It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Rocky Day on the M.V. Sammet

Team Kitty was back out on Phil's boat again on Friday.  I'm trying to cram in as much Friday diving as possible right now.  The forecast looked pretty good, though the reality was somewhat different from that.  It was pretty rocky once we were outside of Whaler's, and as we headed around the point, it just got worse.  At some point, a bit past the E3 area, it was sort of scary rough, so we stopped there to discuss.  We decided to peek around the point, to see if the conditions were any different there, and then turn back if they were not.  After a rough ride around the point, conditions actually calmed down a lot, much to my surprise.  There were still whitecaps around, but it wasn't scary big.  There was some patchy fog around, which was a bit of a concern.  Based on that, we decided to go to Birthday Wall, and come up the main peak (rather than scootering to one of the other peaks).  This way we could come right back to the line to shoot our bag, in case the fog moved in over the area.

When we got to the site, we drove around looking at the depth sounder, as usual, and we found a slightly shallower spot than usual, in the 130s.  We can never usually find that spot.  So, we dropped anchor, got geared up, which was only mildly barf-inducing, and rolled into the water.  We headed down the line into sort of murky but bright green water.  I wouldn't call the viz bad, but there was a good bit of particulate in the water column.  It cleared up as we got deeper, but then it was darker.  Not as dark as it sometimes is at the start of the wall there though.  Overall I would call the viz pretty good.  It was also pretty cold.  We hit the structure shallower than usual, which came as a surprise as I descended.  I think there are two peaks right next to each other, and one comes a bit shallower.  I'm pretty sure the first time we ever went to the site, we anchored on the shallower of the two (which comes to about 130'), but since then, we've always ended up on the deeper (which comes to about 150').  There were a lot of juvenile rockfish on the pinnacle; more on that later.

We headed down the wall, and pretty much right after we got to the bottom, Kevin's scooter crapped out.  Doh.  He did not require a tow however, since we were moving with the current at that point.  There is often a current in that direction here, and it was a bit more than usual, but not ripping or anything.  Since we were just drifting with the current, and we'd started at the further (from the deep wall) pinnacle, I wasn't sure that we'd make it to Flaggle Rock.  But before you know it, I recognized the rock pile where they like to hang out.  I looked around for them a bit and couldn't find any :(  So I looked around at the wall next to it a bit.  There were the usual assortment of juveniles and "red rockfish" and some lings.  In the deep portion of the dive, the fish life was good, but not particularly epic, compared to how it often is.  Then at some point I looked back to the rock pile, and a flaggie had appeared!  He was just sitting there, tucked against a rock, waiting to be admired.  I pointed him out to Rob, who got to work taking pictures.  It was pretty much time go to, so once we head done, we started up the wall, when a ratfish appeared!  I thought it was a pretty big specimen, though Rob and Kevin didn't really agree.  He was swimming down the wall, bumping along, as Rob got a few pictures.  Then it was really time to go, so we headed up and in along the wall.

Now we were going against the current, so I figured eventually Kevin would ask for a tow.  He swam for a while, we eventually stopped to go onto our 190' bottles, and then finally after a bit more swimming, I think he got a pretty brief tow from Rob.  We returned to the shallow pinnacle, which was completely engulfed in juvenile (err, YOY) rockfish.  It was completely disorienting to be in the swarm.  I took some video of it, and then I had to extricate myself, so I could get my bearings.  Then I just hung off of the pinnacle for a bit, watching them.  We were right next to the anchor line at this point, so when the time came, we headed up the line, and shot the bag somewhere during the deep stops.  We stayed on the line through the 70' and 60' stops (which was fairly annoying, because there was a little current), and then started to drift.  The viz got markedly worse at about 50'; it was still really bright, but there were lots of particles (which looked white to me) hanging in the water.  It got a little warmer too, but not by much.

When we surfaced, the sun still hadn't really come out, but the wind had completely laid down.  The ride back was crazy flat, though foggy.  I couldn't believe how much it had changed in just a couple of hours.  The super sporty ride around the point was dead calm, but then there was also fog basically right up to Whaler's Cove (making the ride back a bit scary in a different way, especially with Kevin driving :P).  While we were waiting for Phil to bring the trailer back, we noticed that the rock off to the south of the ramp has a nesting sea gull on it.  The babies were still fuzzy and apparently couldn't fly.  Very cute.  She was not too appreciative of us buzzing around her rock though.  (That reminds me, on the way out, we also saw a sea otter with her baby, in Whaler's Cove.  Maybe the same one I saw there two weeks ago.)

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