It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Scenic Route to Yankee Point

On Sunday, we were on a BAUE tech boat. There was another tech boat on Saturday, and they made it all the way to Sur 19. So we were hoping to have similar conditions and make it down there. The forecast was for next to no swell, but a bit of wind. The forecast had been the same on Saturday though, so we were hopeful. The ride down to Lobos was relatively calm but somewhere a bit south of there, the wind definitely picked up. I went to the bathroom somewhere just as we passed Lobos (just in case we ended up stopping at Yankee Point), and when I came up, it seemed like there were whitecaps everywhere! Well, we were not deterred and we continued down the coast, veering out to the west before we got to Point Sur. As we headed out, it started to seem obvious to everyone (except perhaps Clinton and Rob) that it was a bit snotty for diving. So we decided to turn around and go back to Mount Chamberlain.

The problem with taking the long, scenic route there was that I was not feeling so hot by the time we got there. I felt unusually seasick. Getting geared up was unpleasant, and sitting there in my gear waiting for the other teams was torture. So we got in the water and waited in the water for the other teams (which really wasn't much better, so we ended up going down to 10 feet and waiting there). Eventually everyone showed up and we were off. When the topic of Mount Chamberlain came up, I suggested K2, since I wanted to dive the north side of it. We have dived the south wall a lot, but the north side only a couple of times (and only once did we do the deep stuff there). So I insisted, to Rob's annoyance, that we head north instead of heading south to the wall. Our plan was to multi-level it, so we would start out with a deeper segment. For whatever reason, we didn't get very deep very quickly, so that plan basically fell apart. The viz was really good, I'd call it 60 to 80 feet, and it was bright and blue. We stopped for some pictures on the way to the north side (which was entertaining, since there was current, and neither Rob nor I were very good at back kicking to keep our position against the current while posing for or taking pictures), and then once we got there, Rob took some pictures on the pinnacle tops. Rob found a nice big open basket star on a gorgonian, which I thought was exciting.

Eventually we meandered down to the bottom, and Rob found this awesome crack, well more like a really narrow canyon, with the two walls running from about 140' to 180' deep. The two walls were probably about two and a half feet apart -- wide enough to scooter through, but a bit too narrow to frog kick in :) We scootered through it. About halfway down it, the bottom got a bit narrower, and a big boulder was lodged in the center. I thought there was no way I was going under the boulder -- it was too narrow. Rob of course had to try. He quickly realized it was too narrow, and slowly worked his way back out. He swears he could have made it if he didn't have his camera ;) I waited for him on top of the boulder, looking down at him as he wiggled his way out. Then we continued down the crack and soon found an area where both walls were totally covered in gorgonians. It was really cool, so of course we stopped for pictures. Then we continued out and eventually the crack veered upward, we we were spit out at about 140'. We turned around and scootered back down the crack to where we started. We eventually ended up back at the basket star, and while taking some more pictures, noticed that just down the slope, there were two more big, open, basket stars.

It was time to head back to K2, so we headed back around the east side, and as we came around to the tall peak, we saw a really thick school of blue rockfish at the top of the pinnacle. Beto and Susan were hanging out on top of the peak enjoying the fish. We stopped scootering (I thought it would be a bit rude to scooter up to them and scatter the fish), and were kicking our way over to them, when Beto turned around and started gesticulating wildly and pointing into the crack running down the side of the pinnacle. Hmm, something exciting in a crack... what could it be? We shined our lights into the crack to find a huge GPO. It's the biggest I've seen. It had suckers the size of dinner plates. Okay, not really, but the suckers get bigger with every retelling of the story :) Rob took some pictures of him in the crack (he was right on the edge of the crack really) and then moved away so I could have a look. Then Rob headed over to shoot the fish. While I was checking out the GPO, he came all the way outside of the crack. It was really neat. So I dragged Rob back over to get some pictures of him as he whipped his tentacles around. Then he retreated back to his crack and we headed up to the top of the pinnacle to enjoy the fish and join Beto and Sue for the drift.

I was on bag duty, but when I pulled my bag I realized there was no way I could inflate it; my lips were way too cold. I made one lame attempt and then handed the bag to Rob to inflate :) On deco we poked and prodded the various jelly animals that floated by. Around 30 or 40', we were relieved to finally hear the boat. When we got back on the boat, it seemed like the wind had died down a little. Or it's possible I was so seasick from the trip down to Sur and back that I didn't really take note of the conditions at Yankee Point before we got in. In any case, the discussion turned to doing a second dive. Many people seemed pretty ambivalent about doing a second dive, but of course Clinton and Rob are always up for another dive. So we headed to Locals' Ledge (I'm not sure if that apostrophe is supposed to be there; perhaps Chuck will correct me if I got it wrong). Even I had been slightly ambivalent about a second dive, since I was super cold from the first dive. But I sucked it up and got back in the water. I was definitely not entirely recovered from the first dive though -- I had more trouble standing up in my gear than I did on the first dive, but this time I had less gear :) I think by the time we jumped, half of the boat was still mulling whether to go on the dive, but during the dive, we ended up seeing everyone down there. I guess it's hard to stay on the boat at Locals' Ledge, especially given the viz we had on the first dive!

We followed the anchor down to the pinnacle (not very far, since it does come to like 10 feet :P) and then headed right, as usual. Once we were down there, I was glad I decided to come along. The viz was good and it was quite calm (which makes sense, since there was very little swell). We headed over to some of Rob's favorite hydrocoral spots. He took pictures while I searched the white sponges with brown hydroids for Cuthona albocrusta, since we saw it there before. I had no luck finding that particular tiny slug, but I found some other tiny slug, which I think was a Eubranchus of some sort. Eventually I was called in to pose with the hydrocoral. After Rob took some of his usual pictures of me looking at the hydrocoral, I suggested he get some pictures of me up above as a silhouette... I learned some new tricks from diving with Clinton :) Unfortunately a diver with a half empty Al80 stage bottle looks somewhat silly in silhouette. Oh well, I still liked the pictures.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
After we finished up there, Rob meandered around a bit, I guess looking for a new spot that was photogenic, but didn't really find much. We eventually returned back to his favorite spot, killed some more time there, and then headed back to the anchor. On the way up, there was a big egg yolk hanging just off the line that we went to play with. Eventually Rob got Clinton's attention and asked him to get some pictures of us with it. Rob always complains that he never gets his picture taken :) After a brief photo shoot, we headed back to the boat. We had lunch (dinner?) at La Tortuga, where Clinton got tricked into eating a goat. But he said it was a very tasty goat.

All of the day's pictures are here.

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