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The special thing about our trip yesterday, compared to many of the boat trips we go on, was that it was on a different boat, a slightly larger and more powerful boat, and thus we were able to head to farther dive sites. Our group also filled the boat, so we knew and trusted (for the most part) every person aboard.

We headed far south for the first dive, south of Point Lobos, in the Point Conception. The swells were a bit big–12ft–and they weren’t too bad in the bay when we were heading into them, but as we left Monterey Bay and turned south, they were coming at us sideways.

I went to the doctor Thursday to get the scopolamine patch to combat sea sickness, and having looked at the wave models that were predicting storm threshold-sized waves, I was very glad I did. On the way down, there were one or two moments when I had a bit of nausea, but overall I felt really normal. Also no noticeable side-effects from the drug, either.

Our first dive was at a site called Honeymoon, and it was a gorgeous pinnacle starting at about 110 feet. We meant to go down in a group with Nate and Shelly and Rae and Aaron, but Rae was underweighted and had to go back to the boat, and Nate and Shelly ended up waiting for Greg, who was helping Bob with a leaky suit. That left us sitting in the water waiting, so eventually we went down.

We followed the anchor line down to abut 110 feet–the captain had told us he tried to drape the anchor over the pinnacle, but it had clearly bumped over the pinnacle. Luckily, it had snagged a small rock and stuck. We swam around the front of the pinnacle for awhile, looking for stuff in all the nooks and crannies. The visibility had opened up beautiful below 70-80 feet.

There were a lot of rock fish out, as well as a bunch of Monterey Dorids. The kelp is fading with the oncoming winter, but there were still a good number of plants out, waving in the surge that followed us down to about 80 feet before abandoning us. There were also patches of metridiums, but they were all closed in the swell and tucked down tight.

After we got back on board, the sea sickness started to hit a number of people–there was not quite enough room along the sides of the boat at one point, which was pretty gross. A lot of these were people that don’t normally get seasick, and I was grateful to the scopolamine that I felt normal.

We motored back up the coast to Carmel for the second dive, and dove just offshore of Pebble Beach at a place called either Outer Pinnacle or Pescadero Pinnacle. About 10-15 minutes before we hit our hour-ish surface interval, I started to feel a bit queasy. Not horribly, but noticeably. As soon as the “pool was open”, John strapped me into my BCD (looking around for the buckles and what not was not something I was capable of doing) and all but threw me overboard to get me off the boat.

He followed shortly thereafter, and we descended along with Bob, Matt and Nate. Shelly was sick, as was Kasey, so there was a lot of buddy switching going on.

We dropped down onto the pinnacle around 70-80 feet, and just hung out in one little area. I saw my first Monterey cowry–a Chesnut Cowry. I excitedly showed John, only to realize, when I started looking, that they were all over. It was pretty cool. There were also some gorgeous painted greenling fish, and a beautiful Hermissenda nudibranch. More kelp filtered the light down into a greenish cathedral light setting, and the “atmosphere” of the dive was just gorgeous.

There was a lot of surge movement during the dive, but the key to surge is to just go with them. First you’re here, then you’re 6 feet to the left, then you’re here, then you’re 6 feet to the left. That’s 6 foot surge for you. And you’re not going to hit that rock, because the water will lift you up and over with it. The key is just to not fight it. And if you’re swimming with it, kick while it’s pushing you forward, then just pause while it pushes you back. You’ll get where you’re going eventually. So there was just a bit of movement during the dive, but we still could hold still long enough to look at the small stuff.

Around 20-25 minutes, I was pretty cold. The water was a balmy 51°F, and my toes and fingers were losing feeling. However, I knew going up meant getting back on the boat, and that wasn’t something I was eager to do. So we tooled around until 30-35 minutes before heading back up. Plus, the time underwater was nice.

Lunch was served back on the boat, and I think that less than half the boat ate it. There was soup and sandwich makings, and many of us, me included, kindly if forcefully requested that those with food stay down in the cabin area and leave those of us to whom food was stomach churning outside in the fresh air. Most people complied, but I did discover, much to my horror, that my chosen perch was just below where one of the boat divemasters had stashed his sandwich. No wonder I couldn’t avoid the smell of cheese and meat and mustard. Ugh.

Our third dive was just north of the second, off the rocks of the houses that are north of Pebble Beach. It was at a dive site called Lingcod reef, and this was the site that convinced me to spend the money to buy John and myself drysuits. When we first dove here, the water was a cool 47°F, and the air temp was even lower and mixed with rain. It was a beautiful dive, but we drove home with the heater on high and never even got warm, let alone broke a sweat. This was followed by turning the heater on high and piling all our blankets on the bed, then huddling. It took us hours to get warm–this was likely slightly more than mild hypothermia. So we decided we needed better exposure suits if we were going to continue this sport.

Our dive Saturday was gorgeous. Still chilly, but not as bad as the first time. We followed Bob, Greg and Nate down, exploring among the rocks. We found a small little swim-through, and lots of strawberry anemones and little orange polyps all over the rocks. I came a cross a couple of abalone shells, likely abandoned by octopi after they were done feeding on the contents. One was not much bigger than a quarter, but I accidentally broke it while I was holding it at some point. The rest survived, though, and will be run through our dishwasher soon.

We crossed a sand channel after awhile, and headed into some kelp beds, where the filtered light was beautiful. Not much to see but kelp fish and snails, but still lovely. When we turned around, Greg apparently didn’t have his bearings quite right. Eventually, about the time we all had a couple minutes left of no-deco time, we ascended despite not seeing the anchor line for the boat. Bob and Nate popped up to the surface after our safety stop, and John and I followed. The boat was only 200 yards away or so. John dropped back down to tell Greg, who was finishing his stop, and they two of them did eventually find the anchor line. In the meantime, Bob and Nate and I swam to the boat through the kelp on the surface, doing the infamous and exhausting “kelp crawl”, where you basically swim on your stomach, using your arms to push the kelp beneath you. It’s an awesome workout, let me tell you.

Magically, once back on the boat, I was fine. And thank goodness because we had to get back to Monterey. The only bit of queasiness was when the crew set our a platter of oreos and my stomach protested that while it felt fine, it wasn’t ready for food. So the journey back was fairly uneventful. The wind had shifted around to blow from the northeast enough that the ride was smoother, and even the sick people among us felt better.

We probably didn’t get back to the dock until 3pm or so, so it was a long day (we had a dinner date and didn’t get to bed until 10pm), but it was gorgeous diving, and lots of fun with a few exceptions. I love warm water diving in many ways–warm, easy of diving (not as much gear or heavy weight), many colorful things–but Monterey diving on a good day rivals anywhere else I’ve ever been. And this was one of those days. Well worth the 4am wake-up and the slight seasickness.


We’re entering hour 11 of a 15-hour day, the first of two, so you’ll have to bear with me here. I made a full pot of coffee at 6pm. And drank it. By myself. Gah.

So yes, it’s been a long day at work. But first, the recent drama…

John and I became Divemasters (DMs) back in January/February-ish. About six weeks later, Alisa became a DM. There are a couple other people in the DMC (DM candidate) program right now.

(Because your number is permanent in the PADI professional system, John will always have a lower number than me by one, and we’ll both always have a lower number than Alisa. Regardless of how fast she goes through the instructor development course. Ha!! I’m a little competitive when I feel threatened.)

It’s been observed/felt lately, by myself, John, James F, and who knows who else, that Alisa is a rather ambitious diver in terms of the professional ladder. This is great in some ways. She’s a great diver, and a good friend, even if I do feel threatened by her a bit (see below). However, the problem that some of us have with this is that diving came easily to her. She didn’t have to work at it, and has yet to have a “tempering” experience while working as a professional.

By tempering, I mean things like the dive where James F and I had to rescue two students who weren’t watching their air levels and ran out. Or the class we refer to as “Bowling for Students Class”, where a wave came and knocked nearly everyone, myself and the student who I was holding included, over and sent us backwards towards a stone wall. It’s a sobering experience to have to jump up, wearing 60-80lbs of gear, and have to chase after your student as she’s getting washed out to sea. You just do things like this without regard for yourself or your equipment because the student is what’s important. It’s scary, but that’s what you’ve gotta do.

I’d say I’ve learned a lot from these experiences about my role with respect to students, my abilities to help students, and generally how I can improve. She’s never had that kind of sobering experience where you sit back and go “oh shit”. And I’d like to point out that the class where we had to rescue people—her class. She wasn’t one of them, but we trained her not that long ago. WE TRAINED HER. We’ve all been there, done that, but she seems to think she’s entitled.

Maybe due to this, and maybe because it’s part of who she is, she tends to appear somewhat stand-off-ish, with a “better than thou” attitude and a “why don’t you get this, are you stupid?” attitude towards students, particularly those to whom diving isn’t easy.

And lets face it: diving is not the easiest sport. Part of what I really enjoy about teaching is helping those students achieve their goals of becoming divers.

But it’s thought among some of us that she doesn’t have the right attitude about being a professional and teaching to really advance much past Assistant Instructor (AI) at this point. Not that she shouldn’t do it in the future, just that her attitude about it and her work with students needs to improve a bit.

Plus, it’s felt that she’s positioning herself for a take-over from James F and Ben, Greg’s Affiliate Instructors, and that’s JUST NOT COOL with some of us. I’m rather protective of my staff, even if they’re higher in the food chain than me, and I don’t want to see them get stepped on professionally or in their friendships.

So yeah…general unease, to say the least.

And I’ve definitely realized lately that the first person she’s over taken is me. Without me even realizing it. She definitely has an edge on me in prepping for classes, given that she can be there earlier than I can—her job as a baker is less demanding and timely. And she’s always first to volunteer—I never get a word in edgewise. Which is great that she’s helpful, but it ends up making me look like I never do anything. Plus there’s the baking thing….

I used to bake for the classes and staff all the time, given that I use baking as a stress relief and therapy of sorts. Lots of cookies and cakes for classes, muffins and breads for mornings at the ocean, that sort of thing. But since she’s come along, she tends to break bakery croissants and chocolate croissants, which are good (her partner’s a French pastry chef), and bakery cakes to stuff. Now, part of this is how I feel, and part of it is me being snippy, but I’ve never been a fan of bakery cakes. They’re always over done and never quite as good as you want them to be. Sadly, though, she always gets a ton of compliments, and they tend to be things like “You are the best baker ever, this is the best cake I’ve ever had.” Coming from Greg in particular, this hurts my feelings. I know he’s just being complimentary, and that’s how Greg is—over the top with the compliments sometimes. But still, what am I—chopped liver? Sheesh. But I feel, in my non-self-confident way, that I can’t compete with a professional baker, so I’ve just backed down from taking my baked goods to share. This isn’t her fault, but it doesn’t help nonetheless.

And finally, my interactions with Greg have changed. I don’t know if he’s less friendly, or there’s just less interactions in the joking around and giving each other a friendly hard time sense, or what. But things have changed, and I feel like she’s working to replace me, not just appear along side me in a staff sense.

I’m definitely the kind of person who prefers to be alpha female—problem is, I don’t like to fight for it. I prefer subtly running things from behind the scenes. I’ll be benevolent dictator of the world one day, but I’m unsure how to tackle this problem now.

So yeah…specific unease on my part, to say the least.

And then last Tuesday, a week and a half ago (oh dear god is it already Thursday?!?!), John and I were at the shop and saw Alisa and Jeff, another instructor at the Dive Shop, coming down from the classrooms, having obviously just worked on AI stuff. Which sucked, since we’d talked with Alisa and Jeff about doing it together. Greg included, of course.

They laughed this off, and Jeff mentioned he’d send out an email (which we got….five days later). They then proceeded, with Greg, who walked up about then, to discuss getting together Thursday at 4pm. Now, Alisa, with respect to her job, can be available at times like that. Neither John nor I can be—we both work until 7 or 8pm on an almost daily bases. Generally, on days I help with classes and need to be there by 6pm or so, I have to plan to be able to leave work early. Which, in fact, is a moot point, since none of them asked us if we wanted to be involved.


This REALLY pissed me off at this point. We talked it over that evening, and ended up talking to James F about it, knowing he already had some concerns about Alisa. And since we were all in the car headed to go dive, it made sense. And I’d like to point out we approached him in a “you’re our friend can we talk about this” sense, and not in a “you’re an instructor on the staff can we talk about this” sense. If that makes sense.

Basically, we (I) were pissed off enough to consider going to do AI with another instructor if this was how things were going to be.

I should mention here that Greg is really the only instructor that I’m truly comfortable working with, aside from James F and Ben, since my comfort level stems from my ability to take constructive criticism for what it is and not feel insulted. Bob may be the next best thing, but the other instructors he works with don’t yet fall into this category. So it would be fairly drastic for me to try and switch instructors/staff groups, and probably wouldn’t actually happen, just because there’s no one else I’d want to work with.

He shared our concerns that this WASN’T COOL, and commiserated that he couldn’t help us, since he’s not a high enough ranking instructor to teach the AI course. You have to actually go through the IDC (PADI’s how to be an instructor program) twice before you can train AIs.

Turns out, he viewed it in a friend sense and a staff sense and talked to Greg about it, feeling that it was enough of a problem that it needed to be addressed in a staff sense, not just in a friendship sense.

He moves fast, and Sunday we got a call from Greg. Greg had also heard similar rumblings from John’s co-worker, so figured he (a) couldn’t ignore it coming from two people, and (b) couldn’t ignore it coming from James F. Turns out, Greg wasn’t part of the planning for the whole “training Alisa in AI” thing, and was actually kinda surprised that Jeff was doing it. Apparently, Greg’s gotten a little uncomfortable with the level of involvedness Jeff has be having with Greg’s students, namely the DMCs and now DMs that are AIs-in-training. Especially since Jeff is Affiliate Instructor of someone else, NOT Greg.

So we apologized to Greg—basically, we explained that we wouldn’t have put it past Jeff to take Alisa and bolt with her to AI status so that he could sign off on her certification and get credit for it, and we wouldn’t put it past Alisa to bolt for AI and leave us behind, and Greg seemed to be involved in this.

Which brings up the whole potential problem of Jeff “poaching” students. Some people, myself included, feel that to most instructors, teaching is about helping students learn and have fun, but to Jeff, it is also about getting the certification credit, potentially at the expense of other people who might also need the cert credit, like James F or Ben or others. He’s made it known that his intention was to get to Master Instructor as fast as possible—given that PADI says you have to be an instructor for two years before you can do this, his aim was simply to complete all other requirements as fast as possible. And he’s not above getting there at the expense of other instructors, given ample opportunity. Opportunity was provided when Greg asked Jeff to help train the many of us going through the DMC program at the time. Jeff hasn’t backed off, and seems to be wedging himself in that doorway now that he’s been invited in a bit.

And he’s stepped on toes before of at least two other instructors at the Dive Shop. I was inadvertently involved in one of these situations, and am trying my damndest to stay out of this one.

John and I are intentionally trying to involve Greg and work with him, and limit our involvement with Jeff in the matter. Thing is, he’s a great guy, a good friend, and a good instructor, so it’s tough to also see him in this light.

But our first loyalty is to Greg, and to James F and Ben, so we’ll see where things end up.

However, consensus does seem to be that if he takes Alisa and bolts with her for his staff, it’ll kill two birds with one stone, and no one will be particularly upset.

Now, it’s 9:30pm, and I’m due back at work in 30 minutes, so you’ll excuse me if I take off now.

Stupid cells.

Memorial Day weekend this year meant two things: Night Diving Specialty class (yea!), and an extra day to go into work when normal people don’t have to (boo!).


John was horrendously sick at the end of last week, calling in sick for the first time in nearly two years. He was like a one-man snot factory. It was gross. Thus, he didn’t get to go diving, but he did get to drive to Monterey to make sure I didn’t fall asleep on the way home. Within an hour or two of getting out of the water, it becomes physically impossible for me to stay awake, and thus driving after diving doesn’t work.

We were helping one of our instructor friends, Bob, with the Night Diving Specialty class for the Dive Club in exchange for the certification. Saturday night, the viz wasn’t great, but the student I was diving with and I did see the biggest octopus I’ve seen yet at Breakwater. It was probably in the 1.5-2 foot range in length, and we got to see it change colors a bunch of times as it swam along. Of course, that probably means we were harassing it, but oh well. We didn’t stick around for too long.

The water temp was only 51°F, and normally it’s about 54-56°C. This meant I froze my patootie off. Brrrrr. I ended up calling the second dive, as my fingers and toes were tingly-numb, and it just wasn’t going to be any fun. It was, apparently, a great dive (of course), and the students had fun.

We went down again last night for the last night dive (specialty takes 3), and went to Lovers 3 in Pacific Grove. I’ve done precisely a half a dive there (as in, entered the water there, and exited at Lovers 2, and got somewhat lost in the process), so of course it made perfect sense for me to lead a group of divers, all of whom had done more dives there. (I did get to go with the Brits, Shelly and Nate, who are good friends and good divers.)

Alas, that’s what Divemasters are for. To trust their navigational skills when it’s all they’ve got, and to demonstrate good diving for their fellow divers. We did a straight out and back dive so as not to get lost, and didn’t see much, but did see a lot of bioluminescence during the “3 minutes with no lights” part of the dive.

And let me tell you, that 3 minutes went by both faster than I’d expected and took forever. That’s long enough to start messing with your head when you’re 30 feet underwater and it’s dark. It’s definitely long enough for your brain to start thinking of large toothy predators despite the fact that you’ve never seen one in Monterey. I’ve gotten better at telling my brain to shut up when it starts down that path.

But it was fun, and Bob is giving me the cert, even though I only did two dives. I’ve got 7 logged night dives other than these, so he’s trusting me and my capabilities. Four of them are either my night dive for Advanced, or with Advanced classes, so I’ve done them with instructors, and done or helped with the skills multiple times.

We’ve spent the rest of the weekend doing nothing, partly because John’s sick, and partly because that’s all we wanted to do. I did have to go into work every day and deal with cells—why can’t they just take care of themselves for a day with out me? Ah well.

We’re thinking of going to see Shrek 3 now. Seems like a good way to end a good weekend.

I’ve been up late, and slept in late, for the past couple of days (late night Pirates viewing, surprise birthday party, diving, and diving), so we’ll see how tomorrow goes. Might as well enjoy the rest of today!!


May 2019
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