Greg Hatem, owner of Waterhorse Charters, was firm with me when I tried to sign up for one of his charter dives to the HMCS Yukon aboard his dive boat. He said before he would take me out, I would need to first take a recertification course. Because the Yukon is considered an advanced dive, he would require at least one kelp dive before a dive to the sunken vessel.
I signed up for the recertification course at Dive California in Point Loma because they have a heated pool in their building. Chrissy Attardo agreed to give me and my friend Jason the course on a Saturday afternoon for $200.
The written test was easy. Unfortunately, breathing underwater in 3½ feet gave me high anxiety. My eyes have aged, and it was difficult to see the numbers on my dive computer. Just clearing my mask freaked me out. I was not going to be diving down 107 feet deep to the Yukon.
Jason, who is a scuba diver but has not been “wet” for years, had agreed to dive with me. He had to go through the recertification and a kelp dive. Jason passed the recertification course, in the classroom and the pool, with flying colors. He agreed to be my proxy.
Jason went out for his kelp dive on a clear Saturday morning. “Renting the gear was fast and easy,” he said. “Right away I knew I was going to have a great time because of the type of people on the boat.”
Despite Jason’s optimism, there were a few things that were disconcerting. Jason dived without a dive computer, which he will need for the Yukon dive. He did not use a compass or a dive watch to keep track of the time. He was relying on his dive buddy for that. Jason mentioned that this equipment was different than the equipment he used ten years ago, and different from the equipment used on the re-certification course. He had trouble finding the BC valve (on his buoyancy compensator vest) over his left shoulder and he said sometimes he grabbed his snorkel and not the valve. The heavy surge in the kelp beds was something he had not experienced during his dives at Cozumel and Belize. He became separated from his dive buddy and had to take his 15-foot safety stop (for three minutes) by himself. Jason will need to have a designated dive master for the Yukon dive.
Related: Back to the Yukon, Part 1 | Part 3