It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, November 23, 2007

Blue Water on Black Friday

On Friday, we went to Point Lobos to do a scooter dive. Our third teammate got sick, so Rob and I were on our own. We decided to do one long dive to the Granite Point area. I knew that the low tide would make for a painful exit, so we were pretty efficient about getting into the water once we got in (we showed up at 8:55 so had to wait in line for a while to get past the gate). The plan was for Rob to lead and head out to the shallow part of Granite Point Wall, and then we would head out along it until we got to the pinnacle area. The water level was really high when we got there, which made getting in (twice, once to put our scooters on the float) really easy for once.

As we were walking down the ramp, we noticed a sea nettle flopping around in the water on the ramp. It looked like it was not in very good shape. Once we got into the water, and were doing some last equipment checks, we noticed another one just a couple feet below us. So Rob went down and took some pictures while I floated on the surface watching. When he was finished, we surface scooted out a bit past the edge of the cove, and descended in the sand channel in about 25 feet of water (we could see the bottom from the surface, I think). On the surface on the way out, we saw another sea nettle and a couple moon jellies. Just before we descended, a harbor seal popped up about 5 feet from me and nearly scared me to death. Right after descending, we hung out there for a little while so I could scoot around in circles and figure out the right length for my tow cord. The harbor seal was hanging out with us while we were down there. Once we were all set, we got going and headed down the sand channel, where we saw more moon jellies. We got to the end of the sand channel and were about to head out over the sand, when Rob asked me to lead for that portion. The compass mounted on his scooter was busted, and since it is way easier to navigate with that one than the wrist-mounted one, it made sense for me to lead. I was a little concerned that it would be hard to keep track of where we were going and keep track of Rob at the same time (since I've never led on a scooter dive before). It turned out to be really easy, because Rob positioned himself so I could see his light without turning my head. I think he positioned himself a lot better than I do when he is leading :)

In about 3 minutes, we hit Granite Point Wall. I love how when you are approaching it, before you can see the wall itself, you can see its shadow. When we got to the wall, I asked Rob if he wanted to stow the scooters, and he gave me a look like I was crazy. Okay, I guess that would be lame since we had the scooters to not go any further. So I told him he could lead again. We scootered for another couple of minutes, until we got to a little rock (or maybe a baby pinnacle -- a pinnaclet) off of the wall with a lot of hydrocoral on it. I recognized it, from a dive we did with Kevin a while ago. I signaled that to Rob, and he agreed. Out here, the viz was at least 40 feet, and the water was really blue. There was variable surge -- it would occasionally kick up and be pretty wild, but overall there really wasn't much surge. For periods of time it was dead calm. Being around hydrocoral when it is surgey always makes me nervous, but I managed to align myself in between the wall and pinnaclet so that the surge was pushing me along the channel and not into either rock. Then I just hung there swooshing around, watching Rob take pictures. Then he signaled to me to swim over in a particular direction, and I thought he was lining me up for a picture. I started swimming and he followed me. I was offended that he didn't want to take my picture, so I forced him to :P After the little photo shoot, we swam around the rock and into a kelp forest, which was quite dark under the kelp cover. We saw a rose anemone that was munching on a moon jelly. I also noticed a lot of San Diego dorids, some very dark tan in color. After a bit of swimming, we scooted a little to another patch of hydrocoral (Rob's favorite). There were some nice busy pieces, but unfortunately there was eel grass stuck in a bunch of them. Rob took pictures while I poked around and talked to the little crabs living in the hydrocoral. He eventually asked me to scoot across in front of and above him for some action shots. I did that a few times, and then we swam out a bit further. While Rob was taking some pictures, I was looking at a little wall, and saw a Limacia. Before I really absorbed it and its surroundings, I signaled to Rob to come take a look. He came over and of course I couldn't find it again. So we looked for a little while and I finally found it again. It was "big" (for a Limacia), so I couldn't believe I had so much trouble finding it :) We swam a bit further and found this cool patch of kelp in front of us, that was very dense and had all these parallel columns of kelp that we could see all the way to the surface. There was a harbor seal that had been following us at least part of the time that we were out by Granite Point. He swam past us and swam up between the kelp stalks. The surge kicked in and all of a sudden the kelp columns were swooshing around side to side. It was really cool looking.

We decided that this would be a good time to head back. I pulled my scooter out and thought... man, the weighting on this thing is messed up. Then I realized that the battery retaining ring must have slipped out of place, so the battery was sloshing around in there -- I could feel it thumping around (at the time I thought I could hear it, but I think I just imagined the sound to go with the feel). I signaled to Rob that it was broken and tried to signal the mode of failure. He clearly doubted me, because he reached over, and hit the trigger to show me it was working (and looked at me like I was an idiot, or that's what I imagined). So I again explained what happened and he got it this time. So I clipped it off and went into the tow position. I was sort of bummed because I was looking forward to doing some acrobatics on the return trip. Instead I got an up close view of Rob's butt (I swear there are hydroids growing on the back of his crotch strap). We scooted back to the wall near where we started, and Rob stopped. He asked if I wanted to head back immediately or hang out there some more. I told him we could hang out there for 5 more minutes. Rob was taking some pictures, and I found a Festive Triton. After a couple minutes, I signaled that I was cold, and we should head in. Before we did, Rob showed me a better way to hold on for the tow, and I am glad he did because it was a lot more comfortable on my arms, and I could see my depth gauge more easily. We headed in and in no time, we were at the end of Middle Reef. I saw a sea nettle or two go by on the way. We headed in along the reef and he stopped us right at the wolf eels. The big male had he head all the way out of the hole, and his head was basically taking up the entire hole, so I couldn't see if the female was in. After that, we scooted in a bit more, and I finally stopped Rob around 25 feet, and thumbed it, because I was freezing. My hands and feet were SO COLD. 90 minutes, 80 feet, 49 degrees (brrr, or as Oreo likes to say, brrreow)

After I basked in the sun for a minute to warm up, we surface scooted in the rest of the way. The water level was much lower, but just high enough that I could get out without assistance :) and without too much embarrassing flopping around on the ramp. We swung by the Breakwater before lunch to do a viz check for Ted (who was diving on Saturday). The water looked incredibly red. The water was also unbelievably low on the beach! So many rocks were exposed. Dive 2 was at Turtle Bay :)

All of today's pictures are here.

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