jayfurr: (Diving)
Carole and I got certified as scuba divers a few years ago, but until today, literally had not donned our gear or been in the water since a dive trip to the Florida Keys in December of 2008. We'd been meaning to do more diving locally but last summer we got out and did 3-Day training walks every chance we got ... and this summer, between my insane work schedule that had me jetting all over the United States AND doing lots of training walks, we just never got around to it. Until today.

The motivation for today's dive came from us hearing that our local dive shop, the legendary Waterfront Diving Center of Burlington, Vermont, was planning a benefit event for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jonathan Eddy, the owner, has two little girls both born with CF, a disease that bothers me just about as much as breast cancer. I mean, I'm not a big fan of any disease but there are some that really get to me. Breast cancer is one; cystic fibrosis is another. You can read about the event here: http://www.waterfrontdiving.com/splash.shtml -- but by the time you read this it'll probably be too late to make plans to show up. :)

Anyway, the big event, Splash!, is tomorrow morning at Oakledge Park in Burlington, bright and early at 10 am. It's going to involve an underwater 'poker run' (visit five underwater locations, collect clothespins, redeemable on land for playing cards, try to get the best five-card hand), try-scuba, snorkeling, stuff for kids, etcetera. We figured it sounded like fun, but we sure as hell didn't want to show up in front of the whole diving community without having been in the water for twenty months... so today we got in the water with one day to spare.

It went surprisingly well. The weather was warm and sunny and the lake was right about 70 degrees. We both wore shorty wetsuits (and boots, obviously, or our fins wouldn't have stayed on) and we were both comfortable. We started at the rocky shore of Lake Champlain by Oakledge Park and wibbled our way over the slippery rocks until we were far enough out that we could start swimming. Our dive basically went out to the "dolphins" (fueling bollards) a few hundred yards out from shore, home to many large lake trout and bass and about a zillion lost golf balls, hit there over the years by guys on shore who find aiming out into the lake to be just as good as using a real driving range. Carole at one point poked me and handed me a pair of men's boxer shorts, plaid, size XXL that she found on the bottom. I knew she couldn't mean for me to put them on, so I shrugged and stuffed them into a pocket in my BC and discarded them onshore when we got out. For her part, Carole dutifully fetched in an old wine bottle she found near the base of one of the dolphins.

Our main justification for being out there was to practice our skills: mask removal, mask clearing, out of air drills, etcetera. Sticking to tradition, I waited until we were all the way out there at the dolphins and had everything in order, then without warning frantically began giving Carole the out of air signal (slashing back and forth at my throat with the edge of my hand). She was a bit nonplussed and rather than grabbing my BC with one hand and offering me her octopus regulator with the other, she started making hand motions at me as though to ask me what I wanted. I eventually gave up and grabbed her octo reg and put it in my own mouth and grabbed her other hand and put it on my BC and gave her a look.

Other than that, our skills practice went well. We each did our full mask removal, mask clearing, etcetera. She gave me the out of air sign at one point and I had her secured and had the octo reg out in fairly short order; I started to give her the "up?" sign and she signed, "no, that's okay" -- not wanting to waste time doing the ascent part of the drill.

On the surface, later, she told me that she thought it was dirty pool, sorta, to pull the out of air drill on her without warning, but I reminded her that you never know when someone, maybe not even your buddy, is going to swim up and give the out of air sign. You always have to be ready. She conceded my point.

So anyway: our practice dive went fine. As we were coming out around 6 pm, we saw two more divers going in, loaded with double tanks. They were still wading out through the shallows as we were wading in and we waved and said "Hi!" and found out that they were going out to set up the underwater poker run course for Splash!

The divers said that if we stuck around we'd know where all the markers were, but we said "Oh, where'd be the fun in that?" and laughed and went on in.

So yeah. We didn't forget everything we knew about diving -- and if having one drill go a bit awkwardly is the worst thing that happened to us, it must have been a pretty successful dive. I guess we're ready for tomorrow.

We really should dive more, though. Ponderponderponder.

jayfurr: (Diving)
Carole and I got certified as scuba divers a few years ago, but until today, literally had not donned our gear or been in the water since a dive trip to the Florida Keys in December of 2008. We'd been meaning to do more diving locally but last summer we got out and did 3-Day training walks every chance we got ... and this summer, between my insane work schedule that had me jetting all over the United States AND doing lots of training walks, we just never got around to it. Until today.

The motivation for today's dive came from us hearing that our local dive shop, the legendary Waterfront Diving Center of Burlington, Vermont, was planning a benefit event for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Jonathan Eddy, the owner, has two little girls both born with CF, a disease that bothers me just about as much as breast cancer. I mean, I'm not a big fan of any disease but there are some that really get to me. Breast cancer is one; cystic fibrosis is another. You can read about the event here: http://www.waterfrontdiving.com/splash.shtml -- but by the time you read this it'll probably be too late to make plans to show up. :)

Anyway, the big event, Splash!, is tomorrow morning at Oakledge Park in Burlington, bright and early at 10 am. It's going to involve an underwater 'poker run' (visit five underwater locations, collect clothespins, redeemable on land for playing cards, try to get the best five-card hand), try-scuba, snorkeling, stuff for kids, etcetera. We figured it sounded like fun, but we sure as hell didn't want to show up in front of the whole diving community without having been in the water for twenty months... so today we got in the water with one day to spare.

It went surprisingly well. The weather was warm and sunny and the lake was right about 70 degrees. We both wore shorty wetsuits (and boots, obviously, or our fins wouldn't have stayed on) and we were both comfortable. We started at the rocky shore of Lake Champlain by Oakledge Park and wibbled our way over the slippery rocks until we were far enough out that we could start swimming. Our dive basically went out to the "dolphins" (fueling bollards) a few hundred yards out from shore, home to many large lake trout and bass and about a zillion lost golf balls, hit there over the years by guys on shore who find aiming out into the lake to be just as good as using a real driving range. Carole at one point poked me and handed me a pair of men's boxer shorts, plaid, size XXL that she found on the bottom. I knew she couldn't mean for me to put them on, so I shrugged and stuffed them into a pocket in my BC and discarded them onshore when we got out. For her part, Carole dutifully fetched in an old wine bottle she found near the base of one of the dolphins.

Our main justification for being out there was to practice our skills: mask removal, mask clearing, out of air drills, etcetera. Sticking to tradition, I waited until we were all the way out there at the dolphins and had everything in order, then without warning frantically began giving Carole the out of air signal (slashing back and forth at my throat with the edge of my hand). She was a bit nonplussed and rather than grabbing my BC with one hand and offering me her octopus regulator with the other, she started making hand motions at me as though to ask me what I wanted. I eventually gave up and grabbed her octo reg and put it in my own mouth and grabbed her other hand and put it on my BC and gave her a look.

Other than that, our skills practice went well. We each did our full mask removal, mask clearing, etcetera. She gave me the out of air sign at one point and I had her secured and had the octo reg out in fairly short order; I started to give her the "up?" sign and she signed, "no, that's okay" -- not wanting to waste time doing the ascent part of the drill.

On the surface, later, she told me that she thought it was dirty pool, sorta, to pull the out of air drill on her without warning, but I reminded her that you never know when someone, maybe not even your buddy, is going to swim up and give the out of air sign. You always have to be ready. She conceded my point.

So anyway: our practice dive went fine. As we were coming out around 6 pm, we saw two more divers going in, loaded with double tanks. They were still wading out through the shallows as we were wading in and we waved and said "Hi!" and found out that they were going out to set up the underwater poker run course for Splash!

The divers said that if we stuck around we'd know where all the markers were, but we said "Oh, where'd be the fun in that?" and laughed and went on in.

So yeah. We didn't forget everything we knew about diving -- and if having one drill go a bit awkwardly is the worst thing that happened to us, it must have been a pretty successful dive. I guess we're ready for tomorrow.

We really should dive more, though. Ponderponderponder.

Arrrrrrrrgh

Jan. 2nd, 2009 12:29 pm
jayfurr: (Push To Erupt)
I haven't said anything about our Florida vacation for several reasons:

1) no one gives a damn that I was in Florida scuba-diving and relaxing over Christmas while they were back home in the cold or dealing with family and pressure and stuff, and,

2) I tend to want to make really good vacation summary posts rather than just saying "went to Florida for a week, it was fun, now we're back" and in the end wind up not writing anything, and,

3) I tore my left calf muscle taking a "giant stride" off a dive boat in the waters off Key Largo, Florida on December 21. And that, my friends, is the main reason I haven't said anything. The throbbing, aching pain from my left leg is at times bad enough that I want to say nothing at all to anyone for long periods of time and just go hide somewhere with a big ice pack. (Side note: it WAS NOT the 'bends' that caused the injury. It was my first dive of the day and first dive in months and it happened as I was GOING IN.)

It's a minor, but very painful, tear that I thought was just a bad cramp at first. I didn't even abort the dive when it happened - I did normal cramp recovery flexing and continued on, then did another dive later that afternoon with no issues. If you've ever had a bad charley horse you know that your leg can feel stiff and sore for quite some time after the cramp has largely passed. That's pretty much what it felt like. The leg ached and was stiff, but it didn't feel like I'd done myself real damage. I genuinely thought it was just a lingering stiffness from a bad charley horse and proceeded to do four more dives while we were down in the Keys. Carole was sort of pleased by an inadvertent consequence of the injury: I walked slowly and in no great hurry and for the first time since we met 13 years ago she found herself more than able to keep up with me.

Then we flew home. The leg still felt mostly okay when we landed on Saturday afternoon, December 27. But sometime after we got home I did something that made it worse. I'm not sure what. Perhaps it was all the work of lugging heavy suitcases up the stairs in our house or something, but in any case, Sunday afternoon was just pure agony. I kept gobbling ibuprofen like candy and putting heat on the muscle and was rewarded for my efforts by a giant purple bruise on my left foot the following morning where blood had run down and pooled under the skin. Sort of nasty looking. Ack.

I went to the doctor Monday morning and got a diagnosis of a tear in a small muscle at the top of the calf. The doctor didn't prescribe any pain medication, simply recommending that I ice it every time it started to hurt and take ibuprofen in the meanwhile. So that's what I've been doing. Ice definitely helps. I should have spent more time icing and less time with heat on it, whether or not the heat felt 'good'. The heat probably caused the purpling of my foot by bringing so much blood to the leg.

Over the last day or two the pain's lessened, but just now, sitting at my desk at my office for the first time in two weeks, it's started up again. It hurts a lot, to be honest. Fortunately, I'm not teaching today, so I'm going to grab my laptop and head home and get busy icing it.

Sigh. What a drag it is getting old.

jayfurr: (Underwater Mightiness)
Carole told me that I was incorrect in my assumption that she had little to no vacation time left this year. She had 4.5 days or something like that. So we've decided to spend Christmas in the Florida Keys.

We're going to fly down to Miami on Saturday, December 20, arrive very late, stay the night and head down the Keys on Sunday morning. Our first stop will be in Key Largo to dive John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the legendary underwater state park. Then we'll spend two nights in Marathon, Florida, about halfway down the Keys, and dive semi-legendary Looe Key. Then we'll go on down to Key West and spend three nights, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, there. Then we'll head back to Miami, stay the night, and fly back to Vermont early the next morning. Hopefully we'll get in a whole buncha dives. Should be fun. We've never done a tropical diving vacation over Christmas!


jayfurr: (Diving)
We did our first Wednesday night dive shop charter tonight, going out on a dive to an old wreck in 40 feet of water out beyond the breakwater in Burlington Harbor. There are archaeologically-significant wrecks here and there on the bottom of Lake Champlain, but by far the easiest to get to and closest to the dive shop is the General Butler, a 130-year-old sunken canal schooner. We've missed chance after chance to go out on a dive and finally managed to make one tonight.

Nice dive. The water was in the high 60-degree range and I wore only a 3 mil/2 mil wet suit, no hood, no gloves, and felt comfy. I still need to work on going through my air more slowly, but I still managed about 30 minutes of underwater time.

[livejournal.com profile] caroleotter gives more detail here.

jayfurr: (Rainbow River)
We went for a dive on Saturday instead of hiking. We've also been on two other dives this summer, both in August. Before that I was simply on the road pretty much non-stop and when I wasn't we had other things going on.

[livejournal.com profile] caroleotter has summed up the state of our diving pretty well here if you'd like to read about it in more detail.

Manatees!

Apr. 27th, 2008 07:57 pm
jayfurr: (Rainbow River)
A month ago Carole and I went snorkeling with manatees.

Whee! It's finally out. Of course, my Livejournal userpic has been me swimming with a manatee for the last month so the secret's not been kept all that well, but nonetheless, we've been in that ugly state of mind where we've done something really neat-o but don't want to post about it until we can select from the hundreds of photos and dozens of short video clips we took and put up a page summarizing how awesome the experience was.

I think I'd have probably had it all up lang syne, but I had that wretched cold that lasted for two weeks.

Anyway, we went down to the west coast of Florida, to the town of Brooksville, for my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. While we were there we went drift diving in the Rainbow River near the town of Dunnellon. We'd been told by the most-recommended local dive operator that his manatee snorkeling tours were all full up for the days we'd be in the area, but happily, after we got back from the drift dive it turned out that they'd had a couple spots open up and we got to go manatee snorkeing after all.

Manatees, it turns out, are like big kitties. They love having their bellies scritched. Carole wanted to take one home.

See the photos here:

The drift dive: http://www.furrs.org/images/rainbowriver/default.htm

The manatee snorkel: http://www.furrs.org/images/crystalriver/default.htm

I'm sure Carole's going to have a lot more to say, so I'm going to let her read this and comment.

jayfurr: (Underwater Mightiness)
You can see photos and a short video from the Underwater Pumpkin Carving contest that we took part in on October 20 at:

http://www.furrs.org/images/pumpkin2007/default.htm

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