It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

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.

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