In the last post, I had spoken of connections to people in your life alluding to the past, present and future. One of the pretenses for getting scuba certified wasn’t merely having new angles for adventure with a good buddy but, connecting to my father. During adolescence, my father had taken my brother and me along for various fishing and snorkeling trips while living on Andros Island, Bahamas. Commuting three hours from Orlando to West Palm Beach, I was on the verge of making a connection to my past.
For better part of 2013, I had spent quite a number of days in fresh water springs across the state of Florida. With the prospect of my first salt water dive, I had tempered my exuberance with knowledge of recent cold front sweeping through the state. Usually such weather changes had followed with rain causing turbidity in most kinds of water bodies. Before entering these briny shallows, my buddy and I had walked a rough outline of our dive plan. With the change from fresh to salt water, we had itemized a couple of technical challenges for emphasizing; buoyancy, water current, and air consumption. Putting technique aside for a moment, I was jazzed about the prospect of seeing tropical aquatic life again.
Working through technical objectives, I had loaded up another 2 lbs. of weights for a total of 10 lbs. for this salt water dive. For myself, extra weight in my buoyancy control device (BCD) had made me sink like the Titanic. For the next salt water outing, I had concluded sticking to 8 lbs. as a starting point. With the tidal shift, I had noticed a strong current on the surface water passing underneath Blue Heron Bridge. To offset, my friend had suggested diving on the bottom. In reality, the push of the current wasn’t diminished much at around 15 feet of depth with drag of the dive flag. The remedy for current was let the drift of the tide move us as necessary, otherwise swim, swim, swim! With respect to air and energy consumption, we had agreed to surface intervals for snorkeling for preserving air. In total, we had three mini dives achieving an excess supply of air of at least 1300 PSI out of 3000 PSI (i.e. pounds per square inch).
Despite reduced underwater visibility of about 18 feet, the main attraction for day was the aquatic life. Navigating the waters parallel to and beyond Blue Heron Bridge, we had seen an eclectic grouping of creatures. It was great mentally rattling off different things including; parrot fish, an urchin, juvenile Queen and Black angelfish, barracudas, Sgt. Majors, a solitary stingray, juvenile yellow Grunts and the chunks of Sargasso seaweed. With this exuberance, there was an interlude of seriousness regarding safety protocols when diving.
During the course of the excursion, we had maintained a healthy distance of about arm’s length to max of 10 feet snorkeling between us. Transitioning from one makeshift boat reef to another, I had remembered turning to check for my dive buddy. I wasn’t able to locate him within a 360 degree view, then up and down. Recalling dive protocol to surface after a minute of searching, I had almost conceded looking for him; however, I had seen a blurred silhouette on the edge of visibility. On closer inspection, it was my friend. He had tangled himself in the dive flag string. Approaching him, he had finished unraveling most of the string sans a loop around his fin. With a brief assist on the play, he was back in business gladly handing off the spool for the dive flag. The point of this scare was respect nature whether underwater or out on a mountain top, keep a visual connection to your buddy tight and avoid overloading on new gear. Now, my friend and I probably had thought skip on the melodramatic bit but, in the wild, a slip here, a mistake there, equals a dirt nap.
Speaking to past connections, almost a decade had gone by since my father’s passing. The taste of salt water and views of tropical fish had recalled great adolescent memories hanging out with him. These moments had ironically connected to one hour flights east of West Palm Beach to Andros Island, Bahamas. My parting thought for you, what had being underwater stirred inside of you?
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