It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back to Cold Water

We didn't have much planned for the weekend after we got back from C1 (it was too hard to imagine life after the class), but we managed to get some last minute Lobos reservations for Sunday. I had some 21/35 in my doubles from the last canceled tech boat (which is a violation of Team Kitty standards... we are supposed to keep 18/45 as the default gas in our doubles for any last minute emergency tech dives :P). So we thought it would be a good opportunity to use up that gas, by doing a dive out towards Twin Peaks. I had another motive, which is that this seems to be the season for Okenia sitings on the Road (not that I have any scientific proof that the "season" is actually a season, but it's been the right time of year for two years in a row). So I really wanted to get out there in April to look for them. So Rob packed macro for the dive. When we got to Lobos, conditions were not exactly stellar. It was a bit sporty on the surface, and the tide was low-ish (though I knew it would be even lower when we got out!). But it was diveable, so we got in. It was one of those days where shortly after getting in the water, I wondered if it would have been a better day to call the dive, since I knew that getting out was going to be a pain. But given that we would have the annoying task of climbing back out of the water either way at this point, there was no sense calling it now :)

We scootered out to the sand channel, and dropped in about 30 feet of water. The viz was pretty bad, and it was really surgy. For some crazy reason, I had agreed to lead the dive, which was interesting in this viz. I generally do the run to Twin Peaks all based on landmarks, and it's been a while since I've had to do it by the instruments. We headed down the sand channel on the right side, and around 45 feet, I decided I should cross over to the left side, so I didn't miss hole in the wall. As we were crossing the sand channel we scootered through a school of tube-snouts. I didn't really see them until they were right there, and then they were all around us. We continued out, and when we got past HITW, we headed out towards Lone Metridium. I headed in what I thought was the right direction, not having the visual clues of the ridges that I usually just hop along to get to Lone Metridium. Eventually we ended up at the end of a ridge that was about the right depth, and I figured it was either Lone Metridium or one ridge before Lone Metridium. I searched around on the rock, and found the little metridium all closed up. Phew. From there we headed out towards the sisters. I am always shooting for the second sister, but recently I always seem to end up at the first one. After a couple minutes of wondering if I was going to miss them both, we ran into a rock which seemed sort of first sister-ish, and after a bit of searching I found the tell-tale patch of hydrocoral in the center. Phew. As I looked down at my gauge to reset the avg depth and time, I saw that it said it was 46 degrees. Brrr. From there we headed to the second sister and followed the road from there. The viz finally opened up to maybe 30 feet once we were on the road. But it was really surgy even down there. And it was dark.

We continued out until we found a patch where I wanted to stop and look around, and from there we pretty much meandered on foot for the rest of the dive. Shortly after we stopped, I noticed Rob futzing with his camera, and then he declared it dead, and put it away. He told me afterward that the battery indicator showed that the battery was dead, even though he thought he had charged it. Oh well. We never did find any Okenias, but we had a few other cool finds. The coolest thing was a wolf eel, that Rob found. Yay! I wasn't expecting that. We also had some cool slugs to look at... quite a few Aldisa albomarginata, which we first saw about two years ago, but I haven't been seeing for a while. And one Doriopsilla spaldingi -- I just love those! Rob also found a huge longfin sculpin, well huge for a longfin. It was kind of scary big. I think it had been snacking on radioactive waste or something. We had originally planned to do about 40 minutes at 130, but at about 25 minutes I told Rob I was feeling cold, so I wanted to trim that down. So we ended up doing about 30 minutes before we headed in.

The viz was equally crappy on the way in (no, I wasn't expecting it to get better, just wanted to remind you :P). It was one of those days where I made it all the way down the Road to the first sister, without every seeing the second sister. I hate those days. Then I headed in on the heading I believed to be the one. Just around 75 feet, Rob started signaling me and was sort of excitedly gesticulating about switching. I was like... but we're just now inching up on 70 feet, when I remembered he hadn't switched off of his stage yet (I was just diving backgas). Teehee. So he got off of his stage, and then we went onto our deco bottles. From there, I continued in, and hit a big rock which I originally thought was one of those ridges that is parallel and to the west of HitW, but then it looked sort of familiar. It was the big rock just north of HitW (which I am quite fond of, as a dive site in and of itself... that's probably the only reason I recognized it). So we headed in down the sand channel and to the worm patch. I got the hint that Rob wanted to keep scootering in from there, but in this viz, I wasn't going for it. So we ascended there. We scooted back to the ramp, and it was indeed an unpleasant exit. It wasn't terrible -- as I told Kevin afterward, it was a one-hand assist kind of day... I grabbed Rob's hand to pull myself up the step at the bottom of the ramp. But hey, that's better than needing two hands, or one hand and a manifold pull. It's all relative :) Actually the worst part of the exit turned out to be when we retrieving bottles and scooters from the float. I completely wiped out on the ramp at one point. A wave came, and next then I know I was in a pushup position on the ramp... which was a convenient position to be in to pop myself right back up onto my feet.

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