It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, May 31, 2008

NCUPS Beach Dive Competition

Saturday Rob participated in the beach diving competition. He wanted to dive at South Monastery. Originally we were talking about doing one really long dive, but then he decided he wanted to shoot wide-angle on one dive and macro on another, so we ended up doing two dives. I don't think I've ever actually been to a dive site at 7:30 before. We stayed at Jonathan's on Friday night to allow that without extreme crankiness (although Clinton told me at the NCUPS registration that I looked like I needed more sleep... thanks!). When we got to Monastery, it was very calm. Shortly after we got there, lots of other divers with cameras arrived. We setup our tables and stuff down on the beach, and got ready to go. Right before we geared up, Rob swam our float and stage bottles out. He swam out much further than I expected, and then realized it was too deep for the float. Doh!

Anyhoo, once we got into the water, we kicked out to the beginning of the kelp and descended there. The conditions were very nice. It was very calm, and the viz was good. Unfortunately, it wasn't very sunny out, so there wasn't a lot of sunlight streaming down through the kelp. We ambled along for a while, stopping to take pictures every few minutes. It was a nice little meander through the kelp forest. The kelp is really thick in some areas, which made it a little dark. But it was very peaceful. We were moving pretty slowly at first, but I guess Rob eventually decided he wanted to cover more ground, and he started hauling ass. He was going way too fast for me! So I got his attention and gesticulated wildly at him to tell him to slow the heck down. I did see a couple of cool critters fly by on the swim, though, including a Dendronotus albus and a Hilton's nudibranch. We were getting pretty close to the area with hydrocoral, I think (in about 50 to 60 feet), when I finally turned the dive. We had just switched off our stage bottles, which seemed like it took forever for me to do, because my fingers were so cold, and I decided it was probably a sign that if we didn't turn the dive soon, I would turn into a popsicle. For some reason at several points during the dive I suddenly felt really cold all over. I don't know if there were actually variations in the water temperature, or if it was in my head. I had been relying on a much quicker trip back, but for some reason, it was a bit longer than I expected. I was totally pooped and freezing when we finally ascended, right around where we had started. 62 feet, 117 minutes, 50 degrees

Since we were doing two dives, and the walk out of Monastery in doubles isn't exactly fun, we left our gear on the float between dives. Walking out of the water with no gear on is so much easier :P I was being a little wishy washy about whether I really wanted to do a second dive, since we had gone over our planned 90 minute dive by 20 minutes (brrrr). But once I got out of the water and warmed up a little, I wanted to get back in. We had some snacks on the surface and headed back in. I wore dry gloves for the second dive. I abstained on the first dive, since I know Rob thinks the blue gloves look dumb in pictures, and he was shooting wide-angle. Last time I dove dry gloves, I had a little leak in the left hand. Jonathan had given me about 6 random gloves and told me to figure out which ones weren't leaking, so this time I tried a different left glove :P When I got into the water, even on the surface I could feel it leaking. Hmmm. Anyhoo, we swam to the float and donned our gear in the water. I don't know if I have done this in doubles before. Rob got in his first, and afterwards, I asked if he had any advice. He suggested pretty much what I had planned to do (the opposite of what I do to get out of my gear on the surface). Then he watched me as I flailed around getting into my rig. My long hose ended up running down the right side, across the bottom of my backplate, up my left side, over my head to its clipped position. So that took some contortions to fix, while Rob laughed at me.

We dropped about where we dropped on the first dive, and headed out along the same path, but much more slowly of course. I was actually pretty disappointed with the critter peeping on this dive. We definitely saw more interesting macro subjects further out on the first dive. Even the sculpin selection was disappointing. I found a couple of Limacias, and some less exciting nudis. We also found several kelp stalks with egg bundles on them, which Rob took some shots of. We didn't make it as far out, we were in the 20 to 30 foot area the whole time. This had the unfortunate side effect that I just could not get rid of my gas fast enough, so I couldn't use that as an excuse to turn the dive (which Rob finds more acceptable than turning on cold). Eventually I turned the dive on cold. After we turned, we were still moving along slowly looking for stuff, and eventually I decided it was just too cold and we needed to move. Of course after that Rob kept finding more things to shoot :P We saw a cabezon right near the end of the dive, and Rob bashfully asked for permission to stop to take its picture. It was pretty cooperative for some eye shots. We finally made it back and ascended. Brrr. 34 feet, 105 minutes, 50 degrees

I had told Rob on the surface interval that a condition of doing the second dive was that he had to agree to carry my doubles up the hill after we got out :) When we got to the float, he tried to convince me to leave my doubles on the float and he would come back for them, but I told him I wouldn't because Matt and Ben (and Shawn, their dive buddy from out of town) were waiting on the beach for us, and that would look super lame :P Actually I figure that the key to conquering getting out at Monastery in doubles is to actually do it and get used to it. The water was so calm that when I was about knee deep in water, I stopped to wait for a wave to push me up the beach, but no waves were coming! Eventually Rob gave me a hand to step up the little berm at the edge of the water. We got up to our tables and got some help getting out of our gear. Then Matt asked if we needed help carrying gear back to the car, and I told him about my little arrangement with Rob. Then he insisted he could carry my doubles for me, which made me feel way lame, but I figured I would do him a favor and let him show off what a strong man he is :)

After we packed up the car, we headed over to Jonathan's to review pictures before the submission deadline. Ben, Matt and Shawn fetched pizza and helped with the review. There was quite a lot of bickering about which picture of the exact same thing was better :P Rob ended up submitting the pictures that I have included in this post. He got an Honorable Mention for one of the macro shots (the picture of the fish eggs).

Congrats to Clinton and Sami on their excellent showing in the contest. Everyone's submissions are posted here.

No comments: