Deceptive Calm

This morning, thankfully, I'm not sore. Small craft advisory. Picture it this way: have a friend pull you into a full-body straight jacket, add a 50 pound backpack, and leap headlong into the washing machine, set to cold-water "agitate."

Looking at the picture on the right you wouldn't think it was all about to shift so strongly, but the water can be that way. Fickle.

Long story short: no Advance Open Water certificate for me this past weekend. But in its stead I got three others: two extra specialty cards and (with the expected Nitrox cert), that got me to an "Adventure Diver" cert.

I still need an extra deep dive for A.O.W., maybe I'll try to scare up a boat trip in the coming weeks. This past week the choice was simplified; the boat simply refused to go out in the heavy weather, with 13-foot waves at the buoy and the breakers splashing up onto the parking lot at Whaler's Cove. That left Monastery as the only other deep-water possibility in the area, and no one was willing to swim there in that weather either.

So we went from shore in 40-50 feet of back-and-forth crashing where the visibility was occasionally shorter than the distance to your fingers. Crazy? Nah. Perfect conditions to test underwater compass work.

The surf was tough, no doubt. My instructor got whacked on our first exit and lost a prescription-lensed mask. I got hit on the same spot seconds later — my mask tore down which saved the mask but yanked my regulator as I was trying to crawl up onto the beach, and the force pulled hard enough that at the same moment my left leg siezed in a piercing cramp.

"Great," I thought, "I can't see, can't breathe, and can't move." But oddly I was entirely unafraid. I figured I'd wait five seconds, get the reg back while the surge subsided, and started to do that as the other leg cramped and I twisted sideways. But now I could breathe, so just wait-out the cramps.... when a pair of guys came charging down the beach to lift me out. Thankfully I was able to stand, despite the cramps.

An hour and half later: back in the water! Still tough, a number of troubles, not just for us — two guys lost a DPV on the same beach a little while later. We had buddy separations, more tough exits, and I struggled the whole weekend to keep my air consumption under control. Ride the surge, don't fight it. Unlaaax. Six times over the weekend and the challenges slowly subsided until the last two gorgeous dives in the sunny kelp with the company of little octopi, crabs, and buzzing sea lions. Terrific.

Hit the pillow Sunday night like a block of granite.

Posted November 30, 2005 | Comments (2)


So one might ask (I know I have) what's with the diving?

Quite simply, it's something that I've been meaning to do for years but either laziness or domestic pressure kept me away from it. I'm diving with a mask that I bought in the late 1980's, back when I first planned to do a lot of scuba. And it didn't happen. Nor did it happen in the 90's. Or later. But the mask is still good, and looks great with my 2005-edition Mares Quattro Excel limited edition metal-foil fins. I snorkeled whenever I could during our years down in the islands, and now — in 50-degree water — I'm finally following a desire that goes back to watching Jaques Cousteau on the TV as a wee kid. Label it as you will, but I'm glad to be doing it — check off one more box on my list.

I got my dive lights, BTW.

I've been doing less photo recently, partly due to scuba, partly due to the demise of both digital cameras, and partly to my expanding social life, all of which leave less time for darkroom work and the like. The photography's coming back, though — rather than swapping one equipment-heavy passtime for another. Ain't so. For some reason, I used to own a Nikonos III and a nice Ikelite housing for my Super 8. I can't even remember how I had them, but I know I did. I have a feeling the Nikonos will bubble-up again, loaded with Tri-X destined for a thick vat of Rodinal.

It's not a swap. It's all about convergence, baby. You'll see.

Posted November 25, 2005 | Comments (1)


On Tuesday Canon told me they can fix (actually replace) my whacked shutter for marginally less than the cost of a new camera, so that's what we'll do. Not sure if it will return before the holidays... in the meantime I always have my celphone cam and the new old Elan 7E, which has been a real joy to use, alongside the Bronica. The Elan is quick, light, and impressively quiet. I really don't know why DSLRs are all much louder than Canon's film cameras.. makes no sense to me!

A new DSLR was a holiday possibility but I think I'd rather have a new set of dive lights and a wetsuit... instead of doing a lot of shooting I've spent the last couple of weekends (and this upcoming one) doing scuba. A little Nor-Cal hypothermia never hurt anyone, heh.

If the weather in Monterey permits, by the end of this weekend I'll have cranked my certification up another couple of levels to Advanced Open Water Diver, with an extra cert for Enriched Air Nitrox. Wet w00t!

Happy Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day to all.

Posted November 24, 2005 | Comments (0)



The words you don't want to see if you own a Canon: "ERR 99"

My 300D blinked them this afternoon. The manual suggested removing and replacing the battery. Nope. "ERR 99" again. Switched CF cards. ERR 99. Eventually, I gently lifted the mirror to look at the shutter.

Wow. Ouch.

Two blades seem to have collided, rather than traveled past one another. One buckled, ripped in a way that I don't think you could do deliberately. The torn corner sticks a half-centimeter forward, straight out from the back of the body. This shutter has had it. Tomorrow I'll call Canon to inquire about a repair (most likely a complete shutter replacement, I'd guess), but I'm not particularly hopeful.

In a bit of pique I ran out and bought an old Elan 7E as a standin-in backup body that will still take my Canon lenses — as you might expect these days, it went dirt-cheap. Depending on the repairability of the 300D, I may be in the market for another DSLR or two :/

In the mean time, lots of fun stand-developing Tri-X and HP5. Stand-developed 35mm Tri-X @ ISO 2400 looks pretty darned good, for what it is.

Posted November 08, 2005 | Comments (4)


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