It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mt Chamberlin

We took the day off on Friday to go out on Phil's boat. It's been ages since we have been out on Phil's boat, but at last the stars aligned (and Phil managed not to break the boat) and we went out. The conditions looked like they should be pretty okay, and it was really calm at Monastery and in Whaler's when we arrived. Matt joined us, with his newfound lots of free time. We were supposed to be a foursome, but the UnKitty (who shall remain nameless) had a last minute loss of balls, errr scheduling conflict, so it was just the three of us. We had originally talked about heading towards Outer Pinnacles to dive Canyonlands, which we collected GPS numbers for the night before. Then when we pulled into Lobos, I guess Rob was feeling optimistic about the conditions, and wanted to go to Mt. Chamberlin. So we decided to go around and take a look.

When we pulled out of the cove, there was some biggish swell, bigger than I was expecting. Strangely, it seemed to get better after we passed the Sea Lion rocks, though maybe I just got used to it. When we got down around Mt. Chamberlin, we motored around looking for the spot we wanted (K2) on the depth sounder, trying to figure out which of Phil's waypoints was what we called K2. Eventually we punched in the GPS numbers we brought along, and then we found the spot in short order. Once we were anchored, we got geared up and ready to hit the water. Phil warned us that there was some current, and gave us each a little string (mmm string) to hold onto when we flopped in the water. We met at the anchor line and headed down. There was a bit of current, but it wasn't too significant. It was a bit of a swim down the line though. The anchor was on the south side of the pinnacle (whoops, Phil had claimed we dropped the anchor on the north side). At the surface, the viz looked great, then it seemed to get a bit worse, then at about 70 feet it really opened up. We could see the reef, as we descended through a big school of rockfish.

We got down to the pinnacle, and decided to head counterclockwise. The school of rockfish was huge, probably the biggest group of rockfish I've seen anywhere other than Big Sur Banks. The viz was also incredible on the bottom -- probably around 80 feet. As we headed around the pinnacle, we pretty quickly found the little canyon that Rob and I had been to before at K2. We were unfortunately swimming against the current, but it was okay, we just moved at a leisurely pace. Rob found a giant group of elephant ears really close to the bottom on the right wall. He was taking pics of it for a while, and then I swam over to pose behind it. When we finished, Matt signaled me with his light and then pointed at Rob. I looked over at Rob and his deco bottle was flopping around, only attached at the hip. It looked really ridiculous. I guess when he was squirming around on the bottom shooting upwards, he squirmed in just the wrong way. After Matt and I fixed that, we continued on. The wall on the left side (which was the actual pinnacle) was red with gorgonians -- there was a garden of bunch of really fluffy gorgonians around the bottom. When we got to the end of the canyon, we came to a little plateau with a big group of elephant ears on the horizontal rock. I remembered it from the last time I was at the site (being posed behind it by both Clinton and Rob).

The school of fish seemed to be following us for most of the dive, always a little behind us. We also saw plenty of other fish on the bottom, including some big vermilions and coppers, as well as several gophers and Chinas. I also saw one (not particularly large) sheephead. Surprising, since the last time we were at the site, I remember it being not too fishy. After circling around basically to the opposite side of the pinnacle that we started on, it was time to head up. We started the ascent, and I put the bag up in a decent current. There was also obviously significant swell as the spool was bobbing up and down. The ascent was pretty uneventful, no interesting drifty creatures visited us. We heard the boat around 60', which is always nice. When we got to the surface, it was quite foggy -- eek. Apparently even though we swam upcurrent during the dive, we didn't drift past the boat with our bag, and Phil did a little boat math to find us -- double eek. After Phil plucked us and our gear from the ocean, we had a slightly eerie trip back in the fog. 141 feet, 72 minutes, 50 degrees

We were planning on meeting Cynthia back at Lobos later in the afternoon, so we headed to RGs for lunch. On the way there, Rob called Mr. Flaky to rub his nose in the great conditions that we had in his absence. Since we had plenty of time to kill, RGs of course served us in record time. When we got back to Lobos, there were a couple of dolphins cruising around in Whalers. They were there for at least a couple of hours!

All of the pictures from the day are here.

Addendum: It has come to my attention that some readers thought my reference to the anchor being on the wrong side of the pinnacle was a potshot at Phil. Just to be clear, Rob is the one who dropped the anchor :)

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