As of the afternoon of Saturday, August 15th, Erika and I are PADI certified Open Water divers. Essentially that means we can go dive anywhere that doesn’t require specialty diving skills or depths below 60 feet. Learning to SCUBA dive has also made me feel more comfortable snorkeling and wearing masks that encase my nose. Years of sinus problems have made me especially touchy whenever I feel my breathing is hampered. Forcing myself to learn to dive has alleviated much of that.
Our three certification dives took place in the waters near Catalina Island—specifically Lulu’s Reef and Big Giger. Our first dive was the most interesting. There were only four of us and we dove through a labyrinthine kelp forest descending down to 49 feet. As we made our way down the anchor line, the kelp parted like a doorway letting us into an undersea world. Between the three dives we spent an hour underwater, mostly demonstrating skills necessary to receive our certification. It was fun, but I really look forward to a day when we can spend all of our time underwater exploring.
During the trip back to shore, our boat was often flanked by pods of dolphins racing alongside. Over a dozen dolphins would swim just beneath the bow, then leap into the air and shoot ahead into the ocean. There were times they would breach and be merely several feet from my awestruck face.