Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Flash from the Past: Scuba Diving and Cookies

One of the first things that John and I did together once we were married was learn how to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef during our honeymoon in Cairns, Australia.  We rented a little cabin on Fitzroy Island just off the beach and for about a week, all we did was eat, sleep, and learn to scuba dive.

It was amazing.  From the geckos that inhabited our cabin along with us to the water lapping at the shore just steps from where we slept, from that moment we were absolutely smitten with diving.  Well-to be fair, I was smitten with tropical diving but the second we arrived home, John wanted to venture into BC's waters.

Diving in BC is far more technical and dangerous than in tropical waters.  The conditions are harsher while one contends with cold, ferry traffic, and strong currents.  You also need to wear much more gear and at times, just getting to the site involved a good hike up or down a hill in full gear. We soon learned that if we wanted to really get into diving in BC, the only way to do it was by boat.

So John, being the guy who never does anything half way, soon bought a boat and, shortly after that, a dive shop.  I remember him taking a course that I think was his BC Boater's Exam, and now since 2010, anyone who operates a powered watercraft is required to have one.  We ran dive charters to the Gulf Islands and around Howe Sound, with me helping divers gear up and watch the boat while people were in the water, as well as provide the divers with fresh baked cookies when they surfaced.

Scuba diving burns a great deal of calories and as a result, makes you ravenously hungry.  We used to carry these really delicious applesauce oatie cookies on board, loaded with hunks of dark chocolate, raisins, and nuts.  The apple sauce in them kept them moist, and they transported well.  As the cookies would be going into the oven, John would call all our dive buddies and say, "She's baking cookies!".  By the time I removed the pan from the oven, there would be about 10 people in the kitchen, all diving into the cookies and trying not to burn themselves.  I had to bake piles of those babies just so we'd have some for the next day.

applesauce oaties

One of my best memories of being out on our boat was one day we took a few friends and sailed out somewhere in the Gulf Islands (don't remember where) and at one point, went diving and caught a bunch of scallops.  If you've never seen scallops while they are live and in the water, when you come upon them as a diver it's almost like disturbing a bunch of butterflies.  They float and flutter all around you, which is actually really beautiful to watch.

Spiny Pink Scallop

Photo credit: Dan Hershman

We caught them, shucked them when we went up to the boat, and ate them with pasta for dinner.  It poured rain but we were warm and dry on the boat with our dinner of pasta and the freshest scallops I've ever eaten. Cooking on the boat was hard, because sometimes we'd be tossed around by the waves or the fact that there is so little space on board.  I wasn't as accomplished cook back then, so it was a real challenge, and getting anything fresh to cook right away was always a bonus!

Living on the West Coast, we are really very lucky to not only enjoy such beauty, but to be able to head out on a boat and enjoy the water through scuba diving.  While I haven't dove in many years, it's something that John and I loved and I'm really glad I did.   On a hot sunny day when the ocean is like glass, I miss the lap of the waves and the gentle rocking of our boat.

Maybe one day, we'll just have to do it again.

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