It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

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.

No comments: