Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another risky expensive hobby? Oh yes.

Jess and Steve underwater at Molokini, off Maui
As if horses are not risky and expensive enough, Steve and I have decided to take up scuba diving as well. No, we don't actually expect to get life insurance any time soon. 

Steve was a diver many moons ago and introduced me to snorkeling on our first trip to Maui twelve years ago. We stopped traveling to the islands shortly after acquiring horses (no regrets), but managed to put away a few pennies over the last ten years for another trip. And this one had a goal--to get both of us our PADI Open Water Dive Certifications.

We did all our book-work online and then arranged to do the dives here where the water is not freezing cold. I love Northern California, but diving in clear, blue, warm water is quite delicious.

Do I miss my horses right now? Yes. Yes I do. Am I trying to figure out a way to get my horses and my diving in the same vicinity? Oh, heck yes. Did you know you can ship horses from Oakland to Hawaii on a boat in 4-6 days? There is even a company right near us that does it. Do I think my horses would approve of this? No. No I do not. At least not that part.

But back to the diving.

Much like backpacking, only minus the food and with the addition of the dangers of running out of air, diving is so wonderfully self-contained. It's AMAZING!

Steve at Molokini
We had an interesting juxtaposition of experiences. Our first 6 dives--including the four certification dives--were all boat dives with Lahaina Divers. They are a well-oiled machine of a shop. The operations crew gets you checked in, waivers signed, gear rented and on the boat seamlessly. We had great instruction and support from the entire crew and some fantastic dives. Steve had some issues with seasickness and even that was handled with professionalism and pragmatism--never a hint of discouragement. 

Molokini (actually a crater left over from a vent off of Maui's volcano Haleakala) was incredible. We had 200 feet of visibility and it would have been so, so easy to just keep diving down the water was so clear and there was just so much to see.

I've decided that warm salt water is really the only thing I want to swim in. This means I'm out of luck for awhile, but oh well.

On Thursday, our last day on the island before we head home Friday, we tried a different shop. We wanted to do a shore dive and Lahaina a) doesn't do shore dives and b) didn't have enough equipment to rent because they were booked so they sent us to Maui Diving. This was a totally different experience. 

The owner is there in the shop and on Wednesday afternoon, booked us a shore dive to Black Rock the next morning. We showed up at 9 a.m. Thursday, geared up, climbed in Kevin's van, and headed out. This crew is a little more laid back than Lahaina Divers but no less passionate about diving.

Here's the difference between a shore drive and a boat dive. You have to hike in to a shore dive WITH YOUR GEAR on. It's kinda heavy, in case you're curious. But on the plus side, it is less likely to cause nausea and if you want to cause a stir at a fancy resort? Well. Strolling through in a wetsuit with a tank strapped to your back will do it. Hawaii has no private beaches, so any resort must provide unfettered access to the shoreline. Some of them don't like it, but in the long run, they have to provide it. I admit to a small amount of evil delight hiking back through in our gear.

It was awesome.

Hawksbill turtle at Black Rock, Maui
So was the dive. We swam around the point, encountering turtles, eels, fish and narrowly avoiding tourists jumping off rocks above us. Forty minutes of bottom time, warm water and I hear there is video coming soon. 

I would definitely dive with both shops again. Lahaina can take us out to some great places by boat and Maui Diving can get us in the water fast and easy.

The next question is how to wrap all this up in one perfect lifestyle package. First step is convincing two 1.200 pound horses that a 4-6 day boat ride is a reasonable thing to do.

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