It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, May 9, 2009

BAUE Rec Boat

A couple weeks ago, I noticed a hole in our dive schedule for this weekend. I asked Rob and Kevin what we were doing, and they both said "nothing". So I suggested we hop on the BAUE recreational boat. We hadn't signed up, because I think we were assuming we would be busy cramming for T2 during the month of May. Luckily there was still room. There was even room to bring Ted! I hadn't looked at the forecast all week, so Saturday as we drove down I had literally no idea what we were in for. When we got down to K-dock, the news did not sound good. Apparently it was really really windy, with a decent-sized swell too :( Word from the earlier boats didn't sound promising. We eventually headed out (after waiting for a five-boat cluster at K-dock to clear, none of whom seemed to want to leave on time), hoping to make it around the point. It got a bit rougher as we were going, and eventually we were informed that Greg was still thinking of peaking around the corner, but it would be a big commitment and possibly a really rough ride. Just at that moment a really big wave tossed the boat around, which seemed like a sign. So we retreated to Ballbuster. Even there it was pretty dicey. I declared I would not be bringing a stage, since I didn't want to screw around on the surface with a bottle. I think this was greeted with a big eye roll from Rob (surprise, surprise).

Ted and Kevin were doing the scooter thing together on dive 1, and Rob and I were kicking (I don't really get the point of a scooter at Ballbuster). Rob and I quickly got into the water and headed down the line. The was a bit of particulate on the top, but it cleared up pretty quickly, and I could see the structure below starting from 20 or 30'. When we got to the bottom, the viz was quite good, and it was actually bright. I've had good viz at Ballbuster, but never good bright viz -- there is always enough of a layer that it's kind of dark down there. So this was a treat. We headed down to near the bottom, and swam around a bit. Rob kept sending me up above him to pose for silhouette shots. In between, I looked at the various critters. There were tons of trilineatas, including several pairs that were probably mating. I also found hydroids covered in Eubranchus ("big" Eubranchus, I could actually make out the details of the cerata). Eventually, for some reason (not really sure, Rob was leading...), we headed off of the main structure (east-southeast-ish) and eventually found a group of boulders, with an elephant ear on it. I also found an absolutely adorable fish sticking his head out of the staghorn bryozoan, sort of resting his chin on the bryozoan. Of course as I signaled to Rob to take a look he shined his light on the fish, who promptly scurried away :( But at least Rob got a glimpse first. We then headed back to the main structure. We passed the gorgonian (is there more than one gorgonian at Ballbuster? I've only ever seen one per dive) on the way.

When we got back, we worked our way shallower. We found a nice peachy-colored Dirona. We eventually ran into Mark and Marlies. I decided that Mark was a more interesting buddy, since he was shooting macro, and swam over to him to look for nearby Eubranchus. I found some and showed them to him, then return to my previously scheduled buddy. When it was time for Rob to switch off his stage (yea, he's just that much of a hoover -- he had to bring *three* tanks), he handed his camera off to me. Oooh. I decided to take a few pictures while I had it. I didn't even think about dealing with the strobes -- I left them in the funny tucked position Rob put them in for the handoff. But I still had some fun taking pictures of Rob switching off of his stage. I almost didn't want to give the camera back. We had a brief run-in with Ted and Kevin near the top of the structure, and before long it was time to begin our ascent. Just before then, we ran into a Scrippsia pacifica at 60'. I posed for some pictures. Rob had to shoo Mark out of the frame, hehe. Then we headed up the line. It was a long way up, there was sooo much scope on the line. There were tons of little jellies in the water on the way up, though, which was neat.

We got back to the surface, and it was pretty hairy on the surface. Everyone was hanging onto the current line, waiting to get back on the boat. But without any current pulling on the line, the line of people was just getting smashed into each other, and occasionally the ladder. I helped Marlies out of her second fin, but didn't get around to handing it off to her before she got out of the water. So I was left to negotiate getting my fins off with an extra fin on my wrist. Between that, holding onto the line, and not bashing my head on the swimstep, I had to sacrifice to fins to Neptune. And I couldn't even manage to drop the two that matched :( Rob took a mark on his GPS (his current favorite toy) for where I dropped it, and immediately started trying to put together a search team. I told him I wasn't getting back in (I wasn't convinced I could get back on the boat without dropping another fin :P), but Kevin was dumb enough, errr, nice enough to agree. Rob figured the fins were 150 feet southeast of the pinnacle, so they headed down with their scooters to look. They found them amazingly quickly -- their hang on the way back up far exceeded the bottom time, and even with that they were gone for less than 10 minutes. Greg was watching their bubble trail and was pretty convinced they had found them based on their meandering, then stopped for a bit, then hauling ass back to the pinnacle. They returned to a heroes' welcome, and were showered with Cheetos.

For the second dive, I suggested Shale Island. Ted and I were diving together on this dive, and we brought scooters. We dropped on the northwest side of the island, just west of the big anchor. We scootered counterclockwise around the island. The highlights were a lot of squid -- we saw two in the sand just off the island, and another meandering around over the island, and two on the line on the way up. Plus I kept seeing little ink piles hanging in the water. I also saw an interesting slug that was some sort of Acanthodoris. I'm not sure what it was -- it was a light yellow to cream color, so it was either a very light colored Acanthodoris lutea, or a darker color Acanthodoris nanaimosis. It had distinctive maroon-tipped rhinophores, which makes me suspect the latter, but since I have never seen the form, I really am not sure. In any case, I was pretty excited, but I suspected that Ted was thinking "wow, a yellowish dorid, so exciting". There were also a lot of Geitodoris heathi, most of them with the tell-tale dark blotch just in front of the gill plume. We ended up cutting the dive a little short, mostly because of a miscommunication about whether we wanted to hang out around the anchor for another 5 minutes, or thumb it. We accidentally thumbed it. We ran into those two squid on the line, but it was otherwise an uneventful ascent. The rest of the teams returned within about 10 minutes, and we headed in.

Photos from the day are here.

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