New diver seeking help

bux-n-dux

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My girlfriend and I want to get into diving, abalone, and spearfishing. Starting with the basics (abs) I am looking for suggestions on how to get started. We are both strong swimmers and in good shape, but dont have experience diving. We live about an hour from Fort Ross/Salt Point area and 2.5 hours from Ft. Bragg. I am an experienced outdoorsman/hunter/fisherman, she is just getting started with me. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for suggestions on gear, times of the year, and any other wisdom from JHO members. Thanks a lot in advance.


bux-n-dux
 

superduty

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Check if you have a local dive shop in your area and visit it. Most dive shops conduct open water classes, it's a great way to push sales of gear. Check into the differences in certifications either Naui, NASDS, PADI and decide if you have a prefference. As for gear my suggestion would be to not purchase anything except the essentialls such as mask, snorkel, and fins untill you are certified. It can be a heavy investment and it's not for everyone. I can't tell you how many times I used to see the gunhoe person that drug someone into the shop to be their scuba partner turn out to quit and their not so enthused mate finish the course and become great divers. The shops will have all their instructors using the latest and greatest most of the time for sales reasons. They might push what they have and not mention others. I used to tell my students to try out a different wetsuit, regulator, bcd, and so on everytime they could durring class. This way you get to see some of the differences in fit or comfort of use. As you get more time in the sport you will learn you can drop some weight just by using a different tank ie: steel vs aluminum. Shorter squatier tanks such as a 100cubic inch steel tank wont punch you in the back of the head with the valvue or be bouncing off your butt and you can drop five pounds off your belt and get better bottom times then a aluminum 70 or 80. Anyways, you get the idea. Don't just go buy before you learn as much as you can from others. Have fun and be safe. I also would suggest at least if you don't go any further to take your advance class. It won't certify you in underwater navigation or night diving or deep diving but it will give you all of those experiences so you have a idea of what it is like and you can do it with a certified instructor.
 

bux-n-dux

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Thanks for the tips. At first we are just looking for abalone dives and gear, not SCUBA. Someone suggested spending time on a pool with a mask and snorkel and fins to get used to the breathing. He said dive shops will rent an abalone package that includes everything you need for abalone. We will most likely purchase a mask, snorkel and fins and rent the remaining gear until we are sure we like it and can handle it. Does anyone have suggestions other than a pool for practicing and becoming familiar with the gear before committing to a first real dive?

Also, does anyone spearfish without SCUBA? Can it even be done? Say if one is diving for abs and urchins and wants to finish out the dive with some spearfishing.

bux-n-dux
 

Dain V

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I will say your best bet is to hook up with a local club. The value of having an experienced freediver show you the ropes is immeasurable. You have some great diving up there, find an experienced diver to help you out and have fun. Post up some pics of the abs and rock fish you start scoring.
 
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CATManReid

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I've been trying to get my brother on here for months to share some pics and stories of the diving he's done. He's a skin diver, no SCUBA gear at all, and has done some AMAZING things holding his breath.

It is definitely possible to dive without being SCUBA certified. The only thing is that you first have to get comfortable with the amount of time you can hold your breath SAFELY and second know your comfortable depth. People drown every year from shallow water blackouts less than a five feet from the surface by pushing themselves to the limit.

Just be careful and have fun and you'll have some amazing experiences.
 

switch

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Bux, a little late in response here, but here's what I would do.

I've been spearfishing and freediving for about 15-years, and one thing I can tell you that will make or break your experience, is being comfortable in the water. If you or your girlfriend have never snorkeled before, spend some time in a pool and get use to your gear. That includes your wet suits. Many new divers get a bit claustrophobic when they first start becasue they are not use to the heavy wet suit, the breathing, and having their face in the water. If you can get use to all that in a pool before you venture out, you'll enjoy the experience a lot more.

Also, frequently visibility up near your area is limited, if not down right poor. And extremely cold. This will deminish your experience if you are not prepared for it. As was mentioned, see if you can join a club. You may be able to attend some group dives which will help in taking the edge off.

Above all enjoy. It's a fun time.
 

rajnerb

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Bux-n-dux, My sons and I have been abing a total of about 50 years. I've never been in water over my neck-line. Been doing it this way for years and can say we get our limits 95% of the time. I compare my abs to guys diving in 15 ft of water and size wise there isn't much difference. Only thing we battle the most is we work out towards the water break-line, but you can always find them in calmer waters. We gear up with wetsuit,hood, gloves. We wear baseball cleats. I try to stay to a turf shoes, gives you traction going down steep hills and also traction on slippery ocean rocks. Also weight belt, ab bar, ab measuring guage,(All a must have) I actually stuff my abs in the chest of my wetsuit. We carry electrical wire to carry abs out. Also your license and tags need to be with you. Bring a fine tip felt marker to fill tags out as soon as you leave the water. You can use string or small zip-ties to attach your tag to hole in shell. If you decide you want to go about abing in this way give me a holler and you can go out with us to see how we've been doing it. We go in and around the Fort Ross area. We met briefly at Grizzly, didn't get much socializing in though. Good luck at whatever you do and most of all be safe, IT IS THE OCEAN!!!!
 

branthntr

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It will be interesting what will still be open when the MPA takes effect on Apr 1st. I hope they will have decent maps showing open/closed areas!
 

bux-n-dux

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I'm heading up this Tuesday for my first dive, with two other experienced guys. All I'm planning on doing is kicking out with them and bobbing around a bit, maybe going under if i feel comfortable but not planning on going after any abs. But who knows. All I really want to do is get a feel for swimming in the ocean in this way. If I take to it, I'll be making regular trips for sure. Rajnerb I would really like to take you up on the offer. Any experience I can get with diving will be very useful. I'll be up around Ft Ross the week of the 18th of May, perhaps diving, perhaps not who knows.
 

InsidetheStorm

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No time spent in the ocean is time wasted. Get a speargun and go after some nice ling cod or halibut while you're there.
 

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