Thursday, September 21, 2006

I-Dive-At-Night dove last night

Given the login name I chose (IDiveAtNight) I think perhaps it's appropriate to mention that I dove last night. And it was incredible!

Dive number 74, night dive number 10, occurred last night at Back Beach in Rockport MA. As always, it was spectacular! The wind was calm, the surge was gentle and predictable, all the critters were out doing their nocturnal critter things, and upon surfacing the sky was painted in stars.

In diving, a good night dive is as close to zen as it gets. Your whole world becomes focused at the end of your flashlight beam. It feels so natural to just focus on the minute details directly in front of you, as the rest of the world fades into murky darkness. Spotting your buddy is as easy as glancing over your shoulder. If the light he's holding is stead and calm, then so is he. No need to stop and try to make impossible eye contact. He's deep (pardon the pun) in his own thoughts and world.

Spot a lobster in your light and it immediately turns to face you... claws towards the unknown threat. Some fish, the predators, will take advantage of your dive light and use it to grab a passing fry they wouldn't otherwise have seen. Others, like rays, just seem to know they're beautiful and so they fly their graceful dance for you not to flee, but just because they can. And squid. I have no idea where squid go during the day, but at night they come out and are mesmerized by your light. Show they your illuminated hand and they dart away in inky terror. But just show them the light and they can't do anything more than stare at it. Their fins wave gently along their length while they slowly approach the source of the enchanting light.

In addition to the night life, there was human life. Numbering two, my dive buddy (Nick) and I. Normally I go out in larger groups. All my night trips to Back Beach thus far have been with more advanced divers... instructors... and usually students too. There is an element of working... minding the students... and following... the lead of the instructor who picks the route and the sights we'll see.

Last night, however, I was the lead. Called up mid-afternoon to serve as divemaster to a well trained and experienced diver. For a full hour I let the surge of the ocean (and to some extent my compass) guide us out and around the opening of the small bay. I checked on Nick from time to time to see he had the same air supply I did, and thus we were in no rush to rise and take our leave or take our bearings. 61 minutes into the adventure I brought us up in four feet of water, dead on the point we had entered the hour before.

And there we were greeted by all the stars of the universe. As we laid back and stared upwards stars revealed themselves in a way that headlight drenched eyes are never permitted to see. The town of Rockport shimmered across the bay and for one brief hour, everything in the world was perfect.

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