Our first day of diving at the Socorro Islands was was on the northernmost island of San Benidicto at a dive site called “The Canyon“. This site was chosen because of its general lack of swell and current, and was to serve as a warmup to the more challenging conditions to come. We were told this particular place had the potential of being either among the best sites we would visit or the worst. Some friends that had been to the islands before mentioned that they had not enjoyed their dives at this site very much, but we were lucky enough to see a giant Manta Ray that was the friendliest we would encounter for many days to come.
My first dive at The Canyon was enjoyable, but never having used my rebreather with anything other than a drysuit, I was unsure how much weight I would need with my new 5mm wetsuit, and the 12 pounds I added made me grossly over weighted. I also experienced trouble sealing the membrane between my nose and throat, so I was constantly, albeit slightly, breathing in and out through my nose. This effectively resulted in me drinking whatever saltwater came into my mask, giving me a burning sensation in my sinuses and a queasy feeling in my stomach.
Not much worse for the wear, however, I stayed down for 35 minutes and descended to a maximum depth of 90 feet, but did not get to see the group of Hammerhead Sharks that my buddy Rich saw. All in all, it was a great shakeout dive, and seeing the Manta was a real treat. It was clear, however, that I would need to remove quite a lot of weight from my rig.
The second dive was much better, although we did not see any Mantas. My nasal membrane sealed up much better, though not perfectly, and the 6 pounds of weight I had removed resulted in much better trim. I descended the wall to a maximum depth of 120 feet, where we encountered a fairly large group of White Tip Reef Sharks. We stayed there for a while to watch them, but decided to head back after we had incurred about five minuets of decompression obligation. On the way back to the shot line, we saw a large Stingray, and a couple of Moray Eels. The entire dive lasted 45 minuets.
The third and final dive of the day was much the same as the second. By this time I had removed all the weight from my rig, and found that it was trimming out perfectly. We descended to a maximum depth of 100 feet, and encountered a group Silver Tip Reef Sharks. I had been struggling all day with finding a way to use my new Jet fins, but even diving with sneakers on, I found that my right, big toe was killing me on this dive. The problem was that fins were sized for my DUI rock boots, and both the wetsuit boots and sneakers moved around too much inside them. After this dive, I decided I would switch to my Scubapro Twin Jet fins. I only stayed down for 35 minuets on this dive because I was getting tired and my toe was hurting so much. It was a great dive though, and I was looking forward to getting some sleep and diving the next day.