It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Left Side of Lobos

Rob and I were diving at Lobos on Sunday.  After a bit of waffling, we decided to go for a longer 32% dive.  After our recent trip to Florida, I guess we were just used to that!  We heard rumors of good viz, and the forecast was looking nice for a shore dive.  In fact it was a little bit rougher than we expected, based on the forecast, at least at Monastery and around Granite Point.  There were some pretty big waves breaking, which made our decision to go left versus right pretty easy.  We got there kind of late, a little before 9, since I like to sleep in when we don't have to be on a boat's schedule. We ran into a variety of BAUE friends, including two of the three bunnies!  So due to some socializing, we weren't in the water until 10 or so.  The good thing about this was that the tide was coming in, so it got a bit easier to get into the water by the time we were ready to go.  After a trip to Florida, those 85s seemed really light on my back.  However, I didn't dare to comment on this to Rob until I was safely in AND out of the water without falling down.

I was using Rob's scooter backend, because mine was in for service.  The prop fell off a few months ago (as it is prone to do on a Sierra), and the replacement hub (is that what you call it?) didn't seem to allow the prop blades to fully pitch up.  So I've been slow ever since, and it was time to just send it in and let the guys at Dive Xtras deal with it!  When we got into the water, I remembered that Rob had changed over the tow cord on his X to be "fixed".  I don't know why he did this, except to be contrary and annoying.  So I was expecting the cord to be too long, and thinking I could give it a warp around the handle or something.  But when I played around with it a bit on the surface, it was too short.  Way too short.  Then I remembered that the last person to dive the scooter was Vanessa, and since she is Pepper-sized, she must have shortened the cord.  She had achieved this with extra knots on the end (not a bad idea), which were a bit tricky to un-knot on the surface, with gloves on.  But eventually Rob and I got all of the knots out, and I managed to get the tow cord to be some reasonable approximation to the right length for me.  And then we were (finally) off!

We scootered out to the edge of the cove and dropped there.  For some odd reason, I was leading.  I can't remember how that came about.  At the start of the dive, Rob was going a bit too fast for me, so I told him to pitch down.  That might be how I ended up being crowned captain.  Our plan was to go left, but other than that, it was pretty much whatever.  I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure of everywhere that we ended up.  But we made it back, and I guess that's what matters :)  We headed to the left at Hole in the Wall and skipped across the various ridges beyond that.  When we got to Lone Metridium, instead of heading out toward the Sisters, we just kept going along the ridges, and then later we veered off over the sand.  Eventually we came to a couple pinnacles which seemed almost Sisters-like, but were smaller.  But I didn't recognize them, which was sort of shocking.  We saw a couple of lingcod egg masses, one which was being guarded, and one which, oddly, was not.  We eventually ended up at a fairly big reef which I thought was Shortcut.  But Rob didn't think it was.  After spending more time on it, I think it may have been the south side of Great Pinnacle.  But I'm not really sure -- it seemed to come up too shallow to be Shortcut but not shallow enough to be Great Pinnacle (which is why I'm thinking the south side of Great Pinnacle, whose peak isn't as shallow).  Anyway, wherever we were, we hung out there for quite some time.  The viz was really good, though it was quite surgy... just can't shake that pesky long-period swell.  There were a couple of small schools of blue rockfish making the rounds, and I took some video (which I didn't feel motivated enough to edit and post).

When we finally left there, we headed south, and I passed what I think is that ship-shaped rock between Great Pinnacle and Marcos.  Then we came to a really big structure that seemed to get quite shallow, which I surmised was Marcos.  After just a couple of minutes there, we headed back to the east.  We were skirting along the shallow reefs to our right at the reef-sand interface, when we crossed paths with the bunnies.  After a brief pause and some mutual video'ing, we continued on toward the Sisters, and intercepted the first sister.  Right around the center, near that distinctive head of hydrocoral, was a lingcod guarding its eggs.  I thought it was quite picturesque, so I circled it to Rob.  Then I took a little video of it, and when I looked up to see if Rob wanted a picture, he was at the second sister -- that should give you an idea of how good the viz was.  (Apparently he didn't get the signal when I circled the fish and his eggs.)  I headed over there, and after posing for a couple of pictures, Rob pointed out something sort of strange.  There was a school of rockfish that was all lined up and tucked against the west side of the pinnacle.  I'd noticed earlier at one of the other pinnacles we stopped on that a lot of fish were tucking themselves up against the pinnacle.  I wondered if this was related to the heavy surge.  Rob got a picture where you can see the fish doing this (see above).

Once we were finished at the sisters, we headed over the sand to Beto's reef.  We looked for the wolf eel, who wasn't home, and then after a quick scoot to the end (or so) of Beto's, we headed in.  As we were heading in, I noticed that Rob was going really slowly.  So I figured his scooter was slowing down.  Eventually he was going so slowly, I was on the lowest speed.  At that point, he gave up and asked me to tow him.  We were somewhere between Sea Mount and the rock just north of Hole in the Wall at that point.  So I towed him in, and I felt like we were barely moving (which I blame on his beast of a scooter), though we were definitely moving faster than if we were swimming.  When we got to 30 or 40 feet in the sand channel, I stopped, and suggested that we just kick from there so we could look around, so that's what we did.  When we got to the worm patch, we met another team that was ascending there, and while we switched onto our O2 bottles, yet another team passed by.  Must have been rush hour.  From there, we did a slow meander in, timing it pretty well so that we were really close to the ramp when we finished our deco.  We surfaced right along the wall by the parking lot, about 100 feet from the ramp.  Rob had enough juice left in his scooter to make it back :)

Since the tide was coming in, it was an easy exit.  We had left our stuff on the float, and Rob was antsy to retrieve it, but I suggested waiting until the Bunnies returned, and then we could pull all of the gear while they were still in the water.  (We were sharing their float, and I had loaded most of the gear onto the float when I got in to swim our stuff out, so I didn't feel like too much of a free-loader for doing this.)  In a few minutes, they appeared, and we managed to get all of the gear and the bunnies out of the water pretty efficiently.  After rinsing gear and chit-chatting a bit, we headed out for a little lunch at La Tortuga.  It's been a while.

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