It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Surprise Deep Dive

A nice day on the water, with a light load
We had a tech boat scheduled for Sunday, and after a couple of diver cancellations, we were toying with the idea of switching it to a 15/55 boat.  Then there were even more cancellations, and in the end, it was just Team Kitty on the boat.  So we decided to bring gas for all possibilities, and make the call at the dock on what to bring (I love the dive van).  When we got to the dock, Jim said he thought Yankee Point would be totally doable, so we loaded the 15/55 and assorted accessories.  Having the boat to ourselves was pretty sweet, though I did feel bad that Jim was crewing the boat instead of diving (his eye was broken, so he couldn't dive).  And conditions even turned out to be pretty cooperative, which seems like a rare occurrence these days!  We made it down to Yankee Point without a problem, and we decided to do something a little different today.  A little different, not a lot different.  Almost all of our deeper dives lately have been at Birthday Wall.  Which is an awesome dive, but I've been wanting to do a deep dive at Mt Chamberlin for a while.  (This was my proposed birthday dive, but it got fogged out).  So, that's where we went -- the southwest corner.

You may recall that in the past, this site has been a little bit cursed for me, and today would turn out to be no exception.  I somehow managed to get myself and my gear into the water, and then to retrieve my scooter.  Actually that in itself was a minor fiasco... the wind was blowing the boat too fast for me to get my scooter, so they had to maneuver back upwind of me so I could get it.  Once we were all in the water, we were pretty far from the buoy.  I took a heading and suggested we drop a few feet below to scoot to the buoy.  So I scooted for a bit, and eventually had to surface.  Kevin suggested that I could scoot below and he would scoot on the surface, and I could follow him.  So we tried that.  But as soon as I got back to 5 feet, my scooter started making the "vroom vroom" noise that indicates that it is about to die.  Hmph!  This was no one's fault but my own... the last time I used my scooter, I inadvertently left it plugged in after the dive.  For two weeks.  Not good.  But the charger claimed it was charging, and I believed it.  I gave it two cycles and didn't burn test it.  So, I surfaced, and told Rob and Kevin that my scooter was dead.  Then I said "can one of you tow me?" to which Rob replied "we can kick". I was sort of WTF about that response and just said "okay, can someone tow me to the line?"  So Kevin gave me a tow to the downline.  Then as we headed down the line, Kevin stayed just above me (like my guardian angel, said dreamy-like), and every time I was getting a bit away from the line, he would scooter over, grab my manifold and deliver me back to the line.  (Where was Rob, you ask?  Good question.)

We eventually got to the reef, where Rob was circling around the line waiting for us.  The viz was good, though not spectacular (maybe 40 to 50 feet), and it was pretty bright down there, though not super bright.  Having a dead scooter is annoying, but it gets significantly more annoying with more gear.  We kicked around a bit, and then when I got annoyed with that, we would tow for a bit.  It was a nice dive, but I felt like the dive sort of became a bit too much about how to get from point A to point B.  We ended up spending time in basically three spots.  The first spot was fairly close to the dropoff on the southwest side.  It was quite deep, with 250' being not quite to the bottom (though we could see the bottom from there).  I am pretty sure this was close to the spot where we found the anchor, though we didn't actually see the anchor.  There were quite a lot of fish in this area.  Lots of little fish schooling above the reef.  I think that was the highlight of the dive overall -- just a fishy dive.  After we tired of that, Rob towed me for a bit, and after a bit of a ride, I was deposited on what I thought was the west end of the south annex (which I had said I wanted to go to, if the viz was good).  So I asked Rob if that is where we were (yes, I managed to convey that with hand signals), and he said yes.  (I really couldn't see much of what was going by while I was being towed.  It was worse than usual because I was sharing that spot with Rob's O2 bottle).

After we poked around there for a bit, it was about time to head shallower, so we headed back over the sand, and this time Kevin towed me.  I managed to make myself a little window between Kevin's thigh and his O2 bottle so that I could watch the scenery go by :)  When we got up the wall a bit, we stopped and went onto our 190 bottles.  Actually I think we may have stopped because at some point I just had to let go to vent my drysuit properly.  From there, we (I) waddled up the channel that leads to K2.  We passed the little underpass swimthrough thing that Rob and Kevin like to go through.  So, whenever we pass it, it seems like one of them has to go through it.  But oddly, I don't think I've ever gone through.  Maybe once.  Anyway, they both took off through it on their scooters.  So I was like... we'll if they're doing it, I am too!  So I waddled through there, and I totally felt like yelling "wait for me guys" as I very slowly made my way through.  When I came out the other side, Rob and Kevin were both clearly surprised/amused that I had followed them through, kicking my way through with three bottles and a busted scooter.

After that, I went back into a tow, and we continued on up until we hit the gorgonian patch before you get to K2. And we kicked from there.  We made it all the way to K2, did the requisite GPO check (negative), and headed up the pinnacle to start our deco.  There was one exciting moment on deco, when we were visited by some molas.  They were the smallish ones that you usually see dying at the bottom of the bay.  I failed to capture them on video; of course once I had the GoPro out, they didn't come back!  Deco was otherwise uneventful.  No bottles were dropped, the boat picked us up, and no one got bent, which are my criteria for success (and really, even if a bottle got dropped, I'd consider it moderately successful).  It was actually pretty warm on deco, in the mid-to-high 50s!  Yet still I started to feel a bit cold near the end.  It's definitely time for a new undergarment.  It's been time since about May, I just haven't gotten around to ordering one!  Rob brought his camera on the dive, but it never made an appearance.  I think he was just having a good time looking around, though the inconvenience of shuttling me around may have played a part.  I'm such a drag!

When we got to the surface, I made some big gesticulations to tell the boat that my scooter was dead.  Then I realized that was moronic, since they had surely witnessed me being towed to the line at the start of the dive (though I guess occasionally that happens even when my scooter is "working").  Jim told us over the intercom that he was going to pick us up one at a time because of the wind, but then the wind didn't really materialize, so when he came to get me, there was plenty of time to retrieve the others too in the same pass.  It turned out to be quite a simple pickup, considering I was scooterless.  They didn't even need to deploy the line.  Once back on the boat, we had a nice ride home, and regretted that we were only doing one dive that day.

When we were loading gear into the van after the dive, Rob said he couldn't believe I was going to abort the dive.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  Apparently when I said "can one of you give me a tow?" he thought I said something like "you guys should just go".  Which explained his strange response about how we could kick.  I assured him that if anything, I would have commandeered his scooter and sent him back to the boat!

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