It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, May 26, 2008

Scootering South Monastery

On Monday, I dove South Monastery with Rob, Jonathan, and Matt. I haven't been diving at Monastery in ages (because I was afraid to dive it in doubles), but Monday seemed like the day to dive there, given the conditions. We met at 10 (despite Rob's protests), and I was surprised that the beach was pretty empty (of both beachgoers and divers). There was one pair of divers there who had just gotten out. We chatted with them while we were waiting for Jonathan and Matt to show up -- apparently they were from Seattle and had just driven 15 hours straight and decided to go for a dive since they couldn't check into their hotel yet. Now that's hard core. Anyhoo, we setup our tables down on a little flat patch above the water, and commenced with the schlepping of gear. Jonathan and Matt eventually joined us. The water was super flat. It was a relief to stumble into the water, as it was pretty warm on the surface. I was trying out dry gloves for the first time, which felt pretty awkward on the surface (and looked really dorky). David was nice enough to leave me his zip seals with the DC rings on them, so I could try them out on my suit that has zip seals. Jonathan loaned me a bunch of gloves (and left it to me to figure out which ones were actually dry :P).

The main plan was just to go out to the left until we hit hydrocoral, but first we wanted to explore a little hump that we saw on the bathymetry near the dropoff. So we planned to take a little jaunt down there first, and then head out to the shallow stuff. We scooted out a bit on the surface and then dropped in about 20' of water. Then we scootered out about 5 more minutes and we all agreed to head down the slope to look around. It was really cool heading down the sand slope -- I felt like I was practically sliding down the hill. As we got deeper, it got dark and scary (and green and murky). Hmmm. We had been hoping that with decent viz, we could just do a fly-by of the mystery hump, but in this viz, it didn't look promising. So we scootered along the slope for a couple minutes. There were some patches of rock peeking out from the sand, with some metridiums on them. It would be interesting to see what else is on the rocks on another day (with another gas). As we were scootering along, Rob pointed out a line to me... it was like an anchor line going to nowhere. I swear it was completely vertical, but Rob claims it was at about 60 degrees. It was very encrusted, and I could see that it ended not far above us. I thought I must be hallucinating though, because how could a line be standing straight up and then just end? Jonathan went up a little to check it out, and apparently it terminated in some sort of plastic box. Clearly it was left there by aliens. At this point I decided I was feeling absolutely loopy, and signaled that we should head back to the wall and up a little. Then we headed back up the dropoff, which was just as amusing as going down it. I felt like I was climbing a steep hill; I was feeling tired just looking up it. Once we got back up to flat land, we headed out roughly along the reef-sand interface, weaving through the rocks and kelp.

We eventually got to a spot with some hydrocoral, and Rob signaled that we should clip off. We spent most of the rest of the dive there. After briefly admiring the hydrocoral, I joined Matt in poking around for little critters. I found a nice-sized Aldisa sanguinea, and Matt showed me a Limacia. I also found an interesting looking dorid that was the color of French vanilla ice cream, with slightly darker rhinophores. I showed it to Rob, because I wasn't sure what it was. Rob took some pictures (wrong lens of course), and Clinton thinks it is just a Geitodoris. I could believe it, but it's definitely a color I have not seen before. There were also tons of the darker tan San Diego dorids. Jonathan showed me a pretty bushy trilineata. Actually, he signaled me, brought me over to the top of the rock we were on, and then got that "where'd it go?" look on his face. I was looking around for what he might have seen and found the trilineata, and he confirmed that was what he was looking for :) I also saw a pair of mating Berthellas.

We eventually continued on a little from that rock, to an area with scattered small boulders and a nice kelp forest with some rockfish. I was thinking that it sort of reminded me of Partington Canyon. There were mostly blues, olives and kelp rockfish, but I know I also saw at least one black and yellow. Rob found a cabezon to chase, who wasn't at all cooperative. I finally turned the dive because I was getting cold. A couple of minutes later as we were slaloming the kelp stalks, someone signaled from behind. Matt's scooter was dying, so Jonathan towed him the rest of the way. The return trip was otherwise uneventful, although I had a catastrophic braid failure (it came completely undone!). When we got to about 20', Jonathan and I thumbed it, which Rob must have missed because he decided to do a valve drill with Matt while we were waiting at 10' for them to come up. Eventually they did. 106 feet (briefly), 95 minutes, 50 degrees

Jonathan got out of the water before the rest of us, ditched his gear, and then came back to help with scooters and such. Before the dive, he had given me some advice on how he likes to exit with the scooter -- remove your fins beyond the surf zone, get neutral, and scooter in until your feet hit the sand and just walk up from under the water. That worked well, and I was relieved when I walked out of the water under my own power. Jonathan came over and took my scooter for me, and I trudged up to my table. Phew. The hard part was over. Well, not really, but the part where I might get turtled in the surf and have to be rescued :P After collecting my strength, I headed up the hill with my doubles still on. Just before the top, I made the mistake of stopping for a little break. As I stopped, I was thinking about a cautionary tale that Don and Elissa told about stopping on the walk up the hill there (which ends with Don on his back, in his doubles, head facing down the slope... hehehe). Then when I started to go again, plop, I was on my knees. Rob rolled his eyes and I told him to come back for me after he dropped his gear at the car. Then I just hung out there, surrounded by happy tourist families enjoying the beach, and trying to avoid eye contact with me, I think. Luckily Matt came along a minute later, and he was carrying his table with him. That turned out to be a useful prop for pulling myself up (with a little push from Matt). From there I managed to get back to the car without falling again :) But Rob made me walk back into the water to clean the sand off of my suit.

Since it was a long dive, we just did one. So we moved onto the lunch venue negotiation, after I collected Jonathan from his perch on top of the berm (where he was watching a little girl playing by the surf unattended for several minutes... grumble). After Matt declared that he absolutely did not want to go to Turtle Bay, we ended up at Turtle Bay.

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