Negro Bar, Folsom, CA

Just to get a dive in.

We hadn't been on a dive in a while, and all the stars aligned enough for us to go again. Just a local dive, we didn't have (or want to take) time for an ocean trip. So we planned on Folsom Lake, or Negro Bar, or somewhere around here. Then my wife brought up a site we'd tried to go once before, but couldn't get in. So we figured we'd try there.

Rather than drive all the way into Sacramento, since we didn't need any other gear or anything, I went to the local shop here to rent tanks. The guy there asked me if I used air faster then the woman I was diving with (a reasonable question, women statistically use less air then men), and I said yes (a reasonable response, since realistically I go through air faster than almost anyone). So he gave me a 100cf tank and her an 80. 80 is pretty standard, so it's not like he was shorting her, just giving me enough air to keep up with her. Other than it being heavier, it was a great idea.

So the next morning we all headed out to this place. Got in, looked around, and left. It is a fairly nice place, but there were goose droppings all over, and the water looked... well, picture a fish tank that's been let go too long. Green slime on all the edges... At least it looked it from above. So we opted not to get in that water. Or walk on the goose poop any more than we had to.

We debated trying to find Mormon Island in Folsom Lake, but since we don't really know where it is, other than "somewhere near Folsom Point (formerly Dyke 8)", we instead went to Negro Bar. We'd been there, and felt comfortable.

Got in there, parked, and hauled gear down to the water side. Got suited up, which took longer than even we normally take, but I'm not sure why. Part of it was we had to change both of the O rings in the tanks. Both leaked until we switched them. After that, I got my suit on while Rebecca and Pam were doing something, so I went out into the water to cool off a bit. It was refreshing until I stuck my bare hands into the water. Then it turned REALLY refreshing! Like icy refreshing! I hollered to Rebecca that she may want her gloves.

Neither of us is a big fan of gloves, or hoods, they're just restricting. However, sometimes they are necessary. So we put them on, and hauled our tanks into the water, and put them on. Rebecca had trouble zipping up her BC (it's a Zeagle Xena, it zips up instead of a velcro cumberbun) because she couldn't manage to get a grip with her gloves on. I wasn't much help, I couldn't get a grip either, but I did manage to turn one of her shoulder straps around the right way. That didn't help much, but a little. Then she ditched her gloves (threw them to the shore, where my son waded out ankle deep and grabbed them and exclaimed "Man, that water's cold!" :-). She got zipped up then, and we were able to take off.

I had only put 26 lbs of weight on. I figured I'd need more, but I didn't put it in right away. Turned out to be fine. Actually bouyancy was pretty good. With 8 lbs less than the last salt water dive, which is I think less than the difference between salt and fresh water bouyancy. So maybe I was overweighted in the ocean, too. Maybe that's part of the key to good bouyancy, not being overweighted. Anyway, it was enough. Except next time I'm going to put some in my tank weight pocket, cuz it evens me out a little.

We went down in about 5 feet of water, and I had to come up again. My mask was leaking, which isn't really a big problem, except the water was cold enough to have thrown off my breathing for a minute, so I wanted to regroup. Went back up for 2 or 3 minutes, I got situated, and back down we went. It took some time for Rebecca's ears to get used to it - I bet she didn't use the stuff the doctor gave her to open up her tubes. I didn't actually think of it until this minute (as I type this), but I bet she didn't. Anyway, then we took off away from shore,

There is absolutely nothing in Negro Bar to look at. Rocks and shells, and an old rope someone threw away or lost long ago. That's it. We didn't see any crawdads, or anything. Sticks, I guess. And there was a mild current we had to swim against. Really mild, but enough to move us along if we didn't swim against it. We swam out for a while, used up 1200 lbs or thereabouts of air. We had planned on turning back at 1500 lbs remaining, but at about 2000 we were both so bored we turned around anyway. It took less than 100 lbs to get back. That's not the first time we've done that - swim out for 25 minutes and use gobs of air, and back in 5 using very little. I have yet to figure that one out. We didn't rush, I don't think. Anyway, we got back just a little upstream of where we started. Not bad, since we weren't sure if we were swimming against the current too much or too little.

Got back, packed up, went to eat, rinsed the gear, and took the tanks back. Got to the store about 10 minutes after it closed, but the owner was still there and he took the tanks back. I thought they closed at 4, really! But the apparently close at 3. I'll know next time.

So it took us forever to get in the water, and we had a really, really boring dive. We're thinking next time we'll just sink the time into it to drive to the coast, even if it's just for a day. We'd do Tahoe, but that'd have to be an overnighter, due to the altitude. You gotta aclimate for 12 or so hours before you dive if you go up significantly in altitude, or you're at a higher risk for DCS (decompression sickness, or the bends).

The picture of Negro Bar is from Google Maps.

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