It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Road to Twin Peaks, or Something

Rob, Kevin, and Jonathan had wanted to do a tech dive on Friday, assuming that we passed Tech 1. I told them that I would see how worn out I was by the end of class. Then by the end of class, they were all chickening out and saying they were tired. By Thursday I guess they had recovered enough to realize it would be silly not to dive when we were all taking the day off anyway. So the four of us decided to scooter out to the Beto's Reef/Three Sisters area, but this time with a little less pressure on our bottom time :) I also wanted to go out to the end of Beto's Reef, since I have never been past about 110' there. Anyway, as we discussed it and negotiated where to go, we eventually settled on going to Three Sisters, and then heading out slightly north or northwest from there, hanging out there a couple minutes, and then heading over to Beto's and running to the end of that. I guess the area to the north/northwest of Three Sisters is referred to as the "Road to Twin Peaks". Our plan was to spend about 10 minutes scooting out to the Sisters, and then 25 minutes at an average depth of about 120', and then we would head in and deco along Lone Metridium, Hole in the Wall, and Middle Reef on the way in.

I was leading the dive, and Kevin was going to lead deco. Kevin and I were team 1, and Rob and Jonathan were team 2. I'm not sure if I have led a scooter dive before, so I was quite excited (and I was also excited to not be paired up with Rob, since that seems to always happen when we are diving as a foursome). I was, however, a little nervous about the navigation, because even though I have navigated to Three Sisters (though it's been a while) and Beto's Reef, I have never done the whole loop in one dive. The surface conditions were terrible when we got to Monterey, which was expected based on the forecast. We all met up at Jonathan's place to do a little planning with GlobalMapper and to pick up scooters and other various bits of gear we had left there after class. It was really windy and it was raining pretty hard. We decided that getting dressed at Lobos would be very unpleasant, so we setup all of our gear and got into our drysuits in Jonathan's garage, and then drove over to Lobos. We must have looked pretty silly driving around in our drysuits :) As we passed Monastery, it was eerily calm -- you could see whitecaps out beyond the beach, but up by the beach there no water movement. It was like a lake! When we got to Lobos (after 10, can you believe it!?!), it was just the four of us, and Phil Sammet with some students on his RIB. The water at Lobos was calm as well, but with a little sputtering on the surface from the wind. The most uncomfortable thing about the conditions was that it was raining HARD, and we were getting pelted with sideways rain drops. It was a relief to put my mask on because it protected my face :) There was a bunch of dead kelp floating on the ramp that I guess had gotten pushed in by the wind. We had to crawl through it without actually stepping on it (since that was a recipe for slipping).

After a little bit of scooter drama on the way into the water, we headed out and dropped at the edge of the cove (near the worm patch). The visibility was fantastic -- at least 30 feet right where we dropped. Actually it was probably even better than that; I just remember being dazzled by it when we first dropped and I looked from person to person in our little diamond formation. Anyhoo, we headed out to the sand channel. One nice thing about leading with Kevin as #2 is that he is really good at staying exactly where I want him so I barely have to move my head to look at it. Before I knew it, we were at Hole in the Wall. Every time we got to a waypoint on the trip out, I would confirm the direction of the next segment, since I figured it would be embarrassing to get lost on the way to Three Sisters :) So then we hopped over to the Lone Metridium (who was very open and happy looking), and then before you know it, we were scooting past the big elephant ear on the east side of the second sister. I think it was somewhere between Lone Metrid and the sister that I decided to try a barrel roll for the camera (Jonathan was using the CSI cam scooter). I think either Jonathan or Rob did a barrel roll and that inspired me to try, and Jonathan was pointing the camera right at me. So I went for it, and it worked!! My first successful barrel roll, and I was even toting a bottle.

Anyhoo, after we got to the sister, I paused briefly to get my bearings and confirm with Kevin, and I took us along the interface between the sand and the reef that extends to the north of the sister. After about 2 minutes, we came to a spot that I thought would be nice for some pictures, and I signaled everyone to clip off. We were in about 125 or so feet at this point. There were elephant ears, gorgonians, and hydrocoral (including a bunch of little baby stalks). I also noticed some Spanish shawls, and a bunch of rockfish (vermilion, copper). I also noticed that the reddish-orange "finger sponges" (that's what we call them anyway) which we see at Beto's Reef were here too, but they were more three dimensional, more like trees rather than fingers. After Rob took a few pictures, we swam over to another peak that we could see in the distance, and that was even nicer. The structure was just more encrusted with more colors. Lots of pink and yellow. We decided to stay a couple extra minutes here and just shave off however many minutes from the deep side of Beto's. Before long, it was time to head back. We cruised back along the reef-sand interface until we hit the sister, and then we headed over to Beto's. By the time we got there, we only had a few minutes left before we were to head in, so I just zoomed along the top (which Kevin gave me grief for "thinking like a recreational diver" by going along the top and not the bottom!) for a minute and then turned around and came back. Then I handed over control to our deco captain and he started to lead us in. Right around then, Rob's light died (I think it had already died once, and he turned it off and back on and it came back).

Anyhoo, we headed in to the Lone Metridium vicinity, and we switched to our deco bottles. Then we puttered around there for a couple minutes and then headed east a bit and eventually over to Middle Reef. Then we just headed in along middle reef, which worked very well with our deco schedule. When we got to 20', we stopped and just hung there for the rest of our stop. While we were there, a friendly seal appeared. He was super cute -- pretty short and chubby. He swam around us for a bit and then disappeared. Then when we were at 10', he reappeared and started harassing Rob. I think he was interested in Rob's strobes which were hanging off of him. Rob started to kind of spazz out because he said he could feel the seal "clawing" at his drysuit :) 142 ft, 64 minutes, 54 Kevin degrees (my gauge is in the garage)

When we got to the surface the wind was still pounding us with rain, so we tried to get out of there as quickly as we had gotten in. My X-table had been blown over by the wind (DUH in hindsight... I am lucky it was only blown halfway across the parking lot and not into the water!). Phil was pulling his boat into the cove as we were getting out, so we chatted with him briefly before heading back to Jonathan's. We watched the video while having hot chocolate and pizza, but unfortunately the file was somehow corrupt so that we couldn't watch past about Lone Metridium on the way out :( Hopefully someone smarter than us can figure out how to view the rest of the file!

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