It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Breakwater Wall, Try 2

Rob somehow neglected to get us a Lobos reservation this weekend, so we were stuck at the Breakwater again. The swell forecast looked ugly, so there were all sorts of dire predictions for what it would be like. When we drove up, it was very calm -- ankle slappers at most. The water also looked pretty okay from the wall. We were diving with Kevin, who just got back from Romania (and I mean just got back... he flew in last night, and was diving this morning, so he gets bonus HardCore points). So I got to hear all about how lovely looking the ladies in Romania are :) Anyway, since we were diving with Kevin, we had to do some skills practice for Tech 1. So we agreed to do one skills dive and one fun dive. Of course we had to do the skills dive first, since I have been known to lame out of a second dive.

So, we planned to head out to 25-ish feet, and each do a maskless ascent. Then we would head out to deeper water, do a couple of timed ascents, and some mid-water valve drills. The water was very calm when we entered, which was nice, since we were dragging our 40 cu ft bottles along. The 40 is so much easier to handle than an 80, but the nice thing about an 80 is that it is big enough that you can ask someone to walk it down to the water for you without feeling like too much of a sissy. With the 40, you are on your own :) On the way out, Rob was inspecting the kelp leaves and he found a tiny jellyfish (Vallentinia adherens). We swam out to around the fence and dropped. We could see the bottom, which was about 18'. The horizontal viz was also quite good and it was sunny and bright. I wimped out of my maskless ascent because it just seemed so scary :) So Rob did his (Kevin brought him up and I shot a bag), then Kevin did his, and I brought him up. It was quite an ordeal, since I had never done that before. But it went pretty well. Kevin just said that I was a little too grabby with his hand ;) I was sentenced to a no-mask swim since I wimped out of the ascent, to work up to the real thing. So we did that, and then we headed out to about 40' and did an OOG ascent; Kevin donated to Rob and I shot the bag. After that, we dropped down to 20' and did mid-water valve drills. Then we dropped to the bottom, and I did another no-mask swim (an addendum to my sentence), and we did another OOG ascent. This time Rob was donating to me, and Kevin shot a bag. At 20', we switched to our 40s. That all went smoothly, and the times looked good. In between the various drills, we spent a little time swimming to different depths, and just playing around on the bottom. There was tons of Hermissendas out, of various colors (one was almost all grey, with only a tiny bit of oranges on the tips, and then there were the usual yellow through orange variations). At one point, I found a Aeolidia papillosa (or the "shaggy mouse" as it is called), which I was quite delighted to see. I have only seen them a couple times before (and always at Breakwater I think). Then later one, Rob found another one, which was pretty big. They were cool. Of course Rob did not have his camera since this was the skills dive :( Rob also allegedly found a trilineata while we were over the sand. Apparently he found it right as Kevin lost his mask and I was going to aid him, so he figured it wasn't a very convenient time to show me a nudibranch :) Kevin also found two big Dendronotus iris's, which were a very pretty shade of red. We also saw a variety of neat crabs. Kevin seems to really have a thing for crabs, and he seems to have trouble keeping his hands to himself :P When we were in about 10 feet of water, right before we ascended, we saw lots of these small jellyfish that I have never seen before. They have sort of tall bells with stringy tentacles. I think they had a pinkish tint. I haven't yet tried to ID them. By the end of the dive, it had gotten pretty foggy, and the beach had a very twilight zone look to it. 40 feet, 74 minutes, 52 degrees

Dive 2 was supposed to be all about fun and no skills, but I decided to try the maskless ascent again so that I wouldn't have to stew about my failure all week. So, I said I'd do it in 15 to 20 feet, with only one stop on the way up. So we did it, and it went fine. Actually it was pretty fun, except for the crazy ice cream headache. By about the end of the stop, I finally adjusted to how freaking cold my forehead was. I did it a second time (with Rob leading me up this time), just to make sure I would be completely over my fear, and that too went fine. Then we headed out for the fun portion of the dive. Of course the viz has deteriorated significantly since the first dive. When we first descended, it was really gross and yellow looking. But we swam not very far at all (we were still in less than 20 ft), and it suddenly cleared up and was bright and clear again. I think there were just patches of algae bloom or something. We headed to the wall and swam out along it. I was looking for interesting critters for Rob. I found a couple of cute kelp crabs and one or two Hermissendas, but I was feeling a little disappointed with the lack of nudibranchs (especially after all the ones we saw on the first dive). Then I found a rock with a Limacia on it. No two. No three. I brought Rob over and showed them to him. Then I gave him some room to take some pictures. I came back a couple minutes later, and noticed a fourth one (which Rob had already found). That was pretty neat, they were in less than a 1 square foot patch. While Kevin and I were waiting for Rob, Kevin found a cabezon who blended in so well with the red seaweed around it. It was not nearly as skittish as cabs usually are -- it even hung out while Kevin pet its fin. I also noticed a bunch of San Diego dorids around there. I eventually found two clown nudibranchs on the wall as well. I noticed a bunch of patches of orange sponge, and was thinking this might be a good place to look for Rostangas. So I started looking when I found patches of sponge. On the second patch of sponge, I found a nice, bulbous Rostanga. It was sort of back in a crevice though, but I managed to point it out to Rob.

Then we headed down to the bottom of the wall and off over the sand. We eventually got to an area where there were lots of Hermissendas again. I heard sea lions barking and a minute later, one swished right by my head. I looked up and there were about 4 others all dancing around quite close to me. I turned to signal Rob and Kevin, and it my zeal to notify them, Kevin came racing over with his long hose deployed :) Whoops, I guess I should save the enthusiastic light waving for when I really need it. By the time I explained to him that I was fine, the sea lions were gone :( Right after that, Rob signaled us and pointed out that his piece of crap H light was flickering, a sign it was about to die. So he switched to his backup (which he had managed to badly cross-clip his primary to, which had to be sorted out). When that was all settled, we headed in. We were still looking for stuff in the sand, but eventually I signaled to Kevin that we should get it moving because I was cold. When we got to about 12 feet, Rob and I purged our regs until we were down to 500, to do weight checks. I haven't done once since adding my vest and light. I'm not really sure what Rob has changed that he was checking for. We ascended from there, and I couldn't believe we were out past the fence, in 12 feet of water. I guess the tide came out. Well, I know it did, because on the way out along the wall, I was getting pushed out. It seemed like a very long swim in , since well, I don't have a pee valve :) The fog had completely cleared during our dive. On the surface after the dive, we noticed that there were tons of sea lions out and about in different areas of the water. A lot of them were jumping around in the water, almost like dolphins. 45 feet, 68 minutes, 51 degrees

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Allison, maskless ascents are not scary, but they give good sinus headache. Neil has a video of me taking off my mask at Monastery a few years ago that he shows his students. The water must have been just above freezing. OW.

You're starting to look like a good candidate for cave diving, we'll have to recruit you. You'll get to do all kinds of things without masks (like share air and follow a line out of a silted out cave). The only difference is that the water's in the 70s. Much nicer!
Cheers, Barbara, Sheck & Fannie