The Art of Kayak Diving

Kayak diving to many divers is an unknown term.  For most divers there are only two types of diving shore and boat, but there is a new type of diving that provides the benefits of both in one great package.  My introduction to kayak diving began with my employment at Adventure Sports Unlimited in Santa Cruz.  With the California coast being renowned for its amazing kelp diving there is a small issue of access.  A majority of the best diving is right off the shore which is accessible for divers willing to swim out but would require lengthy swims.  Of course boats can also access these IMG_0499locations but they require long motors to many of them that require calm conditions to make it around point pinos.  Kayaks solve both of these problems they are easily transported to the nearest beach, and allow for easy transport from the beach to the site.  Some might wonder what to do with all of the equipment and when do you put it on?  The kayaks used by Adventure Sports Unlimited are sit on top kayaks and are specially outfitted with extra straps to accommodate all the equipment.  All the diver has to wear is his or her wet/dry suit and booties, everything else is attached to the kayak in case of capsizing.  Currently Adventure Sports Unlimited is the only shop using kayaks as a vehicle on the central coast and as far as I am aware in California as well.  they provide a safe transport to dive sites where a person does not have to worry about the treacherous entry and exit, or the fatigue of swimming to sites that are farther from shore.  Being able to move so far offshore gives the convenience of a dive boat without the cost and hassle.  Like diving, using a kayak to dive has a steep learning curve, balance can be an issue at times as well as seasickness.  The hardest part of Kayak diving is the timing of the entries and exits, if poorly timed a kayak diver can fill equipment with sand, or lose equipment if not properly attached.  But like diving everything improves with time, IMG_0501within the last 3 years i have managed to do over 300 dives off of kayaks and I now refuse to do a shore dive without one.  I can get out to my site much faster and with less effort, and increase my dive time by starting my dive exactly where I want to instead of descending and waisting air getting to it when I am to tired of fighting with the kelp.  I hope one day that Kayak diving is more mainstream, it is fuel efficient and promotes exploring for new sites, but there are limitations that need to be addressed.  Here in Monterey and Carmel we tie our kayaks off to the kelp, many places worldwide do not have that option, so an anchor would be best suited, but what about damaging the seafloor with anchors, set up moorings.  As a final word on kayak diving they are a wonderful vehicle to access the Carmel and Monterey Bays, and I hope some time soon they will become a new standard for diving.

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