Getting up early is hard to start with. Getting myself out of my cozy bed on a cold foggy Sunday morning to go to the beach? No way! When my alarm went off I was thinking up excuse after excuse, trying to find one viable enough to run by Dad. None of them were, so I ended up dragging myself out of bed.
"Diving dehydrated is dangerous" I reminded myself, looking longingly at the coffee pot as I passed through the kitchen. I fixed myself a shake instead and we headed out the door.
It was almost 7:30 by the time we got to the beach, and the 50 minute drive peppered with deep, thoughtful discussion had finally woke me up. (or else my internal clock had finally caught up?) Either way, by the time we hit the sand, I was ready to go. We scouted the surf for a few minutes, timing the sets, judging their size and strength to plan out entry accordingly before we headed back up the hill to the truck.
Getting in and out of the ocean through a shore-break isn't really a big deal. It's the 60+lbs of gear and the 1/2 inch thick neoprene suit we wear that makes it complicated. For me, anyways. I don't like being tossed around in the shore-break like some beach ball.
Wetsuit, booties, hood, gloves, buoyancy compensator, weights, tank, regulator, dive computer and dive knife on, mask and fins in hand, we hike back down to the beach, not stopping until we hit the water. The water feels so good by this point! (Here's the advantage of planning your entry ahead of time.) =)
Kicking out to the middle of the bay, we drop down and cruise over to the reef. Sometimes this is my favorite part of a dive. The sandy bottom is like a barren desert wasteland at first glance. You have to slow down and look again. A puff of sand, and I see a baby turbit burying itself. A set of eyes, part of a mouth, and I unearthed a ten inch halibut. A second glance at a little stick and it's a stingray's stinger. (I didn't try to get that guy to show itself)
It's been awhile since I've been diving, and even longer since I've been back to this spot. A year ago, the reef was dying off, if not already dead. I'm no marine biologist, but anyone could tell you that. Covered with empty shells, no plants, no fish, no coral and way too many sea urchins. Maybe what made this dive so fantastic was that I had low expectations. When we got to the reef, a horde of fish came out to greet us. Even before we started feeding them. Garibaldi, blacksmith, senorita's and surf perch. Looking up at the reef, I wasn't sure if we were in the right place. It was covered in live coral, teeming with life, decorated with beautiful flora and vivid color.
Did you know that sunlight can't filter all the way through water? You start to lose color and light the deeper you go. At 20 feet deep, you lose the color red, 30 feet, orange, 40 feet, yellow, 50 feet, green, etc.. until down at 80 feet where everything turns into a purplish gray color.
Being down here, cruising along at 30 feet, all of the sudden it's worth it. Worth getting up at 6 on a Sunday. Worth the back pain from hauling the gear. Worth losing sleep. Worth being tired all day. Worth all the work of getting ready, and later, cleaning up. All of creation truly testifies God's power, His goodness and order, His plans, His love. Even the tiny purple guys who live in the coral tubes with the many antennae, reaching them up toward the sunlight, toward heaven.
When you're down at 80+ feet where everything turns into an ugly purplish gray color and you turn on a flashlight, all the brilliance returns. All those colors, those beautiful designs, those perfect formations, all down there where no one can see them.
"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created." Revelations 4:11
Well, almost no one, anyways.