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Me diving

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Not Cordell Bank: Ballbuster North

Sunday morning, it was super foggy, as the forecast predicted.  We waited for a couple hours to see if anything would change, and alas it did not.  After much debate about what to do, we eventually settled on trying to do a recreational dive closer to shore.  Someone had the bathymetry data for this part of the coast, so we basically just looked at the data for anything that looked like it wasn't just a sand slope.  There really was not a lot, but we found one little area that looked like it was some structure, which came up from about 100' to about 60'.  I believe that the site was north of the harbor, though it is hard to say for sure, since the fog was so thick once we were out on the water, there was really no way to tell which way was land.  I'd like to think it was north, since that would technically put us outside of the Red Triangle (though according to Wikipedia, the Red Triangle extends all the way down to Point Sur, so I guess we dive in it all the time).

The fog was so thick that Jim was even nervous about putting us in the water on the anchor without a deco obligation.  We promised to come back up the anchor line.  We entered the water to find murky green water, with a side of eelgrass.  The eelgrass was just floating on the surface, not sure what was up with that...  Anyhoo, we headed down the anchor line, and the dive really had a Monterey Bay feel to it, green and murky, but when we got to the bottom the viz was actually pretty good, maybe 40' of dark green water.  There was a pretty nice wall, actually, nicer than what I would have guessed from the bathymetry.  Due to the resolution of the bathymetry, it was hard to tell if it would be a slope or wall or what.  It was a wall, with a narrow sand channel and then a smaller pinnacle across that.  There were a lot of metridium, corynactis, and those big acorn barnacles.  There was also what I believe was encrusting hydrocoral, which was very pretty.  In terms of fish, blue rockfish were the most common fish, but I also saw some coppers, canaries, kelp greenlings, and the occasional lingcod.  We also saw a mola swimming up above the reef, but he wasn't too interested in playing.  There was also one patch of the side pinnacle that had a bunch of sea urchins, though overall they were not a significant part of the landscape.

After about 40 or 50 minutes, we'd seen the site and decided to head up the anchor line.  After the dive, we joked about naming the site "Ballbuster North" because of both the depth range and the life that we saw there.  I'm not sure if that's the name that stuck, but it's the name that stuck in my head, so that's what I'm calling it.  Seriously, though, if I showed the video from the dive and said it was Ballbuster, you'd totally believe it.  Overall, it was a pretty good dive, considering our options and how we found it.  And it was definitely worth doing, since it's not like I have a lot of opportunities to do recreational boat diving near Bodega Bay.

So that was the end of the Cordell 2014 trip.  With the forecast for the next few days being either dense fog or sporty seas, and the time constraint for when the boat needed to be back in Monterey, it did not make sense to try to wait it out any longer in Bodega Bay.  I considered staying up for another day for the ride back to Monterey (on the boat), but given the fog forecast, it wasn't clear that it would be very fun.  (According to Jim, I made the right decision, since he could barely see the front of the boat for most of the trip back.)  So we headed home, with a quick stop to drop off the cooler full of specimens with one of the Sanctuary people.

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