It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Mile Buoy and Shallow Shale

Photo by Robert Lee
On Saturday, we were on a BAUE tech charter on the Escapade. Rob, Kevin and I were diving with honorary Kitty Clinton (yes Clinton, it's official -- the coronation ceremony will be at a date to be determined). Unfortunately, it was very windy :( It was especially unfortunate since the swell was tiny, so if we could get out of the bay, I'm sure we would have had some nice diving :( Oh well. Jim said he would head out to the edge of the bay and see if we could get around, but it was not likely. As we got closer, it seemed pretty unlikely and then we abruptly turned around. I think that plan B was deep Ballbuster or Mile Buoy. I'm not sure why deep Ballbuster was knocked out (I think it was pretty sporty out around there) so we ended up at Mile Buoy. Since there is a lot of boat traffic around there, drift deco was not a very appealing option. Jim left it up to us, but said that if we were to drift, both teams would have to shoot bags and start the drift at the same time. We decided to just deco on the line, since that seemed like the safest option.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Since we had to return to the line, we ran a line. That task was given to Kevin (since Mr. Cave Diver loves demonstrating his mad line skillz), so that meant he was also stuck leading the dive. Conditions were pretty calm when we got in the water, and there was essentially no surface current. It was a leisurely swim to the line and an easy descent, with no current on the way down either. The water was green on the way down, but the vis wasn't too terrible. I saw tons of sea gooseberries floating in the water on the way down. When we got down to about 100', I could see white splotches on the reef below, which were bunches of metridium. When we got to the reef (about 130'), there were big bunches of big, tall metridium. They were really tall. It was dark down there, but the viz was probably around 40'. Kevin led us northwest-ish. The main feature was the tall metridiums and the bushy gorgonians. There were also tons of Spanish shawls and Festive Tritons. We eventually got to a part of the reef that sort of petered out into rubble and sand. On the edge of the reef, Clinton found a torpedo ray. I swam over and followed it for a minute, but since our other buddies were oblivious, I had to go back over to the team :(

Photo by Robert Lee
We eventually turned on time, and as Kevin hauled ass reeling in, I periodically hauled ass past him so I could pull his ties. I was very amused by it, and I knew he would be too (and he did make fun of me afterwards for being so eager to pull his ties). When we got back to the line, we headed up and did our deco on the line. It was pretty uneventful, although it seemed like every time we got comfortable and facing each other for a couple minutes, some water movement would knock us all around so we were facing the wrong directions :P The other team reported the same thing, so I guess it wasn't just us. At around 40 feet, I realized I wasn't really cold at all. The water seemed warmer than the recent Carmel temps, although my computer denies it (see temperature below -- I guess that is at the max depth). Once we got shallower, I started noticing tons of sea gooseberries again. 151 feet, 59 minutes, 46 degrees

The anchor was pretty wedged, so Jim was struggling to get it out of there. As he did that, Rob who was sitting on the bench, having recently removed his doubles, got knocked off the bench when a wave came up on the side of the boat, and his doubles tumbled with him. Yikes. I asked if everyone was okay and Rob was sitting on the deck looking like a sad, wounded puppy dog because one of his valves was spewing gas. He was fine, though. But moody at the prospect of missing the second dive. After some heroic measures by Jim, he managed to have a perfectly working set of doubles for the second dive -- Jim replaced some parts in Rob's valve with parts from one of the tanks on the boat.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We decided to head to the shallow shale for the second dive. I guess there is some spot that Jim and Clinton usually know by the kelp on the surface, but the kelp isn't there right now, so we just had to wing it. We headed over there and bobbed around during the surface interval (while I endeavored to eat all of the chocolate on the Escapade). We eventually got in the water, and found a little shale ledge in 30 to 40 feet. We swam along it for a while, peeking under the ledges. I didn't see anything too cool, but did see a bunch of cute little fish (sculpins and kelpfish and such) that I kept pointing out to Kevin. Rob and Clinton were both shooting wide-angle, and it definitely was not the dive for that. The viz was probably around 20' but it was a murky 20'. At some point, under a bigger ledge, Rob pointed something out which neither Clinton nor I could find. Apparently there was a big octopus under there. Boohoo, I missed it. After a while, we were all just a little bored, so we decided to thumb it. I shot a bag just for giggles, and we ascended. As Jim was heading over to pick us up, the other team came up too. 44 feet, 54 minutes, 50 degrees

All of the day's pictures are here.

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