Freediving

I don’t think I’ve posted much about freediving and spearfishing.  It’s an activity/sport that is close to my heart and who I have a deep connection with through people very close to me.  It’s always a meditative/head clearing experience and when it’s good it can be nearly magical.

I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks and was finally healthy enough in time to play a volleyball tournament on Saturday and go freediving on Sunday.  My cousin picked me up from Maria’s Sunday morning and then we went to my place (pretty close by) to pick up all our diving gear out of my garage.  Then we took a nice drive down the coast to a state park that he has a yearly parking pass to.  We’d got in the water here before but further down, this was new territory and way better conditions (small tide, small swell, low wind).

I donned my surf suit instead of my full dive suit (3/2mm vs 7mm w/ hood) and we hiked down the steep trail to the sand.  The conditions were about as good as we could expect.  The water was in the mid 60s and the visibility once we got out to the kelp was 10 to 15 feet in most areas and further the deeper we got out.  There wasn’t a lot of fish that were legal catch size, but we hadn’t brought spearguns anyway, we were just going to go exploring.

Amongst the things we saw were tons of small fish, a bunch of medium size species (opaleye, calico bass, etc…) and a number of lobsters.  I also happened upon a sheep crab (also commonly called a spider crab) that was hiding in some big kelp right by the attachments to the rock.  It was super cool looking (I’d never seen one up close like that before) as I hung onto the kelp upside down while I still had enough oxygen in my lungs, with my legs swaying back and forth with the reasonably strong surge.

Later I was zooming a few feet off the bottom in 25-30 feet of water and as I was starting to ascend I spotted another sheep crab all splayed out walking along the bottom so I caught my cousin’s attention and we chatted about it quickly before we both descended again, my intent being to get a closer look and show my cousin this damn big crab (body was about the size of a football/volleyball and legs were nice and long).  As I went down and shortened the gap between me and the crab it noticed me and started to bring it’s pincers up in a semi-defensive posture.

sheepcrab1

I circled around so I’d be completely behind it and came in with my gloved hand and tapped it right in the ass/back section figuring it was too slow to turn around and get me with it’s pinchers.  I was right, but holy hell did that thing look big as it immediately went FULL defense mode and stood up on it’s rear legs, splaying all it’s legs out and making itself as large as possible, pincers at the ready to snap me.  I just circled it just out of reach and admired this amazing creature/experience.  My cousin watched from a little further away shaking his head in wonder.

sheepcrab2

Once we got to the surface we took in big breaths in between laughing, coughing, and reveling in how huge that thing looked face to face.  Little had we known how much of an adventure we’d stumble upon.  Later I saw what I thought was the corner of a skate (or small sting ray) barely visible on the sandy bottom.  Thinking it was small and emboldened by my crab boxing match I used my glove to wave water hard at the sand in order to blow the sand and expose the skate.

As I waved away more and more sand I began to see a larger and larger animal be exposed and suddenly a sting ray easily 3+ feet across lifted out of the sand and with a flap of it’s rather large wings and bolted across the sandy bottom as my cousin and I yelled in surprise, turning and bolting towards the surface to hoot, holler, and be thankful I didn’t get stung as the animal was easily 3 times larger than I’d originally estimated and instead of using my long fin to expose it (leaving me out of harms way) I’d been nearly face first with the thing and my hand/arm right off the bottom within reach of it’s barbed tail.

stingray

Needless to say I’ll be buying more freedive/spearfishing equipment and my ultimate goal is to join the dive club as a prospect and then become a full member in 2014.  I’ve got a 2 day dive trip planned for labor day weekend and I’ll finally have my speargun repaired.  I hope to bring back lots of good fish to eat and give away to my friends and some even better stories.

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~ by aneroidocean on 08/20/2013.

2 Responses to “Freediving”

  1. Nice pictures. What camera do you use?

    • Not my pictures. Just examples I grabbed from the internet. I will actually be borrowing a Canon point and shoot with housing for one of my upcoming dives but I’m not sure if I’ll really want to post my own pictures as I prefer to retain anonymity here.

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