Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Futile Snorkeling Attempt

Trying to snorkel at Dana Point's Strand Beach and see aquatic wildlife is about as effective as trying to look for wildlife during a blinding NW Indiana Region "Lake Effect" snow storm while wearing glasses and no hat, where you can't see more than 2 feet in front of you and the falling snow keeps collecting on your glasses.

I bought an O'Neill Psycho 3/2 wet suit on Sunday morning.  It fits great, feels great, and I wanted to try it out.  So I headed down to the beach on Monday, snorkel & mask in hand, electronic car key in a double plastic bag to keep it dry inside my suit, and sun screen massaged into my scalp.  I was enthusiastic, and naive.  

Once I got down to the beach, I finished zipping up my suit, with a early-20-something life guard
saying "dude, you're not gonna need that wetsuit today".
"The water temp is 68F".
"Yeah man, that's warm."
"No, there's no gulf stream here, 68F is cold. I would not swim in Phoenix unless it was over 73 or 74F"
So I waded into the surf, put on my booties and flippers, secured my mask, and dove through several waves, determined to explore the kelp beds.  200 yards out beyond the surf, I still could not see my hand when it was fully extended under water.  There was far too much roiling sand stirred up by the waves.  I didn't know I was in a kelp bed until I felt it wrapping around my arms.  The water's surface was undulating 2 to 3 feet up and down, often swamping my snorkel's check valve.  Now, if one is looking at the bottom of the ocean, and focusing on fish and rocks and vegetation that are visible, it provides a certain serenity that can compensate for the sudden CUT OFF in air supply.  But, if all you can see is swirling, roiling sand, and you're disoriented, trying to stay afloat in an unfamiliar environment, and Then your air supply is CUT OFF, it makes it very disconcerting.  Then, tangle your arms into the kelp, add a outward flowing current, swimming alone, and I called it quits after 15 minutes.  The Pacific Ocean proved to me, at Dana Point's Strand Beach, that it rejected any attempts to be snorkeled.

I may try again down at 1000 Steps, where it is more rocky, or off the head lands where there is very little sand.   I've heard that "30 feet" of visibility is "normal"in OC on a good day.  I didn't even have 3 feet of visibility yesterday.  The Psycho suit will get used, both in the Winter (it is very warm) and in the summer when the water is too cool to swim comfortably.  I have a body board that I plan on riding waves on.  Il faut voir.

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