Monday, August 10, 2009

It Doesn't Compare (a.k.a. Debby's Panic Attack)

We spent some time this Saturday walking around La Jolla, which is a beachy area north of our house. There's a really pretty spot called La Jolla Cove, where we saw tons of people snorkeling and kayaking and having fun in the water. We thought maybe we should try snorkeling there, since our ocean is only warm enough for a comfortable swim during the hottest summer months. We had a blast snorkeling in Maui and the Florida Keys, and if lots of people were doing it at La Jolla Cove, maybe there was something beautiful to see.

Aaaahahahahaha!! WRONG!!! Our minds had been weakened by vacation time and too much sun exposure, and we were fooled into thinking that it was safe to venture into the water in San Diego. We broke Rule Number One: "Never Swim in the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii Excluded)." I may get it tattooed somewhere for emphasis. Here's a picture of beautiful La Jolla Cove, so you can see why we were lured like moths to a killer flame. It's a stock photo, but looks like it did this Saturday & Sunday - except there were twice as many happy beachgoers and snorkelers when we were there.

So we went on Sunday afternoon and the water actually felt quite pleasant. Then I broke my own personal Rule Number Two: "Always Make Dan Go First." I got my snorkel gear on and dove right in, swam a few yards...and began hyperventilating. There were so many things wrong, the first being that the area was full of long kelp and San Diego seaweed that brushed against my body like tentacles. And there were floating strands of the stuff that wrapped around my face, arms, and legs as I swam. I have a deeply-rooted and illogical fear of all things that live in the ocean, and it is never okay for ANYTHING to touch me underwater! The second problem was that the water was murky, so I only had 3-5 feet of visibility. There were fish to see, but they kept popping out from behind the kelp right in front of my face! To be fair, there was plenty to be scared of from both parties' points of view, but I'm pretty sure the people back on the beach could hear me screaming through my air tube.

So I'm hightailing it back towards safety, when I look up and see Dan about to dive in. I yell "Save yourself!! Don't come in here! It's not Maui!" but alas, it is too late. He dives in, swims to where I'm floating and says "This is nasty! Are you okay?" because if he's freaked out, he knows I'm not handling it well. I am not okay, but I'm willing to go a little farther out at his suggestion to see if we can get away from the seaweed and see anything interesting. Nope. This is not Hawaii, folks. Plus, it occurs to me (waaaay later than it should have) that this is the general area where the leopard sharks hang out. They are supposedly harmless, but it is my personal goal in life to never, ever see a shark in the wild. Ten minutes later I'm back on the beach, and Dan is too. The whole way home, I rock back and forth saying "...must blog...must warn our families...". Okay I wasn't that bad, but I'm never snorkeling in San Diego again. And you have been warned.

This is the closest photo I could find of the kelp that was floating upwards in the water like tentacles. Yes, I know it's a nice picture, but would you want that touching your body while you swam?

This is a piece of monster seaweed on Pacific Beach where we live. The photographer even tried to make it look pretty. I'd estimate that piece to be around 10 feet long, if you want some perspective. It's all over the beach here, and has been known to swallow small children.


The McGregor Clan said...

Debby, you just wrote why I am terrified of snorkeling. I am sure you felt like you were in a movie!! My heart started racing just hearing about your experience. I do not like to get very deep in ocean water anyways b/c the idea of touching my legs is too much for me. I am SO glad you got out of there alive!! :) La Jolla was one of my favorite spots,(absolutely beautiful) but we went in January and it was too cold to actually swim. Just put our feet in.

Anonymous said...

Nope... would not want that touching me while I swam at all!!!! UGH! Just watched a documentary of the top 5 most unsafe areas in the world for sharks... San Diego didn't happen to be one of them... but still... I've got "JAWS" on the brain when it comes to swimming in the ocean where I can't see a darn thing...

Papa Walt said...

Actually have been diving in the same area but swam further out probably 1/4 mile. Once you get deeper the kelp is really neat to swim through and since the visibility is usually very good around 40 ft plus, it is like walking on trails through a forrest. There are very beautiful sites and creatures that live in the kelp and I would go again any day.

Steve Campbell said...