ADP Journal: Weekend #7, Part Two

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 4:20 pm

(Picking up after the lifeguard search-and-rescue stuff, September 9)

After a brief visit home to pick up Jeff, we headed up to Santa Barbara to spend the night on the Truth, which was scheduled to cart all the ADPers out to Santa Cruz Island on Sunday. The Truth Aquatics boats are as nice as Southern California boat diving gets. We’ve been going out on 3-day trips with them every winter to the northern channel islands, but this was the first time I’ve driven all the way up to Santa Barbara for just one day of diving.

The trip out was uneventful, thanks to Drammomine. I haven’t been seasick since I started popping those pills the night before a trip, about a year ago – huge relief. We passed several enormous pods of playful dolphins, who (naturally) disappeared every time I brought out the video camera. Johnny managed to snap this shot of Anastasia Frigida as I huddled on the deck:


It took a while for the Truth to find a good spot for our first exercise, which was to be search and recovery. We wound up at a popular harbor, close to several dozen small craft and fishing boats. In retrospect this may not have been ideal.

We broke into groups of four again, and this time each group had a divemaster whose job it was to go drop an aluminum can for us to find. The plan was to station 2 of us at each end of the boat so we could triangulate the exact position of droppage, which would be coordinated by sending OK signals back and forth between us and the DM once he reached his position.

But just to make things more interesting, the search-and-recovery exercise was mixed up with some surprise rescue exercises. First one DM started flailing and yelling for help, and a few of us jumped in to “rescue” her. I lost track of the DM who was dropping my can until I saw him also flailing and yelling for help – from pretty far away. Sam and I swam out and towed him back, and nearly got run over by a guy piloting a small skiff out from one of the nearby boats to help another “rescue.” Oops. Guess we should have put up big signs saying it’s fake.

After a long swim, Sam and I got our DM back to the boat and up the swim steps. I thought the “rescue” had pre-empted the can-drop, and that now we’d send him back out and get a sighting on the location of droppage. But alas, we learned he’d dropped the can before he started “panicking.”


At least one in our group had been paying attention from the boat, and another had marked the spot in the water where we retrieved our DM, so we decided to give it our best shot. Meca and I suited up in full dive gear to do an expanding circle search pattern around the PLS (point last seen); Johnny came with us in skin gear, and Sam stayed on the boat waving at us which direction to go.


When we thought we were in roughly the right spot, we dropped down: Meca on the line, and me as the “anchor.”

It was too bad this was a working dive, because otherwise it would have been a lot of fun! We nearly landed on a pair of mating sheep crab on our descent, and then realized the whole area was absolutely crawling with sheep and decorator crabs. I turned circles in place and observed the marine life (more crabs, greenlings, plenty of curious fish) while Meca made one… two… three… four expanding circles.


We surfaced and talked things over with Johnny, who thought the PLS was actually a little farther over. Meca and I dropped down again, doing another search pattern adjacent to the original one.

Still nothing.

By this time, Sam had joined us in scuba gear. He and Meca dropped down for some more searching, and Johnny headed back to the boat to gear up.

Johnny came back and took over Meca’s end of the search, and she and I headed in – did I mention the water was below 60 degrees and I wasn’t wearing gloves? Brrrr.

By the time we finally admited total defeat, we’d basically missed out on the chance to do a second, “fun” dive. Communication between the search teams and the boat fell apart pretty quickly once we were in the water. In fact, I found out later we’d been completely out of the loop for a “missing diver” stunt that two of the DMs pulled.

Back on the boat, our DM seemed surprised we hadn’t found our can. We pointed to the area we’d searched, and he thought we had it about right. It eventually came out that he hadn’t emptied the can first – so, being full of freshwater, it’s possible it floated away. That, or my team was just lame.

So, that was the first half of the day, during which Jeff had a pleasant, hour-long dive with drysuit-clad Carol.

We moved to a second dive site, and were let loose for the third (or for my team, second) dive of the day. No strings attached: go do what you want.

It was a pleasant enough dive, with schools of opaleye, a few different types of nudibranch, island kelpfish, and a brief sighting of a harbor seal. But mostly, it was cold. I’d gone with a wetsuit for the day, anticipating a workout doing rescue and search stuff. This dive reminded me why we’re drysuit people now. I was freezing the instant I hit the water, and I didn’t get any warmer. I somehow managed to stay down about 25 minutes before admitting to Jeff I was freezing.

Our first Stearn’s Aeolid:

So… all in all, a rather frustrating day. I think we all learned a lesson about task loading, and chaos during rescue situations. My group was pretty bummed we didn’t find our can, even though we weren’t the only ones. And I basically only got one “real” dive in, and was freezing the whole time.

But at least I had great company for the day. All my new ADP friends plus Jeff – how better to fill a boat?

Hot chocolate and warm cookies post-dive:

More pics from Jeff here: Santa Cruz 09/10/06.

1 Comment

  1. I hope that Stearn’s Aeolid makes it onto the next calendar… :)

    Comment by Mir — 10/3/2006 @ 4:16 pm

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