It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Birthday Boat

Rob and I were supposed to go out on the Escapade on Friday, for my official “birthday boat” (even though it wasn’t officially my birthday yet), and then there was a BAUE tech boat on Saturday.  There was terrible fog all week, though, and the forecast called for more of the same. Friday morning, Jim drove down to Monterey early and it was super foggy, so we ended up calling it on our way down to Monterey.  I didn’t feel like driving all the way down there and back, then potentially do it all over again on Saturday.  So on Saturday, when we got to Monterey and it was foggy, it wasn’t a huge surprise.  But it didn’t seem that foggy, and I was hopeful that by the time we got to where we wanted to dive, it would clear.   So we headed out, and the plan was that if the fog hadn’t lifted by the time we got south, we could do a rec dive first and hope it would lift later.  But by the time we passed Lobos, the fog lifted, and it ended up being a pretty nice sunny day.  So we headed to the Dos Gatos/Three Nixies area.

Team Kitty was planning to dive together, but then John lost his buddy to illness at the last minute.  We were going to split up, but then I had a little tantrum and declared that I didn’t want to split up the team – it had been ages since we’d all dived together!  So we decided to dive as a team of 4 instead.  Surface conditions were pretty reasonable, at least compared to last week’s fin-eating ocean conditions.  Beto and Susan got in the water first, which turned out to be a good thing.  Beto had some sort of suit flood, so he had to abort the dive.  We were already in the water by the time this was discovered, but Susan joined our team while Beto got back on the boat.  Since we were already in the water, there wasn’t any sort of discussion about the extreme silliness of a team of five.  I figured if it got annoying once we were on the bottom, we’d split up then. 

When we got to the bottom, it was quite dark, and the viz was not stellar (but not terrible either) – I’d call it 30 to 40 feet.  But considering the darkness, I didn’t have a great sense of where we were.  We meandered down whichever pinnacle we landed on, and we spent a fair amount of time on the bottom, just off of the pinnacle, looking for critters inhabiting the rubble (Rob was shooting macro).  It was a very fruitful search.  We found a basket star right away, and then a Tochuina tetraqetra (or whatever we are calling that one these days!) shortly thereafter.  We eventually saw two wolfies two; one was fairly large, and one was smaller and still sort of reddish.  I also found a bunch of Acanthodoris hudsoni and a single Doriopsilla spaldingi.  Eventually it came time to work our way up the pinnacle, a bit shallower. 

We scootered around a bit on the pinnacle that we were on.  Eventually, Rob decided to go check out another pinnacle, some distance away, without really any warning or asking if anyone wanted to follow.  And we didn’t want to follow, so we waited for him to figure that out.  Then we had to send Kevin to retrieve him.  I guess this was the only time when having a five-man team became problematic.  Actually I’m not sure that the team size had anything to do with it.  We finished off the dive working our way up the pinnacle we were on.  I found a bunch of Dotos, but that was outdone by Rob, who found a Cuthona divae.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those, but Clinton had seen one the week before, I think, so I had the name of it on the tip of my brain.

When it was time to thumb the dive, Rob wisely suggested that we split into two teams.  His thinking was that the boat may be expecting two bags.  My thinking was that drifting in a cluster of five would be, well, a cluster.  So we split up; I was with Rob and Susan, and Kevin and John were together.  But really we were all together – even though we split up around 130 feet, and didn’t actually leave the reef or shoot our bags at precisely the same time, somehow by the time we got to 70 feet, they were right next to us.  Right next to us.  I was literally kicking John every time I backed up for the first half of the deco! 

There were a lot of sea nettles on deco.  When we were redirecting one of the nettles away from us, we noticed that a bunch of those little fishies that hang out in their tentacles sort of “fell out” of the nettle.  Then once we were looking for the fish, we saw them in all of the nettles!  At 20 feet, Rob got his camera out, and took pictures of the fishies, and also some of those little crabs hitchhikers too.  Those fish are pretty cute.  Especially when you bop a sea nettle on the bell and ten of them fall out of.  They look really panicked until they can find another nettle to take cover in.  Anyway, the photo shoot was an excellent way to pass the time on deco.  When we surfaced, I managed to reboard the boat without losing any gear.

There was a surprising amount of ambivalence about doing a second dive, considering that the conditions were fairly good.  But Beto wanted to get back in to test out if his glove was still leaking, so Susan and I joined him.  I wanted to play with my new Hero-cam (that Rob gave me for my birthday).  We went to the anchor farm.  As we headed down the line, I found that I was out of Argon.  Doh!  So I switched to backgas, which was quite chilly.  But I figured it was probably going to be a short dive anyway, so I sucked it up.  We never managed to find the anchors.  When we got to the end of the anchor line, the anchor had slipped, and we were just on a flat expanse of shale.  We found a ledge and just followed that for the dive.  The viz was amazingly good for the bay.  It was better than the viz was at Yankee Point, plus it was fairly bright.  We found a couple of octopuses and I found another Doriopsilla spaldingi (which I was pretty excited and surprised to find there).  Other than that, we pretty much saw the usual shale suspects, and we found one taller ledge with lots of vermilion rockfish.  Eventually we got bored/cold, so we shot a bag and headed up.  The sea nettles were pretty thick here.

We headed down to Carmel for the beach BBQ, and after not too long there, we headed home.  I got an especially adorable birthday card from Rob and the kitties, which I thought I would share:

I think that if Pepper were to write a birthday card, this is exactly what it would say!

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