New Years Eve Diving

Not sure where to start really. The beginning seems like as good a place as any…

For the last couple of years i’ve attempt to make plans to night dive at Izu Ocean Park. It is still, and by far, my favourite local dive site, but i’ve never dived there at night. This is as there is only one night a year that they open for night diving – new years eve. The last couple of years have made it rather tricky to bail on family events and spend the evening underwater in Izu.

This year the planets aligned… almost. Freed from family obligations, and with the blessing of my wife, up at 6am and off on the trains!

The end of summer has consistently bought me a misery of allergies, and rather than take anti-histamines for six months of year, i’ve decided to attempt to tolerate waking up most morning sneezing like a maniac, and drowning in snot. That is, unless i’m going diving, in which case i’ll take medication the night before. This is usually enough to dry out my head to the point that i don’t have problems with equalisation. Except when it isn’t.

On the first dive, out to see the secret (and camera shy…) seahorse, it took me an absolute age to get my left ear to clear. Fortunately my diving doctor (the one who looked at my ear when i perforated it a few years ago) has given me lessons on equalisation in adverse conditions. Admittedly they mostly involved blowing up a small balloon with my nose, and provided more entertainment than anything else, but they do come in handy when you’re stuck at 15m with another 20m to go…

The obstinate beast in question:

[A better shot by 松崎さん.]

My fellow divers were patient with me, hanging around, and giving me the time needed to get things sorted. Having managed to put a hole in that ear before, and being lucky that it healed completely, i’m considerably more cautious than perhaps i might have been a few years ago.

Along with the irritation of the allergies, it seems that i’ve also become a lot less tolerant of the cold. My ‘cheap as chips’ (which cost a small fortune…)  drysuit, which used to keep me plenty warm wearing just a couple of t-shirts and a pair of leggings in 13 degree water, now feels decidedly parky when it’s still 15 – 16 degrees! Some of this must just be because i’m getting older (sob) but i’m also ~10kg lighter than five years ago, and all that ‘blubber’ probably didn’t hurt…

All of which is to say that after nursing my sore ear through a second dive and being colder than i can ever remember being while diving, it was time to call it a day. It took me a good couple of hours to warm up to the point where i could consider taking my coat off – and this includes quite some time on a local japanese train.

No night diving for me. Not good. Defeated. And not much chance of a redo this year.

After a few days nursing my bruised ego, i’ve concluded that it’s obviously time to take anti-histamines for a few days before diving, find myself some decent thermals, and get back in the water!

Wise words...

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