It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Two Kitties and the Kitchen Sink

On Saturday, Kevin and I dove together on a tech boat.  Rob was originally slated to accompany us, but he ended up extending a work trip through Saturday, so it was just me and Kevin.  We figured that with Rob away, we were guaranteed to have an epic dive (if history is any indication anyway).  The forecast seemed to agree with that theory, much to Rob's annoyance.  I carpooled with John, and when we drove into Monterey, the flag was flapping a bit more briskly than I expected though.  Jim told us we had a weather window, so we loaded the boat and got out of there a bit early, donning our drysuits en route.  It was a T2 boat, so it started with a limited load anyway, and somehow we ended up with only 4 divers on the boat.  And 4 crew members to go with that.  Sweet!  We made our way down to Yankee Point, where I suggested the southwest loop at Mount Chamberlin.  We'd been there pretty recently, but I with a broken scooter, so I didn't feel like I got to enjoy it fully.  On the ride down, Kevin made a prediction about the dive, which I dismissed.  We'll get back to that later.  Anyhoo, once we dropped the downline there, we found ourselves in relatively placid conditions (which is what I like to see when I am doing a 3 bottle dive!).

We got into the water and found little current and good viz on top.  By the time I had retrieved my scooter and deployed my light, I looked around to find the ball, and couldn't see it, because it was right behind me, because I really hadn't drifted while working this stuff out.  Nice.  Since we were missing our fearless leader, we decided to co-lead, whatever that means :)  I guess that means that we would wander around, and if we got lost, we would each blame the other.  When we first hit the bottom, it was very dark, and the viz didn't seem very good.  Maybe 30 feet.  It just seemed like there was a lot of particulate in the water.  But as we moved off of the sand and onto the wall, the viz really improved.  I think the sand had just been stirred up by the big weather in the previous week, and once you were off the sand, it was actually quite clear, maybe 60 foot viz.  It also got much brighter and bluer as we worked our way shallower, which made the viz seem even better.

Once we got to the bottom and got going, we sort of meandered across the sand until we hit some boulders, which we continued to meander along.  Kevin signaled me, and kept circling something on one of these boulders.  I thought he was circling some not-very-interesting fish (a sculpin, I think), and couldn't understand.  Then I realized he was circling something in front of that, a hole at the base of the boulder.  Then I saw some shells sitting next to the hole.  Hmmm... no way!  I swam up to the hole and peered in, and then I squealed through my regulator.  Okay, rewind back to the boat ride down to Yankee Point.  Twice on the ride down, Kevin said "I feel like we're going to see a GPO today".  As usual, I was like "whatever, Kevin" (insert eye-roll here).  So I couldn't believe it when first thing on the dive, he finds a GPO!  The boulder was shaped such that there were a few different gaps under it which led into the den, so we went around the boulder, peering in from different angles.  I was trying to avoid annoying the octopus, for fear it would retract further, and I wouldn't even be able to see it.  But then it stuck its tentacle out of one of the holes I was looking in, and started waving it around.  Kevin also pointed one hole to me and told me to look into it.  I saw something that looked like some kind of soft coral or something, which I had no idea what I was looking at.  After the dive, he told me that those were eggs, and a little internet research confirms that (I must admit that despite all of the talk about Laurynn's awesome video of the octopus eggs from Cove 2, I'd never actually watched the video before now!).  So, that was pretty sweet, and we were only like 5 minutes into the dive!

After we got our fill of GPO peeping, we continued along, and made it to the deep wall (to the north of the "cove").  There was a little current, so we just picked a depth and drifted along the wall.  It was just the right amount of current to watch everything go by.  At this point, it was pretty dark, but the viz was really good.  Because we were up off of the sand, we no longer had the chunkiness to contend with, so we could see quite far in all directions (including down the wall, which is always neat).  The wall was very fishy, as it has been in recent times.  I saw a bunch juvenile pygmies, with the orange swoosh on their sides.  Also, lots of young rosies and some young starries (and some older rosies and starries too).  Then I looked down the wall and saw a ratfish about two feet below us.  Sweet!  He was actually behind us, in terms of the drift, and I couldn't imagine how we had both drifted past him without noticing.  We watched him for a bit and then continued on.  Our next interesting find was a quillback rockfish, which I eventually saw another one of.

When it came time to head shallower, we sort of cut across the southwest corner over to the south wall.  When we got over there, we found a big "baitball" of juvenile rockfish hanging out at the top of the wall.  They didn't seem too interested in posing for video, so we decided to switch onto our first deco bottle.  By the time we were done with that, the fish were more interested in playing, so I shot a little video, and then we headed toward K2.  Since it took us a bit longer to make it to the wall (because we started north of where we usually do), instead of heading along the wall until we hit the canyon to K2, we cut the corner and basically ended up following another canyon up north, which put us on the other (west) side of K2.  We ended up on the slightly deeper peak just to the north of K2, where we found a school of not-very-big blue rockfish, and a few big sheepheads.  We watched them a bit, and then as I wanted to head shallower, I realized this wasn't the shallow peak, so I circled around the peak we are on, and headed to the south.  Of course there was a school of much bigger blue rockfish over there.  I was swimming toward them to get some video, when I saw something big hanging in the middle of them.  I swam a little closer and recognized it as a mola being cleaned.  A really big mola!  I slowly approached it, because I really didn't want to scare it away.  I signaled Kevin, and asked him to get in the frame, to show how big it was.  He made a big arc around, so he could approach it slowly, and it didn't seem to mind him at all.  He held his hand out, and it swam up to his hand and rubbed against it!  Yay!  Eventually after a couple of minutes, he wandered off.

We started our ascent, and by the time we got to 70 feet, we had drifted off of the pinnacle a bit (to get out of the annoying surge that is always at the top), and our mola friend had reappeared.  So I got a bit more video of him, and then we finally went onto our bottles.  Of course as we were doing this, the mola came back, circling us as we went onto our bottles, and then as Kevin put up the bag.  The deco mola stuck with us through our 60 foot stop, occasionally swimming off and then coming back.  But when we got to 50 feet, he never returned.  After that, deco was pretty uneventful.  The water was really blue, and we could see a long long way, but there wasn't a lot to see... not too many jellies.  At 20 feet, I saw something odd in the distance, which looked to me like an albino sea nettle.  We swam over to it, thinking it was a long way off, but then we got to it really quickly.  Turns out it wasn't really far away, just rather small.  Nick got a picture of the same critter, which Mykle said looks like a juvenile purple-striped jelly.  Neat!  On the ascent from 20 feet, we saw another pretty big mola swim by in the distance.  It was a different one than the one we saw earlier (I could tell because this one was much less beaten up).  It immediately dove down too deep to follow, so we just watched it.  We surfaced into completely acceptable conditions, considering that we had a "weather window" though it did kick up a little on the way home.

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