It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, May 28, 2007

Scootering Lobos, Take 2

In an earlier post, I reported about a failed attempt to learn to scooter at Lobos. Today I tried scootering again, this time with Kevin. It was really fun! We went over the details of using the scooter on the surface, and did some land drills (how to go, how to speed up, slow down, turn, etc.). Then Rob swam our scooters out to the buoy he had setup (I'm still not down with walking into the water carrying the scooter, even if it is "only" 45 pounds). Then we geared up and headed into the water. Kevin was leading, I was #2, and Rob was #3. Rob has a little bit of scootering experience, so they put me in the middle so they could each keep an eye on me :)

We scootered out on the surface just a little bit, and descended in about 10 feet of water. Here we practiced scootering around in a circle (we each did it, while the others watched, Kevin first, then me, then Rob), and then we practiced how to handle a runaway scooter (Kevin demonstrated first). Then we surfaced (the viz was pretty bad that far in), and scootered out a bit further. Then we descended into the sand channel in about 20' and headed out through the channel. The plan was to go out to Granite Point Pinnacles (which I've never been to before), max depth 80ish, max time 100 (but shooting for 90, since I expected to be cold from scootering). The sand channel is a great place to practice, since there aren't very many obstacles to run into. At some point I was thinking... this thing doesn't go as fast as I was expecting, and then I noticed we were already in 40' of water :) It's amazing how it doesn't feel like you are going very fast, but you cover a lot of ground quickly. At some point I was having trouble with a sticky trigger, so Kevin traded scooters with me. Apparently there was just a little salt encrusted in there, which dissolved after a little while. As we were heading out along Middle Reef, I played around with my tow cord length a little to find a comfortable position.

When we got to the end of Middle Reef, we all signalled and agreed to head out to Granite Point. We passed by "V Mount" which Kevin had told us was a landmark on the way to Granite Point. Then out we went over the sand towards Granite Point. Again, a good place to practice scootering. When we made it to the wall, I was surprised how quickly we got there. I almost ran into Kevin, because he'd stopped in front of the wall :) We clipped off the scooters and swam around Granite Point from there. I'd been promised lots of hydrocoral and I quickly saw one or two small stalks. But then I didn't see any for a while, so I was like... what's with that? There were plenty of surfaces covered with strawberry anemones and various sponges and tunicates. Finally we got to some rocks with hydrocoral, and there was tons of it! It was very pretty. Rob took some pictures -- he was trying to setup some pictures with Kevin in them, but it was quite surgy (even at 60+ feet), so that didn't work too well. We were weaving in and out of the various pinnacles. I can see how it would be really pretty with better viz. We had about 30' of chunky viz. It was still nice -- there were lots of juvenile blue rockfish out in the water. I was getting cold when Kevin signalled for us to start heading back.

We whipped out our scooters and headed back. The first thing we did was head down to the sand (about 80 feet), which was pretty fun to do on the scooters. It was like we were weaving our way down a hill. We saw a rock with around 8 to 10 Metridium on it in this deeper area. Pretty cool! I've only ever seen 1 Metridium before at Lobos (the Lone Metridium). We headed back out over the sand, and on the way, we saw a Torpedo Ray. He was small, maybe 8 inches (definitely under a foot). He was so cute. And not at all skittish... he let us look at him up close and Rob took pictures for a few minutes. After that, we headed back in, and before we knew it, we were at V Mount. On the way in on the sand channel, I decided to see how fast this thing could go :) Pretty much for the entire dive (except when I was playing around in the very beginning), I left the scooter in 3rd gear (which is the default when you first start it up). So I took it up to 4 and then 5, and I flew past Kevin. Yea, I am a bad teammate, not staying in my position :) I was also having fun weaving through the kelp. Of course, that is mild compared to the tricks that Kevin and Rob were doing. Basically every time we were about to head in some direction, Kevin would start out facing the opposite direction and do some sort of loop or corkscrew turn to get himself going. Near the end of the dive, we encountered two other divers in the water, and while I was concentrating on not running into them, Rob buzzed by them and did a barrel roll. What a showoff :) I am sure when I become more proficient at scootering, doing tricks will be fun.

By this point it was time to ascend. Once I stopped scootering, I noticed that I had a terrible cramp in my right leg. It was so bad, that I couldn't lower my leg to vent the gas in my foot. I signalled this to Kevin, and he rubbed my leg until the cramp went away. I managed to vent the gas in there, and then it was cramped again. So I was kind of helpless during the ascent -- couldn't back kick, couldn't vent gas effectively. But we were only ascending from about 13 feet :) Once we were on the surface, we scootered back to the ramp. We went back down to look for the eel. Rob found him, and was pointing into this hole where I absolutely could not see any sign of an eel. Then after looking and looking and giving up and then going back and looking again at Rob's insistence, he popped his head out and hung there for a while. I offered him some kelp, but he wasn't interested. 91 feet, 92 minutes, 48 degrees

There are two (related) things that really surprised me about scootering. First, my gas consumption sucked. I totally expected it to be better because I wasn't kicking. But I think I was breathing hard because I was so excited. And because I was probably not being very efficient at first -- I was moving the scooter around, trying to figure out the right place for it to be, plus it took me a while to grasp the fact that I don't need to kick AT ALL when scootering. I was finning a little bit on the way out. Second, I thought I'd be cold while scootering. The only time during the dive that I was cold was when we were swimming around at Granite Point. I was totally warm while we were scootering, again probably because I was very excited!

So now I am a big fan of scooters. I think I am addicted. Thanks Kevin for taking us out!


Kevin said...

Gas consumption will always be high to start with when scootering. As you get more comfortable it will start to drop and drop.

Ben V said...

Glad you had fun... scooter is always a blast... a lot to handle at first...

Oh and usually get a cramp after a long scooter run...

Cool pic with the ray...