Dive Dry with Dr. Bill

#296: My New Dive Buddy

I made a New Year's resolution this year... dive less and edit more video. After all, I need to spend more time creating products such as new DVD's and a potential commercial cable TV series. My banker says if I want to keep my home, and my thick "insulation" for winter diving, it's a necessity. I've pretty much lived up to it. So far this year I have a paltry 96 dives logged, and will certainly not reach my usual 300-325 by December 31st. I have produced my sharks and rays, echinoderms, and soon my octopus and squid DVD's, so I've lived up to my resolutions (perhaps for the first time ever). Now all I have to do is learn some marketing skills and actually make some money selling my products!

When I reached two thousand dives for the decade 2,000 in late June, I decided I needed some time to experience what summer is all about. You know... going swimming, listening to all that jazz up at the Country Club, checking out the seasonal amphibious mammals that frequent our sandy beaches this time of year (well half of them anyway), spending time topside with non-diving friends, etc. I still keep my gills wet, but they seem to be tolerating our dry air much better than I expected.

Regular readers of this column know I have long searched for that lovely "lady go diver" who would accompany me off into the sunset to dive places like the Philippines, Chile, Brazil and Africa. I've had no real luck finding my dream girl, even under the influence of nitrogen narcosis. However, on the last weekend in July, I acquired a new dive buddy and diving with him has already given me immense joy.

My 23 year old son Kevin returned from a cruise to Mexico with his mother to celebrate her recent marriage. While in Cabo San Lucas, he decided to try a Discover SCUBA dive. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard that he wanted to get certified as a diver. I did my homework and let him know that there was a dive shop that I liked, Sea Stallions, right near his home in Lake Forest. He did the rest... he quickly signed up for an Open Water (OW) certification class. He felt very comfortable in the water even on his first ocean dive at Shaw's Cove in Laguna Beach where the visibility was a mere 5-7 feet.

Then he contacted me to let me know his final check out dives would be here in Catalina's Casino Point Dive Park on July 26th, rather than August 3rd as we originally thought. Gulp... I was scheduled to deliver a talk that day at a major event, the Dive In at Redondo Beach's Veteran's Park. I was one of only three speakers and felt I couldn't break the commitment I had made several months before. When event organizer Rick heard this, his message was loud and clear... "family comes first." I felt bad, but no way did I want to miss seeing my son get certified.

Kevin came over that Friday night, giving us some time to catch up. He asked what he might see in our waters (other than a great white shark) so I showed him the images of marine life on my website. The next morning I took him down to meet his instructor (also named Kevin) and the class when they arrived at Cabrillo Mole. They went off to breakfast and I went back to editing for an hour or so. Then I got my gear ready and headed down to the park. Since Kevin was in the class, I couldn't dive with him. I went off and did my own dives, including reconnoitering the wreck of the Suejac looking for nudibranchs to film (of which there were several species). At the end of the day we returned home... and both of us promptly fell asleep on the couches at 6:30 pm... Kevin's first real encounter with the residual effects of nitrogen.

The next morning it was our turn to do Kevin's first post-certification dives together. I beamed at the thought, as any diving dad would. My father wasn't an underwater person. Fortunately he got to view some of my underwater footage from Belize, and express his amazement at a queen triggerfish trying to eat a large hermit crab inside a conch shell. At least we got to share the underwater world that way before he died. As dive buddies, Kevin and I would be able to share the excitement of diving together... something I never really imagined even in my wildest dreams.

As we suited up, I couldn't help but notice Kevin's brand new gear. It provided quite a contrast to my "well aged" equipment and "holy" wetsuit. I had given Kevin the money to buy his new wetsuit since I wanted to save him the embarrassment of looking like a chip off the old block. Divers come from far and wide to take a gander at my wetsuits, which have earned quite a reputation on ScubaBoard and The Dive Matrix web sites. Oh, and not a "good" reputation I should add.

We descended for the first of three dives that day, and it was obvious Kevin was quite comfortable underwater... definitely an indication I had passed my diving genes on to him. He followed me as I led him around the dive park. We only strayed deeper than his 60 foot certification limit once when we went out to visit the wrecks. After all, I had to show him the remains of the Pisces, a glassbottom boat I used to party on with owner Lynn Stokes and the lovely Nancy Brantley, whose favor we both sought. Lynn won... he had a bigger boat than mine (the "Eleutheria").

I had been surprised when Kevin told me he had purchased a new digital camera and underwater housing along with his dive gear. Underwater, I was thrilled to see him look for and shoot marine life as we moved along in the park. He looked as "focused" as his dad as he framed subjects in the viewfinder. On our first dive, I discovered that my ancient SPG (which tells me how much air I have left in my tank) was no longer working. I think it had equipment envy looking at Kevin's new gear. Fortunately I was able to judge my air pretty accurately based on our depth profile and bottom time.

At the end of the day I found it almost impossible to believe that both my son and I have the same number of dives logged for the month of July, a mere eight due to my focus on editing video. Pretty amusing if you ask me. Of course he's several thousand behind me in total count! Although we'll do a lot of diving together in the future, I'm not too worried that Kevin will exceed my count. After all, I'm a dive bum and he has a real job over on the mainland. How else could he pay for his new dive gear!

Many fathers have had the joy of playing football, basketball or baseball with their sons. In high school Kevin was always interested in football. Despite the fact that George Halas, co-founder of the NFL and former owner of the Chicago Bears, was my great uncle; the football gene must have skipped my generation. Of course I used to love going to Wrigley Field to watch the likes of Mike Ditka and Gale Sayers play. Kevin also enjoys rock climbing. That's another sport I don't participate in due to my past experiences with it... "little" things like rocks falling on me and ropes slipping under my weight. It sure was a wonderful weekend being able to share diving with my son.

© 2008 Dr. Bill Bushing. Watch the "Dive Dry with Dr. Bill" underwater videos on Catalina Cable TV channel 49, 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM weekdays and on Charter Communications Cable channel 33 at 7:30 PM on Tuesdays in the Riverside/Norco area. Please help me climb out of self-imposed poverty... buy my "Munching and Mating in the Macrocystis," "Great White Sharks of Guadalupe," "Calimari Concupiscence: Mating Squid, " "Playful Pinnipeds: California Sea Lions," "Belize It or Not: Western Caribbean Invertebrates, Fish and Turtles," "Gentle Giants: Giant Sea Bass," "Common Fish and Invertebrates of the Sea of Cortez" or the new "Sharks and Rays of Southern California" DVD's. Yes, take Dr. Bill home with you... we'll both be glad you did!

Kevin and I before our first dive. He's the stud with the new gear on the left and I'm the pudgy one
with the "holy" wetsuit on the right in case you couldn't tell! Kevin underwater reading
the memorial plaque to Jacques Cousteau and taking a picture of a garibaldi.

This document maintained by Dr. Bill Bushing.
Material and images © 2008 Star Thrower Educational Multimedia