It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gran Sabana

After a week off from diving, due to hideous ocean conditions, we were greeted by a forecast for more hideous ocean conditions. We were supposed to do a deep dive on Saturday, but the forecast was looking so bad that we called it on Friday afternoon. However, since the forecast for the whole weekend was a bit iffy, I guess basically everyone on Jim's Sunday charter cancelled. So we decided to go out on Sunday instead, and changed our gas plan in case we ended up in the bay. By Saturday afternoon, the forecast looked better, but I took a whole Bonine on Saturday night just in case :) Rob was very sleepy on the drive down, so I had to drive halfway. I was feeling pretty sleepy myself. We got to K-dock and by the time I had walked my doubles down to the boat, it seemed like the crew had moved all of my bottles and scooter down. Sweet! Once everyone else arrived and the boat was loaded, we headed out. We made it around Point Pinos without much trouble. From there, there was the occasion big (impressive) swell rolling through, but the wind didn't seem bad at all. However, the waves breaking on shore were pretty impressive looking.

Since it had been raining a lot for the past, well, forever, we were worried the viz would be crap from all of the runoff from Carmel River. The previous weekend, Rob, John and Clinton enjoyed a two minute dive in 2 foot viz at Lobos. So once Yankee Point was in sight, we decided the further south we could get, the better. Beto suggested Gran Sabana, which is a site we had been to once, about two years ago. We went there before we took T2, so it was a T1 dive. I remember looking down the pinnacle wishing I could go to the bottom :) There is a main pinnacle that has a plateau around 150 feet, and a peak that comes up to 130 or so. Then there is a little side pinnacle that tops out at 160 or 170 feet, with a bottom around 200 feet. When we got to the site, the water looked a bit green, but reasonably clear. Not brown anyway. There was some muttering about current, but once we got into the water, it did not materialize. At least not on the surface. It took me forever to get down to the bottom due to some ear trouble, and when we finally got down to the pinnacle, there was a bit of current. The viz was pretty good -- I'd call it about 40 feet. We scooted around the main pinnacle and headed across the sand to the little side pinnacle. Shortly after getting there, Rob pointed out a basket star. I decided that was video worthy, and pulled my hero cam out (the crappy pics in this post are screen caps from the hero cam; the other pics are Rob's). Beto had loaned me a video reflector, so I also popped that onto my light. The screw on my reflector was a bit sticky so it took a while to get it loose, and then when it finally came off, I was left staring at the bulb and temporarily blinded. Doh! After recovering from that, I got some video of the basket star, and a small lingcod nearby.

We continued along the bottom of the little side pinnacle. Along the sand there, we saw lots of sea pens, but they were the tall spindly ones (not the fluffy orange ones that I like). Eventually Rob signaled me and was circling his light around something on the sand, between a couple of sea pens. I went over to take a look and it was a Tritonia diomedea -- yay! Kevin had found it -- can you believe that!?! I have only seen that slug once before, and never around here. So I was quite delighted. I got some video of it. I didn't realize it at the time, but in the video footage, that slug is really moving! After oohing and ahhing about that for a few minutes, we continued on, and next Rob was signaling me to look at a fluffy orange sea pen. Yay! I tried to get some video of that, but was denied by the hero cam red disease. That is what I have named the hero cam's propensity to sometimes got totally nuts with its auto white balance and leave the footage all red and completely unusable. Rob got some pics of Kevin posing behind the sea pen. As he was shooting, Rob's light died. Hmph. And we even just burn tested all of our batteries in all of our lights! From there, we we worked our way up the pinnacle a bit, and I found a nice nook with a big starry rockfish. There was also a little school of blues near the top. I posed for a few pictures near the top of that pinnacle, and then Rob pointed out a juvenile yelloweye hanging out in an elephant ear sponge. So cute.

After that, we wanted to head shallower, since we had planned a multi-level profile. So we headed back to the main pinnacle, and played around there. We ran into both of the other teams not long after that. I found a couple of Aldisa cooperi perched atop a red sponge, as if they were thinking of mating. No egg ribbon to be seen though. After doodling around there, we eventually headed back right next to the line. Rob wanted to get a shot of me up on the shallow part of the structure, but every time I positioned myself, I would get whisked away by the current. So there was a lot of scootering back around to reposition :) When he was finished with that, we decided to scoot back around the top of the pinnacle, and then it was time to start the ascent. Kevin put the bag up while Rob was stowing his camera, and we started to drift. The viz was pretty good, even on deco, until we got to 20' and it deteriorated a bit. But still it was not too bad. Once we got to 20', a cormorant appeared and was flapping around below us. It was rather amusing. Other than that, deco was pretty uneventful. My feet were really cold. I swear, the water was like 2 degrees warmer at 18 feet than at 20 feet :) When we surfaced, it was quite sunny and still nice and calm. Phew. After collecting the other teams, we headed home. We came across a huge pod of Risso dolphins on the way home, not too far from Cypress Point. They were everywhere! After enjoying the dolphin siting, we headed in.

The crashing waves at Point Pinos were huge. And there was the occasional huge swell coming through, but all in all, it was not too bad at all. It probably didn't rate a whole Bonine. That left me totally zonked in the afternoon (I started taking a half Bonine to avoid the zonkage, so I really shouldn't have been surprised!). In fact, we were both so sleepy on the way home that we had to stop for a nap at Prunedale, and ended up late to John's birthday party that evening! Here's a picture of one of his kitties from the party. His name is Pepper -- can you believe John had the nerve to name one of his cats Pepper!?! But it is a fitting name, since his Pepper is the slinky, social, devilish one of his two cats, just like our Pepper.

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