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My Dive Log, 1995-2009

By way of celebrating my completion of the first draft of my novel The Big Aha, I decided to do something completely unrelated.

I’ve typed up my dive log book entries from 1995-2009 and I’m posting them here, surrealistically illustrated by my usual random accumulation of utterly unrelated recent photos. Well, not utterly unrelated, as most of the images are of ocean or island scenes, including a few from a recent trip we made to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands in Southern California

My “dive log book,” started in the very nearly pre-digital days of 1995, is a tiny, cheap spiral vest-pocket notebook, very weathered and water-stained by now. Before it utterly disintegrates, I thought I’d digitize the contents.

In the past I also blogged about some of these dives, and if you get really curious about some spot, you can try using my blog search box to find an entry that mentions it.

It’s worth mentioning that my dive experiences have found their way into many of my SF novels and stories. I think in particular of Realware, Mathematicians in Love, Spaceland, Hylozoic, and Jim and the Flims. To me, nothing is more purely alien than a marine invertebrate, and nothing is more like floating in space (or in hyperspace) than a scuba dive. And some of my paintings have submarine themes as well.

Dive Log Book, Rudy Rucker, 1995-2009

10 am. Lovers Cove, Monterey. Buddy named Penny. 18 ft/29 min. 49º. Gumboot chitons. 2900-1000. 11:15 am. 28 ft. 28 min. Rockfish. 2400 lb air to 1000.

8:30 am. San Carlos Beach, Monterey. 52 ft/27 min. 45º. Metridium Fields. Plumose Anemones. Sea Pen. 2400-300. 10:30 am. Breakwater, Monterey. Buddies Penny & Mark. 46 ft/24 min. Sheep Crab. Mating nudibranchs. Seals. Turbid. 2400 lb air to 450.

10 am. Tunnels Beach, Kauai. Rudy Jr. & Jeanette. 52 ft /40 min. 45 ft/42 min. Parrot fish slime cocoon, caves & tunnels, wrasse, candycane shrimp, stingray, Spanish dancer nudibranch. 3000 lb air to 500. Shorty 1/8” wetsuit, 16 lb. weights.

Morning. Poipu boat dive, Kauai. “Bubbles Below.” 40 ft/45 min. 50 ft./45 min. Octopus, underwater current, lots of sea turtles.

Afternoon. Butterfly house, Carmel. Solo dive, panic. Big tank, inadequate weight 24 lb. Scary diving pale seal near me, thought it was a shark. Got tangled in kelp after coming up in wrong inlet. I now see why solo dives are a bad idea! 50 ft/30 min.

Chilleno Bay, Mexico. Boat dive with guide “Leo,” me the only customer. 26 lb. weights, full wetsuit, 3000 lb air. 36 min/70 ft. Guide Leo. Moray eel. Schools of yellow fish. Sea fans and sponges. Visibility ~20 ft. Rocky. Used all the remaining air during safety stop.

Vava’u Island, Tonga. Boat dive with guide Paul of “Beluga Diving.” I was their very first customer. 66 ft/30 min. Weight 13 kg, a bit light. Tongaseka Island, steep cliffs, underwater caves, a white-tip shark. 60 ft/30 min. 14 kg better. Tank valve not fully turned on, my air stopped flowing halfway through the dive, I used Paul’s octopus regulator to breathe, he got my valve open. Dealt with it okay, kind of glad to see I could survive a crisis. A’a Island.

Lifau Island, Haa’pai Islands, Kingdom of Tonga. Guide Roland. 200 bar pressure tank. 45 ft/40 min. Reef 6 km out from shore. A small shark, a big wrasse. Came out and saw whales, a mother and child. 45 ft/40 min. A reef closer in. Great visibility. We wend into lots of caves. Sea fans. A lobster. I hefted a giant clam 3 feet across. Its mantle was mottled like camouflage material. So many new kinds of fish.

Vuna Reef, Taveuni, Fiji. Boat dive, 8 people. 200 bar tanks. Shorty 5 mil suit. Hood on. 70 ft./30 min. Eagle ray big with spots. I had a problem with too much buoyancy, holding onto the bottom. 50 ft/30 min. Turtle. Soft coral that turned white when I brushed against it—the polyps withdraw. Outside a reef on a wall going 200 ft down. 40 ft. visibility. I swam too fast, ran out of air firs. The guide made me go the surface when I het 50 bar of pressure.

Taveuni, Fiji. Rainbow Reef Dives. 80 ft/40 min. Yellow Tunnel. Fairyland of fish and soft coral, red yellow purple blue. Insanely strong current, like fighting a hurricane across top of reef. Needed gloves. 3500 lb of air, used it all. 100ft/49 min. Great White Wall. My buddy saw a hammerhead shark, I was looking the other way. I found a 5 foot Moray eel. The wall went down and down. I got nitrogen narcosis at 100 ft and almost kept going down. Too deep. White corals (soft) down there, then light blue. 15 lb weights, shorty wetsuit with long sleeves.

Kawaihae, South Kohala, Big Island, Hawaii. With a guide from Ocean Sports/ Kohala Dive Shop. Shorty 3 mil long-sleeve suit, with gloves. Two dives. 50 ft/45 min. 40 ft/45 min. 3100 lb tanks. No air problems, I breathed slow. Used my breath to go up and down over coral instead of kicking. Small bright fish, butterfly tangs, surgeonfish. Saw a small spotted Moray eel, a puffer fish. Guide caught an octopus. Saw a helmet shell conch “attacking” a sea urchin in slow motion. A huge algae spore, supposedly one cell.

Puako, Big Island, Hawaii. Just me with guide Benjamin from Ecotropic Divers. Dove next to Neil Young’s Hawaii house. First dive to 87 feet. A garden of eels next to the continental shelf. An extremely big fish looming in the background. Very mysterious. Spacey. I wanted to go deeper. The guide said the biig thing behind the eel garden was a giant puffer fish. Second dive 40 ft. Lava caves. Big trumpet fish, maybe 6 feet long. A big “7-11” crab. Nudibranch. A pair of mating humuhumunukunukuapua’a fish. Leaky mask, leaky octopus valve. Came out in breaking surf with guide, scary.

Tunnels beach, Kauai. Beach dive, guided by Craig of Hanalei Watersports. 40 ft. Stayed near the very first drop, about twenty feet from shore, the guide had a problem with a novice diver from Uzbekistan, she panicked, and repeatedly swam up to the surface. Water turbid. Rudy Jr. along, he got bored and poked his head into a cave. The guide got mad at everyone. He ended the dive and we still had 1,500 pounds of air. The worst dive ever, although fun to be doing it with Rudy Jr. I did see a nudibranch egg ribbon rose.

Tunnels beach, Kauai. With Justin of Ocean Quest (run by George and Jeanette), and one other certified diver. Justin was a surfer from UCSC. 50 ft/47 min. Tunnels wall and coves. 50 ft/61 min. Swam to reef outside of Tunnels. Used dive computer. Turtle sleeping on bottom. Banded coral shrimp—we tried to get it to crawl in our mouths and clean them. Spiny lobsters in a cave. “Spaceship Cave” at outer reef, shafts of light. Good neutral buoyancy. Nice dive.

Presidente Hotel, Cozumel, Mexico. 30 ft. Solo beach dive. Went fine. Sponges with fairy shrimp in the holes. An eagle ray 6 feet across and thick as a fox in the middle. Black leopard spots on beige upper side, white underside. Empty condos in hotel. Strong current. A sunken small barge. I need bifocal lenses in my dive mask, can’t see closer than 4 feet. Huge shoal of silver fish. The guide said, “There’s no thermocline here,” meaning that it stays warmer deeper.

Cozumel, Q. Roo, Mexico. Scuba Du divers. Guide Beto. 90 ft. Palomar reef. Big sponges, no fish, in and out of holes. Drift dive. 3,500 psi to 700. 50 ft. La Ciedra. Strong current. Wore gloves for warmth. 17 lb weight. Next time bring own wetsuit. Huge barracuda. Grouper, parrot fish. A turtle, a shark. Cloud of little fish over coral head with all kinds of sponges shaped like: cone, fingers, heart, puckered bumps, snakes. Imagine that all are cross-sections of a single 4D form.

Cozumel, Mexico. Solo beach dive at our hotel Presidente. 30 ft. Went down and hung out with some coral heads near the shore first thing in the morning. Wore two shorty wetsuits over each other and took 20 lb weight, too much, needed to inflate BC. Moray, peacock flounder, soft coral, anemones. Brittle sea stars inside vase sponges. Brought home an “empty” conch shell, but a pitiful hermit crab started peeking out, hours later, so I threw him back into the sea. A good house never stays unoccupied.

Cozumel, Q. Roo, Mexico. Scuba Du boat dive. Columbia wall. 95 ft. I was looking at the cool way a soft coral wiggled in the wake of my flipper kick, really grokking the chaotic compound pendulum action, then looked at my gauge and it was just this—round thing with marks on it—numbers? Couldn’t tell if they were right side up and didn’t care, and then I knew that I was narced, and I eased up to 90 or to 85 feet and “I” was back. Wonderful huge sponges. My buddy used up his air too fast, and we had to go up early. 60 ft. Shallow drift dive, across the undersea wall, close to the wall, like skiing or sledding, like a dream of flight. I kept stressing about air and time and my buddy’s air, watching him thrash and blow wasteful clouds of bubbles—as if I could control it, feeling also some concern for him and when he seemed too far ahead of the pack and began heading down into the depth, I tugged his fin to slow him down. A randomly assigned buddy, an auto wholesaler from Arlington, Texas, but I had this partners-in-combat tender concern for him. Had lunch with him and his wife afterwards. The quality of time in a dive is strange. There’s no goal, it’s drifty. Nothing to do but see. And hoard your air. Saw some beautiful queen angelfish.

Grand Turk Island, British West Indies Blue Water Dive ship, run by Mitch. Wall a quarter mile out of Cockburn Harbor. It drops from 40 ft to 1000 ft. Site of my first dive, some 25 years ago, the one I wrote about in my memoir All The Visions, where I nearly died or so I thought (mistakenly) for a few minutes. My nose was bleeding when I came up from our unwise dive to 100 ft with brother Embry, and our Viet-vet guide Paul told me it “It’s that air embolism I was warning you about. You only have a couple of minutes left.”). But this time it was no big deal, we went down to 60 ft. Only worry I had was that my overeager dive buddy wanted us to swim ahead out of sight of the guide. I didn’t let him lead me and he glared at me. An asshole. He used up all his air early on the 2nd dive, and then claimed that he only bailed out early because he didn’t want to pee in his wetsuit, which I doubt, as, realistically, who doesn’t pee in their wetsuit. Big deal. I saw some nice schools of tangs amid gorgonian sea fans, got a close look at some Christmas tree worms with my bifocal dive-mask lenses. The mask seems to leak, too bad. Wore a new shortie wetsuit and it was enough. Had an air problem myself on the first dive, sucked it up too fast. The 2nd dive I did fine. 40 lb weight.

Grand Turk Island. Did the McDonald Arch and the Sand River with Mitch of Blue Water Dives. The dives were 45 min to 85 feet and 60 min to 60 feet. Mitch warned me that some other divers had complained about seeing me touch the coral and the sponges. I hadn’t realized this was such an issue, but I essayed not to touch anything this time. At the end, sat at the base of a coral head, looking up at a school of ten thousand little fish, me flicking my fingers to influence their motions.

Grand Turk. Night dive. Blue Water Dives. The guide had an equipment problem and never got in the water, so it was fairly disorganized. 30-50 feet at the Library site. We had flashlights. It was cozy, not scary. Dark, calm, floating. Dreamy. Saw two Moray eels out of their holes, writhing along. Another diver’s Blue Water Dive pressure gauge blew out of its mount and all his air bubbled out. He wasn’t very deep, and just swam up. I saw a cute candy cane shrimp in a hidey-hole in the wall, like an off-duty nurse, gorgeous, alone at her apartment’s dining table.

Grand Turk with Blue Water Dive. Did the Tunnel site. The guide had problems with his boat anchor. We entered a reef hole at 50 feet, came out at 75 feet. Embry was my partner, he was worried about clearing his ears, I think he had a cold, but it went fine. This was near our “Rudy is dying dive” twenty-five years ago. This time we dived down to 80 feet, and jokingly tried to push each other deeper. I had plenty of air.

Lover’s Cove, Monterey, California. Bamboo Reef Dives. Beach dive, a tough schlep. One tank, one dive, 30 feet, 40 minutes. 34 pounds of weight. Stern, angry warnings from the seemingly obsessive diveshop owner not to pee in my rented wetsuit. Kelp forest, sea stars and some bagpipe-like creatures anchored at the bottom end and with two siphons.

Yap Island, Micronesia, South Pacific. Beyond the Reef divers. Dive trip with brother Embry. Main Channel. Shortie wetsuit over dive skin, warm enough, but 12 pounds of weight, not enough. 1 hour, 45 feet. Lionfish, nudibranchs, sea cucumbers, Moorish idols (like angelfish), sea pen, clams in coral. I forgot to take off my BC when boarding after the dive. Rainy day, visibility so-so, not enough fish.

Yap Island, Mi’il Channel, with Embry, Beyond the Reef divers. Two dives. Looked for mantas at 80 feet by a “cleaning station” where wrasses wait to chew parasites off the big mantas. No mantas today. Drifted along wall. Gorgeous “china shop” of shelf coral, acres of plates, beige green yellow pink purple, with Zhabotinsky-scroll edges. Very strong current. On second dive, I drifted half a mile after I came up to the surface, towards the open sea, a boat chased me down. Nobody was very worried about this, other than me. School of big gray fish by the undersea cliffs.

Yap Island, me alone in an outboard with two guides who were chewing betel nut, they seemed fairly high Embry was off trying again to see some mantas. Shortie wetsuit, Aeroskin, 16 lb weights. I told my guides some of science-fiction plots and they liked that. Friendly guys. Two dives, both 70 feet max. Yap Caverns, Lionfish Wall, Gilman Wall. The caverns were really rifts and boulders. Bumphead parrotfish. Creamy white nudibranch with tendrils on its back. Schools of big jacks, a turtle, a shark, huge anenome with baby clown fish an eight of an inch long and with a larger parent guarding them.

Palau, which is a separate country from Micronesia. Sam’s Tours. Embry and I rode on a dive boat to the end of the Palau archipelago. First dive, Coral Garden: mostly dead coral, thanks to global warming. Second dive, Turtle Wall: lots of turtles. A big flat bat-fish, eating the turtle’s crap. A big shark very close to us at about 80 feet. Fast current. We were flying along the wall, as if riding bicycles. We hit a thermocline, very cold water. Exhilarating, wonderful dive. Lots of soft coral. We turned back when the current changed and rode it back to the boat. Ran my air down to 100.

2/18/ 2005
Palau, Sam’s Tours. Two dives. A wall. Then Blue Holes, an immense cathedral-like space under a reef. The guide showed us a flashy little bivalve that he called a disco clam.

Palau, Sam’s Tours, two dives. Again an hour’s boat ride each way. The first dive kind of a waste, looking for mantas who didn’t show. The second dive my best ever. Blue Corner. A whirlpool of big-eyed trevalleys far below us like a silver cyclone, the fish three and four feet long. Above us, outlined against the bright surface, a turtle and an eagle ray. Out to sea: dozens of sharks. Sublime. Infinite visibility. And on the way home we snorkeled Jellyfish Lake at the center of a tiny rock island. Millions of jellyfish in the sunlit algae-green water.

Pohnpei, Kingdom of Micronesia. Embry and I in a skiff belonging to the Palau Village Hotel with a guide Tomo and two other tourists. Cut through a harbor and then through mangroves via Dawahk Passage, hit open sea. School of eighteen sharks, excellent. Divemaster uptight about my air, he sent me up with 500 lbs. Pelang Passage, again a problem with the divemaster, he sent up up with 800 lbs. Big sea cucumbers with leopard spots.

Pohnpei. Embry and I with Palau Village Hotel guide and two others. Two big manta rays, 12 feet across, only 5 feet away from us, at a cleaning station, with the wrasses working on them. We watched for 30 minutes. Great. One of the manta crapped, and it diffused over us. Manta baptism. Second dive, shallow, drifting along a reef with fish and soft coral. Unspeakably beautiful and calm. No air pressure problems with guide today. 75 ft dive, came up with 100 lbs.

Grand Turk, Blue Water Divers. 16 lb. Two dives, guide Mitch testing me for Open Water certification. First is McDonalds arch, 90 ft. Light nitrogen narcosis. Buoyancy drops at depth, and you have to swim up rather than drifting deeper. Narcosis always brings with it a sensation of, “I’m not deep enough yet.” Second dive a navigation dive, using a compass and counting my kicks. Count the left kicks only. Fifty kicks is about 200 feet. An eel garden with perhaps a thousand of them, projecting up from the sand, wobbly. Good boxfish. Big barracuda. Climbing out I dropped my weights in 90 feet of water, let them go.

Grand Turk. 4/3 mil wetsuit over a dive skin. 16 pounds, 14 would have worked. A nature dive at Pillory Beach. Good step drop-off, schools of purple creole wrasses at 60 feet. Second dive, Coral Gardens. Gentle wall with five barracudas in a school. One by a vase sponge. I touched a food-begging grouper.

Grand Turk. South side. Dive computer, 4 mil suit and vest, it was cold. First dive 90 ft. Windmills Wall. Sponges, lobster, moray. Second dive, saw three dolphins at start. 85 feet. Cold. Piers of the new cruise ship dock at 60 feet.

Poor Knights Islands in New Zealand. Insanely cold water, 40 degrees. Wore a double wetsuit. Two dives. Saw sting rays, scorpion fish. Visibility terrible, about ten feet. Fifteen mile boat ride to the dive site. Mild cramps after the dive, the extreme cold was very stressful, I felt like I was going to die. Nearly puked on the bouncy ride back.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia. On a liveaboard with my wife for three nights, sailing out of Cairns. Saxon Reef. Two dives along the reef, one left, one right. 60 feet max, mostly 30. Sharks, turtle, giant clam. Scared on first dive that my brain would pop, or that I’d forgotten how to dive. All OK.

Great Barrier Reef. Pixie Pinnacle near Ribbon Reef. Dive 1: 60 ft, 45 min. A big cuttlefish, the size of a beagle. Veils of iridescent fish, like confetti. The Pixie Pinnacle is a solitary tower, we dove to the bottom and circled it as we rose upward, our paths like the stripes on a barber pole. Lots of fish, very bright. Dive 2: Cod Hole. Big fish. Rocky.

Great Barrier Reef. Challenger Bay. Night dive. 50 min. Great. Spawning coral, sea lice, little shrimp in the coral with red, reflective eyes. Hundreds of trevalleys following our flashlights. Numerous smallish giant clams. Brittle sea stars. Clownfish in an anenome in a reef. Parrot fish.

Great Barrier Reef. Pixie Wall. 80 ft, 45 min. Cold. Too much buoyancy. Another cuttlefish. Veils of fish. Along a wall low, came back high, ran out of air, floundering in choppy sea with partner, too tired to swim to dive boat, a small boat came to pick me up.

3 Responses to “My Dive Log, 1995-2009”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks for sharing your Dive Log! Felt like I was there with you! Have dreamed of “going down” since watching Lloyd Bridges’ “Sea Hunt” all those years ago. XO.

  2. Janel Says:

    I don’t think I could be more impressed. You have quite the adventurous life and I’d be jealous if I were that type of person. The only thing I feel right now is, WOW, you are amazing and I wish I had whatever it takes to do things like this!

  3. Tom Messenger Says:

    I just read your dive log start to finish – wow! Very fascinating. Never having dove aside from wearing tanks in a swimming pool once, it was interesting. Thanks for publishing it.

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