Neoprene Pt 2

I am an open water diver, certified to go as deep as 60 feet. Unlike the staccato of Pt 1, Pt 2 dives deserve to be told in prose.

Dive three out of the four open water dives at Dutch Springs was uneventful. We checked off mandatory skills: mask removal, clearing, buoyancy control, and CESA. Dive four was my first exploratory dive — to demonstrate the skills I’ve learned so far while exploring the ship wreck, Silver Comet. A line attached to the wooden platform at 25 feet linked us to the wreckage at 60 feet. I kicked lightly while holding onto the line behind my dive master, Kathryn. At 35 feet, the distinct thermocline — the layer of cool water separating the warm water at the surface and the cold water at the bottom — hit my exposed cheeks and lips. Next, my ankles, only covered in the skin suit, felt the freeze. The silt had clouded the bottom. Visibility was three feet at best.

Dutch Springs, North East divers training ground, in Nazareth, PA

The line led the way. 40 feet…50 feet… Now passed the thermocline, the water was still and cold. My extremities began to lose heat. I wiggled my fingers in response, thankful for the hood and gloves I put on. The temperature was 68 Fahrenheit. Sounds warm but it felt like one of those New York winter nights when we had to run to the neighborhood bodega to get milk in a down coat, freezing but bearable.

I made out the undulating outline of the ship when we reached the bottom. The deck was covered with brownish, insect-like shells — half open, half closed, caught in limbo. Neutrally buoyant, I swam across the starboard, towards the stern, around up the port, and clung on the bow as the Kathryn conducted a head count and air check. I hung low, stuck my face in the windowless frame of the cabin. A fish! — perhaps bass, or, trout, I cannot make out — swam from the front of the cabin to the back. A sharp turn, he swam back towards me. He was the Captain of Silver Comet, pacing and patrolling his precious vessel. A gentle tap on my left forearm, I turned — it was Kathryn, behind her was a 3-feet-long yellow fish swimming into the grey silt.