Since we were both certified, my friend Rebecca and I wanted to go diving for some reason! We also both had new gear we wanted to try out. So we tried to get to Monterey, where the underwater life is supposed to be more exciting than in Lake Folsom.
However, the weekend we were able to go (July 10 and 11) there was some thing going on in Monterey that filled up all the hotels. So we got the bright idea to go to Lake Tahoe! Classes are taught up there, so we figured we could find a place that would be easy enough.
After much searching, and consternation over diving at altitude, which has a different set of rules (well, considerations), we packed up and headed off to South Lake Tahoe. I had gotten hotel rooms there for both families, and that in itself is a whole 'nother story, but never mind. The dive site we finally settled on, Sand Harbor, is on the North Shore, but close enough. It was about a half hour drive (or not quite) from the hotel.
Bright and early Saturday morning we headed off to the beach. Two car loads of divers, spouses, and kids (one each). We got there, and had to park a little ways from the beach we were heading for, since the close parking lot was closed off for some silly reason (construction or something). We lugged our gear to the beach, and got into it there. By the time we were in our wetsuits and gear, we were already tired. Well, I was, I don't know if Rebecca was or not. But out we went.
The visibility was great. 30 or 40 feet at least! It beat Folsom Lake (3 or 4 feet at most) all over the place! We could see each other without having to be less than a foot away. It was really great! Though we tended to stick together anyway. Maybe as a result of doing our training in such poor visibility, but whatever. We had to tow a dive flag, though, so boats would know where we were. Most boat pilots/drivers/whatever don't know what dive flags mean, though. I heard an instructor on shore griping about some idiot in a boat that pulled right up to his class's dive flag, sat there a minute, then took off. Apparently there a $500 fine for getting caught doing that - boats are supposed to stay 50 or 100 feet away from dive flags. But there's no license or training required to drive a boat, so a lot of them don't know that.
I had 26 lbs of weight on. That should have been plenty. But I wouldn't sink! I let all the air out of my vest and stayed right there on the surface. So I swam down, and slowly rose right back up. :-( Rebecca had 20 lbs, which was more than she needed. So we switched around our weights so that I had 30 lbs and she had 16, which more or less worked. She was ok, I was mostly ok except when I occasionally started to rise. But it worked out.
She was taking it slow, to make sure her ears responded the way they were supposed to. They did. We were out for about 19 minutes total, down to something like 16 feet, but we (meaning I) were too tired to go on much more. We came in, having had an ok time out there, and discussed going out again after a period on the shore. I was game, but Rebecca pointed out that if I was that tired (I was), then going out again probably wouldn't do either of us any good. She was right, so we took off and messed around in South Lake Tahoe for the rest of the day. Oh, if anyone finds a black knife with yellow sides down there, please send it back to Rebecca. :-(
The next day we checked out of the hotel and went back to Sand Harbor. This time we tried getting our gear on at the truck in the parking lot rather than lugging it down THEN getting dressed. It worked well, but I'm not sure if it was doing it that way or just that we'd had experience already with that beach, but we got in the water a lot faster than the day before. We had decided to head straight out from the beach, pretty much where we were the day before, but keep going. We didn't want to go past about 30 feet in depth, because of the high altitude and the fact that we were more or less just practicing and getting some experience.
So out we went, and kept on going for quite a while. We did get down to 30 feet, and were down a total of 31 minutes. It was a blast. We saw fish, and a few sites where they had dive school stuff set up - mostly sunken boards and weights with flags or lines tied to them. There were a couple of classes out there while we were there, but we were not down the same time they were.
It was great. We were down long enough to feel like it was a real dive, all we did was swim around (no exercises or tests :-), and got up and out safely. Rebecca's husband, Mike, took some pictures, one of them is at the top of the page. He was stuck on shore with a broken leg. He wants to snorkle above us to watch us. He can tow the dive flag, then. :-) Next we still want to try Monterey, cuz there's fish and kelp and more to see.
The picture of (what I think is) Sand Harbor is from Google Maps.