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    February 24, 2012

    Lobster Liberation In The Ghetto

    Weather, scheduling conflicts and other issues have kept me off the traditional Zodiac lobster attack machine, and I have given up on serious lobster hunting from shore dives.

    When I was invited on Chipper’s boat to liberate lobsters in a new, and still secret, location, I could not refuse.

    We met at the public launch ramp in the middle of a Los Angeles ghetto.

    Immediately when I arrived, bum and poaching drama was already underway.

    Some drunken bums had gotten into a fight and one was lying on the ground, unconscious, while his friends were yelling at him not to get up.

    Thirty feet from that episode, an extremely hot DFG Officer who looked like Danica Patrick, was writing some fisherman a ticket; while the alleged poacher was yelling, “Just how big are these fucking fish suppose to be?”

    We launched the boat with little drama, and after a quick emergency dart back to the ramp to put the drain plug in, we were off.

    Logged SCUBA Dive #404

    SoCal Buddy Diving With Chipper and Reverend Al

    Secret Location: 4f 66 66 20 74 68 65 20 77 61 6c 6c 20 74 68 61 74 20 62 72 65 61 6b 73 20 77 61 74 65 72 20 61 74 20 74 68 65 20 6d 61 72 69 6e 61 20 6f 66 20 74 68 65 20 6b 69 6e 67 20 65 6e 20 65 73 70 61 6e 6f 6c 2e

    In With: 3000 psi
    Out With: 500 psi
    Max depth: 36 feet
    Waves: A little choppy
    Visibility: Six feet
    Water Temperature: 55 degrees
    Air Temperature: 69 degrees
    Total Bottom Time: 35 minutes

    I was the first one off the boat – we were to dive in shifts, always leaving someone on the boat – this is the ghetto, and not even boats are safe.

    I descended and checked the anchor – the anchor was just dragging on the sand – I believe the anchor chain was too short.

    Initial visibility sucked – I mean sucked so badly I was going to call the dive in the first five minutes.

    Then, I ran across a bed of muscles and a short lobster – OK, there’s lobster!

    I kept going, and within the next ten minutes, I had caught six bugs – and, these were the easiest bugs to catch, too.

    They didn’t act spooked like the one off of Palos Verdes; I simply shined my light on them and they froze until I grabbed them.

    A lobster’s life is so horrid, they can’t wait to get liberated.

    I spent the next 25 minutes looking for my seventh to limit – easy, right?

    Nope – seriously, I thought I would have had my limit within 10 minutes, but either I took the last six legal bugs, or word had gotten out, and those that wanted to live stayed home.

    I made it back to the boat with no issues – Reverend Al had gotten skunked on his first dive, so he went back for a second one.

    Chipper then made his dive; I stayed on the boat.

    As self punishment for not limiting, I decided not to do a second dive for just one lobster.

    I had to move the boat away from the rocks a couple of times – the anchor wasn’t holding it.

    Reverend Al made it back and we ended up picking Chipper up when he surfaced about half a mile away.

    Macho me with me lobsters.

    I hold my catch for the night, while Chipper looks on in amazement.

    The Reverend and Chipper both went home with one lobster each.

    The highlight of my night was going to be to get hassled by that hot DFG Officer that looks like Danica Patrick, but two male officers obliged in her place.

    Disrespectful hunters leave lobster carapaces rotting on the pavement.

    Disrespectful hunters left lobster carapaces rotting on the pavement – it was dark, so my photo didn’t come out, but there was a garbage can five feet away from this.

    To add to that “This is the ghetto” flavor, the public restrooms double as low income housing…

    Bum sleeping in the bathroom.

    How can someone sleep on a concrete floor, covered in urine, in a room that smells like a sewer?

    Needless to say, this was an interesting night.

    Thanks Chipper!

    February 9, 2012

    The Quagmire Of SCUBA Diving In Albania – What Should I Do?

    I need some advise, so please answer the poll below.

    I had to remove the poll, as it didn’t work half the time and made the site load slowly – Here is a screenshot of the results.

    Poll Results

    As my three readers know, last year I made the decision to go SCUBA diving in Albania this April – a place where not many people have strapped on gear an took a plunge.

    My decision was based entirely on the fact that The Polish Diving Base In Saranda offered dive packages and could assist with hotel bookings.

    Having contacted them last year, I was told that they close for the Winter, but reopen in February.

    The fact that their website hasn’t been updated lately concerned me, but at least it was still on the web.

    So now it’s February, and I made contact with the Polish Diving Base via Skype.

    I got a message from the contact explaining that their business partner left and they lost their facility, but they are currently looking for a new partner, but unfortunately they are currently not in Albania and it’s “hard to say what will happen.”

    I was also told that they were the only facility in the entire country that offered SCUBA diving.

    Great!

    Pimsleurs Albanian and my Passport

    I applied for, and received, my passport and for the last year I’ve been trying to learn survival Albanian; now the place that I depended on to make this trip a reality is “currently not in Albania.”

    Determined not to give up, I wrote to the City of Saranda, Albanian Center for Marine Research and emailed a YouTube user who apparently is an Albanian who worked for The Polish Diving Base.

    As of now, the only response that I received was from Derek at the Albanian Center for Marine Research, which is apparently run, or contracted out to, an American Expedition company of some sort.

    So, in response to my question of “Where can I SCUBA dive in Albania?,” Derek wrote:

    “Your question has a long and difficult answer…Recreational diving is still technically illegal in Albania. The Polish Diving Base claims they offer day trips, equipment, etc but the local authorities do not recognize them as a legal entity…

    “We conduct a lot of research dives over the course of the summer field season but they are always with the consent (and a written agreement) with the Albanian government, the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, etc.

    “For the first few years, there had to be an Albanian governmental representative present with us at all times, but after 5 years they trust we are working on their behalf (although we still must present daily dive schedules to the port authorities in Saranda). All of this is true to the north in Vlore, Durres, etc as well.

    “The Albanian government has started trying to formalize recreational diving standards for the entire country. I have been a consultant in this process as they try to figure out how to regulate the industry as they know it is necessary to protect the cultural resources on the coast while trying to come up with sustainable tourist activities.

    “Our organization is making strides to open up recreational diving activities in Saranda and we hope to start running some trips this summer.

    “We are also working with businesses in Corfu to have them be able to bring single-day and multi-day trips over to Albania from Greece.

    “But there isn’t anything formal yet as everything is a very long process.

    “I’m in the process of creating web pages for www.divealbania.net where we should be posting more info in the coming months.

    Well, I questioned whether SCUBA Diving really is illegal in Albania, because the last I heard, there were no laws governing SCUBA diving at all.

    Derek wrote back:

    “There are currently no laws governing diving, which is also what contributes to what makes it illegal.”

    Maybe Albanians think differently, but with my American thinking, if there’s no laws governing something then it’s legal.

    What would a SCUBA Diver be charged with if there are no laws regarding diving?

    Regardless, nobody currently in the entire country of Albania offers recreational SCUBA diving.

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