It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This and That

Not a nudibranch (Panthera onca)
On Saturday, we went to Lobos, and I dove with Ted and Clinton.  Rob and Vanessa had been planning to dive some day in January, and so Clinton and I decided we'd dive too.  Then the weather caused us all to cancel our plans, so Rob and Vanessa rescheduled their dive.  And Rob told Vanessa to get two reservations, so that I could dive too.  So I had a Lobos ticket without much of a plan for what to do or who to dive with.  Ted was looking to do some skills practice before his upcoming cave class, so I told him he could come along, and I'd watch him do drills if he watched me count slugs (which was what Clinton and I were originally planning on our cancelled dive).  Then Clinton finagled an extra slot on our reservation and came along too.  Oh, and Rob wanted me to test out his new (to him) Gavin, plus I needed some Gavin practice anyway.  So in the end, the dive plan was a bunch of odds and ends.  We decided to scooter out to the end of middle reef (lame to bring a scooter for that, I know), Ted would run some line, we'd park our scooters on the line, and he and I would practice some out-of-gas line-following, and practice crossing the line (since that's like the one cave skill that probably wouldn't be fresh in Ted's mind from his tech training).  Then we'd count slugs on transects 1 and 2, meander around for a while, then retrieve our scooters, cleanup the line, and head in.  And somewhere along the way, I was to figure out if Rob's scooter had proper buoyancy and trim (and didn't flood, though I guess that would technically fall under the "proper buoyancy" part).

Another non-slug (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
All week, I was watching the forecast, and it looked pretty ugly for Saturday.  But we were pretty determined not to cancel, again.  It was insanely windy, as promised by the forecast.  There were whitecaps right at Del Monte, and the flag was totally erect.  Good thing we weren't on a boat.  When we passed Monastery, it looked surprisingly not that bad.  And when we got to Lobos, pretty much the same thing.  The occasional big set would roll through, but the west direction of the big swell left the entry pretty protected.  Part of the deal with Rob re: testing out his scooter was that he had to put it in and out of the water for me.  But I went over to the ramp with Ted to help him load his and Clinton's scooter onto the float.  As I was standing on the ramp watching Ted, I saw some divers approaching to exit.  They ended up coming up the ramp at just the wrong moment, when suddenly it went from placid to churning.  We gave them a little bit of assistance, and afterwards I was feeling a bit nervous about getting in and out of the water.  But I just watched it for a while and convinced myself that it was just a matter of timing it well.  And getting the heck in the water, since the tide would be getting lower throughout the day.

So we did just that, and got the heck in the water.  As we were getting into our gear, I asked Ted if he had a reel and he said he did.  We ran through our gear checks and headed into the water.  As we were getting situated on the surface, Ted reported that he left his reel in the car.  Doh!  Gear-check fail!  He was about to get out to get it, and I suggested we just use a spool instead.  So we went with that option.  Rob has one of those tow cords that is a pain in the butt to adjust (because that's how Gavin people do it, I guess).  The boltsnap was fixed, though could be adjusted in the water (just not easily), but the overall length of the cord could not (except by wrapping around a handle, adding a knot, etc.).  So on the surface I attempted to adjust it and get it to a reasonable length, which I was more or less able to do by wrapping the cord around one handle once.  Then on the surface scoot out, I realized it was pointing down, so I had to adjust the bolt snap position.  Then it was pointing up.  So I adjusted it again.  Then it was almost right, so once we descended (right by the worm patch), I added a knot to make it just a smidge shorter.  The viz was pretty good on the scoot out and by the time we dropped it was quite nice.  As we headed out on the sand channel, just past the worm patch, it suddenly went from quite nice in a shade of green to pretty dang awesome in a shade of blue.  Woohoo.  This was definitely a good day to stay on middle reef, because the viz was awesome even on middle reef.

We went straight down the sand channel and as we came to the end of middle reef, we pulled over to the right, and then headed to the rubble area north of the end of middle reef.  Ted found a spot to run the line, and tied in.  Once the secondary tie was in, I dropped my scooter on the line and followed Ted.  He ran and ran and ran the line.  It was pretty surgy out here, and oddly, I felt like I was swimming against a current as I followed Ted.  This didn't make too much sense to me, but I noticed the same thing on the way back to the end of the line later in the dive.  When I asked Ted about it, he said he noticed the same thing.  Weird.  Anyhoo, once he finished running line, we practiced some gas-sharing line-following drills.  We each took a turn donating.  Once that was done, we headed back to the slug transects.  I took transect 2, and Clinton took 1.  And Ted just hung out between us keeping an eye on both of us.  For a while I didn't see too many slugs, but I kept seeing the eggs of Onchidoris bilamellata.  I was hoping to find a horde of the slugs, but kept not seeing them.  I did find a bunch of patches of Rostangas (plus some of their eggs), and eventually the biggest Rostanga I've ever seen.  Eventually I found a little horde of O. bilamellata... about a dozen.  Yay!  Then I found a couple more groups of them, for a total of probably about 30.  Aside from that, I found a variety of the usual suspects, plus some clown nudis (not that they are unusual, but I don't always see them when surveying).  With all of the O. bilamellata, I'm sure this was my highest slug count ever.

Once we finished up, we meandered around the transects for a while longer, while Clinton took some pictures.  Clinton and I both looked for the transect 2 warbonnet, but neither of us could find him.  I eventually got cold, and suggested we go.  We first had to cleanup the line and retrieve our scooters.  Then we headed in.  At the worm patch, we passed another team, and we paused briefly and decided to keep going.  But the viz deteriorated, so we were sort of inching along.  Eventually I thumbed it on bad viz, and we ascended.  When we surfaced, it seemed like the wind had died down.  We hung out on the surface chatting for a bit and Ted asked if I would switch scooters with him, so he could try out the Gavin.  When I got on the trigger on his scooter, it felt like a toy!  A very agile toy :P

When we got to the ramp, Rob was waiting, and asked if he could come in and play with his scooter.  I wanted to get out (because I was freezing), so Ted agreed to stay in while Clinton and I got out.  As I approached the ramp (with a now much lower water level), there were a few divers inching down the ramp to get in.  I got to the last spot where I could stand in the water and popped a fin off.  While I was waiting for the ramp to clear, a big set of waves started to come in, so I had to put my fin back on and swim out to wait for another lull.  Once that happened, I made my way back to the ramp, and ended up on my knees with no one around to give me a hand up.  I waited for a little wave to come and stood myself up, oy.  In the process I got some lovely bruises on my knees.

After retrieving all of the divers and gear that we came with, we had some cupcakes for Vanessa's birthday. Then we headed to RG (in Monterey) for lunch.

Apparently Clinton "didn't get anything" in the photo department on this dive.  Grumble.  So I am posting pictures of cats instead, in protest.

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