It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, December 29, 2007

An Almost-Epic Day at Lobos

On Saturday, Team Kitty dove at Point Lobos. The swell forecast looked big all week, but we planned to go down anyway and see how it looked. By Saturday morning, the forecast had improved significantly, but I guess no one else got the memo -- we pulled into Lobos right at 9 and the gate was open with no backlog of cars entering. There were only 2 other dive teams when we got there and in the end, I think there were only 5 in total all day. All of those people who stayed home missed a great day of diving. It was really calm at Lobos (and Monastery looked like it was probably diveable from the drive-by). Overall the conditions were great, and given the dire predictions all week, they were spectacularrrr.

Our first order of business was to do some drills, as usual. So we decided to do two dives; the first one was all drills, and the second one we would scooter. Kevin was trying out the X-View camera on one of the scooters -- his first time doing underwater video. We got into the water reasonably quickly (in a hurry to get the boring dive over with), and swam out on the surface along the sand channel. We wanted to get to about 50 feet and practice a couple of ascents from there. We were impressed with the visibility even right at the ramp. It was very clear and very blue. When we got out of the cove, it continued to be great; when we dropped in 40 feet of water, we could see the bottom. We swam out a little further to 50 feet, and practiced a couple of timed ascents, with bottle switches and 6 minute ascents from 20 feet. We also did a couple of valve drills in mid-water. I had adjusted my harness a little bit before the dive, and I couldn't reach my isolator :( Well, I could reach it, and just barely managed to close it, but then I had to give up with it halfway open (because reaching back there was causing me serious pain) and have Rob finish opening it for me :) But then he swiveled the isolator down a little towards my head, and I could do it, but it was still pretty uncomfortable. Then we headed in, and on the way, we practiced deploying backup lights and backup masks. I found out the hard way that I haven't adjusted the strap on my backup mask since my last warm water trip :) A little tight with that 12mm hood on. 84 minutes, 51 feet, 49 degrees

By the time we got back in the water for the second dive, the visibility in the cove had deteriorated a little bit. But it was still good outside of the cove. The plan was to go to Beto's Reef, spend a few minutes there, and then head over to the Three Sisters. Rob was leading, I was #2, and Kevin was #3. We scootered out a little bit on the surface and dropped in the sand channel. I had borrowed Rob's mask because I wanted to try out this $35 frameless mask that everyone raves about (Rob has another one as his backup, so he wore that). When we first descended there seemed like a trickle coming in around the cheek, but I thought I could live with it. Then once we started scootering, I swear that thing was bouncing off of my face at the bottom. I thought to myself... hmm, this could get really annoying after an hour. So I signaled the others and swapped back to my regular mask. So I got to practice the backup mask deployment a second time :) Kevin got the whole ordeal on video too, which was amusing to watch. Anyhoo, we headed out along the sand channel until we got to Hole in the Wall, and then we headed towards Beto's. When we got there, we scootered along to the first drop off, and then we clipped off and swam around. We saw a lingcod on a perch just outside of a little overhang. There was a second one about 5 feet further down the reef. Kevin was trying to take some video of it, and scared him away, and he saw under the overhang. We continued on, and looked for the wolf eels in their usual spot, but unfortunately they were not there. We came upon another lingcod sitting on the reef, but he was less skittish. I think he eventually got annoyed with Kevin and swam off, but then he stopped at another perch about 5 feet away. Rob found an elephant ear that he likes and set me up for some pictures, and then he setup Kevin and me for some "action shots" of us scootering over him. Right as Rob was putting his camera away to head to the sisters, Kevin found a seal darting around near the bottom. There was a little swim through that the seal was going through. Rob got his camera out to take more pictures and then of course the seal would not come out again :)

We headed over to the Sisters, and on the way there, we passed over a school of maybe 100 of some sort of perch-like fish (they were silver). We paused at the second sister briefly, but then Kevin wanted to go over to the third one, so we went over there. It is really big compared to the second one, which is the one I have been to more often. We hung out there for a while, and Rob took some pictures. Rob found a Dendronotus albus on a little piece of seaweed swaying in the surge, and pointed it out to me. That was pretty cool -- I have never seen one of these at Lobos before (or anywhere from shore). I brought Kevin over to look at it and he took some video of it. We also saw at least one more lingcod over here. In all, we saw 4 or 5 big lingcods during the course of the dive. When we turned the dive, Rob headed us in south toward the shallower structures out there. We got to an area of canyons which were very colorful and very fun to zip through on the scooters. The walls were covered in cotton candy colors. After slaloming around between rock walls and kelp stalks for a while, we eventually headed in. We passed by Lone Metridium, who was all curled up and sad looking, and then we hit the sand channel and scooted in there. The visibility there had gotten a bit worse, but we still managed to scooter in all the way to the ramp. It was just about high tide when we got out, which made for a nice easy exit. 64 minutes, 110 ft, 49 degrees

Afterwards, we had lunch at Black Bear with Ted, Don, and Elissa who had been at Lobos but got out of there before we did because they just did one long dive. We reviewed some of the video footage that Kevin took, and it looked good. I can't wait to see what he puts together! Thanks to David for letting me borrow his scooter :)

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