We Dodged Lots of Little Bullets

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Location
Colorado
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Well I’ve been lurking this site since before I was certified but have decided to finally participate.

Though I’m pretty new to diving still (AOW ~50 dives) I had two fairly freaky dives so I thought I’d share the one that caused me to take a brief break.

Ok so the dive was out of a random shop I walked into in Sayulita but which actually launches from Punta de Mita, MX (they take you in a nice van). Well it was my first day of diving on a quick three day trip we were supposed to do some easy dives to start out at las Islas Marietas. By the end of the trip
I wanted to dive El Morro a big seamount on the edge of Banderas Bay where the cold ocean water meets the warm bay water and creates good conditions for whales, dolphins, mantas, etc... I was ecstatic. It was described to me as a “challenging dive” but I had caught the edge of a hurricane in Belize, a storm in Honduras, did the Blue Hole, so I knew I was new but I thought I was game. This was in May the edge of when visibility was supposed to be good in this part of the Pacific, I had only dived the Caribbean at this point and wanted something different/challenging but I had no idea what I was in for. Haha

We left on a smal-ish boat maybe 6-7 meters long? But set up nicely for diving with tank racks etc... by the time we made it to the island we were supposed to dive at somehow it came through that the island was closed due to conditions (lots of people are brought on snorkel tours and the Mexican forces were pretty strict).

So it’s me, Carlos, John, and Stacey our dive master, and Jose who was our pilot. We were in decently choppy seas but the call was made (in hindsight I don’t know by whom..?) to go ahead to El Morro, which is about an hour and a half from shore. Everyone was AOW so all good right? at this point the group was being pretty positive, talking about past dives etc... but about a half hour past our first island the waves got big... real big. At some point we’re bouncing around the boat like popcorn, almost lost our cooler, and a tank so we strap everything down and spread out to balance the boat. It was a really long, wet, butt breaking ride that ended up taking about an hour and a half when it should have been about half that. You know that point when everyone is looking at everyone else with that face that says, “so, are we still doing this...?” We did but nobody cracked and while we were in the worst of the swells Stacey mentioned that we basically would need two hours to get back if we stopped, halfheartedly joking, “well if we lose the boat we can swim back by nightfall” Banderas Bay is really big, especially when your getting your a— handed to you by waves bigger than your boat.

Eventually we reach El Morro and everything seemed good again, we were sheltered by the pinnacles which are realllly pretty so it was actually fairly easy getting prepped for the dive. We threw our BC’s off the side got strapped in and prepared to descend. Don’t recall much of a dive profile other than, “seamounts, pinnacles, thermoclines, bottom at 43m”. Because it was cold and super salty we were over weighted and Stacey basically said just follow me until we get “deep enough” well deep enough turned out to be about 33m down because holy crap when we started to descend it was like being in a sandy washing machine with like 1m visibility and I had to swim really aggressively to get down, dumped all my air and did my best to follow the group. (I’m usually last for some reason I always descend slow).

We get to where visibility was about 7m and it’s BEAUTIFUL fish and coral everywhere but my god it was no joke going around the seamounts where it was really cold on the pacific side and really warm on the bay side. Basically it turned into an deep drift dive chaos s— show immediately the ocean was deciding where you would go and in these little channels we were bouncing a meter each direction with the swell, while riding current. Carlos was in a shorty and got scratched to pieces by some rocks although he played it off pretty cool afterwards despite being in obvious pain and bleeding ALL OVER the boat. Shortly after this we start circling around a boulder about the size of a giant haystack when John is just *gone* we circled around the boulder about 3 times. Nothing. No bubbles nothing. It was probably my scariest moment diving I was watching my computer he was gone for a full 4 minutes. It was not ok, not fun. We ascend about 4m above the boulder and lower looking. Suddenly he pops out of this little cave thing that we found out later he got kind of sucked into. At this point we were at about 1100psi but the vibe was thoroughly killed. Stacey gave us the thumbs up and we start to ascend... Right into a rock thanks to the conditions. While Stacey was looking back watching for us we were all pointing forward and she turned around just in time to get de masked by the rock. She got it re cleared and we made it to the safety stop that’s when It was my turn to get got. It was foaming like crazy sand was everywhere and I just felt myself getting pulled pulled pulled from the time I hit 7m I was just gone. I maybe made it 2 minutes into the safety stop while swimming straight down the whole time. I let a little air into my BC for a second while it calmed and whooooosh I’m at the surface bobbing like a bottle cap on the ocean side of the pinnacles. Luckily Jose was pretty much immediately there but we were bouncing like a rubber ducky and I was riding the ladder like a mechanical bull. It was a little boat.... the propeller was RIGHT THERE I was already thinking of who would take care if my dog when I died so I basically crawled into the boat like a caterpillar climbing up a beer cup, tank and all fell in right about the same way a caterpillar might right as the boat jumped up to bash my side and then I just kinda laid there until the other divers were in. Reconsidered my extremely in graceful landing in the boat aced tank and BC.

John got seasick pretty bad after that and despite a miserable ride back me Stacey and Carlos did one more dive by the shore. It was also very drifty but beautiful. Suffice it to say that was my only day diving on that trip and I took some time off after.

I’m definitely ready to get back into the water but I’m thinking I’ll do some nice bathtub dives next time out! But hey it was cheap and I’m still alive. However, lesson learned. Anyways I will always be that nerd with a snorkel after this I don’t care if it’s not cool. So glad I had it for the whole trying to grab the ladder part. Also lost the ball to my nose ring which wasn’t in my mask so I’m assuming I just inhaled it?

Tl;dr did way too hard a dive the first day, thought I was toast, fell into the boat. Learned my lesson.
 

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happy-diver

Skindiver Just feelin it
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You know that point when everyone is looking at everyone else with that face that says, “so, are we still doing this...?”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, who's ever going to figure this out

Cool!
 

VE7DAC

Registered
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Sounds like a learning experience! Glad you made it through relatively unharmed.

If you have trouble descending and can't hold a stop, you might need a couple extra pounds. Your tank gets lighter throughout the dive as you use up the air, so you're most buoyant with an empty tank. Have you done a weight check with an empty tank?
 

wetb4igetinthewater

Instructor
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba instructor
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Nice writeup and very descriptive. Glad it didn't turn out too bad.
 

Neilwood

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Glad you got back safe and sound.

Think I would have called the dive a lot earlier tbh.
 

AdivingBel

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Thanks for posting. I'm a lazy diver. If it ever becomes too much like work, I'm outa' there, especially if it's outside expectations prior to splashing. Glad you're o.k. and hope you "get wet" again soon. :)
 

Kimela

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Glad for the safe ending. Wow, what a ride! Yep, I would have called the dive on the way out. Those kind of swells sound nasty. You said you went in overweighted, but popped up in the end. My guess is that's due to surge and current. It sounds like you put a little bit of air in your BC and the ocean ejected you! Phew! Not a dive I'd want to do - but you get bragging rights. :wink:
 
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