It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mexico 2013: Recap and Video

I've finally finished posting the last of the reports from our trip to Mexico.  Even more impressively, I finally managed to finish editing the video from the whole trip (and without a trip to the Apple store to get a new computer, though that was threatened several times!).  So, here's the video and links to all of the posts from the trip:

Gran Cenote: Lithium Sunset, etc.
Jailhouse, Upstream to Ninth Level, etc.
The Crack at Naharon
Xunan Ha
Cenote Regina
Ox Bel Ha from Yax Chen
Last Dive of the Trip: Jailhouse, Downstream

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Deep E3

Be sure to get my good side
On Saturday, we were on a BAUE tech boat.  I was diving with just Rob, since Kevin was out of town.  After last weekend's epic viz, we were quite hopeful for another great viz day.  Rob got home from a trip late the night before, so he didn't bring his camera :(  I brought my hero cam, though I didn't really feel like videoing.  So Rob took the camera at some point, when I refused to video something he pointed out.  (So, as much as I hate to lower my photographic standards here, I think hero-cam screen captures are better than nothing.  Hopefully you agree.)  When we got down to Monterey, we were greeted with patchy fog.  Hmph.  It was clear in Monterey, but we could see the fog bank out by Pinos, and it was patchy into Carmel.  We headed out, hoping it would burn off by the time we got someplace where we would want to dive.

When we got to Lobos, the E3-area looked promising.  It was in an unfoggy area.  However, I wasn't totally sold on getting in the water when there was patchy fog nearby, since patchy fog seems to have a tendency to move around :)  We hung out for a little while, and the fog started to clear all the way from Lobos, up to the north side of Carmel Bay.  Woohoo.  So we dropped on E3, with the plan being to head over to Deep E3, and then back to E3 to start the ascent.  When we got into the water, we found good viz but not epic viz like the previous weekend.  But definitely not viz that I would complain about!  We headed down the line, found ourselves on E3, and pretty much headed straight over to E3.

Good viz, even on a hero-cam
The first cool sighting of the dive was a single bocaccio (which would be the only one for the entire dive).  Once we got to Deep E3, we sort of circumnavigated it, or started to anyway.  But about 3/4 of the way around, Rob saw the purple sea fan below us, so we went down to admire it.  So pretty.  And no camera, hmph.  Then, not very far at all from that, Rob found a crinoid!  Yay.  I would say that it is a bit shallow for that, but I'm fairly certain I've seen the occasional crinoid at Deep E3 before, so I guess I have to change my story on that.  From there, we just sort of meandered around.  We didn't see the quillback that seems to be resident on Deep E3, though we didn't really search for him.  But he wasn't out in his usual area.

We eventually meandered over to another pinnacle, because the other team was over there.  I guess they headed over there, thinking it was E3, but it wasn't.  I thought we were just going to some other pinnacle before heading back to E3, so I didn't really care :)  I'm not really sure which pinnacle we were on... it wasn't D3, I don't think.  There were a fair number of fish out and about near the bottom over there.  There was of course, the usual blue rockfish school moving around on the pinnacle tops, but this was a fairly good number of rockfish for being so deep.  Not sure what they were doing down there.  Apparently the other team found a wolf eel, but we didn't see it.  Boohoo.

Eventually Rob caught on that there was some confusion about where we were, so he led us all over to E3.  By now we didn't have that much time left on the dive.  The viz seemed a bit better here, but I think it was just brighter, since we were shallower.  The only notable thing that I saw here was squid or octopus ink hanging in the water.  I didn't see the creature that squirted the ink, but I'm guessing that we came along and spooked it.  It was just a little poof of ink hanging in the water, and I watched it dissipate.  After not very long, we thumbed it and started our ascent.  It was pretty uneventful.  We could see the other team for quite a bit of the deco.  Once we got shallower, the viz got a little worse and our deco schedules diverged, so we could no longer see them.

Her kittiness graces E3
We surfaced into a tempest.  Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but wow had the wind kicked up.  There were whitecaps everywhere, and when I started to scooter to the boat, I wasn't making very good progress.  I made it to the boat, but not too speedily.  Then when I got to the back of the boat, I unclipped (both clips of) a bottle to hand up, what I thought was my 50% bottle.  But it was actually my O2 bottle, which I was still breathing.  So I had to deal with that.  My fingers were a bit numb, and I was very worried about dropping it as I tried to clip it back on.  In the time it took me to deal with that, I had drifted quite a bit.  I totally pulled a Ted.  Rob was waiting at the ladder, ready to climb back in, and the crew was telling him to just get on the boat, and they could come and get me.  But Rob was worried I might need assistance.  I gave him the hold signal, because I wasn't really sure I could get the bottle clipped back myself, but finally my numb fingers complied and I was all set.  So I released Rob from the hold :) and started to scooter back to the boat.  I didn't think I was going to make it back without them coming back around for me.  I finally started to kick while going balls-out* on the scooter, and saw that I was making forward progress.  Eventually I got back to the boat.  It was a somewhat harrowing ordeal.  So even though I was planning on handing up my O2 bottle (I had a slight elbow injury so thought I should climb the ladder with as little gear as possible), I just wanted to get back on the fracking boat at this point and just tossed my gear up and up the ladder I went.  My elbow didn't seem to mind.

When I got back on the boat, I noted that I was glad Jim wasn't on the boat today, because that was totally embarrassing.  Mike assured me that they would tell Jim :)  The other team likely had some foibles on getting back on the boat (requiring a second pass by the boat) so I felt a little better about that.  We had a windy ride back, but I didn't think I was going to die or anything.

*I just recently learned the etymology of the term "balls-out".  Turns out, it has nothing to do with male anatomy, but rather steam engines.  So while I used to dislike the phrase, I am now a fan.