March 22, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Not Recommending Diving

"Three- to four-foot surf coming in... Five- to eight-foot visibility... Not recommending diving...."

Thus spake someone who was definitely not Zarathustra on the dive conditions recording at Laguna Sea Sports. The sun shone brightly in a cloudless blue sky. The air temperature was a balmy 75 degrees. Perfect Southern California beach weather, especially for March. But the dive shop was "not recommending diving" at Shaw's Cove in Laguna Beach. Pah! I had spent $40 on rental gear, and many months had passed since my last dive. I was going to reunite with my old Burbank Dive Club buddies. "Therefore must I descend into the deep," I spake, echoing Nietzsche's Zarathustra.

Upon arriving at the dive site, I saw no sign of high surf. The conditions from the shore looked great, with shin-high breakers punctuated by the occasional two-foot swell. I was ready to get wet. But where was the dive club? Apparently the others had also heard about the dive conditions and had opted not to make the hour-long drive from the Valley. It looked to be either solo or no-go for me. But then Walt showed up. Like me, he didn't want to waste the time and effort spent getting here, so we decided to hit the water. It must have been one of the smallest meetings of the Burbank Dive Club ever!

There was some basis for the dive shop's recommendation in the form of moderate surge and poor visibility (less than 10 feet). However, it was still a fine day to acquaint myself with a dive site I've wanted to visit for more than a year. Shaw's Cove showcases some excellent beach diving in the form of a series of reefs that begins right at the shoreline. Crevices, crannies and even a swim-through cave pockmark the reef like Swiss cheese. Abundant marine life inhabits the undersea landscape, including sea stars, sea cucumbers, rockfish, mussels and the ubiquitous garibaldi.

The surge and visibility did not allow us to explore the site nearly as much as I would have liked, but we certainly saw enough to whet my appetite for future visits. Walt and I spent most of the dive meandering along the reef, shining our lights into the countless nooks to see what we could find. As we returned toward shore along the reef, a large gallery opened up on my left. Exploring deeper inside, I found myself in what looked like the foyer to Poseidon's throne room. Sea star-encrusted walls rose around me, and mussel shells carpeted the ocean floor in thick layers. To one side, the swim-through tunnel beckoned to who-knows-where. Perhaps Poseidon himself waited beyond, but I had no time to venture further. Returning to Walt, I joined him for the ascent.

Yes, the visibility disappointed. Yes, the surge pulled at us. Yes, a rogue wavelet even tried to steal Walt's mask. But "not recommending diving"? I suspect Laguna Sea Sports is trying to keep Shaw's Cove to themselves. And as for the other Burbank Dive Club divers who missed out? All I can say is, the worst day diving (which this wasn't) is better than the best day in the Valley.


Development note: I've noticed that this site doesn't look like it should in Netscape Navigator. Rather than waste time jury-rigging it to look right in a soon-to-be-obsolete browser, I'll just add the cliché "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer."
Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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3/21: Works in Progress
3/20: Three Rings of Shock & Awe
3/19: Paris—A Beautiful Blur
3/18: Ignorant Idiot Man
3/17: The Pirate Queen
3/16: To War or Not to War
3/15: So Long, Seau
3/14: Telemarketing Pays
3/13: Free, For Now
3/12: Chicken Little Gets Respect
3/11: Axis of Evil
3/10: Writing Kept Me From Writing
3/9: King Arthur
3/8: The Women are Smarter
3/7: Salt on Old Wounds
3/6: 3/3/03, 3:33 p.m.
3/5: Beer Day
3/4: Pulling the Trigger
3/3: Make 'Em Laugh
3/2: Whither Iraq?
3/1: Strickland Cellars
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