It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Big Sur Banks in January!

 As the weekend approached, we were watching the forecast closely.  It looked like it should be alright on Saturday but not so good by Monday (Sunday didn't really matter, since we weren't diving on that day!).  But the forecast was really volatile.  Every time there was an update, things looked different.  But Saturday looked like it would be at least pretty good.  On Friday, Kevin mumbled something about Sur 19, to which I silently replied "Kevin, you're a moron".  But as we headed out of Monterey Bay, the water was flat.  Jim asked where we wanted to go, and said that the GPS was currently set to GPS.  Okay, I take it back, Kevin is not a moron, or at least not as it regards this one small issue :)  Considering the blatantly flat conditions, we decided to have a little fun with Rob, who was asleep, and when he woke up, we told him we were going to head to Lunaticos, because it seemed a bit too rough to continue.  Since, as Rob says, I am a very bad liar, the jig was quickly up.  On the way down the coast, we saw a couple of gray whales, but we didn't stop to say hello -- there was a dive to do!  We also noticed the water color improving as we drove further south.  Woohoo.

When we pulled up to Sur 19, the conditions were great!  It was a nice calm day to get geared up and into the water.  I was the first to splash, and found very little surface current.  I'd almost say that there was no surface current, but I was technically slowly moving away from the boat.  I corralled the boys and we headed down the line.  The line was fairly vertical near the top, and then flattened out as we approached the bottom, because there was some bottom current.  The viz was excellent.  I think it was the second best viz I've ever had at Big Sur Banks.  But since the best viz I've ever had there is basically unbeatable, I think second is pretty good :)  I noticed an annoying noise as I was scootering down the line, and I eventually determined it was bubbles from my right post.  It wasn't that noisy, but somehow the combination of the sound of my scooter and the sound of the bubbles was surprisingly distressing.  It was like someone was whining behind my ear.  So I asked Rob to take a look and he made an effort to fix it.  That effort failed, so I just had to live with the noise.  But I remembered to do my flow check!

We agreed to do a little loop around the base of the pinnacle, looking for GPOs and wolf eels and the like.  We did not find any such critters, though I saw a surprising number of lingcod.  The school of rockfish that is usually around was not on the main pinnacle.  But I found a pretty big group of blues and olives on a little pinnaclet off to the side.  I was looking at them, trying to get Rob to come over to take some pictures, but he was not interested.  So we headed back to the main pinnacle and spent most of the dive drooling over the hydrocoral.  I found a lingcod guarding his nest, so Rob spent a while trying to get a shot of that.  The lingcod was really not very cooperative.  He was more interested in trying to scoot us away from his nest than posing for a picture.  So there was a lot of waiting for him to settle back down by the eggs.  Once Rob gave up on that, we spent the rest of the dive on the very top of the pinnacle.  The current seemed to have picked up by this time, so posing for pictures (and I imagine shooting them) was quite a pain.  Take one shot, get swept across the pinnacle, then scooter back and repeat.  But who can complain about having to drift across the top of Sur 19 over and over again?

The deco was pretty uneventful.  There were some jelly critters to look at, but not a ton.  Early in our deco, a sea lion made a very brief appearance.  I whipped out my hero cam in case he came back, but of course he did not.  When we got to the surface, we were the first team up, oddly.  The surface conditions were so placid that I was lollygagging at the ladder while getting my fins off, and let go of the ladder without either of my fins on.  The very mild surface current managed to drag me just beyond reach of the ladder.  After attempting to paddle back with my fins on my arms, I gave up and started to put them back on my feet, when Rob swooped by on his scooter and towed me back to the ladder.  I felt like a total moron.  Rob gave me some good advice about not letting go of the ladder this time :)  After we retrieved the rest of the divers, we headed back toward shore and discussed a second dive.  Woohoo, my sad little 32% stage has seen so many tech charters without getting in the water lately!  We wanted to go to Lobos Rocks, but by the time we got there, it was pretty ugly there.  There was much discussion about whether to go, and Jim seemed pretty negative about it.  Since I am a bigger wimp than Jim (by a very small margin, let me assure you), I decided that if Jim didn't think it was prudent to dive, we probably shouldn't dive.  So I was the first to say I was happy to dive elsewhere.  Someone (Jim I guess) rattled off some other options, one of which was MacDonald's.  So I seconded that, since Rob had never been there, and I was thinking with this viz, the arches would be great.

Neither Rob nor Kevin had been to MacD's before, and they were both pretty sullen about not diving at Lobos Rocks.  So I was responsible for navigating and showing them a good time.  I believe I pretty much failed in both respects.  The last time I dove there, the anchor was practically on top of one of the arches.  I knew if I could find that one, that I could definitely find the other from it.  When we got down to the pinnacle, I had not very much of a clue where we were.  The viz was not nearly as good as it had been at Big Sur -- it was stirred up in various places, but pretty good in others.  Overall it was good but not great.  But the water was also a lot more green than it had been at Sur 19.  We dropped down one side of the pinnacle, and I saw another pinnacle very close to us.  I didn't remember there being another pinnacle this close on this side, and I thought I recognized a spot on that other pinnacle.  So I thought we might be one pinnacle over from the arches.  After a meander around the other pinnacle, I realized this was wrong, and continued around the first pinnacle we'd dropped on.  And found the first arch in very short order.  The last time I dove this site, the viz was quite spectacular.  In this viz, the site just wasn't quite what I remembered.  The swimthroughs were still fun, though.  We posed for some pictures, and then headed off to the other one.  I totally overshot it, I guess because last time I was swimming and hence we passed it in about one-third the time.  Once I realized I overshot, we turned around, and I found the second arch on the way back.  We posed for more pictures (quite a lot of pictures, considering only one made the cut and ended up in the BAUE album!) and then headed back to the main pinnacle.  We landed near the downline, and I asked the boys if they wanted to thumb it, and they agreed.  So we headed up.  The conditions had definitely deteriorated a bit throughout the day.  It was still not very rough, but not super calm like the first dive.

Still calm enough to lay down on the deck for the ride home.  I was looking forward to laying down in the sun, but the sun was low enough in the sky that that didn't really work out too well.  I was frosty cold by the time we got back to the dock.

No comments: