Nerdy Cat Scuba Travels

A Cat Lovin' Engineer taking a career break by traveling, doing a divemaster internship, and diving around the world

Month: March 2017

What My Rescue Diving Course Didn’t Teach Me

Are you sure its a dead body?

Yup- this was a thought in my head this weekend. In my rescue diving course and my divemaster course, I learned so much about reacting in a calm manner to distress calls. Methodically performing CPR in the ocean, disassembling a diver’s gear, dragging them out of the water. What I didn’t expect was what happens in the real world. What happens when someone is dead in the water?

During the Rescue Course – Lifting Heavy People

Lets be honest, I’m about 5’ 4”, and about 130 lbs; most divers outweigh me. During my divemaster course, I cried because I failed during my first attempt. The cold water. The heavy “volunteers”. I couldn’t calm down and rescue them. Sobbing because I wasn’t strong enough. Was it unfair that I went last? I was exhausted. Boo hoo on me.  Eventually I got over feeling sorry for myself and passed with out issue.  It felt great knowing I could actually rescue someone in distress. I think it was this experience that helped me prepare for Saturday.

Edmunds Underwater Park

It was a calm Saturday and the skies were clear and bright blue. For a change, I decided to bring my weights to the bench by the beach. No rhyme or reason. Just changing things up.

Then I heard it. A LOUD whistle from the ocean. Someone waving their arms in distress.I look around, no one else is immediately around me.  I call out to them- “Are you ok?!” They show me an OK, but then continue to wave at me.

Adrenaline pumping. I look around. A woman and her son on the beach are looking at the divers. I ask her to “zip” me up so I can swim up to them. She zips my drysuit closed. I tell her to call 911.

I pace over to my hood, gloves, fins and mask. My hands are shaking.

Running into the ocean, I dive in. Water seeping into my suit… the zipper slightly open. I try to pull it shut, but there’s too much adrenaline. I forget about the wet cold feeling. It doesn’t matter now.

I get to the divers and there’s a man face down. Should turn him over and do CPR?

He responds “I think it’s a recovery.”

When a Rescue Dive becomes a Recovery

That’s when I realize it. This is a dead body. The man is half floating in the water. Body rigid. Fully clothed. Not a diver.

Without thinking I grab the man’s arm and help swimming him to shore.

He feels like a bag of cement. Strangely plastic.

The swim feels long and never ending. Firetruck sirens are getting louder. My heart is pumping so hard now. Keep swimming. Don’t stop. Get him to the shore.

Once in standing water. I throw off my fins into the waves.  We flip the man over. His arms frozen near his hips. Legs stiff. He still has his shoes on with the laces tied neatly. His eyes closed. We try to lift him, but he’s so heavy it as if we didn’t try at all.

The waves start crashing on the man’s face. Eyes flick open. Blood shot and empty gazing.  I gasp. I look down at his shoes instead.

Grabbing the shoes, I push hard towards the sand. We finally get him to the shore. EMT staff are waiting for us. They move him to a stretcher. I look away.

Exhaustion. I almost fall over. I can’t catch my breathe.

A policeman puts his shoulder around me. “Thank you for your help. Can you tell me what happened?”

“I know nothing. I just swam him to shore.”

Shaking- I walk over to the bench take off my hood and gloves and walk away. I go to see my friends and try not to think of the dead man.

Shortly afterwards, the authorities have moved the body off the shore and question the divers that found the body. He was in about 15ft of water, visible from the surface. Nothing else was in the water around him.

Later, a tow truck arrives and we find out that the man’s car was left in the parking lot. I google the story a few days later to find that the police suspect “suicide.”

Rest In Peace

I hope that this man found peace and comfort in his last moments.

Lessons Learned from my First Rescue Assist

  1. Practicing helps. If not for my previous strenuous course, I would not have been prepared to swim so far with such a heavy load.
  2. When a rescue dive turns into a recovery effort, you can pace yourself. Don’t exhaust yourself.
  3. Be respectful of the body. Don’t drag it or toss it around. This man just died. Be gentle and do what you would if it were your own family member.
  4. When you hear the distress call- don’t rush into the water. They teach this in the course, over and over. But it’s the #1 thing to remember. You can’t save anyone if you are drowning yourself.
  5. Second victim – I feel disconnected. I’m still at odds on what to feel. I didn’t discover the body, and I can’t imagine the affect that would have on a person.

In all, I’m thankful that I was trained properly. This was my first real world assist. I just wish it had a better outcome.


Until next time…

Moving to Washington Right Now

Coffee. Music. Flannel. Rain. The perfect combination to convince a hipster to relocate to Seattle. If you asked me a couple years ago if I would ever leave Santa Monica for Seattle, I would have laughed in your face.

Santa Monica vs Seattle

Santa Monica – Sunny skies. Permanent year round 70 deg F weather. The beach. Local shops. Three twins ice cream. A dream come true.

Seattle – A new opportunity. Pacific Northwest. Seasons. Snow. hiking spots. Beautiful skyline overlooking the water.

The Journey

It seems that I couldn’t have picked a better contrasting city to Santa Monica. I don’t know how long I will live here, however, I do feel the pressure to commit to a life of normalcy. Being a nomad is quite difficult when you have a cat and responsibilities.

Adios Santa Monica. I wake up at 8am. Have some coffee and pack up my car. I spend an hour trying to figure out how to use ratchet straps for the first time. Seriously doubting my engineering skills. So frustrated with my performance, I skip breakfast/lunch and drive. I manage to make only one stop on the drive up for gas and a bathroom break. I grab a bag of Organic Sweet Potato Purple Chips and bounce. Gotta Love hippie California.

I make it to San Jose within 6 hours. Not bad at all. I unload all my belongings into Wendy’s attic. My entire life now resides in a small crawl space area in vacuum seal bags. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Of course, nothing is easy. I start checking weather and the Doppler 4000 shows a storm front coming in. The swirl simulation doesn’t look good. Ice and snow. My s2000 isn’t exactly a snow mobile.

Family meeting. Wendy and Dad help make an executive decision. No S2000. Use the “Yellow school bus.” Yup. My stylish convertible sports car has been traded to my dad for his Yellow Xterra. 14-18 MPG. A small part of me dies inside.

Destination – Seattle (881 miles away)

Next morning, I wake up at 5 am and meet my Dad for a #1 egg mcmuffin meal at McDonalds. We hug and I take off. Let’s start the 10+ hours of podcasts please.

The weather is nice. Too nice. I drive quickly through northern California without anyone else really on the road. I make it Oregon and its chilly. No snow chain warnings.

I pull over in small city to get gas. Some lady comes to greet me. She’s going to pump my gas. I don’t know what to do with myself.

I take a bathroom break and grab a burger. I ask the clerk about the full service thing. He responds, “ You know. A governor didn’t like to pay the tax on pumping your own gas. So he banned it. Let’s me keep my job.” Um ok.

I tip the lady $2 and pray that I can have enough gas to make it to Washington without getting gas again.

Arriving in Washington

Washington State lines. Rain. The sun is setting and its starting to rain. I’ve been listening to podcasts for over 10 hours. I’m tired.

I start to call my friends and chit chat while driving. I should do this more often.

I get to Tacoma around 6:30pm. My new home is still a little more than hour away. I decide to crash at a friend’s house and call it a day. Sleep Now.

Morning. I pick up Jade from the Cat boarding facility and make it to my new digs. She’s meowing. Kinda pissed. Sorry Jade! It will all be ok, I promise.

Day 2. I wake up to see snow falling gently to the ground. A soft fluffy floor of snow all over the backyard. I’m debating whether or not I can drive. I call Dad. He says its safe. Done. I do some grocery shopping and errands.

Amazing. I’m in Seattle. In January I was living in Thailand, and now I’m here. In a parka. Most of this weather reminds me of Iceland. Time to dust off my thermals and gloves. Back in the cold North.
(Here’s some proof that I can survive in the cold. Throw back to my time in Iceland)

Hello Seattle.