It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ballbuster, Deep and Shallow

Sunday was the first BAUE tech boat of the year. There was so much demand for the boats last year (and enough whining about splitting the boats into morning and afternoon shifts), that for a bunch of the boats this year, there is a Saturday and Sunday boat on the same weekend. We ended up on the Sunday boat. The Saturday boat made it down to Carmel (to E3 I think). But Sunday conditions were deteriorating into a big storm. We headed out of the bay and decided that Carmel was not going to happen. We considered diving near Pinos Buoy, but with the deteriorating and already somewhat-sporty conditions, we decided not to chance it. We ducked back into the bay with our tails between our legs, and headed for Kawika's garden. En route, we thought of Deep Ballbuster, a site that I had never been to, but had heard of. So we headed there instead.

Once we decided to head there, someone came up with the crazy idea to scooter from there to Ballbuster (everyone on the boat had a scooter), since we all wanted to see the GPO that was allegedly living there. So we hatched a cockamamy schemed to scooter (as a group) to Ballbuster near the end of the dive. The scooter caravan was necessary to ensure that we all started drifting together. We hopped into the water and waited by the downline until everyone was in the water. Then we headed down the line. It was quite dark under there, but the viz was okay (but not great). This site has a relatively low-lying reef that I would describe as being not spectacularly beautiful :) There are gorgonians, though not in the fluffy abundance that you see at Kawika's garden. Some parts of the reef are covered in Corynactis, so they are bright pink (reminiscent of Ballbuster itself), and others are less encrusted. We worked our way around the reef, poking around looking for critters. Rob left his camera on the boat, since the plan was to cover so much ground on the scooters. He was shooting wide-angle, so he probably wasn't missing much. This site is probably a better macro dive anyway. The one highlight of the dive was a giant sea pen in the sand between two of the reef structures. It was one of the huge fluffy ones like they have a lot of in the PNW, not one of the spindly scrawny ones like at the bottom of Twin Peaks. That was the one shot that would have been wide-angle worthy... a diver posing with the giant sea pen.

At the appointed time, we all met back up near the downline, and headed toward Ballbuster proper. Karl and Rob were leading. We eventually left the rubble field (which I think was a no-no, based on Jim's map and directions) and found ourselves over sand, having expected to be there by now, and not seeing anything. After a brief conference, my suggestion to head back to the left (where the rubble path was) was ignored and we headed to the right. When this proved fruitless, we turned around and went back to the rubble, and finished up the last few minutes of the dive there. I think it's pretty likely that if we had just gone a bit further along that rubble path, we would have found the site. Oh well. Jim said that based on the bubble trail, we were basically headed in the right direction, but did not go far enough. Pffft.

When we got to the surface, it had gotten quite sporty. It was rainy and gusty with wind. After we collected everyone back onto the boat, a few of us still wanted to go GPO peeping at Ballbuster. So we returned everyone else to the dock and then Team Kitty plus Susan went back out to Ballbuster. By this time, conditions had actually improved, and it was fairly calm when we got back in. We planned a quick dive on Ballbuster, using what we had left in backgas and doing a short deco on the way up. Jim gave us directions on where exactly the GPO could be found (although "right next to the wall of metridum" really isn't very specific :P). But, for some reason, we basically ended up circling most of the pinnacle before we found it :) Once we found it, we each took a turn trying to coax it out of its crack (yea right). We got a few tentacle slaps, but that was about it. Still a pretty fun octopus encounter though. Once we were finished, we circled around the pinnacle, and I thumbed it just a bit under 20 minutes. We switched to our deco bottles and found the line and (gasp) deco'd on the line. It was still very calm on the surface when we finished.

Team Kitty had Phil booked for Monday, and we couldn't decide if it was worth sticking around, considering the extremely bad forecast. Jim said he thought we could get protection in the E3 area, since the wind would be out of the southeast. So we held out hope and decided to stay. We had lunch and then headed to Cynthia's to kill some time. Then we went to Pepper's in Pacific Grove for dinner.

No comments: