It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mt. Chamberlin, Mystery Site

We decided to start the year our right, and take off the first work day of 2009 to go diving. John, Matt, Rob, and I went out with Phil. Rob came armed with a bunch of GPS coordinates of sites appropriate for all sorts of conditions. John was strangely attached to the idea of E3. Phil said we would peek around the point and see how the conditions were. There would be no diving at E3 on a Yankee Point-able day :P When we came around the point, it was shockingly calm. I guess there was a north wind so it was nice and protected south of the point. In addition to calm, calm water, the sky was blue and it was just a beautiful day to be out on the water. We headed down to Yankee Point. Rob had the numbers for K3, where we had never been before. As is typically the case, the format of Rob's numbers was different than the format of Phil's GPS, so there was quite a bit of drifting around with our thumbs up our, errr, I mean with Phil yelling out depths and Rob pondering whether they sounded right. In any case, we found a peak coming up to about 70 feet-ish, that wasn't too far from deeper water. When we looked over the side, the viz looked quite pleasant. So we got geared up and flopped into the water.

When we got to the line and looked down, it was going straight down, sort of flaccid-like, which looked good for a scooterless descent. There we no current at all on the way down, but then a pretty good bottom current. The reef started at like 70 feet, and there was a big school of blue rockfish hanging out right there when we got down to it. We headed south with the reef on our left(into-ish the current), based on the depths that Phil had called out during our bob on the surface. I was leading, woohoo. It took a minute or two to get down to 100', but then there was a steep dropoff and before you know it, we were in 160' or so. There was another structure across a sandy channel coming up to about 140'. We spent some time poking around there, and then head along that, north-ish, until we came to a crack across that structure. We swam through that, and passed an Urticina in 150'. That struck me as odd.

From there, we popped out into another, deeper channel. This one was probably about 170' at the bottom. It was a nice channel with tall structures on each side. On the left hand side, there were some cool little vertical slots carved out of the reef, with overhangs and the like. We swam up that (unfortunately against the current), just enjoying the scenery -- elephant ears, gorgonians, and the like. What I really wanted to do was swim to the end (it sort of took a turn and petered out) and then drift back along it with the current. However, I decided it would be too difficult to corral the boys and communicate that to them, so when we got to the end, I just thumbed it, and figured we would drift through it on the way up. When I thumbed it, Rob gave me a "WTF?" look (which I thought was a bit much, since I had thumbed it all of 30 seconds shy of the plan). Turns out he had bumped a button on his gauge and reset the time, so he thought it was a few minutes early. After he folded up him camera, Matt (our illustrious deco captain) took over. Rob was on bag duty, which is always mean to do to the guy with the space station-sized camera, but you know, something about readiness.

After we got to 70' and switched onto our bottles, Rob tamed the beast (cleaned up his camera), we found a nice position to avoid getting current-bumped into each other, and settled in for the ride. We could hear the boat engine at some point during the 70' stop, which was comforting. Things were pretty uneventful for the first half of the deco. At 20', after adjusting my hood (it has this annoying habit of collecting bubbles from my second-stage exhaust) and smooshing my mask on my face, I noticed a jagged line running across one eye of my mask. Since it had appeared out of nowhere, I assumed it was on the outside, and tried to rub it off. I rubbed and rubbed and finally decided it wasn't on the outside. I suddenly became worried that it was a crack in my mask, and was pondering whether I should whip out my backup mask. I decided to get a second opinion first. I swam over to Rob and asked him to take a look, and quickly saw his eyes get REALLY big. Then he had a ponderous look on his face, and he scrutinized my mask for a minute. Suddenly he looked very relieved, and told me he didn't think it was a crack, but a hood thread. That little bit of drama kept me pretty occupied during the 20' stop, and before you know it, it was time to head to 10'.

Just about a minute before we were finished there, I looked up and noticed Rob and John both gesticulating wildly, pointing behind me. I swung around to see a big mola swimming toward us, taking a look. Then it started to descend, and I think we all momentarily decided to follow it, but then came to our senses when it kept descending. That was really cool. It's the first time I've seen what I would describe as a "big" mola underwater. We surfaced to find not-much-worse sea conditions than when we had started. However, the weather had deteriorated quite a bit, and it was now overcast and colder. But the sea state still allowed us to shoot the gap between the sea lion rocks :) After we got on the boat, I inspected the mystery "crack" in my mask. I have no idea what it was. Phil shared his theory with us (think Clarence Thomas). I think it was a piece of nature, like a thin twig or splinter of mulch. Definitely not hood related though.

After we got back to Lobos and packed up our gear, we headed to Siamese Bay for some lunch. Then we stopped by Cynthia's to retrieve a hand-me-down cat tree from Nitrox. The kitties are HUGE fans. I was worried they would reject it because it smelled of their arch nemesis, but it seems that one of them is always on it now.

So, after reviewing the bathy maps, Rob thinks we were on the west side of K2, which we've never been to before. I think that is a plausible explanation.

All of the day's pictures are here.

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