It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to K2

Rob, Susan, and I had been planning a deep dark and scary dive for Wednesday for a while (we picked Wednesday based on tides, and the fact that Wednesday works pretty well for all of us to take the day off). But at the beginning of the week, the wind forecast for Wednesday was looking not too good, and after a pretty sporty ride on Sunday, I really didn't want to think about getting into the water with all of that gear in rough conditions. For me, deploying off of the Escapade with 3 bottles is much more of an ordeal than with 2 bottles. So we decided to dive on Friday instead, and do a less deep dark and scary dive instead. We ended up with two teams on the boat -- Beto, Sue, and Jim; and Rob and me. We decided to go back to K2 and look for the GPO again. That crack seems like an excellent home for a GPO, so we were hopeful that he would still be there. The ride down was not too bad. It was a little sporty coming around into Carmel, but other than that, it was fine.

We deployed at anchor, since everyone was scootering. I jumped in and immediately said, something isn't right. There were bubbles coming from somewhere. I check all of my gear and found that the regulator on my 50% bottle was bubbling a lot. I detuned it, and it was still very bubbly. I took a few test breaths and decided it was annoying enough that I didn't want to dive it. We didn't have a spare regulator on board, so I returned to the swim step and handed up the bottle to Jared to see if he could work his magic on it (he is pretty good at working magic on busted dive gear). After a couple minutes, he returned with it and we dunked it in the water and it seemed to be working fine. So I clipped it back on and we were off.

It took me approximately forever to get down to the pinnacle at about 90 feet -- stupid ears. When I got down there, everyone was looking in the crack, but there was no octopus :( Oh well. We headed to the south wall. The viz was pretty good, maybe 50 or 60 feet, but not as good as it had been on Sunday. As we headed south, it got a bit darker. I don't know if it was just the depth or what. It was pretty sunny when we got in, and pretty overcast when we got out, so that may have been part of it. Anyhoo, the plan was to go to the south wall, and depending on what we felt like doing from there, we might head across the sand to what I call the "south south wall". On the way south, we stopped a couple of times. Once to look at (and try to photograph) a salp chain. It was a really nice big one, but once we stopped to look at it, we realized that there was a pretty significant current, and the thing basically blew by us before Rob even had his camera out. When we first stopped, there was also an egg yolk jelly nearby (which I was thinking might make a good subject) but it was gone with the current before I could even point it out to Rob. Also on the way to the wall, we encountered a wall of juvenile rockfish. It was the biggest group of juveys I've ever seen -- there were thousands of them. Of course every time I would shine my light to try to figure out exactly what they were, they would scatter. It was likewise difficult to get a picture of them.

So, there was a bit of current. It was running mostly to the west, with a small northward element. So on the way to the south wall, we were fighting the current while also getting dragged to the west. The result was that it took a surprisingly long time to get to the wall, and when we did, we were much further west than usual, which meant the wall was a lot deeper. I was shocked when we finally got to the wall and the top of it was 180' deep. We went down the wall a bit (as far as 18/45 would allow :P), and then headed east. I wanted to get back to the channel leading up to K2 sooner rather than later, in case we found out that our scooters weren't quite up to the task of getting us up current. It turned out to be fine, though it was definitely a slow trek back along the wall. We didn't see anything unusual, though there were a lot of juvenile rockfish all throughout the dive. Once we got closer to the path back to K2, we stopped for a few pictures and then headed up the channel. We meandered off the path here and there to look at stuff or take pictures. So once again we found ourselves drifting off path and eventually had to correct back to the east. We eventually found what we thought was the 90 foot hump on K2, which is just a bit north of the 70' peak. We decided to just shoot our bag there, instead of chancing it and not finding the 70' peak.

The deco was pretty uneventful. I was actually able to shoot a bag today :P There were tons of jelly creatures floating along in the water. There were a lot of those jellies with orange tips that remind me of a porcupine -- I have no idea what they are, but there have been a lot of them this year. When we got to 30 feet and it was time to stow my 50% bottle, I tried a new technique for doing that. My usual technique involves shoving my arm between my bottles, wrapping it around and stowing the reg; it sort of resembles wrestling a hippopotamus. Rob is always telling me I should try bringing the bottle forward (unclipping the hip clip) and stowing. He thinks that would be a lot easier; that's how he does it. However I have not had good experiences with that technique. We happened to be in the pool this past week so I decided to give it a try, and I finally understood how you control the bottle while also stowing the reg (of course that was in 80 degree water without gloves). So I gave it a try, and while I didn't go shooting to the surface or the bottom or anything, it really wasn't any prettier or faster than my usual way. So I think I will stick with what works (for some definition of works).

The ride back seemed calmer than the ride down. In fact, the cypress to pinos area seemed dead calm. We happened upon some humpbacks along the way. They came surprisingly close to the boat. Not within petting distance, but pretty close. We hung around not harassing them for a while, and eventually headed back to the dock. Lunch at Siamese Bay.

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