It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mola Parade

Saturday I was on the Escapade for a BAUE recreational boat. I was planning to dive with Jim, but he supposedly came down with some sort of cold and was not able to dive. I think he just didn't want to dive with me because of my recent curse when it comes to diving on the Escapade. When I arrived at K-dock, I told Jim I was sure I could find someone else to dive with, and then Kenn appeared. So I volunteered the Bunnies to dive with me, and it was so. It's been a while since I've dived with the bunnies, so I was excited! It seems like it's been forever since we've had a nice easy boat trip where it wasn't foggy and it wasn't windy and the swell wasn't big. So I was delighted to have a nice smooth ride down past Carmel, all the way to Que Paso!

We hopped in the water and saw some nice viz. We headed down the line, expecting to hit pinnacle around 40 feet. It quickly became obvious that that was not going to happen, but eventually we found ourselves on the little rock covered in metridium just off of the main pinnacle. We ended up a wee bit deeper than we expected, oops, and then headed over the main pinnacle and worked our way up that. From there, we headed counterclockwise (Kenn was ostensibly leading, but since I am a very bad #2, we were keeping it loose). For most of the dive, I was buried in the reef, Kenn was a bit off of the reef, and Steve was practically at a different dive site -- I guess he likes to take it all in. It took me a while to figure that out, so I kept "losing" him. Silly bunny. We meandered along, not moving very quickly, and eventually Kenn signaled to turn the dive. We turned to Steve and he was gesticulating out into the blue. I looked where he was pointing and saw two molas! I looked back and the boys and saw Kenn very seriously trying to tell Steve that we were turning the dive. Hehehe. Once he caught on, I decided to go in for a closer look. I swam toward the molas, and one of them just hung out while I swam right up to it, like arms reach away. He looked at me for a moment before heading off with his friend.

We headed back to the pinnacle and turned around, retracing our path back toward the anchor line. About halfway there, Steve signaled us to point out a group of 4 molas swimming along between him and the pinnacle. I guess there are benefits to not being buried in the weeds... I was literally inspecting some hydroids when he signaled me, which was pretty silly in hindsight, considering we had just seen molas a few minutes before! Anyhoo, I swam over to take a look and they gracefully swam up and away. I flipped over on my back to watch their silhouettes as they disappeared up into the water column. I saw a pile of divers hanging out above me, most of the apparently oblivious to the molas swimming past them :( Once we got back to around the little metridium rock, we still had some time to spare, so we decided to hang out near there, near the top of the pinnacle. It was a bit surgy there. When we decided to call it, we had to head about 10 feet deeper to see the metridium rock clearly, but then I could see the anchor line immediately. And before you know it, the anchor line was coming right at me, and splat, I practically smashed right into it. Hmm, the current sure did pick up! The ascent was actually fairly annoying because I was in denial about how strong the current was, and tried to back kick into it so we could all see each other. At 40 feet, another mola swam by. When I finally gave into the current and joined the boys facing into it, it got much easier. We got to the surface and literally just floated back to the swimstep. I was originally wondering if I had just been oblivious to the current on the way down, but there definitely wasn't that strong of a current on the surface when we got in. So it must have picked up.

I guess we were the last team on the boat, and everyone else must have gotten their giggles out while we were still in the water, because it seemed like everyone was very serious as we headed north. When we made it all the way past Cypress Point, I started to get suspicious that we might finally make it to Fanshell Pinnacles (which Clinton has been asking for a lot and is always denied by Jim) -- because I hoped we weren't heading back to the bay in these conditions. Clinton confirmed that that's where we were heading (I think it might technically be called "Fanshell Beach Pinnacles", but I'm really not sure). Jim told us the pinnacle went from about 70 feet to a bit deeper than 100 feet. So I brought a stage (the bunnies brought half-stages on the first dive, so I had a bit less gas than them). Thanks to Jim for loaning me the stage -- I didn't bring one because I didn't plan to use one, but when you dive with the bunnies you have to be prepared for some serious bottom time.

We hopped in and were once again greeted to nice viz (though not as good as Que Paso). We headed down the line, which was running right to a crack in the pinnacle. On the right side, the top was around 70 or so feet, but on the left it was a bit shallower, maybe about 50 feet on the top. I drew the short straw of leading the dive, so I decided to head down the crack and to the left. There was a sand channel that we could see below us at maybe 110 feet or so. The side of the pinnacle was very colorful, and then all of a sudden we hit this very vertical patch of wall that was really barren. It was strange, but kind of cool. We continued around the pinnacle, and it got less vertical and not as colorful so after a bit, we turned around and headed back. Why bother with the less colorful part? We came all the way back around and worked our way up a bit shallower. As we passed through about 80 feet, it got *really* warm. Like uncomfortably warm. I ducked back down for a moment because it was just too warm! We eventually came back around to the line and worked our way up the shallower side of the crack. A bunch of other teams were there, and Clinton was harassing, err, photographing a really pretty cabezon. It had pastel purple-ish spots, my favorite. I swam over to check out the fish; I figured I couldn't possibly be more annoying than his strobes :) The shallow side of the pinnacle was just super colorful. It was covered with Corynactis and also had some hydrocoral. It was a very pretty spot, with a dramatic wall on the deep side and a really colorful spire. When it was time to go, we headed up the line (and I did not go splat into it this time, phew).

When we got back to K-dock, I was just about to start begging for a place to store my gear while I waited for Rob to pick me up (he was off doing some "cooler" dive with Ted and John at Lobos), when I saw Ted, John, and Rob hanging out at K-dock waiting for us. I guess they decided to just do one dive. They were pretty hungry, so I was scurried off to La Tortuga for lunch -- they even helped unload gear from the boat!

Video by Kenn!

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