It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th on the Escapade

Saturday we went on the 4th of July BAUE recreational boat. Usually the drill is to dive in the morning, then barbecue in the afternoon, and watch the Monterey fireworks in the evening. Since the fireworks were scrapped this year, we had to settle for just the diving. I was quite excited to dive single tanks on the boat -- I think that's a first for me on the Escapade. I didn't quite understand why Rob took it so well when I announced my intentions, but then I realized it was because I currently have the only set of doubles with 32% in the house, and he was hoping to use them. So underhanded... It was just me and Rob diving -- Kitty #3 was off cave divering in Mexico.

There were some suggestions for dive sites, but none of those panned out due to wind I guess. So for the first dive, we ended up at Outer Butterfly House. That was fine with me, since I had never been to the site before. I volunteered (or maybe was volunteered?) to lead the dive. Jim showed us a bathymetry map and suggested a route to take from the anchorage. We hopped into the water and headed down the line. I followed in the general direction that Jim had suggested, and then I saw a ridge-like structure across a sand channel and decided to head over there. Rob's hydrocoral radar quickly went off and he found a little patch on the wall. I posed for a few pics, before heading around the pinnacle counterclockwise. When we rounded the western tip, I saw a lingcod perched on a little plateau. Once we got around to the south side, there were lots of vertical crevices. I was on wolf eel spotting duty, peeking into each crack. I didn't find a wolf eel, but I did find a not-too-small octopus slinking up into a crack, then disappearing into a hole in a plume of silt. It was really cute how it slithered away (probably because of my light :( ). There were also a bunch of juvenile rockfish, mostly blues I think.

Eventually we sort of hopped over the pinnacle, back to the side we started on. On the way across it, we found some channels cut into the top that had lots of hydrocoral. There was one crack totally filled both pink and purple hydrocoral. So we hung out there for a while, and Rob took pictures of me hanging in the crack, and then we switched positions for some more pictures. It was getting kind of tiring, mostly trying to time my bubble blowing with his shooting. I was watching the little baby rockfish swim by to pass the time :P He finally finished, and we headed back around the pinnacle and then I hopped over to the reef where the anchor was. We got back to the point where we could see the line, and we ran into Clinton and Melissa, who were about to begin their ascent I think. Before the dive, Rob had asked Clinton where he had taken some particular pictures (of John with hydrocoral). He described it to us, but we hadn't found the spot. So when we met up with Clinton he showed us where it was (on yet a third structure) and then he headed back to the line. Rob shot a few pictures and then it was time for us to head back to the line, for an uneventful ascent. Back on the boat we snacked on pineapple and strawberries (plus the usual Escapade snacks) on our surface interval.

For the second dive, we headed to East Pinnacle. Rob was leading this dive. We dropped down the line to the pinnacle top around 50'. There was lots of kelp around. Rob picked some arbitrary (to me) direction to go, and I followed. We were basically just meandering for a while. I practically swam smack-dab into a piece of palm kelp with a little orange Triopha maculata right at the branching point (sorry, my knowledge of kelp anatomy is lacking). That was cool. I also eventually found some Flabellina trilineatas, which I felt I deserved to find based on the characteristic white-sponge/hydroid combination where I often see them. Also I saw a few Eubranchus (while Rob was posing me for a picture -- it only looks like I'm looking at the hydrocoral :P). Actually for the first 20 or so minutes, Rob didn't make me pose for any pictures. I was sort of relieved, since I found the photo shoot tiring on the first dive. Then we found a really nice little rock peak with hydrocoral all over it and a vertical crack with a bunch of hydrocoral, and I was called to duty :P Beyond that, Rob just meandered and I followed. We eventually found this little swimthrough, if you could even call it that, at about 90'. I didn't think it was actually big enough to swim through. Rob turned to me and handed me his camera, and off he went. Once I saw that he could get through, when he came back I handed his camera back to him and I was off. It was a bit tight :P

After that we headed back to the anchor. We met Harry Wong and team and he posed for a quick picture. Then we continued on until we got to the peak at about 50'. We searched around for a bit and couldn't find the anchor. Rob was seriously on a mission to find the line, but I eventually insisted that we just ascend on a piece of kelp, since we thought we were close. This turned out to be a good choice, since I made two cool finds on the ascent. First, I found a Dendronotus frondosus on a kelp leaf. I accidentally pulled it off the piece of kelp to show to Rob, but Rob managed to coax the slug onto another, intact, piece of kelp. It was an advance maneuver :P Then I found Corambe on a kelp stipe (not sure of the species). I haven't seen one of those in a long time, so that was pretty exciting. At about 20 or 30 feet, I saw the line, behind Rob. I pointed it out to him and we swam over to it. Phew, no one would ever know we couldn't find the line ;)

We had a nice ride back to the harbor, but no whale sightings :(

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