It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Almost Exploring at Point Lobos

On Sunday, we were at Lobos, diving with Devin and Pete. After trading quite a few emails during the week about what to do, we were considering head to Great Pinnacle and exploring west of there. We collected all of the necessary components for the dive (e.g. a lot of scooter burntime), and assembled at Lobos to make the final decision on where to go. After reviewing some bathymetry maps, we decided we would go for that. We planned to take the shallow route (but not the shallow-shallow route) to Great Pinnacle, which we were (collectively) less familiar with than other routes. I have been out this way on a few occasions, but I prefer the mid-depth route, and Devin and Pete prefer the deep route. Our bailout plan, should we get lost, confused, experience bad viz, become giant scaredy-cats, etc. was to bail to the Road and head out to Twin Peaks. Unfortunately Rob was diving sans camera, so you will have to use your imagination. Or you can look at the Great Pinnacle and Twin Peaks pages on the Point Lobos maps site to get a feel for the area.

After what seemed like dozens of laps between the ramp and the float (which was pretty far out, since there was a very high tide, which I knew was destined to become a very low tide), we had staged everything on the float. We also learned a valuable lesson about weighting a scooter -- the number of engineering degrees one has does not necessarily correlate with an ability to figure out which way to rotate the tube to get the scooter weighting right. With all the gear sorted out, we headed into the water. Ooh, speaking of gear, due to trimix logistics, and our dive on Saturday afternoon, I ended up using a set of HP100s on this dive (thanks Greg). My first time in these. They were not too different from LP85s. I could feel a little difference, but nothing too horrendous. Anyhoo, we scootered out on the surface to about 30 feet in the sand channel. Devin reported an incursion of cold water into his drysuit, but after a bit of flailing his arm around on the descent he decided it was alright. We headed out the sand channel and turned the corner at Hole in the Wall. We continued along, circling the Lone Metridium with our lights, since that is where we planned to start the bottom timer. A minute after that, I looked back and noticed the others lagging behind a bit. I stopped and instantly spotted a pretty medusa jellyfish hanging in the water nearby. We regrouped, oohed and ahhed over the jellyfish, and then continued on.

The planned navigation was to scooter along the sand/rubble area that is north of Lone Metridium etc., and south of Three Sisters etc., until we hit the south end of Shortcut Reef. Then we would cruise around that, and find the Great Pinnacle on our right. We eventually hit a structure which I now believe was the reef structure just to the east of Marco's Pinnacle. After scootering along it for a minute and looking at the depths, we figured it had to be part of the Marco's area, and headed more north. After what seemed like forever (but was actually much faster than planned), we cruised across the east end of Great Pinnacle, and down the slope to about 130'. At this point, Rob (who was leading) and I (who was co-leading, I guess you could say) were both doubting our navigation and chose the "big scaredy-cat" contingency. We headed east toward the Road, and managed to land right on a structure that we have spent many dives on (but we were on the backside). It is the big rock with the crack down the center, where Rob took a picture of Mark with a bunch of lingcod eggs. I instantly recognized it, and scootered through the crack around to the more familiar side of the Road. We stopped along the road briefly, at a little pinnaclet which had quite a few Spanish shawls on it (at least 4). Before I could notice anything else, the boys had gotten restless, and wanted to continue out. So we continued out until we got to the first peak, and spent the rest of our time there.

I immediately started looking for Doto-inhabited hydroids, since Rob was sad I didn't share my find with him on Saturday. I quickly found some pretty big Dotos to show to him, and moved along. After that, I was poking around for other critters, and didn't see a lot. Until I saw it. A tiny warbonnet, sitting out on the reef in his full glory. Tiny even by warbonnet standards. A tan one, many times cuter (by virtue of his size) than any other warbonnet I've found out on a reef. I excitedly called Rob over, warning him to cover his light. He managed to come over and see the little fish with only a small skitter along the reef. The fish was actually gracious enough to put up with all four of us trampling past his bit of reef to get a look. After gawking at the warbonnet, it was about time to head in, and so we did. The trip in was straightforward. Near the base of the road, we saw the usual menagerie of juvey rockfish. There was also a big group of some other small fish, whose identity is a mystery to me. They were about the size of juvey rockfish, but the wrong shape (rounder heads). They were whitish, with two red to brownish splotches on their backs. I realize I have no hope of IDing them with such a vague description. I had noticed a big group of them between Great Pinnacle and the Road earlier too.

The viz had deteriorated in the sand channel (as the tide went out), so we finished up our deco over the worm patch, instead of the inevitable team separation that happens with 4 scooters and crap cove viz. The tide had gone out quite a bit, just to that point where it becomes annoying to get out of the water. The sea state had also deteriorated somewhat, making the water awfully swishy by the ramp. The swishiness slammed me knee-first into one of the ledges at the end of the ramp. Ouch. However, I managed to walk out of the water under my own power, which is all I can really ask for on a low tide :) After cleaning up gear, Rob and I headed to Phil's Fish Market for lunch. Yum yum.

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