It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, November 14, 2008

Outer Outer Pinnacles

At last, Team Kitty managed to put together a dive off of Phil's RIB. Kevin missed the last boat, and the several before that were plagued with cancellations. We decided to bring scooters along, which is the first time we have scootered off of Phil's boat. The down side of bringing scooters is that it precludes bringing more than the three of us. The conditions were not great, but not bad either. We had a list of potential sites, which were all sort of wall-ish, since that seemed like the thing to do with scooters. However, none of the sites we had in mind were feasible given the conditions. In the parking lot, there was some moping about probably only being able to make it to the E3 area. We launched the boat in a very high tide, and took a little joyride around while Phil parked his truck. Rob wanted to check out the Coal Chute Cove caves from the surface. It was definitely a bit sporty over there. A little scary with Rob driving :P

When Phil returned, we picked him up and headed out. As we got out further beyond the cove, things actually seemed to improve. Phil suggested going up to the Outer Outer Pinnacles (aka Lunaticos) area. I was very interested in checking out this area -- last time we went out, we had planned to head that way, but that planned lasted until Phil told Rob we could probably make it to Yankee Point :) So we headed up there, and it was a surprisingly smooth ride. It was really warm, with a strange warm wind. We circled around with Phil calling out depths on the depth finder, and finally settled on a spot in about 120'. The basic gist of the numbers being called out was that south was deeper and north was shallower. Then we got geared up and such, and flopped into the water one at a time, so we could retrieve scooters before we drifted off in the current. As soon as I got in the water, I looked down and saw clear blue water. Very nice. Just as we were about to head down the line, a big ball of dead kelp drifted over to us, and wrapped around Rob's manifold. As he scootered along, dragging it behind him, I couldn't avoid getting wrapped in it too. Rob looked very much like a kelp monster, and I am guessing I did too. Kevin cleaned us each up on the descent.

The water was incredibly clear from top to bottom, and very blue. We got down to the reef, which was a small wall running east-west, from 120' down to about 150'. I was leading, and pretty randomly decided to head west. Not too far from where we started, I noticed that at the bottom of the wall, there was an arch with a swimthrough. However, it didn't look that interesting to me, so I continued past it, thinking that Kevin would surely go through it. A moment later, I saw a big structure off to our south, which I wanted to head towards. I turned back to signal this to the boys, and they weren't behind me. Then I noticed that they were heading into the swimthrough. Apparently it was super cool and I missed the best part of the dive, or something. After I corralled them, we headed to the south over to the structure in the distance. From there, we basically hopped from structure to structure, looking for a good place to plop. We could see ridiculously far, so we could see all sorts of structures unfolding in front of us.

Just when I thought I'd found a nice looking area, Rob started gesticulating and I looked where he was pointing -- at a vase sponge! Neat-o. I had heard that there was one around 170' at this site, but figured it was pretty unlikely we would happen upon it. Then I started looking around and noticed a few more in a line running north-south, all in the 160-170' range. After looking around even more, I eventually counted 9, which were all visible from one spot. Pretty cool. Rob took a few pictures, and Kevin swooped in to pose. Before I could get my picture taken, Kevin started gesticulating about how we should head up a bit, since we were ermmm a bit deeper than we wanted to be. The garden of vase sponges was definitely the highlight of the dive. From there we found a nearby peak that came up to about 150', and hung out there while Rob got some pictures. After a few minutes there, we headed back in, and found a slightly shallower peak to hang out for the duration. I was thinking there was a surprising lack of fish at the site in general. It seemed like I'd seen maybe 2 or 3 rockfish so far. At that spot, I noticed a small school of blue rockfish. It wasn't particularly big, but definitely an improvement over the three fish I'd seen so far.

Phil had suggested that we just meander and then head north before we started to drift, so he would know where to expect our bag. So, we headed north, passing a few more peaks, and then a long expanse of sand. Just when I was thinking I might give up and hand over the deco to Kevin over the sand, we hit another structure coming up to about 100'. I was wondering how much further we had to go to get to Outer Pinnacles. So, we headed up there, and Rob shot a bag. When we got to 70', we saw a huge school of blue rockfish appear beneath us. It's probably the biggest school of fish I've ever seen other than at Big Sur Banks. It followed us from stop to stop until about 50', and then they left us to soldier on, with only the occasional little jelly animal to keep us entertained. Brrrr. Did I mention it was surprisingly cold? My gauge read 50 degrees, but it felt like a solid 48. We all agreed it felt a lot colder than our gauges reported -- must be some sort of rift in the space-temperature continuum.

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