It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Outer (Outer)+ Pinnacles

That's a regular expression for those of you who didn't get it. Not exactly sure what to call the site that we dove, since it was deeper than the usual "Outer Outer Pinnacles". It was the (mid-)February installment of the BAUE tech boat. The boat originally attracted two teams of 3 divers each for a deeper T2 dive, but by the time the date rolled around, it was just Team Kitty and Karl. The rest of the divers had succumbed to the winter sniffles, I guess. We discussed diving as a team of four or not, and in the end decided to split into two teams. I was stuck with Rob (okay, it was our Valentine's day dive, I guess I shouldn't sound too disappointed). The conditions were big -- keep in mind that this was the weekend of Maverick's :) Our backup plan if we could not make it to Carmel was to go to Lingcod Nursery. We were pleasantly surprised when we made it to Carmel, but making it down to Yankee Point (where we really wanted to go) was not in the cards. Instead we decided on a spot that Jim had numbers for, which he hadn't been to in a long time. It was off of Outer Outer Pinnacles, and was a pinnacle with the top around 170' and the bottom around 230'. As we approached the site, we got geared up and got our bottles on. The crew put down a down line, and I guess it slipped so we had to go back around and do it again. I was feeling pretty barfy waiting for the down line to be installed, and thinking that if it slipped again, I might not be able to stand sitting in my gear for another pass.

But, alas, we were told we could go after the second time the line was dropped. I jumped in the water first, grabbed my scooter and by the time I got my scooter clipped on, I had drifted a bit from the boat. I took a heading to the downline and scootered down to the line and assumed Rob would find me at 20'. I met Karl and Kevin on the line and a moment later Rob appeared. We headed down the line, amid tons of sea nettles. Clinton had taken some nice pics of the sea nettles the day before, so we were expecting it to be a nettly deco. It got pretty dark on the way down once we were below about 100' and as we continued down, I started to wonder where this so-called pinnacle was. At 160', when I couldn't see any sort of pinnacle, I was very suspicious. Then at about 200', the line ended at the ball, which was adrift in the water column. Oops. We landed on a bottom at about 220-230', with a small structure that was maybe 15 feet tall. It was dark as night, and really silty. I debated calling this post "Deep, Dark, and Silty". That would pretty much sum up the scene where we dropped. We meandered around the structure briefly and then after a few minutes I signaled to Rob that this site sucked, and we decided to look for something more interesting. The original plan had been to scooter east in search of shallower structure once we were finished on the main pinnacle, so we scootered east, hoping to find some more structure. For a while we found only small, low lying structures, but we saw some neat stuff along the way. We saw several Acanthodoris hudsoni. I almost swam over them thinking they were Cadlinas, but something didn't look right. I couldn't remember what they were at the time, but I knew they were some sort of Acanthodoris. This makes me think I should look a bit more closely at those Cadlinas that I often ignore :) We also saw several vase sponges, some of which I posed behind for pictures. I thought it would be a good day for basket stars, since it was so dark. I found one, which was all curled up except for one arm that was extended. It was a funny pose. We also found... a crinoid! My favorite! I signaled Rob to show it to him and he kept brushing me off because he thought I was showing him the vase sponge next to it. When he finally saw the crinoid, his eyes lit up. Unfortunately he really didn't have the right lens for it.

We eventually ran into Kevin and Karl, and negotiated when to shoot bags (since the profile of the dive was not exactly what we had expected) and which way to head from where we were. At this point we were on a bigger structure coming up to about 160'. After a couple more minutes there, we continued on, and found a big pinnacle coming up to about 130'. It was amazing how much brighter it was at that depth than at the start of the dive. We found Kevin and Karl on that pinnacle and we all finished up our dives around there. I had been looking forward to some nice nettle time on deco. As it turned out, we saw exactly one nettle during deco. Pffft. There really wasn't much of interest at all on the way up. The water also wasn't quite as clear as it had been on the way down. We kept running into Kevin and Karl, and it really seemed like we couldn't see them until they were quite close. When we got to the surface, Jim explained that since we had drifted about a mile, it wasn't surprising that we didn't have the same conditions on the way up as on the way down :) The surface was really sporty when we came up, much windier than when we started. The boat drifted past us on the first pickup attempt and it took a couple times around and some serious current-line-antics before we all managed to get ourselves to the back of the boat. When we finally did, it seemed a bit crowded at the back of the boat, with all four of us and our gear, so I decided to take one for the team and scurry up the ladder as quickly as possible. Meanwhile the current line ended up wrapped around the props. After giving up on untangling it, the ball had to be cut off to get the line out. I ate bonbons and gave moral support to the guys while they were dealing with this issue.

All in all, it was a nice dive, considering we weren't sure if a dive was even going to happen -- and I saw most of my favorite deep critters! I'm still not quite sure where we ended up... Jim thought we may have been to the west of Lunaticos, and that's where we ended up, but the depths don't seem to line up. He gave Rob the numbers of where he thinks we dropped, but I haven't had a chance to look at them. Rob is very secretive with his numbers... he leaves them sitting around on little scraps of paper with no comprehensible description of what the numbers correspond to... I know this is all meant to confuse me and keep me from using them.


Rob said...

A more concise regexp would be: "(Outer){2,} Pinnacles"

gecko1 said...

Geeky much?