It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dark and Fishy at Sur 19

Saturday was Rob's sort of birthday dive on the Escapade.  I guess his official birthday dive was on Friday, with Kevin, on Phil's boat, but since I was at work instead (boohoo), for me, Saturday was Rob's birthday dive :)  Rob reported insane flatness on Friday and he thought it was a foregone conclusion that we'd make it to Big Sur Banks on Saturday.  Seriously bad juju, I know.  The forecast did look excellent, except for some mention of fog.  But as we headed down to Monterey on Saturday morning, we found low cloud cover, but no fog.  And FLAT water.  The bay looked insanely flat.  Woohoo.  Once we left the dock, we found more of the same.  It was really flat all the way down the coast.  We had a brief pause on the way down to check out a humpback, but otherwise, we headed straight for Sur 19.

The water was looking pretty icky on the way down.  Actually, it was sort of alternating between looking an ugly green-brown color and then for periods of time it would look a bit better.  But it wasn't like it cleared up and then stayed clear at any point.  So when we pulled up to Sur 19, we weren't terribly surprised to see not-very-awesome viz.  When we jumped in the water, we found two things: practically no current, and horrible viz on top.  I was literally within arms' reach of the line on the way down, because much further than that and I couldn't see the line at all.  Around 50 feet, it suddenly cleared up, relatively speaking anyway.  But it was really dark because of the layer above us.  By the time we got to the reef, the viz was decent, 40 feet or so, but it was super dark.  But none of that really mattered, because I couldn't see anything except fish.  Little baby rockfishes everywhere I looked, swarming all around us, blocking the view of the reef.  Silly fish, don't they know we came to see the hydrocoral, not to be swarmed by fish!?!

We spent 40 minutes on the bottom, though it's pretty hard to account for how we spent all of the time.  We spent like 25 minutes basically in the same spot where we first dropped just watching the swarm of fish.  It was crazy, but super fun.  I couldn't believe it when I looked down at my gauge and realized we'd been there for 25 minutes and hadn't even made a loop around the structure yet!  I was taking some video of the fish.  I hadn't brought my video reflector, so I tried defocusing my primary light, a little trick Rob had shown me before.  It worked surprisingly well.  Eventually we decided to do a little loop around the pinnacle.  When we came over the top of the pinnacle, the water got much brighter and a bit clearer.  It really seemed to me like a mass of clearer water had moved in.  Rob thought that it may have just gotten sunny out up top, but the boat crew later told us that the sun never came out.  It did eventually get a little dark again later, but overall the dive seemed to end in better viz than it started.  When the time to shoot the bag was getting closer, all three teams were right near the downline, so we could all see each other.  We were having such a great time, we decided we weren't going to be the first to leave, so we waited until one of the other teams shot a bag, and then we started our ascent.  The viz didn't get horrible until right at 20 feet, much shallower than on the way down, so maybe that was part of the reason that it got brighter at depth.  When we surfaced, it was still insanely flat.  Maybe even flatter than when we got in the water!

After all of the teams were collected by the boat, we headed homeward, and then quickly got to talking about where to go next.  Even with not so awesome viz, we had to go somewhere with such epic flat surface conditions!  So naturally we picked Lobos Rocks for some fun with the sea lions.  The viz was not too surprisingly not that great.  But it was better than it had been a few weeks ago.  I didn't feel like we ever really found the best spot for the sea lions, but while reviewing the video footage, I decided that we actually did have some pretty good sea lion visits :)  We played with them for a while, then we went a little deeper to check out the green anemones. and then went back up for some more sea lion action.  Eventually I was starting to feel a little barfy from all of the sloshing around, so we headed up.  After we were all collected, we headed back north for the long, calm ride back to K-dock.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mount Chamberlin South Annex

As we were closing upon the 4th of July weekend, we somehow managed to not really have any dive plans.  My parents were visiting, plus we had a wedding to go to.  Then luckily Jim had an opening on the boat on that Sunday, so we pulled together a last minute tech boat.  Woohoo.  Conditions were even cooperative, and we managed to get down to Yankee Point with much trouble.  Rob brought his camera, and I know he took at least a few pictures, but he hasn't produced any photos, so I guess I will post the report anyway (with some hero snaps).  It wasn't a super eventful dive, so I will keep it brief.

We dropped on the South Wall of Mount Chamberlin, with the plan being to head over to the south annex if the viz allowed.  Seems like the standard thing to do these days when we end up at the south wall :)  Viz turned out to be pretty decent, though it was relatively dark.  Not super dark, but just not super bright either.  I guess you could say the same thing about the viz... not super great, but not bad either.  So we made our way over to the south annex, where we were greeted by quite a few fish.  A big school of juveniles, plus a decent number of adults as well. Not the insane throngs of juveniles that we've seen on a few recent occasions, but still a nice-sized school.  We hung out on the "back" (south) wall there for a bit, just looking down at the wall of fish.  After we'd had enough of that, we headed back over to the main structure.  We must have been scootering 50 feet from the bottom on the way back over, and I could see the bottom.

We got back to the channel that leads to K2, and then we meandered up that path.  Along the way, just off to the side of the channel, on the little rock plateau above it, I found a pretty big juvenile wolf eel out in the open.  I was pretty proud of the find.  They are so pretty with their spots.  And he was completely out in the open!  It was grey, but still very speckled.  Rob took some pictures, though I haven't see anything come from that :(  After watching him for a while, we continued on up the channel, and once we got to the section closer to K2, where it is more wallish, Rob found another juvenile wolf eel, this one just peeking out of the side of the wall.

As we approached K2, we saw a lot of fish.  There's pretty much always a big school of blue rockfish (and a few big sheepshead) hanging out on top of K2, but today they were joined by a big school of juveniles as well.  If you looked out from the peek to the north, it seemed like the water was filled with little fish as far as you could see.  Very cool.  We also happened upon the other team at K2.  I was pretty amused with all of the fish, so Rob went ahead with putting up the bag, while I marveled and video'd.  Then we started our ascent, which wasn't too eventful.  No whales or dolphins or anything :P  I passed the time by video'ing Rob :)