Cathedral Rocks is famous for the northern reds. It is often hard to find these at other sites, though there is supposed to be a very old big one at Folly Cove left wall somewhere. In addition to the northern reds, this site is famous for being one of the most beautiful sites with big boulders going down to ~80 ft, being one of the toughest entry/exit at low tide while being one of the easiest entry (with a giant stride) at high tide.
Last weekend we had skipped the dive due to disgusting beginning of winter weather, greeting us with cold and rain and even snow at most areas. This week it looked promising, but we still were not 100% sure about the conditions, since it was quite windy lately and it was raining a day ago. It was only Dan and I diving this weekend. We decided on Cathedral, one of the best but somehow less visited sites by us. Once we reached the site, it was just before the high tide with water gently caressing the rocks. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day.
Metro West dive club was there before us, as we got ready to get in, they were coming out and they told us the conditions were “ok”, “a little murky” but they could keep the group together. That was not too exciting but still positive, since this time I promised myself that I would really pay attention to stay with my buddy. It was only two of us after all…
I must say the conditions were far better than I expected. The visibility was mostly 15-20 ft! The structure under the water is amazing, right at the entry, at shallow, the huge rocks were smoothed perfectly by the aggressive ocean. As we got deeper the color of the water became very green, more than i usually observe. And deeper to 80 ft it was quite dark and spooky, I would be scared if I was alone down there (even though I know there is nothing to harm me other than myself).
As the site promises we saw many beautiful northern reds, all different colors, some were wide open. At the deep end Dan showed me a big ass shorthorn sculpin, covered by a slimy, dusty layer. He said he was trying to show me a bright red colored gunnel but unfortunately I missed that.
I would have loved to do a second dive unfortunately I had to end my first dive abruptly. I am sort of embarrassed of this, but I had a problem down there but I was lucky that I recovered from it with minor problems. The problem was the boots of my drysuit. They were lose for me and the boots would slide out of my feet along with the fins, which would cause bad cramping on my feet. When Dan signaled me to return I was quite above the half tank. Unfortunately the problem with my fins made me use up air much quickly. At around 45-50 ft, I was trying to see the gunnel Dan was showing me, I could not control my maneuver and buoyancy, struggling, over ventilating. I was getting higher but the drysuit was not releasing air as fast. I tried to swim down to hold on to a rock but because of the fins I couldn’t. I pulled on Dan’s flag, sort of explained the situation, he showed me to lift my arm for release. I did, and I realized I started going up, while trying to release air. And I saw the surface, the sunshine and finally I reached the surface. There was a big pain on my tooth. Dan joined me at the surface after his safety stops (I assume). We reached the shore and unfortunately it was the end of our dive for that day. The pain on my upper left jaw was unbearable, I called DAN, who suggested me to see urgent care. With Dan and Erica’s guidance I went to Beverly emergency. It was nothing serious after all. I experienced reverse block, maybe one of the least dangerous outcomes of runaway ascent. The symptoms started with teeth pain near upper left wisdom teeth evolving into numbness down to front teeth then headache. First the numbness, then the toothache then the headache were gone. I stayed in the emergency room for a few hours so that they can monitor me, then I was discharged.
I think it was a good education for me today. I was really comfortable with diving. But with the experience I saw that even a tiny discomfort can escalate to a very serious problems. And things happen to best of us, not that I am implying that I am one of the best. I was going over things a lot. I remember that lady, Anna, who died a few months back, at shallow waters during warm water diving. Diving is lots of fun, but you have to be safe. Things may go wrong very fast. Especially with new gear you have to be extremely careful and safe while getting used to it.
I have a few solutions for what created me problems, until I fix them no diving. I hope I can fix those until Molly’s birthday dive on Dec 10 🙂