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Me diving

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sur D!

I've wanted to dive Sur D for a long time.  It seems like we talked about it for ages.  It required the right combination of being able to make it down to Big Sur Banks, and having the right group of divers on the boat, that could all do a dive in that depth range (i.e. divers with GUE Tech 2).  GPO, excellent viz, my first trip to Sur D.  One time, we actually made it down there, but our attempts to dive were thwarted by insane current.  Then, sometime this past winter, when I was sick, a BAUE charter that I was supposed to be on made it down there, and came back with excellent pictures.  Yet another charter in the spring made it down there a second time (this one I missed because I had too much work to do to go diving, a once in five years kind of event for me, but of course on that day, they went to Sur D).

So we finally had a boat that made it to Big Sur, and that had the right set of divers on it, so I made it very clear that we *were* going to Sur D.  I think Clinton didn't want to go there, but was a little afraid of what I would do if he too strenuously objected to my "suggestion".  Today was one of those epically flat days, with barely any surface current, when you could leisurely get into the water and lollygag* on the surface.  Not that we did, but we could have.  The water was also very clear.  And it just got better on the way down.  When I was around maybe 80 feet, I looked down and I could see the top.  And it looked so close, I thought there was no way we could be on the right site... the top is supposed to be around 160 feet.  The viz was just that good.  We landed on the top of the shallow pinnacle.  It was very pink with corynactic, though it didn't have the usual Sur Banks gigantor hydrocoral.  But the structure was quite dramatic, with a very vertical side to that pinnacle.  We headed down the side of the pinnacle, to start our dive in the deeper section.

Before it felt like the dive had really even started, I heard a squeal.  A someone is squealing through their rebreather kind of squeal.  Rob and Kevin are both big time squealers (rebreather chatterboxes in general), so I had to look from one to the other to see that Kevin was the source.  He was flapping about and pointing, into a spot that could only be a GPOs den.  I went to check it out, and then the GPO came out to play.  He was a very friendly chap.  He posed for pictures, and then slithered over the reef a bit, and sat back down to pose for some more pictures.  By now the second team's lights had appeared, and we excitedly tried to signal them (too excitedly perhaps), and eventually Kevin scootered over to drag them over to look at the GPO, whether they wanted to or not!  When Rob finished with him pictures, Clinton took over.  I really wanted to pose for a picture with the GPO, but since there were 6 divers and 2 photographers trying to look/shoot, I never really got the chance to get into a position for that.  Boohoo.

After probably about 10 minutes of playing with the GPO, we headed off to some of the other small side pinnaclets at this site.  Rob and Kevin had both told me from their previous dives here (grumble) that there was interesting topography.  The sides of the main pinnacle are pretty steep with some overhangs, but there are also just a lot of smaller side structures, which I don't think is obvious from the bathymetry.  On the deeper side pinnacles (some of which weren't nearly as colorfully encrusted), there were quite a lot of vase sponges.  I would say this was unusual compared to other Sur Banks sites, though on our most recent dive at Sur 19, we noticed an unusual number of vase sponges.  There was also a small (by Big Sur Banks standards) school of blue rockfish that was pretty deep, not on the top of the main pinnacle, but hanging between it and some of the deeper smaller side structures.  After we finished looking around in the deeper section (which is only like 180-190 feet at its deepest), we headed back to the main pinnacle to finish up the dive.  There were quite a lot of juvenile rockfish hanging out above that.  We found some big pristine hydrocoral heads, though they weren't nearly as common as Sur 19/20.  But the pinnacle is still super colorful, mostly from the corynactis.

Deco was uneventful, and so was the ride home.  We decided that after such an awesome dive, there was really no point in a second dive, which would surely be disappointing in comparison.

After all of the waiting, talking, trying, etc., Sur D did not disappoint.  The main pinnacle is super pretty and photogenic, and there are tons of little side structures to investigate on future dives.  I think we could do many more dives here before it gets old.  The fact that the first dive here featured a very friendly, photogenic, GPO certainly didn't hurt in convincing me that this is an awesome dive site.

P.S. While using Google to spell-check the word "lollygag" I learned from the urban dictionary that there is another meaning for this word.  Now I'm not so sure if I should use this word anymore.

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