It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, September 13, 2014

An Insanely Nice Day to be on a Boat, at Sur 19

Photo by Clinton Bauder
On Saturday, we made it down to Big Sur for our first Big Sur Banks dive of the "season".  The seas were flat enough to get down there, though on the way down, they weren't lake-flat.  But we got down there without a problem, woohoo.  We decided on Sur 19, since everyone seems to like it better than Sur 20 (well I do anyway).  When we got in the water, we were greeted by excellent viz.  It was super clear and super blue, and it was Sur 19... lots of hydrocoral and lots of fish.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
There were schools of both adult and juvenile rockfish, though the juvenile schools wasn't as insane as what we saw last year.  Still enough to block out divers in the photos though, as you can see.  There was a school of adult blue rockfish, with a sprinkling of olives, as usual; the adult school also wasn't the biggest I've seem down there, but still respectable.  There were also a lot of lingcod, which seems to be a common theme this year pretty much everywhere we dive!  We had a great dive, and we even managed to eek out an extra five minutes on the site, since the viz was so good, we could see all of the other teams.  So, we weren't going to leave until everyone else did.

Rarely photographed sea kitten
Photo by Clinton Bauder
On the ascent, I couldn't believe how clear the water was.  We could see down to the reef for most of deco, plus it seemed like we could see really far horizontally too.  I felt like a bit of a spazz on the second half of the deco, an intermittent thing with the 'breather.  I have a love-hate relationship with the thing... I'll have a few great dives on it and then a dive where I'm a total spazz.  And there seems to be no correlation with difficulty of conditions or anything else.  So that was a bit of a bummer in terms of finishing up a great dive.  After the dive, I was definitely looking forward to selling the purple people eater on Craigslist as soon as I got home.

A little greener at G-Spot
Photo by Clinton Bauder
With such a great first dive, we of course felt compelled to do a second dive, which was guaranteed to be nowhere near as awesome.  And the thing is, we always know and discuss the fact that the second dive is almost certain to be a letdown, but we usually do it anyway.  Actually the only reason I got back in the water for the second dive was to practice an ascent on the way back up; otherwise I'd be stewing on my crappy ascent all week.  We went to G-Spot, and Rob and I planned to go down, look around a bit, and then do an ascent with some mock stops.  And that is what we did.  The viz was pretty green and crappy, so I didn't feel any real compulsion to stay too long anyway.  The wall there is pretty nice, though, and there was a pretty big school of rockfish hanging out atop the wall.  The other team saw a mola, but we did not.  Boohoo.  Anyway, we did an ascent with some short stops from about 50' up, and it went fine.  Rob gave me some helpful pointers on how to not be a spazz.  Which were the same very basic helpful pointers I've been told dozens of times in all of the GUE classes I've ever taken, but I suppose I've gotten a bit lazy/sloppy over the years... I'm used to letting my head and arms go wherever they want on deco, but with the questionable trim properties of the PPE, I have to actually keep my head back/arms up.

Photo by Robert Lee
After two dives on the Big Sur coast, you might think the fun was over, but not at all.  We had some excellent whale watching on the way home.  Not too far from G-Spot, it all started with a group of whales that was lunge feeding, together.  I've never seen this behavior before, but basically the group of whales would kind of corral the bait-ball and then all at the same time, they would pop their mouths out of the water to feed.  Jim got some awesome pictures (unlike Clinton, Jim has not granted me a lifetime license to post his pictures on the blog, hence the link).  We watched this for quite a while, probably at least an hour.  There were other whales breaching in the distance, trying to get an audience with us, but the feeding was much more interesting.  Eventually we headed north, where we saw tons of whales along the way, but didn't really stop again until we got to Carmel Bay, where we saw... orcas.  I've never seen orcas before (well, except at Sea World), so I was, of course super excited.  The orcas weren't really putting on that much of a show for us, but they were cute.  There was a baby with them, awww.  Rob got some pictures of them not doing anything too interesting.

All in all, an awesome, long day out on the boat.

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