It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Diving on the Escapade

After last Sunday's failed attempt to dive (or dive well, anyway), Rob had a big hankering for a dive. So he called up Jim to see if he wanted to dive Friday, and Jim told him the wheels were already in motion. Sweet. By mid-week, a crew had been assembled and the forecast was looking good. When we got to K-dock, everyone was standing around chit-chatting instead of loading the boat, which had us a bit worried. But it turns out everyone was just chit-chatting instead of loading the boat :P The ride south was pretty calm. Right around Point Lobos, we had to stop briefly (while the crew checked out something in the engine compartment) and where we stopped we could see two different whales. Woohoo. We made it down to Yankee Point, and Beto formulated some sort of plan wherein we dropped on one pinnacle and scootered around and met up at another pinnacle. I wasn't 100% clear on the plan, but knew the direction from pinnacle A to pinnacle B and figured I'd just follow someone else anyway (e.g. Rob). After the downline was installed, there was a wake on the ball. Hmm. Beto and Susan got in first, and in the time it took them to get their scooters, we'd drifted down current of the ball, and had to reposition the boat before we could jump (after which the boat repositioned yet again to drop Jim and Jo). While we repositioned, we noted how slowly Beto and Susan seemed to be moving toward the ball, but for some reason we still were dropped not that far up-current on the ball. By the time we were in with our scooters, we too were slightly downcurrent of the ball, but we made it to the ball reasonably quickly.

We began the descent, and not terribly surprisingly, I had a lot of ear trouble on the descent. We had been in the pool the two previous nights with a class, and I don't know if it was the ups and downs in shallow water or what, but I felt a bit of a sniffle on Friday morning. It took us 5 minutes to get to 150 feet (which is supposed to sound like a lot, though Ted told me it always takes him that long :P), and we were on the trigger to keep with the line the whole way down. We finally got to the pinnacle, phew, and were quickly greeted by a school of blue rockfish, oh and epic viz. Right where we dropped, there was a nice fluffy gorgonian with a fish sitting on it -- it was an extremely cute fish, though I'm not sure what it was. My best guess is that it was a juvenile cabezon. We each got our cameras out and tried to capture it, but that didn't work too well. There was just too much water movement and it was too small for my camera. I guess Rob had strobe issues; I'm still trying to pry some sort of half-decent shot of the fish out of him, in hopes of making an ID. After we gave up on that, we headed around the pinnacle we had landed on. We ended up in a channel between this pinnacle and another. The viz was amazing, and so was the current. We were barely moving again the current. This is pretty much how the dive went -- we'd scooter upcurrent, barely moving, and then let the current shoot us back around the other side of whatever pinnacle we happened to be on. We eventually found the other teams and spent pretty much the whole dive moving in a caravan.

There were two things that stood out to me as being particularly nice on this dive (other than the epic viz!). First, the excessive number of rockfish. There were a ton of blue rockfish, and I believe there were at least two distinct schools (one had much smaller fish than the other). We also scootered through a school of juvenile rockfish. Finally, there were at least a dozen olive rockfish hanging on the fringes of one of the schools of blue, and you know how there's always a vermilion trying to pose as a blue rockfish in their schools? Well today there were two, and they were really big. It was great to see so much fish life! The second cool thing was this one area that we passed that had really fluffy pretty gorgonians. The first time I ever dove this group of pinnacles, we found ourselves in a sand channel with this gorgeous wall of gorgonians on one side. For some odd reason, I've never made it back to that precise spot until this dive. Unfortunately the Hero-cam auto-white-balance hates me, and I got no usable footage of that spot :( We spent much of the dive relatively shallow for this site, at 130 feet or above. But that's where all of the rockfish were -- near the pinnacle tops. As the end of our bottom time drew near, we scootered to one of the Dos Gatos peaks, which we all decided looked like a pair of bunny ears. So it has been dubbed "bunny rock" (I don't know how I feel about a kitty site having a monument to bunnies... Pepper is highly offended and says "bunnies suck!"). After having some fun with the school of rockfish at bunny rock (which comes up to 90 to 100 feet), we all agreed to start the drift from there, and managed to shoot bags without becoming horrendously entangled (though I did my best to drift over Beto and Susan as they shot theirs).

Once we shot our bags and started the drift, oh man did we drift :) A few minutes into our 70 foot stop, all of a sudden, I saw a reef coming right at us. Rob was facing me, and hence did not see it coming at all! He was literally dragged across the top of a pinnacle which came up to about 66 feet. Oops, did I not point out that we were rapidly approaching a pinnacle? All was well until we got to the other side and there was a wicked down-current that dragged us, well, below 70 feet. Yikes. Apparently this happened to all three teams, and as I was recovering from it, Rob was watching Jim and Jo get the same treatment. The viz on the ascent was stellar, and as we got shallower, we found a lot of moon jellies (and a single lone nettle). The viz at 20 feet had to be somewhere in the 80 to 100 foot range, and it was so bright and blue, it was like we were in the tropics. Every now and then I would see the boat doing circles around us in the distance. Eventually I remembered that I had my hero cam, and got some footage of the awesome viz and the jellies! For pretty much all of the deco, I was suffering from extremely spastic buoyancy. We would get to a stop and be hanging there for a few minutes, and then suddenly I'd go wonky. Rob took a look at my wing and thinks I am a bit overweighted -- which makes sense, since I haven't done a weight check since I got my brand new undergarment, which is now a shadow of its former self. So by 20', I realized if I just took really small breaths, I could deal with it. But every now and then I would exhale and forget to breathe for a while, and then I would get wonky again. Sigh. Luckily we were doing a doubles primer over the weekend, which would be the perfect chance to do a weight check :)

I was expecting it to be a pain to reboard the boat due to the current. But I guess that is more of a wind problem. In any case, getting back on the boat was a breeze. They didn't deploy the current line (which is the new standard, I guess, when everyone has a scooter), so after I ditched one bottle, I was kind of like "what now?" since I usually go wait on the line while Rob ditches his gear. Instead I just handed up my scooter and climbed out. The lineless exit definitely seems like a win, at least when it's not too rough.

No comments: