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Me diving

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kevin's Birthday Dive

It was Kevin's birthday weekend, so Team Kitty went out on Phil's RIB on Friday to celebrate. During the week, the forecast was looking pretty good, though as the day got closer, the wind forecast did increase. It was a little shaky getting around Point Lobos, but once we were south of the sea lions, it seemed to calm down a bit. We headed south and after mulling our options, we decided to go to the southwest corner of Mt. Chamberlin. That way we could do a nice long bottom time, working our way up the reef. After a little bit of driving around and looking at the numbers on the depth sounder, we dropped the hook in about 160 feet. As we got geared up, it was pretty calm in the boat, which was nice. I think I even stood up with my doubles on at some point :) When I rolled into the water, I found a little surface current, but not much. I headed down the line and a moment later, we did our bubble checks at 20'. I told the boys that I wanted to do an extended pause there for my ears.

Once we left 20', we got down to 100' in about a minute, so I guess the pause helped. By the time we were there, I could see the sand below us. There was definitely a brownish layer on the top 40 or so feet, but it was still reasonably bright below it, and the water was quite clear. It was also quite cold. I have 46 degrees for most of the time we were on the bottom. We hit the reef on the edge of the little cove on the southwest corner. Then we worked our way down it and crossed the sand. We intercepted a patch of reef, which I recognized. I think it was very close (probably 50 feet or so) to the spot where my wing failed on Kevin's last birthday dive. As I was reminiscing about this, I looked down and saw a purple sea fan! There is fabled to be a purple sea fan at the bottom of Deep E3 (which I haven't seen, but Rob and Clinton recently got pictures of), but I'd never heard of one at Mt Chamberlin! I couldn't believe I was just thinking about how I've been to this spot before -- how did we not see the sea fan!?! I guess it's not too surprising, since the guys were ahead of me, and they had just scootered right over it without noticing :P I signaled them very excitedly, and Rob whipped out his camera to get some pictures. Once he was finished, we continued on and a moment later, I saw a really tiny basket star on a gorgonian. I looked over at Rob and Kevin to signal them and saw that they were positioned around another gorgonian, which had a much bigger basket star on it. It was really active with all of its legs flailing around. So I went over to check that one out, since it was way more interesting than the tiny one. There seem to pretty predictably be basket stars on this part of the reef.

Rob took some pictures of that and then we continued on and found a slightly taller section of reef that we were scootering along. I was in the back, and Rob, who was in front of me, started circling something on the sand with his light. At first I thought he was just giving me an "okay" since I had fallen a bit behind. But it seemed like an odd spot to point his light for that. I swooped down to where he was pointing and saw a ratfish! Yay! At first he was sort of swimming around, but not trying to bolt or anything. So I went off the trigger and swam alongside of him, taking some footage, and waiting for him to settle down. When he finally did, Rob slowly moved in to get some pictures. After a little photo shoot, the fish repositioned again, and we followed him and watched him for another minute before continuing on. We were heading toward the deep wall at this point, and just before we got there, we passed a huge school of blue rockfish and then I spied a Tochuina. I was in the back, though, and by the time I stopped to look, the boys had started down the wall. I waited a moment to see if they'd come back, and then went to the edge of the wall and signaled them. Kevin came over to take a look, and eventually Rob did too (he was embroiled in a photo shoot with an elephant ear or something on the top edge of the wall). After he looked at it, he pointed to the northeast and suggested we head shallower. So I totally missed the wall experience. Hmph!

As we headed shallower, we encountered a giant school of juvenile rockfish. It was insane how thick the water was with little fishies. Eventually we got shallow enough to switch to our 190' bottles, so we stopped for that. Right in the spot where we stopped, we saw two cool things. First, just as I finished up with my bottle switch, I looked down and realized there was Lingzilla sitting on the reef like right under me. It actually kind of scared the crap out of me when I saw it; and I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it the whole time we were doodling with our bottles. Next, there was a quillback rockfish right there. He caught my eye because of his extremely spikey dorsal fin, but I didn't realize what it was until Rob showed me a picture he got of it. I have never seen a quillback before! We continued shallower until we got to a peak around 110', which I believe was K3. There was yet another big school of blue rockfish there. We lingered there for a bit. I was video'ing the rockfish, when Rob signaled me and pointed down. I saw a really nice-looking cabezon, with pretty interesting color. It had some bright yellowish splotches on its tail. I swam over to try to video it (but the white balance was acting up, so got no usable footage :( ). As I swam over, I noticed an adjacent crack with a treefish in it. When I mentioned the cabezon to Rob after the dive, he had no idea what I was talking about. It turns out, he was actually pointing out the treefish to me. So no pics of the cabezon :(

After doodling around for just a bit longer, Rob thumbed the dive. He whipped out his bag and put it up. Kevin was calling deco. I didn't really think about it until after the dive, but I has no responsibilities on this dive --- ahhh, so nice. I waited until 60 feet to do my bottle rotation, which was a bit of a messy, but I'm going to blame that on my leash being clipped the wrong way :) As I was putting my leash back, I was sure I had accidentally swapped the double ender on my leash for a longer one. It just didn't seem to fit in my hand. But upon inspection after the dive, it seemed to be the right size. I guess I'm just rusty. The deco was otherwise pretty uneventful. At 50', I could see a brownish layer above us. I was hoping it would be a bit warmer, and it was. It was 48 to 50 degrees from the 40' up. Still, I was pretty chilly by the end of it! When we surfaced, we were in whitecaps. After passing up scooters and bottles, we drifted away from the boat to get out of our gear. Kevin helped me out of mine and then Phil came over to me. I told Phil it might be better to wait until one of the guys could help hoist my gear into the boat. Then I decided to man up and we got my gear and me back into the boat. Then we picked up Kevin, and finally Rob.

On the way back, Kevin suggested we "shoot the gap" between the two outer sea lion rocks. I was pretty surprised when Phil went for it, and as we were cruising through there, I was thinking this was a bad idea. But we made it through unscathed, and were back outside of Bluefish before you know it. There were still tons of dolphins there -- it looked like they were right over Great Pinnacle. After looking at them briefly, we headed in. While we were waiting for Phil to get the trailer, we watched the baby seals getting swimming lessons from their moms. They are so adorable! Once we got the boat out of the water and we packed up, we headed to Siamese Bay for lunch. It's been a while!

1 comment:

Lynne said...

Wow, if Quillback Rockfish float your boat, you need to come back up and dive Edmonds with us!