It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 23, 2007

N Sisters

We dove at Lobos today. Anibal and Ildiko were diving there as well, and so were Suzanne and Gary, but since our dive plans didn't really mesh, we ended up just diving by ourselves. We were planning to do a skills dive (boring) first, and then go out to Beto's Reef. The (boring) skills dive was so I could practice all the fundies skills to do the tech pass sometime. It seems that every Monday, when I have lunch with Rob and Ted at the Jaywalk Cafe, they have a conversation that goes something like "we need to get Allison ready for her tech pass, so she can take {Cave1|Tech1}". Rob was also taking his new camera out for the first time. Woohoo.

While we were getting geared up for the first dive, another diver came over and asked if I was the one with a blog with cats on it :) I was delighted to meet a random person who reads my dive reports! He was interested in knowing more about the Breakwater night dive I reported about two weeks ago. I highly recommended checking out the Metridium/pipe side at night, since he said he always does the wall.

For dive 1, we just swam out to about 25 feet, and dropped down and found a nice sandy area to use. During the descent, my light crapped out. This is the second time that has happened. I went to stow it, but Rob pointed out that I should just leave it on my hand, since we were doing skills. Rob suspected that the battery just had a bad charge (that's what I get for outsourcing my battery charging to Rob :P). I swam around a little doing the various kicks, with Rob watching. He says I drop my knees when I flutter kick. I say I know I do, but when I'm doing it for the Beto-camera, I can do it right :) Perhaps I should just do it right all the time, instead of on demand in class. Then I did some back kicking (my favorite, so I do it all the time anyway). Next I did the basic 5, but when I went to put my mask back on, I floated away a little bit. So I repeated the mask remove and replace. The last couple of times I have done the mask remove and replace, I have noticed I have this terrible tendency to fin when my mask is off, so I take my mask off, charge forward, and when I open my eyes, I am someplace completely different. So I was focusing on staying still, which I managed to do. Next we did an S-drill (I donated to Rob), and we swam around a little sharing gas. Then I did a valve drill. It was okay, except when I switched back to my primary, my backup started free-flowing, and I floated a couple feet up in the confusion. Well, it wasn't really confusing at all, that's just my excuse for blowing the buoyancy window. Next, we did another S-drill, with Rob donating. This was all of the skills we wanted to do, except for ascents. So I decided to redo the valve drill. After I closed my isolator, I realized I hadn't been signaling with my light at all while I closed it. So I reopened it, and closed it again while signaling. Other than that, it went well. Finally I shot a bag, and we ascended, with stops every 10 feet. When I got to the surface, the bag was better inflated than usual, but still not completely inflated. We went back down and did an out-of-gas ascent (I donated). We did it without a reference, because there was no place to tie in (on the sandy bottom, duh). We did part of the ascent side-by-side, to simulate an ascent into current. 36 minutes, 25 feet, 50 degrees

After a brief surface interval, we headed back out for Beto's Reef. I brought my stage bottle (who I have named Stagey, by the way) since I got a weaker-than-normal fill in my tanks. Rob had put a float out, which he swam his camera out to. While I was standing on the ramp to help him, a woman who was swimming in at the end of her dive asked if I had a diving website with cats on it :) It must have been Cold Water Kitty fan club day at Lobos :P Anyhoo, Anibal walked the stage down to the edge of the ramp and handed it down to Rob, because Rob didn't want his precious camera to share the float with my bottle. Hmph! A convenient side effect of this was that Anibal grabbed my arm and walked me down to the water too :) I have gotten so used to the ramp being clean, but it could definitely use a cleaning now -- makes me really nervous walking down it. We headed out and dropped in about 40 feet of water, in the sand channel. I was leading the dive. When we first descended, I was like... this reg sucks! I twiddled with the regulator on my stage, and decided that it just doesn't breathe the same (read: as well) as my other ones, but it was working fine. Once we got going, I stopped noticing it, so I guess I just wasn't used to it. Rob and I had switched lights on the surface interval, since he was carrying his camera and was likely to keep the light clipped off anyway. Of course, the light worked fine for him. I'd like to get to the bottom of this mysterious behavior. But I got to try out Rob's uber-light (18W, mine is 10W), which is a behemoth on my hand :) But it was nice and bright. I was able to keep track of Rob's piddly little 10W surprisingly easily though.

We followed the sand channel out to Hole in the Wall, where Rob took a few test pictures.Then we headed out, umm, in the wrong direction. Last time we went there, we came back via Sea Mount to Hole in the Wall, and I thought we took a SSE heading. Well, I had a conversation with someone, who the reef may or may not be named after, and got the impression that I should actually go NW from Hole in the Wall. In hindsight, this is exactly what people have told me before is the route to the Three Sisters. Well, we were going to Beto's Reef in search of gorgonians and elephant ear sponges. Instead, we saw gorgonians and elephant ear sponges slightly west of Beto's Reef :) On the way out, we saw a big elephant ear in like 70 feet of water... pretty cool, I've never seen that one before. Right below it was a sand rose anemone, but it was sort of pinkish white. Very pretty. So, we ended up at two nearby, hmmm, pinnacle-ish things. Not sure what exactly you have to do to qualify as a pinnacle. I don't know which two sisters they were, or maybe only one was one of the sisters, and the other was just a pile of rocks nearby. The first one had 4 gorgonians and some nice looking hydrocoral. Rob took pictures of the gorgonians, while I piddled around looking for nudibranchs. Rob allegedly saw a Festive Triton at Beto's Reef last time, and someone else told me they saw clown nudibranchs out there (the same day we were there). I have never seen a clown nudibranch at Lobos, so I was keeping an eye out for them today.

Then I saw the second reef just at the limit of visibility, I could see the outline of some tall reef structures. I could also see a bright white area... a big elephant ear. It was a beautiful specimen, very regularly shaped. There was also a small gorgonian nearby. We swam around this reef, and saw more elephant ears. Then Rob pointed out not one, but two, clown nudibranchs to me. One was the smallest I have ever seen. It was pretty cool, because in its scaled down size, the rhinophores were very distinct -- usually I think they totally blend in with the cerata. So I inspected the little guy for a bit while Rob took pictures of more elephant ears. I also found a really big Hermissenda. We swam back over to the first reef, where I signaled to Rob that I needed to switch off of my stage. I managed to wrap the hose of my primary around the stage hose not once, but twice (the second time as I was trying to unwrap it, but went the wrong way). After sorting that out, Rob went back to taking pictures of those pretty hydrocoral stalks I already mentioned. I was getting cold, so I called the dive. Apparently Rob had just hit his turn pressure anyway. We headed in, and saw some olive rockfish hanging in the kelp (with a few blue rockfish too). They were all facing the kelp stalk at just the right angle so that at first they looked like kelp leaves. I've never seen (or should I say noticed) olive rockfish before. Rob took some kelp shots, and got some really cute self portrait pictures.

The return trip was uneventful. We ran right into the sand channel, so we actually spent a lot of the return trip over sand. I ducked into the kelp by middle reef briefly, but it wasn't a very exciting part of middle reef, and I was cold (and of course, had to pee), so I decided to just head straight in. Rob somehow got the impression that schlepping the stage bottle was bothering me. At some point he offered to take it, and I said no. Then a little while later, I decided to experiment with the position of it. I had clipped the tail of it to my crotch strap after I switched off from it, which is typically a bit more comfortable once it is empty (buoyant). But it kept swinging to the left side, then the right side, etc. So I was thinking of clipping it back to the left D-ring. So I unclipped it and let it pop up behind my left arm. Before I managed to re-clip it, Rob gesticulates at me and hands me his camera. I figure my second stage on there had flopped out and he was fixing it. The next thing I know, I start sinking and Rob has my stage. Yes, it really is buoyant when empty :) Apparently he had "deduced" that I was bothered by the bottle and was being "helpful" and taking it for me. I flashed him the one-handed "broken" hand signal, a.k.a. the middle finger. Note: Taking someone's bottle without asking them is really annoying. 91 minutes, 103 ft, 47 degrees

The one good thing about getting lost was that now I think I have a much better picture in my mind of the relationship between Hole in the Wall, Beto's Reef, and the Three Sisters.

It was a nice day of diving at Lobos. The topside weather was great -- sunny and 70ish. In fact, it was so warm that when I was helping Rob to retrieve his camera and float, I went in without gloves, and it was quite comfortable!

Afterwards, we went to Turtle Bay where we met Nils for lunch. Then we went to the Breakwater to pester this month's fundies class. We met some of the students (one of whom I've chatted with on the Dive Matrix before), and chatted with Beto, Susan, and Dionna. I realized I had left my BAUE hat at Turtle Bay, so we had to swing by there again before heading home.

All of the pictures can be viewed here.

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