It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Yawn, Sur 19 Again

The three kitties were out on the Escapade again on Saturday, for a tech charter.  The conditions and forecast were once again looking good, though it was not epically flat like the last time we were on the boat.  There was a little wind.  I was thinking we'd make it to Yankee Point, but probably not any further south than that.  So when Rob came down from the wheelhouse to tell us we were heading down to Sur, I was a bit surprised.  And even a bit more surprised when there were whitecaps south of Point Lobos.  But that did not deter Mike, and before you know it, we were down at Big Sur Banks.  Okay, maybe it wasn't "before you know it", but rather after like 2 hours of motoring :)  Someone wanted to go to Sur 19 again, and we all joked about getting bored with it, since we had just been there two weeks ago.  Along the way, we encountered a big pod of dolphins, a few of whom were jumpers, that went skipping across the water, so it was already a good day on the water, before we even made it into the water.

So it was a little rougher than our last visit there, but there was no significant surface current and the water color looked a lot more appealing.  For instance, when we got in the water, we could actually see the downline from more than 3 feet away.  So that was a good sign.  It was a bit dark, but since it was very overcast, that wasn't too surprising.  We headed down the line, and around 90 feet or so, the line took an abrupt turn and flattened out, so there was some bottom current.  When we first hit the structure, the viz was excellent.  It was neither super bright nor super dark, but we could see a really long way across the structure.  We weren't on the nicest part of the structure though (hydrocoral-wise), so we headed off and found a nicer patch of hydrocoral.  There were a lot of juvenile rockfish again.  At first I thought there weren't as many as there had been two weeks earlier, but eventually they found us and it was as thick as ever.  Once different that I noticed was that while two weeks earlier, the fish were all on the bigger side of young, this time there seemed to be two distinct groups, one of which had smaller guys.

The visibility was once again pretty variable.  It was good when we got there, then it got worse, then it got better.  I think the current was also kind of variable, but that may have just been because we had protection in some spots more than others.  Overall the current was less dramatic than the last dive.  I spent a good bit of time videoing (actually brought my video reflector this time!) and I was quite happy with the footage, but unfortunately my hero-cam was stolen before I could move the video off of it :(  (I really would have appreciated it if the thief had at least left the memory card.)  In addition to the lots of little fish, there were also tons of lingcod, a couple of whom were monsters.  I thought I may have seen an adult yelloweye too, but the juvenile fish were so thick that I didn't get a good enough look to be sure.  I'm sure that sounds ridiculous, but the pictures should show what I mean :)

We didn't cover a huge amount of ground on the dive.  We scootered around for maybe a few minutes through the whole dive, but mostly we were stationary, since Rob was taking pictures and Kevin and I were both videoing (hopefully Kevin will produce a video from his footage, since the lack of a video from this dive is seriously irking me!).

When it was time to finish up, we sort of drifted just off of the reef to put our bag up, and we were immediately in a bad viz patch.  It was so strange.  We literally went from 50+ foot viz to less than 10 foot viz instantly.  We had to be right in each others' faces to see each other.  We have seen these kinds of walls of brown while drifting along on deco before, but I've never seen it on the bottom.  But it made me feel like I really wasn't imagining that the viz changed so much during the dive (and on the last dive here), which I thought was due to a mass of water with bad viz (which some of my dive buddies seemed to think was crazy).  The first several deco stops were in this murky water mass.  But then at some point we came out of it, but we were still right next to it.  At 20 feet, I could look at Kevin and see him surrounded by yellow murky water, or I could look at Rob or look below me and see basically unlimited visibility.  In fact, I was thinking that looking down from 20 feet seemed like the best viz of the entire dive (not that there was anything to see!).  But eventually it occurred to me that the murk that Kevin was in was probably warmer, so I moved over to it, and sure enough, it was toasty!  The water was not particularly cold in general, but for some reason a bunch of water sloshed down my neck seal at one point during the dive, so I was chilly.

When we surfaced, it was still overcast and still a bit windy.  It was windy enough that it was hard to catch the boat.  When the boat swung around to get us, I started maybe 10 feet from the back of the boat, and immediately went on the trigger to get to the boat.  I was scootering on full power and I had to kick hard to make progress.  Rob was already at the back of the boat, handing up gear, so I was thinking I might have to get a tow from Kevin (so embarrassing).  But I managed to make it to the ladder, but got a leg cramp in the process -- I was really kicking hard!  I handed up my bottles and scooter quickly and started up the ladder, which was kind of tricky with a leg cramp.

It was still overcast and pretty cold and windy on the surface, which I think dampened spirits for a second dive (plus Sur 19 is a pretty tough act to follow).  As we headed north, I realized that the wind had died down quite a bit.  There were whitecaps when we left Sur 19, but somewhere between there and Yankee Point, they had subsided.  By then I had changed out of my suit and decided it was calm enough to ride back in the wheelhouse (and I had setup a system with Rob, who was already up to, so I could signal him to ask Mike to slow the boat down, since I don't climb the ladder when the boat is under way :P).  I could see forever from up there, and there were no whitecaps to be seen!  Mike said that the wind started to die down as soon as we got in the water.  I'm glad we were not deterred on the way down.


Unknown said...

Its too bad all those fish obscure the divers!



Unknown said...

It's too bad all those fish got in the way of seeing the divers!