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Me diving

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Back to Cold (Clear) Water

After a week of cave diving in Mexico, it was time to get back to local diving.  We were on a tech boat on Sunday, which conveniently left time for me to retrieve my drysuit and new undergarment from AWS on Saturday.  I had left my drysuit before we left for Mexico, since it needed to go back to DUI, and I thought two and a half weeks should be enough.  Turns out I was wrong... I called AWS to check on the suit on Saturday and it had not come in yet.  This was quite a bummer, since the suit I took to Mexico was leaking in like 5 different places.  Anyhoo, I decided it wasn't worth the drive down there to get my new undergarment, which I would of course regret later :P  Rob talked to Jim on Saturday afternoon.  He said it was really windy, was supposed to stay really windy through Sunday, but that the viz in Carmel was epic, so we had to try.  Indeed.

The wind turned out to not be too bad.  I was prepared to get knocked around on the way down to Carmel, but that never quite materialized.  It wasn't super flat or anything, but it wasn't scary either.  So we managed to make it all the way down to Yankee Point, woohoo.  I think that the drop point was supposed to be in the canyon south of K2, but not all the way south to the wall.  We figured that if there was really epic viz, we would head over to the south annex.  It was just me and Rob today, Kevin was on a work trip again (after a whopping two days back in town).  When we got into the water, we were not disappointed by the viz.  It was nice!  And it was cold!  When we got to the bottom, I wasn't really sure where we were.  Like I mentioned, I'm not 100% sure where we were supposed to be, but it was definitely something involving K2 or the south wall.  Somehow we ended up on the more western end of the south wall, where it is a lot deeper.  But once we found a deep wall, it was pretty obvious where we were, so easy to correct.  Once we got our bearings, we headed to the south annex.

The viz was awesome.  There was a big school of blue rockfish hanging out at the top of the wall, which seems to be pretty typical.  We scootered along the back (south) side for a bit.  There seemed to be a lot of fish out in general, lots of lingcods, and a decent variety of other kinds of rockfish (though not a large number of any one kind).  I saw a nice looking juvenile yelloweye tucked into the reef.  Eventually we worked our way up to the top of that reef, where Rob took pictures of the fish and I got some video.  There was a really big lingcod there, sneaking around, laying in one spot just long enough to not get a picture.  Eventually Rob did manage to snap a picture of him though.  When we were finished up there, we headed back over to the south wall.  We were scootering at like 150', which is 50 to 60 feet above the sand, and we could very clearly see the bottom.  It was a great day for a scoot through the midwater!

When we got back to the south wall, we never really found the canyon that we usually follow to get back to K2.  But luckily with viz like that, it wasn't really necessary.  We just headed northish and eventually found our way to K2.  You just have to follow the fluffy gorgonians and eventually they will lead you to K2 :)  As we were approaching the peak, I was a bit surprised not to see either of the other teams because, well, we were supposed to meet up there for the drift.  But then as we came around the peak, I saw that John's team was just hiding on the other side (I don't know how I missed their bubbles).  They were there, enjoying the big school of blue rockfish.  And of course there were a few big sheephead in the mix.  Once we were there, I saw that the other team was just north of us, one hump over from the main peak.  We hung out there for a few more minutes, and then went onto our 50% bottles, shot our bag, and started the drift.  We could see both teams as we started the drift, and throughout most of the deco.  Though strangely, we started out much closer to John's team and ended up much closer to Doug's team.

Deco was mostly uneventful.  There was a jelly here or there, but not too much.  At 20 feet, there were a ton of these little (but not tiny) white jellies.  Then, when we were at 20 feet, I saw a big beautiful purple-striped jelly in the distance, 20 to 30 feet below us.  I started flapping around excitedly and Rob turned to see what it was.  The jelly slowly drifted toward us (but still below us), and we watched it for several minutes as it approached and then kept going off into the great blue yonder.  I was pretty sad that it was so much deeper than us, but it was still really awesome to see.  It was the nicest looking one I've ever seen.  It had a nice long tentacle train behind it.  That was definitely the high point of our deco.  By the end of deco, I was super freezing.  I really regretted not picking up my new undergarment.  My fingers and toes were numb.  Since I was bored at 20 feet, I decided to get some video of Rob with the little white jellies around.  Unfortunately my fingers were so numb that I couldn't clip off the camera when I was finished with it.  After trying for a while, I eventually handed it over to Rob to deal with :)  When we surfaced, it was a little sporty, and I felt like my arm was going to get ripped out of my shoulder while I tried to hold on to the ladder while I removed my fins.  As I was climbing the ladder, my hands were so numb that it was hard to get a good grip on the ladder.  I had to ask the crew for help because I was worried I wasn't going to be able to hold on.  Totally bad for the street cred.  After retrieving everyone else, we got out of there.  The conditions were worse on the way back, so I guess we were lucky to sneak in an awesome dive during the lull.

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