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canoeing, kayaking and other adventures

canoeing and kayaking adventures born in the Southeastern U.S. and now centered in Scotland...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dive 5: Puerto del Carmen Old Harbour Wall - 30/4/2009

My first dive with the training wheels off was with Simon as guide and only Brian and me as clients. We headed back to Puerto del Carmen and the jetty entry to explore the old harbour wall. The idea was to swim along the wall, which should have all sorts of interesting marine life swimming or sitting about, and then swim back across the sand.

On the way out, we saw a 2 or 3 metre tubular colony of organisms that looked like a windsock waving underwater. Not sure what it was called but it had very little texture.

Peter's lecture to Brian about being a good buddy and mindful of me / my swimming pace in the water seemed a bit misdirected. I was a much faster swimmer and had to correct to Brian's pace.

On this dive, I learned a new hand signal from Simon. Hand vertical against forehead means shark. Just in front of us was an outline in the sand that looked like someone with a shark shaped foot had just stepped there. It was an angel shark hanging out and waiting for a meal to swim along. Simon gestured me over to it, beside him and showed me it was ok to pet it on one of its fins. It felt like very coarse sandpaper, even through my gloves. The shark eventually got fed up with us being there and distracting its food away. It swam away in a huff, biting at nonexistent things in its path. While it was no threat to any of us, I felt guilty for chasing its food away. We saw another shark in the sand soon after, but left it alone.

Brian and I both reached 100bar at about the same time, but I think we were well on our way back by that point. We continued along the sand for a while and then reached the pile of rocks near the jetty. The difference between the sand and the pile of rocks was huge in terms of the number and variety of fish we saw. Where we saw just the sharks and the occasional fish before, the rocks were teeming with life.

We followed the pile of rocks to about 6m when Simon told us to stick to the bottom. As we were approaching the jetty exit point, the possibility of boat traffic meant the bottom was the safest place to be. The minimum depth was about 3m and no propeller was that big. Simon looked around and up and signalled to ascend. I was too busy looking down and around that I missed it and saw just flippers when I turned back. I figured it out and joined them on the surface.

Simon preferred the jetty as an exit point and I could immediately see why. We had to climb up lots of steps but we were not covered in sand. Comparing end pressures, Brian was a little bit lower than me. I had hope that I would get used to breathing funny air with practice and not take over his title as air guzzler.

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