It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Blah Dive at Lobos

We stayed down in Monterey on Saturday night, and dove at Lobos on Sunday.  The day before, when we were at lunch, someone reported (based on something on Facebook, I think), that there had been a white shark sighting at Point Lobos, in Bluefish Cove.  I didn't know who reported it, so didn't know the credibility, so I basically ignored it.  Then I heard it was Ted H. who saw it, and it seemed a bit more credible.  When we pulled into Lobos, the park aid at the gate (whose name currently escapes me), was like "Did you hear?  A diver saw a white shark here yesterday!  Isn't that cool!?"  Not exactly the reaction I was expecting :)  She also told us that Paul (who was already down at Whalers) had the video/pictures of it on his iPad.  So when we got down to the parking lot, we watched the video and looked at the pictures.  Yep, definitely a white shark.  Clinton made some remark about how we'd been outdone (referring to the whale sighting and pictures).  I was diving with Clinton, so naturally we didn't let this get in the way of our dive plans, though we did discuss the plan if we encountered a white shark (get pictures, then crawl home on the bottom :P).  We didn't really have much of a plan for the dive, but I really wanted to go octopus hunting, and I knew that Clinton knew where some of the GPOs lived.  So we decided to go to Beto's Reef and Granite Point, since those were the two spots that Clinton was confident that he knew where the GPO dens were, though the Beto's GPO hadn't been spotted in quite some time.  The Granite Point GPO had been seen very recently, so we were pretty confident we'd see him (if we could find the den).

The swell was not huge, but it was a fairly long period, so it was a bit surgy in the sand channel, and viz was not awesome.  The water was pretty bright, but there was just a lot of stuff in the water.  We headed out pretty much straight to Beto's Reef, found the GPO was not in its den (no surprise there), and wandered around there just a bit.  We then agreed to head over to Granite Point, and I suggested that Clinton lead.  I wasn't opposed to leading, but if I were leading, I would just go back to Middle Reef and then over to Granite Point, which I admit is a bit silly :)  We headed out over the sand, where I would say the viz was not actually too bad.  We sort of meandered off course and got a bit deeper than we should have been (to hit the main wall at Granite Point), but we eventually corrected and found Granite Point.  In hindsight, it probably would have been faster to just go via Middle Reef!

I had no clue where the Granite Point GPO lived... everyone referred to it as being by the "other" Lone Metridium, which I was not familiar with.  So once we got over there, we sort of zigged and zagged a bit while Clinton was finding the spot, and I had no idea if we were on the right track.  Then Clinton stopped at a sort of vertical pinnaclet and started poking around in a vertical crack.  So I went over to take a look and sure enough, there was a GPO in the crack!  It was a decent-sized one, who was pretty active, but active in his den.  I tried (not very hard) to interest him in coming out (here, kitty kitty), but he just wasn't interested.  After playing with him for a bit, we wandered around a bit, mostly in the area just north of the main wall.  I found a Limacia, which I haven't seen in a while, for whatever reason.  I never did see the "lone metridium" and when I told Clinton that after that dive, I think it took a lot for him not to smack his forehead as he told me that if I had looked directly up from the GPO crack I would have seen a metridium right above my head.

After not too much of that, we headed back south toward the main wall.  I knew that Rob and Clinton had found a GPO somewhere near the north side of the main wall a month or so ago, so I wasn't too surprised to see Clinton poking around in the rocks there.  He flashed me excitedly, and I was expecting he had found a GPO, but then he pointed into a way-too-small crack.  I looked in and saw a red eel-looking thing, which was apparently a red brotula (Clinton told me after the dive).  I was going to say that I've never seen one before, but according to the archives, I saw one on a dive in Puget Sound.  So I guess I can still claim I've never seen one locally before, which makes it still a cool find :)

From there, we headed back to middle reef, and then we sort of gave each other the shrug about what to do next.  It just wasn't that awesome of a dive, and we'd already covered a good bit of ground, and I guess neither of us were feeling compelled to do anything more.  So we headed in on the sand channel. The dive had been so un-awesome that Clinton hadn't even taken his camera out, and I hadn't done much with my hero-cam, so I made Clinton setup a shot of him scootering through the frame, so I would have *something* to post here.  Unfortunately even that didn't really turn out that well due to the surge.  Then we pretty much headed straight in.  I think the whole dive ended up being under an hour.

It was low low tide when we got back to the ramp.  In fact, I think we pretty much hit low tide right on.  As I mentioned before, there was a moderate but long period swell, which was causing a lot of water churning at the bottom of the ramp.  But I felt like if I waited and timed it right, it wouldn't be a problem.  But I wasn't being very patient about waiting and timing it right, so I found myself with one fin off, holding onto a little chunk of kelp at the bottom of the ramp (hoping it wouldn't break) as I got pushed to-and-fro by the next big set.  As this was going on, Clinton was on my right, pretty far off to the side of the ramp, where there is that big flat rock.  I thought it was a bit weird that he was so far off to the side (turns out he'd been dragged there by a wave), but didn't have time to give it much thought before he got picked up by a wave, dragged all the way across the ramp, and deposited on his back on the other side of the ramp.  Then another little wave came and stood him up against the rocks at the bottom of the ramp there.  So he was basically out of the water, sitting on a rock, with his tanks against rocks and his feet on the ramp.  Not a bad way to end up, but a very bad way to get there!  I asked if he was okay (not that I was really in any position to help him!) and he said yes.  My little kelp handle eventually broke and I decided to back off of the ramp, and wait for a lull.  Clinton caught his breath and then decided to walk up the ramp, and about three steps into it, he completely wiped out on the ramp.  I was still not really in a position to help, which was okay, since Clinton was completely out of the water and not in any danger, but obviously needed to eventually get himself up off of the ramp.  Luckily there was another diver in a wetsuit that was able to come down the ramp and give him a hand up.  Oh, and all of that happened while Clinton had his camera, which amazingly survived unscathed!  I, on the other hand, was a little bit traumatized and afraid of the ramp after watching all of this unfold.  After at least one more false start of me trying to exit and then getting washed off of the ramp by a wave, I was still trying to wait it out for a lull when Clinton came back down the ramp to help me.  Maybe not so much waiting it out as being beached on the ramp by a wave.  At this point I gave up on grace, and just got on my knees and let Clinton take my fins off, stand me up, and walk me up the ramp.  Phew.  We waited for a while for Rob to finish up his dive, and as we watched the ramp, we kept marveling at how much calmer it seemed at the bottom of the ramp now that we were out of the water :P

While we were waiting for the others in the water, a guy who used to dive in the area was chatting with us in the parking lot about our dive, and the diving at Lobos in general.  Then he asked if we'd "heard about this" and showed us the latest issue of the Point Lobos magazine, which had the Clinton's picture of the whale that we saw in the sand channel.  We laughed and told him that yes, we had, because we were the ones who had seen the whale and it was Clinton's picture.  After a bit of discussion about the whale sighting, he asked us to autograph the magazine.  Hehehe.

We were eventually just about to give up on waiting for them and head to RG, when they surfaced.  Eventually we all made it to RG for some lunch.

Clinton and I were both pretty meh about the dive afterward, though now that I've written it up, there were a couple of cool finds.  And plenty of ramp drama to make for a story (at Clinton's expense).

Note: Clinton pointed out that my original post was missing some story-worthy details (bad kitty!), so I've edited this a bit.

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