It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Back to Home Base

After three epic dives at Cordell Bank, I wondered if coming back to Monterey diving would be a big disappointment.  In fact, I was joking with Jim that I felt like I'd reached the pinnacle, and that  it might be time to retire.  But, I was already signed up for a tech boat on Saturday, so I figured I might as well give Monterey another try :P  Apparently our lucky streak had not yet come to an end.  We had nice calm conditions on our ride down to Yankee Point, and decided to go to Mount Chamberlin.  There was some back and forth on where to go, whether we wanted to dive the main wall, or the south annex.  Rob wanted to go to the annex, but one of the other teams wanted to dive the wall.  In the end, Jim suggested that we drop on the south wall, and each team could decide if they wanted to go to the annex or stay on the main wall, since they are close enough from a bag-shooting perspective.

We headed down the line and found very nice conditions.  The viz was insanely good when we got over to the annex.  You could look down the wall and see a very long way, and see to the bottom from the top of the structure.  There was a bit school of "bigger" juvenile rockfish, which seemed to be everywhere that we went.  Since we were planning to spend our entire dive here, we meandered along the north side for a while before heading to the back side.  I was pretty far up the wall, trying to video along the side of the wall (to get a shot showing how vertical the wall is), when Rob signaled me from below, to show me a wolf eel.  I guess all of those little baby wolf eels we saw a few months ago are growing up :)  I got some footage of him, hopefully without permanently blinding him, and then continued on along the bottom of the wall.  I found a little red octopus on the wall close to the bottom as well.

We eventually headed to the back side, where there were some adult rockfish.  There was a school of blues with a few olives mixed in.  It was a pretty unimpressive school of rockfish compared to my last dive at Cordell :)  Being back at Mt. Chamberlin gave me a chance to compare the life in Carmel versus at Cordell.  One big difference that we all noticed at Cordell was the lack of gorgonians (well they are there somewhere, but not at any of the dive sites that we went to).  So it was nice to be back to a site with very lush gorgonians.  I also noticed that those bright yellow hydroids that were all over the place at Cordell were around but in a darker, browner shade.  Also, sponge life really is different, even compared to Northern East and West Ridges, which I thought (at the time) were more similar to something like Mt. Chamberlin.  They had a lot more red, orange, and pink encrusting sponges.

Anyhoo, back to the dive.  Rob and I did a little experiment with the video light, where he was lighting the scene for me from above, while we were both on the trigger.  It was moderately successful (and made it into the video), but I think we'd do things a bit different next time.  For one thing, I would scooter on a slower speed.  After that little experiment, we ended up back on the north side of the top of the annex.  From there, we headed east, to see if we could make it to the shallower part of the structure before starting our ascent.  We know from the bathymetry that it eventually gets shallower, but we didn't make it that far.  We ended up finding more peaks in the 140 to 150' range, before eventually giving up on finding shallower structure, and starting our ascent.

On deco, there were lots of sea nettles, and the viz was still quite good.  It was just enough nettles to make for nice scenery, without being too many to deal with.  When we surfaced, it was a little windier than it had been before the dive.  It wasn't big big, but the boat was really moving, and I found it pretty hard to hold onto the ladder.  It took a lot of gripping strength (which I seem to lack these days from too much laptopping :P).  The ride home was not too rough though.  We had an encounter with several Rissos, who were even cooperative enough for a little video :)

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