It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Neptune Smiles on Us

Flag Rockfish
Photo by Robert Lee, 1/16/12
Through some strange set of twists, Rob, Kevin, and I ended up on the Escapade, all by ourselves, on Saturday.  We originally had a two-team 15/55 charter, but then two-thirds of the other team couldn't make it and in the end, we were just left with our team.  It was quite luxurious.  Captain Mike told us that we each got to pick our own personal crew-member for the day :)  The forecast for swell was looking good, for wind a little iffy, but then there was the fog.  Blech!  It has been a long time since we've done a deeper dive; in fact, the gas in my big doubles has been languishing since our last dive at Birthday Wall, since a couple of boats have been cancelled.  So when we arrived at the dock, and it was foggy, I told Mike that we were going out, even if we were just going to drive around in the fog and come home :)  I figured by the time we got somewhere good, the fog would have lifted.

And that's pretty much what happened.  We had a very flat, but somewhat (nor horribly) foggy drive down.  The fog was improving, but still patchy, as we passed through Carmel Bay.  I went to the bathroom and when I came out, we had just passed Lobos, and poof, there was a sunny blue sky.  The wind had kicked up though, so there were some whitecaps around by the time we got to our destination, but it still seemed quite calm as we geared up, I guess because there was basically no swell.  At all.  I was glad for this, since getting into the water with 3 bottles from the Escapade is never fun, but especially when it is rough.  We flopped into the water, and found some current.  A good bit of current even :)  I was scootering on 5 and making very slow progress to the downline.  But I made it there.  We descended to 20 feet and did our bubble checks over basically unlimited viz.  Ahhh.  Finally, flat seas and good viz.  On a day when we were on the boat.  Sadly, Rob's housing is being serviced, so no pictures.  There's always a catch.  (I've included a couple of relevant pictures from a previous dive at this site, since the dive was so awesome, it would be a travesty not to include any pictures in this post!)  We continued down to the plateau at about 170', and switched to back gas.  Then we headed down the wall, to the bottom, and followed the wall to the north.  The viz continued to be really good, and pretty bright considering the depth.  It was the second best viz I've had at this site, only bested by a dive with Kevin and Susan.  And of course it was cold, clear water.  A bone-chilling 46 degrees on the bottom.  There was a decent current, pushing us to the north, which is pretty typical for this site.

Pygmy Rockfish
Photo by Robert Lee, 1/16/12
We saw tons of fish as usual -- the one fish that I was a bit surprised NOT to see was a ratfish, since we usually see them here, plus there have been reports of seeing them at other sites recently.  But maybe the ones that usually hang out here are making the rounds at our other local dive sites :)  On the scoot down the wall, Kevin pointed out a fish to me, which I only saw the butt side of, which was black, and when I say black, I mean solid solid black.  The front of it was a sort of cream-yellow color.  I didn't know what it was, but then after discussing it with Tom L., we concluded it was a quillback, just a bit lighter in color (on the front) than the others which I've see... this made me feel like a moron, since if I had just looked it in the face, it would have been really obvious what it was!  The one other "mystery fish" (during the dive) was the ubiquitous (at this dive site) bright yellow juvenile rockfish.  I've seen these fish on *every* dive at this site, and always thought "wow, that's a bright yellow fish, I wonder what it is".  Well this dive I actually looked at it really closely, so I could get some more details -- bright yellow on the side, white on the belly, and an orange tinge along the base of the dorsal fin and around the lips.  I sent this description to Tom, and he came back with some pics of baby starries, which is definitely the fish.  Apparently they start out without the orange lips, and those appear later.  They are really beautiful little fish -- they look like something out of the tropics!  Rob will have to get a pic of one of them next time.  Aside from these guys, we saw tons of pygmy and half-banded juveniles, a few juvey yellow eyes, and adult squarespots, bocaccio, starries, mammoth vermilions, two wolf eels, lots of lings, plus the usual boring blues and olives.  And, drum-roll... 3 flaggies!  When we first got to the rock pile where we have seen the flaggies before, there were none to be found, but a bit later, on the other side of the rock pile, I found one.  Then after we left that spot and continued a bit further down the reef, we found another rock pile, which at one point had two flaggies swimming around it.  Yay!

In addition to the fish bonanza, we found a crinoid (my fave!), a good-sized vase sponge, and a HUGE basket star.  It was so big that it was hard to believe it was just one, but open careful inspection, it was.  After the dive, I told Ted that we saw basically all of the critters one can hope to see on a deep dive.  He pointed out that the dive lacked a GPO.  True.  After 20 minutes of fun on the bottom, it was time to get a little shallower.  On our last dive here, we planned to hop over to another structure to the northish (that we'd never been to before, but saw on the map), but due to some confusion (on my part), that did not happen.  But we did want to try to hit this spot, since it looked like there was a pretty big structure coming up shallower than 150', versus the peak at Birthday Wall, which is a tiny little spire... it gets a bit boring cowering around it in the current after a few minutes.  So this time I left the leading to Rob and Kevin.  We initially headed back toward the spire, which sort of confused me.  There was at this point, a raging current that we were scootering against.  Once we got shallow enough, we switched onto our 190 bottles, and in the time that we paused to do that (off the trigger), it seemed like we'd lost all of the ground that we'd made up scootering against the current!  So after a huddle, we decided to head for the other pinnacle, which I thought was the plan anyway.  Let's just say I was confused at this point, and would have bet that we were going to end up having to abort the second segment and start an ascent.  But Kevin did not disappoint us and a minute or two later, he delivered us to a big pinnacle that sort of plateaued at the top.  It had a nice crack along the side that we came upon, which was filled with really really fluffy gorgonians.  Probably the most lush gorgonians I have ever seen.  It reminded me of Cupcakes in this respect, and I had to momentarily think about whether we could possibly have landed there.  But the shape and depth of the pinnacle said otherwise.  The best part of this crack was that the current was ripping through it, so I had a lot of fun flying over the gorgonian garden, then scootering back up-current and riding back through the crack.  Rinse, repeat.  Eventually I tired of that, and poked around a bit on the top of the plateau, doing some nudi-peeping.  Kevin pointed out this big Hermissenda that had red-red tips; it was a really pretty, flamboyant, specimen.  I love the reddish ones.

Eventually we thumbed it, and began our ascent.  We quickly heard the sound of the boat, phew.  When we got to 70 feet, I blinked, and Rob had finished his bottle rotation.  Actually I didn't blink; I watched him do it, and it was, shall we say, demonstration quality.  I wished that I had video'd it, but that is sort of jinxing it.  I'm sure if I had video'd it, he would have dropped a bottle.  So then I took my turn, and did a pretty nice one.  Quite nice by my standards.  As I told Rob after the dive, the key is to keep your head back, to which he rolled his eyes.  Kevin eventually took his turn, and then we settled in for the ride.  We were really moving in the current.  During our 60 foot stop, I noticed I could see some reef passing under us, probably in the 100 foot range.  As we were leaving our 60 foot stop, the boys told me to look behind me, and I turned to see a pinnacle rapidly approaching us.  Or maybe we were rapidly approaching it.  And whoosh, before you know it, we were blown over the top of it.  It looked like it came up to about 60 feet.  I'm a bit stumped by what this structure was.  We were drifting north, and the only thing that comes up close to that shallow to the north are the Kn pinnacles at Mount Chamberlain.  I would have recognized K2, so that definitely wasn't it.  But on the other hand, if we had drifted over one of those pinnacles, I think we would have seen more structure coming.  So, who knows?  After that, deco was uneventful until 30'.  Just as we were about to move to 20'. we drifted up to a wall of mud.  I don't know how else to describe it.  There we were in stunning bright blue water, and we drifted up to a curtain of brown.  I looked to my right, and could see blue forever; I looked to my left and it was brown, and I couldn't see anything into the brown.  I was a bit spooked by this.  At first, I thought we might be drifting toward shore, so I whipped out my scooter in case we had to scooter in the other direction in a hurry.  But there wasn't any sign of whitewater above us, and the brown was just as calm as the blue water.  Plus I figured that if we were drifting into rocks, the boat would communicate that with us.  After I got over that, I started to wonder what might swim out of the murk.  Luckily we were drifting along side of it (parallel to the dividing line between the two masses of water), so we didn't actually end up in the murk.  Eventually something did swim out of the murk -- a bait ball.  We ended up spending like the last 10 or 15 minutes at 20', decoing in a bait-ball.  Neat!  I guess they were munching on the brown.  This was quite cool but unfortunately impossible to video with my hero-cam.  Boohoo.

We surfaced in still-calm waters and a bright blue sky.  Actually the water seemed even calmer -- it seemed a bit less windy than when we got in.  After we got back on the boat, we ate the last 3 cup-o-noodles on the boat.  Ahhh, hot salty noodles really hit the spot after a long cold dive.  I think we made record time back to K-dock; from Yankee Point in under an hour.  Well, not quite Yankee Point -- we did drift pretty far!  When we got back to the dock, we decided to try something new for lunch, and headed to the Sandbar Grill, right on the wharf.  I thought it was good but not great.  I got a calamari steak, which didn't compare to Loulou's squiddle and eggs.  Which is not to say I wouldn't return to the Sandbar, but the moral of the story is that if you are a craving a calamari steak, go to Loulou's.  This is the second time I've made this mistake.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Coral Street

With Rob still out of town, I told Kevin that we had to come up with a super awesome dive to make Rob jealous.  So that was our high-level plan for a few weeks, but we had a bit more trouble coming up with anything concrete to do.  We had no boat and no Lobos tickets.  So I suggested Coral Street (which I had secretly wanted to go to instead of Monastery on my recent dive there with Rob), and if that didn't work, MacAbee, and if that didn't work, the old standby... the Breakwater.  Then a week or so beforehand, Leah asked if I wanted to dive, so I suggested she come along with us.  There were then some complicated negotiations about what gear to bring.  The plan was one long dive, which at Coral St, just means a single tank, like the HP100 I have.  But if we ended up at the BW, we wanted to be able to do one long dive out to the Metridium Field, that tank probably wouldn't cut it.  So in the end, Leah and I dove her single 120s, and we made Kevin bring doubles.  Well I told him he could bring his 100, but he said he was NOT going to be the one to turn it on gas.  Snicker.  To get us (me) back for this, Kevin filled the day with snide comments about how girls can't dive doubles.  We met at AWS early (well not that early) in the morning, and carpooled from there.  I hadn't been in Kevin's new truck yet, which he has had for a while, but it still has that new-car feel.  He obviously takes better care of his car than I do.

When we got to Coral Street, Leah was already there, and had parked in a spot a couple of car-lengths behind the stairs, and we parked right behind her.  Then the guy in front of her left, so we both moved up, and ended up with pretty sweet parking spots.  Actually the guy in front of her didn't leave.  He was there to dive too, with a group, and a bunch of them left their pretty-good parking spots to move up to the other end of the beach... where there are no stairs.  I'm guessing they hadn't dived here before.  I had to setup my gear, since I was borrowing both a tank and regs from Matt.  I tried to cobble together my own single tank regulator (our single tanks have H-valves, so our single tank regs don't get much use).  Rob told me we had two single tank regulators in service, but when I went to the garage, I found that neither had all (or all working) of its parts, and after spending quite a bit of time moving this to that, in the end, it just didn't work out.  In the end, I had one reg with a bad backup second stage, and another with a bad SPG hose, and they were both sufficiently crusty (or I was sufficiently weak) that I couldn't remove the bad piece from one and replace it with the good piece from the other.  Sigh.  So anyway, Leah produced a regulator, which had the shortest SPG hose imaginable, but a comfo-bites mouthpiece, my favorite.  I put together my gear and we all walked our rigs down to the wall, then got suited up and returned to the wall to get into our rigs.  The tide was low, which is annoying, but the conditions were about as good as they get for Coral Street -- I think there was a 2 to 3 foot southwest swell, which translates to the water not moving at all at Coral Street :)  Every now and then a big set would come through and produce a 2 inch wave on the beach.  Treacherous.

So we ambled into the water and took our time stepping through/around the kelp and rocks.  There were a couple of seals visible on the surface, so I was hoping for some seal love on the dive.  We swam out a little bit and then decided there was no point in swimming on the surface any further, and dropped into like 8 feet  of water, where there was sand with kelp salad and some eel grass on the bottom.  We headed out, and encountered some senoritas.  I was expecting to see more later, but oddly, this turned out to be the only spot where we saw them (we saw them again on the way in).  I was leading, and we basically just headed out, hung a left, went that way for a while, then turned and went back the other way for a while, then turned around again, headed out of the kelp forest, and gopher navigated our way home (that's the form of navigation where you poke your head above water, see where you are, and drop back down).

Sadly, we did not see any seals on the dive.  But of course, the kelp forest was awesome, and the viz was excellent, ranging from 20 to 40 feet throughout the dive, but mostly in the 30 to 40 range.  And I saw a ton of nudibranchs, all different kinds of nudibranchs.  I don't really think of Coral St as a place to nudi-peep, but I guess I was actually looking, since Leah was taking pictures and asked me to point out little stuff.  We saw lots of Hopkin's roses (yay!), Hermissendas, Rostangas, Aldisa sanguineas, Triopha catalinae, one orange Triopha maculata, just hanging in the middlewater, and the usual assortment of yellow and white Dorids.  I was looking and looking for Hilton's, and found none, but Leah managed to snap a picture of one anyway.  There were also zillions of kelpfish -- the red ones, but also the ones that blend insanely well with Coralline algae.  We also saw a funny looking jellyfish, which I've seen once or twice before, which I really hope Leah got a pic of so I can ID it.  I do have this crappy hero-cam screen grab above.  It reminds me of a whale, because of the shape of its little "mouth".

There weren't that many blue rockfish, which was sort of surprising.  I think of Coral St as a good place for nice views of blue rockfish under the kelp.  But there were plenty of kelp rockfish, a couple of lings, lots of baby rockfish (not sure what kind) and a school of tubesnouts.  We eventually surfaced, to check where we were, and I asked if they were ready to head in or wanted to swim around some more.  Leah said she was ready to head in, so I plotted a course, and we dropped down again and swam in.  Apparently I was swimming insanely fast.  Hey, I thought the goal was to end the dive :)  When we finally surfaced back in the little cove, there was a pelican sitting in the water.  Not sure I've encountered a pelican in the water before, so I was pretty entertained.  The tide had come up, so this made the exit slightly less annoying than the entry. We stepped out of the water, and Kevin told me loudly that maybe if I kept practicing, I could dive doubles some day too.  I sure hope so!

After packing up our gear, we decided to head to the chowder house for lunch.  I haven't been there in a while, and I can't say it was a great lunch.  I don't know why... I got the half crab sandwich with chowder, and neither the sandwich nor the chowder were very good today.  But it was food.  We headed back to Anywater, with a brief stop in Gilroy for some limeade from Sonic -- a brilliant idea!  And it was even happy hour!  When we got back to AWS, I took both of our not-working single tank regs in, to be fixed.  I left with one working reg and left the other to be serviced.  I'm sure by the time I need a single tank reg again, it will have fallen into disrepair.

Leah took pictures, but they haven't been posted yet.  I will add a link when they are.  In the meantime, you must live with my crappy hero-cam screen captures.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Almost Solstice Dive

Photo by Vanessa Young
Last year, we (accidentally, I think) did a night dive on the summer solstice, which is a great way to guarantee a really late return home.  Vanessa told me that she and Clinton were planning an almost solstice dive (a day late) this year, so of course I invited myself along.  Actually I waffled about it for quite a while, but I always like to do night dives when Rob is out of town, both to make him jealous, and because I have nothing better to do (lame, I know), so why not?  And I even convinced Matt and Leah to come along.  The only annoying thing about Rob being out of town, and my being unable to convince Ted to come along, was that I had to make the drive down to San Jose during rush hour by myself.  Yuck.  After an hour in traffic, I eventually managed to get to Matt and Leah's house, and after a quick dinner, we were off.  We got to the Breakwater a bit after 8:30, which seemed late, but was pretty good timing with respect to the sun going down.  Despite our driving arrangements, I was diving with Clintessa.  I got dressed and walked my tank over to their car, and waited for them to finish getting ready.  Before I got dressed, Vanessa was bragging about her new Santi undergarment and base layer.  Now she was stuffed into her drysuit in her too-puffy undergarment.  I guess the drysuit was cut a bit too well for her old undergarment :)  We dubbed her the burgundy Teletubby.  It wasn't clear if she'd be able to get her fins on by herself, but once in the water, she did manage to do it.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
On the swim out, the viz didn't look too good, but it wasn't horrible either.  We swam out and dropped a bit earlier than usual, because Vanessa found it uncomfortable to swim in her Teletubby suit.  We dropped in a little over 20 feet.  The viz was pretty bad on the way down, and only slightly better once we got to the bottom.  Although it wasn't totally obvious to me at the time, the viz got quite a bit better once we got to 40 feet (it was obvious to me on the way back in, when coming up the slope from 40 to 20, the viz suddenly got much worse).  We meandered out in the usual direction, and ended up over the red kelp salad.  We happened upon a couple of random rocks, where we made our first cool find, a muppet-fish, which smarty-pants Clinton calls a midshipman :)  Clinton followed him around for a bit, but didn't manage to produce a picture, grumble.  While he was harrassing, err, photographing, that fish, I also found a nice red juvenile cabezon.  From there, we continued on over the kelp salad, not really seeing much for a while.  There were a bunch of big Dendronotus iris, including a big purple one that was free-swimming in the water.  Not terribly interesting, but who doesn't like a big fluffy purple slug?  We saw not a single octopus, which was sort of weird, but I guess not that weird, since we weren't really over the sand at all, that damn kelp salad!

Photo by Clinton Bauder
So I felt like this was a pretty unproductive critter peeping dive, until about 30 minutes into the dive, Clinton signaled us and was pointing at something.  We had finally sort of gotten off of the kelp salad, and there were  patches of sand, so I was expecting an octopus.  So I was pretty surprised when I swam over and found a shark under his light, a swell shark.  I don't think I've ever seen a swell shark before!  He was sitting on the sand, nestled under some big kelp leaves laying on the bottom.  He tolerated our inspection for a minute or two, and then he started to swim a bit, weaving his way through the kelp leaves.  But eventually he settled down again, half under a blanket of kelp, and just stayed there.  We ended up hanging out with him for 25 or 30 minutes.  I suspect he was terrified of us, and more paralyzed with fear than happy to hang out with us, but it is hard to say.  Clinton was not exactly carrying the right lens for this subject, but luckily Vanessa had brought her camera along too.  So she and Clinton were passing cameras back and forth, taking turns taking pictures with each camera.  Clinton got some nice eye and teeth shots, and Vanessa got a nice shot of (nearly) the whole shark.  So that was super fun, and definitely made up for the lack of critters up to that point.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We eventually pried ourselves away and meandered about a bit longer.  Clinton found a nice Triopha maculata, on the bottom of a little piece of kelp salad flapping in the breeze.  It was a pretty good-sized orange one, with spots.  It seems like I usually see either tiny orange ones with no spots, or big yellow ones with spots, so it's a treat to see an orange one with spots :)  I eventually called turn on the dive, based on gas, and not having a super good idea of how far out we'd gone (the problem with the meandering dive).  On the way in, I found a slug of my own on the underside of a flapping piece of kelp -- a Dirona picta.  I've only seen these guys once or twice before (other than at the aquarium), so that was pretty cool.  A nice way to cap off a great, but somewhat different, night dive at the Breakwater.  Once we got to the top of the slope up to 20 feet, we surfaced, and swam in from there.  Vanessa was still fretting about her Teletubbintess on the swim in, and whether she'd be able to de-fin when we got back to the beach.  I promised we'd drag her out of the water if necessary, but it turned out not to be a problem :)

Photo by Clinton Bauder

About five minutes after we exited the water, Matt and Leah appeared on the surface, and they were back on the beach a few minutes later (they surfaced a lot closer to the beach).  In contrast to our dive, they saw loads of octopus.  I guess they found the sand.  We packed up, and after a quick stop for drinks and junk food, we headed back to Matt and Leah's house.  I finally made it home around 1:45.

Clinton posted a few more pictures from the dive.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kitty Cousins

I spent the weekend at my sister's house in Santa Barbara.  One nice thing about visiting Andrea is that she has cats.  A lot of cats.  Four, to be precise.  (I don't mean to make her sound like a crazy cat lady or anything... she is married and is, compared to me anyway, actually quite hip.)  So it is fun to stay at her house, since there seems to always be some cat or another milling about.  The last couple of times I've visited, most of her cats have seemed not that social with visitors.  But this time around, they were super friendly to me.  Probably because I didn't bring Rob, and they can smell his disdain for cats (yea right).

And of course I couldn't leave without snapping a few pics of the kitties for the blog.

Felix, a sphinx, has appeared on the blog before, back when he was a wee little thing.  Well he's still a wee little thing, and he still hasn't managed to grow any fur.  So he seems to spend a lot of time under the covers in bed, because he has no fur to keep him warm.  When he isn't doing that, he is scampering around the house silently, sneaking up on unsuspecting victims people.

Boris is a tuxedo cat in the truest sense -- not a faux wannabe tuxy like Pepper -- even down to the little bowtie on his upper lip!  I call Boris big Pepper, for obvious reasons, but he is a much more dignified cat than Pepper.  He also has slightly longer and thicker fur, making him a bit cuddlier (sorry Peps).  He isn't the most social cat, but he generally tolerates humankind, and if I'm lucky he lets me rub his tummy.

Coover is the alpha cat, and also the most people-friendly of the bunch (he slept with me while I was visiting).  I think Bruiser would be a better name for him.  He has a giant head, and a giant body to match, and is a lean mean head-butting machine.  Actually he is not mean, he is super friendly.  He has this interesting rough or course fur on his back.  When we have brought our kitties over in the past, Pepper hissed at him every single time he walked past her.  I guess there can be only one alpha cat.

Last, but certainly not least, is Sasha, the giant fluffy beast.  I think she is a Maine coon (which is on my kitty bucket list, by the way).  She is super fluffy and soft and has the coolest tail ever, but she is very shy, so it can be hard to get any love from her when I visit.  Her personality is a bit like Oreo's -- shy but super sweet.  Sasha can purr really loudly, and makes some very interesting noises when she purrs, sort of a chirping, trilling noise that sounds like she is communicating with the mother ship.  I realize it would be morally reprehensible to have a favorite kitty cousin, but if I did, it would definitely be Sasha :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Lobos Grand Tour

There was a BAUE get-together at Lobos on Saturday, which we attended.  We didn't even manage to secure spots until the week of.  I was so absorbed with the previous weekend's project that I couldn't really think past it.  So we showed up with 32%, planning to dive with whoever.  We brought various accessories in case "whoever" didn't materialize and we ended up stuck diving together.  After a lot of waffling and I don't cares and switching things around, I ended up diving with Ian and Dionna.  Since we were all diving doubles, we agreed to do a nice long kick dive.  And kick we did!  I suggested a grand tour of the left side of Lobos, hitting Lone Metridium, the Three Sisters, and then swinging back to Beto's Reef for the swim in.  Since I proposed it, I had to lead the dive.  The water looked a bit sloshy on the surface with the occasional big set of slosh, so we were expecting some surge underneath.  The water was also looked to be an unenticing shade of brown in the cove.  The tide was pretty low, making the entry a bit annoying, but either we timed it well or it wasn't actually that rough, so that getting in was no problem.

The viz was in fact quite ugly in the cove, but we were planning to swim over that anyway.  We swam a bit beyond the worm patch, and dropped in the sand channel, in about 30 feet.  The viz there was not too stellar, but much better than it had been in the cove.  But it slowly improved, and then once we turned the corner at Hole in the Wall, it seemed to abruptly improve a lot.  In fact, it just seemed like once we turned the corner, looking out toward the deep, it was really bright and pretty blue.  We hugged the edge of the various ridges until we came to Lone Metridium, which was closed for business, just a little green stump of an anemone.  From there, we headed out over the sand, and we kicked and kicked.  It was a bit boring, I really just wanted to get to the Sisters, so I picked up the pace to the point where I nearly killed my teammates.  Oops.  We eventually made it to the first sister, and didn't spend much time there, just enough to catch our breaths, before heading on over to the second sister.

We spent probably about 10 minutes on each sister (the second and then the third), and the highlight of that part of the dive was that there was a little school of blue rockfish hanging around.  It was a nice-sized school for the area.  I also spied a couple of nice-sized lingcods.  It was nice to see that the barnacles really are gone, and the sisters look a bit more like what they used to look like.  Woohoo.  After a couple of loops around the third sister, I asked if everyone was ready to head over the sand to Beto's reef, and assured Dionna that I would go slower :)  We swam over the sand, probably about 20 feet above the sand, and before you know it, we hit Beto's.  We were fairly far in when we intersected it, so we swam out a little bit from there.  I checked for the sometimes-resident wolf eel, Bert, but he was nowhere to be round.  There was a fish in his usual hole, hmph!  I found a lingzilla hanging out in one of the horizontal ledges on the side of the reef.  He was scary big.  Ian found a little arch swimthrough thingy and swam through it tentatively, and I applauded when he made it through without having to be pulled out.  Dionna was very amused by my applause.  I noticed quite a few Berthellas on Beto's, which is somewhat typical I guess.

We headed in, because I thought it was about that time, deco-wise (or no-deco-wise, I supposed).  We got back to Hole in the Wall, where the viz got abruptly worse.  I couldn't believe how much worse it got, and was expecting an ugly swim in.  We stopped in the area briefly, but then Ian called it on gas, so we continued in.  Oddly, once we were past that little reef, the viz got better again.  No clue what was up with that.  We headed over to Middle Reef and swam in along the west side.  I stopped at transect 4, to look for the resident warbonnet, which I couldn't find.  I didn't try super hard, since it was a bit surgy on middle reef, so not very pleasant trying to line myself up and find his little head.  Then I looked for Itchy and Scratchy, and was quite pleasantly surprised to see a wolf eel in there.  It was a male with a huge head.  Recent reports have been that the wolf eels were no longer residing there, so this was a pleasant surprise!  It was seriously surgy when we were looking in their hole, making it pretty interesting to try to communicate to Ian where to look and get him to line himself up and see the giant eel head back in a crack.  But he did eventually find him.  From there, I headed straight back to the sand channel and back to the worm patch.  We decided to ascend there, since the viz would presumably be quite bad further in.  When we surfaced, it seemed like it had calmed down a bit on the surface, making for an easy swim back in.  And to make things even nicer, the tide had come in a bit, so that the ramp was easy to exit.

After a potluck lunch (with many tasty homemade treats), and a good bit of socializing, I collected my Bob and we headed home.  It is always nice to dive with new and old, but not recently dived-with, buddies.