It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Nixies

Team Kitty was on the BAUE tech boat on Saturday. On the drive down to Monterey, I tried to take a nap in the van, which caused me to get a bit carsick (which is a new phenomenon to me, since we got the van). By the time we got to Monterey, I still wasn't feeling great, and getting on the boat did not help. It really wasn't that rough, but I still felt terrible. We pulled up the Nixies (woohoo) and I was feeling so bad I wasn't sure I could get into my gear. But I decided to man up since I would certainly feel better once I was in the water. So as a compromise, I got into my gear but waited to put my bottles on at the last possible moment (after gear checks and everyone else was ready). We hopped in and I grabbed my scooter and headed for the float. Rob was a bit slow getting to the float but after a moment he appeared.

We had agreed to have a dramatic pause at 20', to see if it made the rest of the descent easier on my ears. After that, I pointed my scooter down and we were off. I had to pause once at 50' or 60' for some ear clearing, but even so, I made it from 20' to 90' in under a minute. Not bad. We hit the top of the reef and the viz was awesome. I turned to Rob to gesticulate about the awesomeness of the viz, and he agreed and then gave me a sad look and said he didn't have his camera. I was in disbelief and then quickly scanned him and saw that sure enough, he didn't have his camera. It was back on the boat he said. I guess we was delayed getting into the water and didn't want to make the boat do a second pass to drop the camera. Boohoo. So no pictures today. Anyhoo, I stopped at like 110 feet to celebrate the amazing viz, but Kevin and Rob had other ideas, and wanted to head deep. So I followed them down to the bottom of the pinnacle, and we headed down a little channel, south I think. I thought, at the time, that this was the channel where we saw the Diaulula lentiginosa in August, but I'm not entirely sure about that. We eventually turned the corner and followed the pinnacle to our right, and then headed out over the sand from it, to another pinnacle. As expected, I started to feel better once I was in the water, and by about 15 minutes into the dive, I was feeling quite good.

We did a multi-level dive, with the first segment at about 200' and the second segment at about 150' (well that was the plan, though the second segment was actually a bit shallower). On the deeper section, we saw two Tochuina's, and two basket stars. We also found this weird little patch of sand off of one of the pinnacles that was swarming with clown nudibranchs -- really big ones that seemed to be extra warty (that is, the orange tubercles seemed extra prominent). On the shallower segment, we didn't see anything wildly interesting, though we did encounter a nice school of blue rockfish hanging out on top of one of the pinnacles. And of course the pretty reef was all around us. We also crossed paths with Clinton, Joakim, and Beto a couple of times, zooming around on their scooters. By the time we left the reef to start to drift, we were at about 100'. At that depth, I guess there was a bit of surge, because I was starting to feel a little queasy again.

Once we left the reef and I had no visual reference, the seasickness came back with a vengeance. I asked Kevin to shoot the bag, since I was feeling a bit too wobbly to do it myself. Then once I got onto my bottle, I promptly took the bag from Kevin because I was feeling wobbly :) Luckily Kevin is well trained and puts up with my shenanigans. The deco was pretty much hell, and it seemed like I literally spent the time counting down the seconds until it was over. When it came time to switch off of my bottle at 30', it was a total cluster. I just couldn't manage to figure out where to put my hands to get the frakin' hose stowed. When we were discussing it afterward, Rob mentioned that it might have been better to just ask one of them to stow it for me; he was right. Yea, it was that bad :) Once we got to 20', I think I fell into a sort of meditative state, where the time passed rather quickly even though it was a much longer stop and I felt quite bad. It was periodically interrupted when I felt like I might barf, and grabbed my reg so I wouldn't projectile vomit it out. Every time I did that, Kevin would swim over and give me an exaggerated "are you okay?" signal. It was really quite adorable. I was relieved when we got to the surface, where conditions seemed a bit bigger, but maybe they weren't. Well, I think the wind had picked up. When I got to the surface, I took my regulator out of my mouth and spit (without regard to wind direction) and watched my spit sail back past my head in the other direction. Teehee.

Rob had recently suggested to me that when reboarding the boat with a scooter, I could take my fins off on the line, away from the boat, and then scooter up to the ladder, hand over my scooter and climb out. Usually I pass my scooter up and then remove my fins (either at the ladder or just off of the ladder on the line). For some strange reason, I decided this would be a good day to try this new technique -- what could possibly go wrong? Man was that a cluster. I ended up with my scooter, an O2 bottle, a line that was alternatively wrapping around my manifold or my scooter, one fin on my wrist, and the other fin still on my foot, but with the strap pulled off. And I couldn't seem to get the fin off. I finally gave Kevin a little wave to get his attention and squawked "my fin" though my regulator. He looked at my feet and thought I had dropped a fin (since one foot was finless). Eventually I made clear what I wanted and he pulled my fin off, and I managed to get myself unentangled and back onto the boat. Phew. Then to cap things off, as Rob was climbing the ladder a wave came and knocked him off, into the water. Luckily he was okay, and didn't hit anything on the way back into the water. Or even drop a fin. His kung fu is strong.

We headed back to Carmel and eventually ended up at East Pinnacle for a second dive. I decided to sit that one out. I took the opportunity to try out some new-to-me (supposedly fast acting) seasickness drugs that Matt and John both swear by. I would have to call the results inconclusive (since by that point we were in a quite protected area), but I didn't get loopy or anything, which is good to know. Even though I didn't go along on the second dive, I'm posting a picture that Rob took, since completely picture-less posts are just so sad. Apparently Clinton's team was on the trigger for so much of the first dive that he didn't get any pics either -- so I can't even mooch pics off of him!

We were supposed to dive on Monday, but the conditions were bad on Sunday (and supposed to be the same on Monday) and since the dive (gas) plan required being able to get out of the bay, Jim called it on Sunday. But hanging out at home and catching up on my blogging and video editing was nice anyway.

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