Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sunday's Grotto Dive

This picture was taken right after Erin's last dive on Saipan. She was kind of tired after diving Lau Lau Sunday morning and thought she wanted to call that one her last dive. But I knew that she hadn't dove the Grotto yet, and it would be a crime to come here to dive and not dive the Grotto! So I told her to just go to lunch, relax, have some iced tea and see how she felt afterwards. When I asked her if she wanted to dive the Grotto after lunch, she said she was good with being done diving, and didn't need to do it. But then she asked if I was going to dive the Grotto anyway without her, I told her of course I was. It was Sunday, and it was dive time. I think the thought of knowing that I was off diving the Grotto while she wasn't was more than she could handle, so she told me she wanted to go to the Grotto with Kelli and I. This was going to be Kelli's second Grotto dive. As Erin was working her way down the 115 steps that descend into the Grotto, I think she was wondering if it could possibly be worth it or not, she wasn't liking the stairs at all. We hit it just perfect though, when we pulled in to the parking lot, we were the only ones there, other than the security guard. So we didn't have to dodge people on the stairs or contend with them on the rock.

When we got to the bottom, I went over to the other side and set my fins and camera down so I could help the ladies cross over onto the rock. I was standing on the other side of the rock, waiting to take their hands and steady them as they walked across. I warned them both to stay on the higher part of the rock coming across, because it was really slippery on the side. I fell there the day before and went down smashing my elbow and knee pretty hard, I still didn't have the use of my left arm or any strength in it whatsoever as a result of my fall. I got Erin across just fine, but when it was Kelli's turn to cross, she went on the part I warned her against, and slipped, falling right down into the crack between the rocks. She wrenched and smashed her knee pretty good in the fall, and couldn't really stand up on it very well. I helped her up onto the rock with my good arm and asked if she thought she could dive like that. She thought she would be ok, so we got our gear ready and jumped in the water. They both wanted to just float there in the water for a couple minutes before going down so they could rest, which was fine with me.

As we went down and started heading toward hole #1, I noticed a turtle silhouetted in the opening, and watched as he swam down to the bottom of the rocks in the #1 opening. I was excited, that was an awesome start for this dive, and Erin's last dive on Saipan. When I got to the opening and looked down, I saw this guy.It was only the 2nd time I'd ever seen a Hawksbill turtle at the Grotto. I'm used to seeing lots of green sea turtles there, but it's pretty rare to see a Hawksbill turtle there. Definitely a great sign though. I took a bunch of pictures of him and swam with him for a little while. But then I noticed that Kelli & Erin weren't following me, but were hanging back by the Grotto. I went back to see what they were up to, and then I saw this guy.This big green sea turtle was just hanging out by the girls munching on some algae. He let us all take quite a few pictures of him, he circled me several times and then just kind of leisurely swam down the cliff line. Here we were less than 5 minutes into our dive and we'd already seen 2 turtles! This was certainly making for an awesome last dive for Erin before she returned to Japan on Tuesday. Here is a picture of Erin as she is back in the Grotto in front of hole #3. She had managed to do Wing Beach, Obiyan, Lau Lau and now the Grotto during her week on Saipan. Something tells me we'll be seeing her here again, I think she's hooked on our diving. Whether she will take her chances with Axe Murderer Tours again is open to speculation. I think I pretty much convinced her I'm a bit of a psycho, but I think she still had a good time anyway.

After Kelli's spill on the rock leading to the Grotto, not only did she do the whole dive, but she then hiked back up all the stairs carrying her own tank and gear. I offered to carry her tank up at about the halfway point, but she insisted on carrying it herself. When she finally got in the truck, her knee started really hurting and she realized she probably did some damage to it. But being the stubborn person she is, she wouldn't go to the hospital for it that afternoon, and she went to work the next morning. But when I saw how swelled up her knee had become at lunch, I told her we were going to the doctor after lunch. After 3 x-rays the doctor told her she had a small fracture of the knee cap, and that she had dislocated it, and most likely torn some tendons and ligaments as a result. He wound up putting a splint on her leg, which is a half plaster cast on the backside of the leg, and then wrapping it with gauze and an ace bandage around the cast. So that's going to be the end of Kelli's diving for a few weeks, which she isn't happy about at all! But she definitely proved that she can hang with the old Axe Murderer on any dive! So now some of the outrageous dive stories will be told about the crazy wife of the Axe Murderer who does the dive anyway, and then hikes up the Grotto stairs with her tank even after fracturing & dislocating her knee cap.Let it not be said that a little thing like a fractured elbow or knee cap will stop Axe Murderer Tours from delivering some amazing dives!

Outnumbered Underwater

Erin had commented to me that most of the time in Japan she would be the only female on most of the dives, so it would be nice to come here and have another female to dive with since Kelli went with me a lot. They were actually able to totally turn the tables on me a couple times this past weekend, and have me be the only guy on their "girl's dive". Pictured above you see Erin, Ray, Kelli and Maricar at Obiyan. Instead of "Charlie's Angels", these were Harry's Angels. I think they all really enjoyed themselves and had a great dive. And no offense to my fellow guy divers, but if I'm going to be taking pictures of people underwater, I'd rather focus on the ladies, they just seem to be much more photogenic.

Here you see Erin on the inside of a little cave toward the end of the Obiyan dive. Most of the cave is fairly spacious, but there is one little bend at the end where you have to twist and turn to get your tank through the hole. Now of course I've been through all these holes hundreds of times, so I know just how to get through them with a minimal amount of effort so I make it look fairly easy. And of course I'm much bigger than all the ladies, so they figured if I could make it through a hole they should easily be able to fit. I then waited on the other side of the hole to make sure they all made it through alright. Each of them came through and then swam out of the cave, but when Erin came through, she had this smirk on her face and was shaking her head at me. I could just imagine the thoughts going through her head right about then. And she was probably wondering what she was doing diving with a psycho like me. Just look at all the stories you'll have to tell though Erin.Here is Erin on one of the sand patches at Obiyan. It was a perfect day for a dive there, there were no waves, no current, the visibility was pretty good and there weren't too many divers. I had a couple more all ladies dives last weekend as well, I guess I'll have to post some of those pictures tomorrow.