It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, April 26, 2008

BAUE Lobos Gathering

Photo by Robert Lee
On Saturday, I attended a little BAUE event at Point Lobos. The idea was to get together and mix it up in terms of who we all dive with. So, in that spirit, I had to find a buddy other than Rob. After reviewing the list of attendees, I crafted a carefully worded email to John K and Mark, proposing that we dive together, and extolling the virtues of diving with her Kittiness. I felt like I was asking them out on a date ;) I guess neither of them could come up with a better excuse than "I'm washing my hair that day", so we dove together. I proposed Granite Point, since I have recently become obsessed with that site. I think it is an insanely nice site, both for kicking and scootering, and we spend way too much time on the left side of Lobos (breathing those funny gases that require two numbers on the analysis tag).

Photo by Robert Lee
After going through the motions of asking who wanted to lead, I insisted on leading because, ya know, I'm bossy. After discussing the navigation (John had never been there before), etc., we got geared up, did I super fun gear checks, and got in the water. It was low tide, grumble, but at least it was super calm. John and Mark climbed down the little "steps" at the end of the ramp on the left, but since I have found that often leads to getting my foot stuck in a hole, I opted to try a new entry technique, which involved getting into about 18 inches of water, then falling on my knees, laying on my stomach and pushing myself out into deeper water. It worked quite well, and I am sure it looked very graceful. In contrast to the death swim I did the last time I took people out to Granite Point, we decided (at Mark's suggestion) to drop just outside the cove and swim out underwater. I dropped literally 5 feet from the worm patch, and then took us out along the sand channel. Actually I was on a little sand channel-let just to the west of the sand channel, and I quickly realized it and cut over through a little patch of kelp. Then at around 30 feet or so, I cut over to Middle Reef. I noticed a Limacia on a rock in the rubbly area to the west of the reef, and stopped and showed it to the boys. Mark stuck his finger out and pretended to squish it like a bug :P I continued on to the wolf eels, and stopped there to show them to John. I saw the red one's head, and could see flashes of grey behind her. Then I saw the grey one's tail as he was maneuvering around in the den. Mark and John each took a look. Then we continued on to the warbonnet. I think John saw it right away, but it took a moment for Mark to see it. I was trying to shine enough light into its hole for him to see it, without blinding (and scaring away) the fish. He finally found it after I circled the hole with my finger. We continued along, passed the V rock at the end of middle reef, and headed out over the sand.

After a few minutes, we hit the wall. While we were planning the dive, I said that if conditions were good (good viz and no surge), I would take us around the back side first. But the viz was sort of chunky, so I decided that going shallower was probably not called for. So instead, I headed north. I saw a couple more Limacias, and pointed at least one of them out. I also pointed out various other interesting (to me) slugs that I found, including two Hilton's. One of them was right next to a pink stalk of hydrocoral, so they looked quite pretty together. The second one was actually falling through the water nearby (hopefully that didn't have anything to do with me or my fins). We eventually happened upon Rob and Ildiko (who obviously lack creativity and stole our plan to dive Granite Point :P), and Rob pointed out another Hilton's to me. I also some some Festive Tritons out there, which Mark seemed to think were really cool. We ran into Rob and Ildiko again, at Rob's favorite little boulder that has a lot of nice hydrocoral on it. I kept swimming up and posing for Rob to take my picture, but he wouldn't :( I noticed two Dendronotus albus fluttering on some hydroids, and I signaled everyone to come take a look. Apparently there were more on that rock, but I was so transfixed by those two that I never really saw any others. At that point, I decided I was officially freezing, and turned the dive. I saw a big vermilion on the way back to the wall, and then we headed out over the sand towards Middle Reef. We hit it right at the V rocks, and followed the reef in. I stopped at the wolf eel den again, hoping that John would get to see Itchy's head (in its full glory), and Itchy was back in his usual position, with his huge head filling the hole :) After that we headed to the worm patch and ascended there. As we pulled up to the worm patch, I heard a boat hauling ass (oops, I try to keep the blog PG) above us, so I thought it would be good to pop a bag. As it turned out, my fingers were completely useless because I was so cold... I swear it took a minute just to pull the little bungee loop off of my bag. Then when I went to inflate it, it quickly became apparent that that wasn't going to happen. I tried to give it to John, but he didn't understand what I wanted. Then I handed it to Mark who gave me quite a scowl in return. I suddenly remembered I have a spare drysuit inflator on my left post (very bad, I know, please don't tell the DIR police) which would be quite useful at this moment. By the time I pulled it out, Mark had already popped his drysuit inflator off, so he shot the bag. Hehe. 83 minutes, 70 feet, 48 degrees

Photo by Mike Jimenez
The tide was still really low when we got to the ramp, but I managed to get up on my feet and walk out all by myself. I was very proud of myself :P After the dive, I confirmed what I had suspected -- my tummy was totally soaked! My neck seal was not seated properly (which is easy to do, since that seal is getting pretty worn out, so it's a little floppy). I was soaked down to my butt and ended up changing completely so I could hang my undergarment in the sun to hopefully dry. Between dives, we snacked on the various food that everyone brought -- it was quite a spread. Even the squirrels were impressed. Several of the people decided to do just one dive, so I was left buddyless and we had to switch the teams around. I got stuck diving with Matt :P Everyone decided to head over to the east side of middle reef. Last time Clinton and I went there, it was quite the slugfest. So, while we were all heading in the same direction, we split up and headed out in our separate teams (Rob dove with Harry, and Melissa, Clinton and Mike dove together). When we got into the water, the tide was a bit higher, so it was reasonably easy to get in. On the swim out, a mom and baby seal were swimming around near us, and then suddenly they popped up in between us, probably less than 5 feet from each of us. When they disappeared under the water I stuck my head under and saw them, and the baby was looking up at me quite curiously. It was adorable, but unfortunately they swam off after that. We swam out to about the mouth of the cove but a little east of the middle, and dropped there.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
We dropped in sand and swam north for a minute until we hit reef. Then we just meandered around. We were mainly looking for slugs, and we each pointed out what we found to each other. We saw several Berthellas, various Cadlinas (including flavomaculata, which were all over the place at Lobos for a while, but I hadn't seen lately, and sparsa I think but maybe modesta), two mating Aldisa sanguinea's, quite a few Rostangas, and several very plump Hermissendas. We ran into Clinton, Mike, and Melissa a couple of times, and posed for pictures for Mike once. I had originally been planning to basically dive until I was low on gas, but after spending 50 minutes at 20', I realized I would probably freeze to death before that happened. So I suggested to Matt that we head in a few minutes later, and as we were heading in, I saw something grey swimming through a crack. Then I realized it was a huge wolf eel. I was totally shocked and screaming through my reg at Matt (who was looking in the other direction), then I grabbed his arm and yanked him over towards me. I think he was somewhat alarmed by this behavior at first, until he figured out where I wanted him to look :) The eel swam through the crack towards us and out into the open. So we followed him. Maybe 10 or 15 feet from there, he just settled down on the bottom and laid there while we watched him. We estimated he was between 6 and 8 feet long. I was wondering if it was Itchy -- how many big wolf eels could there be on middle reef? :P I was hanging there, hoping that one of the other teams (with cameras) would come by. After a couple minutes, I gave up and we headed in. We ascended not far from there and swam in. Shortly after we got out, as Clinton, Melissa, and Mike were flopping around on the ramp, a seal swooped in between them, and then the seal and its baby proceeded to climb up on the rock at the bottom of the ramp (on the left) and nurse. Clinton and Mike were snapping away with their cameras. 63 minutes, 27 feet, 50 degrees

All of the pictures are here.

No comments: