It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, February 1, 2013

Let's Try That Again

Flag rockfish
As you may recall, two weeks ago, we got lost at Birthday Wall.  But luckily, we had a Phil date coming up, and this seemed like our chance to redeem ourselves.  As the weekend approached, the forecast was looking quite favorable, so our chances of getting to Yankee Point seemed really good.  When we go to Monterey, we were not disappointed.  There were ankle-slappers at Del Monte Beach, and a limp flag.  And Monastery was a lake.  Woohoo.  By the time we got the boat loaded and ready to go, Whaler's Cove was hopping.  There were two or three other boats in the parking lot, though we managed to sneak in first.  It was a really nice, sunny day topside.  It was so warm on the surface, that Kevin decided to go for a quick dip in Whaler's Cove while we waited for Phil to deposit his trailer.  The viz was insanely good in the shallows at Lobos.  We could see the bottom fromt he boat both in the cove, and a bit outside of it, over Middle Reef.

We had a nice easy ride out to Yankee Point; I think Rob drove the whole way.  When we got down in the vicinity of the site, everyone got their GPS out (because apparently everyone needs their own), and eventually we found the 150' spot.  We were planning to do a multi-level dive, with the deep segment at the bottom of Birthday Wall, and then we would scooter over to a spot that is about 600' north of there.  So we told Phil to expect us our bag about 600' north.  Due to past shenanigans when diving off of the RIB, I brought along a hand-held radio in a canister.  On the drive down, I asked Rob if he had brought it.  He said that it was in the van, but he couldn't bring it because there was no room for it on his harness.  I found this slightly annoying, but then I realized that it was just as ridiculous that I didn't want to carry it.  So I tried it out on my harness, and there was indeed just enough room for it, my light canister, my two bullet weights, and the bucket to hold it all in place.  So I brought it along, and told Phil that we'd have it with us.  Anyhoo, even thought it was pretty calm, getting geared up seemed a bit of a pain, probably because I'm out of practice with getting geared up on the RIB!  We eventually rolled in, and found not a lot of current, and really good viz looking down the line.  We headed down the line, and after a pause at 20' for a bubble check, we were off.  I think I made pretty good time getting down to the plateau.  Once there, we switched to backgas, I shimmied my gear around to tighten my waist strap, and then we were off.  The viz was really good at the plateau, though when we got to the bottom, it was a little darker than I expected, considering how clear the water was on the way down and how bright the sun was that day.  But the viz was at least 60 to 80 feet.  It was probably even better than that.  It was so good that it was a bit disorienting to see so much of the site at once!

We headed down the wall to the sand, and out along the way to the flaggie spot.  Along the way, we passed a big school of juvenile rockfish.  I'm not totally sure what kind they were; I think it was the now-usual school of silvery juveniles, but it was just background scenery so I didn't get to look too close.  As we headed along the wall, we saw a couple of ratfish (one at a time).  I guess this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, since they seem to always be around there.  Along the wall, I also saw quite a few starry rockfish, juvenile pygmies, and juvenile halfbandeds.  Eventually we came to a spot where Kevin pointed out one ratfish just as I was pointing out another.  Then as I turned to show them to Rob, I realized there was a flag rockfish poking out of a rubble pile right below me.  I didn't even realize we'd made it all the way out to Flaggle Rock... like I said, the good viz was a bit disorienting!  Not long after that, we saw another flaggie a few rubble piles over.  And to add to that, at this point there were about a dozen Boccaccio and three ratfish just meandering around in the area.  It was insane!  We saw a lot of boccaccio here on the first dive we ever did at this site, but since then, I haven't seen them in any large numbers.  So we basically just hung out there, watching the fish swim by for the rest of the deep segment of the dive.

Juvenile halfbanded rockfish
Eventually it was time to move shallower, so we headed to the top of the wall and out into the abyss, headed toward the north spot.  It was a much better day to be scootering out into the blue; the viz was really good.  After just a minute or so, I could see a shadow in the distance, and we hit a pinnacle.  It was the one we were looking for, which we had visited on a previous dive.  It has a very distinctive crack with some really lush gorgonians in it.  Since we were quite a bit shallower here, it was much brighter and so the viz seemed even better.  It was incredibly clear and blue.  It was also really cold.  Eventually it came time to start the ascent, so off we went.

Juvenile canary rockfish
I was really cold for basically all of deco.  Kevin was surprised when I launched into my bottle rotation at 70' as soon as Rob finished his.  But I figured the longer I waited, the less my fingers would work!  There were not too many deco critters to keep us entertained on deco.  There were a bunch of those long skinny jelly things that look like yellow pipe cleaners, with a little head at one end (Clinton told me the name, but I can't remember it).  At 20', there was a really long one, probably at least 15' long.  We heard the boat when we were at 50' and again when we were at 20', so that was good.  Looking up from 20', it didn't look as nice as it had when we dropped in.  Like I said, i was really cold on deco.  But somehow about 20 minutes into our 20' stop, I got over it.  I don't know if it was just a teeny bit warmer at 20' or if I just got over it.  But either way, I finally stopped counting the seconds down until deco was over :)  I've decided that I just don't like doing backgas breaks on 12/65, for a purely psychological reason.  The gas is so "easy to breathe" that I feel like I'm not breathing anything.  It's a pretty strange sensation, but I just don't like it.  Frank has told me stories of people bringing in regs and complaining that they are used to regs being harder to breathe.  So I guess it's something like that :)  Rob's shoulder was bothering him a bit, so we ended up padding our 20' stop and our ascent up from 20'.

Juvenile pygmy rockfish
When we hit the surface, it was FOGGY.  Like "oh shit" foggy.  I saw the boat after about 10 seconds, but for the first 10 seconds, I was thinking I was glad I brought the radio.  Apparently very thick fog rolled in shortly after we got in (which probably explains why it was darker than expected at depth), and it actually improved a bit while we were in the water.  Rob tried a new technique for reboarding the boat, since that often bothers his shoulder.  It took a bit more time to negotiate that, so I was on the surface for quite a while before I finally reboarded the boat.  But it was a nice day for a surface float.  Getting back on the boat went pretty well for me.  It was a super slow ride back, since we were in thick fog and thus going VERY slowly.  Also, I think at some point we got a bit off track, since we were going off the instruments.  The long slow ride plus the complete lack of sunlight made for a very cold ride home.  But eventually we found Lobos, and we even shot the gap between some of the outer rocks (Honeymoon I think).  When we got to the far side of bluefish, we ran into (well not literally) Luke, who was out there on a kayak.  Right at Lobos, the fog was not as bad, but you could see the fog bank just offshore.  While we waited for Phil to get his trailer, we marveled at the viz in the cove.  I told Rob that even though we had an awesome dive, I was sort of sad not to be doing a shallow dive at Lobos in such epic viz.  But there was still the rest of the weekend to make up for that :)

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