It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Twin Peaks (at last)

Photo by Robert Lee
 This weekend was supposed to be Kevin's "birthday weekend" since he was out of town (for work, ick) over his actual birthday, and this was the closest available weekend.  And we always do birthday dives with Kevin!  So we had two to three days of diving planned, Friday with Phil and Saturday with Jim (and maybe Sunday with Phil too).  Then Phil fell through a week or so in advance.  So we were down to 1 day of diving.  Then, on Friday afternoon, we once again found ourselves staring down the barrel of a really crappy forecast for Saturday, when we were supposed to be diving on the Escapade.  After some last minute discussion and a report on the actual conditions down there, the boat ended up being cancelled.  So then we were left with nothing to do for the weekend.  We ended up having a birthday lunch (and cake!) with Kevin and Saturday, and Rob and I managed to finagle a reservation at Point Lobos for Sunday.  Actually it wasn't too hard to get a reservation, we simply looked on the website, saw that there were spots open, and called on Saturday.  Since Sunday was the Big Sur marathon, most sane people avoid diving in Carmel like the plague on that day.  Usually we do too; this was our first time ever diving at Lobos on marathon day.  Clinton (who also had Lobos tix for Sunday) filled us in on the logistics.  Every couple of hours, they let a convoy of cars go through the route, escorted by police.  9:45 was the magic time when this was to happen.  So we showed up a little after 9, just to be safe, and were like the 4th car in line for the convoy.  Around 9:35 or something, we started to move.    Despite the handout that was given to us about the convoy protocol, which decreed that the convoy would move at precisely 25 mph, we ended up inching along route 1 and finally made it to Lobos a hair after 10.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
The plan was to go to Twin Peaks, because, you know Rob, is there any other dive to do at Lobos?  Actually, we had been toying with a 32% dive, but we were at Anywater on Saturday afternoon, and heard that the viz was only so-so in the shallower areas, but opened up quite a bit out at the Road.  Plus we hadn't been to Twin Peaks in ages!  I think it had been 9 months since we'd been to Twin Peaks proper (we'd been to the Road slightly more recently), which is unbelievable, considering there was a time when we went to Twin Peaks like every month!  Anyhoo, that was the plan.  And since Rob was involved, the plan was to make it a 3 bottle dive, which I was being a bit passive-aggressive about.  When I agreed to the plan, I said that I reserved the right to make it a two bottle dive at the last minute.  It's just such a pain schlepping all that gear into the water!  When we got to Lobos, we found a pretty low tide, but calm water and sunny skies.  Woohoo.  We unloaded the van, got into our drysuits, and got the gear in the water pretty quickly.  Rob asked if I wanted to carry or swim... did he really have to ask?  After I got the first 4 bottles on the float, it occurred to us that we really need a bigger float (the Team Kitty float lives with Kevin).  But the water was calm, so I was okay with leaving a ton of gear on a float that was hovering essentially just below the surface.  The ramp was so slippery that when I got out of the water, Rob asked me if I wanted an escort down the ramp before he got into his gear.  Sure, why not?  I got into my gear, and did my gear match with my imaginary buddy (or Rob, in his imaginary gear) and then headed into the water, with Rob by my side.  And got heckled by John on the way in.  Actually Rob was the one getting the most heckling :)  Then Rob got geared up, and John walked him down the ramp, though there was a lot less hand-holding involved.

Photo by Robert Lee
We picked up our gear from the float, and headed out on the surface.  We'd heard that the viz was really bad in the cove, so we wanted to get at least to the sand channel.  But there was a ton of kelp on the surface (an usual amount for this time of year... I think a bunch of it was actually floating kelp debris), which made that annoying.  We made it out to just about where the worm patch should be, and were pretty much engulfed in kelp at this point, so we dropped there.  We scootered for about 20 seconds and found the worm patch.  The viz was pretty bad right there, but not terrible.  In the sand channel, it was likewise not so good -- maybe 15 or 20 feet.  But by the time we got to Hole in the Wall, it was improving, and it just got better and better, the further we went.  By the time we got to the Road, it was about 40 feet.  And blue.  And cold (46 degrees). We headed down the Road, staying on the sand interface on the right side.  We were pretty much on the trigger, but then we came to a little school of blue rockfish hovering above the reef, maybe 2/3 of the way down the reef, so we stopped to visit with them.  Then we continued on out, straight to the big peak.  

Photo by Robert Lee
I was pretty chilly, so once we were there, I took the opportunity to kick around to warm up.  Eventually Rob corralled me for some photos, and then once I tired of that, kicked around a bit more.  Rob eventually called me over to look at a Diaulula lentiginosa.  Nice!  Rob took some pictures of me looking at its giant-ness.  Eventually we moved from the big main pinnacle off to a small pinnaclet off to the side, which was also a bit deeper.  We looked around that briefly, not seeing anything particularly interesting, and then we moved to the other "peak".  We kicked around that a little, just long enough for me to find an Aldisa albomarginata. I swam over it, and thought it might be one (but was half inspecting it to turn out to be a Cadlina), and then as I swam closer I saw the tell-tale twinkling stars on its back :)  I haven't seen one of those in a while!  From there, we headed back to the big pinnacle, and not long after, I called it, because I was awfully chilly.  Rob asked if we could stop on the Road on the way in; I said yes, knowing that I would probably cancel that once there, since I was so cold.

We headed in, and were pretty much on the trigger until we got maybe 2/3 of the way back in.  We paused, but then I told Rob I just wanted to head in.  Along the way in, almost back to the Sisters, we passed a weird looking jelly animal, so we stopped to check that out.  He had two little brown "flippers" and a mouth like a whale.  Interesting.  From there, Rob attempted to head to the east toward Beto's, and I told him no, I wanted to go in and then head east.  So we continued on along the road until we got to the sisters.  From there, Rob was heading a bit too much east, and as I was about to signal him, I realized that he was cutting over to Beto's.  I guess he didn't understand that I meant I wanted to go all the way in to 70' before cutting over (I like to meander around the Lone Metridium/Hole in the Wall area on deco).  So, alas, we hit Beto's (well not literally) and then headed south.  We stopped in the kelpy sandy area around 70' to switch onto our bottles.  At 60', we headed over to Middle Reef, and worked our way in along the reef.  The viz there was not so good.  I was really cold, and not really in the mood to critter peep, so I basically just watched Rob as he scoured the reef for anything interesting.  He found the transect 4 warbonnet -- yay!  He was poking his head out from the reef, upside-down.  Why does he always do that!?!  I was glad to see that the landmark piece of palm kelp that we use to find the warbonnet had grown back in.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
From 40', we left the reef and headed in on the sand channel.  As we were cruising around 30', my scooter started to make the "wah-wah" noise it makes when it is about to die.  I felt like I was barely moving.  I kept riding it, but was flutter kicking to actually make some progress.  I told Rob it was dying and he pointed to his scooter and said the same thing.  It wasn't dying, but it was slowing down.  We got to the worm patch, and by then, my scooter was pretty much dead.  We switched onto our O2 bottles, and then I suggested we meander in by kick.  The viz in the cove was very bad, but since we would be swimming slowly, I was not too worried about getting separated.  I mostly just wanted to make a bit more progress underwater, since swimming on the surface with 3 bottles and a dead scooter is no fun.  So that is what we did.  Eventually we got to like 17 feet or so, and we just stayed there and then did a 6 minute ascent.  At the last stop (5 feet), I sort of blew it and from about 4 feet, I did a bit of a dolphin kick to get myself back down to 5 feet, and in the process I nearly kicked John, who I guess just happened to be swimming over us on the surface at just that minute.  Doh!  When we surfaced a minute later, I was actually pretty relieved it was John, and not some random diver!  (John deserved a kick, for the heckling!)  When we surfaced, we were still not quite at the ramp, but certainly closer to the ramp than the cliff.  I asked Rob if his scooter was totally dead and he said no, just slow.  So he towed me in on the surface.  We weren't moving very fast.  I watched kelp bug crawl across the back of his thigh as we moved in slow motion.  Yea, it was a boring ride back :)

Eventually he gave up, and we had to swim the last 20 feet or so to the float.  Hehe.  We ditched our stuff, and then I suggested that Rob get out and come back for the gear, which I would hand back to him bit by bit and then he could help me out (tide was still very low... I think we were one hour before low tide when we got in, and one hour past it when we got out).  While he was getting out of his gear, I went to try to retrieve Clinton's float, since they were done with it.  It was stuck good.  No way I could get it up from the surface.  I waited for Clinton to come back in to retrieve it, and then I dived down to get it (since he was out of his gear).  It was wrapped like 8 times around a piece of kelp at the bottom.  I disentangled it and brought it up, just in time for Rob to appear back at the end of the ramp.  Clinton and I swam the gear back from the float to Rob, and then when we were all finished, I was retrieved from the water (not under my own power, and not without slamming both of my knees against rocks in the process).

After getting out of our gear and such, we had a few snacks with John, Clinton and Vanessa, and then Rob and I headed to RG, which was surprisingly uncrowded post-marathon.  All in all it was a pretty nice day for diving.  Certainly better than sitting at home all weekend without a dive!

1 comment:

monterino said...

Hi Allison- Absolute bravo for your courage and passion for diving! My brother and I have been diving South Monastery and MonoLobo just about every weekend for going on two years. We shore dive and we dive wet AND we get all the way out to the great walls in MonoLobo.
Anyway, I'd like to share my hard won secret for staying warm. It's not the head (as experts like to tell us). Buy a tight-fitting pair of glove liners at REI (they're for skiing, actually) and find a pair of good scuba gloves that'll go over them. Granted, the dexterity takes a hit, but I learned to operate my cam and other accouterments without much trouble with practice. Great blog. Hope we meet up some day- sounds like a great group.