Friday, January 16, 2009

Hornby Island, British Columbia II

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Each day the forecast calls for clearing fog giving way to afternoon sun. For three days
running, the fog has had ideas of its own. Amanda says that red wine and prozac can get you through most any winter here, but I have my doubts. Hornby Island lies in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island's mountains, but I still count us lucky to have avoided three days of frigid, sideways rain.

Then again, I'm going scuba diving. In Canada. In January. What precisely am I worried about?

Each morning I join my boatmates for breakfast and meteorological grumbling, looking out the picture windows at the fog settling down on Hornby Island's small boat harbour. We drink coffee, we eat pancakes, we gather up our ge
ar and trudge down to the boat.

The twin 225hp engines seem like a little overkill for our five minute morning boat commute. Scuba diving is a gear-intensive pursuit in this climate, and we barely have time for all the strapping, grunting, zipping and insulating that we need to do before trundling across the deck and into the bracing sea. Some days go more smoothly than others. Yesterday I was seconds away from launching myself into the abyss with my zipper undone.

You'll have to trust me, with a dry suit in 45° water, it's worse than it sounds.

Most mornings, the sea lions hear the boat coming and are waiting for us, a seething, tumbling, barking ball of playful mayhem. We're diving in shallow water here, hardly deeper than swimming pool depth A tank of air lasts over an hour, plenty of time to (I) frolic with the sea lions and (II) track the onset and progressive loss of function due to hypothermia.

The former is a blast. I'd say more about the latter, but my lips stopped moving half an hour ago.

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