It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Marco's Pinnacle

On Sunday, Team Kitty decided to scooter out to Marco's Pinnacle. I have never been there, really. Well, I have passed it on my way to Great Pinnacle (or not on my way to Great Pinnacle, as the case may be), but it has never really been a destination. So we decided to go check it out. The nice thing is that even though it is a bit of a long scoot, it is shallow, and the route out is fairly shallow, so we could still get a decent amount of time on site. After negotiating all of that, we headed into the water, and off we went. I was leading, woohoo. The water was pretty green in the cove, which was not surprising based on what we saw the previous day. However, we also saw that it fairly quickly became blue, so we were hoping it would be blue out at Marco's. We dropped a little bit before the sand channel, and after the requisite dunking of the face in water (while Kevin video'd), we headed out.

The viz cleared up by the time we hit Hole in the Wall, but the water was still green. Then around Lone Metridium the water suddenly turned a lovely shade of blue. As I scootered through the kelp next to Lone Metridium, I was thinking how it looked almost tropical, but with kelp. It was a sunny day, so it was really bright. We meandered along the 80' depth contour, and eventually I started to get antsy, and wonder if every structure that I hit was Marco's :) We hit some sort of big structure right before it, but it wasn't shallow enough, so I kept going. Then we finally hit it, and it was really big, and came up shallow, so it was pretty unmistakable. Right where we hit it (on the northeast side), there were some nice hydrocoral shrubs. And the viz was quite incredible -- it was so blue and bright and clear! Since I had never been to the site before, I wanted to circle it, to see what was where, and where was the "nice part". So we circled around it counterclockwise. The west side is really not very pretty -- there is lots of palm kelp and it just isn't as colorful. Man is it a big pinnacle! About 3 minutes into the circumnavigation, I was pondering turning around... this side wasn't nearly as nice as the spot we first hit, and I had no idea when it would end! I eventually sort of cut over the top of the south end, and then before you know it, we were back to the east side, where there was hydrocoral.

For some strange reason, Rob stopped to take some pictures of some spindly looking chunks of hydrocoral. Kevin and I were sort of like... what the heck? there is much nicer hydrocoral over there! So Kevin grabbed Rob's manifold and gave him a little tow over to the nicer area, and Rob got that "ah-hah" look and started shooting away. Meanwhile I started poking around, looking for critters. The hydrocoral there was quite a population of cute little crabbies, trying to intimidate the divers with their tiny little claws. I also noticed a bunch of trilineatas on those white sponges with the brown crud on them. I've noticed that those sponges are a prime spot for trilineata peeping, so once I found some of the sponges, I kept an eye out for them, and quickly spotted a few. We also found several Dendronotus albus, which I had just been thinking about the day before (based on a conversation with Phil) that I hadn't seen any for a while. We saw at least 4, or various sizes. Even Kevin found a couple :)

After a nice long time at the site, we turned it on time (the plan was to leave at 70 minutes, at the latest). I could tell Rob wanted to renegotiate the plan (we were actually shallower than we had planned) but he could probably sense that I was cold and that wasn't going to happen :) So we headed back in, this time following the reef-sand interface instead of sticking exactly to the depth contour. Since the viz was so good, we were scootering near the top of the reef, and it was cool to look down the rubble to the sand in those spots where there is a significant drop. Eventually I saw this square-ish reef that seemed sort of Sea Mount-ish. Hmm. I decided to head south at that point, and if I hit a ridge, I would know it wasn't actually Sea Mount, and if I hit Hole in the Wall, then, well, I had apparently veered too far north :) Before you know it, I recognized the big rock just north of HITW, and was relieved to get my barings. Rob asked me what I was doing (I don't think he noticed Sea Mount, and was worried I was going to crash into the shallow rocks of Cannery Point :P). I gave him the "give me a minute" signal, and when we hit HITW, he admitted to my navigational supremacy :P From there we had an uneventful scoot in.

We had planned to do some drills for dive two. Beto was nice enough to loan us one of his little video cameras so we could be vain and video ourselves doing the drills. Rob put together a little summary video. I think putting up videos of yourself doing skills is generally pretty lame, but there is a funny non-skills part at the end. More about that later. We wanted to go out deep enough that we could go to 20 feet and not be able to see the bottom. So we scootered out to the end of the sand channel, and shot a bag from 70'. We clipped off the scoots, and headed up to 20'. We did some valve drills (my best mid-water valve drill ever, I think -- the boys even applauded when I was finished!) and some bottle rotations. I finally go the "snap" to whip the 80 cuft bottle around when I am moving it forward. I was inspired after watching Rob... he does it so violently, I realized I just need to commit to doing it, and not be afraid of bonking myself in the head and rocketing to the surface (or the bottom). So I gave it another try at the end and it went quite well. After a good set of drills we decided to head in. We dropped down and pulled the float, and then got ready to head in. Rob's scooter was on the verge of dying, and so was Kevin's (though through some breakdown in communication, Rob didn't get the memo on Kevin's scoot), so I kept all 3 bottles, and Kevin towed Rob for as long as his scooter would allow. Then they kicked while I scootered on and off to keep pace with them... no way am I kicking those 3 bottles around when I have a perfectly functional scooter in my hand! On the way in, Rob demonstrated his excellent situational awareness and Kevin demonstrated his excellent buddy skills. See the video for more details.

After diving we decided to high tail it out of there so we could drop tanks at Anywater. Actually Kevin dropped tanks while we took our time rinsing gear, and then we all met back at Casa de los Gatitos (hopefully I didn't just say something dirty in Spanish) for pizza and beer and video review.

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