It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Big Fun at Big Sur

We went on the Escapade today for BAUE's n-monthly (not sure what the value of n is) recreational charter. Jim said that we would go somewhere south of Lobos. I immediately thought of Lobos Rocks, which I have never been to, but Clinton says is really great (and I've seen his and Kawika's pictures from down there). The ride down was pretty comfortable, but chilly, since it overcast and chilly out. It was actually really foggy on the drive down... like Twilight Zone foggy. The ride down was pretty uneventful, we didn't see hundreds of dolphins or anything. And guess where we landed? Lobos Rocks. Woohoo.

We anchored south of the West rock, on a little rock that came up to 50 feet, then there was a deeper channel, and then the rock. Rob asked Jim where the green anemones are, and he said on the west side (outside) of the rock. There were some warnings about contingencies if the current picked up, and how we should try not to end up ascending on the other side of the rock during the dive briefing. Then we hopped in. We headed down the anchor line, which had a bunch of kelp around it. There was a healthy amount of kelp on the rock that we anchored on. I had some minor ear problems on the way down. Nothing a few pauses couldn't fix. So, then we headed north, towards the big rock, and before you know it, we are cutting around the east side of the rock. I'm really not sure why Rob chose to go that way, but I wasn't totally attached to the green anemones. The wall was covered with the usual suspects -- lots of strawberry anemones and zoanthids, acorn barnacles, some dorids (Cadlina luteomarginata, Peltodoris nobilis, Doris montereyensis), and all those sponges and tunicates whose names I don't know :) For a while, there was this one little blue rockfish who joined our team, and then we eventually found all of his friends -- a decent-sized group of blue rockfish hanging next to the wall. There was also the occasional green anemone. I noticed some tiny hydrocoral stumps pretty quickly, and as we went further, we actually saw a good bit of hydrocoral, mostly pink. After we swam around the rock to the north side, we hopped over to some smaller rocks which had some quite nice hydrocoral in both pink and purple. These particular rocks also had a bunch of fish hanging around, whose identities I'm not sure about. I need to research that. We were hoping to see sea lions at this site, but all we saw was a dead sea lion, laying on the bottom, with a few starfish eating it :( At first I thought... hmm, wonder what killed it? But I didn't see any shark teeth marks, so I figured we were okay.

We eventually turned the dive, got back to the point where we had to hop over to the next rock (where the anchor was), and Rob suggested that we head in the other direction for a few minutes. I'm glad we did! This is the best part of the site. There was a wall with some serious up and down surge, covered with green anemones and really colorful ochre stars. The wall was basically covered in all different cotton candy colors. The surge was actually pretty fun. Rob was taking pictures, and I had to pry him away so we could return to the boat in the allotted time. On the way back, Rob pointed out a huge shrub of pink hydrocoral. I also noticed, as we were swimming in a direction which I was certain was east, that my compass said west. After a couple of whacks, it sorted itself out and admitted it was actually east (this little aside will become more meaningful in my report for Sunday's dive). When we headed back to the rock that we were anchored on, I realized there was a little current going in the other direction. Just enough that the trip back seemed longer than the trip there :P We eventually got to that rock, and turned a corner where I was sure the line was supposed to be; nope, just kelp. Then Rob pointed out the line to me about 5 feet away. He told me afterwards that he got the impression that I didn't think he'd actually be able to lead us back to the line, but I have no idea why he thought that. We had an uneventful ascent, except for the usual second guessing my timings on the stops. 65 minutes, 83 feet, 51 degrees

For the second dive, we headed to Flintstones, another site that we have never been to. We anchored there for lunch, which turned out to be pretty painful for a few people on the boat, including Rob. By the end of the surface interval, he was basically projectile vomiting off of the side of the boat. He said the worst part about it was that he didn't get to have the tasty-looking soup that Jim served :) So, with all these people hanging their heads off the boat, someone noticed that there were a ton of jellyfish in the water. They were moon jellies (although someone claimed to see a sea nettle as well). So, we finally go around to the second dive, and Rob was trying to get into his gear and in the water as quickly as possible. As he was halfway into his harness, something started hissing, and everyone started fumbling with regulators, valves, and finally we realized it was his Argon hose, which had a big gash in it. That was no big deal, he just inflated off of backgas instead. Then I joined him in the water and we headed down the line. Sort of. Rob told me he wanted to stop and get some shots of the jellyfish on the way down. So we were checking them out around 20 feet, and Rob was swimming around taking pictures, and it got harder and harder to keep one eye on Rob and one eye on the line. So finally I decided I should probably stay with Rob instead of the line. So we went back to the surface, swam to the line again, and started down again. The viz was really cruddy -- the water was densely filled with particulate. So it was pretty dark below about 20 feet. As it turned out, I am an idiot and left my light on after the first dive, so it was dead; so I was stuck using a backup light, which was pretty crappy in those conditions. We were heading down, keeping visual contact with the line (with a little current), when some other divers swam up behind us, and through us. At this point, I turned my attention to keeping track of Rob (and presumably he was keeping track of me) until the other people passed and we got back together. Then the line was gone. But we kept descending in the general direction that the line had been. The pinnacle at Flintstones is supposed to come up to about 50 feet on top, so when we got past 60 feet with nothing in site, I was getting a bit nervous. Actually the descent was pretty surreal -- it was quite dark, and there was no reference in any dimension. But the viz was not bad down there (tons of particulate, but you could probably see 30 to 40 feet), so you could see a ways, with nothing there but me and Rob. Eventually I started to see some rock structure below us, but it definitely wasn't the pinnacle we were looking for. There wasn't much there, but some fishing line, which Rob kept pointing out to me, even though I could see it. We were having a little chat about what to do at this point, whether we should shoot a bag and ascend, or look around for the site, when we saw a light in the distance. So we headed towards it and found the site. Woohoo.

We also very quickly after that stumbled upon the anchor line. So at least now we knew how to get back to the boat. I told Rob we should plan on staying close to the anchor line, because my ears and sinuses were bothering me (I think going up to the surface and then back down was no good for my ears, plus the descent with no reference probably didn't help). So we headed out around the pinnacle, in about 70 feet of water. It was a beautiful site -- it's a pretty straight wall down, and as far down it as I could see, it was totally encrusted and very colorful. Lots of strawberry anemones in various colors. There was a little bit of hydrocoral. I don't really remember the specific critters that were there, because I spent most of the time looking down the wall, thinking "wow". Since I had refused to bring a stage bottle along, I called the dive not too long after we found the site (probably 20 minutes) and Rob tried to convince me to take his stage bottle and use it. I said no (and I'm sure Rob gave me a big eye roll), and we headed up. The moon jellies we still around on the ascent, and we hung out at 20 feet for a while and Rob took some pictures. It was an awesome site, I'd like to do it again sometime when we don't spend half of the dive finding the site, and I don't feel like my sinuses are about to implode (or explode, not really sure which one). 54 minutes, 93 feet, 51 degrees

I thought the ride back was alright, although Rob wasn't feeling so good. But at that point, there's not much you can do, so I just left him to wallow in his misery (cold and harsh, huh?). As soon as we passed Point Pinos it got super smooth and he felt better. Afterwards, we went to lunch (or was it dinner?) at Turtle Bay with a bunch of people.

Pictures from the day by Clinton, Mike, and Rob are here.

Video shot at Lobos Rocks by Beto is here.
Video shot at Flintstones by Beto is here.


Mark Lloyd said...

Wallow in his misery, I love it !

Chilipino said...

Those nacho cheese Doritos came out a very radioactive orange color... and yeah, it was me exclaiming about the amount of jellies in the water (in between puke sessions).

Brad said...

Cool video! I especially liked the jellyfish.