It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, August 7, 2010

NCUPS Competition 2010

This weekend was the annual NCUPS competition. Rob couldn't make it, and Clinton got down on one knee and asked me to be his model (or something), so I decided to take him up on that. So all of the pictures in this post are Clinton's. This year you could dive off of boats for the competition, so of course we were on the Escapade. After suffering the indignity of waking up at 5:45 and driving down to Monterey all by myself (in intermittent light rain for the last 30 minutes), I found a terrible parking space at K-dock and met up with Clinton, Sami, and Mike. Clinton wanted to maximize dive time on two dives, so I packed big boy single tanks (thanks to Frank for loaning them to me). I like diving single tanks in theory, and think they look way better in pictures, but man I hate schlepping the one that isn't attached to my backplate down/up to the car -- especially a 104! I've decided I should get a second backplate and STA just to bring the second tank to/from the boat. Now that I think about it, I already have a second backplate and STA. Okay, enough whining about tanks.

We got going and headed Carmel-ward. The conditions were not super flat, but not that rough either. I was wondering on the way down if we were ever again going to get those super-flat days you sometimes get during the summer. It was overcast and pretty cold on the way down. Clinton wanted to go to East Pinnacle and/or Outer Pinnacles. I guess some other boat or boats were on East Pinnacle, so we went to Outer Pinnacles. Clinton told me that there were three shots he was interested in getting at the pinnacles: hydrocoral and diver, blue rockfish, and sea nettles. We dropped down and briefly got confused about where the spot we wanted was (Jim anchored a ridge or two over from where he often does), but then headed in the right direction and found it. The viz was good though the water could have been a bit bluer... still very nice conditions for a competition. Clinton had briefed me on how to pose for competition pictures. Apparently the key is to not look DIR. I did my best, which really wasn't very good -- I really thought my legs were extended and straight, but they weren't at all! But I do think I did a good job of not doing the superman pose with my arms, and keeping my fins together. After an extensive photo shoot at the first spot (which I have been photographed at an uncountable number of times at this point, so it should really have a name -- any ideas?), we moved on. Eventually we stopped at the top of the wall that runs near there for another photo shoot. I was having a lot of trouble figuring out what the heck Clinton wanted me to do, but eventually we worked it out. In hindsight, it should have been obvious to me where he wanted me to be :P Hydrocoral and diver, check.

After a bit more meandering around, Clinton got the crazed look of a kitty on the scent of a small furry animal and led me back near the anchor where he found a school of blue rockfish. We spent the next 10 minutes or so trying to corral the rockfish while he took some shots. After he got a few, I tried getting in the picture, which the fish didn't like. Eventually after some more alone time, they got over it and let me approach from behind and pose for a few shots. Then we headed up for some sea nettle shots. On the way up, I was wondering where the nettles were, but then at 20 feet, we finally saw that they were above us from about 15 feet up. We headed up there and killed about 10 minutes with the nettles. There were not a ton of them, but enough for a few pictures. It would have been better if it was a bit sunnier out. When we got back to the boat, there was some talk about going elsewhere for the next dive. The people were rebelling because it was surgy at the pinnacles, and the people don't like surge, apparently. Clinton was not man enough to quash the rebellion, and declared that he had gotten the shots he wanted, so we could go wherever for dive 2.

Wherever turned out to be Aumentos. All I could think was that if Rob were along we would NOT have gone to Aumentos for dive 2 :) I guess the reports were that the viz was about the same in the bay (yea right) with murk to about 20 feet and then clearer water. On the way back to the bay, it was explained to us that no one wants to see pictures of hydrocoral or blue rockfish, and that sea nettles were unimaginative. That's too bad. When we got to Aumentos, I took sort of forever to get into the water. I was behind Clinton getting ready when I realized I was super hungry, so I made him wait while I downed half a protein bar and a bottle of water. As I jumped into the water, I asked him if he was ever going to dive with me again, since I know Clinton is big into being the first in the water :) The water was clear in the top 10 or so feet, then it got murky, then it cleared up again. But until very near the bottom it was sort of chunky, so even at the shallower portions of the structure it was a bit chunky. We spent much of the dive swimming around with Clinton occasionally shrugging at me like "why bother to take a picture here?". It definitely wasn't as nice of a dive as the first one. We were looking for some Metridium shots, but most of the 'trids that we found were closed. Clinton eventually found a nice open one but it was under an overhang (I really like the picture he got of it though). There were a surprising number of bigger rockfish above the site, and a lot of kelp greenlings, including one monster one. There were also zillions of juvey rockfish. It was nice to see so many fish. On the way up, Clinton took more pics of the nettles. The nettles were a lot thicker here, and the viz was crappy, so between trying to keep track of Clinton and the anchor line, I got stung a couple of times. Boohoo. The water was really milky; Clinton took a couple of shots of me with a nettle and you could see a haze across my mask in the pictures.

We came to the surface to find that pretty much everyone else on the boat thought this was a much better site than the first one. Well what would I know? I have pictures of hydrocoral, blue rockfish, and a sea nettle in my living room. We had a short ride back to the dock, during which I forgot to rinse my drysuit, ugh. When we got back to the dock, Michael somehow magically levitated my extra tank up to to sidewalk level (I don't know how he did it, it seemed like the tide was too low to pass tanks up there). Phew. It was still a very slow hobble across the parking lot with that bad boy. The guys wanted to go prepare their images for submission back at the Travelodge, so I stopped at McDonald's for the worst meat-like patty of my life and then went to look at pictures with them. After they seemed to have some general idea of what they were going to submit, I headed home (after a brief stop at the Beverly's next to the Travelodge -- I've never been there before; they have a pretty good selection of quilting fabrics).

No comments: