It is 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon and I’m sitting at home waiting for it to be 8:30 so I can go test out a back inflate buoyancy compensator device (BCD) that I’m thinking about investing in at the pool (shout out to my favorite dive shop Oceansports). Understandably…this has me all riled up about diving! And the best way I could think of to channel that energy into something semi-productive is to…you guessed it…write about diving. So! Today’s topic is how I even ended up headed for a remote group of uninhabited islands miles away from anything in the first place. And I can sum it up in just 3 words.
Its Warren’s fault.
No really, it is. Let me explain. I first met Warren in January of this year while in Cozumel on an Oceansports trip, where I officially became a certified open water diver. I was spending my short interval between the morning boat dives and my afternoon training dives trying to multitask – suntanning and logging my dives. On a side note, this is the only suntanning I did on the entire trip. The only color I got in Mexico was red – on my nose, the tops of my hands and the tops of my feet. Everything else was under a wetsuit all week. Fair skinned and want to avoid the dangers of a tropical sun? Take up scuba diving, its better than any spf out there. Anyways, back to my story. So there I was hanging out on my lounger when Warren comes up to join me with his logbook. As we were chatting, he mentioned this place called Socorro he had heard of where the dolphins had started to imitate the manta rays by interacting with the divers. He told me a story about a dive where the divers were hanging onto the ascent line doing their safety stop (in recreational diving you do a ‘safety stop’ at the end of every dive, which is a 3 minute stop in 20 to 15 feet of water to allow your body time to off gas any excess nitrogen before continuing to the surface as a precautionary measure, even though its not physiologically necessary if you stayed within the limits of no decompression diving) when a dolphin decided to join in. He hooked a fin around the line and peered curiously at the divers, wondering what they were up to and seemingly wanting to play. Whoa! Now I have no idea how true this story is, but true or not its what first caught my interest in learning more about this crazy place called Socorro. It wasn’t until a few months later when Warren and I started dating that it came up again. And this time the conversation went more like “Hey…we should go there. Why not? Let’s do it”.
Warren is a scuba instructor and teaches courses for our local dive shop Oceansports. That also means he has the opportunity to run dive trips to anywhere he wants…its definitely a “kid in a candy store” situation. With a bit of encouragement from me he decided “what the hell” and got the shop on board with his idea. Currently there are only 3 or 4 live aboard companies that offer trips to Socorro and of those we chose Aggressor.
I stumbled upon a gem while cruising the Aggressor website a little while ago…a captain’s log of last January’s trip (you can read the whole thing here: http://www.aggressor.com/CaptLog-View.php?log=2127). Firstly, I was quite relieved to read that the water temperature was 73-76 degrees Fahrenheit (about 22-24 degrees Celsius) and that the divers had all been warm and happy in either a 5 or 7mm wetsuit with a hooded vest. Since I’m always on the chilly side, my plan for thermal protection is to wear a 7mm suit with a 5mm step-in hooded vest over it. I should be nice and toasty! The last thing I want to do after traveling all that way and spending all that money is to miss out on any diving because I’m too cold. The log goes on to talk about the different dive sites they visited and what they saw there. This is were it really goes wild..aside from many friendly manta rays of course, there were groups of white tipped reef sharks, some solid hammerhead sightings, Galapagos sharks, 2 dolphin encounters (one of which was a whole pod of them who stayed with divers from the moment they hit the water to the moment they left it…I will totally lose my mind if we’re lucky enough to have a similar experience!), huge tuna and even a surface interval snorkel with a humpback whale and her calf and escort. Close your eyes for just a minute and try to imagine what it would be like to swim around in the deep blue with 3 humpback whales! Even if we don’t get lucky enough to see any, we’re told we can expect to hear their songs reverberating through the hull of the ship at night. I’ll be sure to let you all know if this is as peaceful an experience as it sounds like.
I hope I have incredible underwater encounters to write about in my own trip logs this January. As always, thanks for reading!