It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mt. Chamberlin, South Wall

Saturday we were on the Escapade for a BAUE tech boat. Actually I guess it was technically a John boat, since he set it up. Conditions looked like they were going to be really good, so Rob and I were plotting our mutiny against John so that we could go someplace super cool. We had a bit of an alarm clock failure, so that we woke up 40 minutes late, but we still managed to get to Monterey, get everything loaded on the boat, and even don our drysuits (I told Bob that this was just proof that we don't really need to get up as early as he always insists when we are on the Escapade). We were, however, punished with a bad spot on the boat. Somehow, despite our tardiness, Jim asked me where I wanted to go (neener, John) and I replied "south wall of Mt. Chamberlin". And it was so. Rob said I should have said "Sur 19". We had brought our scooters along, and had been wanting to check out the south wall on scooters. It turned out to be the perfect day for it! It was also a great day to model my new scooter art that Rob got me for Christmas :)

The ride down was pretty uneventful. Two of the three teams were planning on doing a longer bottom time, so we got into the water first. We got our scooters and headed down. Kevin and Karl zoomed past us on the down line -- so pathetic. We got down to the bottom and headed south to the drop-off. Then we turned right (west) and scootered along the wall. It definitely had the feeling of scootering over the abyss, which was really fun. And it was sooo tempting to go further down the wall. But that was not to be. We found a few interesting spots along the wall and stopped for some pictures. Rob had suggested that I posed with my scooter in my hand instead of clipped off, so I did that. I do think it looks a bit more natural in the pictures. There were lots of cool little channels leading up to the drop-off. While swishing around in one of the channels, posing for a picture, I saw some hydroids flailing in the breeze, and thought I saw some Dotos on them. After Rob finished taking the picture, he pointed out another nearby hydroid with Dotos. Neato. We continued on and eventually found a bigger channel to head up. There was a neat little archway along one of the reef spurs, which I peered through and decided I probably couldn't make it through gracefully. I did, however, pose for some pictures above it. Kevin scootered by while I was posing and Rob got some pics of us together (which is funny, since when Rob wants to get a pic of us together, Kevin will never cooperate!).

From there, we decided to head back towards the anchor line. We ran into John and Matt close to it, just as they thumbed their dive. We puttered around for a few more minutes. We were in a big sand channel that had a really nice wall of gorgonians on one side, so Rob took some pictures. Then we headed up along the reef to begin our ascent. I pulled my bag out, quickly determined my lips were too cold to blow the thing up, so Rob whipped it out (his inflator, that is) and we did the team shoot. The deco was pretty uneventful. It is pretty unusual for Rob and I to dive just the two of us from a boat, so the deco was a little different than usual. But we are always chattier when it is just the two of us, which helps to pass the time. When we got to 20 feet, Rob got his camera out and took some pictures of me hanging in the water. He had told me he wanted to do this beforehand. I must say, even though I wasn't really doing much, it made the time pass so much more quickly! I could tell Rob was slightly terrified of dropping his camera (was it *really* clipped off) into the abyss.

After we got picked up by the boat, we started heading north, and discussed the site for dive 2 amongst ourselves. Matt and John reported excellent viz in the bay, so some bay sites were suggested. This was passed up to Jim in the wheelhouse, who apparently balked at that idea, and decided we would go to Local's Ledge. Good choice. As we descended, we were greeted with incredible viz. Very tropical-like. On the way down the first peak, I noticed it was practically covered with piles of Doris montereyensis mating. We scootered off to some of the further off ridges, where there were bigger bushes of hydrocoral. We basically just scootered around from one patch of hydrocoral to another. Other than that, I saw two Dendronotus albus, one probably the biggest I've ever seen and one probably the smallest. Near the end of the dive, I also found a teeny tiny little slug on a sponge. I immediately thought that I recognized it from a picture that Clinton had taken, of Catriona columbiana. So that's my theory... I've never seen one before though. I showed it to Rob, and he seemed to find that plausible too. After that, it was time to head up. We got bounced around a bit in the shallows, but it was so scenic, who could complain?

We had an uneventful trip back to K-dock. No whales :( Afterwards, we adjourned to Phat Burger for some lunch. Ted and Nils joined us, and we even ran into the Escapade crew again. I don't think the food is quite as good as RG Burger, but the ability to get your food in the same epoch that you arrive is definitely a plus.

All of the day's pictures are here.

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