Friday, August 16, 2013

snorkelling through shipwrecks

I have seen the Arctic ocean floor. It's kind of spongey and gross.

Can you see that I'm wearing makeup beneath my mask? No? Okay, good.

It was the perfect day to test out my new snorkelling mask.  The water was relatively calm, the sun was high enough to push some sunlight into the sea, and the weather was warm enough to go swimming for a while - with a wetsuit, of course.  And what better spot to go snorkelling than the Maud shipwreck? I had tried to go snorkelling a bit at Long Point Beach because the water was so clear - but all that was at the ocean floor was sand. Which is lovely, but not particularly interesting. So this time, we strapped ourselves into our kayaks and headed for the Maud shipwreck, where surely there would be interesting things to see under the water.

a view of the Maud shipwreeck from shore

I like snorkelling in theory. I am not completely comfortable in water, so I like staying near the surface.  A snorkelling mask is relatively simple and easy to understand as a mechanism, compared to scuba gear or a rebreather. I like having access to surface oxygen at all times, and I like being able to get out of the water at a moments' notice without having to worry about getting The Bends.

Of course, once I was in the water, actually snorkelling, all sorts of concerns hit me at once.

What if I see a dead body? Of course, I won't see a dead body. The ship wasn't occupied when it went down and sank. But still. You see a lot of skeletons around here, mostly muskox or whale.  What if...?

What if I see an undead body? I should have bought flippers. Those would help me swim away faster.

What if I touch something rusty and get underwater tetanus?

What if a sea plane runs me over? I had already narrowly escaped a collision while kayaking when a sea plane came in to land.  Water, you see, is a runway for sea plane as well as the method of travel for kayaks.  Sea planes are much bigger, heavier and faster than kayaks.

What if I get eaten by a grizzly bear that happens to be swimming here? There had been, in fact, a bear sighting that morning. A grizzly was hanging around outside the RBC bank, presumably to complain that the interest rates were unbearable.  Despite these sightings, he was never caught, and he was last seen around here, actually...

What if someone mistakes me for a seal and shoots me? This could totally happen.

it'd be pretty easy to mistake a snorkeller for a seal, don't you think?
Basically, I discovered that the ocean floor was full of lots of interesting but smushy, slimey and spongey things.  Maybe I should go back to my sandy beach with clear water.  Also, my snorkelling mask apparently was not designed for an Asian nose (despite probably having been made in China), so it wasn't quite as airtight as I'd hoped.

I don't own an underwater camera, but my fellow snorkeller Miguel Chenier does, so all of these underwater shipwreck photos are his.  He also has some great art here:

the sun has begun to set these days