It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shortcut Reef

We've never spent much time on Shortcut Reef before, just scootered past it mostly, so we decided to check it out. Rob wanted to see what sort of macro life was out there, plus I think he wanted to do a long "shallow" dive so he had an excuse to do O2 deco :P I have never navigated out to Shortcut (or Great Pinnacle, which it is sort of on the way to), so I said I would lead. After looking at the maps, I thought that going via the Three Sisters would make it easier to find than taking the shallow route we have taken to Great Pinnacle (on that route, you sort of pass it off to your right vs. running smack into it, so I figured there was a higher likelihood of missing it). So that is the route that we decided to take.

Now that Lobos opens at 8 AM, Rob wanted to get there around 8, but due to a catastrophic alarm clock failure and a lack of breakfast foods in the house, we didn't get down there until our usual time of about 8:40. Whoops. Not to worry, everyone was scared off by the swell forecast, so we still managed to get Rob's favorite parking spot. There were only like 4 or 5 teams there. The water level on the ramp was super low though :( Somehow my scooter and bottle magically made it onto the float while I was in the bathroom. We got geared up and I waddled into the water, doing the fall on my knees and push myself out to deeper water entry. I've decided that entry works pretty well, slightly minimizes the chance of falling on the ramp, and since I was going on a boat on Sunday, I was probably going to come out of the weekend with bruised knees anyway :P The water in the cove was super yucky looking. At the ramp, I couldn't even see my hands and feet while donning my fins. We scootered out on the surface until the kelp got annoyingly thick, slightly before the worm patch. The viz was still pretty crappy there, so we decided to just keep in touch (scooter to fin) contact on the way out. That worked well as we wound our way through the kelp, and then we went side by side once we got to the worm patch. As we headed down the sand channel, the viz improved some, but the water was still very particulate-y. And it was quite surgy.

The viz did improve by the time we got out to Lone Metridium, and eventually got to about 40 feet. We headed off towards the sisters, and soon I hit the first one, and hopped over to the second. From there, we headed west towards Shortcut Reef. It took a little longer to get there than I was expecting, so I was getting a little nervous about missing it. But then we hit it -- it was impossible to miss :P Rob suggested we do a little circuit around it, just to get the lay of the land. We circled around clockwise, and ended up about where we started, and decided to just clip off there. The spot where we stopped really wasn't that spectacular, but I pretty quickly found a Dendronotus albus for Rob to shoot. Then I swam down this little crack/canyon nearby, and looked around on each wall. It was pretty surgy even there. The one thing I noticed was a lot of Hermissendas. I eventually noticed a little yellow patch on the reef and realized it was two Adalaria jannae mating, and then I noticed an inch or so away, there was another one, that was a slightly lighter shade of yellow. Neat! Only the second time I've seen those. I pointed them out to Rob, and moved along, trying to find a spot where I wasn't constantly getting knocked into the reef. After not too much longer, I suggested that we head back to the 3 Sisters, and hang out there for the rest of our bottom time. I must have been going a little too north, because I ended up hitting the road, and following that back to the second sister. We hung out there for a couple minutes, and then headed in. Rob wanted to go in via Beto's Reef, so I led us over there, and then scooted along it and in until we got to the sand channel. I think I prefer going back to the shallower structure and then east, because there is a bit more to see along the way (although Clinton tells me there used to be a starry rockfish living out between Beto's and the Sisters, so perhaps that makes it worthwhile to go the more boring route).

We had initially talked about trying to hang out on the east side of Middle Reef for our 20' deco stop, if we could find a suitable spot at 20'. But once we got to about 30' or 40' on the sand channel, it became obvious that wasn't going to happen -- bad viz and bad surge. As we were approaching the worm patch, I asked Rob if he wanted to keep going until we got a bit shallower. He agreed. Apparently we scootered right below Jonathan and Nils doing their 20' stop there, and we didn't even see them. That says something about the viz (or our poor situational awareness). We continued in until about 22', and eventually picked a sandy spot to hang out on. We clipped off our scooters, did our stop, and ascended there. I was pretty freezing by the end of the dive. However, the mucky cove was actually noticeably warmer, which was nice. Rob shot a bag just for giggles, and then someone started sabotaging our bag from the surface! At the 10' stop I got buzzed by a crazy diver on a scooter. The best part was that I don't think Rob even noticed :) We scootered in on the surface, and ran into Jonathan and Nils at the floats. The tide had come in quite a bit, so it was actually a civilized depth at the ramp for the exit. However, the viz was so bad, that I couldn't see the ramp, and ended up super shallow without realizing it. After a do-over, I managed to get out without incident (and practice my blind fin removal). 108 feet, 101 minutes, 46 degrees

We were planning on doing some nudibranch survey on dive 2 with Clinton, John, and Matt, but I was super cold after the first dive. Which would have been fine if I had a chance to warm up, but Clinton seemed pretty set on getting right back in the water (hiss), so I decided to punt. Instead I went to Turtle Bay with Jonathan and Nils.

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