Monday, July 30, 2012

Diving the PBY- wondering whats next

Where do I even begin? ........ Lets see its been forever since my last post and the only one to blame for this is yours truly. I have been extremely busy with work. I still work out of town and have to commute back and forth every day. And so between the long drives and long weeks I have been stretched to find an hour or two of personal time to sit down and put one of my many ideas into words on here. My diving has also been lacking. I use to do at least 10-12 dives a month but that has gone down to 3-6 due to the craziness of life and our busy schedule.

But there is one thing that has kept me from writing about all the things I have been doing. I have fealt less and less original. Not like it should really matter because Im just me and nobody important. But the more I have gotten involved in social media and started to see what content is out there in the world of diving, I have started to feel like no matter what I do or talk about some one has been there before, blogged about it before or youtube'd it to death. I have written a handfull of long blogs about things I have done. All the technical training I have completed. Wreck diving in San Diego. Challenging myself to push deeper. Controlling narcossis. ETC ETC ETC but every time I go back and read it. It sounds like a dozen other blogs I have read and I put it on the shelf.

Ok enough whining and self loathing.


When it comes to diving I have set pretty tall goals for myself. This has become more than just a hobby. Its not just something I do for fun in my spare time. It has become my whole life. It is what I am planning my long term future around. Unless I am diving a shallow dive with April and helping her to continue getting comfortable under water, every dive I do is a training dive for the next step. And the next step for me right now is pushing my deep diving skills on air. I know there are a bunch of people that want to comment about what they feel is unsafe, or try and push their training beliefs off on me, but its all just a personal opinion. My goals are to be able to push myself and dive deep wrecks and explore new sites down to around 220' on air. To some of you this may be a walk in the park. For others you have probablly already laughed and called me an idiot. Either way it is what I am striving for right now. I am going to move on and take tri mix in the near future. But right now I want to become as comfortable and efficient as I can diving on air and dealing with the problems that come along with it. I just feel that in order to become a complete and well rounded diver, this is an area I need to master. So this is what I am doing every time I dive. Pushing the limits of my narcossis, practicing skills at depth, overcoming my fears, testing myself over and over. Its the most challenging, demanding, and rewarding adventure I have ever undertaken.

There are so many different things to see deep in Lake Mead. Real airplane wrecks, contsruction sites from building the dam, whole fort settlements lost under the lake. But you just need the training and the right group of divers to see them. One of these sites has been gnawing at me for quite some time.

On october 24, 1949 a navy PBY catalina flying boat crashed in Lake Mead killing four of the five men on board. The plane had been bought from the navy by an L.A. based firm for testing. Shortly after taking off from Boulder City munincipal aiport, the pilot was attempting a test landing in the boulder basin just a mile or so off boulder beach. The landing gear was still down causing the plane to flip over and burst into flames. One man, the only to be wearing his seat belt, managed to free himself from the wreckage and swim free just before it sunk below the surface. The plane broke into two large pieces and now lays on the bottom upside down in the silt. The depth of the plane depends on the current lake elevation, which changes dramatically from season to season, the plane currently lies in 181' of water with the lake elevation being 1115 feet.

Last sunday this was our dive destination. We have been patiently waiting for the lake levels to come down. In fact they have dropped over 25 feet in the last four months. Finally making it the right depth for us newly emerging technical divers in the desert dog tribe to use our training and enjoy a deep historic dive. Sunday morning we all showed up to the dock around 6:30 am. We were all about as excited as we had ever been about a dive. Spirits were high. We loaded up the boat with about 10 sets of doubles, multiple air stage tanks, 50% nitrox, 100% oxygen tanks, and enough bagged gear to fill a small bus. There is just a certain feeling that I get every time I am loading up gear on a dive boat. Bad A$$. The ride to the well known GPS coordinates of the wreck was a short one. Maybe 20 minutes from the harbor. A mooring had been set up here a long time ago by other divers. We fished the tail to the mooring, hooked up the boat and killed the motor. Everyone began shuffling around the busy front section of the boat getting all their reg's on, wings, lights, fins, etc. When everyone had set their rigs up we sat down inside the cab and went over the plan. The plan for this dive was going to be planned with lots of extra safety in it. We had dropped a depth gauge to verify the depth. It came back as 181'. Using our deco planner 3 software we all agreed we would use a 200' profile. For deco mix we would add only 50% mix. Although we would be carrying and using 100% at the last 20' stop. The extra depth and lack of mix in the planning software just ensured we would have more deco time than we actually needed. With 25 minutes planned on the bottom. It gave us a 1 hour 44 minute total dive. 37 minutes of this spent at the last 20' stop.

Everyone transferreed the profile on to their wrist slates and moved back on to the front deck. We had planned on sticking to our usual pairs. Chad and I were one team. Bill, and Steve would be the second team. Dubby was having some gear problems and second thoughts and did the right thing and called the dive for himself. With it being well over 100 deg F we waited till the last second to throw on our drysuits. Chad and I were first off the boat. Then Steve. Bill is usually last due to the extra time needed to set up his Inspiration CCR and going through all the checklists. Chad and I went through a couple basic hand signals. We made sure we were both comfortable and checked with the other two divers. Everyone was good to go and Bill gave the thumbs down. Chad and I dropped to 20 ' and did a complete bubble and gear check of each other. We both gave each other the ok and another thumbs down. We bled our wings and headed down. This has always been one of my favorite parts of diving. Its such a rush to drop down through the water when there is no bottom in sight. We had both agreed that we wanted to get to the bottom as fast as we could. I kept my computer in front of me watching the depth as we dropped. I always like to see at what depth I start to feel the first ring of narcossis. It was right at 130' as Chads bubbles blew past my mask that I felt that first hit and things started to sharpen. It was getting dark and cold and I loved every second of it. we slowed our descent just a bit. I began to see the dull shade of brown silt in the far reaches of our lights. Then there was the bottom of the mooring. And if being deep and narc'd wasnt creepy enough. At the base of the mooring is a head stone memorial for a diver who died diving this wreck a few years ago. It was a sobering reminder of what is at risk. I gathered my thoughts and slowed my breathing and focused on what we had came to see.

From the mooring base there is two lines running out to the two seperate pieces of the wreck site. We headed off down the line towards the tail section first. A short swim of maybe 70 feet and the wreck began to take shape out of the darkness. Chad and I hovered over the wreck. We glided across to the end of the tail and turned back along its side. The size of this wreck was suprising to me. For some reason I had pictured it being smaller but it was huge before me now. I checked my watch and was at the 10 minute mark. I gave my partner the signal and we headed down the line back towards the mooring. As we reached the base again we checked our air pressure. We had already determined what our minimun turn pressure would be. We both were not even close to our first third so we made our way to the front section of the plane. Steve had decided he had enough for one day and started his ascent up the line. So the three of us made our way to the second section of the wreck. Right away Bill had guided me over to the cockpit which had been ripped open from the bottom. I inverted my position and lowered my head down into the tight area trying to get a better look at the gauges and controls. Not wanting to touch the wreck I could only make out the numbers on the airspeed indictator which were stuck at 180. This was my first taste of a "real" wreck. We have found many small boats that have sank in the lake but this was the real deal. And I have dove large naval ships foundered for artificial reefs. But this was different. It was mangled. It had gone down violently. It was breathtaking. After quite a while floating above the cockpit I decided to make my way up and along the underside of the wing. I checked my watch again. I was already at 20 minutes. I was bummed. I had just got there and had to head back. I had not even begun to see this plane. Chad and I both gave the signal to make our turn. We swam back along the cave line leading to the mooring. Everyone was accounted for and we started our slow ascent up the line.

I have been doing almost all deco dives in the last four months but none of my hangs have been as fun as this one. With three open pages on our slate. Chad, Bill, and I must have played 100 tic tac toe games, Quite a few games of hangman, and even a round of pictionary bewteen only Chad and I. And since I need to keep this pg-13 I cant divulge the topics or subjects of our underwater shenanigans.

What an awesome dive. I had the best time. I can not even begin to describe the feeling this dive gave me. It felt like all the work and mental preperation I had been doing was paying off. This dive went off with absolutley no problems. All I can say is I owe alot of thanks to my good buddy Bill and my dive Buddy Chad. These two guys have took me under their wing and shown me everything. Bill has taken so much time to make sure I know my stuff and my capabilites. I feel extremely fortunate for these opportunities. I wouldnt be doingvwhat I am without these friends of mine.

So whats next? Well all I know is I want to, and need to do this dive about a 100 more times. I dont think something like this could ever get old. But I am going to continue pushing my diving. I have some more gear I need to get in the mean time but there is so much more I am going to see right here in Lake Mead. I hope to get my GoPro figured out soon and be able to share these dives with you. I promise to write about our dives more as I have time and when they are worth writing about. I hope people continue to read and enjoy these blogs. I know Im not an expert or anything special but this is what I love and this is what I am.

Happy Safe Diving to Ya


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where have I been?

It has been quite a long time since my last blog post. Most of you that have read my previous stories prob thought I would be posting stories every week or so. Well I really should have been. Its not that I haven't been diving or even writing about what we have been doing, because I have. Its just that since starting this blog I have become increasingly busy with other aspects of my life which have cut my spare time to a minimum. I have also come to the conclusion that I suck at building a webpage and it is a lot of work. I have read and started following several other diving blogs and am so impressed with the amount of thought, time, and ingenuity they put into their blogs. So please bear with me as I continue to improve my site and its content. So when reading my stories please consider the source. I am a mediocre educated, country living, been kicked in the head by large animals, beer drinking, construction worker kind of guy lol. Got it? Good. So here is how my days have been going as of late..........


My alarm goes off at 4 AM i am usually not rested because I laid awake thinking about my next dives or I was too lazy to put my boxer Sydney in her crate for the night and she took up my whole side of the bed. I get a shower, put my coffee in my thermos, make a half a$$ lunch and head out the door. I live in Nevada but because there is not much work here so I took a job in California just across the state line. From my door to the job is about 90 miles. With traffic it usually takes me an hour and a half to get there. So it is in this free time I listen to the only audio book I have on my Iphone. Yup its "shadow divers". I have currently listened to it about nine times. I love it and cant get enough of it. When I get to work and I am usually there 30 minutes early, I make my morning rounds(stalking) on twitter and facebook. See what interesting things people like @Iarediver have to say. Then I hit up the craigslist postings for all things scuba. Those that know me best know that I am always lurking on craigslist looking to snatch up anything scuba related which is of use to me or my buddies and is a good deal. There are certain things I wont buy on there like regulators or a computer, but anything else that I spot will probably get swooped up. This is the reason I have a nice selection of BCD's and tanks. About 12 different tanks to be exact. Why would I need 12 tanks you might ask? Why not? I could always supply friends with some. It never hurts to have a set of doubles in 80's, 100's, 120's, stage bottles, etc etc etc. Different tanks for different dives.

So eventually I have to get out of my car and actually go to work UGHHHHH :-/ . I work ten hour days four days a week with the occasional friday which is an overtime shift which = more scuba money which = less grumpy ScubaT. My shift ends at 5pm and I make my long drive home which with traffic can stretch to almost two hours if I hit an accident or rush hour downtown. Pick up my kid and arrive at home. This leaves me enough time to play with him for a sec, stuff my face with Aprils amazing cooking, (hard to get skinny here) take a shower and repeat from the beginning.

So that is how the week days usually go. When I get home thursday night and I dont have to work a friday shift I am in a whole different mood. I know its time to get ready for diving.


I have been diving every weekend, sometimes fri, sat , and sun. I have fell in pretty tight with our tribe of divers and we have been putting together an amazing team to do all kinds of different dives. Together we have been taking as many classes as we can and working on our diving abilities, pushing and helping each other along the way. I myself have come quite a long way in my diving abilities and skill sets. From a struggling newbie kicking up the bottom, to a developing tech diver holding my own in a group of bad a$$ dudes. I have without a doubt found my niche in diving and the group I want to do it with. As with all of the other aspects of my life I do not live well with boundaries. I dont like limits or restrictions. I have always believed that if given the right amount of info, training, and practice there has never been anything I cant do. If another man can do something I believe I can do it too. This is why technical diving is working well for me. This being said, it does not have to be this way for everyone. Its not always about going to extreme depths or going places people have never been. Although this is the case for me. Technical diving could simply be a way to better enjoy things most recreational divers can just see only for a glimpse. For instance, We enjoy to dive the yukon in san diego. It lays in 105 feet at its deepest point. Not a scary deep dive at all. But if you are following the no deco limits you will have between 12-16 minutes of bottom time. I dont know about you but that is not even close to enough time for me to enjoy something as awesome as the yukon. So with some decompression training you can extend that bottom time and have the equipment to get you there and the knowledge and to bring you back safely. I think this is where people get so turned off about tech diving, They dont realize the opportunities it can open up to them and enhance your diving to things you are wanting to see and do that are within recreational limits. And along with the training to extend your bottom time, you can pick up essential diving skill sets that can set you far apart from other divers and all the while keeping you safer and making the dives less work, which = better diving experience. I cant help but notice when I watch videos of people diving exotic wrecks in warm water, great viz locations, and they are working so hard to maintain buoyancy and seem to never have heard of "trim" If only they could take a little more classes, enhance their skills they would begin to discover how much more enjoyable diving could be. How much less air they would consume if the could they were more comfortable in the water.

But for me technical diving is opening up all the doors to the things I want to do and see underwater. Even though I am just in the beginning stages of my training, it has already opened my eyes to what is possible and has given me the opportunity to see things that not too many people have seen where we dive. I have been able to see and find new wrecks no one has ever dove in the lake. I have been able to spend 35 minutes penetrating the yukon from top to bottom and use deco gasses to come back. And my favorite part is we can continue finding new deeper sites, and explore places people have not been before since before the dam was built and the lake was filled up. There are several large wrecks and a couple of towns that have not been relocated and we are gonna find them. This is what drives me and what my diving is all about.

So this is where I have been and what I have been doing. As all of you know, it is very hard to juggle the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And it gets even trickier when you throw in some hobbies and extra family events. So I am gonna try harder to get all the rest of my stories finished and try to continue to make improvements to my page so as to make this an overall more enjoyable experience. Hopefully you follow me and my buddies on twitter( @scubaTdiving ) and chat it up with us on face book. Please also check out our web page page for desertdogdiving and like our face book page from there, as well as our shop scuba views . We really enjoy the follows and likes. Any comments or help you want to offer is welcomed.

Thanks for reading and happy diving


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sometimes you just need to jump off a cliff

NOTE- Just to keep everyone up to speed on this blog. Not every story is gonna be in chronological order and not every dive we do is written about. With my busy schedule I have only been able to log between 10-15 dives a month. Every dive I have is amazing but a few of them just seem to stay in my brain for days and days.

As I have spoken about before diving has taken so many different turns since I first started out. I feel like I am a college student again and have changed my major eight times. First it was spear fishing, then maybe under water video and photography. But as my logged dive total continues to climb and my field of vision widens to the possibilities that are out there and the things I am capable of, I know for sure that I am headed the tech diving route. There are too many deep dark places that need explored. Too many wrecks lay on the bottom needing discovered. Its the adventure and exploration that is calling me out. I am not the type of person who likes limitations. My whole life I have been hard headedly trying to prove people wrong when they tell me something cant be done, or its too dangerous. I believe there is an answer to every problem. Nothing is impossible. With the right training, support team, equipment, and determination, I know I can and will accomplish some pretty amazing things.

Just as diving has become different to me in many ways so has the days in between the dives. No longer am I just biding my time until I jump off the boat again but I am starting to plan out my dives. Not hours or minutes before the dive, but days before. Most often I find myself sitting quietly on the boat rides back to the marina thinking and contemplating how I can make the next dive better. How can I push myself farther. What knowledge can I gain between now and then. It was probably a Monday or Tuesday at work and I was a hundred feet below the surface daydreaming of this weekends upcoming dives. I knew that we were going to a new spot to me. The rest of the group had been there many times and always talked about it. They called it "ariels rock" because of the way these three rocks had fallen together forming a table top like Stonehenge where it would be perfect for a mermaid, hence the "ariel" reference, to be laying out. They had told me all kinds of stories about the enormous amount of rock structure at this new spot and how all the huge boulders leaning against each other created numerous swim-throughs. But the story that had stuck in my mind the most is when Bill told me that he had found a boat wrecked in this area a year or two before but had lost its coordinates and wanted to find it again. This is what had me daydreaming all week. Would we be able to find it? Would it have any documents or objects of interest still in it? I was obsessed with these ideas all week. I knew the depths we would be diving at. The boat was lying between 120-130 feet of water. I must have used my no-deco planner app on my phone a million times that week. I did my SAC rate at least that many times to see exactly how much gas I would need at that depth. There is something so exciting to me to have a known goal to a dive. And then to formulate a plan and execute it is an amazingly satisfying feeling.

On Saturday mornings when I am going diving it does not matter how tired I am. I could have worked 80 hours in five days and only got two hours of sleep, but I am bright eyed and bushy tailed on diving days. As usual I am up way earlier than I need to be. Drinking my extra strong coffee. Loading all my gear into my truck. Triple checking that I did not forget anything. And then finally hitting the road. The drive from my house to Las Vegas boat harbor where Bills boat is docked, is exactly one hour. But it has never really felt like more than a twenty minute drive to me. Sometimes I am so deep in diving thoughts that I don't even recall the actual drive out there. All of a sudden I am just there. During the week leading up to this weekends dives, there were several things that happened at work that had really been stressing me out. These were things that were out of my control but they still seemed to gnaw at me and I needed to find a way to let them go and get some kind of release. I knew that with ever inch my head dipped beneath the surface, these problems would be washed away. Only someone who dives can fully appreciate the stress relieving effects that scuba can offer. On the way out to our dive site I sat across from Bill as usual and started my normal barrage of questions. How deep are we going again? When were you last here? What is the compass heading form our anchored spot gonna be? Whats the water temp? All of which I know he is going to brief us on when we get there but I never can seem to wait that long. And I am sure only Bill could fully recount the questions I end up asking him on a daily basis. But he always has an answer for me and I know I could not have a better instructor, dive buddy, or friend, for these situations. We soon arrived at our spot. We through an anchor and suited up. As always Bill gave us an in depth dive plan. He told us the depth we were anchored at and what heading we needed to take from the bottom of the anchor. And then as always he gives us the common desert dog saying of " get off my boat". I am pretty sure I was the first one in as always. Being that I am one of the only ones in our tribe that does not have a dry-suit yet, usually it is not the smartest choice. As we all made our way to the bottom and met up with our buddies Bill gave the signal in the direction we needed to head and we started off. Immediately I could see all the structure that they had told me about. The best way I could describe it is to have you picture a huge rock slide that had come to rest at the bottom of a hill. But not small rock. These rocks are the size of cars and small buses. They are everywhere. I can see daylight through the gaps where they are leaning against each other. Most people have no idea the things you can see diving at lake mead. It is absolutely breathtaking. People pay thousands of dollars to travel abroad and to see reef walls and swim through holes in the oceans. But we have all that right here in our backyard. When I am under water looking at these amazing sites I cant help but think about ways to spread the word about our lake. How can I get more people to come see our spots? I really want to open up peoples eyes to the diving possibilities in lake mead. I think there are multiple spots for every kind of diver. From shallow warm water recreational divers to deep tri-mix, and cave divers. This place has it all.

We continued swimming along the rock debris, following Bill through the cracks and ravines. We had traveled approx 100 yards and dipped down to about 110 feet. We circled a vertical rock formation to the right, backtracked just a bit, and then right below us in a little crack laid the boat. We had found it on our first dive. We all looked at each other and pumped our fists. We all swam down and started checking it out. The first thing I did was head for the starboard side of the bow where I knew the registration tags would be. If these were still in tact I know we would have been among the first to see this wreck. I ran my hand along the edge and wiped the muck off the boat. There they were. The tags looked like they were brand new. The date on the tag was 1968. Wow this boat was last registered in 1968 and we were probably the first to see it again since then. We swam all around it and looked for whatever other identifying material we could find. I looked at my computer and gauges and knew that I had just a few minutes left before hitting my deco limits. I signalled to Bill, and we all started our ascent back up out of the little canyon where the boat had come to rest. We retraced the path we had taken. Which because of all the unforgettable landmarks was a pretty simple task. There were several very large swim throughs. Like a family of little ducks we followed Bill through several of them. About half way back to the anchor line Bill stopped and gave me the signal for "look at that". Well in a less excited atmosphere I would have recognized that as a "look at that only" signal but in my mind I was thinking, ok I'll swim through that hole and he will watch me. The hole was quite a bit smaller than the others but still looked plenty big for me to swim right through. I could clearly see though to the other side which was only maybe ten feet through. I got my buoyancy just right and started through. About half way through I realized the whole was not as big as I had thought. I continued to fin forward. I felt my tank start to scrape a little. My heart rate jumped just a bit. I could see the exit was just an arms length away. I gave two more good kicks and came to a dead stop. I had wedged myself in the whole. The bottom of the whole was silt and soft and had been kicked up. Not sure why but I did not feel panicked. This may have been my first time actually being in this situation but since reading "Shadow Divers" I had rehearsed this in my mind at least a hundred times. As long as I'm breathing I'll be ok. I took a second to collect my thoughts. I could not see much accept for Marcia's light shining in from the exit side of the whole. She had swam down to take a picture and saw what had happened. I could not see above or below me and the more I moved the worse the silt problem became. But with my hands I could feel that to my right the top and bottoms of the hole become further apart. I used my hands, adjusted my gear a bit, and slid sideways and down to my right. I felt a few inches of freedom. I used my hands and crawled out of the hole. I had made it out. As soon as I made it out I could see the look in every ones eyes and knew I had overstepped my bounds. Well maybe just a little. But I was pumped about it. The shot of adrenaline it gave me had me flying high.

We finished the rest of our dive, headed up the anchor line, did our safety stop and climbed up the boat steps. I apologized to everyone for giving them a scare and said I would not do that again. Today anyways lol. We got out some food and started chatting during our interval to the next dive. Since we had thrown anchor I had eyed a small rock island not to far of a swim form our boat. On the north face of the island was a vertical face, and to me that meant only one thing. It needs to be jumped off. Jumping and diving off cliffs has been one of my favorite activities for a long time. I have very seldom passed up on a good ledge if i saw one. Still riding my adrenaline wave I dove off the boat and started swimming over to the rock. I told Marcia to get her camera ready. You always need proof of such things other wise it becomes like fish stories over a beer. " No I promise man that cliff was so big". I scuttled up to the highest point on the rock. It took me a second to catch my breath and size up the drop in front of me. As any of you that have stood over a ledge can verify. Things always look way bigger once you are up there. I stood up and got my footing. This was the pinnacle of a bad a$$ day. All the stress and problems of the previous week were deleted and gone. I was at my happiest moment in life. never felt so alive. I took a big leap. A few second later I hit the water. This is what I need. This it what keeps me coming back for more. It is the challenges that I want to overcome, and the ability to do so in all aspects of life, that make me happy.

We did one more dive that day to finish seeing the sights and had a great time. I am lucky to be in these surroundings with these people. A diver could not want or ask for more.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lobster bisque or bust?

It's interesting the paths we choose to take in life and the outside forces of life that steer us in the many directions we travel. Some are minor variations of our day to day lives, and some are major u-turn decisions that reshape our lives forever. In my new diving endeavors this has become an everyday labyrinth of lefts and rights and ups and downs. What started as a way to go deeper and stay in the water longer just to find bigger fish to spear, has become a new avenue of endless possibilities. There are so many directions to go, things to see, knowledge to gain, and challenges to conquer. Although I still enjoy taking my Hawaiian sling down with me and spearing a fish from time to time, I have started to branch out and find that there are so many other aspects of diving that are pulling me to explore what they have to offer. The multitude of new challenges and level of skill required to do these things is what seems to make me tick these days. It has become my driving force.

One topic of conversation that always seems to come up, is making our first trip to California and getting to see the ocean, all its life, and the many different settings that only the ocean can offer. My buddy Danny and I started talking about what we should do with our salt water dives. I spent hours and hours researching dive sites on the Internet. Hundreds of texts and phone calls to Bill asking his advice and about his past experiences. Bill always had the info we needed and steered us in the right direction of dives we could do at our skill level. With all the info we had gathered Danny and I decided on a location and a reason for going there. We had always talked about diving for lobsters and knew that lobster season opened up in a few weeks. So this was our plan. We would drive to laguna beach in a month, book a room and dive for lobsters all weekend. We did tons of research on the sites in that area. We watched quite a few youtube videos showing people almost effortlessly grabbing juicy lobsters out of the rocks and stuffing them in their bags. We thought we knew exactly what we had to do and it would be only a matter of time before we were cooking up some tails for the whole neighborhood and eating ourselves sick. We couldn't wait.

We set a date for November 12th and 13th. We had also rounded up a pretty good group of experienced divers to go with us and show us the ropes. The group would include of course Bill, and the rest of his tribe. Marcia, Dubby, Sara, Chadster, Danny and I. The weeks leading up to the trip were packed with texts back and forth, video sharing, ideas for storing the lobsters until the feast would begin, and lots of talk of how we were gonna take the beach by storm . Danny and I were just as excited as the first day we strapped on tanks for the first time. On the friday of our departure I did not have to work. April and I had the car loaded with our gear and just had to wait till Danny was home from work. We picked up Danny around five pm and hit I-15 heading south. There was no red bull needed in this car We were riding pretty high with anticipation.

Reflecting back on these moments reminds me of how hobbies like diving, racing dirt bikes, rodeo road trips, and other group activities can bring together amazing groups of like minded people. There is just something about being to share excitement and adventure with great friends and family that really brings out the best in people. Some of my best memories are long car trips with people like this conversing and laughing and listening to music. Even if we had no real destination the drives alone would be a great experience. The miles flew by without and notice and we were getting close to orange county. The rain had begun to fall pretty hard. If only we had been able to predict weather a month in advance when we booked our room and planned the trip. We checked in to the hotel and went across the street and for some dinner and a couple cocktails before calling it a night. When we woke up in the morning it looked like the rain had stopped and the weather was gonna be ok after all. We packed up the car and drove down to the coast and looked for the dive shop where Danny needed to rent a few pieces of dive gear. As we got a little closer to the coast we started to see just exactly what the ocean had in store for us on this morning. The sea was anything but calm and was exploding in front of us. Maybe the storm was not quite as over as we thought. But we were still confident we could handle the surf and snag all the lobsters like we had planned. Everyone met up at the shop. Shaws cove, the place we had decided to dive was directly behind the shop. We drove down the street and found ample parking along the street just across from the stairs heading down the the beach. Danny and I decided we would go down to the beach and take a look at the conditions before gearing up. The sky had begun to cloud up again and was hiding the sun. We walked down the long stairway between all the multi million dollar mansions and walked out onto the sand. What we saw was 6-10 breakers smashing the beach with no breaks between the sets. I gotta be honest. I was a little intimidated. Neither one of us really said much about it but the look we gave each other spoke for itself. We hiked back up the stairs to meet up with the rest of our group and report the conditions. On the top of the stairs a new group of local divers was headed down to take a look at the conditions. We discussed the waves with our buddies and we all decided it would be a challenge but worth the fight. We also had another one of Bills buddies show up. He was introduced as bee keeper Daniel. We all got our gear out of the carts and began suiting up. Danny was super pumped because he had just got a pretty good deal on a bad a$$ dive knife. When we were all tanked up we started our walk down to the beach. By this time the local divers had come back up. They did not gear up. They hopped back in their cars and drove off. I was beginning understand why they were looking at us a little funny.

We grabbed all our stuff and lumbered down the stairs. We gathered on the sand and talked about our plan. Bill went through the entry plan with us one more time. We would all meet up about 300 feet off shore and wait for everyone to get together before we went down and started our dive. I waved to Danny and asked him if he was ready. He said yup lets do this and we walked into the ocean. For all of you that have been in the ocean before, you can picture whats it is like to dodge and dip under the waves when empty handed on a warm summer day or dive under with a surf board and paddle out. Well things don't work that way when you have 150 lbs of gear on your back and fins on your feet. You look and feel like a wounded duck that had just been dropped on it head and is wondering into the ocean. Its not pretty. About the third wave that rocked me over it began to become clear that this was not gonna be like the videos I had watched on youtube. Maybe I was not as good of a diver as I thought I was. Maybe I should have got quite a few more dives under my belt before tackling the stormy angry ocean. I think it was at this moment that I felt about as alive as a person can feel. I could either call it a day and sit on the beach or figure out the situation. I sacked up and plowed into the next wave that broke on me. I started swimming as hard as I could and took another wave head on. I could see that if I could get past one more breaker I would be out of the surf. I ducked my head and closed my eyes and plowed the waves one more time. This one was the worst of the three. It partially removed my mask and ripped my regulator out of my mouth. My heart raced as I tried to continue swimming out while straightening out my mask and regulator situation. When I calmed down a second later and realized I was out of the breakers I inflated my vest a little more and started my swim out towards the buoys. I had not felt it yet but I was completely exhausted. My legs and arms were completely gassed out. As i closed my eyes again and layed on my back to swim further out it became clear where the huge breaking waves were coming from. The swells out off shore were huge. I felt like a stupid little bobber on the end of a fishing pole. I looked around for my buddy Danny. He had entered the waves right next to me and shouldn't be to far from me. I looked in all directions. I was all alone. The swells were so big that I could only see the houses on the shore when I was on top of a swell. On the down side of the swell everything in the direction of the shore disappeared and black cloudy sky was all I could see. With this being my first time this far from shore in rough seas, it was pretty hard for me to stay calm and think straight. From all the rough tide and surge the water had become very murky. I tried looking down towards the bottom but could not see more than six or seven feet. I had no idea what was down there or around me in the water. After about ten minutes I saw a body in the water that had made it past the break. As he got a little closer we signaled each other and started swimming towards each other. As i got closer I could see that it was bee keeper Danny whom I had just briefly met.

I told him I was super stoked to have someone out with me. I asked him if he had seen my partner and he said " umm if he was the guy entering next to you I think he might have gotten tossed for a loop. A wave caught him pretty good and smashed him around a couple of times" With the waves breaking as high as they were at the shore we could not see any of the other divers. We could not tell if they were all down under us or laid out on the beach like the normandy invasion lol. The bee keeper and I bobbed in the swells and fought the rip curl for about 35 minutes. We had finally agreed that we would head back to shore and check on everyone. We also both agreed to descend to the bottom and ride the surge on the bottom right back into the beach to avoid the surf as long as possible. I let the air out of my bcd and sank below the surface. My heart was racing. I had pictured so many things when I had thought about what it would look like at the bottom. Slowly i could start to make out what I thought was the bottom. There was no rocks, no kelp, no great white sharks waiting to eat me like my mind and so many movies had made me think. Just plain white sand. I had not even been out far enough out to see any of the underwater rock structure. We both gave each other the ok signal and began swimming in towards the surface. This is the first time I had ever had to swim in water that had a surge to it. We would kick and dig in to the sand when the under toe was pulling us out and then the forward surge would rocket us forward a few feet. About half way back to shore we spooked to small rays out of the sand. That was cool. The closer we got to the shore I could start to see the waves above us. I had always wanted to see what a wave looked like from underneath them. It was amazing. Totally breathtaking. It looked so pretty and relaxing. It was quiet and orchestrated. Nothing like the angry mess I had seen on my way in. When I got to about 5 feet of water I took my fins off and inflated my vest. I popped out of the water and was immediately smashed from behind by a wave. Once again I was a ragdoll at the mercy of the water. By this time a couple of divers in our group ran out and helped me to my feet and out of the water. I looked around and there was gear laying everywhere. Danny was laying in the ice plants recovering and the girls were taking pictures and laughing it up. Bill and Chad had gone out for another attempt. Right about that time I heard sirens and horns from up above the houses behind us. I rescue swimmer and several coast guard guys with radios came running down the steps and the rescue diver ran out into the surf. Right at this time Bill was returning from his short little dive. I was a little confused as to why the coast guard had showed up. The diver walked out to Bill and soon discovered that Bill was totally fine and no one needed saving there. The head guy with the radio said that a home owner had watched us enter the huge surf and thought we were in trouble and so called 911 because they were scared for us. The coast guard said the beach was now closed and there would be no more diving there on that day.

I was super excited. I had came out there with visions of sunny beaches and bags full of lobsters, in calm glassy seas with pretty fish all around me. I had found something completely the opposite. I had found a challenge and a chance to conquer some fears of the unknown. I felt extremely proud that I had pushed my fears aside and pushed myself to figure the situation out and see it through even though it was not what I had came there for. As it turned out I had jumped in the ocean at just the right time. Danny just a few steps behind me took the second chance to go in and got slammed by several huge waves. He had continued to get up and fight the waves but there was no break. He got rag dolled and beat up till he could not stand up any more. And to top it all off the rough ocean robbed him of his brand new dive knife. We headed up to the cars and swapped stories of what all happened to each of us. We had to give Bill the hardest time for almost needing to be rescued. We had also decided that we had not had our fill of diving yet for the day. We checked the weather report and saw that it might be better conditions down south in la jolla. We did drive down there and get in the water which is a whole other story in itself.

The next day I woke up pretty early which was a surprise cause we had stayed out all night on the town. I texted Bill to see what he was doing and if he wanted to sneak another dive in while everyone else was still sleeping off the nights activities. He gave the usual response. "sweeetttt''. The weather had completely left the area. The ocean was a sunny and calm. We walked right in and did an awesome 30 minute dive. I got to see all kinds of fish and rock structure. I was stoked.

Although we had planned for a certain kind of trip and different outcomes, everything seemed to work out in the end. We may not have been enjoying some homemade lobster bisque but this trip in my eyes was far from a bust. We got to enjoy the company of our amazing friends. I was able to push myself farther than I ever have before. We were able to open our eyes to new situations. I learned so much about myself that weekend. I was happy. And most important we were all safe.

There is a certain amount of satisfaction with being faced with uncomfortable and frightful situations and having the mental toughness to get through these obstacles. It is in these obstacles that I get the most gratification. It is in these hard situations I feel more alive than ever. I am thankful for everything I have and for the people that help me get where I am going.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Going deep and doing it in the dark

November 5, 2011

It was a typical Saturday for me. I was loading gear in my truck, checking my bag to make sure all my miscellaneous gear was accounted for, trying to decide which tanks, and how many to throw in. As excited as I get to head to the lake, it is not uncommon to forget things as I rush out the door. Usually it is about 5am in the morning when i am leaving the house to go diving but today was a little different. It was just past noon. Today was not gonna be a normal day of meeting up with the tribe and hitting one of our many favorite spots. This trip was a certification dive trip. I had recently purchased the deep diving, sport computers, night diving, and limited visibility diving books. These are just a few of the many specialty diving classes offered and taught by " the dog". I could hardly contain the excitement and anticipation of going deep into the lake and the possibility of diving at night.

My whole life I have thirsted for knowledge but not in the traditional way of most people. I am the type of person who learns better by hands on experience. I needed to see first hand and learn from my own experiences. There has always been very little that I take someone else's word on. Growing up I did fairly well in school but sitting in a classroom reading books was just to slow paced for me and my fast paced imagination and inability to sit still usually landed me with less than favorable results on the report cards. From the time I was four or five I could remember wanting to figure out how things worked and tearing everything I had apart. From bikes, toys, and even items that I could confiscate from my dads garage. Some of which never made it back to their original working order. Sorry dad lol. I have always had huge urge to explore everything outdoors. Luckily we were raised by small town country parents who gave us plenty of space to run and be boys outdoors. And I think it was my curiosity of finding new places and going somewhere new without supervision that had the potential of getting me in the stickiest of predicaments as a child. Some of the funnest times I can recall of growing up would be the summer days when school was out. Both of our parents worked. My dad worked long hours and was gone till late in the evenings. My mom worked at an elementary school close to home but still was gone long enough to give my brother and I just enough hours of daylight to go and see whatever peeked our interest. We would make plans to hop on our bikes and find new routes to get into sun city. We knew every storm drain culvert, sand wash, golf course crossing, and back alley to get us from home to mcdonalds or the thrifty's where we could get ice cream cones. As much as I can remember there was nothing as satisfying as exploring out into the desert and hills surrounding our rural community of meniffee. Exploring things we had not seen and planning new adventures and making it home before mom and dad, were the highlights of our summers.

Twenty some odd years later ( who's counting though right?) not much has changed. Aside from keeping a career going and maintaining some what of a "normal" adult existence, I am always looking for the next adventure. Always trying to find a new and exciting way to direct my energy. I think this is why diving has become such an obsession for me. The possibilities are virtually limitless. Every dive is a different adventure.

All our gear was loaded on the boat and we were pulling out of the marina headed for our dive spot. The spot Bill had chosen was "Kracken's cove". It is located in black canyon right next to hoover dam on the Nevada side. After we had anchored the boat, we got all our gear together and went over our dive plan, objectives, and skills to be practiced. I could not wait to hit the water. I got all geared up, did my ABC's and stepped off into the lake. Shortly after Bill followed. We gave each other the ok to go down signal and let the air out of our vests and started down into the canyon. As always we stopped at 20 feet and did a bubble and gear check and once again gave each other the ok sign and then continued down the line. I wish i could find the best way to explain the feelings of descending through the water. The weightlessness along with the slight falling sensation. Watching your depth gauge on your computer seeing the numbers go up, 20 feet then 30 then 40 then 70 as the bottom starts to come into view and we start to add just enough air in our vest to come to a slow motionless stop and hover over the bottom as if we were suspended in mid air. Our dive plan was to hit 100 feet and start our skills. We swam together just a few feet to where a ledge dropped off and descended down the face until hitting our planned depth of 100 feet. We began our skills. I would replicate everything Bill did. Taking off our masks and replacing it then clearing the water out, simulating out of air situations and sharing air. There are quite a few skills and communications that were practiced. When we had finished our skills I started to look around at our surroundings. People probably just don't understand how beautiful the lake is under water. So many rock formations and terrain changes. Its like a hikers paradise without the heat and exhausting exercise it takes to see it above the surface. A few feet from me was another sharp drop off I swam over to the edge and peered down It was a straight of a cliff as i have ever seen like it was man made. There is something so intriguing and somewhat menacing about staring off into this black abyss. I could feel the urge to plummet off the edge and see what was down there. I knew right then this was not deep enough for me. I was already trying to plan how I could get the training and the gear to go deeper. But it would have to wait. We had hit our planned bottom time and gave each other the signal to start our ascent. We swam over to the anchor line and started our slow rise towards the boat. I kept looking back down at the sights below. Not sure what it is but something is pulling me down and begging me to stay down there. We continued on up the line and completed our safety stops. When our computers told us we we ok to surface, we breached the surface and climbed up the ladder onto the boat. We sat across from each other taking our gear off I was so excited I could not stop my barrage of questions for Bill. I am surprised he has not found a way to put a muzzle on me yet. I am pretty lucky to have found an instructor and friend who has the same desire for adventure as me, and also can handle my nonstop questioning, and scenarios, and machine gun texting assault when we are not face to face. Each of these conversations ending with one of three words. Sweeeeeeeeeeettttttttttt, Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh, or my favorite desert dog comment Bad A$$$$$$$$$$$$$&&&&&&&&&.

The rest of the dives went pretty much the same as the first. One more deep dive and I was certified for deep dives to 130 feet. We had eaten dinner and did several night dives also on this trip. Night diving is without a doubt one of the coolest things I have ever done Its a whole different world. Colors look some much different under our lights we carry. Huge bass sleeping. Catfish all over the bottom feeding. To be surrounded by complete darkness in this moon like environment with only the area of our lights in view, is an amazing situation. You would think that with all this new knowledge and awesome situations my energy would be slightly subsided and I would be momentarily satisfied. That could not be further from the truth. As I stand in the back of the boat it just starts to set in that it is barely 60 degrees on this windy winter night. All of which, I was so excited I had not noticed. Pulling off my cold wetsuit and jumping into my warm dry clothes I was already making mental plans as to what I would have to do to continue my diving endeavours. Money budgeted, schedules cleared, books bought. As with every ending dive trip I could not wait to get back out there and do it again. I am very happy I have found this productive and adventurous outlet. I only hope that everyone else finds something like this in their life. I could not imagine living life any other way than to the end of your imagination and finding what you are capable when you are happy and truly apply yourself. I also cant wait to share my love of the water and its possibilities to anyone who wants to see it.

Until next time I promise you I will be going deeper and doing it in the dark ALOT.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Shadow Divers. Books without pictures can keep me reading.

I had been diving for about a month at this point, and time was really starting to fly by. My dive total since getting my card was prob about ten by now and in my own mind you would have thought I was ready to dive the titanic that next weekend. I had been jumping in with the desert dog and his Crew every other weekend when there was a spot for me on his boat or when they were planning on doing dives I could do at my diving abilities. These were some serious divers with the ability and the means to see and do anything they wanted underwater. I wanted to dive with and be like these guys. The reason I choose to dive every other weekend is because I actually have an above water life which includes an amazing six year old son and an amazing woman at home. No diving as bad ass as it is will take up all my time and keep me from my family and responsibilities.

One particular weekend which was suppose to be a diving weekend I had to put off my diving urges and attend a wedding. My good friends Jimmy and Melissa were tying the knot. These were two of our original group of buddies to get certified in august with me. One week prior to the wedding Jimmys buddy had thrown him a bachelor party to which I was invited. After some competitive go cart racing we were having some beers and waiting for our dinner at a downtown bar. We were heavy in discussion but it was not trying to decide what strip club to go see, not where the wild woman would be out at tonight. Nope we were talking about diving. There were three other guys at the table that I have also know for almost ten years and had never known they were also scuba divers. They had not been in a long time but loved the sport and had some amazing stories and ideas for me. The one thing I remember most from that beer laden conversation was Nick telling me. " dude you have to go get a copy of shadow divers". He told me it was the best book he has ever read and it changed his life. This really peaked my interest.

So that weekend of the wedding as people were dancing and making the social rounds I sat at our table talking about the only thing you would think I know how to talk about these days. Several other people had heard of this book and were also excited, or pretended to be yo keep from hurting my feelings.

About two days later I received an email on my phone from iTunes. They were notifying me that someone had paid for the shadow divers book for
Me on iTunes and it was ready to be downloaded. I could put it on my iPhone and listen to it on the way to work. My drive to work is almost 90 miles each way and I have Been running out of music and daydreams to keep me from going crazy on the road. I downloaded it and began listening that week. As if I thought my life was already drastically altered from being a new scuba diver, now it was for sure never gonna be the same. I have had very few books, stories, or movies that really pull me in. This book reached out of my cars speakers, sucked me in, and had me right there next to the characters of the story.

For those of you who have not heard of or read this book, please do. Google info on it. It's an amazing true story about a group of guys that changed history and made o of the biggest underwater discoveries of the modern era. The things that happened to these guys were un-describable. They risked everything they had for something that they loved. They watched friends die. They dealt with hair raising depths, and mind numbing scary near death situations. It is a remarkable story about the incredible things a human being can accomplish if they can attain a high level of mental toughness, courage, and have a passion to see things to the end. That right there is exactly the way I feel diving. There is a certain focus in my brain that occurs when a situation gets scary and the hair stands up on the back of my neck. It's a feeling that I use to get from riding bulls or from building a huge double to float on my dirt bike. But none of those lasted very long.

After reading this book I am left with so many new questions and things I wanna see. There are now so
Many different directions a person can take with scuba. There are endless scenarios that I can test myself and see what I'm capable of. It's at this moment when I finished this book that I knew. I am gonna do something new. I am gonna do things people have not done. I am gonna do something big!!

It's only been a few months of diving and and my life has changed so much. What is next? What is down there? What can we do or find? What is possible? I'm gonna find out!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

First Day of the rest of my life

On August 28th 2011, Danny, Jimmy, Melissa, and I got our open water scuba certifications . Nothing has been the same since. I have been a life long lover of all things water. Whether it be floating on a raft in a pool, trying to see what antics I could attempt of a diving board, snorkeling in the clear waters of the Florida gulf for hours on end, wake-boarding at lake mead, Jimmy teaching me to spearfish in lake mojave, driving out to the cliffs at the old Vegas wash trying to see how high I could dive from, water has always been a hidden part of my life that I had never pursued. On that hot august afternoon i was given my temporary open water card. That small piece of paper opened up a whole new world to me. A world that I have been floating above my whole life and never fully realized. I could not wait for my hard card to arrive at the shop so I ran straight to Kinko's and had it laminated.

A couple of days later I was sitting in my equipment at work recalling my recent accomplishment. I had recalled sitting at the bottom of our boats mooring line which was at 60 feet of water. ( the limits of an open water certification) My dive buddy and fellow classmate Danny and I looked at each other and looked off the edge of the rock which went down and off into the dark abyss the look in each others eyes could be read loud and clear we both could see that there was something else down there. We were not sure what it was but we knew we would need to find out for ourselves. This is the exact moment that I knew I was on to something that was gonna change my life forever. For anyone that has been around or talked to me since this time can attest to the obsessive nature of my new hobby.

Since that day my life has been a circus act of juggling real life ( anything above water), work, raising my son, helping april study and take care of our house, and trying to find time to see friends that don't dive lol. I have also continued my diving education as fast as my life and small budget will allow and also started amassing as much gear as i need. A task which I have now learned will never see an end. I have found myself in a unique diving and learning scenario. I was lucky enough to have been taught my first class from one of the best and highest certified divers around. He is most commonly known as the "desert dog".
He has allowed me to dive with him and the rest of his crew and has shown me things and places out of this world.

This is just the beginning for me. I know now what i am gonna do in my future and what is gonna make me truly happy and my calling in life as far as a career and recreational are concerned. I wanna see whats down there. I wanna see things no one else has or can see. I wanna share my love of scuba and the adventure it can create with anyone who is willing to look.

I have so many stories to tell and so many things to see. I hope to share all these things and more on here as I go.