Five years ago i got my open water certification and it changed my life forever. The ocean is a totally different world in itself and a lifetime of diving won’t be enough to see it all, i am glad that i am experiencing some of it while sharing it as well through photography.
Over the course of my short diving life, i have had so many wonderful experiences, some not so wonderful, that i want to share them in this post. yes i will be going through my dive logs and recollecting everything and nothing them down in here.
How it all started.
I get asked this quite often and it all started in Hawaii during a cruise where i did an introductory dive, came within touching distance of a turtle it was amazing. Thats when i decided to get certified but i had little clue what i was getting into.
When i got certified i didn’t think that i would get hooked to diving, i just wanted to get certified so that i could rent gear once in a while thats about it. But before i knew it, i had bought all my gear within few months and i was hooked for life.
I am not a good swimmer and to this day i am struggling finishing the swim requirements for some courses, to get my OW certification i was asked to swim 9 laps in the pool (no timing restrictions) but there was no way i was going to be able to do it. But instead i could do 13 laps with my snorkeling gear which wasn’t an issue so i was on my way to become a certified diver.
Oil Rigs and Channel Islands
The dive master during my class talked about diving the oil rigs a lot and i was intrigued by it, It was the time when hollywood divers chartered Sea Bass for rigs trip once a month. My 13th logged dive is on the oil rigs and that is definitely not recommended but i didn’t know any better.
My next trip was on to dive anacapa island but i had to bail from the first dive because as soon as i jumped in my secondary regulator was over flowing and i didn’t know what to do, good thing too because the “brave” read stupid me jumped in alone without a buddy.
During my next trip to the rigs i had forgotten to clean my mask and was totally frazzled because i could barely see and was in somewhat of a panic mode. i was totally sucking up on air and by the time i surfaced i was completely out of air. That has been the only one time when i have ran out of air and its certainly not a fun experience when you want air and there it none. I can only imagine how painful it is for victims who die from suffocation, lets not even think about it.
In my first year i logged about 50 dives and out of them 9 were on the oil rigs which to till this day i absolutely love diving. Rest of the dives were mainly boat dives to catalina, san clemente, anacapa where i would just get on the boat not knowing anyone and hoping that someone would buddy up with me.
here are some of the older blog posts from those trips.
Another notable experience was when i buddied up with a scuba “instructor”, here is an excerpt of it from my mixed day of diving blog.
“So since he was the instructor out of respect and he being more experienced i asked him to lead the dive, a big mistake. He got into the water ahead of me and went in an opposite direction of the dive site, i didn’t think too much about it then. We dropped to about 70 ft and kept going deeper, I wasn’t sure why was he going deep since the dive site was in about 30 ft of water and on the opposite side as well. I followed him, didn’t have a choice and we soon reached 110 ft.
After 5 mins into the dive i saw his SPG was leaking air so i swam upto him and pointed it out. He said it was fine and we continued the dive, he briefly headed out in the correct direction and we came across a small reef in about 40 ft of water but then suddenly not sure what struck him he headed of into the wrong direction again. After a while all of sudden he signaled out of air and indicated that he was going to ascend. I expected him to take a safety stop at 15 ft and then after a while hit the surface but as soon as i came to 15ft for my safety stop he was at the surface.
Wow, what reckless diving from an instructor, skipping a safety stop after hitting 110 ft and we were at 100+ feet for a few good minutes as well. I completed my safety stop and then met him at the surface, he said he was fine and he just ran out of air. duh!!!! i pointed out that your spg was leaking so you should have monitored your air and immediately moved to a lower depth instead of loitering more at 100+. We could have also shared air and completed safety stop together but he didn’t bother. ”
Remember this was the noob me writing and i am definitely laughing as i read that how naive i was back then. out of air, how would a safety stop possible at 15ft but yes we could have shared air and ascended.
Egypt and Red Sea November 2008
I heard people talking about the live aboard experience and i wanted to experience it too so when hollywood divers announced the egypt trip i couldn’t resist. I spent a week touring around egypt and then a week diving. instead of boring you guys with the nitty gritty here are the two blogs i wrote,
one of the notable things is that i got attacked or attracted a lion fish and almost got stung and it was interesting to find directions to the hotel from the airport in cairo.
Beach Diving and ADP Jun-Sept 2009
During this whole time i hadn’t done much of beach diving and i wanted to get more comfortable doing it too so i figured the best way to go about it would be to take the LA County Advance Divers Program which helped me comfortable with beach diving but still i don’t usually do much beach diving.
In 2010, i started skiing seriously so there wasn’t much diving in the winter but one memorable trip was a 3 day trip on Sundiver during memorial day weekend and it was an experience of lifetime for me which could have ended badly but luckily i survived.
the experience which i am talking about went like this,
i decided to head back to the boat without any visual reference and had to do safety stops in blue water, all i could see around me was blue water and nothing else. i had no visual reference of where i was and wasn’t carrying a safety sausage either. I could have easily been carried away by the currents and surfaced miles away from the boat and would have been in huge trouble but luckily there was no current.
While doing my safety stops, i have to admit that i was little freaked out since i wasn’t exactly sure where i was in relation to the boat and it also gave me the feeling of how tiny, small and insignificant i was compared to the vastness of the ocean. But after a while a sea lion came by and was checking me out and knowing that i wasn’t alone in the ocean gave me a huge sigh of relief. Luckily i didn’t surface too far from the boat either.
The never ending dive master course
I want to be a dive instructor (dunno when though) and the first step towards that was being a dive master so i enrolled for the course and i thought that even though i can’t do the swim requirements enrolling in the course would force me to take my lazy ass to the pool. I am still laughing at that idea for motivation but at the same time i do need to try harder.
I still have to complete my swim test requirements for the course and haven’t been swimming regularly at all, i did take some swim lessons but now its a matter of going to the pool and working towards it.
Ship Wrecks and Sharks June 2011
Winter of 2011 was again spent skiing where i took the season long ski school and when this trip was put up by Hal i immediately jumped on it and also got my dslr rig. more on photography later.
This trip was a blast and all we did was dive ship wrecks with lots of sharks on them.
GUE Fundamentals November 2011
I have always wanted to get into technical diving and taking this course was a first step towards it and i have to say that this changed my outlook when it comes to diving. you can read more about it on my blog.
This was also the year i won a dive trip to philippines and so in april-may of 2012 i decided to take a 2 week dive vacation there. one week was a photography workshop organized by blue water photo and the second week i was going to redeem the prize.
In the summer again i dove quite a bit with few multi day trip but nothing worth noting out here though the two consecutive 2 day trips on peace were really fun and the blog post about them is a work in progress. (yes i am lazy i know)
One of the fun trips i did this year in summer was to dive in Monterey and participate in the shootout where i got placed second in the wide angle category. It was a good excuse to dive up north and i really enjoyed it.
Photography and Diving
As i have been diving my interest in photography has grown stronger and stronger. I have been hiking since i was 10 and even during the trips to himalayas i never showed any interest in photography but it all changed when i started diving.
I had canon C-740 camera when i started diving and i did get a housing for it which i still have kept for some reason. I still remember how excited i was when i took pic of anemone on the rigs and thought it was a nudibranch.
I upgraded in Nov 08 to olympus 1080SW mainly because the camera is water proof by itself and i used it for a solid 3 years before i decided that it wasn’t going to be enough.
When i booked the North Carolina trip i knew that i had to upgrade my camera since for wide angle shots my tiny point and shoot wasn’t going to be enough. I had a blast shooting with it and to my surprise i did win a dive trip to philippines when one of pics was judged best of the 2011 So cal shootout.
Shooting with my dslr underwater also got me interested in using it on land and i did start playing with night photography with some really good results and then the photography workshop i took in philippines definitely improved my photography skills underwater.
here is a blog post about what i learned in that workshop, Anilao Workshop
finally now i am at a place where i felt the need to upgrade my DSLR and just recently bought a Canon 5D Mark III which i am looking forward to take underwater.
This whole experience/journey wouldn’t have been fun if it wasn’t for all the awesome, helpful people that i have met and become friends with. It is just not about the diving part which makes it fun but being part of this wonderful community is exciting as well.
I am grateful to everyone who has been part of this journey and i look forward to many more years of diving.