It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Actually Rec 3 Diving

Since BAUE now officially has a GUE Rec3 diver to call our own, after looking at the schedule for tech boats this summer, I decided to add an R3/shallow T1 trip. This was basically a do-over of the trip we tried to do in March (which ended up really just being a standard tech boat, due to weather issues) -- we would shoot to do two dives in the 100' to 130' range, or if weather did not allow that, we would do one dive in that range and a second more recreational dive. This time it was R3 or bust since we had a real live R3 diver (and his team, who was also provisioned for two R3 dives). The trip was originally planned for Sunday afternoon, but then it turned out the Saturday morning slot was available, so the week before, we all agreed to move to Saturday morning. The idea was that the weather would hopefully be better. Of course the night before the forecast was not looking too good. I was diving with Clinton and he decided to bring macro, thinking we were unlikely to make it out of the bay. I told Clinton that I was diving no matter what, even if it was under the Escapade in its slip :) I guess I was feeling a bit eager to get back into our local waters!

Ted, who I was carpooling with, actually showed up at my house at about the appointed time, and we got going on time. Despite my grandmothery driving (which was frequently heckled by Ted), we somehow made really good time to K-dock, and when we got there, only Ben was there. Eventually the others arrived, including the boat, and we tried something novel... instead of standing around in the parking lot making excuses for why the weather might be too bad to go out, we just walked our gear down to the boat without comment. Plan A, Carmel; Plan B, The Bay; Plan C, Escapade slip. We ended up making it to Plan B without any problems -- Kawika's Garden it was. I was perfectly happy to dive there, as it had been a while (if my blog search is to be believed, it's been over a year!). Plus it's always fun to do macro dives with Clinton. He and I were the first into the water, with a slightly longer bottom time planned than the R3 team (we weren't actually doing an R3 dive, we were using the usual T1 gases). We decided to leave the scooters on the boat, which was a good call. The water was rather green and murky. The viz was definitely in the "not so good" category, but not in the Braille category. We pretty much plopped down near the anchor and just meandered very slowly looking for critters. I don't think we ever got more than 20 feet from the anchor line, but in that viz, who really knows? :)

We didn't make any super awesome finds (no Tochuinas like Beto and Dionna found :( ), but we had fun looking for little guys. There were the usual, mysterious array of juvenile rockfish, and other little fish. There were also a surprising number of those ugly barnacles in strange places -- on the reef, I'm used to, but they were even on the kelp salad and some of the sponges -- what the heck!?! I also found several rather large Aegires albopunctatus, and several of them were very speckled, a lot more so than usual. I saw Clinton leafing through some hydroids that had some slug eggs on them, and thought it was a good thing one of us was feeling patient enough to do it. Eventually, he found some tiny little orange-ish nudi in the hydroids, which I could only identify as "some kind of Dendronotus?" (that question mark is part of the ID). When he posted his pics and I saw that it was a Dendronotus venustus, I was momentarily excited as I thought it was a new-to-me slug, until Clinton told me this was the new name for D. frondosus... I knew the name sounded familiar! (I know, I'm a very bad slug nerd.) I also found the world's tiniest Hermissenda on a yellow sponge, which struck me as a rather odd place to find one, so naturally I made Clinton take a picture. I also goaded Clinton into taking a picture of the worst macro subject ever -- a gigantor Dialula lentiginosa. As I swam toward it, I initially thought it was a Doris odhneri, but then I noticed that distinctive sandy back on it. I signaled Clinton and pointed it out to me, and he gave me this look like "you've got to be kidding". I knew it was not exactly a macro subject, but I still thought he'd want to see it! Apparently he had swam right by it thinking it was a Doris odhneri. Once he took a second look, he realized it was worth a photo and then I got to watch his rather comical attempts to take a picture of a, I don't know, 10 inch long slug with a 105. He got a bunch of detail pics of it, but he was also trying to take a picture of the whole slug. It was highly amusing -- he was like 10 feet off of the reef trying to shoot that bad boy. I felt like this slug was a kind of interesting find, since it is the shallowest I've seen this slug (probably the next shallowest one was like 160') and I've never seen it north of Lobos before.

After not too much longer it was, sadly, time to start the ascent. I shot the bag, as is customary when diving with Clinton. I felt like it was a bit of a cluster, as it took me two tries to get enough gas into it. I shot it from like 80 feet, so that's pretty lame! The deco was relatively uneventful, except for two things. First, around 50 feet or so, a double ender suddenly jettisoned itself from Clinton's gear. I don't even know what Clinton was doing, but all of a sudden I saw the slow, yet not slow enough to stop, descent of a double ended. There's always that moment where you think maybe you can get it and then you realize you can't and just wave "bye bye" (that's literally what I do when someone drops gear like this -- give it a sad little wave :P). So if anyone finds a double ender at Kawika's, you know who to call ;) The other more exciting aspect of deco was that it was 57 degreees from like 30 feet up! That was awesome. I felt like it was a nice gentle re-introduction to cold water. Aside from that, there was the occasional dive bomber sea nettle, which for some reason always picked me to dive bomb, but not too much else to see on deco. On the surface interval, we headed back to K-dock, since we were so close, and Brian was apparently quite seasick (which I didn't notice because I have poor awareness). We hung out at K-dock for a while and decided to go to the "Drop Zone" for the second dive. This is the name for the site where Beto likes to take his T1 classes on the third or fourth day of class. It's just a decent-sized shale ledge at 100'. I haven't been there since T1, when we had very little time to appreciate the fauna before regulators went bubbly and the like, so I thought it would be cool to go there. It was, after all, the first place I ever saw a Tochuina!

It turns out that Clinton and I, despite having quite a bit of tech training and quite a bit of tech diving between us, don't actually know how to plan a 100' dive :) Or at least not a 100' dive on 18/45 as a second dive of the day. So we decided to just do an insane amount of deco -- in the end we basically did 1:1, which turns out to only be like 50% too much time according to DecoPlanner. Anyhoo, after coming to an agreement on that, we agreed to just swim along the ledge until we either hit gas or 30 minutes. On the way down the line, the viz was quite bad on the way down, but it opened up to at least 30' on the bottom. That was a pleasant surprise compared to the previous dive. As planned, we just meandered along the ledge looking under and over the ledge for whatever we could find. I found a strange little bright blue thing on some sort of hydroid (or something) thingy. I had no clue what it was, but I was pretty sure it was an animal of some sort, and it was bright blue, so I showed it to Clinton. I thought it might be a tiny snail or something since it looked like it had two little horns. Turns out it was a little amphipod... this is why I recommend always bringing a macro photographer with you. Clinton found a few Onchidoris bilamellata on top of the ledge, which I was excited by. Eventually I found an octopus (a TPO) and called Clinton over to take a pic. When I was trying to point it out to Clinton, it put on quite a show changing its color. While Clinton was taking pics of it, I continued along the ledge and found a bigger octopus just hanging out, spread out on the bottom. I stayed with him, trying not to be spazzy so he wouldn't be scared away. I waited and waited for Clinton to finish and he finally did and I signaled to him to come over, and immediately the octopus retreated to under a ledge. I showed it to Clinton but at that point there was no point in trying ot get its pictures. After not too much longer, Clinton thumbed the dive on gas, and we started the ascent. At 70', I could see the reef below quite clearly in all directions -- way better viz than the last dive.

I felt like the bag shoot on this dive had to make up for my previous performance, but I did not really manage to do that. In fact, it was quite a bit worse as I descended unintentionally quite a few feet as a shot it :( But one of the good things about diving with Clinton is that he does not get moody about poorly performing buddies :) Once again on the ascent, it was very warm. The viz was really bad as we got shallower though. It was strange since the bottom viz was so much better here than at Kawika's, but the shallow viz was way worse. There were also still some nettles on the ascent, and they were as voracious as ever, at least as it pertained to my head. Once we hit the surface, it was a very short ride back to the dock, followed by lunch at 17th Street Grille. I'm really not the biggest fan of that place, but I've decided that next I go there, I'm getting onion rings and a salad. Their burgers are scary.

1 comment:

Brian Bell said...

Nice report - boats and I have an inconsistent relationship at best. Some days work out great, and some days work out "not so great". Still though, the first dive was actually worth the ride out for me, despite the pea-soup vis.

The most interesting thing about the day for me was all the complaints from both of my T1 buddies about how hard it is to run an R3 ascent, since the stops are only 1min each up to 20ft. I can honestly say that's the first time I've thought about T1 as potentially making anything about dive execution EASIER than what I'm currently doing. :)

Thanks for scheduling it, and I'll try not to let you guys down next time you're nice enough to schedule a boat for me. ;)