At the age of 23, Tiffany H. Carey moved from her hometown in Chicago to Lawrence, Kansas, where she attended the School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. After graduation, she moved to Manhattan Beach, California, following a proposal of marriage. This year she joined Skin Diver as its copy editor, and finding the enthusiasm for diving infectious, decided to get certified. She dived the Sea of Cortez only one week after her final certification dive off Catalina Island.
Michelle Danner has been a diver for five days. A UC Santa Barbara graduate and native of California, her fears of the Pacific Ocean kept her feet dry. After becoming the managing editor of Skin Diver magazine in February of 1999, she began to appreciate the beauty of the ocean. Following more than a year of harassment by her fellow staff, she jumped into a swimming pool in Los Angeles and finished her certification in Cabo San Lucas.
After becoming certified in 1991, Tamara Collins spent two weeks diving the reefs of Belize and vowed she would write about it for Skin Diver. Two years later she became the magazine's assistant editor. Now the editor of Skin Diver Online, Tamara organizes online stories of incredible scuba adventure taking place around the world. This time it's her turn to hit the road. With laptop in hand she's off to Cabo San Lucas and the Sea of Cortez.
Ty Sawyer, Skin Diver's Senior Editor, has been to every Cabo Dive Fiesta--this one and the last one. He plans to repair the good name of Skin Diver after Tamara, Michelle and Tiffany caused the town to drop to its knees and cry, "Mercy, for God's sake, mercy."
This year Ty has pledged to hide the treasures for the treasure hunt better than he did at the last Fiesta. And somewhere offshore awaits the damn baitball that eluded him last year. But don't expect him to come back with a tan, as the Mexican Navy uses the glare off his body as an aid to navigation.
Daryl Carson, assistant editor of Skin Diver, is a man of mystery. No one can figure out how he made the journey from his homeland in the south to glamorous LA. It is rumored that he learned to read while walking from his double wide trailer to the school bus stop. He was fascinated by billboards and spent hours staring at them, trying to sound out the words.
Through pure determination and better oral hygiene, Daryl landed a job at Skin Diver about two years ago. It was the perfect combination of words and water. Today, he is allowed to travel to places like Cabo, where he dives and stares at billboards, sounding out new, foreign words.
Day Four: It's Free, So Why Not
It has cooled down a bit. Our Tevas are no longer sticking to the pavement. This morning we are up early to get a quick dive in before going to Santa Maria Beach to plant the treasures for the Underwater Treasure Hunt.
After Tobin's display of prowess and calm the evening before, we have enlisted him to assist, so he comes along and the three of us head out to a site called the Blowhole. Eric from Mares is also on the boat to get in some freediving and to hand out loot. Lenny remains AWOL.
Ty hides the booty for the Treasure Hunt.
Although the breeze feels sweeter than a senorita's kiss, it has made the water choppy so we gear up and get in as quickly as possible. No one is feeling sick. Especially not Tobin. After all, it is his second dive after certification. We plan to rendezvous on the bottom at 60 feet.
Divers hunt for prizes off Santa Maria Beach.
A school of jacks confronts us on the way down, escorting us to a school of Bluestriped Grunts and surgeonfish having lunch on the rocks at our intended meeting place. A strong surge and current has reduced the viz to about 20 feet and scattered us about, so we spend the first five minutes of the dive finding each other. A few Cortez Angelfish also linger in the area, but we don't, and instead we cruise the reef line. After about 30 minutes, duty calls and we have to return to the surface and the calm confines of Santa Maria Cove.
Anchoring just off Santa Maria Beach, we tie lead weights to aquarium toys, rings and other treasures for the hunt. Appropriately, most of the aquarium toys are pirate-themed, designs such as jewel-filled treasure chests with broadsword-brandishing skeletons to guard the booty. Appropriate because Land's End was once an out of the way haven for sailors plying their trade on the outer edge of the law.
A diver discovers treasure at Santa Maria Beach.
Tobin, feeling the water was a bit too clear for the participants, sacrifices his breakfast, completing another crucial step to becoming a seasoned diver. (For the record: Tobin would later swim to the beach and ride home in a cab).
The survivors of the Fiesta before the final blowout of the week.
Once the treasures were weighted (and Tobin was once again on an even keel) the three of us set off to hide them in lobster and octopus dens, and other cracks and crevices in the rocks. No sooner had we finished than Kevin from Amigos Del Mar fired his flare gun and the hunt is on. Divers from his shop,
Underwater Diversions and Cabo Acuadeportes splash in, and like the brigands before them, they surge over the reef in search of fortune, wealth and other free stuff. One by one they emerge, beaming beneath their masks as they take their plunder to the beach to collect their prizes. Kathy Knoll, Eric and the rest of the crew dole out Mares gear, NiteRider dive lights, PADI gear, Skin Diver subscriptions, etc., and a couple of lucky winners go home with free return trips and hotel stays in Cabo.
Eric Hanauer signs the August Skin Diver with his photo on the cover.
That night, we find Lenny. Finally. He is the first to arrive at Pueblo Bonito Rosť for the closing night party. There is nothing quite like free drinks and food to lure divers and attract Lennies. That and the promise of more giveaways.
Super host Kathy Knoll gives away a free hotel stay in Cabo.
While raffle tickets are being dispersed, Skin Diver contributor Eric Hanauer signs copies of the August issue, which features his photo on the cover. He also fields questions about photography and tells stories from his 41 years of dive experience, much of it spent bouncing through Baja. Eric's vast experience in these waters makes him a bit of an expert on the area, and he has brought down a slide show, which everyone is looking forward to tomorrow night.
And as he is a guest of honor, we put him to work pulling raffle tickets for the prize giveaways. More gear, lights and trips are given away, then we move on to the big event: the Sea & Sea photo contest winners--Cabo Dive Fiesta first-timers, Morgan (underwater) and Justin (topside) took top honors.
Justin and Cynde Lee--winners of the Sea & Sea photo contest.
We polish off the evening with a group feast at Edith's restaurant. We gorge ourselves on fine local grub in portions large enough to bloat a whale and then retire to our respective hotels to sleep it off.
Total dive count--Us: four. Lenny: zero.
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