It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Three Dives for the Price of Two

Saturday I was on a BAUE tech boat. This was Ted's big BAUE tech boat debut, so I was diving with Kevin and him. But then half of the boat was knocked out by a cold (or something), and Matt was without a buddy. So we decided to just dive as a team of 4. The goal was, of course, to make it as far south as we could. There was a biggish swell but not a lot of wind when we first turned the Point. But soon enough the wind kicked up and we were in whitecaps. The wind was out of the south, so the crew recommended E3, since we would get protection from Point Lobos. They were right -- once we were there, it was dead calm. It was really nice getting geared up in such calm conditions. Just as we were all geared up, with bottles (well, bottle) and all, the down line slipped and we had to go back around again to drop it again. Once that was finished, we got in the water and headed down the line. The viz was looking pretty good.

I was a bit worried when we got down to 80' or so without seeing anything pinnacle-like. We kept on going until we got to 150', where the ball was drifting along in mid-water, with the bottom maybe 30 feet below. The viz was really good though :) We looked around and couldn't see any obvious structures around and thumbed it. By the time we got back to the surface it had been just a little over 10 minutes. Apparently we had drifted quite a bit (read: there was a lot of current), and there was no way we would have found E3 if we had searched for it. The water was still dead calm and we all quickly got back on the boat. After a bunch of hemming and hawing about what was the best way to deploy on the next try. Eventually we decided to anchor the boat and deploy a granny line, blah. We got in and pulled ourselves to the anchor line, which while not totally trivial, was not as bad as I expected given how much we had allegedly drifted on the previous dive. We started down the line, and again, it wasn't that bad. I was pulling but not with great effort, and Matt wasn't even pulling on the line. So I reasoned, based on the law of averages (or something) that if the current was mild now, it would be worse than expected later. Then we got to 50'. I swear it took me minutes to make it from 50' to 60'; it was like I wasn't moving. Just as I was thinking this, I noticed Matt was on the line too.

But eventually we saw pinnacle and just as the pinnacle came into view, we saw 3 molas too! Once we were below the top of the pinnacle, we were protected from the current, so we dropped away from the line and enjoyed the mola action. After they headed off, we swam along the current-protected side of the pinnacle. I believe that we dropped on the south side of the west end, but since I am directionally challenged, and used my compass not a bit on this dive, I really can't say for sure. We swam leisurely along the side that we dropped on. The viz wasn't as good as it was on the "first dive" but then there was a pinnacle on this dive, so who can complain? There were some fish, but not a huge number. We saw a couple of juvenile yelloweyes. Actually I saw one and then later on, Matt was trying to show me something in the folds of an elephant ear, and while I couldn't see the fish, I had a feeling that's what it was (which he confirmed back on the boat). Eventually we came to a little notch in the top of the pinnacle, and I thought I'd try my luck with the other side. I swam into the notch, looking around at the critters on each side. As soon as I got to the other side, I got completely spun around by the current, and decided to turn around and head back, with my tail between my legs. On the way back, I noticed that the wall was crawling with Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda. I pointed them out to Matt, since I thought he might actually appreciate it. We eventually meandered back around where we started, and I went a bit deeper to see what was down there. I saw a couple of simnia snails, but nothing else to report. Eventually we worked our way up to the top and headed back along the ridge. I saw two molas swimming along the top of the pinnacle just across the notch. I swam over toward them and they hung around for a minute and then headed out. Then a third once came swimming into the frame, but he wasn't really interested in hanging around long. Just a couple of minutes later, it was time to call the dive.

Our ascent was pretty uneventful for the first several stops. We did 25 minutes of deco, which I found to be delightfully quick. It was also nice and warm as we got shallower. I think it was about 57 degrees from 20 feet up. There were the usually assortment of small jellies to look at, but not much else. Then at 20 feet, as I was looking down into the abyss, out of nowhere, a sea lion was barreling towards me. He totally scared me. There were a few that were zipping around us for the next few minutes, which was fun. Just as Kevin called for us to head to 20 feet, I saw a big yellow halo below us. It slowly became more clear until I could see that it was a HUGE jellyfish. But alas, it was below us. It was slowly coming up toward us, and while I never got a clear view of what it was, it was definitely a huge jellyfish :) I lingered on my way up to 10 feet (Kevin was annoyed I think) because I was sort of transfixed by it. I was just thinking, if there were a man-eating jellyfish, that's what it would look like. I pretty much spent the rest of deco checking out the jellyfish, trying to will it to come up a bit shallower, but it was not to be.

When we hit the surface, the conditions had deteriorated a lot and it was whitecapping like crazy. It was kind of a shock considering how calm it had been when we got in (and it was only a one hour dive). Getting back on the boat was a bit of a pain -- there was so much surface current that I felt like my arms were going to be ripped out of my shoulders while trying to hold onto the ladder. Oy. When the topic turned to dive 2, we all agreed we should head back into the bay before it got worse. So we headed to Eric's Pinnacle. When we got there, I made a joke about putting a granny line in, which was funny because when we jumped in, there actually was a bit of current on the surface. Nothing big though. We did a pretty short dive; the highlights of it were the sea lion ballet -- there were about 8 of them periodically coming through and zipping around us; and the blue rockfish at the top of the pinnacle -- I swear they get bigger on every dive! There were also zillions of sea nettles in midwater. We got pretty well nailed on the way up (from all of 20 feet). I don't usually have much of a reaction to them, but this time after I pulled my hood off my face was stinging all over. I doused it with vinegar and it eventually felt better, either from the vinegar or the passage of time.

Once back to K-dock we decided to zip back up to AWS and then have late lunch/early dinner up there at Gloria's. Yummy.

1 comment:

david_hatton said...

Loved the blog, it is beautifully written. I'm a regular reader. recently got into diving myself and really enjoying it so your blog has been fascinating.

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