It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

I've officially decided that I should no longer feel constrained to posting blog posts in date order, since that just means that I am always more and more behind on my posts.  And, ya know, it's my blog, so I can do what I want :)  So, here's a pretty recent post, even though I have a bunch more posts to catch up on from the past 3 months.

Memorial Day weekend was pretty action-packed, even though very little of that action involved diving.  I drove down on Thursday night, and brought the kitties along.  They were not too amused.  I don't know if it was the night driving, or just the fact that getting Pepper into her carrier was quite a bit more traumatic than usual, but they squawked their heads off until at least Morgan Hill, before finally falling asleep and being mostly quiet for the rest of the ride.  We didn't do a ton on Friday -- Rob was working and I spent a good part of the afternoon putting together a super complicated-to-assemble sewing table that I had just picked up from Walmart.  I'm honestly not sure if I would have bought the thing if I knew it was *that* complicated to put together :)  Friday night, we went to one of the beaches along Ocean View Blvd so that Rob could take some pictures of sunset.  Rob has just started playing around with HDR pics at sunset, and probably wouldn't consider this one production quality, but I think it's quite nice.

On Saturday, we were in the Escapade.  The forecast was pretty iffy, and so were the conditions!  We managed to make it down to the Lobos area, with E3/Deep E3 as the target.  Not too far from Lobos, I was adjusting my neck seal (I was already completely in my suit at this point), and I felt a crack/slit at the edge of it.  A pretty big-feeling one.  It felt like it might split at any moment.  I asked Kevin to take a look and tell me if he thought it was diveable.  He was pretty iffy on it, so he took a picture of it with his phone, so that I could take a look.  Maybe even more disconcerting than the split itself was that there were lots more little cracks below and all around it.  Rob looked at it, and said he thought he could duct tape it.  John and Clinton both registered skepticism about diving that on a tech dive.  In the end, Rob did duct tape it, but I still decided it was too iffy for a tech dive.  Live to dive another day.  So I warned Clinton that I would definitely be expecting a second (recreational) dive with him, and helped everyone else get geared up and into the water.  I did a bunch of bottle clipping, and man, that's kind of hard work on a pitching boat.  The crew on the Escapade always make it look easy though :)

While the boys were in the water, I got to pass the time practicing holding station in the big boat.  Actually there was only a very short period of time where I was at the wheel, and I found it quite terrifying.  I kept us heading into the wind (there were quite a lot of whitecaps by this point) for a while, but eventually I had to turn if I was going to circle back around to the downline, and that was terrifying.  But kind of fun.  Also while they were down, we saw a breaching whale out in the distance.  He was breaching over and over and over again; it was a bummer we couldn't go check it out.  Before you know it, bags were up and we meandered along with them, wringing our hands about whether one of the teams was going to drift too close to the rocks for a pickup in this wind.  In the end, they just made it beyond where it would have been dicey to do a pickup.  The pickups were only the usual amount of dicey-ness for this amount of wind.  The conditions actually deteriorated quite a bit in the last 10 to 15 minutes that divers were in the water, so it was pretty snotty by the time everyone was back on board.  So we got the heck out of there, and headed back to the bay for a second dive.

Even in the bay, it was pretty snotty at some of the further out sites, like Ballbuster.  So I decided to go wimpy and suggested Eric's Pinnacle.  Clinton agreed.  No one else was excited enough to do a second dive.  I guess the first dive wasn't that awesome; it was dark/green, and neither Rob nor Clinton thought it was nice enough to even get their cameras out to take pictures.  When we anchored at Eric's, you could see pretty far down the line, so we thought we were in for nice conditions.  It turns out that the water was very clear in the top 15 to 20 feet, but below that, it was pretty murky.  The viz was probably slightly better than average for Eric's, but definitely not what we had in mind from what we saw on the boat.  Oh well.  Clinton managed to at least get a few nice pictures of me, as Ted later said to me, "at Eric's... in a rebreather".  Yea, that's pretty lame.  Much of the dive was in the 20 to 30 foot range, so I felt like I was trying to get my buoyancy and loop volume right for like the entire dive.  Clinton kept pointing the camera at me while I was on the way up shallower or down deeper, when my buoyancy was never right!  So I think a lot of his shots had bubbles coming out of my nose.  That's what he gets for not giving me any warning before he starts clicking :P

I was a bit disappointed after the dive, when I took my drysuit off, that the neck seal didn't explode dramatically.  In fact, it didn't split at all; I guess the duct tape worked :)  We headed to lunch at the pub at K-dock, and sat outside, where everyone was either too cold or too hot.  Later in thte afternoon, Rob and I went for a short hike at Lobos.  Rob was hoping to take some pictures of baby seals or maybe otters, but due to technical difficulties (which I won't expound upon, to protect Rob's street cred), no pictures were taken.  We took the patch around whaler's cove over to coal chute, then up to the thumb, and a little further to the cove by Monastery.  It was a nice short "hike".  Since the traffic back through Carmel was terrible, we decided to take a little drive down the coast, hoping traffic would clear before we came back.  We made it down to Bixby Creek Bridge, parked there and walked around a little (Rob was scoping out spots to take pictures of the bridge from), and then headed back.  Traffic was way better by the time that we got back.

On Sunday, we were hoping to take the ducky out for some whale action, but the sea conditions were not favorable.  But Rob was really itching to get some pictures with his new lens.  We met Jim for lunch (at La Tortuga), and Jim offered to show us some of his spots where he takes pictures of birds.  So we went on a little tour of birding spots in the Moss Landing through Aptos area.  We finished up at an osprey nest, where we hung out for a while.  It was pretty overcast when we first got there.  We did manage to see an osprey return to the nest with a fish in his claws (Rob got a shot of this, but since the background was an overcast sky, he won't publish it :( ), and then we watched him eat the fish (very slowly).  Later on, the sun finally came out and Rob got some blue sky pictures of one of the ospreys stretching his wings.  Yay!

On Monday, the conditions were ducky-able.  We met Jim, Bev, and Clinton in Moss Landing, and headed out from there.  We saw humpbacks here and there closer to shore, but the real action was pretty far out, maybe 10 miles from shore.  There was a one mile or so area where there must have been 30 whales.  Once we got out there, Rob, Clinton, and Jim all got their cameras out, so I was stuck with the task of driving.  We pretty much just had to look out and pick which group of spouts we wanted to go look at.  At some point, I was debating about which group of spouts to go to next, when all of a sudden I heard a loud almost growling sound, and a whale came up within 10 feet of the boat.  The "growling" was the up-close sound of a whale exhaling.  A total of 5 or 6 whales all came up without maybe 15 feet of the boat, all around us.  It was really cool, but a bit scary too, since they kind of came out of nowhere.  Luckily none of them decided to breach right next to the boat.

We eventually found a young whale that was breaching over and over and over again.  We spent quite a bit of time watching him.  His mom was swimming along next to him, just doing the normal whale thing, while he was just breaching over and over again.  It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work, keeping us on the right side of the whale for the right light for the ornery photographers on the boat).  In addition to this guy, we had an encounter with a flamboyant tail-slapper, and some very friendly/curious albatrosses.  One of them seemed to really really want his picture taken.  After several hours of whale fun, we came back in and had dinner at the Sea Harvest right there by the harbor.

Then, we had the complicated task of getting ourselves (and our cats) home on a holiday weekend.  We headed back to PG to get the cats, but the traffic report was so terrible that we stayed there until pretty late, to let the traffic clear.  In the end it took about 2 hours to get home, which isn't terrible (pretty standard for 101 on a Sunday night, though usually earlier in the evening).  Rob got home much faster than me, because he took 17.  But I really didn't want to take the cats over 17, since I was afraid it would make them carsick.  But we eventually all made it home, without much squawking from the kitties.

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