Submarine Safaris

Yesterday we drove over to Puerto Calero, about a 15 minute drive from Puerto Del Carmen, to take a submarine ride. The sub sailed for a one hour tour. As it cleared the harbor it began to dive.

As we dove deeper, it became obvious that the natural sun light was being absorbed and blue was the color that was left. The monochrome blue color was a surprise to Cathy.

The sub dove to a depth of 125 feet. We got to see a few ship wrecks and some sea life. On the way back, a diver was on the outside of the sub to greet us. Jill had fun signing with the diver by placing her thumb on her nose and wiggling her fingers. The diver reciprocated and did the same back to her.

Diving in Puerto Del Carmen

MJ and I took our first dive in the Canary Islands. We dove off of the water sports pier near old harbor. We rented all the dive equipment from Safari Dive Center and had a dive master with us. Our first challenge was figuring out the metric sizes and weights for the gear. The guys behind the counter asked if I wanted a 10 liter or 15 liter bottle of air. I’m use to 80, 100 or 135 cubic inch tanks. No clue as to liters. Since this was the first dive of the year for both MJ and I, we took the 15 liter bottles. More air the better. We had similar issues with wet suit sizes, fin sizes and lead weights. The guys at the shop were very helpful in getting us suited up with the correct size equipment.

After suiting up, the dive master gave us a dive brief. He detailed several dive options based upon our air consumption and comfort levels. One of the last options was the dive master giving us the buddy up sign and wave us off. In other words if he was comfortable with our diving skills he would send us off to finish the dive on our own.

We jumped into the water and dropped to 15 feet. The water was cool. We needed 5mm wet suits for warmth. The visibility was 60 feet plus. We swam along the storm break towards the old town harbor entrance. The water depth gradually dropped to 50 feet. There was tons of sea life around. Yellow jacks, Amberjacks, Wrasse, Parrotfish, Comberfish and Seabream were in abundance. Along the dive we came across an 8 inch squid, swimming along the sandy floor.

As we circled around, we swam out close to the underwater lava cliffs. At the cliffs the water depth plunges. at the cliff edge we found our selves at 70 feet deep. An eagle ray swam near us, allowing us to take soem great video. I had the Go-Pro camera with us. As soon as I get a chance I’ll post a video clip.

We started the dive with 200 bar of pressure in our tanks. Again, I have no real clue as to how much air that equates to. At 100 bar we were to tell the dive master and at 50 bar we were expected to be at the surface. In my mental gyrations I equated that to 1200psi starting up and 500psi being back on the boat.

We were at 180 bar of pressure when the dive master looked at MJ & I and gave us the buddy up sign and waved us off.
We proceeded to swim around several mounds of lava rocks, peering into the crevices, exploring. We stayed at 9 meters / 30 feet for the rest of the dive. At 100 bar of pressure we were both tired and called the dive. We were in the water for an hour and 15 minutes.

As we were cleaning up the equipment and turning it back into the shop, we talked to the dive master and the guys at the shop. They invited us to go out on the boat with them for some more difficult dives. I guess we demonstrated proficiency in our diving skills. The other funny point was that MJ & I became known as the “Americans” at the dive shop.

Cheesequake Day Hike

We took the crew on a day hike to Cheesequake State Park on Saturday. We had a few errors with the map that resulted in us going the wrong way on the green trail. We realized the error when we reached the dock road. To head to the docks we should have made a left turn to head north. Instead it was a right turn. Since we didn’t have to be at a specific location, other than return to the parking lot, the mistake was a small one.

When we reached Dock road, the boys crossed the road and kept going on the green trail. Now we specifically wanted to head down to the docks. So Frank and I stopped at the intersection to wait for the boys to come back. After 5 minutes none of them returned. So we decided to wait them out. The rule in hiking is that if you get separated, after 5 minutes you should send a party back down the trail to reconnect. If after about 10 minutes the whole crew should retrace the trails to reconnect. The cardinal rule that should never ever be violated is to hike solo. Everyone should always be buddied up.

Well, after about 10 minutes a single scout came back down the trail. Oh no! So right there, on the spot, Frank & I decided that we need to have a safety lesson! We discussed with the lone scout the importance of staying with a buddy. The area of the country we’re heading to in June has the largest concentration of mountain lions and grizzly bears. There is always safety in numbers. After talking to the lone scout, we placed him on Dock road about 200 yards away, out of sight. Frank went down the green trail, found the crew and had them come back. At first they didn’t. The second time Frank went to get them, they finally came back to the intersection. As we sat there and discussed the trail and making a wrong turn, we did a head count and surprise, surprise, came up with one short!! For the first few minutes you could see shock on their faces.  The shock turned into serious concern when they realized the scout missing was the one that went alone back down the trail.

So began our exercise in forming search parties and conducting a search.  The crew formed three parties, each to head down a different trail for approximately 200 yards to see if they can find the “lost” scout.  As we conducted the search, the crew realized Frank & I were just to calm about having a “lost” scout and they came to the conclusion that we were up to something.  The one party that went down Dock Road found our “lost” scout.  When the crew regrouped at the intersection we had a good discussion about the buddy system, about the rules of hiking and retracing your steps if the crew gets separated.  From the time we initially came to the Dock Road intersection until the search was over took about 45 minutes.  We lost a lot of time and ultimately shorten the total distance of the day hike, but the crew gained an invaluable lesson.

About 2 hours later the trail intersected a road and made a sharp bend.  The trail was clearly marked and Frank & I were about 50 feet behind the crew.  At the sharp bend I turned to Frank and said “not sure which way they went” – even though at that point we could still see the last scout in the line.  So Frank & I waited.  About 5 minutes 2 scouts came back.  Good!  They’re following the rules so far.  We made the 2 scouts wait with us.  About 5 minutes later the entire crew came back.  Yes!  The lesson is sinking in!  For the remainder of the hike, the crew kept grumbling about the search and how they knew we had set it up. Yes! Let the lesson sink in real deep!!

So we ended up with a hike of about 4 or 5 miles.  It was about 2 miles shorter than we had wanted, but it was so worth the time and lost distance.  Our next hike is an overnight hike in Harriman State Park, NY.  I can hardly wait to see what adventures await us!!