Dive Log, 2008 Previous logs: 2007 Back to Current Log
Running list of dives in 2008.
Dive totals to date:
Local: 126 (12-08) Elsewhere: 15 YTD Total: 137
Dives are entered by dive day from the bottom upwards, so the latest dives (or rather, the latest entries; not sure I'll catch every dive) are at the top.
12-30: 2 dives: Anchors 2 & 3 and The Barge, both with Steve.
Got up a little late after a late night performing an emergency neck seal repair on Steve's drysuit. Arrived at the Breakwater lot to find Steve and Lori already there (I thought they were still in their hotel room.) The wind was blowing pretty fiercely from the north, whitecapping pretty much directly into the beach. Not much swell, but what there was was running 90 degrees to the wind, and I was pretty sure it was going to make for an ugly ride to wherever we decided to go. The people I talked to blamed me for the wind; it had apparently come up just before I arrived.
Steve mentioned that the area around the corner would be sheltered from the wind, which I agreed with, but I told him we'd be open to whatever swell was running. In the end, we agreed to at least take a look at the other side, with the added possibility of running into another whale. MFD arrived as we were walking down the pier, but as we untied and got underway, they were running back to the truck. I assumed they had gotten a call and were responding.
As I thought it would be, the run out was pretty sloppy, with the hull bouncing, skipping, and pounding side to side as we hit the wind waves. We saw the guy with the North River boat anchored somewhere just north of Aumentos, but didn't make contact. Got out to the point, and the swell, which had been a foot or two just outside the harbor, was running a good five to six feet or more. The white water being thrown up on the rocks along the coast was pretty impressive. But, it didn't look like it would be the greatest diving, so we decided to run back in towards the deep shale and get out of the worst of the swell, at least. I selected Anchors 2 & 3 as a waypoint, and we dropped the hook pretty much spot on. Top water again looked pretty clear, surprisingly with no jellies to be seen. We dropped down, and I found my hook resting on the chain just west of the big pile. Moved it off, and we started looking around first the anchors and chain, then the block, then I sort of wandered off northwest to check out a shelf I noticed on the way down. Vis was variable, 15 to maybe 25, and pretty dark. The two resident Vermilion rocks were there, as were several blues and a kelpie or two. I scared up a good sized male Kelp Greenling, and all the usual bottom fish were about (Black Eye Gobies, Ronquils of some sort, Painted Greenlings.) Somewhere along in the dive, a parade of two dozen or so Pile Perch cruised by, pecking at the bottom. Wandered back checking out the shale for slugs (P. nobilis, F. iodinea, C. luteomarginata, T. festiva, and D. sandiegensis were all out in force, but I didn't see anything unusual.) Did another circuit of the anchors, and Steve signaled he was heading up. I relocated the hook from where I had snagged the last link in the chain out to a flat area, and after I made sure it wasn't going to skip along the shale, headed up as well. A sea lion scared the crap out of me, buzzing down the line, corkscrewing to the bottom, and vanishing. Back on board, the new neckseal we had put on Steve's suit had held, so that was good news. 83 feet, 34 minutes, 52 degrees.
The wind had died down quite a bit for the run back in; no whitecaps, and the wind waves were settling a bit. Spent a long SI grabbing a bite to eat, and just relaxing in the sun (though the wind was pretty chilly.) By the time we got things together to get back out, the wind had shifted to come in from the north (but wasn't any warmer.) Again, MFD arrived as we were heading to the boat. Steve joked with them a bit about not having made it out the last time, then we got on-board. Took a couple of minutes to swap out my tank, and found that a short fill from last weekend was still short-filled (Hmmm. I thought the pressure would increase from sitting for a week. Guess not...) Still, I figured I could get a decent dive out of 50-some-odd cubic feet. Motored out before MFD made it to their boat, and dropped the hook at the Barge.
From the surface, I could see moon jellies drifting by several feet below the surface. Sat on the tube (still a sin, Chuck?) and swung my feet over, catching one foot on the valve of a spare cylinder. As I hopped in, something felt weird, and I thought I had released one of the quick releases on the strap. Turns out I was wrong: I had broken the quick release buckle. Reboarded the boat, rummaged through the Save-a-dive kit, and found a complete strap. Replaced the strap, hopped in, geared up, and headed down. Vis at the bottom was fair, 10 to 15, and a bit surgy. Nothing highly unusual, except for a smallish (3/4 inch?) brownish-red worm-like critter that would grab onto a glove by sending out a proboscis from one end that extended three or four body lengths. Unfortunately, it was light enough that the surge kept tumbling it from wherever it was put, so I only got one poor picture. I Spent quite a bit of time looking for sand-dwelling stuff, and being disappointed. I did scare up a cabezon that was tucked into a little nook on the Barge itself, but that was the only non- (or less than-) normal fish, except for another parade of Pile Perch (only about a dozen this time.) Waved goodbye to Steve and headed up when my pressure got to about 600 psi, and decided to shoot some jellies at the safety stop. Kind of lost track of time, but headed up when the jelly supply started running thin for the second time. Hit the surface and got on the boat before checking, ended up with less than 250 remaining. I was kind of surprised to see Steve hit the surface about the same time. Not really sure why though, now that I think about it. 64 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees.
Heading back into the harbor, we saw that the fire boat was still moored. Guess they got another call. While cleaning stuff up, noticed that the New Years party was already underway, with the early arrivals occupying about a third of the RV spaces.
12-29: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Steve and me on Aurora, and some guy
whose name I never caught on his big-ass North River aluminum boat, and Shale
Island with Steve.
Originally planned to dive Sunday (12-28), but screwed up my back late Saturday, and took Sunday off to see if I could get some mobility back. Worked OK, I guess, as I could at least walk (if somewhat awkwardly.) Drove down Sunday evening, to get the night to allow my back to loosen up after the drive (pulling the boat, it's about 2 and a half hours door to ramp.) Wise move, as it took a couple of hours until I lost the set from sitting in the seat.
Monday morning, pulled into the lot at about 8am, and for the first time I can remember, was the first trailer to park (there was another trailer boat parked across the top of the ramp, but I figure that doesn't count.) There were a total of four cars along the wall: 2 divers and 2 sightseers (I think.) Steve arrived a few minutes later, and we both rather lazily started getting stuff ready to go. As we finished up, a guy came up complaining that no divers were going off the beach (sort of erroneously, as there were a couple of classes and a few rec divers by that time.) He was looking to pick up a buddy or two from the shore divers. We told him he was welcome to tag along with us.
On the way out, I noticed some splashing near the Mile Buoy. At first I was thinking sea lions, but a second later realized they were dolphins. Steve and I headed over and found ourselves in the midst of probably 3 or 4 dozen Risso's, all jumping and playing. Steve said that was the first time he had seen Risso's. A few minutes later, we throttled up and headed out to Point Pinos to see what things looked like out there. Unfortunately, a long, fairly significant swell was running, so I suggested retreating back inside the bay. We ended up at Trevor's Pinnacle. Hopped in and the surface water appeared very clear, but it got progressively hazier the further down we went. At the bottom (about 70 feet) vis was a variable 20 to 30, and milky. I briefly saw the other two near the anchors, then took off to look around the north ridge, then the south. Steve said he saw me taking pictures at Guy's rockfish crack, even swimming circles around me a couple of times, but I never noticed him. I never saw anything unusual (makes sense; I spent quite a bit of time out in the sand searching for the odd sculpins I'd seen before, then more time searching for the juvie Treefish on the south ridge.) Eventually called it a dive at about 30 minutes, found my anchor, and headed up. Played dodge-sea-nettle on the safety stop, then surfaced to find the other two up already. 77 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees.
Our friend with the North River took leave due a dry suit flood, so Steve and I took a long SI then headed out to Shale island. Again, not a lot of interesting stuff, so I'll keep it short: Vis about 10 to 15 chunky feet, light to moderate surge, 59 feet, 44 minutes, 52 degrees. Both of the Yellowfin Fringeheads I had located before are gone. Steve apparently found a One-Spot Fringehead, though.
On the way back in, I ran in towards Del Monte Beach to get an angle of approach to the jetty that didn't have the sun glaring in. About where the sailboat is, I saw what appeared to be a blow. I motored over and waited (Steve though I was nuts), and a couple of minutes later I was vindicated: a grey whale was making its way along the shore. It ran just outside the end of the jetty, turned back in towards San Carlos Beach, the hugged the 40 foot contour (detouring to avoid kelp) all the way out to Lovers. It didn't follow the normal 3 blows and sound thing; it was a fairly regular 3 or 4 minutes between blows. Eventually, we broke contact and headed in.
12-21: One dive; Carmel Ridge (Offshore of Butterfly House), with Jeff (and
Roxie) on Nitrox, Aaron, (Anna, Otter), Larry and Carol on XTSea, and Guy and
myself on Aurora. (Parentheses denote surface support.)
Met up with Jeff at Monterey St in Gilroy, and we headed down together. I delayed a bit to top off Aurora's tank, and met Jeff a bit after he got to Breakwater. Larry, Carol, and Aaron were already out on Shale Island.
Jeff and I prepped boats and geared up, and Guy came over and chatted a bit. He ended up joining us for the dive. We ran out to Shale Island, where Larry and Carol were just hitting the surface (Aaron was already up.) We decided to allow them time to run back in and get a fill for Aaron (which also gave me a chance to get a bite to eat.)
Once underway, we headed around the corner, bound for someplace off Carmel (we never got as far as deciding on a site, just an area.) Smooth water would have allowed a full throttle run all the way down, but I kept it in check a bit to run with Jeff. Around Yankee Point, Carol reported seeing a whale. A minute later, we all saw it. Or rather, them, as it appeared to be a pair of grey whales heading south along the Carmel coast. Ran alongside for several minutes, then headed into Carmel Bay. I suggested Carmel Ridge, and Carol agreed (Jeff was ambivalent. And since no-one else was driving, well...)
Dropped the hook just about on the numbers, and almost immediately regretted it. The wind was blowing from the southeast, and put me right in a large patch of kelp. Suggested that Carol and Jeff drop nearby, but in a spot that wouldn't put them in the kelp. Guy and I geared up and hopped in, and I dropped to check the hook. I had pulled in quite a bit of scope to try and get clear of the surface kelp, and the line ran down fairly steeply, ending in a pile of chain. I moved the hook to a secure place, and that was the last time I saw of it. I headed off to shoot pics, checking for slugs mostly. Nothing all that unusual: mostly Peltodoris, Cadlina luteomarginata, some huge Diaulula sandiegensis, a few Doriopsilla, a lone Geitodoris, a lone Cadlina flavomaculata, and a couple of Dendronotus albus. Lots of blue and copper rockfish, a couple of yellowtail, a few perch, and a couple of kelp greenling. Surprisingly few sculpins, but lots of painted greenling. Ran across Jeff and Carol's hooks a few times (they were about 15 feet apart), and used the slope of Carol's anchor to judge where my boat should be. Of course, the wind had shifted, and I headed in the wrong direction, surfacing a hundred yards off on the opposite side of Carol's boat. 73 feet, 41 minutes, 52 degrees. Vis - oh, I don't know, maybe 40 feet? Nice clear, if somewhat hazy, water. Surprisingly dark, though, as the clouds never really broke all day.
Pulled the hooks and ran back to Breakwater in the rain, and everybody decided to bail on a second dive.
Interesting note: Steve (the guy from Yuba City, who used to bring the huge red trailer) ran afoul of the CG, who decided to give him a safety inspection. Steve was informed that he needed to have a six-pack license if he had six or more people on his boat, whether recreational or commercial. Apparently, the argument went on for some time, at which point the CG made a cell phone call, and got clarification. End result: no captains license needed for recreational operation. Duh.
Sun 11-30 No diving; Some truck repair (sort of), and whale watching
Arrived at Breakwater about 8 along with Jeff; near-empty lot, and near empty wall. Got a cup of coffee, and a few minutes later, Larry and Carol showed up, followed by Ron and Rich and his wife.
As I visited with people, I noticed that Ron had raised the hood of his truck, and was messing around underneath. I wandered over to see what was up, and Ron and Rich were both at work, Ron pulling fuses in succession from the main fuse box, and Rich busy investigating under and in the dashboard. Turns out that there was an alarm of some sort that was going off constantly: a high pitched constant tone from the passenger side of the dash. Ron said it was the "door open" alarm, which was apparently erroneously detecting a fault. Ron had gone through the main fuse box, and after ten minutes or so of poking and prodding at the door switches, moved to a secondary fuse box, while Rich managed to partially remove the glove box door to see if he could get to the transducer through there. Ron was unsuccessful at the secondary fuse box, and moved on to disconnecting the batteries. Disconnected one, and the alarm was still going. Reconnected the first and disconnected the second, again with no result. About then, Rich decided to see if he could get to the transducer from the top of the dash, which meant moving several little dolls and things Ron had there, and a carpet dash protector. I watched as Rich moved one little figure then picked up a second. The look of astonishment on his face said it all. The tone was coming from a Furby; apparently a low battery condition warning. Rich, his wife, and I all erupted into hysterics, and it took a few seconds until Rich caught his breath enough to get Ron to come over from the front of the truck. Jeff tried to ask me what was funny, but I couldn't answer him. So he wandered over, accompanied by everyone else, and pretty soon the entire group was doubled over. Ron's new nickname, we decided is Furby. I made the mistake of telling Rich he should sneak the thing onto Ron's boat while Ron was within earshot, so that plan was scrubbed. 45 minutes of Ford troubleshooting for a power-hungry Furby.
Once that was done, we debated whether or not to dive. The general consensus was that, given the long-period swell (about the same as yesterday) and the crappy conditions from the day before (or two in my case), the diving would likely be a disappointment. So, after Ron and Rich decided to hit the road, we decided to go see if we could find some whales. Aurora, Nitrox and XTSea were all splashed and Jeff and Pam, Larry and Carol, and Eric and I set out for the Moss Landing area. About halfway to Moss, Eric and I watched the sea nettles and occasional moon jellies as we cruised along for about a mile or two. All of a sudden Carol made a call about them, and the three boats came to a stop to check them out. The water looked spectacularly clear. Ten minutes later we started off again, and Carol said she saw something with a fin. I cruised over to where she was, and we saw it: a single, very small, dolphin. We lost it after a couple of blows, so started off again, when I saw a pair of them off to the west. They disappeared as well, so we throttled up and continued on to Moss. Went into the harbor so some people could use the facilities, did a drive-by on a couple of pirate ships that were apparently doing sailing cruises, then headed back out. Headed out over the west edge of the canyon, when Jeff stopped to take care of something or other on his boat. He radioed, and said to go ahead, as he was going to head back and start the barbecue when he was done. Carol said she'd accompany him, so Eric and I took of to the southwest. We had only gone a mile, maybe a mile and a half, when we spotted a blow about a quarter mile ahead. It was followed quickly by another. They both appeared to be moving east to west. The next blow was a sounding blow (high arched hump, and the flukes came up out of the water) so I knew they'd be down for a bit. I motored up to their footprints and told Nitrox and XTSea what we had. They fired up to join us. About the time they were nearing our position, I spotted another pair (or maybe the same one) about 3 or 400 yards ahead. Again motored over, and they sounded before go a good look. They came up after a few minutes, and we were able to get fairly close as they cruised along. They sounded again in an almost surreal way: both blows appeared, one slightly trailing the other, then both fins raised up on the arched backs, the both flukes came up and dropped out of sight, all in perfect synchronization. I think we all knew it wouldn't get any better than that, so we all headed back in to Breakwater.
Jeff fired up the BBQ, and steak and chicken (with sides) were a nice finish to the day (slightly interrupted by Aaron, the F&G warden, showing up after having to kill a mountain lion that had gotten into someone's chicken coop. First mountain lion I've ever seen up close.) All in all, a really nice (if dry) day.
11-29: 2 dives: Hopkins Deep and the Barge, both with Larry and Carol on
XTSea, Ron and Rich on a borrowed 19' Whaler Dauntless, and me on Aurora.
Surface support was Otter and Rich's wife (pretty game woman, considering the
Started off waiting to wake up, waiting for Jeff, and waiting for Brenna and Brian. Not sure which took the longest (well, yeah, actually it was Jeff.) Brenna and Brian showed up with bad news: Brenna's drysuit wasn't ready. A call to Jeff revealed he wouldn't arrive until very late. So we launched the three boats and headed out towards the point. the commercial boats were tucked into Hopkins and closer. As we got out to the area offshore of Aumentos, it became kind of clear why. The swell and chop created a confused, rocking surface, and I didn't think that Rich's wife or Otter would really enjoy sitting in that. We bailed back to Hopkins Deep, and Carol and I dropped our hooks about 30 feet apart. Rich pulled up as well, dropped his, and drifted *way* back. They finally decided it wasn't hooked up so pulled it in, pulled forward, and dropped again. And again drifted back. I handed off my spare anchor and rode, they tried again with the different ground tackle, and managed to stay put. I decided to leave the camera on-board due to the rough conditions. Larry and Carol splashed and headed down, and I waited for Rich and Ron to get geared up and ready to go. Since we weren't sure where their anchor had been dropped, I had them swim over to my boat and to drop down my line. I checked out a particularly large sea nettle on the way down; it had a couple of commensal crabs hitchhiking in the frilly interior whatever it is that looks like ruffles from a tux shirt (hey; I'm no scientist), and of course, the camera was tucked nicely under the pilot's seat on-board the boat. Oh, well. Continued on down with Ron and Rich following (their drop wasn't that bad; I saw their hook as I descended.) I straightened out my hook, then swam back to Rich's and checked that it was recoverable (the Bruce copy type tends to hang up in rock.) Checked out the large boulders and spires around, and didn't really see anything all that interesting. Visibility was about 10 to 20, and came and went as the surge blew through. I meandered around for a while, then came across Carol's anchor. I worked my way in the direction I thought mine should be. Never found it. After a few minutes search, I started a greenwater ascent, and ascended directly into a line. Followed it up, and when I broke the surface, I found Carol's boat with Carol on board. She told me not to worry; everybody had offset one line (except Larry, who ran out of lines, and simply offset out into the middle of nowhere,) Ron and Rich were relaxing on my boat, and Rich's wife was curled up in the bow of the Dauntless reading a book.
I swam over and reboarded my boat, and as I was doffing gear, Ron hit me up: "Hey, John; what's white on the bottom and grey on top as it's looking up at you?" To which I replied "Huh?" White underside, grey on top, and Ron said triangular. I told him it could be a white, but more likely a harbor seal, since there were a couple of sea lions shredding molas within 100 feet of the boat. Rich said he thought it was a seal when he saw it.
Anyway, if I was still asleep when Ron asked his question, I wasn't a moment after. But, we all finally agreed it was probably a harbor seal (don't tell Ron, but it was probably a rabid, carnivorous, man-eating harbor seal...) 88 feet, 34 minutes, 54 degrees.
Had a bite to eat with Brenna and Brian, who had entertained themselves watching classes at Breakwater, and off on dive 2 with the same group (since Jeff hadn't arrived yet.) We decided to try the Barge, since neither Ron or Rich had been there, and I figured if vis was bad, it would be tougher to get lost there than, say, the Deep Shale (not saying I couldn't do it...)
We all dropped and hopped in; surface vis was OK at about 20 feet. This time everyone descended my line (I had dropped on the numbers), and I reached the bottom just after Larry and Carol, and found my anchor trying to enhance the Barge structure. It ended up balanced on the upright portion, held in place by a pile of chain. I moved the hook off the Barge, trying to get it far enough that nothing dragged on the structure. Carol tied off her reel (on my chain - last week it was the weightbelt; she like doing stuff to my hook, I guess), and everyone started the dive. I did a quick circuit around, almost losing the structure a couple of times. Vis ranged from a high of maybe 6 or 7 to less than an arm's length. As I returned to where my line crossed the wreck, I saw the line dragging a bit, so followed it out to move it further into the sand, and ran into a huge silt cloud. I swam in, and almost had a head-on collision with Carol who was following it back the other way. Two others were with her. I moved the hook another ten feet or so, then returned to the wreck and checked things out a little closer. Then off the wreck a bit, then another circuit. I realized I hadn't seen another diver since the near-collision, so I headed up. And, of course, found everyone already on the boats and relaxing. Not sure, but I think they were amused that I had actually stayed down for as long as I did. I didn't tell them that the 10 foot vis showed up after everyone had left (though it was a pretty confined area.) So overall vis was 2 to 10, depth 63, time 34, and temp 54.
Ran into Jeff heading out as we were coming back in (after a little incompetent prop evaluation trying to benefit the Dauntless); they reported Shale Island had worse vis than we got.
11-23: 2 dives: Aumentos, and the Steam engine. Larry and Carol on XTSea, Me,
Fofo, and Guy on Aurora, plus Brenna was nice enough to join us for dive 2.
Just before we pushed up the throttles, Carol's response to "Where to?" was a finger pointing out generally along Cannery Row. I was thinking Ballbuster, but as we got close, I could see that there was at least one, maybe two boats hooked up there (or at least looking as if they would be soon.) So, I suggested Aumentos (partially since I hadn't been there in a while.)
I figured on dropping the hook in the sand to the east, but couldn't find the wall. so, I dropped the hook a little ways away from Carol's, and figured on moving it when I saw where it was. Waited until Fofo and Guy (and Larry and Carol on the other boat) were geared up and hopped in and got my rig on. Just about then I heard an expletive from behind me, and saw Larry at the side of XTSea. The expletive was from his back-rolling in without closing his drysuit zipper. The three of us swam over in case he needed help getting out, but he made it himself. Carol decided to join our group rather than sit with Larry and Otter on the boat.
Surface water looked reasonably clear, and improved as we dropped. At the bottom, a) it turned out that I wasn't too far from where I was trying to drop the hook, and b) vis was about 35 to 40 feet, hazy, but reasonably bright. Occasional cloudy stuff would move in and out (or appear and disappear; not really sure), cutting visibility to as little as about 20 feet, then disappear again, returning vis to 40. Did bit of a tour around the area, repeatedly running into Guy and Fofo, then Carol, then, well, you get the idea. Lots of perch (mostly striped, but few piles and some smaller ones that were too skittish for me to see well enough to ID, not that I could anyway.) Several rockfish (Fofo and Guy saw what they said was a huge school of blues and yellowtail; I missed that.) Carol apparently found a ling and a cab. Lots of smallish kelp greenling. Lots of black rockfish kind of hanging out in little exposed cracks on the rock faces. I almost got out of the dive being able to say I only saw 6 specimens of 2 slug species, but just before I came up I ran across a Peltodoris, a Doriopsilla, and a San Diego. The original 2 were a small collection of really small Flabellina trilineata and a single Triopha catalinae. Carol (with Guy's help) recovered a pocket weightbelt that had apparently been down quite a while. Oh, yeah: she recovered it by tying it to my anchor line (with an SMB, but still...) Dive stats: 61 feet, 48 minutes, 52 degrees (that felt a lot colder.)
On the way back in (with Larry going "squish, squish, squish..."), we stopped to talk to Chuck and Linda on Mola Mountain, then ran into a pod of about 3 dozen Risso Dolphins who were rapidly heading in towards the Breakwater beach. They turned up along Cannery Row well inshore of the Metridium Field, passed, oh, about Hidden Beach, then headed back offshore towards deeper water.
As we tied up, Brenna appeared (in a flash of light and a puff of smoke... not really), so we got a bite to eat, then she loaded gear and got dressed while I , uh, pretty much killed time on the SI. I loaned Larry a spare undergarment (and managed to restrain myself from making open fly jokes), and we loaded up for dive 2.
Carol wanted to do the deep shale, and suggested Anchors 2 and 3, which I nixed on the basis of too many divers on a really small site. I offered up the Steam Engine, and everyone agreed. Water had *really* laid down since the morning dive: no wind chop, very little slow rolling swell. We both dropped the hooks, and I motored back to adjust scope. Surface water was pretty milky, but I could see a long ways down the line. Guy and Fofo dropped first, followed by Brenna and me. I untangled the chain from the hook, then took a look around to see where we were. Brenna showed up a minute or two later (ear problems), and I saw Larry's strobes firing out at the pipe. Brenna and I swam over, and she started taking pics. I took a look around the area, then headed back over to the ridge. Took a look along past the Steam Engine proper, then back a ways past our anchors. The lines were running on the opposite direction from the descent, and had tangled. I put my camera down, and hefted my anchor over to, then over Carol's line. Oops, wrong way; it was now twisted twice. Straightened it out, reset my hook, and continued sightseeing a bit. Found quite a few Tritonia festiva, several Flabellina iodinea, and all the usual slugs. Out of time, I headed up, while Brenna continued her dive for a while. Caught up with Fofo and Guy at about 30 feet, and beat them to safety stop depth. Did the time, and hopped on-board. Let out a bit more scope to get separation, and eventually everyone made it back (no extra weights this time.) 79 feet, 34 minutes, 52 degrees. Interestingly, I discovered that I hadn't zipped up my undergarment on this dive, but felt warmer than on the first dive.
11-22: 2 dives, Trevor's Pinnacle and Shale Island, both with Brenna and
Chuck reported snotty conditions at Ballbuster, so we decided to do Trevor's again. Significant swell, quite a bit of wind chop, but no discernible current. I had a little trouble finding the sand channel, and figured that dropping close to the numbers should still put the hook in the sand. It did, but just barely. Bottom vis about 40. Swam along the seaward face; Guy's rockfish crack was not as busy as usual, but still had a dozen or so fish. I spent a bunch of time in the sand, looking for the burrowing shrimp (no joy), then spent a bunch of time hunting for a juvenile Treefish that's usually there, but didn't find that either. Eventually ran low on time and headed up, and settled for shooting some small sea nettles that were at the safety stop. 73 feet, 38 minutes, 54 degrees.
Dive 2 was Shale Island, in calmer conditions. Dark was the order of the dive. Surface vis was crappy, and it didn't get a lot better at the bottom. Brenna said 10, I thought 15. Her estimate is probably closer than mine. I found and pointed out the Yellowfin Fringehead on a little point, then we continued on to Marcos's Rockfish Convention Center (either the Swell Shark egg case on the point has gone missing, or I overlooked it. Didn't see it in either case.) Once at the Convention Center, I was somewhat disappointed: there weren't many fish there. Brenna started taking pics of the Copper and Gopher rocks (at least I think she was shooting those), and then a few blues showed up. A large ling was sitting on the bottom, but didn't stick around. More and more fish showed up as time passed, until there was about half the number as usual. Headed back to the Knob, then back towards the anchor. Took a look for the other yellowfin whose home I know, but couldn't find it. Couldn't even find the rock. Dunno. 60 feet, 47 minutes, 52 degrees.
11-16: 2 dives: Somewhere near Trevor's Pinnacle with me on Aurora and Larry
and Carol (and Otter as surface support) on XTSea; Trevor's Pinnacle proper with
Larry and Carol on XTSea, me on Aurora, and Jeff on Nitrox (Pam, Otter and
Jeff's new puppy Roxy all played surface support.)
Jeff was running a little late, so he told us to head out and dive, as he would probably skip the first one anyway. Larry, Carol and I headed out towards Trevors, but I decided at the last minute to try and find the bottle I had placed on a rock what, two, three months ago? Hit the numbers I had marked, and we geared up and headed in. Water looked clear and blue from the boat, but once in, it was a milky haze, limiting vis to about 15 or 20 feet, clearing to 30 to 40 at the bottom. Vertical vis was actually less; I could only make out details like sand ripples from about 20 to 25 feet above the bottom. Long story short, I never found the bottle. Never found anything that looked remotely like the area the bottle should have been in. In truth, given where we ended up, I think I was lucky to find any rocks at all in the sand. Still, the dive was made by a sea lion who would stand on his nose and spin and twirl, barking the whole time. Then he'd dash off back to the surface, and return a minute later and do it again. And, true to form, the strobe adjustment on my housing decided to lock up, (different this time in that it seemed to be firing at random power settings.) 91 feet (hmmm... sounds too deep for the bottle now that I think about it), 26 minutes, 50 degrees. Felt colder as I was stupid and forgot to zip my undergarment before zipping up the drysuit.
Jeff and Roxy pulled up a bit after I got back up, and rafted next to my boat. Roxy, seeing Otter on XTSea, decided to try and swim over to visit. Jeff put the kibosh on that idea.
Surface interval was a sandwich at the deli, and some experimenting with a battery change on the housing. Got it working after removing and reinserting the battery several times.
Dive 2 was at Trevor's Pinnacle proper, as Jeff had never been there. Dropped hooks with Ok separation, and adjusted rode to increase it. Water looked bluer than the first dive, but was actually hazier (10-15 feet at the surface.) The bottom water was the same 30 to 40 feet. Moved my hook to get my line off the rocks; it ended up rising nicely through a channel. Headed along the east wall, seeing no fish until I got to Guy's rockfish crevice/corner thingie. That was occupied by a mix of perhaps a dozen gophers and coppers, with some kelps and blues thrown in. The resident Treefish showed up a little late. As I was looking at something, a male kelp greenling chased a smallish kelp rockfish out of a crack at a fairly high rate of speed. Other than that, didn't see anything all that unusual. 77 feet, 39 minutes, 50 degrees.
11-15: 2 dives: Solo at Steam Engine, and Shale Island with Guy.
Nice flat water once I launched; headed out to see what things were like near the Point. Ran into Chuck; he reported that Ballbuster was about 30 feet with some current. Since I was solo, I decided that current would not be ideal, so I headed back in to dive the Shale.
Hooked up at the Steam Engine, and got stuff ready. Hopped in and the water at the surface was hopeful: about 15 feet, milky and green, but still reasonably bright. Heading down the line, it cleared to 25 or 30 feet, a touch on the dark side, but not bad at all. Checked on the pipe since my line was hanging across the top of it; a fringehead is there, but I'm pretty sure it's a different one than before. Checked along the ledge (face and top) and while there were a lot of slugs, there was nothing that unusual: P. nobilis, D. sandiegensis, D. albopunctata, T. catalinae, a couple G. heathi, and a few Berthella californica. Almost no fish, aside from the usual bottom-dwellers: Black Eye Gobies, Ronquils, and Painted Greenlings. A nice relaxing (if somewhat cold) dive. Nothing at all unusual. 84 feet, 32 minutes, 50 degrees. Chuck and Clinton were anchored up a couple of hundred feet away when I hit the surface.
Had a somewhat interesting thing happen re-boarding: I bumped the ladder with my power inflator, and it hit just right to let a half second burst go from my Dive-Alert. Chuck apparently heard it, based on the DSC radio call I got a few seconds later.
Back at the ramp, I ran into Guy, who decided to join me for dive 2. We headed out to Shale Island, after a brief talk with Chuck and Clinton (just up from their dive) who reported a Dirona on red bryozoan on Anchors 2&3. Despite the temptation, I wanted to check out Marcos' Rockfish Convention Center again, and look for the two Yellowfin Fringeheads (the ones that I can actually locate), so we headed over to Shale Island.
Hopped in and found the water was a bit cloudier, surface vis maybe 5 feet or so. At the bottom, I straightened out the chain and relocated the anchor, and took a look around. 15 feet or so, and surgy (somewhat surprising since the surface was pretty flat.) Looked for the fringehead that should have been to the right of the hook, and couldn't find it. Headed over to the one to the left, and managed to find it, but it was staying pretty well tucked into its hole. Continued on to the Knob (about halfway between the numbers and the Knob, there's a Swell Shark egg case, on a point, that looked fairly recently deposited.) Did a quick circuit around the Knob, not finding anything of interest. Heade out to the depression, and was surprised at the number of fish: Probably 50 or more blues, blacks, kelps, gophers and vermilions, with a couple of kelp greenling thrown in for a change. The largish lingcod did not make an appearance. I did find a Treefish tucked back under an overhang, but it was too far in to get a shot of it. Headed back to the Knob, then back towards the anchor, finding what I think were a couple of flatworms on the ledge (need to inspect the pics still.) The fringehead I had found still wasn't cooperating, so I took another look for the second one, and found him closer to the anchor from where I remembered (meaning the drop was off, most likely.) Took a few pics of that one, and Guy appeared, telling me he was cold and heading up. Took a few more shots, and followed Guy up the line. 60 feet, 45 minutes, 52 degrees (Guy had 50.)
Back at the ramp, there were reports of a diver fatality on the beach. I have no details on the incident. [postscript: Diver's pulse was obtained en-route to the hospital. She was alive last I heard, but no reports of condition.]
10-26: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle and the Steam Engine, both with me solo on
Aurora, and Larry, Carol, and Kathy on XTSea.
Waited around for a while for the fog to clear (it was thick enough to mostly obscure the hotel on the other side of the park), and to await Jeff, who ended up a no-show due to a growing family (yes, the new addition has fur. Animal fur.)
Once we got going, we headed out towards the Point, as yesterday's red tide episode and surge reports had all of us looking to get deep and out near less confined water. Ended up at Trevor's Pinnacle.
Anchoring up, and adjusting scope for separation went reasonably smoothly, but on drifting out, I found a fair current running. Carol offered to put out her line, since she was further back. I hopped in, and as I was gearing up and waiting for others, found the current variable from no big deal to really tough to make headway against. Made my way to the anchor line and straddled it, waiting for XTSea to get their people in the water. Once we were all in, I headed down through clear water tinted slightly green, about 30 foot vis (as near as I could tell.) Vis dropped as I neared the tops of the rocks, to maybe 15 feet with what appeared to be shell pieces floating around in the surge, then cleared once I got over the sand to about 25 or so. Occasionally the surge would blow through and you could watch the sand be picked up and dispersed through the water column, and vis dropped, then slowly cleared again after the storm was over. Started off rigging for wide angle as a large bull sealion was doing weird poses just at the edge of visibility, but he left as I started closing in. Shot a few anemone shots, stuff like that, then moved to the east wall. Guy's rockfish hotel corner/crevice/whatever had a great assortment of fish, gophers coppers, kelps, blues, a large Treefish, a bunch of Painted Greenling, and a few sculpins. As I was trying to get some wide angle (relatively wide angle anyway) shots of the treefish, a smallish ling swam down from the top of the crevice, and lay down on the Treefish. Deciding it was about time to head back up, I started moving towards the anchor line, and ran across a 3 foot wide Bat Ray. Got off a half dozen shots, down to about face-only, before it lifted off and swam out over the rocks. So, figuring the dive was an overall plus, I headed back up. Spent the safety stop trying to figure out if it was a current I was flagpoled in, or really, really long period surge. Eventually decided it was both. Made for a good show with tiny jellies drifting by, but I didn't see any of the little yellow wriggly things.
As Carol got her current line under control, I ran out to the point to try and get a shot of the waves breaking over the rocks there (largely unsuccessful, I think.) As I wrpped up that exercise, Carol came on the radio saying that their hook was stuck. Ran back over, and put Carol on my boat, and hopped on hers. A couple of tugs upwind and upcurrent (direction being, I think, largely a matter of luck), and it was loose.
Wanted to keep dive 2 short, so we decided that close and deep would be good. Ran out to the Steam Engine, and dropped the hook. Not sure where Carol dropped, but I offset towards the ramp before I let mine go. Watching the GPS, I saw I was hooked up, but further from the numbers than seemed normal. And again, noticed current running. Carol put out her line, and since I was further back and well offset, I put mine out as well. Hopped in (didn't really notice the surface clarity), then headed down. The bottom was clearer than I was expecting - maybe 15 to 20, and hazy. And surgy. And, I saw my anchor had dragged a ways, and hooked up on a little tiny depression by one fluke tip and one stock tip. Moved the hook to a better spot, and started trying to figure out where I was. I knew the ledge should have been right from the anchor, so I headed out that way. After a bit of a swim, I came to a ledge that looked about the right size. I placed some stuff on the ledge to show where to leave on the way back, and hung a left along the ledge. Came upon the Engine in a short while. Worked my way back along the ledge looking for slug, with surprisingly little success. Passed the mark and worked further down, then decided to look for the pipe. Didn't find it. And working back, didn't find the ledge again. Somehow, though, I managed to run into the propeller. At least I knew where I was. Unfortunately, I was also out of bottom time, though I had ample air. I headed on a bearing for the Engine, and began an ascent, figuring the current would start swinging me back towards the boat. I had to estimate the distance, since I couldn't see the bottom, but figured it would be better to be a bit short rather than long, since Carol's boat should have been closer than mine. Did a brief safety stop, and hit the surface to see where things were. Pretty good guess: about 150 feet out, directly upcurrent and upwind of my boat. Dropped back down and drifted out the last of the safety stop time, and swam the last 100 feet or so on the surface.
10-25: 2 dives; Pinnacle of Doom area (off Lovers) solo; then Trevor's
Pinnacle with Guy.
Got out on the water, and headed out to take a look at Pt Pinos (despite the really impressive waves breaking over the point at Coral St.) On the way, ran into Chuck, who reported 30 feet and a bit of current at Ballbuster (and a whale 50 feet from his boat.) Pinos would have been diveable, but a long period swell would have made it way too surgy to shoot pictures, so I retreated back into the bay, and dropped the hook near the Pinnacle of Doom (or thereabouts.) Top water looked, well, sort of OK, I guess, but the bottom was pretty thoroughly stirred up. Visibility was about 10 to 15, highly particulate, and surgy to boot. Lots of surfgrass floating all over the place. Gave up on the camera after about 3 frames, and cruised through the rocks, looking for anything other than suspended sand. Lots of perch out and about: Piles, rubberlips, rainbows, blacks and kelps, and a few blue and gopher rocks. Almost no slugs. 43 feet, 35 minutes, 54 degrees. Ended up surfacing way away from the boat, despite not really straying too far from the anchor. Not sure how that worked.
Ran into Guy shortly after I docked; he got a fill and collected and loaded his gear as I snacked on a half sandwich from the deli. I wanted to wait for Chuck's report from Shale Island before I decided to dive there; he came up as I tired of waiting. He reported 15 to 20, which was good enough, but said a red tide had moved in as they were finishing up. I figured he was making it out to be worse than it was, so Guy and I headed out to take a look. On the way out, you could see the brown, but it didn't look all that bad. As we neared the island, the water turned *really* ugly: it looked like we were boating in chocolate milk. So, Plan B was enacted, which was to go look for someplace else. That ended up being Trevor's Pinnacle; as we came up, there was a bit of swell, clearish surface water, and no current. Dropped the hook, headed down, and it looked pretty good. Guy called vis at 20 to 25; I'd call it closer to 30, but hazy. Moved the hook out a bit to get the line off the rocks, then shrugged at Guy, and headed for the south edge of the sand channel. And immediately found a crevice kelpfish hanging out on the sand. Took several shots (none very good), and then disturbed some kind of burying shrimp. As I was trying to get it to stay on the surface long enough to get a pick, I scared up a second one, got a shot or two of that one (for ID purposes; more accurately something to compare the book pics with so I can state with conviction that I have no idea what it is.) Shortly after, I found a second crevice kelpfish on the rock, but it was fairly well masked by algae, and flapping all over in the surge, so no pics of that guy. Did a tour of the rocks around the sand channel, took a brief look up on top, then headed up. On the safety stop, I noticed that a lot of the crap in the water was swimming: little tiny gelatinous critters with a yellow core that you could see wriggling as they swam. Also spotted a small (probably about dime-sized) jelly, and had a rather frustrating time trying to get Guy to see it (he's looking around for white sharks or whales or something, and I'm trying to point to a tiny translucent critter.) 72 feet, 40 minutes, 54 degrees.
10-19: 2 dives: off Pt Pinos with Brenna, Konichi, and Mike; Trevor's
Pinnacle with Mike, plus Harry Dionna and Mark all on scooters off Harry's boat.
Brenna was supposed to meet us about nine, which gave me time to wander around and talk to people; ran into and chatted with Steve, Jim, Rick (who I mistakenly labeled Kirk in yesterday's report; sorry bout that), Harry, Dionna, Mark, Kyle, and quite a few others. Brenna called a bit after nine saying she was running late, but would be there shortly.
Headed out for Dive 1 with Brenna, Konichi, and Mike on board, and realized that I hadn't marked the site from yesterday, just after deleting my trail from the GPS. Harry was having motor problems, so we were delayed a bit "helping" (I don;t think I did anything, but it decided to at least sort of run when I turned the key.) Got out to the Lighthouse area, lined up like yesterday, motored around for a bit looking for the same drop-off Mike and I had seen, but had to settle for an area with less spectacular relief. Just prior to us splashing, another boat pulled up (father and son team that I had assisted when their boat died a couple of months ago), asked what the site name was (there wasn't one), and if we would mind if they dove there. No problem, so they dropped their anchor a ways off from where we were swinging. Water looked really clear from the surface, and it appeared that there was a touch of surface current running in toward the beach. Got people in, and headed down into spectacular vis. Clear water, 40 to 50 foot horizontal vis, but a fair amount of surge. I figured I was diving solo, but Mike shadowed me, which was unfortunate, as I ended up getting pretty thoroughly lost. Like yesterdays' dive in this area, I saw very little to take pics of, but had a great dive. About halfway in, milky water either moved in, or I swam into it, and vis dropped to a hazy 25 feet or so. Saw the other boats anchor, just kissing the bottom, the line hung up in kelp directly above (but way up.) Since it didn't seem to be going anywhere, I tried to wedge it, found it wouldn't, and finally left it alone. About the same critter list as yesterday (though Brenna saw some other stuff - a Limacia, some trilineata.) Ascended with a bunch of kelp as a reference and hit the surface about 150 yds behind the boat (and directly down current. Of course.) 59 feet, 40 minutes, 52 degrees. Back on board, I watched the trail of bubbles from the father and son miss their anchor and go way past, and decided to make sure they made it back. We were just pulling the hook when the Express called the Coasties reporting they'd been flagged down by a fisherman with a dead engine. Long story short, the fishermen got the boat running just about the time the CG 47 MLB was leaving the dock. The bubbles eventually reversed course and the two surfaced about 100 yds from their boat. We waited until they were back at the boat, then went to see if we could find the group Brenna was meeting at Coral St. at noon (it was about 12:30. Oops.)
Contact made, and their meeting arrangements set, we headed back in to drop Brenna and Konichi, and grab a bite to eat.
Just me and Mike for dive 2, and I really wanted to do Shale Island for some reason (probably should have.) Even the sailboat race cooperated, shifting out more in front of the Aquarium. Then I saw the surface water at the Island, which looked like strong black tea. Decided to join Harry and group at Trevor's Pinnacle. Anchored out in front of Harry, scoped the rode to sit well behind him, and got in. Water again looked clear, with a quarter to half knot current following the wind south-eastish. Good vis, around 40 feet, I'd say. All the usual stuff and almost none of the unusual (Mike found a few rock crabs tucked back in a crack, and I found a tiny juvenile C-O sole, I think.) Every now and then Harry, Dionna and Mark would buzz past scootering. I ran out of time well before air, and Mike followed me up. 75 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees. My cell phone rang, it was Brenna calling from Coral St. asking if I wanted to have a beer before heading home; I agreed. Mike and I waited for Harry to get his boat running then headed back in. Chop and swell had picked up noticeably while we were down.
Weekend photo tally: 32 frames shot, none worth publishing. Hmmmph.
10-18: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Me, Dave, David, and Matt on my boat;
and Jim and Rick on Jim's, then some random spot off Pt. Pinos with just myself
After missing a weekend due to weather, made it back down. Planning to dive
solo since I hadn't heard from Mike; a phone call revealed he'd arrive around
noon. Ran into Davey and a bunch of tagalongs, and the guys decided to join me
while the wives and kids did other stuff. Jim requested assistance in locating
the spot I put him on a few weeks ago (he's GPS challenged), so we headed out to
Trevor's Pinnacle. Leaving the harbor, the water looked about like Diet Coke
(didn't check flavoring.) Arrived at the numbers, dropped the hook, and the boat
drifted out north (opposite of usual.) I also noticed that despite the meager
wind, the line was pretty taut. A current check (dropping a tag line in) didn't
show much of anything, so the gear went in, and we suited up. Hopping in, we
found a slight current running out north, which accounted for direction of the
boats swing, but not really the force. Wind appeared to be from the northwest or
west. Jim and Rick headed down while my guys dallied on the surface adjusting
gear. They surfaced a few minutes later, way off to one side. Not sure what that
was all about. As they swam back to the boats, I headed down and found that the
current was running throughout the water column. Nice clear water, though: top
vis was over 20, and bottom was 40 to 50. I circled the sand patch looking for
slugs, but only the big three were out (Peltodoris nobilis, Cadlina
luteomarginata, and Doriopsilla albopunctata.) I did find one fish that I have
to look up; pretty sure it was a poacher, but not sure what kind. Other than
that, pretty standard stuff: Blues, Olive or Yellowtail, Gophers, and Copper
rockfish, a couple of kelp greenling, a few perch, a bazillion Black Eyed Gobies
and Painted Greenling. No Longfin Sculpins this time. Started getting low on air
so headed back up, and found the anchor line doing the big corkscrew thing
again. 76 feet, 34 minutes, 52 degrees. Jim and Rick surfaced way downcurrent,
but declined a pickup.
The entire group on my boat decided to visit the aquarium, but Mike arrived just as we were unloading their gear. Grabbed a bite to eat, and headed out for a dive someplace. Ended up hopping just around the corner (likely too surgy to shoot pics), retreated a bit around the point, and ended up dropping the hook on some likely structure due north of the Lighthouse. Though the hook was dropped in about 50 feet, the bottom reading had been bouncing between 40 and 80, so I was hopeful we'd find something. We did. 50 foot vis in an area with big block-shaped boulders cut through with fissures. Lots of good sized rockfish (mostly blues, gophers and yellowtails), a couple of lings, Mike found a smallish cabezon. Lots of juvie rockfish, and a few perch and greenlings. Nothing unusual, and not much that struck me as really photogenic, either; that was okay, as I was enjoying just swimming around looking at stuff. 71 feet, 40 minutes, 52 degrees (but for some reason, I froze on the dive.)
10-5: 3 dives:
dive 1:Ballbuster with Daniel, Mike and Mike (our version of Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl) and myself on Aurora; Jeff, Frank and Aaron on Nitrox; and Larry and Carol on XTSea;
dive 2: Anchor 1 with Mike, Daniel and myself on Aurora; Jeff and Frank on Nitrox; Larry, Carol, and Aaron on XTSea;
dive 3: solo on the Barge
Given the forecast, was anticipating the worst, but it looked pretty much the same as yesterday: flat water in the bay, and knee-high (or slightly higher) waves on the beach. No monster swells.
Everybody that was supposed to arrive did, eventually, and we headed out past the three charter boats off the Aquarium and Hopkins, and on to Ballbuster. I was slightly ahead of the other two boats, and we were sort-of planning to run three abreast up to the pinnacle and drop, but I kind of screwed that up by missing the pinnacle altogether. Eventually we got the three boats hooked up, and people in the water, and headed down. Top water looked pretty fair: clearish, but with more of a blue tinge than green, and three to four foot rollers making for a bit of a roller coaster feel. The vis faded pretty quickly as we descended into green stuff, eventually hitting the bottom, where it was maybe 20 or so feet, milky, and pretty dark. Swam around looking for photogenic stuff, then odd stuff, coming up with a rather surprising lack of either. Eventually reached 1 minute to NDL, and headed up (or rather down) my anchor line (it dropped from where it was hooked to the base of the pinnacle, and ran along the bottom for a bit before rising back up to the boat. 101 feet, a touch of surface current, a bit of surge down to the base, 29 minutes (I spent a lot of time at the bottom), 54 degrees (which felt colder because I was an idiot and forgot to zip up my undergarment.)
Pulled my hook, and waited while Jeff pulled his, and checked out the mola frisbee games going on while Carol pulled in her current line and pulled her anchor. About the time we got ready to head in, the Coast Guard issued a Pan Pan call for a disabled boat being washed towards Asilomar beach. I headed out there, Jeff sort of followed, and Carol, I think, just tried to figure out what was going on. Found the boat straight away (for some reason, they had put out an anchor, but were pulling it as I motored up) and notified the CG, they asked that I remain on station until the 47 boat arrived. The call went out from the 41 boat a minute later that they were underway. I got my line ready in case the boat got too close to the breakers, but it turned out not to be necessary. Jeff and Carol took off just after the 41 boat arrived; I stayed to watch how they were going to hook up the tow (turned out to be less interesting than I thought it was going to be.) Jeff, meanwhile, found a large (6 foot) mola out near Pt. Pinos, Carol motored over to see it; it was (of course) gone when I arrived.
So, back to the dock for a half a sandwich, watch the boat that got towed in get reamed in the bit of the post-action inspection I saw, swap tanks, and we headed out again, bound for Anchor 1. Which, as usual put us somewhat within the sailboat race course, but what the hell. Jeff dropped somewhat off the numbers (accidentally), I dropped on them, and Carol dropped near them. Her anchor ended up about 10 feet from mine, wrapped once around my line. Jeff said it was also wrapped twice around his. No clue how that would have happened. Anyway, the bottom was a milky 20 to 25, maybe a touch less; I saw nothing of interest except a young adult wolf eel (adult colors, but a head about as big as three fingers together) who was hiding amidst the pile of chain (and hiding pretty efficiently, too: I couldn't even make out the hole it disappeared into after seeing it vanish twice.) Carol found what appeared to be an egg-carrying female rock crab, also in the chain. Saw what I thought was going to be some interesting new slug or slug-type critter, but it turned out to be a rounded bit of surfgrass attached to some kind of filament stuff, flapping in the surge. A group of sea lions came down to play just as I ran out of bottom time. 80 feet, 33 minutes, 54 degrees.
After a bit of an SI, I decided to do one more dive, and dropped in on the Barge. Vis was the best of the weekend: reasonably clear, and about 30 feet horizontal. Nothing all that interesting, but a nice relaxing dive, with nobody else (except for a couple of sea lions) to avoid. 66 feet, 40 minutes, 55 degrees.
10-4: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Mike and Kirk, and Mola Mountain with
Offshore Marine Forecast called for big (8 to 14') west swell, and 10 to 20 knot winds. Was surprised to see the bay looking very flat (though that can be deceiving from the highway.) Breakwater lot was nearly empty (perhaps 4 trailer spots and 2/3 of the single spaces occupied) at just before 9.
Kirk arrived shortly thereafter (Mike was already on-hand watching a friend go through open water), so we geared up and got underway reasonably quickly. Perhaps a little too quickly, as upon arriving at Trevor's Pinnacle, found Sanctuary just picking up divers. Drifted for a while, then eventually figured thay were a bit off of my numbers, so called to ask if we'd be crowding them. They said they were pulling the hook, so we waited until they were underway, then dropped on my numbers. Water at the surface looked really clear (25 feet?), but it deteriorated as we descended. At the bottom, it was maybe 25 to 30, but with big globs of whale snot everywhere. Worked the eastish rock for the most part, finding nothing all that unusual except for an adult and a juvenile (I think) longfin sculpin. Mike found a decent sized lingcod, but I decided to mess with it before deciding to take pics, so it got irritated and left before I got a decent shot. Other than those, I mostly took scenery shots for the most part. 77 feet, 41 minutes, 55 degrees.
Mike's friend was done for the day by the time we got back, so Mike decided to bail on dive 2. Kirk and I headed out and decided to dive Mola Mountain (since I didn't see anything there last week due to an unsuccessful search for a lens someone had dropped.) Top was snottier than dive 1, and the bottom, while not as saturated with big snot, was still hazier, limiting vis to 15 with occasional openings to 20. No Diaphorodorises, very few slugs at all actually. A few rockfish, several perch, but the saving grace was a juvenile Treefish. Spent quite a while waiting for it to get close enough to get a shot, and ended up starting to get cramps, which made the ascent interesting, to say the least. 89 feet, 44 minutes, 55 degrees.
Considering the forecast was 12 to 14 west swell, the 1 to 2 foot stuff in the bay was pretty pleasant. Oh, and there was a report about someone seeing a white shark eating something about bird sized (size estimates ranged from 10 to 15 feet, for the shark, not the bird; go figure.)
9-28: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Torie (Pat and Joey played surface
support), and Mola
Mountain (sort of) with Pat, accompanied by Larry and Carol on XTSea.
I was waiting for some buddies who were supposed to leave home around 7:30 (turned out to be more like 8), so I killed time, while Larry and Carol took off for their first dive. My Pat, Torie, and the Joe-ster arrived about a half hour later, and we got underway a short while later. We headed out along Cannery Row, spotting a raft of otters off MacAbee, but Joey wanted jellyfish (and peanut butter fish too, thanks to Torie.) Saw XTSea at Trevor's Pinnacle, and stopped by to say hi to Otter (the dog, not the oversize water rats), then headed out just beyond the point, but never found a jelly for Joe to look at. There was a fair rolling swell out there, and Joe was starting to get worried about how rough it was, so we retreated back into the bay.
Larry and Carol were up, so we dropped my hook ahead of theirs, and Torie and I hopped in. Water was a little cloudy at the surface, and the bottom didn't show up til we were about 30 feet above it. I reset the anchor, and caught up with Torie, who was working her way along a large boulder. I moseyed along the sand a few feet off, pocketing a few shells to give to Joey (who was had wanted us to have found Spongebob Squarepants.) Once I had a decent gift, I started checking the walls, looking for a Dirona or few to show Torie to verify it was what she saw a couple of weeks ago. Never found one of those either. Actually, never really found much of anything noteworthy, but had a good time looking. Lots of Peltodorises, lots of Cadlina luteomarginata, quite a few Doriopsilla albopunctata, a few San Diegos and a couple of clowns, and several Geitodorises rounded out the slugs. Lots of kelp rockfish, several gophers and coppers, a bunch of blues up high, a bunch of sculpins (probably scalyheads), a few yellowtail rocks, a single juvenile treefish, a single longfin sculpin, various perch, and a few (or one highly mobile) kelp greenling. Along, of course with the other requisite bottom fish, the sanddabs, blackeye gobies, and painted greenling. 77 feet, 34 minutes, 52 degrees.
Torie was freezing, and I was pretty chilled when we got back on the boat. Joe said he was getting hungry, and so was I, so we weighed anchor and headed back in. On the way, I caught some chatter about dolphins on the VHF, as it turned out, they were about a half mile away. I altered course, and a minute later we ran across a large pod of Risso dolphins, probably well over 50, several of whom were breaching (which I've never seen Risso's do before.) Joe pretty much ignored them (Torie was thrilled), but he remembered he had seen them at dinner, though, so I guess it made some kind of impression. Had lunch at the deli, and got ready for dive 2.
Pat suggested Hopkins Deep for Dive 2, I amended it to Mola Mountain (so I could check for the Diaphorodoris lirulatocauda from a month ago), and Carol agreed, se we motored out and dropped the hook. Another boat was anchored a couple of hundred feet off the site, and began pulling their hook as we geared up. They asked us to be on the lookout for a wide angle lens someone had dropped from the boat, so I told them to stop pulling, asked Pat to make sure my hook was set and pullable, geared up and swam over to them. I dropped straight down onto sand, glad the 5 to 10 on top cleared to about 30 at the bottom. I did a bit of searching back opposite their anchor line, then headed out in the direction their line was paid out. Spent most of the dive over sand, seeing mostly tube anemone, hermit crabs, the odd sand star, and about a billion sanddabs. The few rocks I came across were devoid of Diaphorodoris (and pretty much everything else, save Metridiums.) Eventually, I figured I had missed both my and Carols anchors, and had no idea where I was, so I headed up, shot a bearing to the boats (way the hell off), dropped down to 15 feet and started swimming back. When I thought I had gone somewhere near far enough, I popped back up to refine the bearing, and found Pat on the surface about 15 feet away. The boat was still a ways off, and I assumed he was low on air, so we did the surface swim together. Turns out he had gone down the line and reset the hook, then worked his way back along the line on the bottom. He found the lens, and not exactly sure of where he was, headed up to find himself next to my boat. He swam over, returned the lens, then dropped straight down (into the sand I found) and essentially did the same thing I did: missed the anchors, and way overshot where he wanted to be. My dive showed 82 feet, 30 minutes, 54 degrees.
9-27: 2 dives: Ballbuster with Holly, Joel, Brenna and Brian; Shale Island with Brenna and Brian.
Spent a bit of time in the lot swapping Holly's first stage out, and rigging Brenna's camera for a strobe. Splashed the boat, and headed out for Trevor's Pinnacle. Unfortunately, the Express was already there, and it looked like divers were just going in. Repositioned to Ballbuster, in half-mile fog. Had an issue with the camera; the O-ring wouldn't seat, and I couldn't close the back. Decided to forego pics (not really much choice), and left the camera on the boat. Hopped in, and everyone headed down about the same time, with me in the lead (and pretty much oblivious to everyone else.) Apparently, Holly was underweighted and returned to the boat to scrounge lead, and Brenna had ear troubles on the way down. I didn't know anything about either of these incidents. I did check the anchor, though. Swam a circuit around the pinnacle, checked out most of the top sections; I never really saw all that much of interest. Brenna reported about a dozen Dirona albolineata, including a white form and brown form pair mating. Got buzzed by a 2.5' Lingcod, then pointed out a largish Vermilion rockfish for Joel to take pics of. Just before he got in position, Holly came buzzing down the rock face, literally chasing the fish (arm outstretched, trying to grab it.) Joel did manage to get shots of a badly positioned Treefish, I think. Also spotted a smallish China Rock. 101 feet, 32 minutes, 52 degrees. Vis ranging from about 20 feet at the surface to probably 50 or so at the bottom.
Brenna, Brian and I had a bite to eat at the deli, then headed out for Shale Island so I could drop in on Marcos's Rockfish Convention Center. During the SI, I managed to get the housing to close, and a quick dunk test looked OK. Motored out and dropped the hook at the spot near the Knob. Hopped in just as the USAF Thunderbirds took off from Monterey Airport (Salinas Airshsow weekend.) Surface water was much cloudier compared to the first dive, perhaps 5 to 7 feet horizontal. At the bottom it was a milky 30 or so. I had dropped the anchor a little short of the ledge, so took a couple of minutes to drag the hook off the Island. That done, I immediately spotted a red octopus trying hard to be invisible. Took a few pics, then went off to try and locate the Yellowfin Fringeheads. I was unable to find either one, despite having a really good idea where they were. Came back to the octo, shot a couple more pics, and was joined by Brenna and Brian. Eventually, I left to check the RCC, which, it turned out, was still occupied. On the way, I ran across a couple more octopus. The RCC was occupied by a large school of coppers with a few blues and kelps mixed in, perhaps a half dozen vermilions ranging from adult to about a year or so juveniles, a couple of Kelp Greenling (one of each gender), an adult Treefish who posed quite cooperatively, and about a three foot Ling. Probably other fish as well, but I was somewhat overwhelmed. Headed back over to the Knob, and found another octopus. On the way back to the anchor, found another one (or one of the previous ones again.) Checked the Fringehead dens, and located both of them (have no idea why I couldn't earlier, as I was looking at the same spots.) Spent a bit of time trying to get the second one out of it's hole, pretty much unsuccessfully. Eventually decided to call it a dive and headed up. 58 feet, 48 minutes, 54 degrees.
9-14: 2 dives; Trevor's Pinnacle and Pinnacle of Doom, both solo
Arrived at Breakwater at 8, and still didn't get a spot in the lower lot. One opened up several minutes later, though, so I got to move the truck down. On a whim, I called the guy who was supposed to be diving with me today (he earned the nickname Darryl in Hawaii, as in Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl); he sounded hung over and just awakened by the phone.
Dive 1: Headed out to see where the clear water was. Unfortunately, you can't really do that from the surface, so I opted for Trevor's Pinnacle. Had a bit of trouble nailing the numbers, but dropped about 20 feet away. As it turned out, that was just enough to keep the anchor and chain in the sand channel. Topwater was fair, about 15 feet, milky green. Descending, I could see Metridiums on the rocks from a depth of about 15 feet. At the bottom, vis opened up nicely to about 40 to 50 feet. There seemed to be just a touch of current running southward through the entire water column. The crack or corner or whatever it is that Guy found when we first dove this site was again packed with gopher and copper rocks, with a few blues and either olives or yellowtails (or both) drifting around to mix things up. The school of yellowtails were there, though smaller this time (maybe 4 or 5), hanging midwater in the head-up 45 degree thing they do. At the north end of that rock, a huge school of blues coated the boulders. Heading back to the anchor, I came across what appeared to be a stuffed condom, except that it was obviously alive: constricting, bending, but mostly rolling around in the surge. I'm assuming a dislodged fat innkeeper worm, but I really have no idea. 78 feet, 37 minutes, 55 degrees.
Took a bit of a run out past Point Pinos to see if I could figure out where the whale watching boats were, as they were apparently on to a lot of whales, but I couldn't make out their GPS coords and couldn't spot them. So, option 2 was to go eat lunch.
Dive 2: After a bit of surface interval (and a bowl of chowder), headed out to dive Shale Island (wanted another look at Marcos' Rockfish Convention Center.) A blowboat race was just being laid out, and the Island would have put me right in the downwind leg. So, I opted for another site, and ended up out near Pinnacle of Doom (actually, several hundred feet east of it, almost directly off Lovers Point.) Vis at the surface looked like it might be really good; I could see quite a ways down the anchor line through slightly hazy water. The swell was apparently lifting stuff off the bottom, as the vis at depth was 20 to 30 particulate feet. Bounced from boulder to boulder, looking for slugs (not really very many around), and a bit of movement caught my eye. After chasing the mystery fish for a bit, I got a decent look at it; turned out to be a 4" long Six-spot Prickleback. It proved, however, to be too fast and too small to get a shot of. So, with the new sighting getting me stoked, I kept exploring, hoping for more new stuff. I came across a big Bay Pipefish, probably close to a foot in length. Lots of juvie rockfish, and all kinds of kelp and decorator crabs. Called it quits due to, uh, biological needs. 43 feet, 45 minutes, 55 degrees.
Back at the ramp, saw the CG scramble the SAFE boat, and heard a bit later that they had recovered a 6 year old swimmer who had gotten washed off Del Monte Beach. I'm assuming he was recovered OK, as I never heard any sirens or anything.
9-13: 2 dives; somewhere north of Pt. Joe, solo; Shale Island with Marcos
Dive 1: Motored around the corner, running into Chuck at about Aumentos; chatted for a bit and he reported 60 feet at Shale Island. I continued on, and ended up dropping the hook in about 60 feet, somewhere north of Pt. Joe. Dropped in, and had about 15 feet at the surface. Descending under and over the kelp the anchor line was laying on, it opened to 35 or 40 feet. I started off nose in the rocks looking for slugs, but changed to trying to get fish shots, then changed to pinnipeds when a harbor seal came up to check things out. It acted a lot like my dog, trying to get attention at first, then once it got attention, it lay down with its nose in a corner, acting like he was completely invisible (except for peeking back every now and then to make sure I was still there.) Never got a good shot. Eventually, as vis closed down to about 20 feet, I decided it was time to find the anchor line, and realized I had no clue which direction it was in. Swam a large circle, and didn't see it, so I returned to the rock where the seal had "hidden", and started a blue water ascent with some kelp as a reference. Hit the surface, and I was about 8 feet from the port side of the boat. 64 feet, 29 minutes, 57 degrees.
Ran back in to Breakwater to get a bite to eat (after accusing Jim Capwell of stealing Phil Sammett's RIB) and meet up with Marcos, who was supposed to be down sometime around then (couldn't remember what time we were supposed to meet; that's the problem with making plans while at the bar, I suppose.) Got a half sandwich and a drink, and Trevor from Glenn's asked if I could run a couple of their "kids" (I think they were new employees) out for a dive (they were going to swim back in.) Since I hadn't heard from Marcos, I agreed, and went back to the boat to eat what I could before they got there (which ended up being about a third of the sandwich.) Ran the two out to the Metridium Field, dropped them off, waited until they were on their way in, and returned to the ramp.
Dive 2: Marcos had just arrived, so I finished eating while he loaded his gear (I suppose I could have helped), then we headed out to Shale Island. Marcos had his camera rigged for macro, and we figured the slugs would make good subjects. Anchored up, and hopped into about 10 foot vis. The water stayed pretty hazy down to about 40 feet, when it opened up to 40 or 50. Took a quick look at what I thought was the correct little ridge for the fringehead I found there a couple of weeks ago (or was it last week?) but didn't see it. With Marcos following along, I found myself at the Knob sooner than I expected. Did a slow lap around the knob, but didn't really see anything interesting. Marcos was drifting slowly off the island in a westward direction, and I followed, looking for little stuff in the rubble. Marcos gestured to get my attention, and in a large depression, there were a large number of rockfish of various types just sort of lying around on the bottom, or hanging just off the bottom. I took several shot of the fish that would cooperate, then left Marcos to do his cataloging, and headed back towards the anchor. Found a small, octopus, who wouldn't assume any other pose than a ball. Took another look at the little ridge that I thought the yellowfin fringehead was on, and there he was. Shot some pics of him, and noticed Marcos had come back to the anchor as well. Tried to get his attention, but he was off looking at other stuff. Finally left the fringehead alone (probably blind from the strobes), and swam past the anchor a little ways, and found another (or maybe the same) small octopus. Also found another yellowfin, who seemed to like hanging about 3/4 of the way out of his hole. Shot a bunch of pics of that one, then managed to get Marcos' attention to point it out to him. Running a bit low on air, I waved goodbye to Marcos and headed up. Halfway up, I noticed that Marcos was coming up as well. Dive stats: 60 feet, 58 minutes, 54 degrees. We reboarded, pulled the hook, and called it a day.
9-07: [Note: Written up a week and change after the dive.] 2 Dives: Trevor's
Pinnacle (on the numbers this time), and the Steam Engine. Both with Larry and
Carol on XTSea; for Dive 2 I had Brenna and Brian on Aurora.
Short and sweet, as I don't remember much from the dives and am working from pictures:
Dive 1: Trevor's Pinnacle: 75 feet, 44 minutes, 55 degrees. Vis around, oh, a bunch or so, nothing really special seen (unless you count a half-eaten mola slowly dying on the bottom.) One Limacia cockerelli getting all snuggly with a blue ring topsnail. All the other usual characters.
Dive 2: Steam Engine: Hadn't been there in quite a while, and wanted to see the status of the pipe. Dropped on the numbers, and Carol offset a bit and dropped to the south. Headed down, bottom vis was maybe 20, 25 feet. Couldn't find the pipe on the first try. Returned to the ledge, located the Steam Engine, worked back to my anchor, and found the pipe on the second try. Occupied. I think it's a new One-spot in the pipe, as I seem to recall the last one had a deformed cirrus over his right eye. This one doesn't. Carol apparently found an octopus; I didn't see it. Usual slugs: P. nobilis, C. luteomarginata, D. albopunctata, T. catalinae, a single Berthella. Probably all the usual fish, as well. 84 feet, 32 minutes, 55 degrees.
9-06: Two dives, Somewhere near Trevor's Pinnacle with Torie, and the Mating
Amtracks with Pat.
Arrived at Breakwater to find the lot full. The Disabled American Veterans group was apparently hosting a fishing trip, and their vehicles took up about a third of the boat parking. So, ran back to the Harbormasters office, where there were several spots still available. Pat, Torie, and Joe showed up a bit later, and we loaded gear, climbed into dive suits, and headed out.
First thing was to try and find some wildlife for Joey; nothing along Cannery Row, and nothing out towards Point Pinos. A bit south of there, we started running across some moon jellies, so we dallied around a little letting Joe get his fill.
We headed back to dive Trevor's Pinnacle, and to my surprise, Sanctuary was anchored up dead on the numbers.
We found some structure nearby, dropped the hook and Torie and I headed down while Pat and Joe stayed on-board. Surface was millky murk, about 3 feet of horizontal vis. I only knew Torie was still with me by seeing her hand on the anchor line. The water slowly cleared down to about 40 feet, then abruptly opened up to 30 or 40 feet. The hook was just barely on a smallish rock outcropping; everything we had been swimming over was sand. I moved the anchor into the sand, which gave Torie just enough time to disappear. I found a nice cooperative (if small) longfin sculpin, and several gopher rockfish just hanging around on various mini-walls. Krill occasionally cut visibility to five feet. Found a very pretty what I think was a juvenile kelp greenling, but it was too skittish to get a shot of it. Lots of juvie rockfish. Lots of painted greenling (adult and juvies) and quite a few tiny sculpins. A largish ling buzzed past, scaring the crap out of me. Nothing unusual in the slug department, though Torie apparently saw what sounded like a Dirona albolineata. Headed back to the anchor as my NDL approached, and met up with Torie doing the same. A bit more exploring yielded a wine bottle in the sand. I emptied what sand I could get out, and placed it in a little nook. Torie headed up while I was futzing with the bottle. Maybe some fringehead or octopus will make it into a home. Anyway, that little excercise put me into deco, so I headed up as well. 89 feet, 35 minutes, 54 degrees.
Ran back to the Breakwater ramp for a bite to eat, and a bit of gawking at the largish motor yacht tied up at the fuel dock. Joe made it through all of his hotdog, but only about a third of the bun, so we idled around the marina while he fed the seagulls.
Pat suggested the Mating Amtracks for dive 2, so we headed out there. Same murk on top, and a touch less vis on the bottom - maybe 20, 25 feet. A big wolf eel was hiding in the east side of the upper track. Other than that, nothing unusual at all. 83 feet, 26 minutes, 55 degrees. Had a bit of an ascent problem; drifting nice and slowly from depth to safety stop depth, I suddenly bounced from 20 to 10 feet in about half a second, which pissed off my computer pretty thoroughly. No clue what caused that, but everything worked fine for the safety stop itself. Dunno.
8-24: 2 dives, both at Trevor's Pinnacle, and both with Larry and Carol on XTSea. Aurora's passengers were Gary, Peter, and Kari on dive 1, and Mike L. on dive 2.
Gary (from yesterday) was back to bum another ride, and a couple next to me
who were shorediving agreed to come along. Larry and Carol (and Otter) were
gearing up closer to the ramp. They splashed their boat, I launched mine, and
shortly thereafter, we were on our way.
Dive 1: Carol said she wanted to do Trevor's Pinnacle again, so we motored out there, only to find Harry Babika's boat anchored up on the site. Figuring he owed me for giving him the numbers the day before, we offset from their bubbles a ways and dropped the hooks.
Descended into a thick soupy layer that looked pretty dismal (though you could make out contrasting stuff on the bottom from about 20 feet.) Like yesterday, though, it cleared nicely at about 30 feet, and once at the bottom, I figured horizontal visibility at about 60 to 70. Larry says it was in excess of a hundred (as did Harry.) I think they're measuring in some weird foreign "foot" length or something, but either way, it was what I call big vis. I pretty much struck off on my own, seeing just about everyone (including Harry, Mark, and Dionna) at some point or another during the dive, but staying pretty much alone. As such, I missed Larry and Carol's lingcods, and probably a bunch of other stuff. And again, I didn't see anything all that spectacular. And what I did see, I largely missed with the camera. Still, it was one of those rare, absolutely spectacular dives. 73 feet, 41 minutes, 52 degrees. SI back at the ramp, where Peter and Kari took their leave, as did Gary. Had a bite to eat and visited with Jeff and his students, picked up Mike (who had arrived just as we were leaving for the first dive), and then we headed back out.
Dive 2: I asked Carol about doing the same site for dive 2, and Larry and
Carol readily agreed (Otter didn't say anything.) Heading back out, both swell
and chop had built noticeably, making for a bumpier ride. And again, we arrived
to find Harry there (though this time we beat their drop.) So we offset to the
other side, dropped and headed in. Vis had dropped a bit this time (at least
when I looked), to maybe 40 or 50 feet. Found another longfin sculpin (well,
two, actually; but didn't get a shot at the second one); got a really bad pic of
it. Spent most of my time looking for stuff, rather than looking at stuff.
Towards the end of the dive, came across 2 Dirona albolineata, one white, one
orange. The white one was pretty big; probably three inches overall. Eventually
found a third very tiny one nearby. Out of time, I headed back up, after 35
minutes, 85 feet, with my Mosquito (probably incorrectly) measuring 57 degrees.
8-23: 2 dives, Trevor's Pinnacle and Shale Island, with Gary, Brenna and Brian.
Dive 1: Headed out to Trevors Pinnacle; fudged the numbers a bit to try and
hit the sand channel rather than the rocks. On descending found the anchor in
the middle of the sand, but the line was still sitting on (and wrapped around)
the structure. Freed the line, and headed over to the rocks. Almost immediately
stumbled on a softball sized red octopus, who did his best to avoid having his
picture taken. Visibility at the bottom was about 40 feet (though Brenna says
50; she may have been right.) Checked out the northeast rocks, then headed west
to try and find the Dirona's from a few weeks ago. Surprising amount of surge
for a deep site. Then worked along the southwest side, and back to the northeast
again. Lots of rockfish in the area, mostly blues (including a huge dark one),
kelps, gophers and coppers with a school of yellowtail or olives thrown in.
Other than the octo, not really anything unusual. 78 feet, 41 minutes, 54
degrees. Heavy brownish layer started at about 30 feet and ran to the surface.
SI at the ramp, after which we headed to the boat. As we were getting ready to head out, the owner of Alicia Dawn asked if someone would be willing to clear his prop of some line. I geared up and swam over (he was on the other side of the fuel harbor), and had it cleared in a few minutes (it's actually kind of difficult work, as you don't have any way of holding yourself in position, and it's hard to get pressure for efficient cutting.) Once done, we headed out to look for the dolphins which we spotted while we were eating. Again, no dolphins.
Dive 2: I suggested Shale Island for slug hunting, which Brenna was up for
(Brian and Gary didn't have an opinion, and probably would have lost anyway.)
Dropped the hook at numbers for the Island, sort of near the Knob. I originally
planned to hop across the top to the Knob (still searching for the yellowfin
fringeheads that are supposed to be there, as I've never positively seen one),
but ended up working more along the edge for the most part. Vis 25 to 30, and
kind of a hazy green. Found 2 sets of male rock crabs clutching females. No
unusual slugs, but tons of Peltodoris, Diaulula, and Doriopsilla, and a few
Cadlina luteomarginata. Lots of painted greenling (adults and juveniles), a
couple of kelp greenling (including a small female), and a bunch of juvenile
rockfish. A few kelp rockfish, and a bunch of small blues. Running a bit low on
air, I headed back to the anchor. Swimming over a little ridge, I saw a flash of
something moving. Closer inspection showed it to be a yellowfin fringehead. I
shot a bunch of pics, then went to find the anchor. It was about 35 feet away. I
returned to the little ridge and shot some more, until my air was really low,
then headed up. 60 feet, 41 minutes, 54 degrees. Brenna and Brian surfaced a few
minutes later, and she said she'd seen a fringehead. We compared notes, and I
decided she had seen the same fish.
On the way back in, I detoured out in front of Hidden Beach to do one last look for the doplphins, and we spotted them this time. Unfortunately, they were on the move, and boat traffic sort of prevented us from getting a close look.
Back at the truck, and mostly cleaned up, Brenna and I compared pics. Completely different fish. She had found a One-Spot fringehead (which I think was a first for her, so it worked out well anyway.)
8-10: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle and Anchor 5 (sort of) with Larry, Carol, and Kathy (and Otter) on XTSea, and myself on Aurora.
Met Larry, Carol, Otter (with her goofy pink polka dot PFD - she's a dog,
since nobody else has explained it yet), and Kathy (with a new drysuit) in the
lot a bit after 8. Took a few minutes to do some repairs (dive flag pole, which
had corroded where the SS hoseclamps hit the aluminum), and replacing the
battery in the dive computer.
Geared up and headed out; since Carol had no preference, I suggested Trevor's Pinnacle (as I wanted a second opinion on the site.) Otter apparently didn't like the rather bouncy ride on the way out, causing a reduction in speed on XTSea (I, alone on my boat, had no such limitations.)
Once regrouped near the site, I got a DSC call from Chuck who reported Ballbuster as (working from memory) 50 to 60 and really nice. Decided to dive where we were, so dropped the hooks. Chuck and Linda motored over to chat a bit, then they headed back to the ramp. (Chuck wins for quote of the day: "What's with the Cheeto's?")
Heading down, it appeared that vis had deteriorated. Milky quite a ways down. I had rigged for wide angle to shoot jellies, but only saw one egg yolk on the descent. Eventually, vis cleared to 30 or 40 feet as long as you avoided the clouds of krill. My hook was on a rock, so I laid the camera down, picked up the anchor and chain, and swam the whole mess over to the sand several feet away. Carol apparently did the same from a rock on the other side of the sand, and our 40 feet of separation became about 15.
I checked out the areas where I had seen the Dironas yesterday; they were absent today. Ran across a large school of blues, and a smaller school of olives or yellowtails. A few perch and greenlings made appearances as well. No longfin sculpins this time, either. I did find a large masking crab munching on an egg yolk jelly, but the pics don't really show the crab; it just looks like a mass of encrustation. I ran across a small (half-inch?) black shrimp of some sort, and managed to get one good image (I'll ID it later. Maybe.) I tried to get a feel for the larger area, and managed to get all turned around. Eventually, I found my way back to my anchor, and was surprised to see Carol's hook not far away. Uneventful ascent, and back on board to find Kathy already up (in truth she never got down), and Otter still up (a good thing.) Larry and Carol hit the surface a minute or two later. 79 feet, 40 minutes, 52 degrees (Hmmm. Felt colder than that.)
Slowish run back in to the ramp, but as we got to the end of the jetty, a call came out about a boat that had run out of gas a mile out. CG was trying to refer them to Vessel Assist (who would have had to come down from Santa Cruz, I think.) Carol headed back in (and I hear that when Otter disembarked, she kissed the ground.) I ran out, found the boat (reported to be near the bell buoy, but I didn't see any buoy nearby, much less one with a bell) and eventually towed them back in to the dock.
After a bit of an SI, we headed to Shale Island to try and find some shark egg cases for Kathy (with her weights readjusted and tweaked such that a descent might actually be possible.) Dropped almost on the numbers; Carol dropped about 20 feet east. I headed down and was rather surprised to not see the anchor or even the chain. I did find several egg cases, though I doubt any were viable (yolk masses seemed to be scrunched into the side of the case.) About then, the other three were swimming by, so I pointed out the cases, then headed off to slug hunt. Somewhat unsuccessfully, but whatever. fifty feet away, I was wondering where Anchor5 was, and I ran across it. On a whim, I inspected the anchor and surrounding area, and found a small Limacia on the anchor, and an Acanthodoris hudsoni nearby. I headed over towards the knob, finding P.nobilis, D sandiegensis (all over the place), C. luteomarginata, D. albopunctata (also all over the place), D. montereyensis, a single C. flavomaculata, a single Cadlina modesta, and a few Hermissendas. I remember seeing one male kelp greenling, and can't remember any other fish. 58 feet, 51 minutes, 54 degrees.
8-09: Two dives: Pinnacle of Doom with Torie, and Trevor's Pinnacle with Guy.
Finally managed to get Pat and Torie (and Joey, who made it quite clear that
he's 4 now) down for some diving (after a layoff of, what, 9 months?) Our mutual
friend Trevor was busy photographing a dog frisbee tournament, so he couldn't
make it (but he still figured into the days events.)
Torie and I were dressed for diving, Pat was watching Joe. Splashed the boat, and took a few minutes correcting all the things that Joe had changed while playing around with controls and switches and stuff. Topped off the tubes, and left the dock with the intention of letting Joe see the sea lions close up. Joe, I think, was more interested in the cormorants on the Breakwater Jetty. Then he wanted to go faster, so we left the harbor and ran straight out for a bit, then turned back along Del Monte Beach, looking for otters. Didn't find any, looped pass Breakwater, running west along Cannery Row. I spotted a largish purple striped jelly, but circling back, couldn't find it again. A bit further on, we found a bunch of egg-yolk jellies, and we loitered around letting Joe check those out. Then a bunch of otters made an appearance in the kelp, followed shortly thereafter by a pair of dolphins (Commons I think; they were faster and livelier than Risso's.) Paced the dolphins back to the end of the jetty, and decided that was probably enough sightseeing.
Joe said he could wait on the boat while Tor and I did our dive, so we headed out to Pinnacle of Doom. Geared up and got in, waved goodbye to Joe and Pat, and headed down. Vis at the surface was crummy. At depth it initially wasn't much better. Eventually, though, some clear water blew in, and it became one of those changy dives: horizontal vis ranged between 5 and 20, maybe 25 feet or so. Spent most of the dive trying not to lose Torie, but still managed to find a nice crevice kelpfish, a Limacia cockerelli, an Acanthodoris hudsoni, and several other species of slugs. Almost no fish at all, which seemed kind of weird. Lots of egg yolk jellies in the water column. Tor called the dive, a little low on air, but the reason was apparent back at the ramp: Her suit had leaked from all three seals (I think), and had completely saturated her undergarment. 41 feet, 38 minutes, 55 degrees.
Ran back into the ramp and got sandwiches for lunch. Guy was going to join Pat and me for the second dive, and he killed time while we ate. Pat eventually finished and headed off to change. And ripped his neckseal. And decided to take Joe to the Aquarium instead. So the family headed off, and Guy and I went diving.
Guy and I headed out around the corner to see what that looked like (not good), then bailed to Aumentos. As we neared it, the GPS showed a waypoint that Trevor had marked a couple of weeks ago. I ran across it a few times to verify that there actually was something there, then dropped the hook, geared up and headed down. About 5 feet down vis cleared dramatically, then closed down a bit again. The anchor line was just kissing a large rock, then paralleled the slope a bit, and ended up crossing a sandy area before ending up wedged in some rocks. Relocated the anchor to the sand patch, and started looking around. The top surfaces of all the rocks were alive with some kind of crustacean fry, cutting vis to 10 feet or less. Getting clear of the krill stuff, though opened vis up to what I'd guess at nearly 50 feet. I found three or four Dirona albolineata (all in really bad locations for pics), several Dendronotus albus, and the usual P. nobilis, D. sandiegensis, C. luteomarginata, and D. albopunctata. A couple of male kelp greenlings, three or four longfin sculpins (oddly, all oriented "normally" as opposed to upsidedown under an overhang), several blues and gophers and kelpies, and, well, you get the idea. Beautiful site all in all, and I felt a little guilty about not waiting til Trevor was back in the water to try it (but I'll get over it.) Spotted, uh, something, on the way up: probably a really small salp chain, but that'll wait for pics to hit the bigger screen before I make a positive ID (or don't, I suppose.) 74 feet, 43 minutes, 52 degrees. Postscript: The gelatinous critter *may* have been a young Thetys vagina, but a positive ID has yet to be established.
July 31, Aug 1 and 2: Southern Channel Islands dive trip on the Peace.
Short version: Catalina, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz Islands. 15 dives over the three days, 12 hours and 20 minutes of bottom time. One new-to-me slug: Cadlina limbaughorum. Nothing else really special.
July 27: 2 dives; Pinnacle of Doom with Jeff, Nathan, and Anna on Nitrox; Shale Island with the same group, plus Guy joining me on Aurora.
Geared up and splashed my boat, and Jeff, Nathan, Anna and I headed off for
Pinnacle of Doom off Lovers. We decided that the spot 200 feet south, where
Superman jumped ship a month ago, would be called Kryptonite (or, rather, I
did.) But we dove the POD area. Dropped the hook on my numbers, and a minimal
amount of scope had me hanging in a patch of kelp (Jeff also dropped on the
numbers, so we would have ended up on top of one another anyway.) Jeff pulled
his hook, offset a bit, and redropped; I pulled mine, ran a bit beyond the
waypoint, and redropped. Ended up with acceptable, but minimal separation.
Water on top was a uniform 5 foot vis green haze (and that's being generous.) I headed down, and at the bottom, couldn't see any structure other than low rocks in the sand. Headed off to the left, and soon the rocks loomed up about 20 feet away, shrouded in green. Circled first one large rock, then another, and a third, and saw absolutely nothing noteworthy. One or two Peltodorises, a couple of Cadlina luteomarginata, and one Doriopsilla albopunctata. A couple of kelp rockfish, and a few blue rockfish, several (but not as many as usual) black eye gobies, and a couple of tiny sculpins. Headed out to some small rocks in the sand, and again didn't see much. On the third small rock, I saw a crevice kelpfish on a Turkish towel blade, but the surge swept the leaf over and dislodged the fish as I adjusted my strobes. So, I worked around the rock, peering into the algal ground cover, and spotted another crevice kelpfish, this one about 3 times larger. This one magically disappeared while hidden by surge-swept kelp. By this time, I was getting somewhat frustrated at the lack of photo ops, so I decided to head up. As I got to the hook, I checked one more rock, and found another crevice kelpfish, of intermediate size compared to the other two. And again, it vanished before I could get a shot off. I think I hit the surface with 1600 psi, lots of remaining bottom time, and a grand total of 5 frames shot. 40 feet, 41 minutes, 52 degrees.
Guy was again waiting at the dock on return, and was invited out again (why he changes into street clothes before bumming a ride to dive is beyond me, though.) So, like yesterday, he geared up while we sat out our SI and grabbed a bite to eat.
Jeff decided on Shale Island for the second dive. I had a sneaking suspicion that 55 feet wouldn't be deep enough to get us under the layer, but I didn't voice that. Jeff dropped on Anchor 5, and I dropped towards the southwest end. Heading in, I couldn't see the bottom until I was within about 15 feet of it; not a good sign. Reset my hook, scaring up a particularly unphotogenic octopus (most of the arms chewed off to obviously shortened nubs), then took a look around. Vis was about 15 to 20 feet (with a bit of imagination) but dramatically less if you rose more than a few feet off the bottom. I headed over to the Knob to see if I could find the yellowfin fringehead that Chuck reported (yesterday?) I couldn't. My run of interesting finds on Shale Island has apparently been broken. Lots of Pelt's, several San Diego's, a few Geitodorises, a couple of luteomarginata, and a couple of Cadlina flavomaculata. A few sculpins, black eye gobies, a kelp greenling that wanted nothing to do with the camera, a few rockfish; that was about it. The saving grace was a translucent shrimp (with red vertical bars; photo currently out for ID help) sitting vertically but inverted on some kind of upright growth. 56 feet, 46 minutes, 50 degrees.
Ended the day with a total of 17 shots (one of those is probably the inside of the rinse bucket, a couple look like they were lit by a nuclear bomb detonation, and one, I think, is a spot where the kelp greenling had been a moment ago.)
Jeff and Bill (from All About Scuba) had an informal BBQ cookoff; the winner was... Me (ate too much, and didn't have to cook.)
July 26: 2 dives, Ballbuster with Trevor, and Mola Mountain with Trevor and Guy.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 8:45, and grabbed one of the last 3 trailer
spots. My missing buddy from last week came down, and Trevor ended up parking on
the street after off-loading gear at the boat.
Dive 1: The only goal I had for the weekend was to check the ex-mystery slugs at Mola Mountain; since I could do that any time, we headed out to Ballbuster (Chuck had reported big vis there.) Swell was fairly decent on the ride out, and it would have been pretty easy to do part of the trip in the air (a sense of responsibility for passenger comfort prevailed, though. No fun.) I'd guess about 3 to 4 foot NW swell, with some wind chop tossed in. Once anchored up, I checked for current, and finding none, we tossed gear over and got in. Heading down the line, things were looking pretty hazy, but as we descended it cleared until at the top of the pinnacle, we had maybe 30 feet. I continued down to check the hook, repositioning is slightly so it was retrievable and to get the line off the pinnacle. Vis at the bottom was stunning, easily 60 and probably more like the 70 that Chuck reported. Headed back up to meet Trevor closer to the top, and immediately ran across a small crack with a china rockfish. A bit lower in the crack was an adult treefish. In a smaller crack off to the left was another china. Sculpins were all over the place, as were an assortment of sizes of painted greenlings. Several (or one really antsy) kelp greenling flashed in and out of view as well. Lots of Peltodorises and Hermissendas. A few Chestnut cowries, and more sculpins. I don't recall a lot else, aside from all the normal stuff. 102 feet, 34 minutes, 50 degrees.
As we tied up at the ramp, Guy showed up trying to bum a ride. He said it had been a long time since he had looked at anything other than his compass and computer on a dive, so I invited him out. While Trevor and I ate, Guy schlepped gear and got ready to go. A bit later we were heading out, heading for Mola Mountain.
Dive 2: A touch of surface current, a bit of swell (it had actually laid down a bit from earlier), drop the hook, and in we went. Guy dropped first, and I headed down a minute later, followed by Trevor. I spotted the ex-mystery slugs from about 15 feet above, but headed over a ridge to check the hook (good thing, too, as it was wedged sideways in a fissure, with the chain pretty well wrapped around every conceivable piece of the anchor.) Heading back, Trevor pointed out a Hermissenda to me. I responded by pointing out a half dozen others within his view. Headed back over the ridge, found the slugs, and started trying to get a decent shot. They are, I think, too small for my rig; I got a couple of OK shots, but not what I was hoping for. Oh, well... Lots of perch, a huge school of blues off in the distance, a few gophers, and several olives. A male kelp greenling or two. Some... uhh, black? surfperch. Oh, and a metridium that had a tenacious if tenuous grip on an egg-yolk jelly. Trevor and Guy reported 4 lings (2 lying out in the middle of the sand), of which I saw none. 74 feet, 43 minutes, 50 degrees (and about 5 degrees warmer at the safety stop.)
July 20: 2 dives: Anchors 2&3, and Mola Mountain with Larry and Carol on XTSea, and me on Aurora.
Carol and I decide to see what it looks like out near the point, so we run out there (or crawl is probably more like it.) Fairly tight swell, with a long period rolling component makes the ride, uh, exciting. Decided not to try and find someplace on the Carmel side that was a little protected (Carol didn't even laugh at the suggestion - I think I'm losing my touch), and headed back in to see if the Dirona albolineata that the Cohn's had seen last week were still on Anchors 2&3 (and since I don't have a pic of one, all the better, no?) Another RIB is anchored up nearby, so I motor over and ask what site he's on. They're on Anchor 1, so I ask if we'll crowd him on 2&3; reply is no, so we move over the anchors and drop the hooks. Another boat shows up, and ties off to the third RIB.
Dive 1: We gear up and I head down a little before Larry and Carol. The other
guys on the third and fourth boats are still gearing up as well. On the way
down, I see a couple of egg-yolks, and pause to take a few pics (making sure to
keep the anchor lines in sight this time.) Then down to the hooks, and I find
that despite offsetting from the numbers a bit in opposite directions, we've
both dropped on the cable on the northeast side of the chain pile. I move mine a
ways over several feet off the ledge, and move Carol's to the ledge. By that
time, the Cohn's are just getting down. I scan along a bit before heading over
to the anchors. When I get there, Larry has his head buried between the block
and the pile, snapping away. I take a peek, and there's a Dirona on one of the
cables. A bit above, there's another one. On the block, I find a third one,
whiter than the other two, on some fluted bryozoan. It stays down within the
stucture of the bryozoan, though, so I can't get a decent shot. Eventually, I
give up and scan the area around the anchors looking for slugs. Larry eventually
moves on, so I take a look at the ones he was shooting and try a couple of shots
(they were OK; not great), then take a look at the third one: he's up higher
now, so I work on a somewhat more dramatic shot (not really sure I got it, but
still...) Took a shot of a small vermilion before he bolted, and spent a couple
of minutes trying to figure out how to shoot a greenling that was buried within
the chain (gave up figuring I'd never get enough light on it.) Headed back to my
anchor to start up a bit early, and found a smallish red octopus. It seemed
pretty pissed off, but stayed put long enough for me to get several quick shots,
and get Larry's attention. Larry was shooting pics as I headed up. As I reached
the line, my NDL remaining clicked to "0". I chased 0 minutes remaining up to
about 50 feet, where it started opening up again. On the way up, I noticed as I
neared the layer, that the water below was clear green, the layer was cloudy
greenish-brown, and at the edge of visibility an arc of blue reached from well
out to either side to just touch the layer at the straight ahead. No idea what
that was all about, but Larry thinks it was an underwater rainbow. I had to pay
attention at the safety stop, or I'd drift off the line, as a bit of current had
picked up. Back on the boat, the small RIB that had been slightly behind and
slightly offset from us when we dropped was now slightly offset and *way*
behind. I was going to ask the Cohn's to hang out until we made sure the other
boats divers make it back, but they all hit the surface about the same time as
Larry and Carol. No harm, no foul. Turns out they had dragged while they were
descending, planted the hook, then swam a bearing to find their site. My dive:
83 feet, 35 minutes, 50 degrees.
Dive 2: Mola Mountain. Dropped the hooks a bit upwind of the numbers, and
hopped in. I was the first one down (again), and I could see the hooks were
retrievable from a distance of about 30 feet. Overall visibility was, in my
opinion, in excess of 50 feet. Almost immediately, I see a low rock that's
speckled with tiny white dorids. Close inspection shows that they either are, or
are doing a great impersonation of, Acanthodoris hudsoni (My guess was based on
the length of the rhinophores. Turns out they were Diaphorodoris lirolatocauda
[who named that thing, anyway?]) The largest one was probably a touch over a
quarter inch. Most were smaller. There were a few mating groups of little tiny
dorids. And, my camera's strobe adjustment locked up, leaving me to adjust
exposure by strobe placement. Took about 10 shots, and gave up. Did a brief tour
of the area, found a fairly cooperative ling, an inquisitive gopher and a bunch
of dumb kelpies. Since I didn't find anything else worth shooting, I went back
to the rock near the anchors, and shot a few more of the little dorids. Larry
started waving me over, and pointed at a mass just in front of him. The mass
moved, and it was a fairly large octopus. I, however, was out of time, so I
waved bye-bye, and headed up. 71 feet, 44 minutes, 52 degrees.
July 19: 2 dives: Steam Engine and the Barge with Larry, Carol and Cathy on XTSea.
Arrived at Breakwater at a touch after 8, and prepped the boat while waiting for Trevor to show up at the planned 9:30 or so. Larry, Carol, and Kathy were geared up, and we all agreed to meet after their first dive to dive together, and they headed off. A short while later, Trevor called, down with a bout of food poisoning or something. So, I chatted with Chuck a bit, and headed out to see where the Cohn's had gone. Found them off Lover's, up from their dive. We returned to the ramp, and sort of hung around for a bit (well, I did; they changed tanks and such, and then hung around.)
Dive 1: Headed out for a dive on the deep shale. We ended up at the Steam
Hopped in, and it appeared decent judging by how far I could see down the line. I dropped, and had a bit of trouble relieving the squeeze on my left arm. Eventually got that worked out (though I still have no idea why it happened.) At about 30 feet, the pretty good vis got spectacular; 50 feet, maybe more (though a little dark.) Continued down, and about 30 feet off the bottom, noticed some egg-yolk jellies about ten feet up. By the time I had arranged strobes and removed my lens cap, they were more like 20 feet up. I briefly thought about taking a heading, but remembering how many times I've lost track of subjects doing that, didn't. So, up and shoot, and a few minutes later, back down, and... no anchor line. No problem, I figure: Follow the line of the little shelf I'm on, and I should be able to see the line. I swam out along the little shelf for a few minutes, seeing very little, and absolutely nothing I recognize, and no anchor line. Then I run across Carol and Kathy going the opposite direction, which makes me sure I'm going the right direction. Swim further, and I catch a glimpse of Larry's strobes. I continue on for a long ways, and still don't find the line. Turn around, and realize I've been swimming with the current, most likely in a random direction. Put my head down, kicking with an occasional pull on the rocks to keep going. I keep watching for one of the other three, but never see them. Eventually, I figure, Hmmm, let's try... That way. A 90 degree right turn (well, probably more like 70 to fight the current), swim about 30 yards, and, Hey, there're the anchor lines. Shoot a couple more pics of fairly uninteresting subjects, and my tank pressure says it's time to go up.
I get back on the boat, and I'm really surprised to see I'm the first one up. A minute later, Kathy is at XTSea. I keep watching for bubbles, but don't see anything. Then a head breaks the surface 150 yards out, down-bottom-current. Then another. So everyone's up, but I'm the only one who came up the line. As it turns out, I'm also the only one of us who realized they were lost. Odd. 83 feet, 33 minutes, 50 degrees.
Dive 2: The Barge, since Carol said she hadn't been there since first getting XTSea. Dropped the hooks, headed in, and again, vis was good; probably 30 feet or so. I mostly worked off the wreck, seeing what I could find in the sand (primarily looking for Armina and Sea mice; found a single D. iris and a bunch of Hermissendas.) Lots of elbow crabs, about a 4 inch Dungeness (I think) crab, lots of smaller ones that I couldn't ID, lots of Black-Eye Hermits, and a bunch of the usual other stuff. Back on the barge, there was just enough current to make it a pain in the butt trying to stay off the structure. I found a nice cooperative cabezon perched lengthwise on a plank, and saw what I think is a spearnose poacher (ID has to wait for enlargement on the bigger screen. Postscript: It was a Northern Spearnose Poacher.) Back up after running out of time, chasing 1 minute remaining all the way up to about 40. Dive stats: 66 feet, 47 minutes, 57 degrees.
Back at the ramp, we pulled the boats to get an early start configuring the trucks for sleeping (MotoGP has all the rooms in Monterey at around $300; a rodeo in Salinas has all those at $200/night.) While that was going on, some guy came up to me and asked where the police station was. I asked if he meant the Coast Guard, and he nodded, so I told him, and he headed up the hill. About a half hour later, he was back pacing the lot and looking agitated, until a car came up and a woman got out looking about the same. I asked if there was a problem, and he said his friends had gone out on a new Whaler at about 6am, and should have been back by noon, but were still out (it was about 6pm by then.) They had talked to the CG, so there wasn't a whole lot to be done. About a half hour later they spotted a boat a ways out, and the guy was asking if I thought it could be them. I got my binoculars from the boat, and the hull shape looked like a Whaler, and I counted two people on board. I handed off the binoc's, but neither of the two could get a good enough look to say yes or no. I decided to put my boat back in and run them out there, so Larry put me in and we started out. Guy asked if we needed help, and I figured if there was a problem, I might, so joined us, as well. We got to the boat and I saw they were drifting for halibut. The woman said, yes, it was her boyfriend, so I pulled alongside. The ensuing exchange was all in Spanish, which is probably moot, as I probably couldn't relate it here anyway. I radioed the CG to tell them they had been found and were fine; while doing so, the two guys pulled in lines and took off for the ramp. I finished up conversing with the CG, and headed back in (at a more sedate speed than the Whaler.) I don't really know the results, but Carol apparently asked the two guys if they were in trouble, and the guy who was not the woman's boyfriend grinned and replied "Not me."
June 29: 2 dives: The Needle with Larry and Carol on XTSea and me on Aurora; Carmel Ridge with the same group.
Arrived at Breakwater to find Carol standing in the lot. She said that they
were ready to go, but would wait if I wanted to tag along.
So, a quick prep and load and launch, and off we went.
The Cohns said they wanted to go around the corner, and I was pretty ambivalent on a destination, so Carmel was the inital destination pending any further refining os site selection. Flat water, and full throttle smoothness (tempered by a desire to conserve fuel, resulting in a bit of throttling down.) Entering Carmel Bay, we agreed on Mono Lobo as the destination, and headed across.
As we neared Lobos, I saw Black Dog sitting on the hook, and I thought I saw Chuck on-board. Motored over to take a closer look, and saw Chuck and Linda both up, having just completed their first dive. Chuck reported 50 foot vis, and suggested the Needle as a site. He gave me coordinates, and we went to take a look. Conditions looked pretty good from the surface, so we dropped hooks, geared up and got in.
Vis at the surface was in excess of 30 feet, and reasonably clear. Dropping down, I straightened out my hook, and headed off to explore (well, not so much explore, as "finding photo subjects".) In truth, I didn't make it all that far working CCW around the pinnacle, but it was a fairly spectacular dive nonetheless. Bottom vis was probably around 40 to 50, though some cloudiness seemed to drift in and out. A bit of current made me a little wary of straying too far. Lots of olive rockfish, and a fair school of blues up near the top. A few coppers and a greenling or two rounded out the fish. I kept searching for a Dirona albolineata, as I don't have a decent image of one, but never found one. I did run across a few Dendronotus albus, as well as a few Peltodoris, lots of large (and mating) Doris montereyensis, a few Cadlina luteomarginata, and a single Tritonia festiva. Settled in to shoot olive rockfish and burn the rest of my bottom time, but just then a large milky cloud moved in cutting vis to about 20 feet, and the olives disappeared to other places. 109 feet, 40 minutes, 52 degrees.
We decided to do a second dive in the area, so had a bit of time to kill during the SI. Motored over towards Stillwater Cove, sort of meandering here and there along the way. Carol was puttering along a bit behind and further offshore, and I was buzzing just along (and occasionally inside) the kelp line. Going through one gap in the kelp, the depthfinder dropped from something like 35 feet to about 70. I turned around and ran back through the gap, and had about the same reading. I had Carol run through, and she agreed it looked interesting. I ran back through again, and had mid-seventies all the way through. Another run was back to the original numbers. I marked the spot as Carmel Ridge, as it appeared that any structure would be a continuation of a rocky point on shore, and we continued on to Stillwater. Once there, we had slight breeze that would move the boats slowly towards the south end of the cove. I decided that I could use that to an advantage, motored slowly into the kelp near the large wash rock/island, shut down, and checked out the kelp canopy as I slowly drifted over it. Pretty neat: several small (really small) sculpins, kelp isopods, what appeared to be a tiny juvenile greenling, kelp crabs, some sort of really fast shrimp thingies, but no slugs (which was the point of the exercise.) A few kelp rockfish would cruise by on occasion. All in all, it was cool way to pass the time (though I need to find a more comfortable way of hanging over the side.)
Eventually, we decided that we had been up long enough and headed out of Stillwater to do the second dive. We decided to return to Carmel Ridge and check out what was there. With the wind blowing in from the southwest, anchoring on the spot would have put us in the kelp paddy, so I decided to anchor offshore of the site, drift back and set scope so we were sitting directly above it, and use my spare anchor as a vertical downline. Would have worked really well, except I misjudged the wind a bit, so Carols boat ended up over the site. No biggie: transferred my spare anchor to her boat, and she dropped the downline.
Dropping down, vis was a bit cloudier than the previous dive, but still a good 35 feet or so. Again, it seemed to come and go, ranging from about 20 to over 40. I swan sort of southwestish along the wall, came to a break and saw a large dark mass at the edge of visibility. Swimming over to investigate, I crossed a sand channel, then came across my anchor which I reset for retrieval, then Carol's anchor which was all knotted up, which I also cleared and set, and then I went to inspect the dark shape. It turned out to be a large granite block, probably 30 feet high, pretty impressively encrusted. Checked that out for a bit, then headed back over towards the down line. A ling swam up, and perched on top of a little ledge, apparently begging to have its picture taken. Unfortunately, I was rigged for super macro, and ended up with a shot of about six square inches around its eye. As I was rerigging, it took off into a hole. Larry apparently was directed towards it by Carol (they showed up about then), but couldn't find it. Once rigged for normal shooting, (and after Larry swam off), the ling swam up and perched vertically in the hole, allowing for at least an odd-angled head shot. Got three or four frames, and noticed, directly under my camera housing, a bright red crevice kelpfish. Re-rigged for macro, but the kelpfish wouldn't cooperate, staying mostly hidden in the algae. The ling, meanwhile, miffed by being one-upped by the kelpfish, decided to leave. Eventually, so did the kelpfish (actually, it probably just hid better than it had been.) Moseyed back over to the wall, and found a bunch of egg spirals on some encrusting sponge. Looked for the Rostanga for about five minutes before I found it (or them, I should say), a couple of feet away, and apparently still in the egg-laying mood, or so it appeared. The surge had picked up a bit, though, and I didn't get any really good shots. It was the first time, though, that I've seen a Rostanga actually on sponge (the several I've seen before had apparently been out cruising or something.) About that time, my air starting running low, so I made a wild guess as to where my anchor line was, found it, and headed back up, apparently hitting the surface about the time that Larry and Carol did. 77 feet, 51 minutes, 52 degrees. Wind and swell had built a bit during the dive, but it was still a fairly fast and pleasant ride ride back to Monterey Bay.
As we neared the Aquarium area, I heard some conversation on the radio between the CG SAFE boat and the Monterey Fire boat discussing a missing diver off Del Monte. From what I gathered, three divers (an instructor and 2 students) had gone in, surface swam out a ways, dropped and started swimming a bearing to someplace to do nav drills, and ended up with only a pair. they apparently swam back to the beach and called it in; the CG, MFD, and three Lifeguards on surfboards responded. They were pretty well into the search by the time we motored into the area (Carol had missed the calls on VHF 23A, and had seen some dolphins or something and stopped to try and track them), but I cruised in closer to the beach than they were anyway. Shortly thereafter someone spotted bubbles, and one of the lifeguards freedove down and made sure the diver was OK, then followed the bubbles back in to the beach. We didn't wait around to see who it was.
June 28: 3 dives: Mating Amtracks with Fofo, Guy, Ed, and Kathy; Shale Island with Jeff, Kathy and Greg(?); Pinnacle of Doom area with Jeff, Kathy and Greg (if that was his name.)
While prepping the boat, Fofo came up and we chatted for a while. He said they (he and Guy) were going to do the Barge, so I offered them a ride out. Turned out there were three divers in his group (which was fine), so we all loaded gear. As I was about to swap out street clothes for the drysuit, Kathy came up to bum a ride as well. She got her gear loaded, and got changed, and we all headed out. Flat water, blue wake, and not too many other boats out. Someone suggested the Amtracks as a destination (I think it was Guy, wanting to see the Hermissendas), so we headed there.
In the water, the surface was very clear; dropping down, the clarity decreased somewhat, to about 20 to 30 hazy feet or so at the bottom. The tracks weren't visible from the hook, and Guy and Fofo ran a line to pull an arc search. Figuring that Kathy and Ed would follow them, I sort of wandered here and there, checking out the bits of debris and such on the bottom. Eventually, I ran across the tracks, with the other four divers on it. The Hermissendas were still there in force, as were a single Cadlina luteomarginata, a single Flabellina trilineata, a couple of Peltodorises, and, off in the sand, a single San Diego dorid. A few kelp rockfish, a copper, and one big wolf eel. No pics, as I continue to be plagued with battery problems. 81 feet, 32 minutes, 52 degrees.
Dive 2: Jeff had a couple of drysuit students, so I offered them a ride. Changed out batteries from the truck (after checking the charge state this time.) Headed to Shale Island (my choice), dropped the hook, geared up and headed down. Followed the anchor line and whoever was in front of me dragging the line down. Once at the bottom, I was going to check the hook (it has a habit of wedging itself in an unrecoverable position on the shale), so I swam past Jeff, following the line. I decided to take a bearing on the line (wind was from a weird direction), but when I grabbed my compass and looked back, the line was gone. Took a bearing as close as I could estimate, and figured I'd adjust it when I hit the edge of the island by swimming one way then the other til I found the hook. Problem was, I had no idea when I hit the end of the island. Swam out way further than the line should have been, offset a bit and came back; ended up somewhere out in the middle of nowhere after swimming all over the damn place. Found some great structure in the forms of big overhangs, saw a lot of stuff but nothing really unusual. Finally decided that it might be better to surface and get bearings rather than swim all over the place (a little late, but at least I decided something.) Surfaced next to the yellow PWC zone buoy. No pics, as I was primarily trying to figure out where in hell I was. 66 feet, 30 minutes, 55 degrees.
Dive 3: The same foursome headed out to Pinnacle of Doom, with a last minute change in plans to try and locate Superman. 10 to 25 foot variable vis, a touch of current, and surprisingly surgy. Lots of kelp rocks, a couple of coppers, a black or two, lots of small blues, a whole bunch of unidentifiable juveniles, a black perch, a pair of formation-swimming pile perch, rubberlips, a couple of kelp perch (I think - the little orange guys?), a small ling, and a few sculpins. Not too many slugs, and all of them normal sightings. Found a small (really small; maybe a quarter inch) shrimp of some sort (Lebbeus lagunae?); spent a while trying to get a shot with the thing big enough to ID. Not really sure I succeeded. A bit later, I found what I believe is a Manania gwilliami - a stauromedusa, or stalked jelly. Headed up after I realized everyone else was probably waiting (they were, but had not been for as long as I thought.) 44 feet, 48 minutes, 54 degrees.
June 22: 2 dives: Hopkins Deep Reef and the Steam Engine, both with Jeff and Ed on Nitrox, and me on Aurora.
At the hotel the night before, had run into Jim Ernst, and invited him and
his DM on the boat. They had a class, but were getting an early start, and
anticipated being done early(ish), so we were good to go.
Got to Breakwater, and saw Chuck geared up and ready to go. Chatted with Clinton for a minute while Chuck launched Black Dog, and they headed out. A few minutes later, they were back, Chuck having torn his neckseal.
Saw Jim, who wasn't done with his class, and he deferred until dive 2.
Jeff and I splashed boats, and headed out with the idea of doing Ballbuster. Short period, steep swell (though not too large) made the ride out, uh, interesting. Planing speed would try to launch the boat off the backside of the waves. A bit of windchop made it tough to anticipate exactly what the boat was going to do. Upon arriving at Ballbuster, we decided that the conditions coupled with the lack of other boats that far out would make diving there a poor decision, so we headed back in a bit, deciding on Hopkins Deep for a dive site.
Dropped my hook in about 70 feet, Jeff was a little further offshore. Hopped in and found the surface water had about 15 foot vis. Headed down, and ran into a soup layer at about 15 feet, cutting vis to about 3 to 5. That layer cleared at about 35 or 40 feet, and below that was probably 40 foot vis, but dark. Near night dive dark. Checked my hook, which was fine in a sand patch, but the chain had wrapped itself into a slipknot. Tried for a bit to clear it, and finally gave up. Checked out the rocks around the area (nice metridium-covered boulders) shot pics of a reasonably uncooperative copper rockfish, an oblivious treefish at a really bad angle, and a Dendronotus iris on a tube anemone. Aside from a weird unidentified worm thingie, that was about all I found worth noting. 80 feet, 36 minutes, 50 degrees.
After a too-brief (for me, anyway) surface interval (during which Ernst bailed altogether), we headed out for the Steam Engine. Anchored up and got in, with the same layer as at Hopkins, but reaching shallower, to about 5 feet. At the bottom, despite about 30 foot vis, I didn't recognize where I was, until I ran into the Steam Engine proper (partly because I was head down looking for slugs, I think.) Headed back towards my anchor and decided to pay the Fringehead-in-a-pipe a visit. Found the pipe, but didn't see the fringehead. Took a look inside, and saw the fairly recognizable reticulated mottling of an octopus about 6 inches in. Took the pipe and shook it around a bit trying to clear it, but the octopus stayed put. Gave up, and placed the pipe in a position where the mouth should remain clear (unless it's upset by swell or something), just in case the octopus vacates it and the fringehead returns. All in all, I didn't really see much on this dive, either. 81 feet, 31 minutes, 50 degrees.
At least there were no electrical storms.
June 21: 1 dive: Random spot off Point Joe with Mike
Waited around, sweating in the building heat, til about 9, when my buddy Mike showed up (not his fault; that was the planned meeting time.) Headed out, with the intention of heading around the corner. And so we did, after a stop to say howdy to Harry and Dionna at Ballbuster. Water was at least really flat; probably more like really, really flat. The blue color of yesterday wasn't as noticeable today. Anchored at a spot just off Pt Joe that showed pretty impressive relief on the fishfinder. As it was, it was more impressive on screen than in person (though it wasn't really a bad spot.) Given the flat water, I assumed that surge would be minimal. Mike reported cloudy water as soon as he got in. A glance down the anchor line clearly showed 20, perhaps 25 feet, so I figured he was back to his warm water reckoning. But he wasn't; vis at the surface was maybe 10, and that may be stretching it. Descending, things got cloudier and clearer, depending on what you happened to hit. Once at the bottom, we had about 25 feet. Then, about 7. Then 15. Then 20. Then the sun came out, then it disappeared. About three feet of surge, which was substantially more than the swell height (I assume the surge was being amplified in the channels.) Saw several black and yellow rockfish, a few kelp greenling, one really skittish cabezon, and a few perch. Lots of blues up in the water column. I finally gave up looking for stuff, decided to try and shoot moon jellies near the surface, and told Mike I was headed up. Right then a serious cloud moved in, and I lost the anchor line, Mike, and most of the rocks I was between. Relocated the anchor line, and ascended. Surface vis had deteriorated further, down to about 3 feet. Hung for the safety stop without seeing a thing. No jelly shots today. 52 feet, 45 minutes, 50 degrees.
The chop was picking up, and the breeze had turned really cold. Rounded Point
Pinos, and the temperature climbed about 10 degrees in the span of a few
seconds, as if someone had opened an oven door. We tied up as the Fish and Game
wardens were heading out "to cool off" (their words.) Told them about the temp
drop near Pt Pinos, and they immediately decided that was where they were going.
I never saw them get further than the end of the Breakwater wall, though,
probably working over fishermen with binoculars.
While we were waiting for tanks to fill and whatnot, an electrical storm moved through just to the north, followed by another just south. One more missed to the north, the fourth nailed us. Waited it out, but it appeared that at least one more was making a beeline for Monterey, so I decided to call any further diving, as it was too hot waiting in the drysuit (even peeled down), and Mike had to leave at about 3 to take his wife to a concert anyway. So, pulled the boat, and packed everything up.
Then Harry pulled his boat, and the thunderstorms immediately dissipated. Obviously the unstable weather was his fault.
June 20: 3 dives; solo at Mating Amtracks and the Barge, and a night dive at
Breakwater, sort of with Jeff and Ed.
Headed around the corner, as the water along Cannery Row looked pretty green. Rounding Pt Pinos, the wake went from Green Tea to sky blue. Pulled into a spot that was just south of the Lighthouse, surprised that there was no kelp. Then I saw why: A steady current was blowing along the shore, heading back up to the Point. It would have been diveable, but was beyond my max for diving solo. So, pulled the hook and looked around the other side of the Lighthouse, where the current was going exactly the opposite direction. After poking around a bit, weighing consequences and such, ended up on the Mating Amtracks. Visibility on top was horrible; probably less than 3 feet. Dropping down the line, it steadily (but only slightly) improved until, at 35 feet, the layer disappeared. Visibility at the bottom was probably over 40 feet. It seems there's something of a Hermissenda convention on the Tracks; probably 20 or 25 largeish individuals, mostly colored the same (Hermissendas have differing cerata: white tipped, reddish, orangish, clear, etc.) One trilineata. A couple of gopher rocks and a bunch of kelps, and some hermit crabs. Nothing really unusual. 81 feet, 33 minutes, 48 degrees.
Did the Barge as dive 2, as I was planning on doing that as a night dive (that didn't work out that way, but...) Soup to about 30 feet, about 20 foot vis below that. Lots of Kelpies, one kelp greenling, and a ling. A couple of white Dendronotus iris, a few Pelts, one Doriopsilla. Lots of elbow crabs, Megasurcula, and several black eye Hermits. 66 feet, 41 minutes, 50 degrees.
Night dive along the wall for dive 3: Started out with Jeff and his student, but left them to see what was on the bottom (planned departure.) Worked mostly shallowish; several red octopus, millions of some kind of wriggly red worms (the tube anemones ate pretty well), some kind of fish I need to look up (long bottom fish; poacher, maybe?), lots of tiny juvenile rockfish and several juvie perch. Camera battery problems again as I hit max depth; on the way back in saw a bunch of plainfin midshipmen, I think one of a different midshipman (I think), and, of course, 2 Aeolidia papillosa. 43 feet, 46 minutes, 55 degrees.
June 15: 2 dives, both solo: Somewhere just south of the Pt. Pinos Lighthouse, and Anchors 2 & 3.
Got out of the motel early to get a trailer parking place, and it worked.
Got fills while prepping the boat and dive gear (too lazy to get them up north), talked to Harry, Dionna, and Mark for a bit, then headed out.
Too flat to not try going around the corner, but being alone (again) I didn't want to try anything too radical. Dropped the hook at a random spot just south of the Pt Pinos Lighthouse, in about 60 feet. Surface looked pretty good, bluish and clear, the bull kelp sitting straight up, and three foot swells and a bit of wind chop rolling through. Hopped in, expecting the same cloudy water as yesterday, but was pleasantly surprised: Surface vis was pretty good. Dropped down, and at the bottom, checked the hook. Had to reposition it a bit to ensure getting it back up, then I looked around. Easily 40 foot visibility, probably more like 50. Just a touch of surge. Given the vis and my lack of fish pics, I decided to try and shoot (mostly) big stuff (bigger than slugs, anyway.) Lots of gopher rockfish, lots of stupidly inquisitive kelp rocks, a large school of blues with a few olives mixed in, a couple of kelp greenling (male chasing female) that I couldn't track long enough to get a shot, a huge vermilion (ditto), an oddly colored rockfish that I think was probably a grass, a bunch of perch, and about a 5 foot wolf eel that scared the crap out of me (came up face to face with it as I rounded a corner.) 71 feet, 44 minutes, 50 degrees. Uneventful run back in to Breakwater, where I joined Dionna, Harry, and Mark for a quick bite to eat.
Headed back out with the idea of a quick dive and an early exit for home. Figured that I hadn't been to Anchors 2&3 for a while, so I dropped there. I wasn't expecting all that much given the crappy conditions at Shale Island the day before, but I figured macro stuff on the anchors would be OK. Surface was actually pretty clear, and in the water, I could see about 20 feet down the anchor line. Unfortunately, at about 25 feet, the same crappy particulate layer showed up. Luckily, it cleared a bit at about 65 or 70 feet. Shot a lot of pics of nothing really special. Vis was kind of weird: About ten feet when I got down, about 5 feet on the anchors, about 15 on the concrete block. Eventually I figured out (and saw) that a huge green cloud was washing in and out of the area. Worked for quite a while shooting what I thought was a juvie rockfish perching on the fluted bryozoan, only to find on reviewing the pics that it was a juvenile painted greenling. 82 feet, 34 minutes, 50 degrees.
June 14: 2 dives, both solo, Outer Lovers Pt. and Shale Island.
Launched at the Monterey Harbor Ramp, as no parking available at Breakwater.
I was trying a bit of new gear: an OMS weight rig and a new Pinnacle Drysuit, so I was planning on doing something pretty simple in case things were all wonky. I decided to dive off Lovers despite the reasonably flat water, which would have put me around the corner any other day. As it turned out, there wasn't any detectable difference in the gear changes, so, I guess it was just an easy dive.
Water on top didn't look too bad, but once I was in, the clearish-looking green was seriously hazy, like looking through slightly colored liquid soap. At the bottom, you could make out the dark mass of a rock 20 feet aaway, but detail disappeared after about 10 feet or so. Found a convenient pinnacle just off the anchor, and immediately found a Limacia cockerelli, and spent a while trying to get it to pose (slugs don't listen too well, and I can't talk with a reg in my mouth anyway.) Ran across a few Peltodorises and Doriopsillas, then another Limacia. More time spent shooting, with limited results again. Found a small white dorid, and took a few pics for a later ID; turned out to be a Cadlina modesta. 43 feet, 48 minutes, a toasty 55 degrees.
For Dive 2, I was thinking about trying to shoot sea lions, but decided that the crappy visibility would make that too great a challenge, so I went to Shale Island, hoping to get under the layer that Brenna said had limited her Breakwater vis. Top again looked sort of OK, and turned out not to be once in the water. This time, descending put me in more particulate water, then really chunky water. It didn't get much better at the bottom. Worked the west end of the island, found a single large Hermissenda, lots of San Diegos, a few Cadlina lueomarginata, a Doris montereyensis, several Doriopsilla albopunctata, and 3 Cadlina modestas. Fish were limited to a couple of painted greenlings, a bunch of black eyed gobies, and about a dozen small rockfish that apparently appointed me king, as they followed me throughout all but about the first 5 minutes of the dive. 55 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees.
Upon reboarding the boat, heard the Coast Guard apparently searching for some kids who had transmitted a "help us" message from somewhere near Moss Landing. Sounded like they had several boats and a helicopter out searching. Never heard any resolution.
June 1: 2 dives; Eric's Pinnacle with Jeff on Nitrox and me and Mike on
Aurora; then Outer Lovers, same group plus Larry and Carol on XTSea.
Dive 1: While prepping the boat, saw a pod of dolphins just southeast of the Metridium Field cavorting (as far as I could tell.) I assumed common dolphins, as they appeared to be jumping. Got the boats launched a bit later, and went to see if we could find them. Nothing near the Metridium Fields, but found a pod of about 20 Risso's offshore at about the Aquarium. Paced them for a bit out to somewhere near Aumentos, where the seas were getting rather large (4 or 5 feet, steep and close. Not really dangerous, but kind of unpleasant.) After a bit of discussion, we headed towards Eric's Pinnacle, almost changed plans when it appeared a large private vessel was on the site, then resumed the plan when we realized the boat wasn't on Eric's.
Hooked up and hopped in; dropped down to check the anchor set. Visibility at the bottom was probably a solid 40, perhaps more. I had told Mike that the easiest way to dive was to start at the bottom and spiral up, working around the pinnacle as you ascended, ending up near the anchor line (I was assuming I was going to be close. Luckily, I was.) He took off somewhere, and I started working clockwise. Several common slugs, but this dive was about fish (I seem to have a shortage of fish pics in my collection.) Found a crack with several rockfish hanging out: a treefish, a gopher, a copper, and something else that didn't want to show itself. Got a couple of OK shots of the treefish. Tried to shoot a few blues hanging off the pinnacle, with limited success. Got an OK shot of a male kelp greenling after stalking/chasing it around for about 5 minutes. A Cabezon made a brief appearance, then settled down head-on to me, but way deep in a fissure. Made for a really strange shot. Nothing else really of note, but quite an enjoyable dive overall. Vis closed down to around maybe 25 feet as we ended the dive (may have been from being shallower.) 61 feet for 48 minutes, 52 degrees.
Dive 2: Picked up Larry and Carol, done with their students and out on XTSea. Jeff wanted to hunt for Superman (who had been zip-tied to his anchor line until last weekend, when he deserted), so we headed back out to the Pinnacle of Doom area. Jeff anchored up near the POD itself, Carol and I were a couple of hundred yards back towards the Aquarium (Carol because she saw a high spot on her fishfinder, and me because I didn't want to have the boat sitting in kelp.) Mike and I got in, and just before reaching the anchor, I came across a weight pouch in the sand. I left the pouch on top of my hook and continued diving. Meanwhile, Jeff apparently had issues: something about dumping a weight pouch from the surface.
Mike and I headed over to a convenient rock, and started exploring. Lots of perch, blue rockfish, a lone grumpy black rockfish, several really stupid kelp rockfish ("whatcha doing? Whatcha doing? Whatcha doing? Yikes, it moved!!!"), a couple of tiny Rostangas, lots of Peltodoris's and Doriopsilla's, don't remember what else. Vis ranged from a low of about 20 to probably 45 or more, and the clear and shallowish water made things nice and bright. 43 feet, 57 minutes, 54 toasty degrees. Pain in the butt (and arms) getting the weightpouch back to the surface.
May 31: 3 dives: 2 with Mike at Pinncale of Doom and Shale Island; then the
Steam engine with Mike, plus Larry and Carol on XTSea.
Dive 1: Mike hadn't been in the water for nearly a year, so I wanted to keep things shallow and simple to see whether he could still dive without offing himself. I chose the site we dove last week, affectionately named Pinnacle of Doom. Dropped the hook, then readjusted it to get the boat out of the sparse kelp in the area. Water looked blue from the surface. Hopped in, and could make out bottom detail from about 3 feet down; not too bad for a 40 foot site. Moved the hook a bit to make sure the boat cleared the kelp, then swam over to the rock about 20 feet away. Mike immediately circled that rock, then the next one over, while I poked around the first rock looking for small stuff. Shot a bunch of inverts, then hopped over to a different rock. Found a couple of really small Rostanga's, but not a whole lot else special. Still, vis was a solid 30 feet, perhaps as much as 45 (closing to about 20 towards the end of the dive); not much surge, and no current. Poked around in the sand for a bit until our agreed upon end time of 40 minutes, then stayed a bit longer. Eventually headed back up. 41 feet, 48 minutes, 50 degrees.
Dive 2: After a lengthy SI for lunch, we headed back out to Shale Island. Based on his diving during the precious dive, I told Mike he was free to do what he wanted, either shadow me, take off and explore, whatever. I guess he decided for one of the latter two. Headed down, and the bottom came into view at about 15 feet. I could ID slugs from 15 to 20 feet above the bottom. I moved the hook off the Island and over the ledge, then Mike took off, presumably looking for Anchor 5, or possibly doing a lap around the island. Spent most of my time on top, looking for slugs. The San Diego's are still out in force, as are Doriopsilla albopunctata and Peltodoris nobilis. Found a couple of smallish Acanthodoris hudsoni, several Doris montereyensis, some Cadlina flavomaculata, a wildly mating (or pre-mating) pair of Hermissendas. No Doris odhneri, which is unusual, and only a few small Triopha catalinae. Headed back up, and found Mike back on the boat having called his dive after nearly completed his lap. 53 feet, 46 minutes, 52 degrees. Vis maybe 25 feet.
Dive 3: Met up with Larry and Carol outside the harbor, and headed to the Steam Engine. Carol dropped on the numbers, I offset about 40 feet. Mike and I headed down a bit after Larry and Carol, and swam a long ways along the rode (I had about 250 feet out.) When we were about 10 feet off the bottom, I spotted a couple of Tritonia festiva's and dropped off the line to point them out to Mike. We checked those outm and a nearby Spanish Shawl, and when I looked up, the line was gone. Figuring we had dragged it down, and it sprang back up out of sight, we continued along the same heading. Never found the hook. We offset a bit to the north, working a small ledge there, the headed south to a larger ledge, heading back towards the boat. Eventually we stumbled onto the Steam Engine itself, then Larry and Carol, then XTSea's anchor. At that point, my line became visible off to the north. Turns out that Larry had hooked my line with his tank valve and pulled it way off-line. He probably released it about the time we dropped off of it, and it kicked way sideways. Since we had been following a bogus heading, we never found the hook, either. Lots of Clowns, a few Peltodoris, some San Diegos, C. luteomarginata and D. albopunctata, lots of T. festiva, several F. iodinea, and one tiny Aegires albopunctatus. No fish worth noting. No octopus. I did find a couple of transparent shrimp on a gorgonian, but have yet to ID them. 84 feet, 34 minutes, 50 degrees. Vis 40+ feet near the bottom.
May 26: 2 dives, Gene's Bucket and Outer Lovers Point, with Larry, Carol, Cathy, and Matt on XTSea, Jeff and Pam on Nitrox, and me on Aurora (Pam and Matt both sat out dive 2. Wetsuit divers...)
Back to Breakwater at a bit before 8. Had to wait a bit for fills (too lazy
to have them done the night before); Glenn's Aquarius 2 was a bit late opening
(holiday - Can you blame them?) Chatted with Capt Phil for a bit while he
launched his boat for a whale watching trip with the family.
Loaded up and headed around the corner bound for... someplace. Plan was to dive somewhere short of Carmel, as the only person who wanted to run that far was Carol. After a bit of discussion, we ended up at Gene's Bucket - a site off Pt Joe where a friend of mine had once gotten seasick (On the boat, during the dive, after the dive...) Anchored up, and a current check showed absolutely nothing. The kelp was laid out northward, but was sitting placidly on the surface. By the time we hopped in, there was a touch of surface current, but not too serious - slow finning every few seconds was enough to hold position. Surface water was pretty clear, maybe 25 or 30 foot vis, dropping down didn't show a lot of improvement, but with stuff to look at, you could see structure 40 feet away pretty clearly. Shadowed by several blue and olive rockfish, I did the usual poking around, not really finding much of note except for a small Limacia. Had a gopher rockfish pose for a shot, until I focused on him, then he rushed the camera. Got a great shot of his dorsal fin, though. 65 feet 45 minutes, 50 degrees that felt a lot colder. Coming back up, found all the kelp at a 60 degree angle. The current wasn't really all that noticeable, though, which was kind of odd.
For dive 2, we sort of wussed out, and planned to do a dive on either Outer MacAbee or Outer Lovers. Ended up on semi-outer Lovers, I guess. Neat area, though; all 3 boats were anchored parallel to shore with a hundred feet or so between us. I think everyone found their own little pinnacle to dive on. I found 3 Rostangas that were out cruising, a C-O sole that didn't want his face photo'd (witness relocation program?) and a sanddab that didn't quite have the whole match-your-background camouflage thing down. A few Peltodorises, a tiny Doris montereyensis, a couple of luteomarginata, a couple of san diegos, and a bunch of D. albopunctata. 43 feet, 43 minutes, 50 degrees. Gotta come back here sometime. [Postscript: Roy Dumlao, who is planning on diving Lovers for the Beach Dive Photo Contest, has stolen my numbers for the spot. Hope he gets some good pics.]
May 25: 2 dives, Mono-Lobo Wall and Shale Island with Larry and Carol on XTSea; Jeff and Pam on Nitrox, and me on Aurora (Pam sat out dive 2.)
Pulled into Breakwater just after 8, and got the last trailer parking spot
available. Jeff arrived a half hour later, and ended up in the upper lot. Carol
wanted to head to Lobos Rocks, so we splashed all the boats and headed south.
Water was nice and smooth, making a fast run possible and pleasant.
Arrived at Lobos Rocks (it was either there or Brazil, with Carol leading I'm not sure which.), dropped the hook, and just as we started gearing up, I did a current check and found probably a knot and a half blowing northward. Jeff whined about people not being gutsy enough to dive it anyway, but he never got in either. On to plan 2, pulled the hook, heading for Mono Lobo (after a stop for Jeff to look at an imaginary whale. In truth, I saw the footprint, but that was it.)
Hopped in to nice blue water, anchored up in about 80 feet. Another nose-to-the-rocks dive, working large boulders extending up to 55 feet or so. I recall seeing one fish in the water column; a perch of some sort, and a few sculpins, painted greenlings, and gobies. Actually not that many slugs, either: a few lemons, a couple or three Tritonia festivas, a couple of cadlina luteomarginata, a couple of San Diego's, and a Berthella. Shot several pictures of various inverts, finally gave into the cold, and headed back up. As I reached the anchor line, I ran across a strange jelly, shot a couple of pics (turned out to be a Solmissus), then, out of time, headed up. Ran across another neat looking jelly just below the safety stop, but by the time I got the camera set, it was gone (probably a Eutonina indicans.) 83 feet, 39 minutes, 48 degrees (both Jeff and Pam had 46 diving a couple of hundred feet towards Monastery.)
Chatted with Rob for a second or two, watched him head back, then pulled the hook and followed a few minutes behind him. As we neared the Pinnacles, I spotted some dorsal fins in the water a few hundred yards out. I was hoping they would be orcas (initial sighting was too far to get a good feel for size), but they turned out to be Risso dolphins. Paced them heading north for a few minutes, and continued on again. Jeff came on the radio again having spotted another imaginary whale; Coincidentally, a humpback (real) decided to show up just after that. Followed the whale (headed south) for a quarter mile, then resumed the run back to the ramp. As we rounded Pt. Pinos, I saw Double Down anchored, and a couple of divers well away from the boat. I headed for the divers to pick them up and return them to DD, but they apparently had been pulling the hook when I saw them, and were soon on their way to recover the pair. I waited until they were on top of the divers, then we headed back in.
Just short of Breakwater, Jeff suddenly slowed and stopped, and I did the same. the F&G Hurricane 733 RIB came flying up (22 foot RIB, twin 150's), and the Warden said that if we were racing, we had nothing on him. I replied that I had been burning 8 gallons an hour, how about him? He replied that I was paying for it so he really didn't care. Funny guy. Jeff had stopped as he thought his hat had jumped ship and sank; at the ramp, it turned out it had just jumped head and was hiding in the back of his boat.
After a pretty fair SI, headed out again, just after Chuck left for some whale watching (with his Canadian friends on board, I think. I missed the intro's.)
Decided on Shale Island, as the wind was picking up (not as bed as Saturday, but still...) so we headed over there. Carol made a run at the numbers, followed by me. I dropped the hook, she didn't. Jeff dropped just after me (minus Pam, who sat out due to being chilled.) Carol made another run, and missed again. By that time, I had drifted back on the line, and I ended up directly above Anchor 5. I told Carol, who didn't believe me, until I did a GoTo, and told her I was 12 feet from datum. She dropped there, and her anchor ended up 5 feet from Anchor 5. Hopped off the boat into soup, couldn't see the bottom until I was at about 40 feet (site is 55.) Still and all, it cleared pretty well below that, with horizontal vis a green, hazy, and chunky 15 to 20. Swam around looking for slugs, and they were all over the place again (or still, if you remember last weekends reports.) Nothing really unusual. A big bull sea lion did a flyby. Ran into everyone at one point or another during the dive, which is kind of unusual for us. 59 feet for 52 minutes, 48 degrees. Received a DSC phone call as we approached the ramp: Chuck reporting seeing several humpies, one of which nudged his boat.
May 24: 2 dives, both with Ed the New Guy.
Arrived at Breakwater to find lots of parking, both trailer spots and along the wall. Ed was there already, having pulled in a few minutes earlier. Got everything set to go, splashed the boat, briefed Ed on what to expect, and we were off.
I hadn't been to the Mating Amtracks in quite a while, so I opted for that since Ed doesn't know any of the dive sites in the area. The run from Breakwater to Lovers was mirror calm, and as dead flat as it gets in Monterey. Dropped the hook on the numbers, threw out about 200' of scope, and waited for the line to tighten up. And waited. And waited. Eventually gave up on waiting and went diving. Top was fairly green and chunky, but cleared at least somewhat on the way down. Vis at the bottom was 20 to 25, hazy but not as chunky as the top layer. Found the tracks pretty much straightaway, and started looking for stuff. There is a Hermissenda population explosion in process, other than that, I didn't see all that much special. Several toothshell hermits, a few other hermits, some other snails, a couple of kelp rockfish, a couple of sculpins, and that was about it. Back up to find a bit of wind had picked up, but not really enough to be any kind of concern. 80 feet, 27 minutes, 48 degrees.
After a fair surface interval, we headed out for dive 2, with a plan to dive Shale Island for slugs. Just before arriving there, we ran into Chase (on Mac Attack) who reported zero to three foot vis wherever he had been looking for halibut. I decided that further towards Point Pinos might be prudent, so we headed back that way. The wind had come up with a vengeance, blowing straight out of the west, whitecapping 100 feet after blowing offshore. Dropped the hook somewhere in Hopkins Deep, let out a couple of hundred feet of scope, considered lengthening scope, then went diving. The hook was among a bunch of boulders, several with a good covering of metridiums. Vis was actually pretty decent, you could make out boulder shapes at about 30 feet. Found one rock populated by a group of 5 or 6 clown nudis, none mating, and none egg-laying. Other than that, a few Cadlina luteomarginata, a couple of Peltodoris, rockfish or two, and few sculpins. At some point, the anchor dragged out of the rocks and rehooked itself on the next line of boulders; the wind was playing havoc with just about everything (heard that the outrigger racers suffered three capsized canoes out near Pt. Pinos.) 83 feet, 31 minutes, 46 degrees.
May 18: 2 dives at Shale Island; Dive 1 solo, Dive 2 with Jeff on Nitrox (not that I ever saw him)
Was supposed to dive with Ed (bailed) and Mike (also bailed.) Jeff was
teaching, so I headed out for a solo dive after waiting a bit for the fog to
I initially ran out to see what Aumentos and Hopkins looked like, but the fog was still covering Aumentos, and it was drifting in and out at Hopkins. Ended up on Shale Island.
Surface water looked reasonably clear. Hopped in, and it was immediately apparent that the clarity was vertical rather than horizontal. Dropping down, I checked the hook, checked the vis (about 20 to 25, hazy, and fairly particulate near the bottom), and started slug hunting. First thing I noticed was that the San Diegos had apparently gone bonkers on sex. Diaulula city. Second thing I noticed was that my camera batteries died. Folded it up and used it as a 4 pound ballast weight. Checked around the southwest side, along the ledge, and found quite a few different slug varieties. Among them: Diaulula sandiegensis, Peltodoris nobilis, Doris moneteryensis and odhneri, Cadlina flavomaculata and luteomarginata, Doriopsilla albopunctata, Acanthodoris hudsoni, a single Limacia cockerelli, a single Tritonia festiva, a few Dendronotus albus, a couple of Hermissendas, lots of Geitodoris heathi, and a couple I wasn't sure about that turned out to be Cadlina modesta. I think that was it. Not too many fish; a rockfish or two, a couple of small sculpins and painted greenlings, and the omnipresent black eyed gobies. 57 feet, 43 minutes, and a toasty 52 degrees.
Returned to the ramp, changed out camera batteries, went out to check on Jeff who was out off the aquarium, then came back to the ramp and got lunch.
Took a long SI, and headed back to Shale Island armed with a powered camera. Basically did the same dive as in the morning, seeing pretty much the same characters less the Limacia (couldn't find it again.) 54 feet, 45 minutes,52 degrees.
May 17: 2 dives: Stillwater Cove with Larry, Carol, and Kathy on XTSea, and Trevor, Kirk, Lydia and myself on Aurora; Steam Engine with the same group plus Ed added to XTSea.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 8:30. The last trailer spot was filled a
couple of minutes before I got there. So, off to the Monterey Harbor ramp.
Trevor drove over as he couldn't find a spot, either.
Carol had Kirk and Lydia on XTSea , so we were going to meet up just clear of the harbor to transfer them to Aurora (which would also give me time to pump up the tubes.) As Trevor and I cleared the commercial wharf, a humpback whale blew about 100 yds directly in front of us. I got on the radio to tell Carol, and we both followed the whale out to an area south of Shale Island. It seemed to be feeding, coming up a half dozen times in a very small area (including about 20 feet from my boat, and about 10 from Carol's), then it rolled on its side, reversed course, and headed back past the mouth of the harbor. A couple of kayaks picked it up, and we stopped to transfer bodies and inflate tubes. The whale continued up along Cannery Row.
Headed out around the corner, trying to keep things sort of smooth for Lydia. Unfortunately, it was pretty lumpy on the way down. Took a look at Butterfly House, but the big homebuilt cat was already hooked up there. We retreated to Stillwater, chose an area, and dropped the hook.
Water looked pretty good on top, and remained at least okay at depth. I'd call it a hazy 20 to 25 or so. We were in an area with small upcroppings, most of the rock tops covered in some short variety of kelp. Personally, I recall seeing a total of four fish (not counting painted greenlings): A gopher rock, two kelp rocks, and something else (don't remember what it was.) Slugs were in short supply as well: One C. luteomarginata, a couple of Peltodoris, a Dendronotus albus, and four or five Berthella, including one laying eggs. Had a good time searching for stuff, even if it wasn't particularly productive. 60 feet, 39 minutes, 50 degrees. The ride back was uneventful, except for Lydia's urgings to hurry, as she had to, uh, take a powder.
Dive 2 on the Steam Engine with the same people, plus a Ed added to XTSea's roster. Fairly scungy water on top, which got progressively worse all the way down. At the bottom vis was maybe a chunky 7 feet, with algal particulates drifting around in the surge. My hook ended up a several feet beyond the pipe (and the fringehead was there, but not too social.) Lost Trevor almost immediately, and spent my dive poking around on the ledge looking for slugs. Again, not too much around. A few small Pelts, a couple of luteomarginata, a Doriopsilla, a Tritonia festiva, and a smallish Tochuina tetraquetra. 81 feet, 35 minutes, 50 degrees.
May 11: 2 dives: Eric's Pinnacle, and Lemon Zest; both with Larry and Carol on XTSea, Jeff on Nitrox, and me and Steve on Aurora.
Plan was to see if we could get around the point and down towards Carmel; someone (Carol) called the run just past Aumentos or so as swells built to about 4 or 5 feet.
Headed for Ballbuster, where it was still rolling pretty good, before Jeff realized that the bottom would be beyond his MOD. So, a second relocation to Eric's (well, for some of us, anyway.) Carol dropped her hook first, I waited for them to drift out a bit, motored over the pinnacle and dropped mine (oddly, quite a distance from where I thought Carol had), then Jeff dropped his hook splitting the difference.
Everybody splashed, and I found my anchor just about where I thought it would be, beyond the pinnacle, and pretty much running up along the shoreward side. Relocated it a bit to keep from scraping too much life off the rocks. Vis was fairly poor: about 15 to 25, a bit dark, and green and chunky. Slug count was low: a couple of Peltodorises, a San Diego or two, a couple of Doriopsilla albopunctata, a remarkably unphotogenic Flabellina trilineata, and something that I thought was a tiny Limacia cockerelli; had to enlarge the pics on the computer to verify. There were fish, for a change, with a school of about 20 blue rocks hanging off the top of the pinnacle, a bunch of pretty good size perch, a couple of kelp greenling, a kamikaze cabezon on eggs, and a mystery guest (some kind of goby, I think; saw it for an instant as it bolted and hid.) I caught sight of the strobe from Larry's camera once, and saw Steve a couple of times as I circumnavigated the pinnacle one and a half times; so much for group diving. Had a moon jelly and three or four nettles make an appearance on the safety stop. 54 feet, 39 minutes, 50 degrees.
After a decent surface interval, Jeff suggested heading out beyond Shale Island and looking for structure; we ended up hunting for vertical relief in three foot swells (hard to see a couple-foot ledge when the bottom looks like a 3 foot sinewave.) Ran from the yellow buoy in front of the hotel to an area south of Shale Island, and only stopped looking there as I had dove there a couple of years ago (I named it Lemon Zest after all the Peltodorises that were there; a couple of weeks later they were all gone), and I knew there was at least some structure. It was shallower than I wanted to dive given the swell, but I also didn't want to end up on flat shale or worse, flat sand.
Steve and I dropped into something that looked like vegetable soup; thick, chunky, green, hazy - all the bad vis terms seemed to apply. Going down the line, it got a little less hazy, but not much. It looked like about a million sea lions with colds had all been blowing their noses. Snot city. My anchor was hooked up on a flat section of shale, and didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I left it. Came back to a ledge I saw while descending, and it was pretty spectacular: a pointed outcropping perhaps 4 feet above the bottom, extending 8 or 10 feet. Unfortunately, that was about the only relief I found in my limited exploration. Everything else was either flat shale or sand/rubble channels. Slugs: Lots of San Diego's, a couple of D. albopunctata, a few Peltodoris, and several Geitodorises. Fish: A brown rock, a kelp greenling, and a bunch of skittish black eye gobies. No real highlight to this dive, but it was actually pretty nice considering the 5 to 7 foot vis and lack of anything really interesting. 47 feet, 41 minutes, 50 degrees.
May 10: After a three week layoff due to weather and a lingering back
problem, finally got back to Monterey. Two dives; with Steve, Lydia and Kirk at
Lighthouse Cut; with Steve at the Steam Engine.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 9:30. Bought a new weightbelt, as the psychotic puppy found her way onto the boat (more than once now) and decided to eat the buckle to one of my Halcyon weight pouches. While I wait for a solution to that, I'll be in the belt. Also decided to swap out my neck seal, as the current one was a castoff from Carol, who had used it as her BioSeal experiment - it was a little loose, and on the last couple of dives, I had water get through.
Rob Haas had said that vis was pretty iffy within the bay, so I was thinking something out towards, if not beyond, Pt. Pinos. I didn't want to make the run to Carmel, as I wasn't too sure about how the swell would affect my back. As it turned out, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, (at least until the next morning, making it impossible to attribute it to the boating/diving.) We ended up pulling in at Lighthouse Cut, mostly because I thought it was deeper than it was (trying to mitigate the surge.)
Since we were already there and hooked up, Steve hopped into the swell first, followed by Lydia, Kirk, and me. Figuring it would be surgy, I left the camera on board. Wise choice, except... well, I'll get there later. Vis was somewhere between 25 and maybe 40; a few feet of surge at the bad times, a foot and a half normally. Spent most of my dive nose to the rocks looking for little slugs, largely unsuccessfully. I did find a few really tiny slugs, but also found that my eyesight is not good enough to ID something that small. I think they were Flabellina trilineata, judging by general shape, color, and egg mass. A while later, I came across the slug I needed the camera for: it appeared to be a dendronotid, opaque white ground color, with a smattering of dark brown specks alon each side. The coloration was similar to that of the Aegires albopunctatus I've seen on the shale. Quite a few tri-branched ceratae (as far as I could tell), all white (and possibly translucent), and the rhinophores were white and branched as well. I'd estimate length at about an inch. I was unable to match it with anything in Behrens' old slug book (I'm currently unable to find my copy of the second edition.) Back to the boat just in time to catch a great from-below view of someone getting sick over the side (better than getting sick inside the boat, I suppose.) Saw a grand total of something like 2 fish. Didn't even notice what they were.
48 feet, 36 minutes, 46 degrees. Turns out it was Steve getting sick, just to keep Lydia company, I think. Slow ride back to Breakwater trying not to disrupt Lydia's already whacked equilibrium.
Steve and I planned to hop out to the shale for dive 2. Took a run to see how much things had deteriorated further up, and ran into Chuck and Linda coming back from Carmel. Chuck gave a rundown of their dives, and we parted ways. We retreated back to the Steam Engine.
Hopping in, vis didn't appear too promising. The anchor line was invisible from more than about 5 feet away. Dropping down it got dark, then darker. At the bottom, vis was maybe 5 to 7, and night dive dark. We had already decided that if conditions were crap, we'd abort, but once I checked the hook, I turned to get Steve's assessment and found he was gone. No biggie (our usual dive plan kicked in), so I started taking pictures. Quite a few San Diego dorids, a few smallish Peltodorises (is that the correct pluralization?), a Cadlina luteomarginata or two, a couple of Doriopsillas, a Cadlina flavomaculata, and a couple of Flabellina iodineas. Tons of Black Eye Gobies (well, maybe not tons, but a few pounds anyway), several ronquils, and that was about it. Got a couple of decent shots of a toothshell hermit in a worm tube. Met a couple of sea nettles at the safety stop. Oh, and the fringehead is still in the pipe. 82 feet, 34 minutes, 48 degrees.
Apr 13: 2 dives: Inner Pinnacles with Andy and me on Aurora, Larry and Carol on XTSea, and Jeff and Pam on Nitrox, plus Joachim and Ron on Joachim's boat; Shale Island with Larry and Carol, Pam and Jeff, and me.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 7:30. Chuck rolled in about 10 minutes later,
and I told him that I can now sleep in for the rest of the year. Carol and Larry
rolled in a few minutes after that, and Jeff and Pam showed up a bit later. As
we were prepping boats and gear, another friend, Andy, drove up to say hi, and
was talked into joining us on my boat.
Took off around the point, as Carol desperately wanted to do Carmel. Unfortunately, just north of Pt Joe, my boat had a fuel delivery problem. As in "needing someone to deliver fuel." Carol agreed to run back and see what she could do; they ended up bringing back 2 - 5 gallon cans. Her reasoning was that way, we could continue on to Carmel, and she could get her dive in (did I mention that she desperately wanted to dive Carmel?)
While we were waiting, we ended up drifting directly over a site that I did a few years ago with a couple of friends, one of which ended up getting sick; so I named the site "Gene's Bucket". Andy was getting a little warm sitting on the boat, so we talked him into going for a dive. That cured his overheating problem quite efficiently (he got chilled enough to skip the "real" dive in Carmel.) He came back up shortly after Carol returned, reporting 20 foot vis, but really good structure (which, of course, is why I kept the waypoint.)
Fueled again, we continued south, and Carol picked a spot a bit north of Castle House. Just as we were about to drop the hook, I noticed that all the kelp in the area was strung out horizontally underwater. A unanimous decision moved us over to the Inner Pinnacles. As we were gearing up, Joachim pulled up and asked if he could join us. More the merrier, so he and his buddy (Ron?) joined us in the same general area.
Top was green, about 20 feet of hazy vis. Dropping down, it cleared a bit, opening to 30 to 40 or so. The top layer wasn't heavy enough to block out light, so at 60 feet it was still pretty bright. I didn't notice a lot of fish on the bottom; a few rockfish and a few greenlings, maybe a perch or two. Apparently, everyone else saw a 4-foot ling. Not me. I did find a boulder with about a dozen Dendronotus albus, though, which apparently nobody else saw (at least not those who were looking for slugs, anyway.) Found a half dozen others in different places, other than those there was a single Cadlina luteomarginata. Shot a bunch of other inverts, and headed up my anchor line. On the safety stop, saw a Leucothea comb jelly, and spent a while shooting a few pics (unfortunately, I was rigged for macro, and it wouldn't fit in the frame. I think pretty much everyone else saw at least one as well.) 65 feet, 44 minutes, 48 degrees. The run back was a little lumpy, primarily from wind chop.
Andy bailed to dive Lovers, and I think Joachim and Ron got tired of waiting for us and took off for Eric's. We headed out to Shale Island. Had an octopus do a flyby, then it perched and glared at me (not long enough to get a pic though.) I came across another octo in a hole (might have been the same one), then another (which I'm sure was a different specimen than the other two.) Call it two octopus. Slugs: C. luteomarginata, G. heathi (one), D. montereyensis, P. nobilis, D. ohdneri, D. sandiegensis (lots), D. albopunctata, maybe a couple of others I'm forgetting. Not a whole lot of fish, and none unusual. 56 feet, 47 minutes, 48 degrees (though I think someone may have read 46. Don't remember.)
Apr 12: 2 dives: Offshore Butterfly House with Larry, Carol, and Cathy on XTSea, and me on Aurora; Outer MacAbee with the same group.
Met Larry, Carol, and Cathy at around 9. I was still suffering from the cold
I got last weekend, but I thought that since I could clear my ears pretty
easily, it shouldn't be a problem.
Headed down to Carmel for dive 1, apparently blew right by Chuck just off Pt. Pinos without seeing him, and ran into a humpback apparently feeding just north of Pt. Joe. It would blow three times in pretty quick succession, then sound for about 4 or 5 minutes, and repeat the same thing in the same place. Eventually, I got the idea that I would never be able to predict where it was going to surface, so we continued south into Carmel Bay and ended up off Butterfly House (I think.)
Anchored up in about 70 feet or so, in an area where the depthfinder was bouncing from 45 to 80 with a very small drift. Hopped in, and was a little disappointed in the surface clarity: about 15 feet or so. Dropping to the bottom, it opened up nicely, though, with vis ranging between about 25 to well over 40 feet depending on where you were. Not many fish around (at least not out); a couple of kelp greenling, a few rockfish, and a few perch. Lots of slugs, though nothing really special: Cadlina flavomaculata, Peltodoris nobilis, Cadlina luteomarginata, a Tritonia festiva, a Dendronotus albus, and a bunch of tiny Flabellina trilineata. Pretty cold, too, at 46 degrees. Add to that a shot of water down the neck that got me from collar to crotch. 76 feet, 37 minutes. Apparently blew past Chuck again on the way back. Never saw him.
Dive 2 was at a random location on Outer MacAbee (mostly because I hadn't been there in years), though it was shallow: 40 feet or so. Vis was good in some locations, and downright crappy in others: I'd say a max of 25 or 30 feet, and a min of maybe 7. Spent most of the dive on the same 5 or 6 rocks, and got a little jaded after crossing over the same rock for about the ninth time. Not really too much exciting to see, either, though I did get buzzed by a big bull sea lion. Camera batteries died about 15 minutes into the dive, and right after that I came upon a male kelp greenling that insisted on posing (and actually allowed a close inspection.) 40 feet, 47 minutes, 50 degrees. Cathy hit the surface a few minutes later, and Larry and Carol were down another 10 minutes or so.
After I boarded the boat, heard Monterey Fire talking to Lynx (the pirate boat thing), asking permission to escort and salute. Shortly after, they were alongside on the downwind side, with their nozzle pumping. Nice view with Lynx in near-full sail and the water cannon going (and no working camera on my boat; Larry's fancy schmancy DSLR in a locker on XTSea all by its lonesome.)
Apr 06: 2 dives: Ballbuster with me, Nathan and Anna on Aurora, Larry and Carol on XTSea, and Jeff on Nitrox with Pam along for the ride; Steam Engine, with the same group except that Pam was diving, and Guy joined Larry and Carol.
After a night of playing with the drysuit and Aquaseal, woke up to a sore
throat and stuffy head. I guess Jeff decided to share his cold. Perfect.
Plan was to dive wherever was possible. Given the snotty conditions Saturday, I wasn't particularly hopeful on the drive to the ramp, but the bay looked very calm (which can be deceiving, I realize), and there was no wind to speak of.
Jeff wanted to do Ballbuster for a first dive, so we headed out there. Another boat was on the site, and just as I ID'd it as Black Dog, Chuck radioed a report of 50 foot vis at the bottom, and that he was pulling the hook. We waited for him to get loose, and anchored up. As we were gearing up, Carol started yelling (I'm sure she'd say she was saying "Whale! Whale! Whale!", but I heard "Ooh, ooh, ooh!" which wasn't particularly informative.) It was a whale cruising by about 100 yds astern of us. I radioed a report to Princess Monterey which was a quarter mile off, but they seemed pretty unimpressed. Chuck swung by to take a look.
Hopped in, and the first thing I heard was Pam kicking herself for not bringing her gear. She reported being able to see Jeff, Nathan, and Anna way down the anchor line. I headed down and vis was about 30 feet at the surface, closing to maybe 15 to 20 at about 30 feet, then opened up nicely to about 40 at the top of the pinnacle. It was better at the bottom of the pinnacle. I cleared my hook from Jeff's then did a quick loop of the pinnacle towards the bottom, then worked up to the top looking for macro subjects. Nothing really unusual, though Carol found a nice little red octopus that Larry had apparently pissed off a bit while chasing it around the top. As I headed up my line (chasing the one minute NDL reading again) I saw some divers descending Jeff's line, which I thought was kind of odd. Jeff, Nathan and Anna had gone down before me, and stayed deeper, so they had to be out of bottom time as well. Hit the surface, and everyone was up except Larry and Carol. Turned out that the people I was descending were from the Express, which was circling our group, had live boated some of their divers, and they were using Jeff's line as a reference (lucky that I put Jeff's hook over the pinnacle. I've been known to completely miss it.) Got all the post dive stuff done, and started to pull my anchor (without starting the motor as the divers were still in the water), but I felt some tugging and pulling, and figured the divers had switched to my line for the ascent. So, we waited for them to surface (by which time Anna was starting to get a bit queasy), then pulled, and headed back in. 104 feet, 32 minutes, 50 degrees (though I think everyone else logged 48 or so.)
Dive 2 was at the Steam Engine. Jeff wanted Nathan and Anna to do a navigation exercise, so I came up with Jeff anchoring at the Prop, and having them do their dive from the Steam Engine to the Prop and up to Jeff's boat. Would have worked pretty well if I had actually put Jeff near the Prop. As it was, we dropped down, I showed Nathan and Anna the fringehead in the pipe, we went to the Steam Engine, and they took off towards the Prop. They apparently found it, didn't see Jeff's line, turned around and returned to the Steam Engine, and did a blue water ascent, coming up pretty much right next to the boat. I did a bunch of searching for slugs (with searching being the operative word), finding several critters that I think were Acanthadoris lutea (still have to check pics), a bunch of San Diegos and clowns, several spanish shawls, a berthella, a few luteomarginata, and a Geitodoris. I forgot the Mosquito on the boat, but as I recall, the dive was 83 feet for about 30 minutes with a 48 degree temp.
Apr 05: 2 dives: The Barge, solo; Anchor 4 along with Larry, Carol and Cathy on XTSea.
Got a late start after a night of experimental drysuit zipper repair, and
arrived at Breakwater about 10. Started prepping the boat and getting gear ready
for a solo dive, anticipating meeting up with Carol and Larry for the second
dive. Chuck pulled up after a bit with Dan Bermingham on board; they reported 15
feet at the Barge.
Out along the south end of Cannery Row, I was able to get air with a touch over half throttle and I figured that further up would be worse, so I retreated back to the Barge for the first dive.
I hopped in and geared up, and as soon as I started down, I felt a leak on my right arm. Nothing on the hip that the zipper caused (that I could tell, anyway), so the fix seemed to be working. On hitting the bottom, I almost landed on a large swimming scallop. That was followed by a large Dendronotus iris sitting atop a tube anemone. A few large Peltodoris's, a few clowns, the usual gaggle of kelp rockfish, and one posing scalyhead sculpin. Not really anthing that was unusual, but a very nice dive nonetheless. I'd call vis 25 to 30 feet, temp was 48 degrees, and the dive was 67 feet for 41 minutes. Surfaced to find Carol and co. nearby, wondering if anything was wrong.
[Postscript to this dive: Upon reviewing pictures a month and a half later, it turned out that a smallish, yellow, highly club-tubercled slug I had found on the sand was something I couldn't identify. I sent a pic to Clinton Bauder for an assist, and he agreed with my assessment that it was either an Onchidoris muricata or an Adalaria jannae, but he couldn't tell the difference, either. He suggested I contact Sandra Millen, who was the biologist who described and named the latter species. A few e-mails later, we had an ID: Adalaria jannae. Many thanks to Clinton and Sandra for their help in figuring out who this character was. ]
Back in the parking lot, I dumped about a pint of water from my right sleeve. I checked the torso, and it was dry, so the zipper repair held, for that dive at least. The only wet area was the one sleeve, from armpit to cuff (but it was pretty well soaked.)
For Dive 2, Carol wanted to do Anchor 4 since she hadn't been there before (I hadn't dove that in quite a long while.) Swells were up more than for the Barge dive, making the boat pitch quite a bit while dropping the hook.
I headed down first, and dropped through a layer of moon jellies at about 20 to 40 feet. On the bottom, one of the first things I saw was a dock shrimp doing a ostrich impression: it had its head tucked into a hole, with its entire body exposed. I don't really remember seeing fish, preferring to swim over the shale, looking for slugs. I was treated to quite a few nudibranchs (unfortunately none unusual), including Peltodoris nobilis, Cadlina luteomarginata, Diaulula sandiegensis, Flabellina iodinea, Triopha catalinae, and Tritonia festiva (including some really small guys.) Running out of bottom time, I moved the hook to a position that would enable me to get it up, and put myself into a bit of deco. Ascended, cleared the obligation, and spent the next several minutes trying to shoot gooseberries at about 10 feet (didn't really work.) Back on the boat with something less than 300 psi remaining, which turned out to be OK, since that cylinder turned out to be beyond hydro date.
Drysuit repair night at the hotel.
Mar 30: One dive, Steam Engine/Rocky Rode area; Carol and Cathy on XTSea, Jeff on Nitrox, and me on Aurora. Larry was present but didn't make it in.
Didn't really feel like getting up, so headed to the Breakwater lot around 9. Jeff called as I passed the Del Monte Aquarius, complaining that Carol had left the dock as he had pulled up. We tossed around several ideas, including, but not limited to, swapping XTSea for another boat, moving her hook, leaving her anchor in place but taking the boat, etc. We settled on just going whale watching instead. Probably better not to set a benchmark for future pranks. Yet.
Carol came back as we were launching, and wanted to tag along. Jeff had a last minute decision to get some gas before heading out. Princess Monterey, which had been heading out at the same time, got a substantial head start.
Once Jeff returned, we headed out through 2 foot swells that grew as we approached Pt Pinos. By the time we reached Aumentos, they were solid 8 footers, and Carol chickened out, electing to wait for us in calmer water. Princess Monterey chickened out as well, returning to the dock. Near the point, Jeff and I climbed over big swells (I'd guess slightly larger than 10 feet), then he headed off to watch the waves breaking on the wash rocks. Surprisingly, the break on the rocks wasn't all that spectacular. I was offshore a bit more, and the swell was a little steeper than where Jeff was sitting, so I headed back into the bay. Jeff followed a little later.
Met up with XTSea sitting off MacAbee, east of a big group of charter dive boats that were sitting from Hopkins back to the Aquarium. She said something about the Steam Engine, so I headed off there. I was a little curious if vis had improved over Saturday (realistically, it couldn't get much worse.) Carol dropped on the coordinates for the engine itself, and I offset a bit and dropped near Rocky Road. Jeff, having run back into the dock again (ostensibly to check on a divecon working a class; I think he was hungry or something), returned and dropped his hook in some random location shoreward of us. Given the rollers blowing through, I elected to leave the camera on the boat.
We dropped into, well, typical Monterey water. Vis at the bottom was, oh, 5 feet, maybe a bit more. I checked my hook, which was just starting to drag, and reset it in the most secure spot I could find (which wasn't all that secure, but I figured that Jeff had said he'd sit out the dive, so I wasn't too worried about it.) I marked a spot on the wall where the hook was, and headed out towards the Steam Engine. I ran across Carol's hook, which was also dragging. I saw Carol, too, so I tried to point out that her anchor was on the move, at which point, of course, it stopped. So, I set hers in the wall, and headed back to explore a bit. I reached my mark on the wall, and checked my hook, except that it wasn't there anymore. I swam downwind a bit, and not finding it, decided to do a greenwater ascent and chase it down on the surface (assuming Jeff hadn't captured it.) Upon hitting the surface, I saw it had rehooked about 50 feet from where it started, placing me a bit behind XTSea. Larry was still on board, futzing with his computer. Jeff had gone diving after all. My dive ended up being 78 feet for 17 minutes, 50 degrees. Didn't really see a whole lot. A couple of minutes later, Cathy hit the surface, followed shortly after by Carol. Jeff ended up, as he related, finding his anchor 4 times, except when he was ready to ascend.
Mar 29: 2 dives: Steam Engine with Harry and Mark (very brief); and Hopkins Deep with Roy, Lauren and Hunter; both dives off Aurora.
Arrived at Breakwater about 9, with nobody else expected to show up. Saw
Chuck's truck and trailer in the lot; they must have gotten a pretty early
Harry, Mark, and Dionna had just splashed Harry's Striper, but they stayed tied up for quite a while. So, being nosy (and not really in any hurry), I wandered down to see what was up. Turned out that the motor would crank, but wouldn't fire. After a half hour or so of screwing around with it, they figured it wasn't repairable in-water, so I offered to take them out for a dive. After a bit of hemming and Hawing, Dionna decided to bail on the dive (preferring to nurse her cold; go figure), while Mark and Harry decided to tag along. Chuck came back in as I was launching, reporting 10 to 15 vis and a really snotty surface at Hopkins.
Dive 1: We headed out to the Steam Engine, and the surface looked pretty promising. Swells were running 2 to 3 feet or so, and the wind was pretty stiff, but water clarity didn't look all that bad. Got Mark, then Harry, into the water (along with several stage bottles, reels, lights, kitchen sinks, etc.; all the stuff a well-equipped tech diver carries), and they headed down. I geared up and headed down the line, happy to see that I could make out the line about ten or twelve feet ahead. Unfortunately, at about 40 feet or so, the vis started closing down. By the time I hit chain (meaning I was within about 15' of the hook), I could only make out about 5 or 6 links. Using a light got me a couple more. I'd call visibility at the bottom perhaps two feet if you held the light just right. I found a couple of C. luteomarginata within a foot or two of the anchor, but didn't even try to take any shots. So, with nothing else left to do, I headed back up. On the safety stop (back in ten foot vis), I spotted a little jelly, and figured it would be a good exercise to try manual focus shotting. By the time I got the strobes set, the jelly was gone, so I hung there waiting for another to drift by, but none did. I got back on the boat, and Mark and Harry hit the surface a few minutes later. 78 feet, 13 minutes, 50 degrees.
Pulled the boat out, intending on calling it for the day, but noticed a group of divers (or two smaller groups) way out beyond the Metridium Field. Apparently, Jim Capwell noticed them as well, as I could see him chop throttle as he neared them. So, I put the boat back in, and went to see if they needed a lift back in. Apparently, they didn't (the two I talked to were apparently running a class) so I headed back in. Someone called me on the radio, and it turned out to be Roy (of Highway 1 pee valve catheter fame.) He was apparently watching from the wall, had a handheld VHF, and wanted to know what was up, and what kind of conditions we had (you do realize that using a marine VHF from shore is an FCC violation, right, Roy?) Motored back to the ramp, and we talked for a bit, and I talked him into joining me on a dive at Hopkins (apparently, Hopkins/Aquarium reef was the only game in town.)
Dive 2: Dropped the hook in about 60 feet; Escapade, and Beach Hopper (?) were tucked in tighter to the beach, and Cypress Sea was inshore off the Aquarium. Roy had 2 friends with him, Lauren and Hunter. A little bit of surface current blowing back towards Breakwater. Anyway, got the three of them in the water, then geared up and headed down. Checked the hook, and started exploring the rocks around the area (at least I could see them this time.) Lots of C. luteomarginata, and I think what were juvenile (or at least small) Geitodoris heathi. My dive was short as I was using the same cylinder as the first bounce at the Steam Engine. 77 feet for 26 minutes with a 50 degree temp.
Mar 23: 1 Dive at Ballbuster. Larry and Carol on XTSea, Jeff on Nitrox, and Pam and myself on Aurora.
I dropped the hook to the SW of the pinnacle, Carol dropped on it (I think) and Jeff was about due west. Swells were running 4 or 5 feet; big rollers that didn't seem threatening except for the sheer size. I kept waiting for the anchor line to straighten out, but it never really did for the 10 or so minutes we were waiting, so I fired up, selected reverse, and took the slack out. Everyone splashed at roughly the same time. Dropping down, I passed Pam on my line, wondering why she had stopped, and why she didn't have a light (though that explained why my line was now going straight down. As I neared the bottom, it was dark enough that I couldn't see it without a dive light. Checked and repositioned the hook, and started checking stuff out on the bottom boulders near the anchor. Vis opened up from near zero at 20 and shallower to about 30 feet (but really dark) at 100. A few rockfish scattered around (including several good sized olives), a smallish lingcod, and a couple of kelp greenlings. One really big San Diego dorid, a few C. luteomarginata and C. flavomaculata, several spanish shawls, and just as I was about to run out of bottom time, a Dendronotus albus on a grey puffball sponge. Since I hadn't yet taken a shot, I started to position my strobes, and the first one came off in my hand. Reattached the arm to the housing, and took a half dozen hurried shots before starting up the line. I had felt a leak down my right side as I hopped in, so I wasn't too surprised at being a bit cold. Everyone else reported freezing on the dive. My computer logged 48 degrees, everyone else (I think) had 46. Logged 104 feet for 24 minutes.
Upon surfacing, we saw a bunch of whale watching boats a couple of miles out towards Moss Landing, so we decided to go take a look. Got to the area (turned out to be 2 whale boats and a fishing charter); didn't see anything for several minutes, then saw a blow. A few minutes later, a couple more. Turned out to be a pair of grey whales (I think); never saw them well enough to determine size. Headed back to the ramp, and was surprised to see that we were out past Pt Pinos, a few miles offshore.
Dive 2 was called on a general lack of enthusiasm and energy for diving and an excess of enthusiasm for lunch.
Mar 22: 2 Dives; Hopkins Deep with Carol, Larry, and Matt on XTSea, Jeff, and two ex-students on Nitrox, and Kirk, Lydia, and me on Aurora; then the Steam Engine with the XTSea crew less Matt, and the same three of us on Aurora.
Dive 1: Hopkins Deep
Jeff dropped his anchor at site he chose (randomly, I think), Carol dropped hers a bit behind (with respect to the wind), and I dropped mine out in front. The commercial boats were chatting about a heavy layer down to about 70 feet, so I was trying to eke out about 80 or so.
Lydia got in first to try and avoid a seasickness repeat (see last weekend), and dropped a few feet down the anchor line. Kirk geared up and followed, then I got in and headed down. As soon as I got in, I realized I hadn't zipped up my undergarment, as it was a little chilly on my chest. I saw Kirk and Lydia briefly on the bottom, then headed off to look for photo subjects. Vis opened up at about 70 from 10 or less to about a hazy 20 feet. I swam about 100 yards or so straight out, and saw Jeff and his two buddies poking around. I turned, offset a bit, and worked my way back. Didn't really see a whole lot interesting: a few slugs, a few rockfish, a couple of perch; there were a lot of sea cucumbers of various sizes, though. Saw Kirk and Lydia again on the anchor line, just starting their ascent. I passed the hook by maybe 20 yards or so, and Jeff tapped me, asking where the boat was. Since I had just passed the hook, I had a pretty good idea, but as it turned out, I couldn't find it. Jeff and his two started a green water ascent, and I started up a few moments later. We ended up on the surface well out in front of the boats. 81 feet for 25 minutes, 48 degrees. After reboarding, I saw Larry's group's bubbles apparently coming up my line, which meant I could charge them an anchor line rental fee (kidding. For the moment.) They hit the surface and swam back to XTSea. I guess there must have been a fairly stiff mid-water current, as they said they should have been near their anchor when they started up, and got blown the 100 or so yards right onto my line between the bottom and their stop, which pretty well paralleled our experience. We left early to Lydia back on land (still avoiding Mal de Mer) since Larry was screwing around in the water next to their boat.
Dive 2: Steam Engine
Jeff bailed to conduct a Stress and Rescue class. The rest of us wanted to stay deepish, so we decided on the Steam Engine, mostly so Carol could see the fringehead. We dropped fairly close to each other, and Larry added scope for separation. We repeated getting Lydia in quickly, but when I tossed my gear in, my tag line came off, and my rig dropped underwater (my rig's slightly negative at times, I think because of the reg hitting the bladder. This was one one of those times.) Kirk and Lydia agreed to chase it down, so I dropped a weighted line down as a reference, and they dropped down, attached it, and I hauled it up while they continued their dive. Larry, Carol and I (Matt was sleeping) dropped down my line, and I spotted the pipe from about 15 feet above the bottom. The fringehead was home, and I pointed it out to Carol, then left them there. I headed over to the shelf, and poked around there for a while, taking shots of nondescript stuff (as the descript stuff was in hiding, I guess.) Started getting worried about Kirk and Lydia, but I couldn't locate the anchors so I did my second green water ascent of the day, and again ended up way out in front of the boat. Kirk and Lydia were already on board. Kirk said he enjoyed the practice in ascending without an anchor line. 80 feet, 22 minutes, 52 degrees.
Mar 17: One dive, solo; Shale Island
Pulled into the Breakwater at about 9. Lot was empty except for what appeared
to be an OW class finishing up and a couple of dive pairs going off the beach. A
couple of boat trailers were the only things in the double spots.
I had the idea of going out to search for yellowfin fringeheads on Shale Island, but wanted to see what conditions looked like further up Cannery Row as well. Splashed the boat, and ran up to about Hopkins or so, where the swell picked up pretty noticeably. Water didn't appear any clearer than over the weekend, but the wind was absent and the water had calmed down quite a bit from Sat and Sun.
Retreated back to Shale Island and dropped the hook. Hopping in and gearing up, the surface water was filled with chunky bits of algae, but I could see about 15 feet along the anchor line. Dropping down to the anchor, the chunky stuff remained, but the vis dropped to about 5 feet, and the ambient light pretty much disappeared. There was fairly light surge, with occasional big swings.
I headed west towards the Knob, watching the holes in the shelf for any sign of fringeheads. It was chunky enough that I had to turn off the focus light on the camera and hold my dive light at arms length to be able to see. No fringeheads, and not all that much unusual. I did manage to pick up the wrong ledge a couple of times, and ended up hitting the Knob itself about three or four times. Eventually, I found my way back to the anchor line, the chain still in a pile next to the anchor itself (Big change from yesterday, when the anchor was tearing out pieces of shale. I found a small (sub-fingernail size) slug. I couldn't ID it on the spot, so I shot a few pics of it to see if I could ID it later. I suspect it was a tiny Cadlina luteomarginata, but I haven't put it on the computer for a close look yet. 41 minutes, 58 feet, 50 degrees.
Mar 16: Kawika Chetron Memorial Dive
Today was supposed to be a day to remember Kawika; we had planned a large group of divers who would be doing a dive on the shale beds; a spot that Kawika dove often. Unfortunately, the weather decided not to cooperate, sending 20 to 30 kt winds and 5 to 8 foot swells into the south end of Monterey Bay.
With the dive supposed to start at 12:30 (the time that the Escapade would be
free of their morning charter), we took a little time to gather, talk, gear up
and prep the boats; hitting the water about 11:30 or so. Given the poor vis
reports and the rocking water, I left the camera in the truck. Took a run up
Cannery Row ostensibly to see what Lover's looked like; I never made it that
far, nor did Carol. Jeff continued out to survey the cove (actually, I think he
was just playing); I headed in to see if the planned Memorial dive was still on.
Found the Escapade group up in the parking lot off K Dock, arriving just in time
to hear Jim cancel the trip. So, Jeff on Nitrox, Larry and Carol on XTSea, and
me, kirk, Lydia, and Trevor (who wasn't diving) on Aurora headed out to the
Shale to do our own memorial dive. (Though I hear Escapade did go out a bit
Anchored out near the MY7 buoy (I thought it was some other number, but that's what's painted on the can), and checked and double-checked that we were hooked up. In truth, we weren't, but we were dragging in slight intervals, and I figured I could plant the hook when I got down. In any case, Trevor was staying aboard, and had been briefed on boat operations. Swells were pretty impressive as the rolled under the boat. I was delayed a bit trying to get Lydia through a bout of seasickness, giving Jeff a chance to bounce to the bottom (off the bottom, I think, may be more accurate.) He reported zero vis at the bottom, which he stated was 72 feet at his anchor, as he was reading his computer when he hit shale with his face. He hit it again trying to make it out. So, he headed back up the line. Larry and Carol decided to pass on the dive (though I didn't know that at the time); I dropped down to check my hook, followed a few minutes later by Kirk (Lydia bailed as well, and Jeff ran her back in to the ramp.) I found vis to be zero without a light, about 5 or 6 feet with a light. Not enough ambient light reaching down to have any contrast without putting extra photons out. I poked around close to the anchor, mostly offsetting myself a bit and letting the surge move me along, then back. Surprisingly I saw quite a bit: Lots of Tritonia festivas, a few Triopha catalinae, a couple of vermilion rockfish, a few gophers, and a pretty good sized ling under an overhang. By that time, Kirk had joined me on the bottom, and I tried to show him a couple of things, but given the vis, it was impossible. After a half hour at the bottom, I figured that Kawika probably would have given up as well, so we headed back up the line. 82 feet for 31 minutes and 52 degrees.
Kawika, my friend, I miss you.
Mar 09: 2 dives: Hopkins Deep Reef and Ballbuster. See report for passengers/buddies.
Dive 1: Hopkins Deep. Larry and Carol on XTSea, and me on Aurora. Went to
look at the point (again) and turned back just before getting there. Dropped the
hook at a spot I found, dropped down into typical Hopkins topography: Big
boulders and sand. Vis at the bottom was 25 or so, and hazy. A bit of surge,
with occasional big surge rolling through. Not really a lot of slugs, and no
unusual fish. Navigated a fairly large circle, hopping from rock to rock. Well,
in retrospect, it was either part of a circle, or sort of a figure 6. Had no
idea where I ended up. Blue water ascent to find the boats a bit south, maybe 50
feet away. Not too bad for guesswork. 82 feet, 30 minutes, 50 degrees.
Dive 2: Ballbuster. Carol, Larry and Guy on XTSea; me, Jeff, Kathy and Serena on Aurora. Jeff wanted to do a deep dive with a couple of students, and asked if I'd run them out to Ballbuster, so off we went. A little lumpy as we neared the site, but not too bad. No current at the first check. I dropped in and worked the north side of the pinnacle, pretty much from bottom to top, zig-zagging up. As pretty as ever, but I never really saw anything all that interesting or unusual. Did find one small Flabellina trilineata; that was about it. 105 feet, 28 minutes, 54 degrees.
Dive 2A: After a long SI, I agreed to drop Jeff's students on the Barge (which they wanted to see) and then Jeff had them navigate to (or at least towards) the beach. I had Jeff drop the hook and did a quick bounce to make sure the Barge hadn't moved. 64 feet, 4 minutes, don't trust the temp, but I recorded 55 degrees. Vis was a crappy 5 or so on top, but cleared to about 25 or 30 at the bottom. Kathy and Serena got in, dropped down the line, and apparently did a complete circuit of the Barge before taking off for the beach. Jeff and I were having a running bet on how far they'd make it before hitting the surface, as well as how far off course they'd stray. Any off course bets lost. Jeff said they'd make 2/3 of the way to beach; I guessed halfway. They split the difference pretty much exactly. No winners there either.
Mar 08: 2 dives, Anchors 2 & 3, and Shale Island. Chuck rode with Larry and
Carol, and Kirk and Lydia were with me.
Headed out towards Pt Pinos, but Carol's boat unanimously quashed that idea when the swells started getting a bit lumpy. Retreated back to Anchors 2&3, where it was substantially calmer.
Could see several moon jellies from the surface, but had no idea... Dropped into 10 to 15 foot vis, cleared to about 25 at the bottom. Seemed like millions of moon jellies from top to bottom, but was probably only thousands. Larry and Carol found a handball sized red octo; a couple of bull sculpins made an appearance as well. All the usual slugs for the deep shale: C. luteomarginata, P. nobilis, a few F. iodinea, lots of D. sandiegensis and T. catalinae. One largish Berthella. Lots of juvenile rockfish of a few types (no idea what they were, though.) Don't really remember what other fish were around, aside from the two bull sculpins. I do have a picture of a ronquil, so I guess they were around. Black eyed gobies and painted greenlings were pretty plentiful. Don't really remember a whole lot else. 84 feet, 35 minutes, 50 degrees.
Dive 2: Shale Island/Anchor 5
Dropped my hook at Anchor 5, and Carol did a few passes to see if she could spot the anchor on her Humminbird side-scan thingie. She couldn't. Vis was a little closer, maybe 20; with clouds of krill-like stuff swimming about cutting it even more. Found a small octo, a tiny Acanthodoris hudsoni, a bunch of A. montereyensis, San Diego's, clowns, and P. nobilis; a few sculpins, several kelp greenlings, and a lone yellowfin fringehead who didn't want to to come out to play (or pose, which is more to the point, I suppose.) Just a couple of jellies. 58 feet, 44 minutes, 52 degrees. A nasty chop had built up on top of the swell by the time we got back up, making Lydia regret coming out on the boat, I think. Kirk pulled the hook and we got her back to the ramp before Chuck had surfaced.
Chatted with Brenna in the lot just before she split (nice to meet you, Brenna!)
Mar 02: 2 dives: Steam Engine, and the Knob (Shale Island) with Larry and Carol on XTSea, and Steve and myself on Aurora
Initially headed out to see how it looked towards the point, since the Cannery Row sites looked fairly calm, with a short interval swell of maybe a foot, and no wind chop at all (visions of the late Saturday afternoon foaming white caps contrasted heavily with 12 hours later.) What we found was that the swells were building pretty rapidly as we got closer. By the time we hit the far edge of Hopkins, swells were 3 to 4 feet; at Erics, they were pretty solid 5's, and the short interval had us slowed to a crawl. Quick discussion, and Carol voted to do yesterdays aborted dive: the Steam Engine. Since the vote was her one to 3 abstentions, that's where we went.
Approaching the site, I was afraid another boat was on it, but it turned out they (Beach Hopper, I think) were on a site further up the ledge (seemed too far to be Anchors 2 and 3, but maybe it was. Dunno.) We dropped the hook, and it took a *long* time for the drift to take slack out of the rode, unlike yesterday, where it was taut before cleating it off.
Dive 1: Steam Engine
Dropped into milky 10 foot vis, opening up to about a hazy and particulate 20
at the bottom (well maybe a bit more several feet off the bottom, but I didn't
really check that much, as I was trying to figure out where we were on the way
down. Didn't really work.) The anchors (I could see both mine and Carol's, about
10 feet apart) were both lying on flat shale, with a little pile of chain next
to them. I moved mine forward a bit to get a bit more separation and a better
hook-up, then went looking for the pipe (still without a solid orientation.)
Found it after a brief search; the fringehead looks happy with the arrangement
(the last storm apparently didn't move the pipe at all.) Cruised around the main
ledge as far up as the Steam Engine proper, then back to a bit beyond the
fringehead. I headed out in the flats looking for anything interesting without
really finding much of, well, anything, really. So back to the ledge, where
there was at least some stuff to look at. Slugs: Lots of D. sandiegensis,
several T. catalinae, several mating pairs of D. albopunctata, several T.
festiva. a couple of C. luteomarginata, a few F. iodinea, and a lone C.
flavomaculata. Fish: Blackeye Gobies all over (as usual), a few sculpins,
several kelp greenlings, a few blue rockfish resting against the ledge (kind of
cute, but they spooked anytime a camera was pointed at them), don't remember any
others. All the requisite crabs and shrimp and various inverts and encrusting
stuff, but nothing really unusual or exciting. No octopus, so I guess the run on
those guys at that site is really over. Back up with just a couple of minutes
bottom time remaining. 80 feet, 34 minutes, 54 degrees.
Took a fairly long surface interval, expecting the wind to start picking up, but it never did.
Dive 2: Shale Island
Wind had picked up a little, the drift removing the slack in the anchor rode was noticeable this time. Still not bad, just a bit more forceful than the first dive.
Dropped down, and let Carol navigate to the Knob (we used her numbers to drop the hook.)
Larry finally showed me one of the yellowfin fringeheads he's been seeing near the Knob, but all I saw was a roundish snout and a couple of eyes tucked way into a boring clam hole. No pics, as I didn't think I could even get light in there. Not really sure it was a yellowfin fringehead anyway. Slugs: P. nobilbis, D. montereyensis, D. sandiegensis, again a lone C. flavomaculata, a bunch of D. albopunctata, a couple of T. catalinae, a few F. iodinea, and a couple of D. ohdneri. Fish: Carol found a nice ling (I was still trying to position strobes, as we had just hit the bottom, lots of painted greenlings and blackeyed gobies, several blue and black rockfish, a bunch of sculpins (probably scalyheads) and Larry's mystery guest. Vis I'd call 15 or so and hazy. Occasionally, we got a brief 2 or 3 cycles of about 5 foot surge; the rest of the time it was reasonably still, even for macro shooting. 53 feet, 42 minutes, 54 degrees.
Pretty good day considering we were expecting to be blown out due to yesterday's continuing conditions.
Follow-up to Sunday's Dive 2 report:
On Shale Island, I took a shot of a couple of slugs who were amorously involved. I didn't think much of it, as I really didn't look at them too closely, other than framing and adjusting exposure.
Upon review, I noticed they weren't Doriopsilla albopunctata, as I assumed they were (yellow ground color, no dark spots), as the papillae on these guys were much more noticeable.
Then came the problem: my dog (psychotic pup that she is) ate my slug book (the working divers equivalent to homework, I suppose), and I've yet to replace it, so I was referencing the images on the Slug Site. Unfortunately, nothing I looked at resembled the slugs in the pic. So, I sent the image to Clinton, who graciously ID'd the slugs as Acanthodoris lutea (Thanks, Clinton.)
So, that's another first sighting for me (and with pics to prove it this time.)
Mar 01: One dive, Ballbuster, with Larry, Carol, Guy, and Matt on XTSea, and Steve and myself on Aurora. Aborted the second dive due to deteriorating conditions
Motored out past Harry and company sitting on Hopkins Deep, and headed for
Ballbuster since Carol wanted to see what it looked like out there. Swells were
running about, oh, three or four feet with another 1 or 2 feet of wind waves.
Dropped the hook after a little effort finding the pinnacle, just a touch of
current was running opposite the swell, out towards Santa Cruz. Wind was blowing
in from Moss Landing. The surface was a mess. Still, it appeared diveable, so
Steve and I tossed rigs in and got geared up. Guy and Matt were with Larry and
Carol on XTSea. Their boat was hanging about 40 or 50 feet away, so Steve and I
didn't wait around on the surface, we just dropped. Vis at the surface looked
promising, judging by how far down the line I could see. At the bottom, I'd call
it 30 feet, but seriously hazy. Larry later called it 40 or slightly better,
with a long dissertation on why he was right. I'd give a bit and say *maybe* 35'
in spots. Just a touch of surge near the bottom, getting worse towards the top
of the pinnacle.
Quite a few blue rockfish, not really schooling, but looking like they wanted to as they kept coming closer with that "I don't really like you, but I'm going to swim near you anyway" look. Several olives, a lone vermilion, a couple of gophers. Slugs weren't exactly plentiful: 1 spanish shawl, several Peltodoris, a Cadlina flavomaculata, and a few tiny Flabellina trilineata. Towards the end of the dive, I found a bright red juvenile cabezon, out on a shelf, playing the "you can't see me" game. 98 feet, 29 minutes, 54 degrees.
Back up the line to find deteriorating conditions; swells were more like 5 to 6 feet, with another few feet of wind waves. Guy and Matt appeared a bit later at the bow of my boat, and swam back over to XTSea. Larry and Carol apparently were working the top of the pinnacle the whole dive, and were down for quite a bit longer than we were. Steve, who had been fighting a bit of nausea since before we left the parking lot, toughed out the wait. The run back in was pretty sporty; following sea with a pretty confused wind pattern.
Non-dive 2: Long SI in the parking lot, and back out (less Guy and Matt, who opted for a beach dive) to do the Steam Engine. Swell and chop was worse than before. Dropped the hook at a distance reading of 4 feet; after things stretched out, I had a reading of 256 feet away, which was not too good considering I was using a shortened 200' anchor line. So, we picked the hook up off the bottom, motored back up, and dropped again. The GPS locked up about 145 feet away: perfect. We dropped gear in the water, and I rechecked position: 185 feet. Hmmm. Then 210. Then 240. About that time, the bow dropped into a trough, and a wave broke into the boat. Discretion being the better part of valor, we decided on plan B, which was to move to a spot with relief running in a more favorable direction for hooking up, which was rapidly replaced with plan C, which was to bail on the dive altogether.
Had a nice chat with Joachim in the parking lot, who had been out solo in his 18'? Zodiac and had about the same experience as our second dive (or non-dive.) Checked into the hotel, had an early dinner at Bulldog, and then over to the sports bar at the Sheraton to watch the Shark's game.
Feb 18: Two dives, at Aumentos and Anchor 5 with Chris, Holly, Greg, and Mike
Leaving the hotel, I overheard a guy talking on a cell phone telling his
friend or someone that the victim from the day before didn't make it. Not a
great way to start the day. Met up with my planned dive buddy, Chris (in Hawaii,
he got the nickname as "The other brother Darryl"), his girlfriend Holly, and
two other of his friends, Greg and Mike(?). Ron and Carrie rolled up a few
minutes later, with someone with a Zodiac Pro (not sure of the size; looked
pretty much identical to Rob's boat, though.) A couple of hook-and-line boats
showed up as well.
Dive 1: Aumentos:
Since one of the two friends was not terribly experienced, we decided to look for a shallower dive. Motored out to Aumentos, where it looked as if it might be a bit surgy, but doable. Certainly better than it would have been on either of the previous 2 days. Gearing up in the water, I could see about 40 feet down the anchor rode, and there was just touch of surface current. Ron and Carrie and their buddies motored up, I tried to wave them in so they could anchor, but I wasn't sure if they had gotten the message. My anchor was dropped in about 55 feet, and I had set out about 150 feet of scope. I expected the hook to be in the sand next to the wall, but upon descending, found it on the opposite side of the ridge. Not sure how that happened. Anyways, the four tagalongs took off along the wall, and I went off to check the anchor set. Good thing, as it had wedged itself in a crack pretty throroughly. Freed the hook, and laid it out on some rubble that I figured would hold it pr! etty well. Vis at the bottom (the bottom of the structure) was 25 to 40 feet, depending on where you were. All the normal encrusting stuff, one big ling sitting next to a pile of eggs (in a spot selected to prevent a camera from getting a good shot, no doubt), several kelp greenlings, surprisingly few rockfish, some absolutely huge perch, one crevice kelpfish, a few slugs, a few crabs; all the normal stuff. I did about three laps around the main rock, and noticed divers above me on the anchor line. Called it quits as I assumed they may need help/direction reboarding. Started my ascent, and noticed the rode did sort of a loose double "S" on the way up. I realized I had not seen anyone else on the dive until spotting the divers on the line. Reboarded and took stock of who was around us: the other boat apparently had 5 divers in 3 groups, and they were all over the place. My GPS had recorded the track of the boat while it sat on the hook; it looked like a spider web, ! drifting all over the damn place. Despite the four others on my boat freezing, I didn't want to have any kind of motor injury incidents, so we waited fifteen minutes or so until four were back on board the Zodiac, and the other one was well clear, before starting to pull the hook. The fifth was Ron, and he apparently just starting up my line when we yanked it away from him (remember the S-turns the line was hanging in? I had no idea where the hook actually was.) Oh, well. 60 or so feet for about 40 minutes; 50 degrees.
Back to the dock for tank swaps/fills and a BBQ lunch courtesy of Chris (Thanks, Chris.) Gave them a while to get warmed back up, then we were off for dive 2.
While we were in the lot, Trevor said that the boyfriend of yesterdays' victim had been in the shop, and she had taken a chamber ride, but was alive, conscious, and talking. That was good news.
Dive 2: Anchor 5
In keeping with the "shallower is better" doctrine, but still wanting to get under the really hazy stuff on top, we headed for Shale Island (an alternative to the Barge.) I also wanted to actually shoot pics there, since my camera batteries died while diving there yesterday. The surface water was noticeably cloudier than Aumentos, which didn't bode too well for the dive. Dropped in, spotted the bottom (barely) from about 20 feet above, and then dropped through the bottom of the cloudy stuff about 10 feet above. Horizontal vis was about, oh, 25 to 30 feet. Found a bunch of slugs (as usual; though I noticed a lot of C. flavomaculata, which I haven't noticed for a while) though nothing highly unusual. Really skittish kelp greenlings, a few black and blue rocks, a gopher or two, a bunch of sculpins and gobies, etc. The other divers had dropped straight down from the boat, despite my suggestion of going down the anchor line, so I was pretty much on my own again. I cut across the island to the SW, hung a right, and worked may way back along the ledge. This time, the camera batteries were fine, but the coin cell that runs the pseudo-TTL thingie in the housing decided to die, leaving me on a fixed strobe output (luckily, it was pretty much a middle-of-road setting, so I was able to play with strobe positioning and still get pics. I think.) Ran into the group of divers shortly after, going the other way. I looked around the Knob area for the fringeheads Larry keeps reporting, but didn't find any. I did find a handball sized red octopus trying to look like a clam or something in a hole on the Knob proper, but that was about it. Figured the other divers would have been up by the time I got back to my anchor, so I headed up with somewhere around 1300psi remaining. 50 minutes, 55(?) feet, 50 degrees.
It appears that one of the batteries in the boat is not holding a charge as well, making 3 battery problems for the weekend.
Feb 17: Two dives, with Larry, Carol and Lydia on XTSea, and Kirk and myself on Aurora. Dive 1: Eric's Pinnacle; Dive 2: Anchor 5.
Met up with Larry and Carol (less a half case of Dr. Pepper, but that's a
different matter, I suppose.) Kirk and Lydia were just arriving.
Chatted with Bill and Rob and probably a few other people, then got geared up and ready to go.
Jim and Rick (the dead motor guys from yesterday) decided to pass on my offer of a boat ride, so the five of us headed out on two boats. As we left the harbor, we were trailing a scrambled USCG 47' MLB, and listening to an incident on the Monterey Express unfold, though I don't have details. All I know is a diver was injured, stripped of gear in the water, and handed off to EMS at Pt Lobos (sounds simple, but unfolded over a period of about 15 minutes or so.)
We had decided on Eric's Pinnacle since Lydia was doing her first drysuit dive so Carol didn't want to go deep. Unfortunately, Beach Hopper (I think) was sitting on it when we arrived. So, we headed out past Pt. Pinos to do a bit of whale watching, except the whales didn't cooperate. ten or fifteen minutes later, we headed back to Eric's, finding it vacant. Vis was about 20 to 25 feet (Kirk's estimate) and the temp was about 50. I spent the whole dive on the anillary pinnacles (partly because they were interesting, and partly because I never found the main pinnacle. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) Don't recall seeing anything really unusual, except, perhaps, some really huge perch. I did find some weird shrimp (crangon?) in the coarse sand between the rocks; pretty well camouflaged, and really fun to watch as they skittered backwards a couple of feet and reburied. Also saw a couple of cone snails that were on a collision course, but as I was getting cold, I left bef! ore I saw if it was a romantic tryst or just a horrific slow motion crash. Somewhere around 40 to 45 minutes, max of 63, I think.
Back to the ramp for tanks swaps and something to eat. Ran into a couple of Jeff's ex-students who were diving Breakwater.
Noticed Glenn (of Glenn's Aquarius II) and Trevor (ditto) at the top of the ramp looking towards the end of the wall, with Trevor on the phone; turns out a kayaker had capsized a ways out from the harbor. He apparently separated or dislocated his shoulder trying to get back on top. Since he was in streetclothes, he rather quickly began going hypothermic (why is it that people always expect things to go right, and don't prepare for when they go wrong?) His buddies towed him (still in the water, I think) over to the wall, and paddled in to the beach to get help. Trevor, it turned out, was talking to the CG. The 25 boat scrambled and retrieved the guy, who was transported to someplace (CHOMP?) via ambulance.
Dive 2: Headed out to Anchor 5. I tried to be pretty accurate on the drop, but ended up further away than when I don't try to be accurate. Poked around looking for different stuff, and (for a change) found some. First (shortly after my camera batteries dies) I ran across a fish that I don't think I've seen before - have to look it up, but I think it was a sharpnose sculpin (post-dive research shows probably not, but it doesn't match anything else in the books I have at hand. Bottom line: Don't know.) Then, towards the end of the dive, I ran across 2 mermaids purses tied together (do swell sharks lay multiple cases at the same time?), the end one was either unviable or a lot younger, but the one attached to the substrate held a shark that was visible with backlighting. Some really big P. nobilis and D. montereyensis and a bunch of smaller ones, a few San Diego's, a couple of lueomarginata, a few Doriopsilla albopunctata, and one spanish shawl. Saw a toothshell hermit in a tangle of discarded worm tubes; sort of funny seeing it trying to get away when it could barely make the cluster move. Also saw a vacant toothshell; something I can't recall seeing before. About 50 minutes, 55 feet. Carol said 50 degrees, I saw 52 really early on; felt a hell of a lot colder than that.
Oh, and Jim and Rick did manage to make it out on someone elses boat.
Feb 16: Two dives, first to the Steam Engine with Jim and Rick, second to Hopkins deep with Larry on Carol on XTSea.
Arrived at Breakwater about 9:30 to seemingly flat seas and clear skies. The
8 to 12 foot swell or whatever it was supposed to be wasn't reaching the Cannery
Row dive sites. In truth, there was a considerable long period swell; surge was
present on every dive, and occasionally some pretty spectacular waves were
breaking over the rocks at Coral Street and El Toritos. You'd never know it from
looking at the bay, though.
I had thought that Larry and Carol were not going to be there (I guess I should listen closer when Carol says "Saturday and Sunday. Or not talk to her later in the evening from the bar), so I was figuring on solo diving.
Jim and Rick were having boat motor problems, so I invited them along with me. Initial plan was to head out to Pt. Pinos to look for whales, then return back to the shale or any other likely site that we happened to pass. On the way out, we ran into Carol and Larry (dressed for diving, no less) coming back from wherever they did their first dive. They reported no whales near the point, so we headed for the Steam Engine. I wanted to check to make sure the pipe was still clear, and see if the fringehead had returned.
Rick informed us that since he was a little lacking in experience, he'd probably head up early; not a big deal in my book. Jim agreed to stay with him rather than send him up by himself.
Dropped in to green soup, about 5 foot vis (at best) at the surface. Dropping down, it cleared a bit, to about 10 feet, 15 in places. I located the pipe (still clear, but further away from the ridge than where I put it after clearing it), and the fringehead has retaken residence inside. Shot a few pics, tried to show Jim and Rick (didn't work), then headed off to the larger ledge to look for, well, whatever I could find. Lost Jim and Rick right about then. Cruised the ledge to the Steam Engine, had a good assortment of slugs: C. luteomarginata, T. catalinae, P. nobilis, a single F. iodinea, a single T. festiva, a few D. albopunctata. A couple of kelp greenlings, a bunch of blackeyed gobies, a few rockfish. And, that was about that.
I had been figuring that Jim and Rick were already up (due to Rick's misdirection statement before the dive), so i headed up a little earlier than I would have normally. They were not yet up when I got there. They hit the surface several minutes later, way inshore. Had a bit of a surface swim coming back.
Still haven't got my Mosquito back, so it was about 75 feet for about 25 minutes. 50 Suunto degrees.
Jim supplied Sandwich fixings for lunch; I appreciated that. Carol said she saw a class that was made to crawl *into* the water; that's one I hadn't heard of before. Too bad I missed it; it would have been interesting.
Jim and Rick bailed on #2 to work on the motor, so Larry, Carol, and I headed for Hopkins Deep. Carol picked a site in about 55 feet, a few hundred yards seaward of Escapade (I think.) While we were gearing up, Beach Hopper pulled up and dropped their hook a couple of hundred yards seaward of us. Another inflatable pulled up (without me noticing it; Carol did), and anchored about 50 yards inshore of us. Dropped into a slight surface current and had about 25 feet of green hazy visat the bottom. A lot of little sculpins on the rocks; the first 30 minutes I saw a total of 1 slug. The last 10 minutes I saw a couple dozen. Highlight of the dive (for me) was a juvenile rockfish posing on a ledge. Larry said I missed 2 lingcods; one really big one, and one not-so-big. Have to do some research on it, but I also found several sponge growths that were encrusting what appeared to be clams. Haven't noticed those before. I seemed to have a lot of leakage through my wrist seals, so called! my dive at about 40 minutes or so. Upon reaching the surface, found another small inflatable had anchored nearby and was sitting about 25 yards off my stern. They dropped in shortly after I stripped my gear off. Larry and Carol hit the surface about 5 minutes later, just as the Hopper was pulling their hook. We both had to wait a while to pull the hooks as the divers from the small inflatable were working their way directly along our anchor lines. That group swam quite a ways, so we waited to see if they made it back OK. One pair did, the others surfaced 100 yds or so upcurrent, but said they were alright, so we headed back in. As we rounded the jetty, saw the MFD fire boat practicing with their water cannon, but they quit just before I radioed for clearance for a photo op. They beat us back to the dock by half the length of the jetty.
Jim tore down and cleaned his carburetor; he got the motor running, but only really poorly. Hopefully he'll get it running right before tomorrow.
Jan 21: Martin Luther King Day: One dive, to the Mating Amtracks with Jim and Ron, and Rob and his student.
Arrived at Breakwater about 8:30; Chuck and Linda were just getting ready to splash their boat.
Got my stuff together, talked to Jim and Ron, who initially were going to get
an early start home, then decided to dive. Our plan was to head to the Mating
Amtracks (Jim and Ron said the one time they dove them, they saw sand and one
sea star.) Rob asked if he could tag along, as he didn't have coordinates, so we
had multiple boats again. Nice smooth water this time, and a near-full throttle
run out. Dropped the hook, and headed down. At the bottom, vis was 10 to 15
feet, with a lot of chopped up surfgrass in the water column. Reset my anchor,
which had fouled itself a bit. I cheated a direction from the anchor, and didn't
find the tracks. So, I started a big circle (found and cleared Rob's anchor
which was tangled worse than mine), and found the tracks just about where we had
started. Rob was already on them. Didn't really see anything special; and not
really all that much usual, either. Missed the anchors on the way back (Rob
apparently didn't, but he didn't do the 340 degree loop on the trip from the
hook to the tracks, either), so we did a blue water ascent and a short surface
swim to the boat. Decided to head home to try to beat traffic through San Jose
(didn't work), so bailed on a second dive.
Jan 20: 2 dives: Stillwater Cove, with Larry and Carol, Chuck, Jim, Ron, Jeff, and Pam; and the Steam Engine with Carol, Jim, and Ron.
Headed to Breakwater to meet a bunch of people; for once, I beat Chuck there.
Jeff and Pam were running late; Carol and Larry were already there, as were the tag-alongs from Scubaboard (they cheated, and stayed in the parking lot); Chuck rolled up a few minutes later.
After a fairly massive dose of coffee (someone, during the night, had turned off the heat on the world), assembled gear, pulled on the drysuit, and splashed the boat.
Headed out with a plan to go around the point and dive somewhere Chuck knew near Fire Rock. Pretty nice conditions in the bay, but got a bit lumpy once we turned the corner. Ran up on a couple (I think) of grey whales, and wasted a bit of time waiting for them to resurface. Never got a real close view. Swell picked up considerably around Point Joe (it also started raining), and built a bit more down to Carmel Bay. Our original plan was scrubbed based on surface conditions. We settled on Stillwater Cove because a) it was probably the only place that would have yielded a pleasant dive, and b) because Pam hadn't been there before.
After a bit of hunting around, we ended up dropping the hook at a spot the Sanctuary had just vacated (Carol told me to choose a site, then didn't want to dive it as the "Maverick's swell" breaking just beyond there looked a bit daunting.) Visibility ended up being 30 to 40 feet, just a touch of green haze to the clarity. Topography was composed of large rock mini-pinnacles with some fairly impressive overhangs surrounded by sand surge channels. Some sort of palm kelp adorned the shallower parts, and old, ratty macrocystis grew in the deeper portions.
Not too many fish; a couple of gopher rockfish, a few kelp greenlings, a bunch of juvenile rockfish of some sort, a 3.5' lingcod, some perch that I didn't get a good look at, some sculpins, some gobies, a black and yellow hiding back in a crack, and a crevice kelpfish. Slugs: P.nobilis, D. sandiegensis, C. luteomarginata; don't remember anything else.
The ride back to Breakwater was, as somebody on one of the boats put it, "quite sporting". With two camera rigs much more expensive than mine on board, I avoided getting completely airborne, but it wouldn't have taken much to do it. Smoothed out a bit once we turned the corner at Pt Pinos, but not all that much; it was mostly that the transition periods were longer since we were following the swell.
Chuck decided to bail on dive 2, which on retrospect, was not a bad plan. Pam
and Jeff bailed as well. The rest of us headed back to the Steam Engine; me to
clear and relocate the fringeheads' pipe, everyone else to sightsee and/or shoot
pics. Dropped the hook pretty close to my numbers, but didn't recognize anything
when we hit the bottom. Vis was 10 to 15 and really hazy, and fairly dark.
figured that my drop was probably as accurate as ever (which isn't saying much),
so headed in the usual direction to get to the pipe. After a brief search, I
found it, checked it for occupants (none), then tried to dump out the sand. That
didn't work, so I tried to shake the sand out. I finally resorted to swishing
the pipe rapidly back and forth lengthwise, which got a decent silt cloud
stirred up. Must have looked pretty inept to any observer. Even I was sort of
embarassingly amused. Once the pipe was cleared, I placed it one end end to the
wall, with the other end propped up a bit on some rubble. Hopefully, the
fringehead will return shortly.
Spent the rest of the dive just poking around; didn't really see anything unusual. I did find another fringehead a bit further down the ledge (to the SE?) It appeared smaller than I remember the one in the pipe being, so I don't think it's the same one. Anyway, since we had lost Jim and Ron on descent, I headed up early in case they were drifting away in their own personal current or something. Spent the safety stop swimming around shooting nettles; but didn't really get any decent shots. The 5050 seems to have problems focusing on jellies in mid-water, despite the fairly high contrast the sea nettles present.
Surfaced to find Jim in the boat, and Ron in the water trying to get nettle pics. Apparently Ron had had a bit of a weighting issue, and couldn't stay down (which makes me wonder how he got down in the first place, but hey, whatever...) While waiting for me and Carol to return, he decided to freedive for pics (he mentioned that trying to get just a few feet down in a drysuit with no weights was really tiring. I believe it.)
Jeff and Pam had the barbecue just about ready when got back, which was pretty nice.
Jan 19: 1 dive, at the Steam Engine, with Larry and Carol, Kirk, and Dave.
Got to Breakwater late, after a late night getting photo gear together and
charging batteries, and fending off my wacko dog's attacks. I was actually in
Monterey last Saturday to pick up my housing after an overhaul, but didn't dive
based on conditions, and tickets to a Sharks game that night. So, over 2 weeks
between dives. Used some of the time to inspect and re-glue a bunch of
suspect seam points on the drysuit (which lately hasn't been all that dry.)
Larry and Carol were already out, so I talked cameras a bit with Cindy, readied gear, splashed the boat, and decided to whale watch out beyond Pt Pinos until Larry and Carol and their passengers returned from Carmel. Ran into them before the point, and arranged to meet them back at the ramp after a brief sightseeing expedition. Bottom line score was Whales, a bunch (if they actually existed), and me zilch. Didn't look like the three whale watching boats hanging in the area
Joined Carol and crew (Kirk and Dave diving, and Larry either reading or playing with his camera) for a dive at the Steam Engine. Carol mentioned she had never been to the propeller, so we planned that. Dropped into green hazy 15 foot vis, descended to dark green hazy 15 to 20 foot vis. I initially headed out along the wrong ledge, and missed the Steam Engine. I realized the mistake when the ledge petered out, and shifted over to the correct ledge. There, I found a largish mermaid's purse, with the young shark visible inside with a bit of flashlight backlighting. Never saw it move, though, so not really sure if it was viable or not. We then worked back to the Steam Engine. From there we swam out to the propeller. Along the way, I found an Acanthadoris hudsoni, I think the second one I've seen (certainly the second one I've ID'd.) I missed the picture, though. Found the prop, with Carol, Kirk, and Dave following, did a brief look-see, and headed back. To my surprise, I ended up back at the Steam Engine (must have been a current running.) Carol was still with me, but Kirk and Dave had disappeared. While goofing around near the anchor line, I decided to visit the fringehead-in-
So, grand total of the dive was one mermaid's purse, a bunch of Cadlina luteomarginata, a few P. nobilis, a spanish shawl, a half dozen Tritonia festiva (inluding the largest I've ever seen), a slew of Dialula sandiegensis (does anyone know which is correct: Diaulula or Dialula?), the previously mentioned A. hudsoni, a few Triopha catalinae, a couple of gopher rockfish, and a kelp greenling. Lots of Black Eyed Gobies and ronquils of some sort. Oh, and a few moon jellies up near the surface.
My Mosquito is acting up, so I don't have dive data handy (primary computer is in the truck), but it was around 85 feet for around 25 minutes, and around oh, 52 degrees. Maybe. Possibly. Good news is that I'm down to a single, small leak in the drysuit which will be taken care of next chance I get.
Some group (Scubaboard? North Coast Divers?) had an impromptu get-together at Buzzards BBQ, so after checking into Cypress Tree, walked down to join them. Larry and Carol were already there; Chuck and Linda showed up shortly after. Lots of dive talk, good food, and really inexpensive beer ($2.25 for a bottle of Sierra or Fat Tire.) Doc Wong showed up late with some video of his days diving off the Cypress Sea. Kind of fun. Unfortunately, we also learned that Buzzards would be closing after the weekend. Makes me wish I had tried it earlier. Ericson was kind enough to give me ride back to Cypress Tree.
Jan 1: New Years Day: 2 dives - Mono Lobo Wall, Hopkins Deep; with Larry and Carol, Pam, And Jeff.
Started the New Year off with a one-day dive trip to Monterey. No hangover. Also, no dive report. Guest writer Dionna House, however, reported the following:
[begin Dionna's report]
New Years Day: I met up with the Cohn's, John Yasaki, Jeff C. and Pam.
Breakwater was empty. Topside conditions were wonderful. There was talk about
going around the corner to Mono Lobo Wall. I perked up!!! We ended up anchoring
at Ballbuster. Good choice too!!. There didn't seem to be any current and
minimum swell. Carol and I went down and tuddled around. Carol was bombed by a
sealion, John Yasaki spotted a huge cowry and a big rock scallop. Vis was about
35-40ft. It is always great to see the metridiums, unfortunately they were all
closed down. They probably knew we were coming. On the way back to the
Breakwater, we stopped by to wish Chuck and Linda a Happy New Year. Linda showed
her wonderful Christmas present [A Nikon D40 in an Aquatica housing]. I thought
it was from Santa Claus, Chuck said Cisco was good to her!!
Surface Interval: Cheese, crackers, salami, potato salad and comrade. My Italian Mom would be proud of me.
Dive 2: Hopkins Deep Reef. We dropped anchor somewhere around Hopkins Deep. Carol spotted a spike on her depth finder, but, we drifted a little ways off of it. We went down and noticed the anchor wedged into a crack. Carol freed the stuck anchor and moved it to a better place. I tied off on the anchor with my reel and off we went. I saw a few Spanish shawls, lots of metridium and towards the end, we spotted another big lingcod. Very nice dive and we zoomed back to the Breakwater on glassy waters. All this reminded me of my waterskiing days.
After the diving we all hung out. Jeff C, our BBQ Extraordinaire, whipped up some yummy chicken and tri-tip. Nice way to start the
New Year.. Thanks to Larry and his wonderful surface support, Jeff and his wonderful BBQ and food, and Captain *&%$ Carol for diving with me.
[end Dionna's report]