It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting Spanked at Flintstones

We were back in Monterey on Sunday to dive on a recreational charter on the Escapade. Rob got home from a trip late Saturday night, so he didn't feel like packing his camera. So I'm using some pics from Clinton, plus a video by Captain Bunny himself (that's Kenn in case you weren't sure) to illustrate this report. After the Saturday non-dive, we were all holding our breath for the Sunday trip. The only thing more annoying than driving down to Monterey to not dive on Saturday would be to drive down to not dive on Sunday too. Jim, Clinton, and I made a pact of sorts to be really chipper about diving potential no matter the conditions. Plus with Rob along for the ride, there was no way we would be calling it at the dock today :) The conditions turned out to be fine. I mean, it was a bit sporty coming around Point Pinos, and it wasn't totally smooth sailing, but it wasn't scary big or anything. Before you know it, we were at Flintstones... Flintstones on a day we were worried the boat wouldn't even go out! Let this be a lesson to all of the forecast weenies out there.

We quickly got geared up once we got there, and despite the fact that I really should have known better, we were the first team in the water. As a rule, whenever we go to a site south of Lobos, I like to let Clinton be the first in the water, so he can test the current for the rest of us. But we were seated right by the gate, so we were the first in. When we first jumped in, the current seemed okay. I started swimming toward the bow, and was making progress along the side of the boat. Then all of a sudden the current seemed to get worse. I think the boat may have swung a little or something, so when we first got in, I wasn't swimming completely against the current. Eventually I started slowly getting behind the boat, and asked the crew to deploy a current line. By the time that was deployed, I was pretty far behind the boat. I pulled myself back to the boat and as I was about to make the jump from the current line to the granny line, I decided sometimes you just have to know when to say no. There was no way I was making it to the bow in this current :) So I gave Michael a thumb and swam to the ladder, where he graciously removed my fins for me. I asked the crew to tell Rob (who made it to the bow) to find another team to dive with (I knew Jim and Clinton were up there, so I figured he could team up with them). Then Jim appeared next to me at the back of the boat and told the crew that we weren't diving here. Teehee. Luckily only about half to he teams had made it into the water yet, and Matt and Leah were still right at the back of the boat (not that getting back to the ladder would take any effort in that current :P).

So take 2 on the first dive was Outer Butterfly House. I'd only been there once before, and remembered some very nice hydrocoral. Rob made me lead the dive, grumble. We jumped in the water and I was relieved to find absolutely no current. Phew. After a leisurely swim to the line, we dropped into pretty good viz. But it was super surgy. We were anchored at the end of one ridge (vague, I know, but I navigate by landmark, so words like north and south don't mean much to me). We meandered in one direction before I got my bearings and figured out that based on the briefing, that was not the way I wanted to go. So we doubled back and hopped over to the next ridge, which had a nice tall wall, which was teeming with colorful encrusting stuff and hydrocoral. We swam around the tip of that and then eventually I decided that the other side was nicer, so we went over the top back to the tall wall. Eventually we meandered back to where a couple of the other teams were, and hopped back to the first ridge (this time on the good side). It was incredibly surgy near the top of the ridge. Every now and then a big set would come through and it was a total washing machine. At some point I inadvertently got dragged by the surge into the frame of a scene that Clinton was shooting so I tried to pose as well as I could as I bobbed around. Shortly after that, Rob decided to try to pose for a picture on top of the ridge for Clinton, and just as he positioned himself, the spin cycle started again. He grabbed onto a piece of palm kelp and went for a wild ride. It was reminiscent of his tumble at Strawberry Peak (but thankfully he didn't have his camera with him this time).

Eventually we headed back to the tip of the ridge that the anchor was near. There were a bunch of teams hanging out around there, and there was some nice hydrocoral to look at. We decided to just hang out there for the remainder of the dive. There was actually a reasonably long period with little surge, so we could just enjoy the scenery without worrying about face-planting into a beautiful piece of hydrocoral. Ahhh. When we got back on the boat, Greg told us about some giant swells that came by while we were in the water. Yea, we felt those :P After collecting all of the divers, we motored up to the Pinnacles area. It was pretty rough there, so we weenied it and headed back in to the bay, to Aumentos. We took a vote and I think Rob and Clinton were the only ones who voted to stay at the Pinnacles (surprise surprise).

It was certainly calmer on the surface at Aumentos. The viz was definitely not as good, but it wasn't terrible, either. Rob wanted to run line for giggles, which certainly made the navigation easier :P We just sort of wandered around (as far as I know... maybe there was some method to Rob's madness), and stopped here and there in spots where it seemed like there was something worth looking at. At the farthest point out, we were poking around when Rob signaled me and told me to cover my light. He pointed out an exceptionally cute fish in a hole near the bottom of the reef, which I am pretty sure was a sarcastic fringehead. The only other notable siting that I recall is more of those really splotchy Geitodoris heathi that I have been seeing a lot of lately. We eventually headed back and when we got back to the anchor, we poked around the Metridium for a few more minutes before thumbing it.

A couple of nice easy dives (except for the ass-kicking at Flintstones) before our big secret trip the following week ;)

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