It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Afternoon Boat in the Bay

Leah was finishing up her GUE Rec3 class on Sunday, and Matt, Rob, and I had scored an invitation to share the boat.  The plan was a light Tech dive at Kawika's Garden, followed by a recreational dive somewhere in the bay.  Since the class was, well, having class, in the morning, and since we have a big van, Rob and I were tasked with picking up some gas from Bamboo Reef.  I had been planning on hanging out and then getting dressed for the boat before heading to K-dock, but with the gas pickup and the rather hot weather, I decided to just toss all of my drysuit underthings into my bag and change in the van at K-dock.  We got everything we need at Bamboo Reef and headed to K-dock.  Because it was noon, the parking situation sucked, so we had to park pretty far away (in line with the building with the pub).  The boat was similarly parked in a bad spot, basically right out in front of the pub.  So it was a bit of a schlep with the doubles.  But not really that bad; I suppose that is the benefit of diving 104s regularly; it makes the 85s easier to walk around in.

We got our gear on the boat pretty quickly.  And when I saw "we" I mean everyone at K-dock.  I only had two bottles, but somehow it took Luke, one of the crew from the Monterey Express, and Chris (from AWS, who wasn't even working) to get them down to the boat.  Turns out if you just stand at the top of the ramp with something heavy, batting your eyelashes, you won't have to carry it to the boat yourself.  I'll have to remember that one.  I went back to the van to change, and realized I'd left my bag at Beto's.  Doh!  Luckily I keep a spare pair of socks in the van, and I just happened to have my base layer top (or second from base layer, since I usually wear a poly-pro tank top under it) in the van.  So I could make do, even though I had a minor meltdown when I first discovered this.  It was really hot, but since we had a short ride out, I figured I should don my drysuit before we got going.  And we were out at Kawika's in no time!  We hopped into the water and swam (can you believe it?) to do the downline.  I was a bit annoyed when I got to the ball and turned back to give my team the signal to descend, and found that they had already both descended without any sort of signal. Hmph.

The viz was really good for the bay, but nothing epic.  I have had better viz at Kawika's, but not for a long time.  It was also reasonably bright at the bottom, which was nice -- on some of the best viz days that I have had there, it has been dark as night.  It was a nice dive, though the best part was on deco from 20 feet up, so forgive me if I speed through the bottom portion.  We pretty much saw the usual suspects for the site -- lots of gorgonians, lots of Spanish shawls and Tritonia festivas, lots of canary rockfish, some really big vermilions, and a couple of jumbo lingcods.  We also found some squid eggs on the sand.  I was keeping my eyes peeled for a Tochuina, but didn't see any; turns out the other team saw one though.  I also saw a few juvenile yelloweyes, including what I would describe as a "large" juvenile.  Much bigger than the ones I usually see, but still with the juvenile coloration.  Matt also saw a large juvenile yelloweye (could have been the same one, but it was across the reef from where I saw one).  So maybe we will start seeing some adult yelloweyes soon :)  It was a relatively short dive, so deco flew by.  There were a lot of sea nettles on the ascent.  They weren't scary-dense, but they were there.  There were some realllly looooong ones.  The were so cool to look at.  I know that sea nettles are the devil, but I think they are so pretty!  I don't know why I didn't get some video of them :(

At 20 feet, Rob pointed past me and I turned to see a mola.  No, two molas!  And not the dinner-plate-sized Breakwater molas, but bigger ones (not the gigantor obese aquarium molas either, but a respectable size).  I happened to be running the bag (because, as Rob explained on the boat, I "need to work on my bag shoot"... eye roll).  As soon as I saw the mola, I went for the hero-cam (which I conveniently had clipped off), pushed the bag toward Rob and dropped it.  I knew he would know what to do.  Then I proceeded to swim along videoing the closer of the two molas, as the second one occasionally swam into the frame.  I was glad to not be decoing on O2, since it meant I could be a bit more, hmmm, lenient with my buoyancy window :)  At one point, Rob reached his hand out for the mola, and it actually swam up and rubbed its face along his arm.  Matt was watching as Rob reached out, looking sort of like "yea like that's going to happen".  Then as soon as the mola came by and rubbed Rob, Matt stuck his had out too :)  But the mola had lost interested and headed a bit shallower.  We caught up with him again on our 6 minute ascent (with very patchy bad viz).  It was totally fun having them their on deco -- I think it was my best mola encounter yet!

We headed back to the fuel dock for our surface interval, and Rob procured some snacks from the Breakwater deli while we waited.  Then we headed back out to Shale island.  The boat was anchored, but we were instructed to shoot bags and ascend wherever.  I was a bit confused about this, but you know Jim's temper, you don't want to question him on these things (hehehe).  We brought 32% stage bottles for the dive.  As we headed down the line, I realized that Rob's bottle had my initials on it.  So obviously my bottle must have Rob's initials on it.  I was a bit horrified that  I had let the crew clip the wrong bottle to me.  I had checked the MOD sticker, and the analysis tag (which had my initials on it, since I frequently analyze Rob's bottles and vice versa), so I guess it's not surprising that I could end up with Rob's bottle.  I suppose as long as the bottle has the gas I am expecting, and I analyzed it, it doesn't really matter.  But I was bothered by it in principle.

Anyhoo, Rob was leading the dive, whether intentionally or not, and he headed clockwise around the island.  I was in the back for most of the dive.  I was convinced that I could will an Acanthodoris rhodoceras to appear before me on the reef, but it turns out my powers of nudibranch-willing are not up to snuff.  So I really wasn't too productive in my critter finding on this dive.  Luckily, Matt and Rob made up for that, and found 3 octopi, all sort of reasonably sized.  I tried to get one of them to crawl on my hand, but he was not interested.  When Matt found the first octopus, I couldn't figure out what he was pointing at.  I kept looking and looking and trying not to scare whatever it was with my light.  But I guess since I had no idea where I was to be looking, I did move my light in the wrong place, and all of a sudden a plume of ink appeared in the water.  Once the ink appeared, I knew exactly where to look, and saw the octopus.  I don't think I've ever seen an octopus ink before (squid yes, but not an octopus).  That was neat!  Probably not so neat for the octopus, if he felt the need to ink me.  Other than that, it was a pretty standard Shale island dive, but with really good viz!

We surfaced like 20 feet from the bow of the boat even though we ascended off of the anchor on a bag.  I complained that the boat did not come to pick us up :)  We had a quick trip back to the dock, and then headed to RG Burger for dinner (again).

No comments: