It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, April 7, 2007

My, What a Nice Eel

We went to Point Lobos on Saturday and did a couple of dives with Anibal and Ildiko. I usually like to get to Lobos around 10 or 10:30, after the hard core divers are already in the water. But Rob convinced me to arrive before they open the gate, and said it would be "fun" to chat with all the other people waiting for the gate to open. As it turns out, about half of BAUE was there, so it was pretty fun.

Patrick loaned me his double LP85s, so Rob and I were able to explore a little further than I have ever been before. For the first dive, we went to the 3 Sisters. Ildiko was in a single tank, so we swam out on the surface a long way. We usually drop in 25 to 30 feet of water, but today we dropped in nearly 50 feet! We were really close to Hole in the Wall when we dropped. Then Anibal led us out to the first sister. It was a nice, it had lots of baby hydrocoral stalks, plus an elephant ear sponge (which I've never seen before). There were also a bunch of white sponges I had never see before (and could not identify) and a some sort of purple tunicate that I've never seen before and could not identify (looked somewhat like one of the colonial tunicates, but pretty bright purple). There were also a lot of brightly colored encrusting sponges (I like the pink ones with the star pattern on them), plus all of the usual Cannery Point-area stuff.

Anibal and Ildiko turned after the first sister, and Rob and I headed towards the other two. Unfortunately, we never found them, because we were heading a bit more north than we should have. We crossed over an area that had a bunch of "rubble" and some larger boulders too. We saw a couple large sheephead out here. There were a lot of fish in general, particularly small blue rockfish. The visibility was quite good (40 to 50 feet) and it felt like we were floating over a vast open space. Actually, this feeling was a little spooky, and at some point I made Rob come a little deeper with me, because I didn't like being so far "off the ground". We turned the dive because I was cold and feeling a little loopy. I attribute this to Rob swimming like it was a race to the last sister :) The return trip was uneventful. Rob had left his computer in non-gauge mode, and it thought we were breathing air, so it was pretty unhappy with him. It gave him something like a 25 minute deco obligation :) I even mentioned to him beforehand that he should probably either set the gas or put it in gauge mode! Before we left the ramp on this dive, we were helping someone try to locate their lost fin, and while looking around, I saw the resident monkey-faced eel, far back in a crack. So we decided to look for him on the way back in. Well, we found him, in a much more accessible location. This was the first time I'd seen him. He is so cute! We held out bits of kelp for him and he popped out of his hole and took it. Very fun. I looked around for a good monkey-faced eel picture online, but none of them quite do justice to how cute he is. 98 ft (avg 58 ft), 89 min, 48 degrees.

Between dives, Rob and I worked on the giant sub we got from Safeway. And I fed a piece of Chex to a squirrel (very bad, I know, but I accidentally dropped it on the ground).

I was originally not planning on doing a second dive, since I was cold, and didn't have enough gas left in my doubles. (The doubles were basically perfect for me at the start of the dive, but the last half, I was quite head down and constantly kicking my feet down. As a result, my gas consumption rate was 20 to 30% worse than usual. What a difference good trim makes :P) But I decided to switch to my single rig and go back out with them for an easy dive at Middle Reef. We saw the usual stuff, plus a very nice looking Hermissenda. It was pretty surgy for most of the dive, and the vis wasn't that great. We ended the dive with an S drill and out of gas ascent. Rob shot a bag before and and reeled it on the way up. We came up and realized we were a lot further east than we thought. So we decided to go back down and swim in. But I couldn't descend again. As soon as I started to descend, I had stabbing pain and a popping sensation in my forehead. I guess my cold isn't quite as gone as I thought it was. So we huffed it on the surface. 61 ft (avg 34 ft), 54 minutes, 48 degrees.

No pictures this week. On the first dive, Rob was carrying an Al 80 stage to see how it felt, so he didn't want to carry the camera too. On the second dive, we agreed that the conditions were not likely to be good so close in. Even on the first dive there was some surge at 80 ft. On the second dive, he breathed the stage, and he said he could barely tell he was carrying it. As far as my impressions on LP85s, I agree that these are the doubles for me. Even though I was head down, I am sure this can be fixed with a combination of moving them down, or (more drastic) switching to an Aluminum plate. I could reach the valves very easily, so there is definitely room to move them down. Getting in and out at Lobos at very low tide was not that fun, but it's not that fun even in a single tank. The weight of the doubles really didn't bother me.

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