While down in Anchorage last week, I decided it was time to sign up for my dry suit certification and get this Alaska underwater party started! I went into Dive Alaska and got all the information to start classes in July. Jeff is thinking about joining me when he heard that there’s the possibility of spear fishing, but so far, it’s just me.
It’s not the first time I’ll be soloing in Alaska waters. On our first trip here, which was a cruise in 2002 with Jeff’s family, I ended up snorkeling Ketchikan for a shore excursion all by my lonesome. No one in our party of 10 would go with me! Too cold, too wet, too tired, can’t see anything, not spending money…lots of excuses! No matter, undaunted, I went by myself.
Snorkel Alaska is who you want to check out when snorkeling Ketchikan. I had called in advance to see if they would do a scuba trip, but they didn’t have one available. I enjoy snorkeling almost as much, so it was a good option to get my feet wet. (I figured I’d return to Alaska underwater, I just didn’t know at the time I’d eventually live here and it would be my backyard diving hangout.)
It was a typical southeast Alaska day of rain here and there with the temperature around 60 degrees. We headed over to the warehouse about 4 miles out-of-town to be fitted for our 7 mm wetsuit, mask, and fins. In neoprene that thick, I was really hoping that an orca would not mistake me for a seal and chow down for lunch!
Another mile down the road, and we were at Mountain Point. I grabbed about 20 lbs of wt to free dive with that thick of a wetsuit and headed into the 55 degree water. With a hood, thick booties and a mask, it was only my face that was exposed to the water…and in my slightly skewed view, I really enjoyed the brisk temperature!
It was beautiful! Very similar to the pacific northwest coast of Washington! The visibility was around 40 feet. The guide told me vis was actually better in the winter and extended to about 60 feet.
It was fairly easy to free-dive to around 15 feet. Any deeper and I’d pop up like a cork. I’m personally a hands off person when it comes to marine life with a look, don’t touch philosophy, unless I plan to eat it. But others were bringing up some of the starfish, anemones, urchins, and sea-cucumbers they found. I enjoyed just cruising around a little off from the group, listening to my breath and taking the experience in.
Yes, that would make a nice dinner!
And maybe that one too!
It was basically like snorkeling in a big tide pool as the water was calm and there was very little current. I don’t get cold easily so I can say that for me, the water temperature wasn’t an issue. I enjoyed the dark depths and reflections of the coastal rain forest on the ocean surface. The colors on the rocks strangely reminded of the colors on the wall about 140 ft down in the Blue Hole in Belize.
After about an hour in the water, we headed back to the shop for a hot drink and a warm rinse off. The perfect ending would have been to curl up with a cup of soup by a warm fire and soak up the Alaska ambiance.
While heading back to the ship, I had the opportunity to reflect on how much I enjoyed the experience. The beauty was what I expected, relishing the solitude of going alone was something unexpected. I appreciate those moments when nature and personal introspection combine perfectly, and for me, this was one of those peaceful times.
If you ever get the chance I highly recommend snorkeling Ketchikan. Who knows, you may get hooked on Alaska’s underwater world!
Anyone else been underwater in Alaska?
*Photos courtesy of SnorkelAlaska.com