It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Diving with a Special Guest

Rob was teaching a class starting on Friday, which I was to help with on Saturday and Sunday.  I decided that if Rob didn't have to go to work on Friday, I didn't want to either!  So I emailed Beto and Jim early in the week to see if they had anything planned for Friday.  The forecast was looking good, and Jim said if that didn't change, he was all set with crew.  Woohoo.  That afternoon at the gym, Rob was complaining about what a traitor I was for going diving without him, and I suggested that Ted come along... just to be extra mean to Rob.  I always try to get Ted to come diving with us during the week, but he never does.  He's obviously more hard working than me, or maybe just committed to using his vacation days for family time.  But he happened to have a comp day coming to him this very week, and after getting permission from the boss (err, wife), it was a go!  We carpooled down to Monterey, and I even drove.  I owe Ted like 500 rides home from the gym, so I figure each time I drive us to Monterey, that should wipe like 10 or 15 rides from my debt.

We met to board the boat at the very civilized hour of 9 AM.  Jim said that the wind was supposed to pick up in the afternoon.  On the way out, there were whitecaps in the bay (!) which was pretty discouraging, but once we were out of the bay it was calmer.  Go figure.  The ride down, once around Point Pinos, was pretty nice actually.  We made it down to Mount Chamberlain, and after a bit of negotiation, we anchored on K2.  Ted said he had been to K2 at most once, so I didn't see the point in doing some long south-wall-to-K2 scooter run.  So we planned to drop on the east side, head north, check out some of the deeper areas, and then come back up shallower and possibly south of the peak a bit.  The crew warned us there was some current before dropping us one team at a time.  Our team went second, since we had a 5 minute shorter bottom time planned. When we got in, the current was obvious, but it was not problematic.  We headed down the line into pretty good viz.  At 80 feet, the line suddenly flattened out and we scootered and scootered and eventually came to the pinnacle.  The ball had landed right on top of the pinnacle, so the 180 feet of line (or whatever) that they put out was not necessary.

When we first arrived at the pinnacle, there was a nice looking school of blue rockfish, as there often is.  We pretty much passed right by them -- I figured we could visit on the way up.  We dropped down the east side and headed north, pausing every now and then to look at stuff.  I saw a couple of starry rockfish, and a cute muppet fish in a crack.  Those were the highlights of the beginning of the dive.  Eventually we came around the north tip, and stopped there.  I was thinking of heading across the sand to the little pinnacles to the north, but the viz wasn't that good (not good enough to see those structures), so I figured we could just stay put.  I found a nice little flat spot at like 150' that had a really lush gorgonian garden.  I spent several minutes there, mostly just looking at the gorgonians, as the current dragged me across, then scootering back across, and repeating.  When it came time to go a bit shallower, we turned around and cruised back the way we came, only headed up the wall a bit shallower.  So, I am sad to report that there are barnacles all the way down to 160 feet on K2.  This is relatively new -- the last time I was there, they seemed to only be on the shallower parts (from maybe 120 feet up).  Also, I found a bunch of heads of hydrocoral that were covered with the little bastards :(

We made our way back to the peak, and after doing a thorough GPO inspection, I suggested we head further south to the little gorgonian canyon.  We scootered down it, against the current, and then when we got to the end, we just drifted back and enjoyed the scenery.  The viz seemed a little bit better here than it was on the north side.  More blue, less green.  We got back to the peak and meandered around there.  Eventually the HUGE school of rockfish found us.  I couldn't believe how thick with fish the water was, so I got out my hero cam.  We were at like 80 feet, so I hoped for at least some decent video just to show how dense the school of rockfish was.  It was really neat hanging out in the midst of all of those fish.  After wiling away the rest of our "bottom" time on top of the peak, I pulled my bag and we moved over to the west side of the pinnacle to put up the bag.  And that is when the fun started.  The idea was that we would be a bit further from the (copious quantity of) line.  I put up the bag, as a giant sheephead swam by, and as soon as the bag was up, I felt like I was flying a kite, or rather I was a kite, being flown by the bag :)  There was quite a bit of current, so once we left the pinnacle, we were really moving.  But I think there was also some wind tugging on the bag.

We got to 70 feet, and Ted started to switch to his bottle, as the line came into view.  I pointed out to him that we were drifting toward the line, and we kind of pushed away from it.  I handed the bag off and switched onto my bottle.  We were happily deco'ing, or at least I was, when about two minutes in, I realized that Ted was still holding the bag.  Just as I noticed this, he motioned for me to take it.  Okay.  He handed me the bag, and about 10 seconds later, I was suddenly snapped up to 62 feet, and I felt like my arm was going to be pulled out of its socket.  I may have actually ended up shallower than 62 feet, but that was the last number I saw on my gauge before I realized what was going on.  The bag was entangled in the downline.  Or, the way my arm felt, maybe the boat :)  I was kicking like hell to keep my hand on the bag, but once I realized what was going on, I had to let the bag go.  I dropped it and returned back to 70 feet to Ted, and showed him I had no bag.  He gave me this "WTF" look.  I tried to signal to him that it must be tangled in the boat's line.  So Ted pulled his bag and put that up.  In hindsight, we probably should have waited a minute, to drift past any further entanglement opportunities.  But I was probably not thinking that clearly right at that moment -- I was breathing pretty hard and I could feel my heart pounding from the excitement.  Once the second bag was up, we managed to not get snagged again.

Ted was acting a little odd on the deco.  At some point he took one of my scout lights.  I thought he took it to turn it off (though unclipping someone's light on deco, over deep water, wouldn't be my choice of how to turn it off).  Then later he was pointing at my left D-ring and telling me to give him something.  I had no idea what he wanted... I wasn't giving him my deco bottle :)  I could tell he was a little light, by his exaggerated moves to try to vent gas from his wing.  But I never put it all together and figured out what he was doing (because it was completely non-sensical!).  He was slightly underweighted, because he was using a set of Rob's tanks, and he underestimated the amount of extra weight he would need.  He was trying to take gear from me that would weight him down.  But a scout light?  Really?  I had some double-enders he could take too :)  Aside from this slightly odd behavior, the deco went by without much of interest.  We had been hoping for some jellyfish love, but all we got were tiny deco critters.  Those are still entertaining to stare at, but I was hoping for some pretty nettles after the previous weekend's dive.  On our 6-minute ascent, around like 11 feet, we were suddenly in completely bubbly, agitated water.  It wasn't whitewater white water, but it was white water, if you know what I mean.  It was totally disorienting.  One minute we could clearly see each other, and the next we had to be in touch contact to keep track of each other.  I'm still not sure what that was... perhaps the boat has driven over that patch of water and stirred it up?

When we surfaced, the crew told me they had caught my other bag.  There was a bit more to the story.  My bag got tangled around the ball, after flirting with it for a while.  Ted confessed that the reason he handed me the bag was that his buoyancy was all screwed up and he wanted me to take the bag while he dealt with that.  I guess the bag had snagged then unsnagged the line a couple of times (hence Ted's problems) before finally completely wrapping around the ball, without any hope of unsnagging it.  Sean got in the water to free the bag (which at that point we'd abandoned), and then Beto and Jim's bag tangled with my bag.  Meanwhile Ted put up our second bag, and it briefly tangled with the ball, but Sean freed it.  Yikes.  What a mess.  In the end, everyone and their bag made it back on the boat.  Ted and I hit the cup o' noodles while we waited for Jim and Beto to return, and then we headed back to the dock.  We had a quick lunch at La Tortuga and then headed home via Anywater Sports.

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