Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kayak Test Dive

July 6, 2008; My Aussie dive buddy, Glenn J., and I met at La Jolla Cove for a dive out at the Kelp/Rockpile area to the Northwest of the Ecological Preserve marker buoy. Just before putting on our tanks Glenn developed an equipment problem that would keep him from diving. We started to get out of our gear and were about to head over to our favorite eateries when I had a brilliant idea. I would utilize this opportunity to do a Kayak Test Dive. If he would act as surface support for me while I loaded, launched and dived from my kayak I would treat him to lunch.

Staying in our wetsuits we drove over to Marine Room Restaurant where I could launch my kayak and do a shallow dive. Parking on the street we checked out conditions. They were divable and the tide was low enough for there to be some beach exposed at Marine Room. Glenn and I carried the kayak down to the beach. No reason to be self-sufficient having a buddy along to help carry the kayak down. I loaded all the gear into my kayak, set up the anchoring system a grabbed my dive flag and water bottles. Glenn got in his free diving gear and snorkeled out past the surf as I paddled out to the 5-mph. buoy. Glenn hung on to my kayak for a short tow out. Towing a diver, even one that is steamlined, creates a bit of drag, especially when fully loaded with dive gear. He had to swim back under his own power.

I anchored and put my BCD in the water. I used a piece of line to secure it to the kayak while I got in. One thing that I learned at this stage was that having a wetsuit that zips up the front would be a good idea. Paddling out with a 7mm wetsuit completely zipped up is a minor problem. The thick rubber creates a lot of resistance for paddling. Having it down around your waist and zipping it up at the site is better. Zipping up a rear entry one-piece wetsuit on a kayak with out getting in the cold Southern Cal water is tough. Donning my snorkel gear I slid into the water. Slid into the BCD and adjusted the straps, checked all systems and started down the anchor line.

I kept the dive short and shallow, not wanting Glenn to have to wait too long on the surface. Surfaced and swam back to the kayak. I took off my tank and considered how best to put it up in the tank well. While in the water I tried to slide it up onto the kayak and into the well from the back. This did not work, as I could not get the kayak low enough in the water or lift my BCD/tank high enough. So then I bellied up onto the kayak and faced around backward and grabbed it by the tank valve and slid it right up. This was Glenn’s idea. I was able to do this without any assistance from him. That was one of the things I wanted to see. What I could do on my own? Though I usually dive with a buddy I believe that you must be prepared and capable of operating alone in case something happens where you are separated from your buddy.

The anchor was in sand so there was no problem pulling it up. Had it been in the reef there was a chance that it could get caught in the rocks. And this illustrates why you might want to use a line and reel system to get back to your anchor. You could check the anchor before surfacing or bring it up with you. This would avoid the possible necessity of having to go back down to get the anchor up. Especially important if you did a deep dive and are close to a decompression situation. It also might be a good idea for my to get something to wind my anchor line onto. For a shallow anchor where I only have about 25 of line this is not an issue. But if I had a long anchor line I would want something to keep the line organized and untangled.

So I learned quite a bit on this Kayak Test Dive. And I am now ready to go diving once again from my kayak.

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