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Me diving

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rob's Birthday Dive

We managed to not have any dive plans on the weekend adjacent to Rob's birthday, I think because of a combination of generally being busy and pondering some sort of travel. So fairly last minute I tried to put together some diving for the weekend, and Kevin suggested seeing if Jim was available for some Friday diving. The swell and wind forecast were looking good leading up to Friday, though Jim reported insane fog throughout the week. When we showed up on Friday morning, the fog situation looked good, so we headed out. The water was actually a bit rougher than I expected. We motored past the Lunaticos area to see how things were looking once we got around Lobos. We gave up on diving Yankee Point and were offered a site near Lobos or Lunaticos. We decided to head back to Lunaticos. By the time we got there, I was quite seasick. I had skipped the Bonine because of the forecast (and I didn't want to feel drugged on the drive home for no reason). We decided to just dive as a team of 4, with our standard 200/150 profile.

As soon as I jumped in, I could see that the water was brown and the viz was crap. As we headed down the line, the crappy viz did not relent, and all of a sudden, the reef was there. I had to put on the breaks (that is, jank on my inflator) pretty quickly because by the time I could see it, I was quite close to it. Rob was leading and I was #2. He signaled to head in a particular direction, but I guess Jim and Kevin weren't quite ready to go. But Rob took off anyway, and then I was left trying to keep him in sight while waiting for the rest of the team. I briefly thought that I lost him, until Jim or Kevin pointed out a tiny beam of light coming from below us (of course). In the first five minutes of the dive, I lost Rob a second time. The viz was less than 10 feet, there were big particles swimming around in the water, and I was feeling horribly seasick. Trying to keep the team together was just too much for me, and the thought of losing the team and being left alone was stressing me out. I told Rob that I was feeling bad, and I think I somehow conveyed the fact that I was having trouble keeping track of everyone. Or maybe I didn't convey that and he just knew. In any case, he asked if I wanted to split up into two teams of two, and I agreed. We proposed this to Jim and Kevin, who agreed only after Kevin got a confirmation that I was feeling okay enough to continue the dive :)

Once they took off, I told Rob to forget about scootering and our plan and let's just kick around near where we were. So we did that. We did eventually scooter a little bit just to move around, but we definitely didn't cover much ground all in all. We headed a bit deeper, though in the end it was a shallower dive than planned. Despite the consistently horrible viz, we did make some good finds. First Rob found a couple of vase sponges. Not at all unusual for the area, but they were on the shallower side of where you find them -- I think we were around 150 feet when we saw the first two, and then a little deeper when we saw the third one. But all were above 170 feet, which is where I think of vase sponges as typically getting "common". Eventually we meandered over a rubbly patch off of the structure, and I got a quick signal from Rob. I looked toward it, and saw a snake-like tail flapping along under his light. I momentarily thought it could be a hagfish but it was actually just a wolf eel -- a very skinny wolf eel. It was long but skinny. I have never seen such a skinny one. It was grey though, not juvenile red. Rob got his camera out and took some pictures of him. We eventually meandered back to the reef and started to head shallower up it. Eventually I saw another wolf eel swim by. I wondered at first if it was the same one, but this was a more normal-sized eel, so definitely a different guy. Rob took a few pictures of that one as well. Other than the eels and the sponges, the one other good siting was a starry rockfish. Not terribly exciting, but I like them.

Since it was his birthday dive, I was kind enough to let Rob run the bag while I called deco :P Once we got to 70', we adjusted our deco a little since we were shallower than planned. The deco was uneventful. I felt that for the amount of junk in the water, the quality of jelly critters on deco was pretty low. But the water was a bit warmer than usual on deco, so that was nice.

I was hoping to see some blue whales on the drive back, since there had been a lot of talk of the blue whales being in town. Jim checked the radio for chatter from the whale boats, but it sounded like there weren't any blue whales around. So we just headed straight back to the dock.

I am a bit delayed in posting this report, because I was waiting and waiting for a picture of one of the wolf eels. Rob thought that the photography prospects were so bad that it wasn't even worth opening his camera and retrieving the pictures. So I had to wait a while to get pictures!

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