It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Floating with the Jellies

On Saturday the Kitties were on the Escapade for the latest BAUE tech boat. Amazingly, the weather was actually kind of cooperative and we made it down to Yankee Point. It wasn't super flat, but tolerable. Other than a brief stop to say hello to a humpback (way) off of Point Lobos, it was a pretty speedy trip down. Plan A was the Three Nixies/Dos Gatos area, so we ended up at the Nixies. I have never been to the south (deeper) two nixies, well not intentionally, though I have gotten a little "lost" enough in that area that maybe I have. But I have definitely been to the shallowest one, under the name "the Volcano". I was leading the dive (ugh). Luckily I have looked at the bathymetry of the area enough (planning dives that didn't materialize due to weather) that I had some idea of what it looks like.

We dropped down on the ridge between the volcano and Dos Gatos, and I headed southwest to what I thought was the middle nixie. We swung around to the south of that, and clipped off our scooters and hung out there for a bit. Rob was shooting macro. I was looking for little critters, and other than a couple of juvenile rockfish and Dotos, I really wasn't finding much of interest. Oh well. After kicking around to the west side of the pinnacle, we eventually decided to head to shallower ground. We circled around the pinnacle and headed back north via the ridge, and then took a left turn to find the volcano. When I got to a structure, it was way too deep for the volcano and at this point I realized that the first pinnacle we were on was actually the south-most pinnacle. Aha. So we headed north and found the volcano. There were a couple of Scrippsia pacifica in the water nearby, and Rob attempted to get some pictures. I loitered nearby on the pinnacle while he did that. Around then I moved my head around and must have unseated my neck seal a little, as I felt cold water gushing in. Eek!

Shortly after that, we thumbed the dive. We put up a bag and headed up. At the 70 foot stop, cold water started gushing into my suit again and I decided I wasn't going to move my head any more than necessary for the rest of the dive :) As we ascended, we encountered a variety of jellyfish, until at about 40 feet we were drifting in a sea of jellies. All sorts of different kinds of jellies that I can't identify, plus a few that I could (the occasional nettle, Scrippsia pacifica, and lots of sea gooseberries!). The coolest critters were a couple of little jellies with tiny crabs on their bells. At last, Rob was shooting macro when we had a good jelly drift. We even decided to extend a couple of our stops for some more jelly time. When we got to 20 feet, there was a quick negotiation for how much deco to do there. Kevin suggested 12 minutes, and I came back with 15. Rob said he thought it was the first time ever that I wanted to do more deco than someone else :P (Rob and Kevin are generally big deco weenies, though Kevin claims he suggested 12 minutes because earlier I told him I was freezing due to my leaking neck seal.) But the freezingness was definitely worth it for the fun with jellies!

I had decided either before or during the dive that I would climb the ladder back onto the boat with my O2 bottle, since it is good practice. I neglected to mention this to Kevin or Rob, though, so apparently one or both of them were alarmed when I made a beeline for the ladder with a bottle still on (and confused Joakim, who was grabbing gear from the swim step, and was sure I wouldn't want to pass up my scooter when I still had bottles so he practically refused to take it :P). No, the scooter was just annoying me as it tangled itself in the current line. When I got back on the boat and unzipped my suit, I found that my vest was more or less soaked, and the top of my undergarment was wet, but not horribly so. I decided I would just have to abandon the vest for dive 2, and just see how well the top of my undergarment would dry in the sun. The wind had kicked up while we were in the water, but it wasn't too bad. We headed north and Jim asked where to for the second dive. Rob said, joking, how about Locals Ledge (or is it Local's Ledge? I hope the dive-site-name police don't arrest me). Jim said he thought the direction of the wind might actually allow that. We were shocked.

As we pulled up there, I warned the boys that I was still pretty wet so it would probably be a short dive. Rob was clearly nonplussed -- short dive, Locals Ledge? Then I overhead Matt and John talking about doing a short dive, so I invited myself along. In the end, Matt stayed on the boat, so it was just me and John. Once anchored, we stayed out of the way while everyone else geared up. Then we took our time getting ready and into the water. As we got geared up, some pretty big rollers came through, jostling the boat from side to side. Michael started making dire predictions about how he expected conditions to deteriorate while we were in the water, and they would end up having to chase at least one team into the rocks. Hmm. I know he was just saying these things for our benefit; well, I think so anyway. Our plan was pretty much to go in, stay around the anchor and come up when we got cold/bored/whatever.

We headed down the line to find crazy bad surge and green, chunky viz. It wasn't the Locals Ledge I know. We headed down the side of the ledge and just sort of swam out and back along it. Despite the crazy bad surge, for some reason we were inspired to look for teeny tiny slugs. It's been a while since I've been 'branching with John, but it was a lot of fun! Not a lot of people will look at some < 1 cm long slug in 8 foot surge. We saw a variety of tiny slugs, including lots of trilineatas and some small unidentifiable-without-magnification slug (our best guess -- Catriona columbiana). That was exciting! When we got to the west end, there were tons of Dendronotus albus's fluttering in the breeze. We turned back and when we got back to the anchor line, I decided I'd had enough, and thumbed it, about 20 minutes into the dive :) John assures me that PADI says you can log a dive as long as it lasts at least 20 minutes, so there, I did a dive. I couldn't sit one out at Locals Ledge, in case the conditions were epic, which they most certainly were not. On the way up, we did a little stop at 20 feet, which was funny, because right as we headed up to 10 feet, a big swell must have come through because I got sucked off of the pinnacle and down like 8 feet. Eek. After that I decided a 10 foot stop was not called for :) I was just relieved to be back on the boat.

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