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Author: Subject: Diving Baja - A Love Affair
Elite Nomad

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[*] posted on 2-7-2014 at 11:21 AM
Diving Baja - A Love Affair


I’VE been reading some Great Stuff about diving Baja in other threads, so thought I'd share my own.

Oddly enough, when a kid on a ranch in arid western ND, I often thought I would make a good frogman. Well, to explain that compulsion of a young mind.... we had a creek and I had an imagination.

Some years later, I was well on my way to being in love with anything water-wise and was forever wanting to learn new things. So after arriving in Baja Sur and finding the Sea of Cortez, the idea of scuba diving was a natural yen of mine.

I had quickly met lots of snorkelers & divers early on. I became experienced snorkeling with spear or gun...and went almost every day. With scuba gear, I was never certified, but took a couple lessons many years ago from an expert diver, George Staples, who was an early partner of Bill Alvarado's at Hotel Punta Chivato.

George (Jorge) became one of my best friends and we had several great times together snorkeling the shores and islands of that a few plane trips to the Pacific for more of the same.

Being the expert that he was, Jorge got me interested in taking on some new underwater scuba diving. I readily agreed...and thought 'Hey! Waddaya know? A real frogman at long last.'

My first real tank dive was at night off the Santa Inez islands near our place at Chivato…and wildly exciting.

That was an experience that still makes me grin when I think back to that day’s dive. From the hotel, we loaded all our gear into my boat and off we went to the Santa Inez islands…a short distance from the Casa Grande at Pta. Chivato. George said he knew of a great spot to dive in some big caves down below. We would carry some underwater spotlights to see some unusual sights. He said, "You're gonna have the time of your life!"

Well, I was stoked! And..eagerly expecting to be using my Hawaiian sling on snapper and these I was already used to spearing along the rocky shores near Pta. Chivato and San Marcos Island.

We arrived at the Inez islands and George directed me to a spot a little ways offshore to the southeast. After anchoring and suiting up, we went down pretty deep… for me anyway...about 90ft. Being excited and a newbie I was already using my air up rapidly...lots faster compared to George who was flippering down below me. I followed him into a wonderland of sights.

Indeed, there was lots of life down there! All kinds of it milling around next to some huge rockpiles. I spent some time just marveling at the tornados of fish and wishing I had an underwater camera.

Then George motioned me over to a cave entrance in the rocks. I got up next to him and we both were shining our lights into the blackness. Pretty eerie place. Then we could see something odd moving, just a couple of feet away. What the heck? Then we saw more of it and realized it was a huge gillplate breathing in and and out. Holy Smokes! It was a truly HUGE grouper that scared the beegeesuz out of me. That thing looked like it could easily swallow me whole.

Then while looking in at that monsterous fish, I felt a powerful pressure wave hit my back!... and quickly twisted around to see what it was. (At the moment I thought it’s Big Brother Grouper come to inhale me!)

As I twisted around I just caught a glimpse of a big dark shape disappearing into the murk. Yikes!

I zoomed to the surface and climbed the boat ladder in record time. The ‘Sea Hunt’ dive character would have been proud of my speed.

Later having a much needed drink at the hotel bar, George told that because I had on a black wet suit, a big sea lion was probably inspecting me a possible mate. I actually believed him at the time, too. Shook me up quite a bit.

That was my one and only big dive using SCUBA gear...and after that I swore I would never again put on a black wetsuit!! I spent the next couple decades swimsuit snorkeling and enjoying my new lease on life… and thumbing my nose at sea lions.

I do what the voices in my tackle box tell me.
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Super Nomad

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[*] posted on 2-7-2014 at 11:36 AM

...and Sea Hunt was the number 1 rated show at the time!

In Memory of E-57
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Elite Nomad

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[*] posted on 2-7-2014 at 12:05 PM

Thanks. Diving is great fun. PADI certified back in '75. Dove on wrecks, reefs, etc. Helped salvage sunken logs from the river down in MS. Had some good times snorkeling in Sea of Cortez and out in Hawaii.:D
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