It is August 3, 2012 and I began my day at 6:30 am after I spent the night tossing and turning in fear that I would miss the alarm clock. A scuba dive was the reason for this sleepless night. I haven’t been scuba diving in three years and am pretty excited. Unsure of how the traffic was, I left early and arrived thirty minutes earlier than planned. The shop is small where we met but was filled with nice people who are comical as well as knowledgeable
Arriving at the marina, the docks were beginning to fill with other people who were going out to dive. Our first destination was the Sea Tiger, the deepest regularly dived wreck on Oahu, which is a 168 foot vessel that was sunk in 199 as an artificial reef.
It did not take very long at all the reach the wreckage off the Waikiki coastline. After the six of us geared up for the dive, I was the second one to step off the boat and enter the salty ocean. The anticipation of the dive built up all around me or, more specifically, inside me. The fear of going down one hundred feet underwater with only a mouthpiece connected to one cyclinder of air brought a level of anxiety that I hadn’t felt in a long time and inhaling the air came at a fast rate. Concentrating on slowing down my breathing, I manage to move to the front of the boat to the guide rope as the others descended into the water.
From past experiences I know that it takes me longer to equalize than others and therefore all the other divers were already at the Sea Tiger when I arrived. Descending, I watched their air bubbles escape and float to where the sun was shining through the water and it was a marvelous view. As I approached the deck of the ship there lying on it was a sea turtle, dozing, oblivious to the two legged creatures swimming around it.
Bravely, I let go of the guide rope and started to swim trying not to let the panic rise to the surface. I felt all alone in the beautiful sea of blue and yet I knew I wasn’t as one of the dive master’s was babysitting me. Of course the dive master was nineteen years old and shame on me but that didn’t build my confidence! We swam around the boat and saw the different sea creatures. A seashell the size of a football, a school of butterfly fishes and then the skeleton in the lower deck – which took only a second to realize that it was a prop set up for those who dove.
Continuing to swim around the ship, something spooked a school of fish (approximately one hundred of them) and I hovered in the water as the fish came right up to my mask and then veered right or left. A magnificent feeling of awe and wonderment overcame me and all anxiety of the depth of water I was in left.
Being the slowest in a group isn't always a bad thing. As I turned the corner of the ship after being swarmed by the beautiful fish, there in its beauty, is a spotted eagle ray. Its fins flapping as it swam six feet in front of me; the tail extended a good two to three feet behind it. The sunlight reached into the depths and the eagle ray shimmered as it went on by.
Unfortunately, I did not get to swim through the ship due to the amount of time it took me to descend and it was time to ascend. But once again, slowly I ascended and being slow came to be a bonus as the sea turtle awakened and floated vertically upward with me. I felt as if I made a friend, although no introduction was made.
At the three minute safety stop I watched as the turtle continued upward, as he needed no stop and reached the surface. The waves were rough and the turtle bounced around only about a minute before deciding to descend once more into the blue depths of the salty water.
Once in the boat the crew made sure that I was okay, all the members of the group were accounted for and we started off to our next location. It was only a short distance however and we had an interval of time that we had to wait before continuing with out next dive.
Tortilla chips and water was provided; however, I declined both. Vic, one of the dive masters on board, took the tortilla chips and started feeding the fish. It was amazing to see all the fish swarm around the boat for a few crumbs of something uniquely different to them. In the distance I could still see the Waikiki shoreline and realized that when I went paddle boarding on the fourth of July in the area, I wasn’t that far from the wreckage.
As I sat on the boat with it swaying with the waves I realized something very important. I did not inherit sea legs from my daddy as I did his blue eyes. I was beginning to get seasick. My dad spent twenty-two years in the US Navy and although I am unaware of how much time that was actually on a boat in the ocean my admiration of him grew; as did my nausea. It was a relief when I heard them say it was time to put on gear.
We descended approximately sixty feet into the water and after we were all assembled as a group, Vic prodded a hole and out shot an octopus. He caught it and it latched onto his arm after spraying a cloud of ink. Of course, if you know me, I couldn’t resist playing with the octopus. He put it on my arm and I stared eye to eye with it – I will never look at calamari the same again. And I knew that if my younger son was with me, he would have asked if we could keep it as a pet.
The others grew bored with the octopus still suctioned to my arm but I didn’t. Another underwater friend I had made and I was pleased to see he kept me company for another ten minutes and then unlatched himself and sped away to find him a new home. Salutations to you, my new found underwater friend.
The corals were beautiful with a mixture of brown, pink, orange, green and blue – pastels and bright colors mixed together. The underwater current was stronger that at the wreck so it was interesting to see the bodies of the fish and the other scuba divers sway back and forth with the current. In all actuality it was comical.
We came to a wall where Vic pointed out to me this spongy purple thing which he had me touch – I have no idea what it was but it actually felt like the suction cups of the octopus that I befriended earlier. Moving on, he found another hole and allowed one of the other divers to fish out the octopus – when he had no luck, Vic went in and fished it out.
At this point, Alexa, another dive master, had joined our group. Vic had the octopus in his hand and threw it at Alexa. The octopus suctioned it to her mask and head. We were all laughing at the spectacle this made. Later onboard the boat she remarked that she laughed so hard that her mask had filled with water.
Unfortunately it was at this time that I was not paying attention to where my legs were and I got what is commonly referred to as a Hawaiian tattoo. In other words, I got the needles of a sea urchin embedded in the lower part of my leg. The needles are so fragile that they break off instead of being pulled out. Over the next few days where they needles poked my leg, it will puss up and when I pop the puss the needle will come out. Although it was throbbing and painful, I continued the dive which was only another fifteen minutes.
After resurfacing and boarding the boat I carefully peeled off my wetsuit and got many eyes on my injured leg and quite a few jokes and related experiences. Unfortunately, my seasickness returned and even though it had been six hours since I had last eaten, I could tell my breakfast wanted to resurface. I was thankful when it didn’t.
The dive with Captain Mac’s Diving was a unique experience that I am glad that I went on and I am regretful that the camera I bought to take on the trip had broken and I didn’t get the experience recorded on film. Maybe soon, I will get to do it again with a working camera. Or maybe, I will choose another dive – maybe a cave or an aircraft.
Until later; Mahalo, my friends!