It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Carmel River Beach

On Sunday, Rob, Jonathan, and I did a dive at Carmel River Beach. I have never been diving there before, but a lot of our friends seem really into this site, and the water was calm, so we decided to give it a try. We schlepped all of our gear down to the beach -- first the tables, then the doubles, then the scooters. The schlepping down isn't bad, it is the walk back up between schleps that sucks. Then we got into our suits as fast as humanly possible (it was so hot on the surface), and went down the final time and plunged ourselves in the water. Brrrr, it was freezing. Well, my hands were freezing, but it was otherwise refreshing. Then when I went back up to my table and realized I forgot my weight belt :( So I hobbled back up to the car and got it. When I came down, Rob and Jonathan were helping David and Kevin with some gear getting into the water. They were scootering to Jawdropper, so they had an extra scooter and some deco bottles. I walked into the water and pretended to be helpful as they were heading out.

Then we got into our gear and waddled into the water before we overheated. We scootered out on the surface just a little bit and then dropped in about 10 feet of water. We hugged the reef-sand interface to our right, and came around the point, until the eel grass gave way to the reef. We continued out, and hopped from boulder to boulder in the 40 to 50 foot area. The viz was not that great -- there was tons of particulate in the water. The tide was going out, and I think a lot of crap was being dragged out with it. Around 15 minutes into the dive, we saw the first stalks of bushy hydrocoral (which I think was the main draw of the site for Rob). But we continued further out. Eventually I scootered over a rock with two big Dendronotus albus, so I stopped, and signaled the others. They both came over and I pointed them out. They were big and in a great position for having a portrait taken, but of course Rob was shooting wide-angle. Jonathan pointed out a tiny Hermissenda right near the D. albus's, and then we started noticing that there were tiny Hermissendas all over the rock, both the orange and red ones. We hung out around that spot for a while. There was a little bit of hydrocoral, corynactis, etc. But some sides of the rocks were quite barren. It wasn't a particularly spectacular spot. Jonathan stole Rob's camera and played with it for a little while. After a while there, we moved on.

Shortly after that, we found a nicer spot with more hydrocoral, and we settled down there. I almost immediately spotted another pair of D. albus, about the same size as the others. It seems like there have been a lot of reports of these guys around lately. I also found a small Flabellina trilineata. Then I mostly just sort of followed Rob around while he took pictures. At some point, I realized I was OOA (out-of-Argon, that is), and signaled Rob. I have a backup inflator on my left post (don't tell the DIR police), so I shutdown my Argon bottle and popped the inflator off. But I couldn't get the spare one seated on my drysuit. So then I had Rob take a crack at it. He could not get it either (frozen fingers? I'm not sure), and the next thing I know, he reaches back and whips out his Argon bottle. At this point, I handed the camera off to Jonathan, who proceeded to take pictures of us while we swapped Argon bottles (you might wonder why giving Rob my empty Argon bottle would help, but he has an extra inflator too, and could actually get it to work). Luckily Jonathan was not adept enough at using Rob's camera to get any good pictures of that :P

After that, we continued looking around. Rob was swimming around taking pictures, and he eventually swam us over to a different boulder that was the best spot we saw. There was a lone metridium on one side, which was otherwise covered in pink corynactis (the slightly bigger bushier, more three dimensional looking ones). As we swam around it, there was a crack with a bunch of bushy hydrocoral. Rob was wedged in the crack, shooting the hydrocoral, so I swam over to the other side of the crack and posed. I was thinking that a picture of him where he was would look good, and along those lines, we eventually switched sides. Not longer after that, we headed in. On the way in, we saw a cool jellyfish, which Rob took some pictures of. We left it, and a minute later, we saw another of the same kind. I'm thinking it was a Scrippsia pacifica. The navigation back in is really easy, because you can just go in the right general direction until you hit the reef-sand interface, and then follow that all the way in to the beach. We did that, and ascended from about 6 feet. Now the fun begins -- getting up the beach and up the stairs. David and Kevin came out to get our scooters, and Kevin also gave me a nudge up the berm (I was waiting for the next wave to push me, but I guess Kevin was too impatient!). We walked up the beach to our tables, had a little rest there, and then headed up the stairs to the car. It was actually not as bad as I imagined it would be. I didn't feel like I needed an AED standing by or anything, but my legs were definitely burning! Then after about a zillion more trips up and down to clean it all up, and then we headed to Turtle Bay. 63 feet, 97 minutes, 46 degrees

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