It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, March 8, 2008

K2 (Mount Chamberlin)

Photo by Robert Lee
On Saturday, we were on the BAUE tech boat aboard the Escapade. I dove with Rob and Clinton. The conditions were quite cooperative -- it was a very smooth ride down, and a nice sunny clear day. The view from the boat was quite scenic -- I love looking back at the cypress trees after turning Cypress Point. We went down to a site near Yankee Point called Mount Chamberlin, to a pinnacle called K2 specifically. I guess Mount Chamberlin is a big area so it is more like several sites. By the time we got down there, it was a little windy. Jim anchored the boat, and we all hopped in pretty quickly. I have come to prefer flopping into the water with the bottle already clipped to me, even though I resisted it in T1 (although I would probably change my tune if I were diving big boy tanks like Clinton). The swim to the line was a bit of a chore with the current.

Photo by Robert Lee
We headed down the line, which I did way too fast for my ears in my zeal to get down to the pinnacle and out of the current. As soon as I could see the pinnacle, I saw patches of white that were elephant ear sponges. We hit the pinnacle around 100 feet, and then followed it down to the 130-ish range. The vis at the bottom was quite good (at lunch, we debated whether it was 50 feet of 60 feet, but you get the idea). There were tons of elephant ears all over the place, of all sizes. There were also lots of gorgonians, including some patches where they were very concentrated. I also noticed tons of grey puffball sponges -- usually I see one here and one there, but they seemed to be all over the place. We were on the east side of the pinnacle, heading northwest-ish. There was another little structure to the right, with a little sand channel between it. We swam down that channel. We were moving pretty slowly, since Rob and Clinton were each stopping to take pictures. We saw the other team shortly after we first got down there, but they pretty quickly left us in their dust (much to Rob's and Clinton's disappointment, since they wanted Dionna as a model -- apparently Pinky is just too ugly for them).

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Somewhere along this little channel, Rob signaled me and asked me to pose behind an elephant ear on that little reef to the right. Of course he wanted to pose me with the current, so every time he paused to ponder the shot or move his strobes, I had to back kick like mad to keep myself in position :) After that, we continued along, and noticed a wolf eel poking his head out of the main structure. It was as if his head was just floating in a hole -- he wasn't really back in a crack or anything. I signaled Rob and showed him, and then I signaled Clinton. Clinton swam over, but instead of taking the eel's picture, he started taking pictures of Rob taking the eel's picture :) Nearby, there was a nearly vertical crack with a bunch of gopher rockfish lined up in it; there was also a treefish hanging out nearby. (Aside from the blue rockfish hanging out in the water column off the pinnacle, these were nearly the only fish I saw down there.)

Photo by Robert Lee
We continued along, with Rob and Clinton occasionally telling me where to pose for a picture. At some point, after Clinton finished taking pictures of me with a big patch of elephant ears, Rob told me to pose on the other side of the same elephant ears :) Right at the end where we were about to turn, we came upon a nice stalk of pink hydrocoral, which Rob and Clinton took a few pics of. Up until this point, all of the hydrocoral I had seen was the more flat sheet type that is magenta (which I do not like as much as the pink and the bluer-purple kind). While they were doing that, I noticed two very pretty Hermissendas. They were the kind with all orange/red cerata without the grey. On the swim back, I noticed a few other slugs, including a Dendronotus albus and a Triopha catalinae (which isn't that interesting, except that it was the first one I had seen).

Photo by Robert Lee
When it was time to head up, we meandered up the peak as we did our deep stops. At one of the stops, we found a nice stalk of the bluer purple hydrocoral. We reached the top of the pinnacle at 80 feet, and I shot the bag before we left the pinnacle. Once we got above the pinnacle, the current picked up. I was getting dragged along by the bag; Clinton said it looked like I was flying a kite :) I just happened to be facing into the current, so my arm was getting pulled back and I was being dragged along. I reoriented myself so that it was a bit better. The ascent was uneventful (and cold :P). When we got to the surface, the boat was not too far off, picking up the other team. The wind had picked up, and the waves were a bit bigger. When we were waiting to be picked up, as we rode up and down the waves, I was feeling pretty tiny. When the boat came over to get us, I had to push Rob out of the way to assert my feminine right to go first (actually I think he quite conveniently started bumblef---ing with his fins and let go of the line and got blown behind me so I could go first :P).

The ride back seemed so much longer than the ride down, but I think that was just because we were all depressed that we didn't get to do a second dive :( After we finally got back, we packed up our gear and headed to Turtle Bay. On the walk over, we passed Harry Wong, whose Tech 1 team had the Escapade for the afternoon, to do their experience dive. Rumor has it they have officially passed Tech 1; congrats guys!

All of the days pictures are available here.

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