It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Twin Peaks, at Last

Rob, Kevin and I (aka the Cold Water Kitties) went diving on Saturday. The forecast was quite variable throughout the week, and at one point I became convinced that we'd end up watching a movie and drinking wine at Jonathan's place in lieu of diving, but as the day drew nearer, the forecast improved. But David convinced me to bring The Life Aquatic down anyway, just in case. Of course once we made backup plans in case of bad weather, that ensured that it would turn out to be diveable. The conditions were pretty okay when we got down to Monterey. The wave action along Del Monte did not look too big as we drove into town. But we expected the conditions to worsen, so we wanted to get into the water pretty quickly.

We were totally on target for a quick entry into the water, until Don and Elissa drove up as we were staging gear on the float. Then before you know it, Team DocWong nearly beat us into the water (because like all things diving, getting into the water first is a competition!). Rob also realized he forgot to put batteries in one of his strobes, so he had to wander around begging for AAs. Luckily between Kevin and Harry, he managed to find 4 working batteries. Thanks guys (well, Kevin technically deserves no thanks, because all of the contents of his truck were technically team resources to begin with :P). We finally managed to get into the water, which quite happily was high tide-ish. But that ramp is getting wicked slippery; even during high tide it seems dicey. The plan was to go to Twin Peaks, after several dives where we explored the area leading out to there. Rob was leading, for once. I was to be second, but then Kevin's light pooped out, so he ended up being #2 and I was third.

As we headed out on the surface, the visibility was quite good in the cove. When we got to the edge of the cove, we could see to the bottom very clearly, so we decided to drop there. The water was a lovely shade of teal right there as we descended. Just as we descended, I realized that I forgot to put my god damn gauge in god damn gauge mode (pardon the language). So I immediately thumbed it and discovered on the surface that it wouldn't let me change to gauge mode while it was still wet. After cursing the gauge on the surface, we descended again (did I mention that Rob was taking his new Tec2g for a spin? grrr....) We headed out, and the vis was a bit more kicked up along the sand channel. We headed out past Hole in the Wall, and then past Lone Metridium. Then we headed out toward the Sisters. As we got out in that direction, it got really dark. The visibility was not bad, but it was just super dark the deeper we got, so we couldn't see that far. We ended up hitting the third sister (instead of the second as we usually do), and after Rob gesticulated at us for a moment, we all agreed it was in fact the third sister. Then we found the path to Twin Peaks, and Rob took us out there. As we scootered along the reef, the one thing I noticed was that there were LOTS of clown nudis all over the reef. It was like a blur of white and orange as we went by. We were going for a while, and I was starting to worry that it was further out than we thought.

At some point we paused at a little rock island off to the side of the Road, and conferred for a moment. Kevin for some reason refused to give Rob any navigational insight (Kevin has actually been to Twin Peaks before). He definitely deserved a swift bat across the face by a mean kitty for that. Anyway, Rob and I agreed on which direction to keep heading and we hit Twin Peaks in short order. It was really dark out here. The one good thing about that was it made Kevin's puny backup light quite easy to see :) I must admit that I didn't actually notice the "twin peaks". Rob said let's stop here and clip off, and that was fine with me. But it was so dark, and I was more interested in looking at macro stuff, that I didn't really take in the scenery above :) After reviewing the bathymetry, I think we were at a nook along the east side of the eastern peak. Once we clipped off, we didn't move very far from where we had stopped. There were about 8 gopher rockfish (I think?) hanging around at the bottom. I was poking around the gorgonians, looking for critters on them. I found some cute little crabs. I also saw some gorgonians that were in sorry shape -- portions of them were just black wiry skeletons. Kevin signaled me to come over to another rock he was on, and when I swam over, he had that frantic "where did it go?" look at his face as he scanned the rock with his eyes. Then I saw a Spanish shawl. A moment later he found it too, and that was what he wanted to show me. Later on, I ended up seeing quite a few more. I also saw a lot of Festive Tritons, plus lots of boring dorids. I also saw some eggs on a piece of leafy red kelp that I don't know what they belonged to. I flopped the kelp over and saw some hydroids but could not find the owner of the eggs. I wanted to show them to Rob, so I signaled for him to come over, but he was wrestling his camera rig (tucking the strobes for transport, since it was almost time to go), so I decided it wasn't a good time to make him stick his face up against the reef. Just as we headed out, I saw a china rockfish.

We headed back, and as we were coming across the sand between the Sisters and Lone Metridium, we came across Harry, Dionna, and Greg. Rob briefly tried to join their team, but Kevin and I managed to corral him and get him to stay with us. We weren't quite to Lone Metridium when Rob stopped us to show us a fish (which of course swam away before we could see him), but since we were at 70 ft, we switched to our deco bottles. Kevin was leading deco, so he took over from there. We headed east and ended up at the end of Middle Reef, near the deep nudibranch transects. I looked down at a rock, and when I looked up, Rob and Kevin had swam away from me! So I decided to scoot over to them, but I felt something wrapped around my ankle. I was trying to kick my way out of the kelp, when I realized it was a hand. I looked back, thought I saw Harry, scowled, and swam off before the others lost me. Turns out it was Don trying to hitch a ride back. Whoops :)

We had a fairly uneventful ride in from there. We had to stop to hang out at 20 feet for a few minutes (during which time I was "making nudibranchs" out of my mask, as Rob likes to say). Kevin kept looking at me strangely and asking if I was okay because I was desperately trying to blow my nose through my mask :) After that, we headed in and Kevin brought us in right to our float! 155 feet max, 74 minutes

The conditions had deteriorated by the time we got out. It was super windy, with gusts that made me feel like I was going to be knocked over while I was rinsing gear. I was glad that we got in and out pretty quickly. When we drove past Monastery on the way out, we could see whitecaps not too far offshore.

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