It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Everywhere at Lobos

I was feeling very wishy-washy about diving this weekend, or which day to dive, probably because the viz was such crap the previous weekend.  After rejecting a couple of offers to dive on Saturday (and Lobos tickets), eventually Kevin asked if I wanted to dive, so I decided to.  And I managed to cash in those offers of Lobos tickets, and brought along Clinton and Matt (who had been planning a Breakwater dive).  So we were a happy foursome, with no particular plans except to do something with 32%, and maybe O2.  I had been mumbling about maybe going to Great Pinnacle, which I haven't scootered to in ages, especially with 32%.  I've visited it a few times via Twin Peaks.  I proposed this once everyone had arrived, and eventually we settled on going to Shortcut Reef, and if the viz was really good, we could hop over to Great Pinnacle or Marco's Pinnacle.

The viz was good in the cove, but probably not as good as it had been the previous weekend.  But the viz everywhere else was WAY better.  Some might even call it epic.  It was so clear and blue; it was the best viz I've had at Lobos in a really long time.  It was definitely the perfect day to do a long scooter dive to the far reaches.  We took the shallow route out to the Lone Metridium area, peeling off from the sand channel at about 30'.  I don't know if that little path has a name.  The viz was unbelievable back there!  I realized too late into the ride out that I should really get my Hero cam out, since shallow water with great viz is perfect for that.  But I didn't feel like dealing with it on the way out, and figured I could get it on the way back in.  Eventually we popped out from the shallow path in the vicinity of Lone Metridium (or maybe one ridge over) and made our way out to the Sisters, and then over to Shortcut Reef.  We stopped there and kicked around for a bit.  Clinton was shooting macro, so I attempted to find some critters for him.  I wasn't very successful at that; I think all the nudibranchs went away because of the barnacles :(  There were a lot of them out there.  I was successful at scaring away a warbonnet that Clinton found; or so he says -- I never actually saw it, and he didn't get a picture (that's what he gets for being a good buddy and showing it to me before taking a picture).

Eventually it was suggested that we head out to Great Pinnacle, since the viz definitely met the "really good" criteria.  We headed out there, pausing briefly to visit a jellyfish, but pretty much scootering straight to the pinnacle.  When we arrived, we were greeted by a nice big school of blue rockfish (with a few olives -- there are always a few of those hanging around, pretending to be blues).  I spent a few minutes getting video of them, since these were pretty much the best conditions I could imagine for that.  There was also a smaller school of perch swimming just on top of the tallest peak.  It was, in general, a very fish day.  I also found a nice big lingcod hanging out on a little ledge, and pestered him with the Hero-cam.  Then I chased a kelp greenling for a bit.  After I was done annoying all of the fish of Great Pinnacle, I decided it would be fun to scooter down the face of the pinnacle until I either hit the bottom (not likely) or hit the MOD of my gas (more likely).  I told Kevin to follow me over there -- he had no idea what I had in mind -- and I pointed my scooter down, and down we went.  It was pretty fun.  Clinton and Matt appeared a moment later, presumably wondering where we'd wandered off to, and we joined back up with them and scootered around the pinnacle.

Kevin then suggested heading to Marco's Pinnacle.  I haven't been there in ages.  I don't know why -- it's so pretty!  Kevin led us straight to the "good side" of the pinnacle.  There was lots of hydrocoral, and it was much less barnacled than similarly shallow areas of Lobos.  In fact, that is probably why I thought it looked particularly pretty -- it was very colorful without the barnacles.  Also, there's a lot of nice hydrocoral there.  I also saw several cabezons (at least one of whom was harassed by the hero-cam) and lots of kelp rockfish.  Clinton found something really interesting -- white hydrocoral!  It may technically have been very very pale pink hydrocoral.  But it really looked bright white.  And it was tucked between a patch of pink and a patch of purple hydrocoral, which looked really cool.  It appeared to be perfectly healthy, other than its abnormal color.  It was pretty cool looking -- too bad Clinton was shooting macro (though he did a very nice job of capturing it with what he had).  Eventually we headed in; I think I suggested that because I was getting cold.

On the way in, we were scootering pretty far above the bottom, over boulder after boulder covered in barnacles.  So I was keeping an eye out for Onchidoris bilamellata, and I was not disappointed.  I found one boulder completely covered in them.  I dropped down to look at it (without alerting my team, oops).  They eventually noticed my unpresence and stopped to see what was going on.  I don't think they were particularly amused with me for dropping out of sight without a signal.  Bad kitty!  We got going again and eventually made it back to the sand channel, where the general fishiness of the dive continued.  First there was a school of tubesnouts off to the right.  After we passed them, I was thinking we might see senoritas as we got shallower.  So I left my hero cam running, just in case.  I was waiting and waiting and finally saw a measly two senoritas in the cove, but then a moment later we saw a school.  Woohoo.  We eventually stopped to switch onto our deco bottles.  I suggested we do 8 minutes at 20 feet, which was generous -- the dive really barely called for deco.  Since I guess I was technically deco captain (or rather, the only person on the dive who knows how to plan deco for such profiles), Kevin made me lead.  Great... I have to lead us back through the one part of the navigation I can never pull off... the cove.  I ended up surfacing us like 30 feet from the ramp; not bad.  In those last few feet as we surface scootered to the ramp, my scooter started making the "I'm about to die" noise.  Good timing.

I've become a bit of a one-dive wonder of late, but considering the epic viz, I couldn't pass up a second dive.  And Clinton never passes up a dive, so I didn't have to worry about a buddy.  Kevin and Matt decided to pass on a second dive (LAME).  Clinton and I had both left our stage bottles behind on the first dive (while Kevin and Matt brought them), because really, making a nearly-"recreational" dive into a two-bottle affair is just silly.  So we schlepped those out to the float, and after not that long of a surface interval (where Ben shared some delicious apples with me), we got back in.  We left the scooters behind despite many many offers of spare batteries and scooters with burn time (thanks everyone for offering).  It's good practice to kick every now and then.  Even with a stage bottle :P  Clinton suggested going out to the left side of the sand channel near the beginning of the sand channel.  I haven't done a dive there in a while, and it was really nice on the way out on the first dive.  I tossed my hero cam in the car (Matt's car, since he was my designated carpool buddy for the afternoon... while Rob and Leah were carpooling elsewhere), and Clinton pointed out that there is often a little school of blue rockfish that hangs out over there.  The battery was nearly dead, but I figured I might as well bring it.

We kicked out and dropped not very far out, since I destination was not very far out, and the viz was awesome.  The conditions were still very nice, and we just slowly kicked around looking for critters.  I saw some Hopkin's roses and a couple of Limacias (haven't seen one of those in a while).  But what really struck me about this dive was how colorful that area is -- it really hasn't been taken over by the barnacles at all.  During the dive, I kept thinking to myself "this is what shallow Lobos is supposed to look like!".  Near the end of the dive, I looked over toward the sand channel and saw a school of fish, which I thought were perch.  I told Clinton I was going to go over to video them, and as I swam closer, I realized they were blue rockfish that Clinton had promised.  Those fish were definitely on the smaller side, but the shallow, super clear water made for some nice video.  I think it's the best blue rockfish footage I have!  Shortly after that I called the dive on being cold.  This "dive until we suck our stage bottles dry" thing doesn't really work in such shallow water.  Unless you are much less of a cold weenie than me I guess.

We headed in and were happy to see a still relatively high tide, and managed to get ourselves out without a problem.  After cleaning up, we made contact with Matt, and agreed to meet at the Monterey RG for lunch.

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