UB Diving. Voted #1 dive shop by a bunch of divers.
|Posted on December 1, 2014 at 1:10 PM|
After a short hiatus out of the water, I finally got back in. Sweet mother of Neptune it was cold. Winter diving really is here and I really need to accept this and figure out how to stay warm for the next few months.
I drove down to Tyee yesterday morning to meet up with some divers from the south part of this big rock. It was a beautiful, clear sunshiney -2 day and I was anxious to go diving, not just because it had been a few weeks and I was meeting new dive buddies but also because I had some new gear to try out. Through a series of fortunate events I had come into possession of some brand new Aqualung Shot FX fins that I've been eyeing up for a while. The big ticket item on trial was my suit, the brand stinkin' new Aqualung Fusion Fit, designed specifically for me. Or so I like to think. Since rebranding the Fusion suits as AQ rather than Whites there have been a few little changes, for instance, the Fit now has super cool pockets! Since I was already trying out these fancy new items, I thought I may was well try out the neoprene gloves that have been laying around the shop forever too. It seemed practical at the time.
When I arrived at the site my new buddies were already there gearing up so after introductions I hustled to get ready for the first dive. It was, however, the first time I'd attempted to squeeze my big fluffy Hollis undies into a Fusion, and it was not a quick or easy process. I struggled. After much wiggling and pulling and squatting and stretching and huffing and puffing I did manage get the suit up to my shoulders and the awkward SLT ring over my neck. I should also note that this was my first time diving with the SLT system and silicone seals and I quite liked the seals. Once I was into the supposedly “self-donning” suit, I couldn’t actually reach the zipper to zip myself up or my exhaust valve to set it. I was ready for a nap after struggling to get into it, luckily I had some buddies to help with the final touches.
The next pre-dive struggle came a few minutes later when I was standing chest deep in the beautifully calm water trying to get my gloves over my suddenly monstrous hands. They had soaked up all the cold and bloated to an unusual girth, making the new neoprene gloves very difficult to stretch over them. When we were finally all in the water and ready to go (one of my buddies having found enough rocks to stuff in his pockets to make up for the lead he’d forgotten) we did a safety check and descended into the emerald depths.
Photo Credit: Darran Combs
The visibility was spectacular, the sun illuminated the water all the way down to 90ft, which was great because I had no real light. Just a back-up with near dead batteries. It was okay though because I was more focused on how great my fins were! Don’t get me wrong, I like the Force Fins, but I really like the Shot FX’s. They’re super lightweight and the blade is nice and wide so kicking takes very little effort and both stopping and back finning are much easier than with the fins I have been using recently. Back finning is important for me because I like to get my eyeballs as close to the tiny creatures as I can and I need to be able to back off easily. The suit was performing quite nicely as well.
One of the complaints I have about my Whites Nexus is how restrictive it feels underwater. The material has no stretch and compresses stiffly to my body, the Fusion solves this problem entirely, it is very comfortable! Not quite as good as wearing short shorts and a rash guard (I still couldn’t do underwater yoga) but it is a friendly dry suit. I think the extra layer of skin adds a bit of insulation as well. Although I’ve already benefited from the quick change SLT neck seal, having had to change out the one it came with for a smaller one, I do still find the ring to be a nuisance underwater. The brand new exhaust valve is way touchier than the crusty old one I’m familiar with. I had set it all the way open, as I do with my other one, but it really didn’t need to be that way. It’s actually in a good place so I can roll slightly to the side to deflate myself, but it turns out that having it all the way open makes it a bit inconvenient, the air just pours out at the slightest movement. I could have fixed this annoyance easily if I could have reached across my chest to adjust it, but my t-rex arms were insufficient and I just had to deal with it for the rest of the dive. Overall the suit and the fins were both pretty great, it was the gloves that turned out to be a terrible idea.
My hands were so cold I couldn’t feel them and the gloves shrank between dives making them comically difficult to get on for the second dive. After about 20 minutes underwater I was shaking my legs to try to generate some heat for myself. Despite having frigidly cold hands, I did have two beautiful dives with some great buddies. We saw a big grumpy wolf eel and lots of fishies including painted greenlings and a big pink Red Irish Lord. The nudibranchs were abundant and I even spotted a tiny little cockerels one, my favourite! I had an entirely new creature interaction on the first dive-- I found and underwater spider. It resembled a daddy longlegs and it was blending into the rock face very well, but I spotted it! I wafty wafted at it a bit to get a better look and it let go of the wall it was clinging to. As it began to float freely in the water it pulled its legs together making itself into a bell like shape, as I let it rest on my hand its legs would quickly spread out to grip solid ground. We did a little hand dance for a minute or two before I helped it find its way back to the wall. It was pretty neat. I would really like to know what that creature is.