It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Afternoon Boat

On Saturday, we were on the afternoon installment of the BAUE tech boat. The downside of the afternoon boat is that we are more likely to end up diving Mile Buoy, but the upside is that we potentially get to do two dives and we get to sleep in. When we got there, the boat wasn't back from the morning yet, so we loitered around K-dock and I worked on my tan (or something) in the bed of Kevin's truck. The tide was nice and low, so we could pass gear down to the dock from the parking lot. That was convenient. When the boat finally returned, we quickly loaded gear and started to chat about where we could go. Flintstones and Mt. Chamberlin were tossed around, if we could make it down there, and E3 was our backup if not.

We headed south and before you know it, we were pulling up to Mt Chamberlin, to dive the south wall. Jim seemed a little concerned about current. We were scooering, and scheduled to get in before the other team, so we agreed to loiter near the bottom of the line to make sure the other team made it down before we headed off. There was a wicked surface current, but once we got under like 5 feet, there was very little current. It was an easy, slow drop down to the reef. We got down there, and headed south towards the wall. On the way out, I noticed the little spur with a really nice gorgonian garden that we had spent some time on at the end of our dive there last time. We got to the edge of the wall and hung out there while we waited for the other team. While we were there, I started looking through some hydroids and found a couple of Dotos. Before I managed to show them to Rob, he signaled me and suggested I move over a little to pose behind an elephant ear. Hmph. So I moved over, and found some more hydroids to stare at, which also had Dotos on them. Very nice. Then we moved on to a very big aggregation of elephant ears, which unfortunately had no nearby Dotos, but had a cute little juvey rockfish curled up in one of the "ears". The viz wasn't quite as good as I expected. Actually I think the viz was pretty good, but the water just wasn't that clean, especially close to the reef. However, the vertical viz was incredibly good.

After the other team appeared, we headed west along the wall. Eventually we cut in over the top of the wall, along one of the spurs of reef. We were scootering across one and Kevin signaled to Rob that he wanted to go back. Of course he found some crazy tight swimthrough that he wanted to try to conquer, flexing his cave diver muscles at us. He slowly eeked his way through it, and then I went and looked and said no way. He later reported that that was a wise decision. I am almost certain that was the little arch that I saw on the last dive, which I believe I reported was not quite big enough to swim through :) From there we continued along, stopping occasionally for some pictures, and then starting to head back towards the anchor line. I noticed quite a few juvey rockfish along the way (rosies and I think some blues).

Every now and then we would cross paths with the other team, and eventually we all ended up on the same patch of reef, and then ascended from there. A couple minutes later, we headed up as well, for a pretty uneventful ascent. At 20 feet, Rob took some pics. Kevin was using his CSI cam for the first time around here. He pointed the camera at us to get some pics of the deco-photo-shoot. However, due to some technical difficulties, the footage has forever been lost to the gods of video technology. Boohoo. When we got to the surface, the boat was picking up the other team, pretty close to us. So we scootered over to the boat, passing some moon jellies along the way. The surface current seemed to have decreased substantially.

After reboarding, we decided there was time for a quickly second dive on the way home. We discussed some options, and eventually ended up at Strawberry Peak, which is just off Point Pinos. This is near the site of our Point Pinos commando dive back in April (or so), but much shallower. It is a ledge (or series of pinnacles, really) coming up to 20 feet from about 60 feet. When we got into the water, I could very clearly see the reef from the surface. We dropped down, to find a bit of a washing machine near the top of the reef. It was that circular surge that sucks you down 5 (or more) feet, then spits you back up to where you started. Really unpleasant on the ears! However, once we got down below that, the surge was not too bad. The reef didn't strike me as being the most interesting, but the viz was incredible! There were a lot of big ochre stars, which I like. There was a lot of coralline algae, and the purple looked really pretty against the sunbursty blue blue water. The were also some patches of what Rob claims were encrusting hydrocoral. I could believe it.

We meandered around the reef, first heading northeast of the main structure, and then swinging around to the south side. We had a sea lion stealthily following us. He kept appearing and zipping by, but never when Rob or Kevin were looking. I think they thought I was making it up. There were also quite a few fish, of various species. Some big ling cods, a cabezon, a lot of blue rockfish, a sprinkling of other rockfish, and several perchy-looking fish. When we finally decided to head up, we went up to 20 feet to hang for a bit, and that is when the fun (or not) began. The washing machine surge was crazy up there. It would come only every minute or so, but then we would get dragged at least 10 feet from where we started. After a couple of big swishes, an even bigger one came, and I looked back and watched Rob get slammed into the reef, and turned head over heels. Ouch. Apparently this dinged his camera body a bit, but his dome port was spared (phew). After he righted himself, the sea lion swooped by again (I swear I heard him snickering at Rob), and Rob finally saw him. There, I wasn't making it up.

The sun was setting as we hit the surface, and we had a very scenic ride back to K-dock. The tide had one wayyy out, and the walk up the ramp from the dock was at a crazy angle. It's certainly the worst I have ever had to walk up. I practically had to climb it like a ladder :)

All of the day's pictures are here.
Kevin's video from the second dive is here.

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