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Me diving

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sea Lions over Ed Coopers Wall

Kevin and I were on a BAUE tech boat on Saturday.  We were sans Rob, since he was teaching a class that day.  There was a moderate-sized swell in the forecast, but with a long period, so we weren't too worried about that from a boating perspective, and there wasn't much wind (and I believe it was out of the south, or some non-standard direction).  We ended up at Ed Coopers' wall, which for some reason, Kevin has been antsy to dive recently.  We tried to dive it recently, but it didn't work out, so he asked for it again, and who can complain about that?  The ride down was quite calm, though when we got there, we found that at the point, there were big breakers from the long swell.  So definitely not a day to drift into the rocks :)

We got geared up and into the water, and found excellent color and visibility on the top.  But things got a bit murky once we got down to the bottom, on the reef.  It was quite churned up from the swell, and it was damn surgy for that depth!  We started to scooter out along the wall, toward deeper water, and my scooter was moving very slowly.  So slowly that it was basically unusable.  So I told Kevin, and we just kicked instead.  This was pretty easy, since we were kicking with the current :P  The topography of that wall is always quite impressive, but it had quite a few barnacles.  It wasn't completely devastated by them or anything, there were certainly still very colorful patches, but in some areas, there were a lot of barnacles.  We eventually made it out to a sort of plateau at around 200 feet, which was totally covered with brittle stars.  Weird.

When it came time to go shallower, we headed back in the direction that we'd come.  However, since we'd been swimming along the wall at 200', we didn't have anything to follow back at 150'... the wall only came up to like 170' where we were.  Doh.  So we decided to scooter, and I found that my scooter wasn't up to the task (we were now going up-current), and so Kevin towed me.  He towed me for a bit in a, umm, non-standard towing configuration, just long enough to get to a small spot in the 150' area.  But I wanted to find a spot that comes up shallower, so we could at least do our deep stops on the reef.  The spot we were on was just sort of a lone peak, without any wall to follow shallower.  So then we went into a proper towing configuration, and off we went, looking for the shallower part of the main wall.  We were scootering for quite a while, and at some point, I realized that all I could see below us was blue water.  We eventually found another peak that came up to about 160' or 170', but this still wasn't really a shallow enough spot.  After a bit more searching around, we ended up giving up and thumbing the dive, in blue water, about 5 minutes early.

So I guess overall the bottom portion of the dive was pretty meh, what with the bad viz, scooter failure, getting lost, and barnacle invasion.  But the deco portion was actually quite fun!  Once we cleared 100', the viz was stellar.  The water was bright blue, and we could see so far in all directions.  It was also, strangely, sort of warm; not what I'd expect for such clear blue water.  After we got onto our 70' bottles,
we began the deco negotiations.  Since we had aborted the dive early, I thought we could trim our deco a bit.  I had an idea of what I wanted to do, having spent a bit of time playing with different lengths of the shallow segment in deco planner, but I wasn't sure Kevin would go for it.  Then he whipped out his wetnotes, which contained this super awesome multi-level dive table (for this depth range) that Rob and I made a few years ago.  Rob and Kevin have these in their wetnotes, but for some reason I don't!  Anyway, that made it easy to confirm what I wanted to do, and we quickly settled on a new deco profile.  Not long after that, we were visited by some curious sea lions.  There were quite a few of them, and they spent a good bit of time zooming around us.  They got a bit more shy around our 20' stop, which was unfortunate, since it was so bright there, it would have been a great video opportunity.  The very fun deco made up for the somewhat disappointing dive.

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