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Me diving

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Conditions at Yankee Point

We were back for more on Sunday, with a BAUE tech boat.  We spent the night in Monterey, which meant that I got to sleep in, which is the best way to dive I think :P  There was still a long period swell around, which made for a very nice, flat ride down to Yankee Point.  Considering how good the viz had been at Lobos the day before, I was pretty hopeful for another day of great conditions (and pretty bummed about my lack of video light).  We decided to go to the Three Nixies, which I haven't been to in a while, so that sounded good to me.

When we got in the water, we were not disappointed.  The water was bright and clear.  The downline was on the big pinnacle (I think it's the biggest) that comes up to maybe 100'.  We headed down to the bottom of that, and across the sand to one of the nearby pinnacles.  We were just meandering around at the bottom of one of pinnacles for a while, where I saw lots of lingcods, large and small, and some nice gorgonian gardens.  The visibility was excellent, you could easily see across the sand to at least two of the other pinnacles from where we were, and it was very bright for the depth.  Eventually we decided to move along, and not too long after that, I got an excited flash from Rob, who had happened upon the purple sea fan!  We've seen this instance of the purple sea fan once before (though Rob forgot that we had, so he was extra excited to find a "new" one :P).  When I saw the sea fan, I realized that I'd been a bit disoriented about where we were, compared to where I remembered the sea fan being before.  But I guess the excellent viz threw me off a bit.

We signaled the other team (above us), to show them the sea fan, and they were a bit less interested in coming down to take a look at it.  I guess it was a bit on the deeper side of the dive plan, but I take a +/- 20 feet approach to MOD when it comes to GUE standard gases :)  Maybe that's something I shouldn't admit on the internet, but the standard gases are pretty conservative to begin with...  Anyhoo, Rob got some nice pictures of me posing with Mr. Purple, and after that, it was time to head shallower.  We worked our way back over to the big pinnacle where we started, and hung out around the 140-150 range for a bit.  The gorgonians around there are super nice and lush, and there were many passes of being lined up for photos with the gorgonians :P  There were some barnacles, but not as bad as elsewhere.  I found a little red octopus on the wall, which struck me as odd, since it was so bright out.

Eventually we moved around the pinnacle, and found a huge school of juvenile rockfish.  Rob found this nice spot where the pinnacle jutted out a bit, with a nice elephant ear sponge, and all of the little rockfish in the background.  It had all of the makings of a nice spot for a picture, until we realized how much surge there was, just a bit shallower than we'd been for the past several minutes.  It was definitely coming and going, but at some point a really big set rolled through and I thought Rob was going to be flipped upside down by the surge!  As we moved up the pinnacle, it was really sort of more of the same, so instead of trying to eek out a few more minutes on the pinnacle during our deep stops, we just left the pinnacle and put up a bag.

By the time we left the pinnacle, I was really cold.  Actually, I was really cold for the entire second half of our bottom time.  So I thought that deco would be really uncomfortable, but it turned out that the water warmed up a bit (which was odd, because the viz didn't deteriorate that much), so deco was reasonably comfortable.  Around 40 feet, I was imagining what I would do to warm up once back on the boat.  There's always the Cup O' Noodles option (which Rob likes, and I eat to get warm, but don't particularly love).  And I was thinking... what Jim really needs on the boat is hot chocolate.  Then around 30 feet, I suddenly remembered that there IS hot chocolate on the boat.  Or at least I had it once a long time ago.  So I spent the rest of deco thinking about hot chocolate, and when I got back on the boat, I did manage to dig up a packet of hot chocolate.  Ahhhh.  This could be a game changer.

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