It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two Pointy Pinnacles

On Saturday we were on the Escapade for a BAUE recreational charter.  It was a "Point Lobos" charter where the boat picked up the divers at Point Lobos.  This gave us the option of diving sites within the park boundary.  It also saved us the ride down on the boat, though I didn't really see this as a plus, since I like riding around on the boat.  The downside of this arrangement is, well, you have to schlep yourself and your gear into the water at Lobos.  Isn't the reason that we dive on boats so that we don't have to do that? :)  We did actually have the option of meeting the boat at K-dock and loading our gear there, so that we would only have to schlep ourselves into the water at Lobos.  But this required getting up 30 to 45 minutes earlier, and in the calculus of laziness, 45 minutes less sleep is worse than schlepping gear into the water at Lobos and climbing the boat ladder with said gear on.

The boat was to meet us at 9, and it was there just a bit before then.  Rob couldn't wait to get in the water (and yet couldn't not wait to get his gear out of the way so that I could retrieve my gear from the van), so he ditched me and I waddled into the water with Clinton.  Clinton woke up the extra 45 minutes early, so he didn't have to waddle.  It was an interesting entry.  The tide was low.  There was a boat being launched on the ramp, in a rather interesting manner.  As far as I could tell, at least one of the boat trailer's tires had gone off of the ramp, and yet the boat was not nearly in the water.  Apparently the "trick" to getting the boat into the water was to wait for a wave to wash in and then something involving a lot of bouncing and a lot of shouting.  The shouting was coming from someone at the top of the ramp and went something like "Stop! Stop! Stop! ...  Go! Go! Go!".  It was a little hard to tune it out, and to not stop when I heard someone screaming "stop".  It was like entering the water in a war zone (or at least what I imagine that being like, based on my many viewings of Black Hawk Down).  And I'd like to blame all of this for me ending up on my knees not that close to the end of the ramp, and basically knee walking the rest of the way, hoping Rob wasn't watching this from the boat.  Once I got into the water, luckily it was just a short kick to the boat.  The viz was excellent in the cove.  There was a medium-sized long period swell, so after a lot of talk about where to go, including a lot of lame talk about Great Pinnacle, we eventually came around to diving at the Needle.  I've never been to the Needle before (weird, I know).

After a very short :( boat ride, we got to the site.  I actually had to pay attention to the site briefing and look at the bathymetry map provided.  We flopped into the water to find more nice viz.  I was diving with Rob.  There isn't that much to tell about what we did on the dive.  We landed on the side of the pinnacle with a pretty sheer wall, and meandered around the pinnacle, and then around it again at a shallower depth.  Rob was taking pictures, and I was doing my best to either be in the shot and non-frumpy looking or to be out of the shot.  There were a good number of big lingcods.  I posed behind a variety of lovely heads of hydrocoral.  We also found a friendly siphonophore off of the pinnacle, who was willing to pose with me for a picture.  I liked the sheer wall a lot, but for some reason Rob didn't seem too interested in taking pictures of it.  The Needle is a really nice dive site, with excellent topography and very pink with corynactis and hydrocoral.  I can't believe I've never been there.  I'm sure the really good viz helped to make the site seem nice.  I could clearly see the bottom pretty far off of the pinnacle and all its detail from 70', so the vertical viz was definitely over 60'.  As expected, there was some surge, and occasionally there was A LOT of surge.  At the end of the dive we were hanging out near the top, and the palm kelp was swaying quite a bit.

Between dives, we encountered a large pod of Risso's just off of Point Lobos.  They were everywhere, and there were tons of babies, which were SO cute.  We would see one fin go by and then a little tiny fin go by right next to it.  They were like miniature dolphins.  So cute!  I think they have high potential as a bathtub pet for Pepper.

For the second (and third) dive, we went to Flintstones.  The surface conditions were fine for the ride down there and once we got there too.  Rob and I managed to be the first in the water, which I noted is always dangerous since it means we got to be the current testers.  There was a little bit of surface current when we got in, but not much.  No granny line required or anything.  The viz was great looking down the anchor line.  We headed down, and there was a little bit more current on the swim down.  And we swam and we swam and we finally saw a pinnacle.  But we were getting deeper than expected.  Eventually we swam off of the line over to the pinnacle, and it only came to 80 feet.  And it was very surgy and not very interesting looking.  Looking back toward the line, we could see another pinnacle beyond it, but it didn't come up any shallower, and wasn't big enough to be Flintstones.  So we decided to thumb it, and Rob put a bag up, hoping to signal to the boat not to put anyone else in the water.  But then we headed up the line and found that we were too late, as everyone was already in the water.  Oops.

We got back on the boat and after a few circles around the site, we were pronounced to be on the site.  We got back in and headed down the line, and almost immediately I could see the top of the pinnacle.  Woohoo.  We landed on the wall and after looking at it for a moment, we started to circumnavigate the pinnacle, clockwise.  when we got to the end, we cut across the palm-kelp-covered plateau, which was super surgy and sort of hard to swim across in the surge!  The viz was really good, so we could see a lot of the pinnacle.  What a treat!  There were a fair number of fish out and about, including several cabezon and lingcod, and a school of blue rockfish hanging out on one side.  The dive was not that long, since we'd blown a bunch of gas on the first attempt at Flintstones.  So we pretty much just did a slow meander around the pinnacle once, with some stops for pictures, and then we killed some time by the anchor and then headed up.  On the way up, it seemed like the current had picked up a little bit.  I ended up on the line for our 20 foot stop, while Rob hovered off of the line, scowling at me.  After we collected all of the divers (including one team that had been blown off of the line), we had a short ride back to Lobos.

For reasons unrelated to my slothfulness, we needed to meet back up with the boat at K-dock anyway, so I decided to leave my gear on the boat and swim in au naturel (well, not quite).  Man, it's a lot easier to exit on the ramp without any gear on!  After I got lost on the way to K-dock (well not really lost, just taking a very non-optimal route), we eventually headed to Phat Burger for lunch.  Ick.

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