It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, September 8, 2007

To Cannery Point and Beyond

Rob is out of town, so I was on my own for diving this weekend. I have never actually been diving without him before. Well, I have dived without him, but I have always at least driven to the dive site with him (actually, he does most of the driving, I do most of the snoozing on the way to the dive site). I took the opportunity to steal a strobe from his camera rig, and take out his old point and shoot camera to play with. That's why this week's pictures are, ummm, not exactly as high quality as the usual pictures. It's a downside of diving without Rob. So anyway, I had to deploy my backup dive husband, Kevin (who I keep bungeed around my neck). We met up with Don, Elissa, Cynthia, and Matt too. David and Jonathan were there too, but you know those tech divers, too cool to dive with us. Kevin and I were planning to do one dive together, and then we'd possibly shuffle teams around for dive 2.

The plan was to go explore an area we hadn't been to before, along the boundary between Whaler's and Bluefish. Rob was all jealous that I was exploring with another man, and particularly because I took a stage bottle along; apparently, diving a stage bottle with another man is serious infidelity. (Rob will be relieved to hear that the stage bottle stayed in the truck the whole weekend.) There is supposedly this "Shortcut Reef" which takes you from Whaler's to Bluefish, which the scooter posse goes through, but I wanted to explore the area shallower than that, in 60 to 80 feet. I have been over there before, and there are some ridges with hydrocoral on them, but we wanted to head out past that. Well, that was the plan anyway. We swam out a bit past the edge of the cove. As we were about to drop down, we noticed a bunch of blue rockfish practically nipping at our fins. We descended in about 35 feet and saw a harbor seal on the way down. Unfortunately, he did not stick around. We each did an S-drill (Kevin's idea, I swear), and then headed out along the sand channel. We meandered over into the rocky area to the west of the sand channel and found a large lingcod there. He would not stand still for a picture, despite my attempts. Just before Hole in the Wall, we stopped so I could take a picture of an fish-eating Urticina. That is one of the first subjects that Rob could take pictures of, so I figured it was a good beginner subject :) I was having problems with too much strobe, and eventually got sick of getting bonked around in the surge and continued on. When we got to Hole in the Wall, we headed west or maybe WNW. It was pretty surgy the entire dive, and dark too. The viz was probably around 25 feet out past HITW, but it was chunky. Not the ideal day to try to take pictures for the first(ish) time.

We saw a couple more big lingcods. One let me get pretty close to him, so I took some pictures. The area we swam over was rubbly with some occasional bigger rocks and ridges. In better visibility, I think there is a series of ridges that you can hop along, but we could not see from one to the next. We finally found a ridge with some hydrocoral, which I had promised Kevin we would see. There were several stalks of hydrocoral, all pink. I was taking pictures of it forever. Rob's old housing has this problem where the shutter button gets stuck half down, and the only way to fix it is to use your dive knife to pop it back up. So every 5 or so shots, that kept happening. It was driving me crazy. Eventually, Kevin took the knife and every time I needed it, he handed it back to me. Very convenient :) He was very patient while I was taking pictures; I know how boring that can be! I took a break to take some pictures of a nice-looking green anemone at the bottom of the ridge, and then I popped back up for some more hydrocoral shots, including some with Kevin. We also saw a couple of interesting jellyfish. They were shaped sort of like moon jellies, and were a translucent white, but the oral arms were more square shaped, and they had no tentacles. In all, we saw at least 3 of these on the first dive. Two were pretty big (about the standard moon jelly size that we see around here) and one was about the size of a bread plate. We turned the dive, and headed west until we hit the sand channel (the backup return path for when I don't feel like actually reversing the path I took to get there). We did not get nearly as far as I had hoped, since I was bumblefutzing around with the camera for so long. But Kevin didn't seem to mind. We headed in and hopped over to middle reef to look for Itchy and Scratchy. They were both in, and Kevin got to see them for the first time. As we were heading back to the sand channel, I found this teeny tiny tan nudibranch on some red seaweed. I don't think I have any hope of id'ing it without a picture (and without some means of magnification during the dive), but I will peruse the book. Right before we ascended, we saw another one of those jellyfish, with a couple of senoritas pecking at it. 88 minutes, 72 feet, 52 degrees

For dive 2, the six of us decided to all dive middle reef together. We stuck to the same teams of two as the first dive, so I was stuck with Kevin again :P We dropped in the sand channel in about 30 feet. Don and Elissa were doing some S drills at the start of the dive, so we decided to pass the time with valve drills. It was the best part of the dive (that was sarcasm, for those who didn't get it). Then we headed to middle reef. As we passed the transects for the nudibranch study, I pointed them out to Kevin, since he seemed to want some details of what he was in for on Sunday. I also thought it would be good to show him some nudis he might not be familiar with. So, there is a spot on the west side of middle reef, where there is a boulder about one divers' width away from the main wall. There is a rock in between that is a reliable place for Rostangas, and the shape makes it pretty easy to point them out. I found two Rostangas and an egg case on it today, and showed them to Kevin. He did not have any trouble seeing them. We visited Itchy and Scratchy again, and showed it to Cynthia and Matt. Not too long after, the other 4 turned the dive. Kevin and I decided to continue on. We got to another of the transects, which I pointed out to him, and then we hopped over to the east side, and swam down this crack with a small sand channel between two ridges. There were a variety of rockfish hanging out in crevices. There were several cute little blue rockfish. We hopped back over to the west side and headed in. In about 20 feet of water, we saw a cormorant swimming around. I always thought they just jetted down, looked for food, and jetted back up. But he was taking his time, swimming here and there looking around. It was pretty neat. There was a funny little trail of bubbles following him. We also saw a smaller one of the same kind of jellyfish we saw on the first dive. 51 minutes, 42 feet, 51 degrees

Afterwards, we had to rush off to make it back to Anywater Sports before closing so we could get fills for Sunday. I guess Rob is right about the need for a second set of doubles :)

1 comment:

Don said...

great post, as always. and it's even better at the airport, waiting for your flight.