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A truck pushes a large panga boat into the Sea of Cortez.
Its quite an operation to watch the launch of a large Panga from the beach using a truck.

Jon assembles all of the gear in preparation for his first scuba dive.

day 3

Another early morning start at the Dive Center begins with exams covering a large portion of the academic work. Stacy missed 1 question, I missed 2.Thats OK, she has after all, gained a reputation as a professional test taker having just completed 4 years of medical school. We reviewed equipment again and did more kit assemblies, putting together the tanks, BCD, and regulator that we will be using today. Next we found fins and wetstuits to fit and loaded our own masks, snorkels, wetsuits, and miscellaneous items into gear bags. We only wore 2mm short wetsuits. Though the water was really warm, they keep the equipment from chaffing. Everything got loaded into the back of a truck to get taken to the beach later in the day.

Next we sat down with Pilu and went over the dive plan for the day. There was still a bit of wind so we were going to be taking the afternoon boat over to Los Frailes (Southern most end of the park). Los Frailes is flanked by a mountain that drops almost vertical into the sea. It protects this area from wind and swell.
Stacy and our instructor Pilu in the boat with view of the village in the background on the way to our first dive. We were instructed to meet at the beach at 1pm. Stacy and I returned to the palapa to get some brunch and then reported to the beach. Its fun to watch the captains and dive crew work to push the big heavy panga boats into the sea by truck. Once positioned in the sea everyone boards and then we get a final push off from the beach. Its quite an operation.

The boat ride over to Frailes was a bit rough but not too bad. No one in the boat got sick (thankfully). Once we were at the dive site things seemed to happen really quick. Stacy and I got into our gear, put some air in the BCDs and dropped in the water. Aside from Stacy needing a bit of adjustment with her weight belt, the equipment we had assembled ourselves at the shop worked fine. Surprisingly it didn't feel that bulky once we were in the water. Wearing the gear was no more awkward than wearing a big life vest.
Pilu uses an ok hand signal to confirm she is ok and asks to see if everyone else is ok at the bottom. At the surface we briefly practiced using the regulator to breath and then it was time to descend. For the first decent we were going to be partnered with a dive instructor to take us down. I went down with Pilu, Stacy went down with Pilu's partner Henry Op Den Buys (also a terrific dive instructor). At the bottom Stacy and I grouped with Pilu and started to go through our exercises. We went through dropping and recovering the weight belt, buoyancy control, shared respirator, octopus usage etc.. We finished our exercises in short order, so Pilu escorted us along the rock wall for the last 15 minutes of the dive. IT WAS AWESOME. We then ascended and got back on the boat.

Second day of our course and we are already diving in the Sea of Cortez. It was great! Stacy was really stoked to get some adventure back in her life. I was really surprised with how well Stacy did in her exercises. Her years of experience free-diving really showed with her confidence and proficiency underwater.
A sea lion cruises along the sea floor. On the return trip to the village, the captain stopped the boat by the sea lion colony. We dropped back in the water to snorkel with the friendly sea lions here. It was really cool seeing such large animals close up in this manner. It was also Stacy's first time diving with them.

The day wasn't over however, and once returning to the village, Stacy and I returned to our palapa to finish watching the DVD and read our coursework in preparation for more exams the next morning. It was a late night and we ate in. Dreaming of the deep wonderland outside, we both slept like logs.