me that I'm on my way to where I have always belonged amidst the mists, the salt, the wind and the beauty. The sea has always been where I am most alive. Again, it will remind me why I live and face the challenges of life as best I can.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt
I guess this can go here.
It's time to hang suits, put away gear and go for a dive in the hottub. There is no south swell, so things stayed calm as we left the island. People talk and then head for the bunks. After a few hours they start to show up on deck again for the evenings finale. The water is incredibly smooth and clear. Jellyfish can be seen as we pass. Porpoises come flying towards the boat from the sides and then go for a ride on the bow waves. Baitfish fly from the water as the porpoise come upon them.
The club members are starting to get silly and try to take group pictures of the club. I watch, always an outsider. No one speaks of the regrets about the end of the trip or the creeping hand of time that has changed us all through the years of diving together. Still, the days diving has made us all so aware of our life and memories of the past dives that have defined so much of our life, that we cannot deny or ignore its passage. We will do this as long as we can and we will remember this magic as long as we live. The sun sets with a wonderous show of soft colors as we pass the east end of Anacapa Island. The night falls gently. We all feel cold in the wind of the boat's passage through the glassy water, but no one wants to leave, for the moment and the beauty are something special that will surely be gone before we can come back. Perhaps, the cold was from more than the wind.
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