Divers’ Leap and USF NH and a Scuba Newbie

The day was going to be devoted to helping 16 year old Yelena Taytslin finish her NAUI basic scuba skills training. Her dad, Ilya, was going to “stay out of the way,” he said although we certainly didn’t require that. I think Tom and Kathleen Childress saw something of their own youngster, Catie, in Yelena’s calm competence in the new sport. John Bulman was aboard as a NAUI Instructor candidate and he helped with the details. Pete, Pat, Veronica and I were crew, while The Captain maintained a tight ship.

I wanted a flat sandy bottom for Lena’s first training dive of the day. It looked great at Divers’ Leap so I anchored, facing into the light easterly breeze, just below the steepest part of the cliff. It was about 20 feet deep and, it turns out, about 68 degrees all the way to the bottom. The visibility varied from 10-20 feet depending on how protected the area was from the surge.

I joined Tom and Kathleen for a video-the-critters expedition. We found lots of hermit crabs who are quick to right themselves if you pick them up. This works great for video because their antics of peeking out of the upturned moon snail shell look quirky and shy. We found one that had recently molted. The shadow of its former self rocked gently just outside the shell’s opening. I could even see the faint outlines of its eye balls in the pale blue discarded tissue. Its new shell was glinting and golden in places as it reflected the bright sunlight from above. Nothing had had a chance to grow on its carapace yet.

We harassed a skate and several flounder. It seemed there were dozens of solitary lobsters in sandy pits on the bottom. Maybe there just weren’t enough hiding places in the rocky shore for all of them. We also saw sand dollars that had left a track as they moved across the bottom. Usually there’s too much turbulence to see such a trail, but it was obvious today. The water was so warm, it almost felt hot in my three finger mitts.

For the next dive, we went just a little way over to the wreck of the USF New Hampshire. Again, we were happy to see relatively good visibility – about 15 feet. Here it was “only” 63 degrees on the bottom. We suffered through it though. I videoed a smashed lobster trap with lots of perch lazing through its wrecked openings.

Peter, John and Lena were finished with her final skills early and spent the rest of the time treasure hunting. She returned with a full cup of nails, pins, and copper bits from the wreckage. Peter described the glory hole they found as being so full of metal objects that they were scooping them out by the handful.

After we unloaded the gear and Lena logged her final training dives, we presented her with her official NAUI Scuba Diver certification card. There were lots of hugs and much clapping as she received a ceremonial apple for the student. She’s truly a great kid. We were glad to have had her with us.

We had a wonderful day of warm water diving with nice people.

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