It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Kitty Antics

Usually we go away for Christmas and the kitties are on their own (with a cat-sitter of course). But we stayed home this year, so the kitties got to experience a full-sized Christmas tree for the first time. Ever since we have had the cats, I haven't put up a tree due to a combination of not being home for Christmas and being terrified of what the cats would do to the tree. I can just imagine Pepper trying to climb the tree, and the whole thing toppling over. So I planned to put the tree up and see how they reacted to it, and then add decorations a little at a time. When I put it up, they were so disinterested in it, I decided to tempt fate and put tinsel on it too (making the tree look like a giant mylar teaser stick). After a few days with nothing dramatic happening (but the tinsel definitely moved around on the tree a little), I added ornaments and lights. A couple of ornaments did get knocked off of the tree (by Oreo, the little pretend angel!), so by the time Christmas rolled around, the bottom of the tree was barren of ornaments, as I moved them up closer to the top everytime one got knocked off :) We also noticed a cat-sized anomaly near the bottom of the tree. There were clearly some kitty antics involved in that. I think Pepper may have jumped on one of the branches and it got bent down.

Here are some pictures of the Christmas Day kitty antics.

Both of the cats were pretty interested in the stockings, but Oreo was the first to conclude that there were cat toys poking out of the little stockings:

Oreo was unusually excited by the little red mice with green tails that she got in her stocking. She was tossing one of them around and then carrying it around in her mouth (which Oreo never does with toys!). It was quite Pepper-like:

Pepper was pleased with her stocking toys too, but eventually a kitty needs to rest after laying the smackdown on so many toys:

But pretty soon, Pepper was ready to get to the main event -- the presents:

Oreo, on the other hand, just wanted a little cuddle time with Rob:

Pepper got a new tunnel for Christmas. She used to have a tunnel, which she loved (and was very possessive of). But eventually someone peed in the tunnel (I suspect it was Rob... he gets jealous when the cats have too much fun without him), and that was the end of that. I can't remember where I got the original tunnel, and I haven't managed to find a tunnel quite as good ever since. So finally for Christmas I decided that some tunnel is probably better than no tunnel. So I got her a super crinkly tunnel. It is a bit smaller in diameter than the old one, but it has a hole on the top, which is cool. The old tunnel was lined with fleece (or something soft) which may have been part of the allure. The new tunnel is not. So I wasn't sure if she'd be into the new one. She eventually figured it out, and decided to engage with it:

She seems to like the tunnel. She periodically happens upon and it has a few minutes of fun sprinting through the tunnel and popping out the top.

Oreo, on the other hand, just wanted to cuddle.

Oreo got a cat bed for Christmas. Oreo doesn't typically sleep in bed with us. She often sleeps on the floor in the bedroom, or on top of a duffel bag when she can find one (which is pretty frequent, since we never get around to putting away luggage after a trip or a weekend in Monterey :P). I was hoping I could put the bed in the same spot where she usually sleeps (and where the duffel bags often sit) and she would use it instead. So I found this bed that is a sack of sorts, since she loves to climb into bags. Basically it lies flat like a bed but she can dig around inside of it if she wants. And it is really soft and cuddly. She hasn't figured out what it is yet. We put some treats in it to encourage her to try it out. She ate the treats, and then promptly curled up in the duffel bag next to it. Sigh. I hope that one day she randomly notices that it is soft and tries sleeping on it.

In the meantime, she really just wants to cuddle:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Twin Peaks, Try 2

After our attempt to go to Twin Peaks a couple weeks ago was curtailed by bad viz, we decide to make another attempt on Saturday. Actually, we originally had no concrete plans for Christmas weekend. We were actually planning a dive at the Breakwater (which I was kind of excited about, since I haven't done a non-night-dive there in ages). But in the middle of the week Rob called Lobos to see if by some long shot they had any space available for Saturday. It turned out they had a lot of open spots, weird. So we snagged a reservation and pondered our gas readiness. We were actually in pretty good shape, considering we hadn't been planning to dive anything other than 32% that weekend, but we stopped by Anywater at lunch on Thursday to monkey around with the mix in a couple of stage bottles. It turned out to be a good day to go to Anywater, because they were having a little Christmas shindig that afternoon.

We got a relatively late start on Saturday... Rob let me sleep until 7. I was super cold the whole way down to Lobos, and jacked up the heat in the car to an uncomfortable (to Rob) temperature. It was in the 40s outside and finally topped 50 when we got down to Lobos. Still, brrr. It was pretty deserted in terms of divers when we got there. The tide was on the low-ish side, but nothing too terrible. After schlepping a lot of gear to the float (it was a three bottle dive, on account of Rob's master plan for a monster dive to both Twin Peaks and a sizeable stop on the Road on the way back), we schlepped ourselves in. It was pretty calm when we got in. We knew conditions were supposed to deteriorate though, which is the only reason I managed to get myself out of bed at 7 AM :) We scootered out on the surface, and as we were scootering out, I thought my scooter was making a slightly odd noise. Nothing too alarming, but there was a bit of a grumble to it. So we switched scooters on the surface before dropping and Rob said he would listen to it for a bit and see what he thought. Apparently he didn't hear the mystery noise, so we kept on going. As a result, however, we dove the entire dive with each other's scooters. This resulted in some interesting findings. First of all, Rob looks really goofy diving the kitty scooter. It's just not a very manly scooter :P Second, my scooter is, I guess, just faster than Rob's. We always knew I was faster than he was, but we never knew to what extent it was caused by the extra drag from his camera, his bad trim, or actual differences in the scooters. I guess my scooter is so much faster than his that when he drives it, it overcomes the slow-down from his camera and his bad trim :)

The viz was pretty good all the way out. Even when we dropped in > 30 feet, we could still see the bottom. It got a little darker as we got further out, but not dark, just not as bright. There was a bit of surge. Even all the way out at Twin Peaks we would occasionally get blown around by surge. We took the usual route out there -- Hole in the Wall, Lone Metridium, the Sisters (though we noted that for some reason we used to always land at the second sister first, and recently we've been landing at the first sister... I think the earth's magnetic field has changed ever so slightly), the Road, to the big peak. When we got to the second sister, we did a search for the big elephant ear. It was missing last time, but I was hoping (in denial) that maybe we just couldn't see it in the bad viz. Well I am sad to report that the sponge is gone. Something traumatic clearly took place, because there was also a broken off scallop shell sort of under where the sponge used to be. You can see where the sponge used to be -- there is still a little sponge and discolored spot without other growth. Maybe the sponge will grow back. My ability to navigate depends heavily on landmarks, so this could totally throw me off.

In the past when scootering with 3 bottles, I have had a little lower back and leg pain on one side. I thought I had corrected that by changing my weight configuration a little. However, my ankle was bothering me a little on the way out, so we periodically stopped so I could shake it off. I am not sure that this was the same problem I've had in the past -- might have been a too-tight gaiter or too-tight rock-boot tie. And I was so resistant when Rob told me rock boots aren't DIR. But after a few stops along the way to slow us down, we finally got out to the big peak. We scootered along the bottom until we found a nice spot to stop and take a look at. Rob was shooting macro and I was supposed to be nudi-peeping, but I didn't really feel like I had brought my A-game. Rob asked me to find Dotos, which is usually a pretty simple request out there, and I couldn't even do that! But finally I redeemed myself when I found a tiny gold, white, and black slug. It was so small and I was so excited, that I instantly showed it to Rob and didn't even get a good look at it. I thought it might be some sort of Polycera. After Rob took some pictures (and I switched off of my stage... I actually made it a point to not switch until it got hard to breathe, so I was sitting around with my light clipped off waiting for it to get hard to breathe :P), I gave it another look. Upon later review of the pictures, it was not actually a Polycera, but a Trapania velox. That is one of those slugs that I have never seen before, but which Clinton periodically mentions, to remind me of his slug supremacy. Well, I don't think that's why he mentions it, but it does the job anyway ;) Needless to say, finding a new slug always makes my dive. Other slug finds were Spanish shawls and trilineatas. I think Rob found some Dotos, though I don't think I ever did.

Eventually we continued around the peak up a sand channel with a bunch of sea pens. Not the fluffy exciting ones, but the scrawny boring ones. There were at least ten there. Then we headed back up the road, sort of down the center of it but eventually popping out on the familiar east side. We followed that back and then stopped at a spot around 130'. We stayed there for 5 or 10 minutes, and then I called the dive early because I was freezing. Shivering freezing. I guess it was related to my inability to warm up in the morning before the dive. We headed back to the sisters and across to Beto's. At this point I realized how much better the viz was than last time. It wasn't epic or anything, but it was solid good viz. I'd say 50 feet-ish. We hit Beto's and headed south, along the sand-kelp interface until we got to 70'. We went onto our bottles and then poked around, then headed to 60' and did the same. After that, we headed over to middle reef, and came in along the east side (which Rob had suggested we do, if the viz was good). At 20', it was really surgy, which was quite unpleasant. The viz had also deteriorated. Eventually we got sick of being smacked around among the rocks and we scootered in over the sand until we got to a 20' bottom, and we finished up there. We ascended from there, instead of scootering in due to the bad viz. When we surfaced we were about even with the cliff over Cannery Point. We scooted in, dropped our gear at the float (well, some of us did; some of us walked out with a bottle and camera to prove our manliness), and then got our asses kicked at the ramp (well, one of us did, and it was not the manly one with the bottle and camera). Well, that is a slight exageration. But the tide had gone out, and the conditions had deteriorated a little, so it was definitely "exciting" getting out. But I managed to get out without any help from Rob, which I was proud of :)

Afterwards we headed over to Beto and Sue's for some chit chat and dinner.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 3 Nixies

Allison was still sick, so Kevin and I went out and joined Clinton, Nick and Jim for a dive :-) The conditions looked like they were still calm, so pretty soon we found ourselves motoring south toward the Yankee Point area. Jim suggested that we dive a series of pinnacles he dubbed the "3 Nixies". I'd been to a pinnacle a couple hundred feet East of there a few times, but had never seen these structures, so I was game.

Kevin and I got geared up and after solving some minor gear issues, were on our way. I was pretty impressed with how sheer the topography was here. There are a couple very distinct, very vertical pinnacles that bottom out past 200', but top out in the 100' range. Very nice. We used the scooters to work our way around a couple of the pinnacles but also spent some time "on foot", so to speak, exploring the area more closely and stopping for pictures. Pretty soon, our all-too-short 40min BT was up, and we met up with the other team at the top of the structure to begin our ascent. About 10minutes into our deco (at about 60'), Kevin pointed downward and we could see that we had drifted onto another reef system which topped out probably around 70' or 80', just below us. That made for a nice stop as we were able to watch the reef (albeit from afar) for most of it. Based on our drift direction, I'd say we probably drifted over PTP.

The ride back was pleasant, and we even got to spend some time with a large pod of over 100 playful rissos.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mt. Chamberlin, SW loop

Allison was sick today with sort of lingering chest cold, so I decided to stay out of her way and meet up with Kevin to go diving :-) I was hoping to finally be able to do a scooter run at Mt. Chamberlin that I have been eyeing for some time (I've attached a bathymetry map of the region, and of our route).

As we lauched from Lobos, the wind was pretty snotty and we could see whitecaps just outside the cove. I took the helm, as Kevin and Phil strapped on and braced themselves and steered us due W around the point. As soon as we rounded Point Lobos, we got some much-needed shelter from the wind, and found quite nice surface conditions. Pretty soon, we were hunkered over the GPS and depth-sounder to figure out where to drop the hook.

The plan for the dive was to drop on the SW side of the wall in a little "cove" and run the deep section of the structure around counter-clockwise along the South wall, up the big valley in the middle, and North to finish out our deco on K2. For this dive, we were planning to incorporate a 190' deco bottle into the mix, and use it to help us extend the dive by multi-leveling.

We dropped into pretty calm surface conditions with very mild current and after some quick checks, pointed the scooters downward and put the hammer down :-) The structure here is very impressive, and the W and S sides of Mt. C form very sheer walls that peter out on the bottom into smaller rubble piles. As we worked our way S, we found a tiny basket star and a crinoid. It's a good thing that Allison was sick, because she hates crinoids :-) Off in the sand alone, Kevin also found this nice vase sponge that had a huge rock crab living inside of it. very cool.

After 25min, we found ourselves at the big crack in the wall, and headed up to the top of the structure around 150'ish, switched onto the 190' bottles, and poked around for another 15minutes or so. There are a bunch of weird duck-throughs and vertical holes in the reef here, and Kevin just couldn't resist trying to squeeze himself (along with a buttload of gear) through a tine hole. I watched all of this hovering above him with the camera trained on him, just hoping that he would cross his legs in defeat and ask to be pulled out :-) Alas, it was not to be.

We finished the dive by driving north for a few minutes to find K2, which is a large pinnacle on the structure that tops out around 80'. We slowly worked our way up through our 80' stops and soon it was time to bag up and leave the structure. The rest of the deco was long, but uneventful.

Mt. Chamberlin is a great dive (actually there are many different dives to be had here as the structure is so large), but this was an exceptional way to do it, being able to see many different parts of it on the same dive and have enough bottom time to really soak it in :-)

Offgassing continued at Siamese Bay lunch buffet.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dark Day at Lobos

After a night of chili and margaritas at Cynthia's, Rob and I were at Lobos for a slug-hunting dive to the Twin Peaks area. Cynthia was at Lobos too, diving with Ted and Kenn (though they got a later start than we did). It has been a long time, over six months I think, since we've been to the Twin Peaks area. I can't believe it's been so long, but we've been doing so much boat diving lately that I guess it's not too surprising. Rob wanted to do a longer dive out there, where we would go to the peaks, spend about half of the bottom time there, and then come back to 130-ish feet on the Road, and spend the rest of the time there. So that was the plan. More specifically we were hoping to find some Okenias, which we hadn't seen since last spring/early summer. There were not a lot of people at Lobos, I think because the forecast for the weekend was not that good. But Saturday looked like it should be diveable, and indeed it was. In fact, it quite calm at the ramp, due to the west swell. The only thing tricky about the diving was that the ramp was totally covered with dead kelp that had been dragged in by a storm. But the tide was high so at least it was floating on the water so we could push it out of the way to one side of the ramp while we carried in gear and got into the water.

The viz was pretty good right at the ramp. We headed out on the surface and found good viz on middle reef too. Unfortunately as we got further down the sand channel, the viz deteriorated and as we came around the corner at Hole in the Wall, it got sort of milky. By Lone Metridium it was chunky too, and by the sisters it was dark. We hit the first sister, convinced ourselves that that's what it was and then hopped over to the second sister (which was well beyond visibility from the first sister). When we got to it, we were very confused to not find the tell-tale elephant ear on the side of it. We couldn't find it after a quick scan so we headed up the Road. From there it got really dark, and was still quite murky and chunky. Around 130 feet, I stopped Rob and told him that I didn't want to continue out because of the crappy viz. So we stowed the scooters and kicked around there. We ended up making a bit of progress by kick around the area. We mainly just meandered further out and then eventually turned to the left into the middle of the road.

Rob had been waffling about whether to shoot wide angle or macro. In the end he chose wide angle, despite the slug hunting goal. I guess it had been so long since we'd been to Twin Peaks that he just couldn't stand not shooting WA. It turned out he made a bad choice, considering how dark, green, and murky it was. But he took a few shots anyway. In the end, we found a few cool slugs, but no Okenias :( The slugs that I considered noteworthy included a couple of Doriopsilla spaldingi and a few Cadlina limbaughorum. When it was finally time to turn the dive, we headed back to the sisters and then over to Beto's Reef. The viz was so bad that when we hit Beto's, we weren't completely sure that that's what it was. But we quickly found one of the steps in the reef and then we were sure. We headed in along that, and to the left of sea mount, and then along the kelp-sand interface. When we got to 70', we switched to our deco bottles and poked around there for a bit, periodically scootering in to our next stop. After our 50' stop, we headed over to Middle Reef and spent the rest of our stops there. The viz was actually quite good there -- probably should have spent the whole dive there :) We stopped by to see the wolf eels. There was a gumboot chiton covering most of the opening to their hole, so I performed a temporary chiton relocation to get a look at the eels. Don't worry, I put him back where I found him :)

The 20' stop was a bit surgy but really not too bad. We went over to the east side of Middle Reef and hung out there. I saw a few Dendronotus albus and Rob found some tiny Dendronotus subramosus on their usual hydroids. The viz was so good that we ended up scootering all the way in to the ramp (a bit past the ramp, actually, oops :P). When we got to the ramp, the dead kelp situation had gotten even worse. And our buoy was totally entangled in the kelp. So we decided the best thing to do would be to leave one of us in the water to hold gear and swim it out bit by bit. So Rob got out and came back gear-less and I slowly brought stuff to him. It did not turn out to be quite as bad as I expected, I just had to burrow a big hole through the kelp on the way into the ramp each time. And with so little water movement, the hole generally stayed there for my path back out to the float. Once the float was empty, we were able to free it from the kelp. Climbing out over the kelp was unpleasant (and a little scary). The tide had gone out so now the kelp was just sitting on the ramp, really thick, too thick and heavy to push out of the way. So I just had to climb out over it, with Rob there to steady me. Once we were out of the water, we waited around for Cynthia, Kenn and Ted to finish their dive. We were waiting forever, I guess they really did get a late start :) We passed the time by rinsing our gear and helping other people up the slippery, kelp-covered ramp as they appeared at the bottom of the ramp. Finally Cynthia, Kenn and Ted appeared on the surface and dilly-dallied over to the ramp.

After helping them out of the water, and packing up, we headed to RG for lunch. They were amazingly not slow today. We actually got all of our shakes in a timely manner. I tried the falafel burger for the first time, and decided that it is at least as greasy as a regular burger. Oh well. I also had the special spake, peppermint. Yum, I love peppermint ice cream and hate the fact that it is seasonal. Why can't I eat peppermint ice cream all year!?! Life is so unfair.

When I asked Rob about pictures from the dive, he said that none of the pictures were good enough to post. I asked him if I posted a report, would it have to be pictureless, and he said "hmm, I guess I could give you one". So that's all you get!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Breakwater Night Dive

Cynthia proposed a night dive on Friday, followed by chili and margaritas at her place. How could we resist? So we headed down to Monterey after work, and met up a little before 7:30. Conditions were calm (and not too cold on the surface, which was an improvement from the week before). We got geared up and headed into the water. The plan was to do the usual Breakwater night dive loop out over the sand and back in along the wall. We swam out to about the bend in the Breakwater and dropped there. The viz was probably about 20 feet, with a few spots where it was murkier than that. Over the sand, we saw the usual critters -- a few octopus of varying sizes, a couple of Hermissendas, tons of shrimp dancing just above the bottom, and even one of those giant super scary brown shrimp (Penaeus californicus) that give me nightmares.

We ended up over at the wall earlier in the dive than usual, so we actually cruised out along the wall for a bit before turning. It was quite a sluggy night on the wall. We saw four or so Hopkins' roses all within about 3 feet of each other. There were also a couple of Limacias that were very warty -- lots of big bulbous processes so they had a lot more orange than the usual ones. I found a patch of reef that had over 10 Adalaria jannae within about 2 feet of each other. I also found a few Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda. But probably the most interesting find on the wall was a couple of small adult Bocaccio. Rob and I were a bit surprised to see those. It was a pretty fishy night overall. There were lots of small adults and juvenile rockfish around. In one spot on the swim back, I found a little nook behind a rock just off the wall that had a couple dozen kelp rockfish. It was cute to see then all swimming around in such tight quarters. When it was time to head in, we swam in to about 10 feet and ascended from there. By the time we got back to the "surf zone" (if you can call it that), my feet were so numb from the cold that I had trouble standing up and getting my fins off. I have become such a cold wimp!

Rob had the camera packed for wide angle for the next day, so he didn't bring it on the dive :(

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cold, Murky Diving

On Saturday we were on the Escapade for some recreational diving with some out of town divers that Clinton was entertaining. The swell forecast was looking pretty good, so we were hoping to get somewhere down the coast. Rob originally had his camera packed for macro, but repacked it for wide angle at the last minute. We were in fact able to make it quite far south, and headed to Lobos Rocks. When we got there, we found quite a lot of whitewater between the rocks and decided it wasn't the dive site for us. So we headed just a teeny bit further south to the Soberanes wash rock (or so I was told... I saw no wash rock, apparently because of high tide). I guess we anchored on a different spot than usual to avoid the boat being blown into the rocks, but since I've never dived the site before, it made no difference to me!

We headed down the line to fine conditions that were clearly more macro-friendly :) It was green, dark, and chunky. Oh well. It was surgy too (though that was largely in sets) so not perfect macro conditions either I guess. We dropped on a ridge running north to south from about 50 feet down to over 100 feet. We headed south first, and when we got to the south tip, we turned and headed back north. Not too far from the south tip, at about 100 feet, I found a mystery yellow mollusc. It looked like a yellow with fairly large black splotches all along the edge, but it had a small shell-looking thing with a hole in the center. I thought it looked like a limpet with a tiny shell and huge foot. Rob thought it looked like a shelled nudibranch. We eventually saw another one not too far from the first one, but a bit shallower. That was the only unusual siting. Other than that, it was a lingcod here, a cabezon there, etc. There were a few metridium as well. Apparently there is a little wall covered in metridium somewhere at the site, but we did not see it. Overall it was just a murky, cold (not on the gauge, but cold to me) dive. Rob was so unexcited by the conditions that he didn't even unstow his camera at all during the dive.

When we got to the surface it seemed a bit sloshier than it had when we went down. After collecting all of the divers, we headed up to Carmel and decided to go to Outer Pinnacles for the second dive. Rob made me lead, so we stayed pretty close to the anchor :) To me, what I saw when I got down the line did not really correspond at all to what Jim had shown me on the bathy map on the boat. So I just picked a nice looking direction and headed that way. We very quickly found a little crack with hydrocoral where we had been before. Rob took a bunch of pictures and then signaled me to pose above the crack, in exactly the position that I knew I had posed before :) After a little (cold) while, we continued on past the crack and turned left to find a little "room" with sand on the bottom and walls on three sides. I looked under the overhang at the bottom of the walls, but didn't see anything very interesting. After that I turned us around and figured we could head back to the anchor and past it in the other direction to see what was there. Just past the anchor, we found a really narrow (3 to 4 feet) channel running from between two walls from about 60 feet to 90 feet. At this point I was very cold, and thinking of thumbing the dive. But Rob wanted to scooter through the channel, so I said okay. I was going to wait for him above the wall, but it looked pretty fun, so I followed him down. I came out the end and Rob said "let's go again". So we scooted back up the other way. After that, we headed back to the line and began our ascent. I saw a sea lion zipping around on the ascent, but I think Rob missed him.

The trip home was a little rocky from Cypress Point to Point Pinos. There was gear sliding all over the deck, but nothing (that we know of) went into the ocean :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Not Diving at Point Lobos

Rob was out of town, and I wasn't originally planning to dive this weekend, since I figured I would be busy cleaning the house and such before our Thanksgiving guests arrived. But when John tempted me with a Lobos ticket, I just couldn't say no. He was shaking out his scooter (which he told me, in a very convoluted manner using a variety of terms with which I am not familiar, had passed his in-bucket leak tests at home). John recently moved a few miles from our house, which is very convenient for carpooling. So we agreed to meet at my place at O-dark-thirty as Ted would say. John arrived a "bit" past O-dark-thirty, but he had some kitty-related excuse for that, so I had to forgive him. Then we had to negotiate who would drive. John thought we could fit everything in his car, so we started loading my gear into his car (from mine), only to eventually decided that my car would be a lot more convenient. So then we moved everything back to my car, and finally got going about an hour later than expected.

After stopping at the Carmel Safeway for some donuts (committed to fitness and what-not) and batteries, we got to Lobos (an hour later than I had told Clinton we would get there). The guy at the range station warned us that some of the divers had turned around and left after seeing the conditions. We presented him with our C-cards (John's a very crusty backup card that he was lucky to find in my car) and headed in. Once we got down to the parking lot, I was relieved to see that Clinton, who was already in the water with Melissa, had left his O2 analyzer for me. I let Rob take ours with him on his trip, and forgot to borrow Ted's during the week. So at the last minute on Friday night I was scrambling to find someone to borrow one from. Then I couldn't get the case on it open. The zipper was like corroded shut. John couldn't open it either. Finally, between the two of us and a pair of pliers, we managed to get it open. Phew. We headed up to the top of the cliff to check out the conditions, and they were definitely not the best outside of the cove. However, it was surprisingly calm in the cove (west swell, I guess), so we were not deterred.

Then as John put his scooter together he noticed a key piece of it was missing... the tow cord (his scooter hadn't been in the water since he had sent a part of it back to George). Eek. I was sure that was going to put an end to our scooter plans, but figured I should rifle through our little tool/spares kit in the car thinking we might have some of the right line in there. We did not. Then I went through the one other bucket of dive gear, which contains catheters and spare socks, and at the bottom of it, I found a nice length of tow cord line. Quel surprise! I figured Rob in his infinite preparedness had put it there in case of a tow cord failure. Rob later admitted he actually had no idea why the line was in there, and no memory of putting it there. So maybe the scooter fairy left it for John :) Once he outfitted his scooter with the cord, we swam our gear out to the float, which John had expertly deployed. I was pretty shocked by how good the viz was at the float. By the time we were ready to get geared up, Clinton and Melissa were back from their dive. They reported surge and so-so viz, but that it was plenty diveable (though they punted on a second dive). So we were off. Our plan was to go to the end of Beto's reef, and maybe over to the Road to Twin Peaks, depending on the viz and whether John's scooter filled with water and dragged him to the bottom of the ocean.

We got into the water, got all of our gear from the float, moved the float while marveling at the viz, and headed out on the surface. Before we even got halfway to the edge of the cove, John stopped. I figured he was diddling with the pitch to match my speed, but then after a minute I asked him if everything was alright. He raised up his arm and I saw his prop in his hand. That's never a good sign :) We headed back to the float and he got out with his scooter (all at once... very hard core) to debug it. While bobbing on the surface, I thought about the many times I had heard the three minor failures wisdom -- that after three minor failures, you should call the dive. I was pretty sure had already exceeded our minor failure quota for the day, and I was getting seasick bobbing on the surface. After John apparently exhausted the possibilities of what can be done with duct tape, he gave up on fixing his scooter. He offered to schlep our 32% stages into the water for a kick dive, but I countered with a suggestion that we go for a hike with Clinton and Melissa instead. So we schlepped all our gear out of the water and headed off into the woods.

We headed up along North Shore trail until we got to the otter pelt station, and then continued heading south all the way to Gibson beach. I've never been down there before. Then we went to China beach, which I've also never been to. We headed back to Whaler's by cutting across on the trail that dumps you back on the road down to Whaler's. We saw a variety of strange mushrooms along the way. We headed to Baldemiro's for a very late lunch and then headed home. While John was out, he became the proud daddy of two new adopted kittens. I will have to beat some pictures out of him to post here. On the way home, Rob started calling my cell phone incessantly (which John could not locate under the mountain of gear in the car) and then finally called John. Apparently Rob was alarmed by my text message of "Dive failed. Going for a hike now." I had to assure him that in the event of a dive accident, I probably wouldn't go for a hike afterwards :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ed Cooper's Wall

Saturday we were on the Escapade for a BAUE tech boat. We dove in two shifts, because there were too many divers for one shift and not enough daylight for separate morning and afternoon boats. But luckily we were on the first shift, so we didn't have to sit around getting seasick before our dive. So we headed down to Ed Cooper's Wall. It is just outside of Lobos, to the west of the point. This site has a really awesome canyon running between two dramatically vertical walls. The tops of the walls vary from 70 feet (right around the park boundary) to like 160 feet, and the bottom runs from about 130 feet to 240 feet. In addition to the main walls/canyon, there are lots of little side canyons shooting out from it. The site cannot be dived everyday, because if the wind or current is unfavorable, you can end up drifting into rocks. And even if the wind and current are favorable, you really only want to do it on a day where you wouldn't be saying "oh shit" if you did drift into the rocks, since you never know what the weather gods will do while you are in the water :) Jim said that it looked like we would drift offshore, which is good, and it was pretty calm, not any big white water on the rocks. It was definitely a treat to be able to dive here on a "winter" (okay, not quite winter yet) dive boat.

Rob's camera suffered some sort of traumatic o-ring failure on the way back from Bonaire (or maybe as he was taking it apart before the trip back), so he didn't have his camera along. You know that means we'll see something really cool :) Kevin was originally slated to dive with us, but he ended up having to back out. And as much as I want to make fun of him for his reason, well, I guess I should be nice every now and then. So it was just me and Rob. This was our first dive since we got back from Bonaire, so the descent into cold water was a slightly rude awakening. But it really wasn't quite as bad as I expected. We dropped in about 130 feet of water, and headed down the wall and scootered out toward deeper water. There were a lot of canary rockfish hiding among the rocks on the bottom of the channel. The last time we were out here, we dropped sort of behind (north of) the main wall and headed west until we popped out in a wide, deep offshoot of the main canyon. We eventually made our way to this same offshoot, but we approached it from the other end this time. Last time we were there, we saw a big Tochuina, so I had my nudi goggles on. We didn't see any of those, but we did see a huge Diaulula lentiginosa (we think). This is the second time we have seen a disturbingly big one of these (we think), and the second time Rob has not had a camera to get a picture, and confirm the theory :)

This dive is more of a "structure" dive, where the cool part is the topography, rather than the critter peeping, but we have seen a variety of cool critters here too in the past. This dive did not disappoint. After joyriding in that offshoot canyon, we headed back to the main wall and headed back east. We saw two things of note. First, we found two molas swimming along gracefully -- at 200 feet. Not exactly what I was expecting to run into there -- it seems like I see them more often in midwater. They hung briefly with us, not bothered by our presence, and then they eventually headed up the wall. The second find was... a flag rockfish! Yay. Rob found it, between some of the rocks on the bottom of the wall, in a little over 200 feet. I was super excited. I have been on a mission to find a flag rockfish (knowing full well that I would see one when I wasn't looking for it). We hung out and just stared it down for a few minutes and eventually waved goodbye and continued on down the canyon. By the time we got back to the part of the wall topping in 130-ish feet, it was nearly time to thumb the dive. So we just loitered there for a couple minutes and then started our ascent.

Again, I was expecting the deco to be painfully cold, but it really wasn't too bad. We didn't see anything that interesting on the deco. Then at 20 feet, Rob's eyes got big and he pointed behind me. I figured there must be something *really* cool behind me. So I looked down between my legs and saw kelp. Not good. In my head, I heard Phil Sammet telling us (as he has on many Lobos-area dives in the past) "if you see kelp and senoritas, scooter away from it". So we did just that, and finished the 20 foot stop on the trigger. During the ride, we heard Jim on the in-water recall speaker thingy saying something that we couldn't quite make out. But we figured it was most likely telling us we were drifting towards the rocks and to get the hell out of there. When we surfaced, we were not alarming close to the rocks (though they did look a lot bigger than they usually do from the boat :P), but we kept having to scooter away to counteract the drift while we waited for our pickup. It was definitely "exciting" (and no, that's not in the good sense of the word). I guess I was saying "oh shit" even though the water was calm.

For the second shift, we headed up to the Outer Outer Pinnacles area, and then we headed home.

Friday, November 6, 2009

La Dania's Leap (Bonaire Day 7)

On Friday morning, we met Benji and headed to La Dania's leap. There is a bit of a hike to the water, though the path was more civilized than I expected. I like to think I could have hiked my gear to the water myself :) We walked to the water with our bottles, checked out the site, and then went back for our doubles. Getting into my doubles and into the water was a tiny bit scary, because I was afraid of falling into the water while I donned them. Once we were in the water, Benji handed down our bottles and Rob's camera (using his belt to pass stuff down). The "cliff" really isn't that high, but high enough that you can't just hand a bottle down. Benji gave us a briefing on what was where. There were three little "caves" which were really just little nooks under overhangs in the 120' to 160' range, all on the drift to Karpata.

A lot of the sites seems to just peter out once you get deep enough, but here there was still stuff to see deeper. The nooks were neat, with lots of stuff growing on and hanging down from the the overhangs. It was also fun to drift from one entry to another. We stopped at each of the nooks and I posed for some pictures. After we found the last one, we started to head up the reef for our deco. Benji gave us some advice on how to tell when we were approaching Karpata. He also told us that there are sometimes young turtles around at Karpata, so keep an eye out for them. We did in fact see several small turtles, about the size of dinner plates. They were really cute. If I had known this about Karpata, I totally would have dived the site before! I was glad that we got to see that as part of our last dive for the trip.

I was a bit skeptical about the idea to dive doubles for the whole trip. We even schlepped single tank wings with us because I was sure I wasn't going to want to dive doubles the whole trip. It was only because of the way the dates worked out for when we dove the Windjammer that I didn't reconfigure my regs and switch halfway through the week. But in the end, I liked it. It was nice to do just two or three long dives per day. I think that for the amount of bottom time we did, this way was way less tiring than diving single tanks, even though its obviously more tiring for a single dive (to get in and out in doubles versus a single tank). Plus you just have a lot more flexibility in how your arrange your dives that way. I guess Rob was right ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Mairi Bhan/Windjammer (Bonaire Day 6)

On Thursday we dove the Mairi Bhan, which is also known as the Windjammer. I'm not much of a wreck/history person, but here is a picture that Rob posted of the Mairi Bhan on its maiden voyage. The entry to the site is located past the gate of the Bopec terminal, so you have to do the dive with a guide, and they require your passport and such to make sure you aren't a terrorist, I guess. Benji got a call in the morning saying we would have to dive later than originally scheduled, because a boat was at the terminal. However, it was pretty clear from the view down the coast that there was no boat at the terminal. So we just headed over there anyway (Marco was on a schedule since he had to work in the afternoon). When we got there, the story changed to say that there was another team in the water, and we couldn't get in the water until they were out. But we were allowed to enter and setup our gear (there was a convenient little covered platform with a concrete table that was the perfect height for our tanks!) while we waited for the other team to come out. So once the other team came walking out, we entered the water. Benji schlepped our bottles to us and once we had everything, we headed out. There was a bit of a surface swim out, and then once Marco found his lineup, we descended. He had warned us that there was occasionally heavy current that could make it difficult to get to the wreck, but we had no problems.

Marco swam us to the wreck at a speedy clip, and then once there, we started at the bow which is fairly deep, where Rob took some pictures. Then we came around to each of the mastheads, for a few more photos. The wreck is lying on its side (sorry, I just don't get calling a boat she/her), with some of it collapsed on itself along the back half. Also, it is lying on its side on the slope, so at the back, its more like it's upside-down, if that makes sense. On the sand down the slope from the wreck, there is a brownish-black layer on top of the sand, which is the tar that the ship was carrying. We poked our heads inside the wreck to see if there was anything interesting there, and then headed back to the stern for some more pictures. Once our time was up, we worked our way up the reef for our deco, inching back toward the shore entry. I ran deco (it sort of shocked Marco when I asked to run deco; I guess normally when he guides a dive, he runs the show). The 20 foot stop was nice and warm (and long), and we posed for some more pictures at the top of the dropoff. There is structure even on top of the dropoff here (much like Taylor Made), so it was a scenic dive the whole way up. Once our 20 foot stop was up we swam up to the exit.

It was a cool dive, but I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of the "guide required" aspect of it, for a few reasons. I had no problem with Marco as a diver or a guide, and it was good to have someone to swim us to the drop point and show us how to get to the wreck. However, I really don't like the idea of doing a T2 dive with some guy I just met, and have never dived with before. It also adds a huge expense, not just because of the guiding fees, but because of the guides' gas (in hindsight, we could have perhaps done the dive without stage bottles, but I haven't really done the math on that). But most of all, it's just easier diving with just Rob (or Rob and Kevin, or some other usual dive buddies), since I know that if it comes time to call the dive, and we realize we have ridiculously more gas than our min gas, we can push it, and we know we'll all come up with reasonably similar deco with the push. Negotiating that with an unknown buddy just doesn't work.

The upside of doing the dive with stages even though we probably didn't need them was that we had so much backgas left that we could mix a full set of 21/35 for the next day. We had been planning to just top off to 25/25 and do a little semi-recreational diving at one of the deeper double reef sites. But when we realized we could make 21/35, Benji suggested La Dania's Leap, which has some cool stuff deep. He was a bit concerned about the entry for me, since I am a wimp. But he really wanted us to do the dive, so he offered to sherpa my gear to the cliff, help us get our bottles down into the water, and then drive the truck down to Karpata (where we would drift). Well, how could I turn up that offer? :) So we made a plan to meet on Friday for that. Rob and I decided to take the afternoon off from diving (we're one-dive wonders, I know), and instead we did a little free diving in the back of the hotel, playing with the baitball that is always swarming around the stairs.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Invisibles and Bari Reef (Bonaire Day 5)

On Wednesday, we went to the Invisibles. This is on the south end of the double reef system. I didn't write up a report of this dive afterward, so I don't have a super detailed report of it. Benji had recommended this site to us, though I don't remember why. I think we told him we liked the double reef sites, and we hadn't been here, so why not? One thing that was different at this site versus some of the other double reef sites was that instead of having a continuous parallel reef across the sand, there were just big discontinuous bits of reef popping up out of the sand (like what we would call pinnacles in California ;) ). I remember there were a lot of barracuda and bait balls of smaller fish out on the outer reeflets. Rob was shooting macro, so I looked for a few things that he didn't feel like he had gotten quite the shot that he was hoping for yet. Other than that, this dive was similar to our others with the usual deep segment then working our way up the reef, with a long segment just at the drop off.

In the afternoon, we went to Bari Reef. Rob wanted to get a shot of the seahorse, since he was shooting wide angle the night before. We spent quite a bit of time with the seahorse -- someone else came along while Rob was shooting him, so he backed off and let the other guy have a shot, then took some more pictures once he was done. Once Rob was satisfied, we headed out to the right for a dive. I think it was on this dive that we actually meandered past the hotel on the way back in. We hadn't gone to the left before, but we eventually wandered into some sort of buoyancy course with hoops to swim through and the like. Rob and I tried it out and it was not too pretty. I swear those hoops weren't wide enough for doubles!

On Thursday we planned to dive the Mairi Bhan, which requires a guide. One of Benji's friends, Marco (who had GUE tech training and was a DM at another resort) was going to be our guide, so we agreed to meet up on Wednesday night to plan the dive. Benji gave us an overview of the boat and what the high points would be from a photo perspective, and then we got to planning the dive, with a laptop and DecoPlanner. This is where we found out that even though we all had GUE training, we didn't do deco the same way (I hope I don't get kicked out of the club for saying that). The bottom was around 200', but the wreck comes up to like 150', with some of the features on the shallower end. So Rob and I proposed a multi-level dive, with a segment at 200' and a segment at 160'. I don't think they do a lot of multi-level deco dives, so we planned it very conservatively. Let's just say that we ended up doing a lot more deco than I would have done for the same dive in Monterey. But considering what Bonaire deco entails, we really didn't mind :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lac Bay, Taylor Made, Bari Reef (Bonaire Day 4)

Tuesday morning we dove the east side with Benji. We drove over to the north side of Lac Bay. Much of the drive was over a dirt road. We passed a lagoon (or lake?) with some flamingos in it. The entry was easy but over coral rubble of course. But no slippery ledge. There was a fairly long surface swim. In hindsight, conditions were "rough" for Bonaire (though I didn't notice it until our next surface swim, which was calmer by comparison). Benji told us that we would swim out to the dropoff and then follow it south. Then on the way in, we'd swim back the whole way underwater. On the way in, we'd pass over a sand "bowl" that could have very bad viz but potentially a lot of tarpon. Then we'd swim up a channel that could have significant current (that we'd be swimming against). Benji told a story about having to pull and glide up the channel. He also asked if we each had a bag. Man, the briefing alone was enough to make one not want to dive :)

Anyhoo, on the swim out, it seemed like there wasn't much outbound current, a good sign. We eventually got to the drop off (after seeing a couple of eagle rays below us on the way out) and we were off. The dive was basically a 50' dive, but we occasionally went deeper to look at something specific. We saw a lot of eagle rays, at least a dozen I'd guess. We also saw 4 turtles, two of whom we found resting on the reef. And a couple of green morays and some big barracuda. Those were the highlights. On the way back in, when we hit the sand bowl, the viz was mucky near the bottom, but there was a distinct line where the water got blue, 5 feet or so off the bottom. Benji signaled to go up to 20 feet and travel there, in the clear water. The sand below was completely featureless, making it hard to tell if you were swimming in a circle :) Eventually I noticed a tarpon or two off to my left, and when I turned to point it out, I slowly saw 5 or 6 appear on my right. I eventually realized they were everywhere, appearing from out of the muck. It was eerie and really cool. We eventually made our way to the channel where there was no current. There were, however, tons of big anemones. It was insane. Some spots were totally carpeted, unlike anything we'd seen on the west side. We continued in and surfaced a few feet from the exit.

After driving back, we asked Benji for a suggestion for a dive site for the afternoon. The day before, I had been talking about the crinoids at the anchors, and Benji was telling us about some tiny shrimp on the crinoids, with a black body and white tail. Apparently this species has only been found in Bonaire and Curacao so far. So Benji suggested a site with a resident crinoid, called Taylor Made. It is just north of the oil terminal, and doesn't appear on the maps with the usual dive sites (and not marked by a stone). But Benji gave us a detailed description of where it is. Getting there involved taking a sketchy dirt road around Bopec and then a short drive on a crushed coral path. The entry sucked. I think we should have spent more time looking for the best entry point. Instead we just headed in, and I went down on my knees in about a foot and a half of water. Rather than stand up, I had Rob just push me to deeper water :)

This site has reef almost right up to the entry. So we dropped pretty quickly and headed down the slope. I wasn't really looking for the crinoid, but I was ran right into it at 60 feet. Benji had said that if you head straight down the slope, that's where he would be. I immediatelly noticed the tips of the crinoid moving one by one and I realized a shrimp was hopping along it from tip to tip! After looking more, I found a couple more shrimp. It was too bad Rob was shooting wide angle. But as promised by Benji, the wite has some impressively big hard coral formations. I think that the site is best appreciated by looking up the slope at the big corals looking down at you, with surface ripples behind them. There was a significant current at the site. At some spots on the reef there was more or less protection. We were kicking fairly hard the whole time, and in places I really had to kick at full power to get around a corner, etc. But then there were spots where it felt like no current at all, because the reef jutted out in just the right way to provide protection. Eventually I cam to a spot where I realized after kicking hard for about a minute, I hadn't gone anywhere. I started to kick even harder and moved a bit, when I noticed Rob holding onto a dead coral stump, to maintain his position. At that point, I decided this was ridiculous and called turn. This was 47 minutes into the dive. It took 10 minutes to drift back to the exit point :)

We played around in the shallows (above the dropoff) where there was little current for another 10 or so minutes before I called the dive. There were a lot of lettuce slugs there, and fishies right up to the shore. Rob got out while I waited for an escort. He came back in and said he thought it would be better for him to take my rig out. Mmmkay. So I took off my rig and gave it to him, and walked out (after Rob warned me I'd have to walk out alone :P).

I was relieved when we made it back to the paved road without getting stuck in any mud holes. Since our dive was unexpectedly short, we had a bunch of gas left, so we decided to do a dusk dive out back. While we were gearing up, we ran into some divers getting out of the water who had found a seahorse. We got directions for how to find it, and headed over to it. We found it pretty quickly and played with it a bit. Rob was shooting wide, so no pics. Then we headed to the dropoff. Right at the top, I swam right over a big octopus. I showed it to Rob, and he got some pics. By now, it was pretty dark. We headed down the slope and to the right. We saw several open basket stars, and Rob took some pics. We turned the dive and headed up the slope, where we found a tarpon frenzy. Actually there was first a frenzy of little fish, which the tarpon then went after. There were at least 10 tarpon going crazy in our lights, feeding on the little fish. It was cool, but slightly scary -- I got bumped a couple of times. After Rob got some action shots, my light died. I put Rob's light on my hand, and tethered to him, lit the scene for a few more pics, then we headed in.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Red Slave and Flamingo Peeping (Bonaire Day 3)

Monday morning we did a tech dive at Red Slave. There were some last minute gas shenanigans because of a lost Helium shipment, but in the end we managed to pull together full stages and enough backgas to do the dive (by topping pff some spent doubles with 15/55 left in them). We had checked out the site the previous afternoon and it did not look too inviting. But this morning Benji told us to pull up to a slightly different spot, which was better. Benji walked us into the water and then schlepped all of the bottles out to us. Benji had given us a dive briefing complete with a diagram of where we would find the anchors. The reef consists of spurs separated by sand channels. To the left of the sand channel that we would descend, there would be an anchor at 120' and another at 190'. Then we'd head right a couple spurs to find one at 160' and another at 210'. Benji swam us out to the drop point and we were off.

We dropped down the sand channel and at 120' to 130' we stopped to look around. No anchor. I suggested we head left in case we were a spur over, but we still saw neither the 120' or 190' anchor. I was starting to worry we weren't going to find anything :) We headed back to the right and eventually found an achor around 170'. I wasn't sure which one from Benji's map it was supposed to be. Shortly after that, we saw another at 175'. Then I saw a huge one off in the distance, down the slope. We swam over to it, and it was at about 190'. From that, I could see another smaller one just down the slope at about 210'. We hit that one just as I switched off of my stage, and then thumbed it. We headed up the slope and deco'd on the reef.

We had planned to extend our 50% deco if there was something interesting to look at at 30-40 feet. We extended the 40' stop, but by 30' the reef was petering out. At 20', we were over barren sand. Benji said that you can sometimes see rays in the sand there. So we waited, hoping to see a ray. At some point during our 20' stop, Benji free-dove down to tell us we were in the right spot to exit. He scared me half to death in the process (one minute it was just the two of us, with Rob on my left, and the next minute I feel a tap on my right arm). Shortly after that, an eagle ray appeared. It didn't come close enough for pics, but it frolicked nearby for a few minutes.

We decided to take it easy in the afternoon and not dive. Instead, we went flamingo peeping up north at the flamingo reserve. We got some pretty close up looks at flamingos (and some donkeys).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hilma Hooker, Salt Pier, Bari Reef (Bonaire Day 2)

The next morning we headed to the Hilma Hooker. There was, not surprisingly, a "lot" of traffic on this site. A bunch of cars pulled up as we were getting in. There were some tarpon and biggish barracuda on the wreck. We went counterclockwise around the wreck, with Rob posing me for various pictures. We also did a brief swimthrough of the hold. Then we headed up to the propeller. Near that, on the hull, I found a slug! It looked like a mini sea hare. Rob independently formed the opinion that it looked like an Aplysia. It was really tiny, and Rob was shooting wide angle, so I don't think we'll ever know exactly what it was. We then headed up the reef and south, where we saw the usual stuff. Eventually we turned the dive and headed up the slope.

In the afternoon we went to the Salt Pier. It has a nice easy entry -- not so much slippery broken coral to negotiate. We knew this would be a shallow dive, so we planned to save gas for a night dive. I was expecting this site to be like Town Pier, with lots of macro life on the pilings. It was, in fact, a bit different. Instead of tiny critters all over, it had bigger corals and sponges growing on the pilings. There were also tons of fish loitering under some of the piers. I couldn't believe how many fish there were at this site. Unfortunately we missed one of the piers by accident (the on Benji had told us was the best :( ). This can happen when somebody doesn't let the leader lead the dive. In the shallows there was a bait ball that pelicans were diving into. The dive had a decent current, which pushed us along on our way out (south).

After that dive, we had plenty of gas left for a night dive on the house reef. The highlights of the night dive were two tarpon following us and using our lights to hunt, a small octopus out free swimming, and about 5 basket stars that were open. I was super excited about the basket stars. I couldn't believe it when I just kept finding more.

For dinner, we went to Pasa Bon Pizza. I was craving veggies, so pizza worked well. They have a black kitty there who I played with a little.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Bari Reef and Alice in Wonderland (Bonaire Day 1)

We couldn't quite remember if we were meeting Benji at 8 or 8:30, so we were up and ready at 8, and then saw that his trailer doesn't "open" until 8:30. So we puttered around until 8:30, when Benji showed up. We chatted about our intentions for the week (a couple of tech dives at the Windjammer and Red Slave, and other than that, some "recreational" doubles diving until we got sick of the schlepping doubles). We went over to Bonaire Dive & Adventure to get our marine park passes, and then got an abbreviated (compared to what I remember from last time) briefing. Then we did our "checkout" dive out back. We did a long dive -- 140 minutes, I think.

Rob was shooting macro, so of course we saw a turtle. But there were plenty of cute little fishies too. We looked for the seahorse at its old residence, but couldn't find it. When we got out of the water, it was just in time to meet the car rental person who was dropping off our truck. Then we headed into town for lunch. We went to Papagayo, which is where the Lost Penguin used to be. I had a tasty pineapple, ham, and cheese toasted baguette. Rob got a giant fish sandwich. After a stop at Cultimara and a little resting in the room, we headed south to dive at Alice in Wonderland.

While setting up gear before leaving, I had a catastrophic flip flop failure, followed by a temper tantrum. We were going to stop in town for some flip flop shopping before the dive, but then realized we had no cash. So we just went diving. When we got to the site, Rob offered to walk me into the water and then get geared up since it was rubbly and slippery. I acted offended and then accepted his offer, which was a good idea. The second reef was further away than I remembered; it couldn't be seen until we left the first reef. But we quickly saw it. We stopped to visit the garden eels who were of course not interested in being photographed. We spent most of our deep time on the outer reef. It goes down deeper on the outside than I remembered. Then we headed back to the first reef and up it. We saw some eels on this dive. I was in search of blue shrimp on anemones, but those anemones are always hidden in cracks it seems.

We went to Casablanca for dinner. Rob was pleased to find that the mixed grill for two still comes with its own table.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bonaire 2009

We were in Bonaire for a little over a week at the beginning of November, followed by a day and a half in Curacao. We stayed at Den Laman in Bonaire (which is where we stayed last time), and the Hilton in Curacao. The stop in Curacao was mostly dictated by flight schedules, but we figured if we were going to have to spend a night there, we might as well make it two nights and check out Curacao. In Bonaire, we dove with Benji from Caribbean Gas Training (which is unfortunately no longer in business). Picking the pictures to include in the report was, of course, painful. Be sure to check out all of the pictures in the BAUE gallery that Rob created!

Since American canceled their flights to Bonaire, we flew to Curacao and then took a regional flight to Bonaire. This sounds complicated but in reality, it was way more convenient than the all-AA itinerary we took last time, which involved spending basically all day on an 8 hour or so layover in San Juan. We even managed to get all 140 pounds of our checked luggage on the DAE flight for free. When we got to Bonaire, it was too late to get our car (this was expected), so we took a cab to Den Laman. On the way there, we noticed that there was a lot of new development since our last trip, including a new rotary!

Here are the reports, day by day:
Bari Reef and Alice in Wonderland
Hilma Hooker, Salt Pier, Bari Reef
Red Slave and Flamingo Peeping
Lac Bay, Taylor Made, Bari Reef
The Invisibles and Bari Reef
The Mairi Bhan/Windjammer
La Dania's Leap