Friday, July 10, 2009

The Pool Is Open

On Sunday I’m scheduled to go on my first Atlantic Ocean dives since June of 2007. I find scuba diving to be pretty much the antithesis of running insofar as the sport requires an enormous amount of expensive gear, considerable travel to get to the dive site, slow movements to conserve energy and total focus on the act of diving. On the other hand, both are intensely physical activities so maybe the difference isn’t as great as it first appears. I like to dive to get away from terra firma for a while. After pounding the pavement for weeks on end without a break, it is nice to float weightless in water, even if that water clocks in at a chilly 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A wetsuit keeps the hypothermia away, though just barely.

Diving in the Atlantic Ocean should not be confused with the sort of diving one watches in brilliant HD on the Discovery Channel. Tropical diving is a truly sublime experience, akin to floating weightless in outer space. Most time you don’t even need to wear a wet suit because the water temperature is in the upper 90s. Visibility is often unlimited, and sunlight illuminates the reefs and wrecks well below 100 feet.

In contrast, diving in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island is a decidedly more intense experience. For starters, the water is cold, and it’s liable to be dark as night at any depth exceeding 70 feet or so. Visibility can be as great as 80 feet, or as little as none, with the average somewhere in the 5-20’ range. You have to wear, at minimum, a 7mm thick wet suit, booties, gloves and a hood, and you should carry around a spare air tank in case something goes wrong. Despite or maybe because of the challenges, divers here in so-called Wreck Valley have the reputation of being the best trained and skilled divers anywhere in the world. I got into diving a few years ago and having experienced both environments. As much as I enjoy tropical diving, I have to admit I like the challenges posed by northeast conditions. Since my budget for travel to warm climates is decidedly limited, I think I’ll reacquaint myself with the Atlantic and get some chilly dark dives under my belt. The pool, as they say, is open.

No comments:

Post a Comment