It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Weeknight Dive

One of my goals for the holiday break was to do a night dive.  I figured it was the perfect time for a night dive, considering the proximity to the shortest day of the year.  We did a bunch of night dives last spring, but once the days started to get longer, my intolerance for waiting until 8PM to get into the water kicked in, and we hadn't done any night dives since.  So I figured there had to be a few nights of good weather to get a night dive in.  Early in the first week, there was a night that looked promising, but my laziness and the fact that it was really cold out led me to think there would surely be another night during the break when we could do a night dive!  And then for like three straight weeks, there was 10+ foot swell.  Okay, it's possible that's not exactly true, but literally every night since then that we could go on a night dive, the swell forecast was either really big or really long (or often both).

So finally this week, Wednesday and Thursday looked good.  Rob was just getting back from the bay area on Wednesday night, so we decided on Thursday.  It was kind of chilly during the day on Thursday and for some reason (I think it was the walk down to the beach on Thursday morning), I was freezing cold all day.  So cold that the idea of going diving seemed really unappealing to me.  Rob was finishing up a meeting until 6:00, when we were supposed to head out, and I was literally laying in bed under the covers, cuddling with Oreo, trying to warm up.  I really did not want to go diving.  But I reminded myself that I'd been watching the forecast for literally weeks, and the next several days in the forecast looked once again pretty big.  So I dragged myself down to the Breakwater, and boy am I glad that I did!

When we drove up, we saw another team getting ready to go into the water.  And we could see lights underwater from at least one more team already in the water.  As we were finishing up our gear check, a team came out of the water and said conditions were pretty good.  And they were not lying.  As we got into the water, when I bent over to put my fins on, the water in the surf zone looked really clear.  As we swam out, I realized I had not tested my light (I tested it in the garage, but not right before we got in).  So I flipped the switch and... nothing.  Then I realized my E/O cord had popped off.  I plugged it back in and... my light worked again.  Phew.  We continued swimming out until we were a bit past the bathrooms.  When we first started the swim, the moon was totally obscured by the clouds, but then they cleared a bit so we could actually kind of see by the time we dropped.  I stuck my face under the water before I'd turned my light back on, and I could see the bottom.  Without any light!  Rob pointed out that there was bioluminescence in the water, so we flapped around for a bit on the surface without our lights on to entertain ourselves.  We dropped in about 18 feet of water and the viz was great.  I think it was really as good as it gets at the Breakwater, and you could see as far as the lights would allow.

We spent most of the dive meandering out over the sand.  In the first 5 minutes, we saw like 5 little octopuses.  Some were tiny!  Throughout the dive, we saw tons more of them, and many of them were quite active, out climbing around on things.  Basically anywhere that we stopped to look around, I could find at least one!  Aside from that, I found a bunch of Limacias.  They were all in one area.  I found one and showed it to Rob, and by the time he came over to take its pic, I'd found another.  Then while he was taking pics of them, I found a bunch more.  We also saw a single sea hare.  So pokeable.

There were two good finds on the dive.  One, which Rob found, was a Tritonia diomedea.  That was super exciting, because I think this is only like the third time I've ever seen one in Monterey.  Definitely less than the tenth time :P  The other good find was a couple of squid.  We found them as we were (finally) headed back to the wall.  Rob managed to get some shots of one, which was surprisingly not that annoyed by Rob's strobes.  I did feel bad for the little guy though.

And about that swim back to the wall... at some point, maybe 45 minutes into the dive, I suggested to Rob that we head toward the wall.  So Rob starts swimming, and I follow.  And we are headed southeast.  And we are swimming and swimming and I keep kind of correcting us to the right.  And we stop a couple of times and when we start going, Rob keeps heading southeast.  Finally I had to tell Rob we were going *this* way instead.  As a result, when we finally made it to the wall, we were really far out, and it was like 45 feet or so at the bottom.  So at that point, we had to head pretty directly in, because gas was actually getting low.  There was not a lot of time to lollygag.  Along the swim in, we picked up a whiskery friend.  A very rotund harbor seal.  He followed along with us for pretty much the rest of the dive.  He was very cute.  I would never rub a marine mammal on its tummy, but I can't say the same for my dive buddy.

As usual, we surfaced from like 7 feet and I was annoyed that we surfaced too far out :P  Every time I dive the breakwater and don't swim in until I can stand, I end up annoyed when I surface and its further out than expected.

But it was a nice night for a short surface swim.  We didn't make it out in time for Little Chicken Hut, so we settled for In N Out for dinner.  There was an astoundingly short line.  The last time we did a night dive and went to In N Out afterward (sometime in the spring), the line was all the way to the edge of the parking lot!  That was shortly after the miracle of takeout restaurants reopening.