It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Things Fall Apart

We were on a tech charter on Saturday, and it looked like we'd actually have some decent weather, woohoo!  The previous weekend's dive plans had been cancelled due to bad weather, and with the good viz of late (which was fabled to still be around), we were looking forward to diving, preferably not at Mile Buoy :P  We managed to get down to Yankee Point for a dive at Mount Chamberlin.  We dropped the downline on the south wall, but we planned to head over to the annex, and then back to the wall and up to K2.  I was hoping for some GPO action, since they've been out and about lately, and over the years (but not this year, yet), I've seen several GPOs at Mount Chamberlin.

When we got into the water, we found that the nice viz had stuck around.  The viz was excellent pretty much from top to bottom, and it was quite bright and blue on the bottom.  When we got to the bottom of the line, we had landed right on the edge of the wall, so we immediately headed down and across toward the annex.  Just as we were approaching it, I saw that Kevin had peeled off to look at a little rock formation in the sand, and then I got an excited signal for him.  I was hoping for a GPO under there, but instead, found a crack with a nice big wolf eel head sticking out.  There also happened to be a gorgonian with a basket star on it on that rock.  I saw that Rob had come over to the rock, but he was screwing around with his camera.  So I decided to take a little video, with Kevin lighting the wolfy for me (he was using my light reflector on his primary light, since my video light was still in the shop).

After getting video, I went over to Rob to see what was going on.  He was still monkeying with his camera, and he pointed at it and said there was water in the housing.  Doh!  He flipped it over and I saw what I thought was a little bit of water in it, but then realized it was a little bit of air... the whole dome port was filled with water, with a bubble in the top 20% or so of it.  Super doh!  I asked Rob if he wanted to thumb it, but at this point, there was really no point in it, since the camera was going to be toast either way.  So he waved off my thumb, and then he had to wrestle the beast back to his butt, where he stowed it for the rest of the dive.

We headed to the main wall of the annex, and followed it out to the west (on the north side).  There was a pretty big school of juvenile rockfish off of the wall.  We came around to the south side, where there was a smattering of juvenile rockfish, but nothing like the school on the other side.  I did find a nice-looking lingcod perched on a little ledge on the edge of the wall, who was very tolerant of being video'd and was a sort of interesting color for a ling, very blue.  When we were finished up looking around on the south side, we came back over the top of the ridge to the north side, where there was now a big school of blue rockfish.  Not huge, but pretty big.  I got a little video of that, and then we headed across the sand.

Rob was leading (by default, I guess), but he was taking a really strange path way too far to the east.  Eventually we got his attention and told him we needed to head back to the west, and he seemed not at all aware that he'd been off course.  I guess lugging the flooded beast had him off his game a bit.  We found our way back to the channel that leads up to K2, and followed that.  About halfway to K2, we found another wolf eel poking his head out of the reef off to the left.  After watching him for a bit, we continued on to K2.  We did a quick GPO check in the crack at the pinnacle, and then Rob thumbed it, before we'd even made it up to the top of the peek.  He put up his bag, which he seemed sort of in a hurry to do.  I asked if he wanted to shoot his camera, and he waved me off.  Then, when we got to 70 feet, after we'd switched onto our bottles, he asked Kevin what size bag he had.  Kevin told him he had a big bag, so Rob asked for it, and they sent the camera up on the big bag, up the line on the small bag. It was a bit of a job to do it, so naturally I got out of the way and video'd instead of helping :P  Once the second bag went up, the boat motored over to check on it... we could see the boat all the way from 70 feet, because the viz was very good!

Deco was pretty uneventful.  The bag was a little more of a pain to manage than usual, because of the extra stuff on it, but otherwise not much happened during deco.  When we surfaced, Rob said something like "I might need some help" to the crew, which I think worried them a bit, until they realized it was just his camera that was injured :)

Conditions were still nice after the dive, so we had to figure out where to go for a second dive.  Since there was great viz and calm seas, we decided to head to Locals' Ledge.  We tried to find the nice hydrocoral patch, but got a bit turned around.  We sort of took a tour of the little pinnacles off of the main structures (which were easy to pick out, since the viz was great!).  We found a pair of wolf eels in a crack, so we watched/video'd them for a while.  Eventually we returned back to the main structures, looked around there briefly, and then thumbed it.  Overall I thought that the site seemed less nice than usual, I guess because of barnacle damage.  The little side pinnacles seemed quite a bit more barren than they used to be :(

We headed back to the dock, and then to lunch, and then Rob and I went to Lobos for a hike and then dinner.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mile Buoy and Mile Buoy

We were on a tech charter on Sunday, for which the forecast was looking not that awesome.  However, it seemed from the forecast like we might be able to sneak out and get a quick dive in before things got too bad.  When we arrived at K-dock, the wind (in the bay) looked pretty non-existent.  So we were hopeful.  We managed to get past Point Pinos, but then somewhere between there and Cypress Point, the whitecaps went from "over there" to upon us.  It got super snotty quite abruptly, so we had to turn around.  I wasn't too bummed about this, though, because the color of the water looked really good in the bay, and there had been tails of good viz in the bay lately.  When we got back to the bay (where it was nice and flat!), there was some debate about Mile Buoy versus Kawika's, and somehow Mile Buoy won out.

Photo by Robert Lee
I was diving with Rob and Clinton, who were both shooting wide angle.  We left the scooters on the boat, and found amazing viz on the way down.  The water was really clear, but it was also unbelievably blue!  By the time we got to the bottom, the viz was still good, but not quite a clear, as it was clearly a bit churned up.  Still good viz for the bay, but not like the mid-water.  It was a pretty standard Mile Buoy dive... metridium patches, lingcod, a basket star here and there.  I also saw some brown rockfish, which are maybe pretty standard now, since I have seen them on the last several tech dives in the bay.  There were also some wily sea lions that kept zooming down to the bottom and swimming around before disappearing back above us.

Photo by Clinton Bauder
When we thumbed the dive, I was hoping there would be more sea lion action on deco, especially since the viz would be excellent for video.  I was not disappointed.  While we were still at 70 feet, the sea lion brigade showed up, ready to put on a show.  And the water was SUPER blue and clear.  It was probably the best viz I've ever had in the bay, and I have a few dives with awesome viz in the bay before!  The sea lions hung around for pretty much all of our deco, zooming around, pausing now and then to check us out, and just generally entertaining us.  Our deco was not exactly, umm, textbook, considering that Rob and Clinton were taking pictures while I was videoing.  There was all sorts of flopping around to get the shots, and every now and then one of us would notice it was past time to move to the next stop, and we would.  It was quite a fun deco!

Photo by Robert Lee
Eventually the fun came to an end, and we surfaced to find a nice flat day in the bay!  We had so much fun with the sea lions, that we decided to do a second dive at Mile Buoy proper, basically just drifting about midwater right next to the buoy.  Only three of us wanted to do the second dive -- Clinton, Nick, and me, so that was the team.  The sea lions were still being quite playful, though unfortunately it got a bit cloudy topside, so the light wasn't nearly as good on the second dive.  So not as awesome on the video front, but still lots of fun.  I also got a good look at the buoy chain, which was totally crawling with trilineatas.  It was insane; I felt like I saw more trilineatas on that chain than I did in my entire diving history combined!  I think Rob really should have joined us on the dive, he would have had fun!