It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Saturday, June 22, 2019

June Diving

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Local diving has been spotty for me for the last few months due to a combination of travel, illness, and the usual winter storms cancelling diving. But June turned out pretty well with 3 weekends of good diving outside of the bay. And there were some interesting sightings and stories along the way, which seemed worthy of a post.

The first weekend of June, we had a tech boat that nearly made it to Yankee Point. The previous weekend (Memorial Day, during which I had a sinus infection and ear infection and thus couldn’t dive) Kevin and Rob went to Mt Chamberlin and reported tons of crinoids (!) around the southwest corner. So I really wanted to get back there before they disappeared. So the plan was to dive there. I was diving with Rob, Kevin, and Bobby. The crew noted a significant amount of current on the ball from the South, but planned to drop is upcurrent. We were the first in the water and in terms of the north-south position the drop was right on, but we were too far to the east. And in the time we tried to scooter to the ball, we drifted north of it, at which point it became pretty hopeless. We were on the trigger for maybe 5 minutes and not getting closer to the ball when I gave up. The boys took another minute or so to give up too. We got back on the boat and I told The crew that I had doubts about getting all three teams onto the site, so we should probably go elsewhere. The last time we dropped in these kind of conditions, we made it down and no other team did. Didn’t want a repeat of that.

So we headed into Lobos and dove E3. We planned to go to deep E3. I’ve done a lot of dives in the E3 area in the last 6 months, and we’ve gone to D3 on many of them, so I wanted to do deep E3 instead. There was no current at all here. We headed down the line (slowly, since my sinuses were still a bit unhappy with me) and then headed over to deep E3. The viz was good and the water was cold!  There was a layer on top, so it was pretty dark. We stopped and said hello to the purple sea fan, and then Rob headed out over the sand. I wasn’t really sure what he was looking for, but we eventually found a little pinnaclet out in the sand, that was covered in crinoids!  There must have been at least 50 crinoids that I could see at one time.  After doodling around there for a while, we headed back to deep E3. I was hanging out near the top because it was time to get shallower, but Rob was still about 20’ below. He signaled me and I looked down and saw him point to something small and white on the wall... I excitedly swam down to check it out and it was an Okenia felis!  I was super excited. We looked around for more but didn’t find any. We headed back to E3 and eventually as it was about time to thumb it, we headed up toward the top. I got to the top and then got an excited light signal from Rob just over the ledge down on the other side. So excited that I thought there’d better be a GPO down there, but the topography didn’t seem right for that. Instead, it was a ratfish!  I haven’t seen a ratfish in ages but with the cold dark water, it makes sense. Rob hadn’t I clipped his camera yet on the dive, but at this point he did, and took a ton of shots -- none of which resulted in a photo that I could post here :(. We ended up extending our bottom time a little as a result, so as soon as he finished, we were out of there!

Photo by Robert Lee
Two weeks later, we mad it back down to Mt Chamberlin and this time there was no wake on the ball :). We were dropping on K2, planning to head over to the west wall from there. I was diving with Rob and Kevin. The water was clear and blue all the way down. And cold. 47 degrees or so. Brrrr.  There was a bit of current right at the bottom of the line (top of K2). We dropped at K2, headed down the east wall of K2, north to the end of K2 reef, and then headed west to the drop off. While we were on the trigger, I saw a basket star. I was kind of surprised to see it since it was so bright, but it wasn’t completely open. I didn’t bother stopping the team for that.  Right as we approached the wall, we passed a structure to our left (south) with an enormous overhang covered in pink corynactis hanging over us. There was a nice slit between that and the rest of the wall which we scooters through and then ended up over the edge of the wall. We headed south as we went down the wall. Kevin eventually found another, more open basket star. There were also a bunch of Dironas on the wall. We continued south for a few minutes. Along the way, we saw a quillback rockfish. Haven’t seen one of those in a while, though we do often see them here. When Rob called turn, I realized I hadn’t quite made it to the bottom of the wall, so I zoomed down to the bottom and then turned around and headed up. Just after we’d turned and were heading up the wall, we found a skate hangin out on the wall!  We had once found a much larger one of these, newly dead, on Mt Chamberlin (which is the only reason I knew it was a skate). Rob took some pictures and while he was shooting, one of his strobes wasn’t firing. Grumble. There was also an enormous school of juvenile rockfish up on the wall.

We headed back over the wall toward K2. Finding K2 from the west wall is always tricky (for me, anyway, Rob seems to have more confidence in finding it). Today we had a little help as we were one pinnacle over and saw some divers on K2 reef.  We hung out there for a bit, and Rob was taking some pictures with both strobes working. Hmmm. When it was time to thumb it, we inexplicably scootered right to K2, against the current, even though it was obvious we would just be blown off as soon as we went off the trigger. And that’s exactly what happened.  The deco was insanely cold (just like the bottom).  I picked a deco schedule that was not too popular with the boys.  They both complained afterward that it was too much deco.  Also on deco, when we went around to report our max depth, I wow'd them with my max depth of 293 feet, which was 10 feet deeper than either of their max depths.  Rob was like "how did that happen?" but of course it was from zooming to the bottom right before heading up the wall :)

Photo by Clinton Bauder
Then the following week we went out in what seemed like conditions that might prevent us from getting out of the bay.  But we managed to make it around to Carmel, but didn't want to press our luck and went someplace close, Lunaticos.  I was diving with Rob and Clinton.  There was nothing really out of the ordinary about this dive, but we had very nice clear blue water.  It was cold on the bottom but much warmer on deco -- a toasty 53 degrees or so.  So that was nice.  We dropped in a spot that I didn't really recognize, which was shallower than expected (90 or 100 feet).  So it took us a while to get our bearings, but we eventually did.  We saw three wolf eels and an enormous school of blue rockfish.  While Rob and Clinton were shooting the rockfish, a sea lion kept dive bombing down to the bottom.  There were also tons of vase sponges (Clinton would correct me and say boot sponges).

Hopefully the clear water and diveable surface conditions will stick around for a while.

No comments: