Earlier this week, I was planning on going for a day-long motorcycle ride down to Seattle, WA today. I had wanted to go to Pike Place Market, walk around the market, grab some seafood lunch, and then head back. However, on Tuesday, my friend Marc emailed me for one of the boat dives we usually go on. I had really wanted to go for the ride instead. But, after checking the weather forecast for the weekend, it predicted a hot & sunny weekend. I thought to myself that just might be the last hot Summer weekend (even though, officially it would have been the first day of the Fall). So, I decided to go diving instead. Come Thursday night, and Marc emailed me that the dive(s) were canceled as not enough people showed interest. So, I was not too sad, as I thought great, I could ride down to Seattle. So, as I called the dive shop to cancel the diving gear rentals, one of the guys working @ the dive shop told me, that their shop is organizing a shore dive Saturday morning, and that I’m welcome to join them. I wasn’t too enthused about it (as I really wanted to ride!) but agreed to join them.
Well, come Saturday morning, and it’s no longer hot nor sunny! Fall started literally on its first day. It was cold and very cloudy. Bummer! So here I am doing a shore dive (never done one before, all my dives up to now were boat dives), with a group of friendly but unknown to me people, on a cold & cloudy day, when I had wanted to be riding and eating seafood, rather than swimming with it! Regardless, one reason I had wanted to do this dive is to try shore dives.
We head to Whytecliff Park, and when I get there (never having been there before) I see swarms of divers. It seems that it’s quite the popular (& free. Boat dives usually cost ~$75) amongst local divers. So anyways, I started to suit up, and I’m feeling a little awkward, as my routine of gearing up is slightly disturbed (you know, from being on land instead of being on the boat), and everyone else is waiting for me, and I’m taking my sweet time. That’s right, I don’t rush into things, no matter how much you keep staring at me!
Alright, I’m ready. The group leader (I never got his name. And why do you keep calling me Moe? I won’t let it slide next time :-)), gives a quick briefing considering there were some new faces (me). After that, we walk to the shore, which I guess is ~300ft away. At this point I’m already not a fan of the shore dive, as it requires a more physical work to get into the water (compared to a boat dive). Anyways, we get to the beach (where there was 50+ other divers), and down we go. As usual, my dive lasted shorter than the others. I can’t seem to resolve my over-consumption of Oxygen! Once our first dive was over, we swam back to the shore, then we had to walk back up to the parking lot, to swap our tanks. Again, the walk is quite the workout with all the gear/weights. I’m not sure why didn’t we bring all of our tanks to the beach, in the first place. Or, why didn’t we leave our gear on the beach, and only grabbed our empty tanks to swapped them with full ones (that we left in our cars), between the two dives? I suppose theft may be a concern. But, there are so many divers there, I don’t think anything would happen! Also, I suppose, one’s got to wait out for their surface interval. So, going back to the car, to swap tanks, and perhaps to grab a quick snack will seem to make the time go by faster! And sure, walking around with all that gear is exercise, but, I’m here to dive not to sweat!
During my second dive, my mask kept flooding! Sometimes, if the mask is not fitted properly, one may get a small leak, that could be cleared out every once-in-a-while. It would be annoying, and would make the dive less enjoyable, but at least you can still continue the dive. But in this case, I kept clearing the mask like twice a minute, the mask would get flooded all the way to the bottom of my eyes. Not wanting to disrupt the dive, I kept struggling with this for like 5 minutes. That’s exactly why one also needs to check for the mask seal, when going over the regular checks with one’s buddy. Something that I noticed that the group didn’t do, and regretting not asking for it!
Our second dive unfortunately was cut short, as I got separated from the group. I kind of felt bad for the rest of the group. Here I am, a new guy, who got lost on the way to the park, and then was slow to get ready, and then ran out of air before everyone else on the first dive, and then got separated from the group; cutting the second dive short. After regrouping, we did go down again (mind you it was only 10ft) and swam our way back to the shore.
There were some interesting things to see. But overall, I see shore dives being very limited in what one could see/explore, or how far one could go. I suppose that this would be the main disadvantage of shore dives, compared to boat dives. The main advantage of shore dives, that they are free. However, this also becomes a major disadvantage as well. Free dives, means there would be a lot of people. A lot of divers means lower visibility. The visibility on my first dive was OK, but very poor in the second dive. All those divers out there are bound to stir up bottom sediments.
So, even though shore dives are free, I think I still prefer boat dives. With boat dives, you’re right there in the action. No time wasted getting into the water, nor time wasted swimming to the dive spot, no risk of having 50+ divers within the same area, and you can virtually dive in a new spot every time. Would I do another shore dive? Sure. But, I think I’ll stick to boat dives for now.