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Me diving

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Winter" Boat Diving

Basket star
Photo by Clinton Bauder
On Saturday, Matt and I were on a tech boat.  Rob and Kevin were both out of town, in Florida, cave diving without me :(  The forecast looked really bad.  It was something like 20 to 30 knot winds, with a steep medium-big swell (something like 8 feet at 8 seconds).  I had no hope of a successful boat outing, and didn't really understand why we were bothering to drive down to Monterey at all.  But I guess some people on the boat really wanted to go diving, so, we had to at least drive down.  Matt and I carpooled, and on the drive down, we discussed where we would be going for breakfast :)  As we approached Monterey, the bay looked pretty flat, and the flag on the flagpole by Del Monte was limp.  Kind of surprising, given the forecast.

Brown rockfish
Photo by Clinton Bauder
So we loaded the boat and headed out.  Close in, it was pretty flat, but the conditions deteriorated surprisingly quickly.  All of a sudden there were pretty big swells stacked up on each other.  We didn't even make it to Eric's Pinnacle before turning the boat around, and even then, Mike told Jim he couldn't believe it took him so long to come up to the wheelhouse to turn it around :P  Then turning around was a little scary (for me, probably not so much for Mike and Jim).  So, we had two choices for diving, Kawika's or Mile Buoy.  I'm generally more of a fan of Kawika's, but Clinton thought that Mile Buoy would be less stirred up with this swell, so that's where we went.  Even though it was really rough so close in, at Mile Buoy it was super calm.  No wind at all, and not much swell.

Wasted sea star
Photo by Clinton Bauder
We hopped into the water and found that on top, the viz was quite good.  We left our scooters on the boat, and on the way down the line, I kind of felt like I didn't know how to get down the line without a scooter to speed things up.  It seemed like it took forever to descend!  Unfortunately at the bottom, things were a bit stirred up, but the viz was probably above average for Mile Buoy.  And it was very bright for a deep Bay dive.  We meandered around, and saw the typical Mile Buoy stuff... a couple of  Tochuinas, and quite a few basket stars.

There were just a few things that I considered notable.  First, I saw a brown rockfish, which I almost never see.  In fact, I never see them so much, that I wasn't 100% sure that it was a brown rockfish, and was planning to quiz Clinton about it once we got back on the boat.  Luckily Clinton got a picture of it, so it was very easy to confirm that.  Second, I finally got to see the sea star wasting disease that everyone has been talking about.  "Got to see" doesn't sound right, since it is not a very pleasant thing to look at (or to have, I guess, if you are a sea star).  Some of those starfish (yes, I just used the term "starfish") look like something chomped a leg off, except that the leg is sitting right next to it, so you know that's not what happened!  It's really not a nice looking thing to see, but Clinton got some "good" pictures of it, in terms of documentation.  Finally, there were a nice number of juvenile rockfish.  Maybe that's not notable, since there seem to be a nice number of juvenile rockfish everywhere these days! :)

Deco visitors
Deco was pretty nice, since the viz was outstanding.  There were lots of sea nettles, only one of which nailed me, and we were frequently visited by a bunch of sea lions.  It's funny, the sea lions were all over us and one other team, but the other teams said they didn't see any sea lions at all.  When we surfaced, our bag was quite close to one of the other teams (who got sea lion action), and the boat was sitting not too far away, just hanging out there, since it was dead flat.  Even flatter, I think, than it had been when we got in.  It was also sunny with clear blue skies; just a super nice day out on the bay.  So I started to swim to the boat, since I didn't know if we were too close to the other bag.  Once we got swimming, the crew told us that they had intended to do a pickup, but since we were already swimming, we told them we would come to them.  So that gives you an idea of how calm it was; we volunteered to swim (no scooters) to the boat at the end of the dive :P

Once we collected the other teams, we headed in, and were back at the dock before noon!

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