It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dark Day at Lobos

After a night of chili and margaritas at Cynthia's, Rob and I were at Lobos for a slug-hunting dive to the Twin Peaks area. Cynthia was at Lobos too, diving with Ted and Kenn (though they got a later start than we did). It has been a long time, over six months I think, since we've been to the Twin Peaks area. I can't believe it's been so long, but we've been doing so much boat diving lately that I guess it's not too surprising. Rob wanted to do a longer dive out there, where we would go to the peaks, spend about half of the bottom time there, and then come back to 130-ish feet on the Road, and spend the rest of the time there. So that was the plan. More specifically we were hoping to find some Okenias, which we hadn't seen since last spring/early summer. There were not a lot of people at Lobos, I think because the forecast for the weekend was not that good. But Saturday looked like it should be diveable, and indeed it was. In fact, it quite calm at the ramp, due to the west swell. The only thing tricky about the diving was that the ramp was totally covered with dead kelp that had been dragged in by a storm. But the tide was high so at least it was floating on the water so we could push it out of the way to one side of the ramp while we carried in gear and got into the water.

The viz was pretty good right at the ramp. We headed out on the surface and found good viz on middle reef too. Unfortunately as we got further down the sand channel, the viz deteriorated and as we came around the corner at Hole in the Wall, it got sort of milky. By Lone Metridium it was chunky too, and by the sisters it was dark. We hit the first sister, convinced ourselves that that's what it was and then hopped over to the second sister (which was well beyond visibility from the first sister). When we got to it, we were very confused to not find the tell-tale elephant ear on the side of it. We couldn't find it after a quick scan so we headed up the Road. From there it got really dark, and was still quite murky and chunky. Around 130 feet, I stopped Rob and told him that I didn't want to continue out because of the crappy viz. So we stowed the scooters and kicked around there. We ended up making a bit of progress by kick around the area. We mainly just meandered further out and then eventually turned to the left into the middle of the road.

Rob had been waffling about whether to shoot wide angle or macro. In the end he chose wide angle, despite the slug hunting goal. I guess it had been so long since we'd been to Twin Peaks that he just couldn't stand not shooting WA. It turned out he made a bad choice, considering how dark, green, and murky it was. But he took a few shots anyway. In the end, we found a few cool slugs, but no Okenias :( The slugs that I considered noteworthy included a couple of Doriopsilla spaldingi and a few Cadlina limbaughorum. When it was finally time to turn the dive, we headed back to the sisters and then over to Beto's Reef. The viz was so bad that when we hit Beto's, we weren't completely sure that that's what it was. But we quickly found one of the steps in the reef and then we were sure. We headed in along that, and to the left of sea mount, and then along the kelp-sand interface. When we got to 70', we switched to our deco bottles and poked around there for a bit, periodically scootering in to our next stop. After our 50' stop, we headed over to Middle Reef and spent the rest of our stops there. The viz was actually quite good there -- probably should have spent the whole dive there :) We stopped by to see the wolf eels. There was a gumboot chiton covering most of the opening to their hole, so I performed a temporary chiton relocation to get a look at the eels. Don't worry, I put him back where I found him :)

The 20' stop was a bit surgy but really not too bad. We went over to the east side of Middle Reef and hung out there. I saw a few Dendronotus albus and Rob found some tiny Dendronotus subramosus on their usual hydroids. The viz was so good that we ended up scootering all the way in to the ramp (a bit past the ramp, actually, oops :P). When we got to the ramp, the dead kelp situation had gotten even worse. And our buoy was totally entangled in the kelp. So we decided the best thing to do would be to leave one of us in the water to hold gear and swim it out bit by bit. So Rob got out and came back gear-less and I slowly brought stuff to him. It did not turn out to be quite as bad as I expected, I just had to burrow a big hole through the kelp on the way into the ramp each time. And with so little water movement, the hole generally stayed there for my path back out to the float. Once the float was empty, we were able to free it from the kelp. Climbing out over the kelp was unpleasant (and a little scary). The tide had gone out so now the kelp was just sitting on the ramp, really thick, too thick and heavy to push out of the way. So I just had to climb out over it, with Rob there to steady me. Once we were out of the water, we waited around for Cynthia, Kenn and Ted to finish their dive. We were waiting forever, I guess they really did get a late start :) We passed the time by rinsing our gear and helping other people up the slippery, kelp-covered ramp as they appeared at the bottom of the ramp. Finally Cynthia, Kenn and Ted appeared on the surface and dilly-dallied over to the ramp.

After helping them out of the water, and packing up, we headed to RG for lunch. They were amazingly not slow today. We actually got all of our shakes in a timely manner. I tried the falafel burger for the first time, and decided that it is at least as greasy as a regular burger. Oh well. I also had the special spake, peppermint. Yum, I love peppermint ice cream and hate the fact that it is seasonal. Why can't I eat peppermint ice cream all year!?! Life is so unfair.

When I asked Rob about pictures from the dive, he said that none of the pictures were good enough to post. I asked him if I posted a report, would it have to be pictureless, and he said "hmm, I guess I could give you one". So that's all you get!

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