Dive Log, 2010 Previous logs: 2007 2008 2009
Running list of dives in 2010.
Dive totals to date:
Days diving: 44 Local dives: 59 Elsewhere: 43 YTD Total: 102
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.
12-31: 2 dives: Outer Outer Chase and Steam Engine 3, with Larry, Carol and Matt
on XTSea, and me on Aurora (Matt bailed on dive 2 due to cold.)
Arrived at Breakwater a touch after 9, and found about 4 trailer spots filled, with Larry and Carol having one, and Chuck and Linda occupying another. The single car parking along the wall was largely empty as well (maybe 5 or 6 cars?) Since I was a bit behind the curve, I got things ready to go as quick as I could (after a call to verify that my buddy wasn't going to show - "What, were we planning to dive today?"), and, though Chuck and Linda headed out about fifteen minutes before I was ready, Larry, Matt and Carol waited a bit and we launched and headed out together.
Water at Breakwater was fairly flat; out near the point the swell and chop grew a bit, building to what I'd call a couple or three feet, but rather confused due to the wind at about 90 degrees to the swell (Chuck said the swell was bigger than that, but I don't remember him stating a number.) Carol dropped on the numbers for Outer Outer Chase, and I dropped a short distance away. I tossed gear in the water, sealed up the drysuit and followed, finding a bit of surface current running out towards the point. After warning Carol about the current, I headed down as the Cohns geared up, following my anchor line as it dropped to about 55 feet, then started rising back up. It ran over a semi-pinnacle, and I found the chain and anchor piled up on a small ledge on the far side. I moved the hook from the ledge to the bottom of the channel, dropping it in a small boulder field. It didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I headed off to see waht I could find. Bottom line: Not a whole lot. A bunch of fish were out and about, mostly juvie Blue Rocks, but also found 10 or 12 different Lings ranging from about 3 feet down to just over 1, and a pair of Pile Perch being shadowed by some other kind (Black? Don't remember my perch ID cues at the moment.) A few Kelp Greenling and a bunch of sedentary Coppers and Gophers. Not too many slugs, and none of them unusual (well, maybe a Cadlina flavomaculata - deepest one I've seen, at about 65 feet.) Since I was rigged for macro, I didn't do a lot of looking way out, but as I headed up I took a look around and was able to make out the shape of a ridge about 40 or 50 feet out. Larry said he thought vis was about 30. Dunno. The safety stop was spent flagpoled (well, at least a bit) dodging big nettles being pulled along in the current. As I got to my ladder, I found that Carol's current line had wrapped itself around my prop about a dozen times. Cleared that then reboarded the boat. The Cohn's hit the surface about 5 minutes later. 84 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees. I was fine temp-wise throughout the dive, but got really cold once I was out of the water. By the time we reached the ramp, my toes were numb and my hands ached. Gotta love Monterey in winter.
SI in the lot and lunch at the deli, then back out for dive 2. I proposed Steam Engine 3 so I could look for the Onchidoris bilamellata that were there a couple of weeks ago, and Larry and Carol agreed. Matt bailed on dive 2 due to cold.
Carol dropped on the numbers, I dropped about 20 feet away (or at least I thought I did); I scoped out to hang about 30 feet behind XTSea. Geared up and swam over to Carol's boat, as she wanted me to point out the slugs, since she missed them last time. We headed down together, and once at the bottom, started looking for slugs. Found lots of egg masses, but no slugs. Headed out along the SW ridge and after a brief octo encounter, found a fairly large group of Onchidoris about 50 feet away. headed back to find Carol, spotting their lights when Iw as about halfway back to the Engine. Showed Carol the slugs, then headed off to see what else I could find. Vis was 15 to 20 or so, I think. Lots of rockfish (including a surprising number of Vermilions), a few Greenling, and a Lingcod. Lots of fairly large Ronquils. Slugwise, a bunch of largish Peltodoris, a bunch of Doriopsilla, a few Cadlina luteomarginata, a few scattered Diaulula, a single Acanthodoris lutea, a single Spanish Shawl, a single Berthella, and a couple of Geitodoris heathi (I think.) Ran up a touch of deco obligation trying to get a Ronquil to pose for a specific shot; when I got it it looked a lot worse than I thought it would. Spent a 7 minute hang looking at absolutely nothing in the water column. First dive in a long time with no jellies. 75 feet (low tide, I guess; this site is usually about 85), 46 minutes, 54 degrees.
12-5: 1 dive: Shale Island with Fofo
Jeff wanted to drop crab pots in the morning, so I left the hotel and drove up to Moss Landing. Jeff was waiting there, and had been talking to another crab fisherman, who shared his knowledge and crab attractant bait treatment. Nice of him, as most fishermen are pretty tight-lipped about productive spots. We put the pots in about 200 feet, about 4 miles from the harbor. The ride out was reasonably smooth, but coming back in was beating against a small short period swell with a foot or two of wind chop, dropping our speed from around 30 going out to under 20 coming back in. Pam was waiting at the dock with Roxie (Jeff's dog) in tow. Jeff and Pam decided to hang out there, while I had arranged to dive with Fofo.
Pulled the boat, and left Jeff, Pam, and Roxie at Moss to meet Fofo at Breakwater. Pretty windy to about Reservation Rd, where it seemed to die down pretty well. Breakwater was fairly calm, with a slight breeze. Broken clouds belied the 80% chance of rain that had been forecast. Loaded and re-launched the boat, and headed out to see about finding the Yellowfins, since we couldn't do it yesterday. Hooked up on the numbers, and started gearing up, when a large motor yacht headed straight for us. I delayed a bit in case they didn't see us, and they ran just about over where the anchor was, continuing on a few hundred yards. Turned out to be the Yacht Club committee boat, apparently looking to set up a sailing course. Too late, this time.
Geared up and headed down, using my back-up mask (hadn't touched it in several years, and remembered that I hated it, but didn't remember why.) Figured out pretty quickly why it had been relegated to the bottom of the dive bag: constant leaking, one lens with a way-wrong correction, and bubbles collect on the lenses anytime they're tipped forwards. I think it's going to be relegated to the trash can as soon as I get a new mask. Vis at the bottom was maybe 10 feet or so (might have been more; in addition to not being able to see anything, I don't recall looking around all that much.) Surprisingly surgy considering the 1 foot swell (about a foot of movement at the bottom.) Found both Fringeheads where I expected them to be, pointed one of them out to Fofo (I think he found the other one on his own), then headed up on top to look around a bit. Eventually got tired of fighting the mask, and had no idea where Fofo was, so headed up the line. Spent a few minutes taking nettle shots, then called it a dive. 54 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees (though it felt way colder.) Fofo came up about 5 minutes later.
Ran back to the ramp, picked up the boat, parted ways with Fofo, and headed back to Moss. Still no rain, and the wind had died quite a bit. We wanted to get back before dark, so launched boats and headed for the pots. As we were making the 3 mile run, the wind and swell picked up with a vengeance. By the time we reached the first pot, the foot of wind chop on 2 foot swell had grown to 2 to 3 foot chop on 4 to 5 foot cresting waves. About the time I got the first floats on board, the rain started. Took quite a bit longer than expected to get the pots up, and we were somewhat disappointed to only have 3 keepers. The ride back in was sporty, to say the least. A little unnerving running nearly parallel to cresting waves. But it went by without incident (if you discount face-stinging wind-driven downpours) and started getting stuff ready to travel. Oddly, Jeff called me while I was backing in to recover the boat, except it wasn't Jeff. Apparently someone had picked up his phone, and hit redial to try to figure out an owner. Turned out to be someone in Watsonville, so Jeff asked Pam to pick it up, as we were still stowing gear. About the time we finished packing everything up, the wind died and the rain stopped. Figures.
12-4: 2 dives: Ballbuster with me solo on Aurora, and Larry and Carol on XTSea;
Steam Engine 3 with the same group, plus Fofo on my boat.
Got out of the house a bit early, and was on-track for a before-9 arrival at Breakwater. Wind picked up substantially after hitting Hwy 1 off 156, enough so that a couple of vehicles had pulled over to secure kayaks and surfboards. My truck was being blown around pretty good as well. First view of the water (somewhere near the Salinas River, I think) wasn't too hopeful: solid whitecaps. I mentally formed Plan B, which was to head to the hotel and take a nap. Second view of the water (near CSUMB?) was better, with no whitecaps, and almost no swell. Surf on the beach didn't look too bad. No boats out that I could see, though, which didn't bode well.
Larry and Carol were prepping their boat when I got to B/W, and Carol confirmed what I that I had seen the gale in the eastern part of the bay. Breakwater, however, was a lake. No swell, very little chop. Got ready to go, splashed the boats, and we headed off for Ballbuster for dive 1. A slight delay when we ran into a small pod of Risso's just before reaching the site. Carol dropped on the numbers (I think); I went a little east and dropped when the depthfinder showed I was clear of the pinnacle. Almost no wind, no discernible current, but quite a few nettles.
Geared up and headed down a bit before Larry and Carol (I think they were in the water when I dropped), weaved my way through 40 feet of nettles, then they cleared. Had a thoroughly irritating time getting my mask to seal. At the bottom, found vis to be about 15 to 25 depending on where I was, and nearly night-dive dark. Checked the hook (fine, but a bit jumbled up in the chain), then headed back up the rock. Lots of juvenile Rosy Rockfish. Lots of other juveniles that I can't ID. One juvie Yelloweye that was a little camera shy. Lots of adult Copper Rocks. Lots of sculpins of various types. Didn't find a whole lot else. Oddly, I never saw Larry and Carol, despite our anchors being only about 30 feet apart. Headed up with a few minutes bottom time left, spent the stop shooting nettles, then surfaced to find Larry and Carol up already. They actually had never made it more than about 10 feet down due to equipment problems. By the time they got things sorted, they figured my dive was about done, so they waited. I convinced them to go ahead and dive, so they headed down shortly after I hit the surface. Carol reported seeing a large wolf eel just under their anchor. Larry missed a shot of a Cormorant at about 100fsw. While I was waiting, I monitored radio traffic between the CG and MFD working some sort of spill near the Chart House. Fire reported a milk-like layer below the surface, which apparently extended over quite an area. My dive was 99 feet for 31 minutes, 52 degrees. Found out that the skirt on my mask had a 1/4" long tear, which explained the flooding problem (but didn't explain why it stopped leaking after about 5 minutes.)
Headed back in to the ramp for the SI, and ran into Fofo in the lot. He was experimenting with some new tail weight or something, and was going to head in off the beach. He accepted the offer of a ride to Shale Island, and I grabbed lunch while he loaded gear on my boat. Shortly, we headed back out to find the Yellowfin Fringeheads at Shale Island.
Unfortunately, the Yacht Club was running a race with one of the turn markers just about at the SI anchorage, so we decided to do Steam Engine 3 instead. Anchored up and we headed down through millions of tiny sea nettles, and hundreds of big ones. I had tossed a good deal of anchor line out, and it ended up laying along the bottom for a bit. As I followed it along the shale, I noticed an odd pattern in one section. Closer inspection showed it to be a mass of about 50 Onchidoris bilamellata. Took several pics, as this was only the second time I'd seen them, then continued on. Found the slug's egg masses a short distance away, strangely without any of the slugs around it. Continued on to my anchor, and checked out the Steam Engine a short distance away. swam around the flat shale area looking for other slugs (several species, but nothing unusual), then over the small ledge where I came upon a single Rostanga pulchra. A short distance away was a Flabellina iodinea. Took a quick look for unusual fish, then noticed all the fish in the area diving past me for the cover of the overhang. Turned around to find a large black harbor seal staring back at me. Raised the camera, and he swam about 20 feet away, then turned to look at me. I swam slowly towards him, and he just watched. Raised the camera again, framed, and watched as the auto-focus hunted in and out, failing to lock. Tried several more times and never got a focus lock, which means I couldn't trip the shutter. While I was messing wwith camera settings, he disappeared. Headed back over to the Onchidoris group, and found several other groups in various places, along with mostly separate egg mass areas. Apparently, these guys' eggs don't have any kind of chemical deterrent, as snails and a sunflower star seemed to be quite happily chowing down. About out of time, I headed up the line (after following it along the bottom for 50 feet or so), pausing to shoot a shrimp on a small gorgonian. Further up the line, I was seriously startled when the harbor seal showed up again (coming up from below my feet. My reaction apparently scared him, and we ended the encounter going opposite directions, him quickly back to the bottom and me slowly up to the top. 72 feet, 43 minutes, 50 degrees; vis about 25 to 30.
Shortly after I pulled the boat, a guy came up and introduced himself; turns out he's a new participant on a UK-based boating forum, who is considering having a boat built by the outfit that built mine. We ended up chatting about boats for about 45 minutes while everyone else packed up.
Then, while I was packing up, a group of freedivers complained about the spearfishing regs in the Breakwater area, then headed out to hunt. F&G was called, but didn't show up before the group gave up and exited the water.
11-21: One dive: Shale Island, with Larry and Carol on XTSea, and me on Aurora
Arrived at B/W about 10, and had two trailer spots occupied, one was Larry and Carol's rig. Chatted with one of Jeff's students for a bit, then Jeff showed up to bring the trailer count to 4. Amazing what staying away for a month will do. Weather was gorgeous: broken clouds and mostly sunshine, though the south wind was pretty pervasive all day. No rain until I was checked into the hotel.
My plan was to drop a couple of crab pots somewhere and then get in whatever kind of diving was afforded; Jeff's was to get his OW class done, fix his boat (needed to replace the primer bulb), and drop his pots somewhere. Along the way, Larry and Carol came back from diving Mola Mountain, and waited while I got all my ducks in a row. Jeff headed off to deal with his class. Eventually we headed out and I absconded with and dropped Jeff's traps off Lovers and mine off the Beach Hotel, all in about 100 fsw. We then headed for Shale Island. Fine by me, as Milton Love had asked for some images I had, and I couldn't find one of them: a Yellowfin Fringehead extending out of its hole (if you're interested, the web image is here. I hoped to get a chance to duplicate the image, so welcomed the chance to dive SI; I even saved a squid from the crab bait to try and lure it out if that became necessary.
Carol had a bit of a navigation issue and dropped about 50 feet from the numbers, I dropped spot on. Later, Carol said she had tried to move her anchor closer to the edge, and it skipped off a ways before biting. Apparently mine had done the same thing without help, as I was nowhere near the spot I usually hook up when I got down. Geared up and headed down in a slight surface current, weaving through the nettles on the way down the line. Vis at the bottom was 7 to 15 depending on where you were and when you were there. Made my way over to the outcropping with the Yellowfin I can actually find, and spotted it after a bit of a search. Planted myself on the bottom, and was pleased to find that the surge was stirring up enough debris that the little guy was coming out and hitting floating stuff pretty often without the need to chum. Probably got the shot in the first couple of minutes, but kept shooting just the same. About 12 minutes later, I took a break from getting that shot, and fed the little guy a bit of squid. The Black-Eye gobies, a ronquil or two, I think an anemone, and several sculpins all helped eat the calimari as well. I wandered back towards Anchor 5, Running into Larry and Carol around the corner from the little cove thingie the Yellowfin is in. I had found it too difficult to mete out squid and control a camera at the same time, so I passed the bag'o'squid(tm) off to Carol. As I did, I noticed a bit of movement, and discovered another Yellowfin in the shale there. Took a few shot of that guy, then headed up onto the top, where I saw another Fringehead (marked differently, mostly red - young One-Spot perhaps?), but I lost it while circling back to get a pic. Never saw it again. Several Peltodorises, and Diaulula, one Acanthodoris lutea, and a Cadlina modesta. No rockfish at all that I remember, and nothing else really noteworthy. The battery died on my Mosquito mid-dive, so no data handy, but the dive was roughly 50 minutes at about 55 feet, and I'd guess the temp at about 50 to 52. Lost the line on the safety stop, and surface well south, just in the right place to see a rainbow behind XTSea. Took a couple of quick shots but no idea yet how they came out.
Blew off a second dive in favor of checking the crab pots, which turned out to be empty.
10-21 thru 23:
Lobster diving off the Peace at Santa Barbara, Anacapa, and Santa Cruz Islands in Southern California
Short version: 15 Dives, 8 hours, 21 minutes bottom time. Max depth about 97fsw. Not too productive.
10-10: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle and Anchors 2&3 with Jeff and Tom on Nitrox
and myself on Aurora.
Jeff and Tom (Jeff's ex-DM/current instructor/recently relocated to upstate NY friend) were supposed to come down during the night to make sure they got parking. Apparently they arrived sometime around midnight. I got out of the hotel a bit later than I wanted, and arrived at a totally socked in B/W about 7. Jeff and Tom were both still asleep, so chatted with Rusty and Patrick for a bit. They were heading off to dive a spot off the Condo's where Patrick likes to fish (hook-and-line.) I assume he wanted to see what the bottom actually looks like, but I didn't ask. Jeff, then a while later, Tom, finally crawled out of the truck, and we basically screwed around for a couple of hours waiting for the fog to lift. Around 11 or so we got tired of waiting, and splashed the boats. Surface vis fog-limited to a quarter mile max, and an observed minimum of about 100 yds or so. Made the run out a little slow, which was fine, as the swell would have made a faster ride a bit jarring anyway. We were planning on Ballbuster, but like yesterday it was occupied, this time by one of the charter boats. We diverted to Trevors.
Current check showed a light surface current running towards the point. Wind was opposite, and fairly brisk, but the anchor line never really tightened up. Jeff's boat and mine ended up way further apart than we were when we dropped the hooks, which struck me as a little odd, but not really much we could do about it. We all headed down, and I had a fairly easy time dodging nettles who were at a density of about one per several cubic yards. Apparently Jeff and Tom had a denser concentration and were pretty soundly stung on the way down. I checked my hook, which had landed in the sand next to the west ridge, then headed back over to the main ridge where I headed halfway around then worked along the top. Along the way, found a large adult Treefish, and a nice baseball-sized red octopus who was missing a couple of tentacles; not a lot else that was noteworthy. I did find a weird metal serving tray in the shape of a swan or goose or something; it was completely covered with the little white barnacles, but little else, so I have no guess as to how long it had been down. Vis was about oh, 40, maybe as much as 50, little chunky bits that didn't seem to affect vis much, and fairly dark due to the fog, I think. Ran across Jeff's hook, and noticed his chain was running about 110 degrees contrary to mine. Weird. Headed up, did my stop on the line, then took a couple of shots of the nettles (grand total of maybe 30 seconds), and ended up surfacing about 50 feet from the boat. 78 feet, 31 minutes, 52 degrees.
SI back at the truck, where the sun finally broke through. Deli sandwich for lunch. nice warm sunshine and we all got really sleepy.
Finally roused everyone about 3 or 3:30 and we headed out for Shale Island, since Tom hadn't been there. Unfortunately, a sailboat race was underway seemingly centered on teh Island, so we opted for Anchors 2&3 instead. Dropped the hooks and the boats ended up hanging in the same direction this time. I headed down and found about 15 foot vis in the top 45 feet, unless too many nettles got in the way. Below 45 feet, vis opened up to maybe 30, 35 feet. Two large Vermilions were about the only really interesting critters; so I spent most of the time looking for artsy shots (unsuccessfully), and checking out the barnacle-covered areas for Onchidoris bilamellata (none found.) Ran out of time and headed up through the nettles, opting to do the safety stop at 9', where most of the nettles were small. 84 feet, 34 minutes, 52 degrees.
10-09: 2 dives: North Monastery Wall and a place just in from Chase Reef, both
with Ray and Carlos the Jackal.
Ray and Carlos wanted to make sure they were on time, so they decided to rent a room for Friday night to cut the commute time down. I added Friday night to my reservation and came down as well, figuring I could bypass the parking mayhem by getting to the lot really early. After a late dinner at the Bulldog, we went back to the hotel planning on an early start.
I arrived at Breakwater at 6, and had a vast choice of parking spaces. Took a nap for an hour, and the open space count was down to a half dozen or so. By 8, when Carol and Larry showed up, it was down to 3. By 8:10 the lower lot was full (trailer spots, that is - there were single spots on the wall til about 9 or so.) At 8:30, with Ray and Carlos still absent, I called, and I think woke Ray up. So much for the early start. Michael Murphy showed up, but was relegated to the upper lot. Ray and Carlos arrived about 9:30, and we hit the water about 10 or so. Carol and Larry were long gone, but Michael had just left the harbor. We followed (or chased) Mike's RIB all the way down to about Pt. Joe, where he pulled up to check out a small pod of Risso Dolphins. Then we headed into Carmel Bay to look for a dive site.
Considered several places, and not really knowing how deep Carlos wanted to go (he's Cuban, and has only a limited grasp of English, though to be fair that's still infinitely better than my Spanish), I decided that dropping the hook in the channel just off the North Monastery kelp bed would allow him to choose a depth he was comfortable with. Dropped the hook in about 50 feet, and we headed in. First thing I noticed at the surface was that I could make out broken kelp fronds on the sand 50 feet below. Headed down, passing a bunch of the little jumpy football jellies and a couple of nettles, and almost landed on a small (10" or so) Torpedo Ray. Vis in the channel was about 45 or 50 feet, with a lot of chunks, and a general haze. Straightened out the hook (chain wrapped around it), took a couple of shots of a smallish Ling hiding next to some algae, and headed up onto the rocks. Vis dropped a bit, probably from a lack of light penetrating, but remained good at 35 to 40 feet. Poked around up on top for a bit, then headed off to the west and over the edge. Carlos seemed quite interested in the life, pointing stuff out that I tried to remember so I could tell him what it was once were back on the boat. He seemed thrilled to find a Spanish Shawl (and perhaps rightly so: it was the only one I saw today.) Lots of Cadlina luteomarginata and Doriopsilla albopunctata, a few San Diego's and a surprising number of Clowns. The largest Tritonia festiva I've ever seen (about 2.5" or so), and a 4' Lingcod who didn't want to stick around (don't know if it's just me, but being face to face with the head of that large a Ling is just scary.) Hit just a tad deeper than 100', then came back up the wall and back into the kelp. Found a Manania on a Turkish Towel blade. A Harbor seal remained just at the edge of visibility, but sort of led us out the whole return leg. Turned south a bit early, and missed the hook, so did a green water ascent just outside the kelp, spyhopped, then swam underwater over to the line. While Ray and Carlos reboarded, I delayed a bit shooting jellies (or trying, anyway.) 108 feet, 38 minutes, 50 degrees.
Back on the boat, saw XTSea somewhere out near Mono Lobo (I think); odd as I missed them there before the dive. They were just pulling their hook, and came over to chat a bit, where we found out we had both decided to head back to Monterey before the wind picked up more than it had. The ride out of Carmel bay was pretty rough with a short steep swell making the hull slap pretty good, Heading back up the coast gave us a better angle on the swell, and the speed went up. And stopped again when I spotted a Sprite bottle and circled back to collect it. I missed putting the boat on it the first pass, Ray missed the grab on the second, and Carlos grabbed it on the third, except he then dropped it overboard again. Fourth time was a charm. Stopped to chat with Michael, who was just heading in at Octopussy's Garden to see what was there. Then back into the ramp for lunch at the deli. Late in the break, Michael returned, saying he had fairly poor vis and not much but the small barnacles, so that killed that spot for us.
After a fairly long SI to allow Carol to dry out, we headed for Ballbuster, but found Double-Down occupying it. It appeared that Trevor's or a site nearby it was also occupied (one of the commercial boats, but I didn't note which one), so I headed out towards Chase. On the way, I decided to try a spot I've got marked as "Rocks", which has a little kelp field seaward that helps knock down some of the swell. Carol apparently wasn't thrilled about surface conditions, and retreated back to Hopkins. We dropped the hook, and found no current, 2 foot swell with occasional 3's. Geared up and headed in. Vis was about 40 or so, with just a few scattered nettles. Found the hook on a shoulder of a sort of squarish pinnacle; it seemed reasonably secure so I left it there. Headed off around the rock in a ccw direction, initially not really seeing a whole lot. Almost no surge. Carlos was back to pointing stuff out: Black Eyed Goby, Sea Cukes of various types, Kelp Crabs, etc. He seemed entranced by the orange crevice-dwelling cukes that were tucking arms into their oral cavity to strip off filtered food. To be honest I found it interesting as well. About then a sea lion buzzed by about 5 feet in front of me, and the game was on. Shortly after we had a group of 5 or 6 sea lions dogging us as we completed the circuit of the rock (and then some, as it turned out.) Somewhere in there, I looked up to see a Bat Ray cruising by about 20 feet above us, and I managed to get Ray and Carlos to look up in time to see it as well. I think we ended up swimming under the anchor line, and ended up about 100 feet off the boat after doing a sloping green water ascent with the seal lions. 77 feet, 37 minutes, 54 degrees.
On the way back in, saw XTSea hooked up over Hopkins, empty. Did a bit of sightseeing for pics that Carlos could send to his friend in Cuba, and by the time we were done, Larry and Carol were up and we ended up running back in together.
9-26: 2 dives: Mola Mountain with Pam, and the Barge solo
Yesterday (Sat, 9-25), I arrived at about 8, and found no trailer parking anywhere near a boat ramp. Ended up checking into the hotel and doing occasional drive by's to see if anything opened up. Finally got a parking space at about 4pm. By that time, I was little too distracted to do any diving. Though I didn't talk to any boat divers, the reports from the beach weren't too promising. Turned out to be some sort of Wounded Veterans Memorial Fishing Tournament, which, with the prizes they award, had all the hook-and-line guys out in force.
Back to Sunday:
Arrived at Breakwater at 7 just behind Patrick, and found both the lower and upper lots filled. We both ended up on the street. Rusty had secured a spot in the upper lot.
Launched the boat and parked the truck, then helped Patrick launch his boat. Patrick and Rusty and crew headed out to see about diving White Wall (in CDN this month; reportedly a site off Pt. Pinos that, from the description, sounds like most sites off Pt. Pinos), while I waited to see what Jeff's groups' plan was. That ended up being Jeff taking the class out, and Pam free to dive, so she and I (plus Roxie as surface support) headed out to see what it looked like up the peninsula.
Surface was surprisingly rough considering the light wind and small swell (there was about a foot to a foot and a half swell, but pretty closely spaced which had the hull pounding pretty good. I suspect there was a much longer groundswell too, based on the surge on the dives.) Nearing Lovers, the fog started thickening a bit, then we ran into Patrick returning from Aumentos, which he described as "pretty horrible", with ten foot max vis and a bunch of surge. Pam didn't really care where we went, so I headed back towards Hopkins with a backup plan of the deep shale. Ended up at Mola Mountain. Pam dropped the hook on cue, and I waited while we drew out. The line never really went taut, so we just geared up and headed in. I dropped first, descending through 5 to 10 foot vis and sparse nettles. At the bottom, vis was 25 to 35, reasonably bright, but seriously hazy. Moved the anchor from its perch on top of the pinnacle to the sand to the west, then headed off to take a look at the north side of the rock. Almost immediately, came across another of the white-striped black juvenile rockfish, which I think has been ID'd as a Yelloweye, but it retreated into a crack. As I waited for it to re-emerge, a heart crab scuttle into the crack and pretty effectively blocked it in. I waited for a few minutes to see what developed, but all the players seemed pretty comfortable in their new spots. Didn't see anything else unusual or even all that interesting. Ran into Pam back near the anchor, and at about the same time, heard a few god-awful bangs, sounding like metal-on-metal bashing with really large pieces. Quite a few Gopher Rockfish, two adult Treefish (both tail-out in cracks), four or five smallish Lingcod, and a few large Striped Perch. One good sized Egg-Yolk jelly. Almost no slugs. Headed up the line, and found that the jellies had thickened, pretty much impossible to avoid between 20 feet and 10. Did most of the safety stop at 9 feet, and avoided getting stung. Found Pam already on board, and Roxie more than ready to get back to land, and stung myself over half my face with residual nematocysts on my gloves while taking my hood off. Oh well. Didn't take the watch, but as I recall the dive ended up at about 40 minutes, 71 feet, and the only temp I saw was early in the dive at 51. The banging I had heard was most likely a purse seiner that was apparently working about a half mile away.
When we got back to the ramp, the submarine (Deep Flight? Something like that) was on the ramp launching; looked like quite a chore to get it in the water without damaging the wings. Headed up to see what Jeff was doing; Class was going OK, and was getting set to do their last dive. Pam was tasked with taking a rather uncomfortable student on a dive off the beach, so she headed back to the boat to get her gear. I helped (or not) the students get ready to go, then they headed in. I headed back to the boat, running into Pam who asked me to wait for her second trip so she could grab her weights. As I awaited her return, the sub came back, the only visible parts being the VHF antenna (looks like a thin vertical wing with a red tip), the two cockpits, a low-rise section of the nose, and, in this case, a large yellow rectangle jutting to either side. Turns out the sub had smacked the bottom, and the yellow thing was an emergency buoyancy bag that had deployed uninflated when a panel came loose. Lots of activity on the ramp, so the sub sat off the end of the dock, having a bit of trouble maintaining position in the wind and surge. About that time, one of the boats coming out fired up, bounced off the dock, rammed a small inflatable and snapped its dock line setting it adrift, and headed rapidly for the sub. They managed to miss it, but were called back to the dock by a member of one of the Sheriff's Office Dive Teams that were there (probably the inflatable owner.) I got off the dock and motored over to retrieve the inflatable, only to find the in-water-sub-tender already swimming it back. The offending boat was still trying to get turned around and back to the dock, so I headed out to play blocker while the land crew tried to get the pilot to move to a safer area. Apparently the sub doesn't handle too well at low speed. The hit-and-run guys were able to get back to the dock (finally, and without hitting anyone else as far as I could tell), and the sub crew re-launched their inflatable to run interference for the sub. I headed out to do a quick dive to I could get back in time for Jeff's BBQ. Patrick had said the Barge was pretty good, so I figured it would do (I also considered Shale Island, but that makes for a longer dive. The Deep Shale was out as there was a sailboat race in progress directly over it.)
Dropped the hook and headed down. Vis pretty much the same as at Hopkins. Lots of Black-eye Hermit crabs all over (and most covered with the tiny barnacles.) Not a lot else unusual, unless you count a smallish cabezon. Saw a bunch of Dendronotus iris eggs, but no D. iris. While I was down, it sounded like half the boats on the bay went overhead. Headed up after about 40 minutes (watch didn't make this dive, either.) so 60-something feet for about 45 minutes, temp at the bottom was a balmy 50. A small school of baitfish cruised by at the edge of visibility (about 6 or 7 feet away) just before I broke the surface.
Made it back to the ramp in time to pack up the boat, lock everything up, and get down to the lawn just as the food was coming off the grill. Found out that another friend had a boating event on Saturday: His boat, tied up to a dock while he retrieved his truck and trailer, was run into at fairly high speed by another boat. He suspects it is a total loss.
9-12: 1 dive: A random spot just north of the mouth of the Albion River with
Steve and Jeff B.
Captain Aqua's semi-annual Abablone Trip (meaning it's somewhat less than annual, rather than more than once a year.) Saturday was pretty much confined to free-diving for abalone due to the large number of participants and the small number of boats (2.) Sunday, while Jeff C. ran another ab trip, I managed to get a few people interested in scuba together for a quick dive. Unfortunately, the swell and wind had picked up rather dramatically, so we were kind of limited in where we could safely go (that, and having an un-proven diver on board had me a little leery about more aggressive sites.)
Motored around the point to the north of Albion Cove, and anchored up in about 50 feet of water in a spot that appeared to have pretty good structure. A current check (my biggest worry, given that we were pretty much alone out there) showed just a touch of wind-driven surface current. Swell was runnning 3 feet or so, but with a relatively long period. Steve geared up and got in, and headed down. Jeff B., who had been pretty confident talking about his diving abilities, seemed a little less confident now. I clipped off and threw in my rig and spear gun, and waited for Jeff to get ready to go, as he was having problems deciding whether to gear up on board or in the water. Somewhere along the way, he decided to clip off his BC and removed a tag line from a D-ring on the boat tube, then reconsidered and dropped it. Fine, except that, a) he had unclipped the anchored end of the tag line, and b) my gun was on the other end. Gun and line dropped to the bottom. Finally got Jeff in the water (geared up on the boat), and started rigging up a down line as a reference point to aid in the search for my gun. That done, I prepared to hop in, but noticed Jeff flailing around behind the boat, unable to submerge. Called him back over, asked how much more weight he needed ("Dunno") and put another 5 lbs in his belt. Told him to descend on the anchor line rather than just drop (my confidence in his ability was waning a bit), then I headed down to retrieve my gun and see what was available for dinner.
Water was pretty reasonable: a hazy 2o to 25 feet of vis, blue water, and just a bit of surge. Found the gun within a couple of minutes of starting the search, and headed off to find the anchor (wasn't really hoping for much, which helps avoid disappointment.) Structure was wonderful: rocky bottom, with mini-pinnacles from the bottom at 50 to 60 feet to about 30. Should have been a great area for Lings and Rockfish, both of which were completely absent. Swam out until I was positive I had missed the hook, turned, and started working my way back. At the turn point, I ran across a smallish school of Blue Rocks with some reasonable sized members, but didn't feel like taking them. Both out and back, Kelp Greenling (mostly smallish ones, but with a few larger specimens) were all over the place. I don't think I've ever seen so many of them on a single dive. I'd estimate over 50 over the course of the dive. Once I figured out that I was completely lost (i.e. not going to find the anchor or the down line), I surfaced to get a bearing, and saw the boat 100 yds away. I was a touch south of where the anchor line should be running, and well out in front. Took the bearing and figured on doing a long arcing trajectory that should give me a slim chance of finding the anchor line, a really poor chance of running into the downline, and a pretty good chance of screwing things up completely and not getting any closer to the boat than I was. Surprisingly, about the time I was going to repeat the spy-hop, I ran across the downline. Surfaced to find Steve and Jeff already on board. Steve had, like me, struck out hunting, and Jeff had never made it underwater. Somewhere around 30 minutes, 60 feet. Temp was about 52, cold enough to remind me why I usually dive dry.
Blew off a dive on Monday in favor of lazing around the now-empty campsite.
8-29: 2 dives: Ballbuster and a random spot near MY6 or 7 (don't remember which)
with myself, Jill, and Deanna on Aurora; and Liam and Jeff on Nitrox.
Jeff called me at the hotel at about 6:30 and woke me up to tell me parking was rapidly disappearing at Breakwater. Odd, as I had my phone set to wake me at 6, but never heard it. Packed up and got to Breakwater at about 7, and ended up in the upper lot. To avoid a later fight over that spot, I loaded my gear and splashed the boat, then parked the truck for the day (or until a space opened in the lower lot.) Deanna showed up about 8 or so, Jill was a bit later at oh, 8:30 or so. Both of them were relegated to the upper lot or street as well. Liam's girlfriend took the car to go somewhere else, so parking wasn't a problem for them.
Got everyone organized and dressed and ready-to-go in about an hour and a half, and headed out for a planned dive at Ballbuster. On arrival, Monterey Blue was already hooked up, but said he didn't mind the company so I tried to estimate where Blue's hook was and dropped mine to miss it. Jeff dropped a little ways away.
Geared up and headed down through murky 5 foot vis top water and scattered nettles. At about 50 feet or so, the layer dissipated a bit, and it opened up to a hazy and dark 20. Checked my hook (oddly, not even pulled out despite the swell up top), then worked up then down the nearest face of the pinnacle. Didn't really find anything all that unusual, so headed around the corner, seeing everybody else from our group down at the bottom. About then, I ran into the group from Monterey Blue up on top. Headed back down over the side and was going to find my hook, when I ran across another juvenile Yelloweye Rockfish, so tried to get a better shot than I got before (time will tell if that worked or not.) Stopping there had me pretty much out of bottom time, so, spotting a line heading up just above me, I headed up. From the texture of the line, I suspected it was Jeff's, which was confirmed when I hit the surface. Luckily for me, everybody else had come up my line, so I didn't catch too much hell about it. 99 feet, 26 minutes, 52 degrees.
SI back at the ramp (enough fishermen and motor homes left to allow me to move the truck down; though getting out of my spot in the upper lot was a bit of a challenge), where I took a look at Deanna's drysuit, as she was getting wet all over. Found that neither valve was tightened down, which explained at least some of the water ingress. After a bite to eat, we geared up again for a dive somewhere on the shale.
Motored out to somewhere near Steam Engine 3, and dropped the hook on a spot that looked like it had at least some sort of vertical relief. It actually didn't. Mostly flat shale, with a few little pockets of rubble were the only things I found. Vis was 15, maybe 20 in the clearer areas. Not many fish, and not many slugs, and what there were of both were pretty routine. I did find 3 small octopi, though, the last of which was holding on to a market squid about 3 times larger than it was, and it wasn;t going to be scared off of it. What I didn't find was my anchor line, though apparently Jill and Deanna did. Jeff and Liam both came up well off the boats as well. 69 feet, 30 minutes, 52 degrees. Deanna was dry at least from the waist up, so the valves were responsible for some of leakage, anyway.
8-28: 1 dive (plus one aborted): Shale Island, solo
Decided to beat the rush by not beating the rush. Got out of the house at about 11:30am, for a planned after-1pm arrival at Breakwater to allow some of the fishermen to leave. Worked, sort of; three spots available when I got there at about 2:15.
Jeff was running some students through AOW and drysuit, so I was off to dive by myself, as the couple of guys who were thinking about coming apparently didn't think hard enough. Headed out to check out Kawika's Garden (Thanks, Michael, for the numbers); quick but wet run out through some pretty sloppy chop. Dropped the hook on the numbers and let the boat drift back. Swell was running a couple of feet with the wind waves adding another couple on top. Just a touch of current, so I tossed gear in and hopped in after it. I had added my big light and a strobe to my gear, the former because I figured it would be a darkish dive, and the latter to mark the anchor line. Headed down through the normal crappy top layer, fending off a few sea nettles on the way down. At about 35 feet, someone turned out the lights. Looking down, nothing but pitch black water. Looking up, a dark brownish green haze. It was a no-brainer: alone, an unknown deep dive site, and night conditions made it an easy call. Back up the line, and back onto the boat. Dive time was about 2 minutes.
Larry, depending on when you talked to him, had reported anywhere from 5-7 to 5-15 feet at Shale Island, so I decided to dive there, as it wouldn't matter if it was night-dive dark. Dropped the hook in much calmer surface conditions, and headed down. At the bottom, vis was a hazy 20, with just enough surge to make macro an exercise in frustration. Visited the Yellowfin Fringehead, then worked my way slowly down to the Knob. Not a lot of light at the bottom, which made me glad I brought the big dive light. Wandered down to the Rockfish Convention Center, which was largely vacant when I got there: a few coppers, kelps and blues under the ledge, a largish Vermilion out and about, and a three-plus foot Lingcod being given a lot of space by all the other fish hanging out under cover. Worked back to the anchor along the top of the island. No unusual slugs, no octopus. The sun apparently came out from behind the clouds, as just as I was heading up, things got a lot brighter. 59 feet, 39 minutes, 52 degrees (seemed a lot colder than that.)
On return to the dock, found out that Jeff's students decided to defer their night dive to a weekend with better visibility (they had near zero at Breakwater), so we went to dinner instead.
8-22: 2 dives: Outer Outer Chase and Hopkins Deep with myself, Evan, and
Stefanie on Aurora; Larry and Carol on XTSea; and Pam joining in for dive 2 on
Nitrox (Jeff played surface support.)
Arrived at B/W at about 7:30, and had my choice of about 4 trailer spots, all of them bad (2 had motorhomes with pushouts or steps infringing, one had a badly parked trailer next to it, and the last just a short space. I took the short space, just in front of the parking ticket machine, and overhung the spots at both ends.) Larry and Carol arrived just in time to catch a space left by a fisherman who had apparently given up. Patrick was there for some hook-and-line fishing, and Michael Murphy showed up as well. Jeff arrived about an hour later and was relegated to the upper lot. Ray had bailed the day before, and Dida overslept and decided not to make it. Stefanie and her friend Evan showed up, though, so at least I had someone on the boat. After a leisurely (or just slow) prep, Larry and I splashed boats, while Jeff (who managed to snag a spot in the lower lot by then) decided to take a nap for his first dive. Topside weather was nicer than Saturday; the marine layer was broken and the sun was out for the most part.
Out towards Pt Pinos in a small but steep swell that had the hull pounding pretty good at any kind of speed. By the time we neared Pinos, it was about 4 feet (the big sets), and whitecaps were just starting to form all over the bay. Anchored up on Outer Outer Chase, in a slight northern current, and after a bit of gear fiddling, got everyone headed down the line. Top layer was a murky greenish-brown, with just a few nettles. about 10 feet down, the green left, and it was just brown, cutting vis to about 5 feet. To make matter worse, the nettles thickened, right at the point where you couldn't see them coming. Vis opened up at about 25 feet, and the bottom structure appeared about 60 feet below. I could see my anchor line transition to chain and then disappear over a small rock in a sand channel. Dropped down and reset the hook (the chain had fouled a bit), then looked around. I could see rocks that were easily 60 feet away, perhaps as much as 70. Stef and Evan shortcut from the line to the top of the next ridge, so I started poking around the face of the wall, about 25 or 30 feet vertical, and a couple of hundred feet long. Didn't find anything unusual. Decided to hop over that ridge to see what was beyond, and found a narrow, steep-sided canyon, so dropped into it to look into the crevices and holes in the fractured granite. Found a spot eerily similar to Guy's Rockfish crack at Trevor's; complete with lounging Coppers and Blacks. A short distance away, a perched Kelp Greenling stayed put long enough to get several shots off (though the face shot I wanted ended up being out of focus.) Headed back over the ridge towards my anchor and saw Stef and Evan heading up, then passed over Larry and Carol (who had come over from their hook a couple of ridges away.) Checked out the rocks under my anchor line, finding nothing more than several Yellowtail Rockfish. Eventually headed back up the line through the nettles, catching up to Stef and Evan at about 40 feet. Following them up, I amused myself by watching the nettles disturbed by the vortices generated by Evans' fins: they'd be swimming happily along, then suddenly tumble around, often rolling up into a little ball of bell, veils, and tentacles. Up into the murk for the safety stop, then back on the boat for a dive of 88 feet, 31 minutes, in 50 degrees. The fog had moved in while we were down, not exactly where we were, but pretty much everywhere else, and the entire fishing fleet had converged into a one-mile square area around us. Treated Stef's jelly stings (she's apparently somewhat allergic and tends to puff up pretty good), then headed back in to see if Jeff was actually going to dive.
Took a long SI in the lot, just chatting and eating and general resting up. Rob came back in from his dive, and reported 10 to 12 feet at Shale Island. Furby showed up with his boat and wife (in that order, I think), and was off to do a solo dive somewhere out past Lover's (his wife apparently doesn't dive.) Patrick returned from his fishing trip, pleased with the results. We were sort of waiting for Stan to show up for dive 2, but a phone call late in the SI revealed he was just getting through San Jose, which kind of killed the wait for him. Pam showed up, though, so we ended up waiting a bit longer while she geared up and got her stuff into Jeff's boat.
The three boats headed out with a planned destination of either the shale (not ideal - I hadn't seen a hell of a lot there the day before), or Hopkins Deep (better, as it was relatively short run, and deep enough to get under the layer, and hopefully the nettles as well.) Ended up dropping my hook on a random spot between what I have marked as Hopkins Deep and God's Fingers. The wind had died down a bit, and the fog had lifted again, making it much more comfortable than the end of the first dive. Surface water still looked a little funky though. Geared up and headed down (Stef and Evan were on their own this time), through a lot more nettles (albeit smaller ones.) Most of the nettles were concentrated between about 10 feet and 45 feet in depth (though they were present pretty much everywhere.) Again, vis opened up nicely, and at the bottom, I'd call what we had an easy 40 feet. Managed to drop the hook in a large sand patch, and found a swimming scallop nearby. Took a couple of pics, then gave it a bit of a poke, and it grabbed my finger tip. Lots of Clown nudi's everywhere, a bunch of Pelts and Cadlina luteomarginata, a lone Spanish Shawl; not really any unusual slugs, though (except perhaps one smallish unspotted yellow guy, which I'm assuming is a Peltodoris, but may get a second opinion on if it turns out I really care that much.) Just off the bottom, a largish Egg-Yolk jelly floated, trapping ususpecting nettles. Highlights of the dive were two of Ralph Wolf's juvenile Yelloweye Rockfish in different cracks (Thanks to Ralph, Rob, Janna and everyone else who discussed his find), and a lone octopus sharing space with one of them (pics came out pretty crappy, though, due to their hiding way the hell back.) On the way back up the line, I experimented with some odd strobe positioning for shooting small nettles: made for some interesting coloration and nice lighting, but also humongous backscatter. Sum total, I'd pretty much call the experiment a failure. 87 feet, 42 minutes, 50 degrees.
Back at the ramp, Stan was out off the beach, so I opted out of a third dive, and we decided to get something to eat instead. Fine by me.
8-21: 2 dives: Steam Engine and the Barge; both solo
Arrived a bit after 9, and found no parking in either the lower lot or the upper. There was parking near the Harbormaster's office, but I went for option C and decided to see if my hotel room was ready. It was, and after an hours nap, and another hour of wasting time on TV and prepping the camera, headed back to B/W shortly after noon. One boat was on the ramp, but the 2 guys there were screwing around with it for about 5 minutes, until they started hand-walking their trailer back to the truck. Interesting method. Still no parking, but after a 10 minute wait, one trailer spot opened up. Grabbed the spot, got a hotdog for lunch, and headed out about 1.
Leaving the harbor, I was about 2 minutes ahead of the CG 47 boat, who passed by me and started conducting boardings on fishing boats out past the beach hotel. I decided to keep things easy for diving, so headed for the Deep Shale, but noticed the guys on the pontoon boat sitting on Shale Island. Cruised over to get a report, but they were just getting there and hadn't been in yet. Continued on to the Steam Engine, planning on working past the Engine and seeing what was further north. Dropped the hook, and headed down through a fairly brown layer. At about 10 feet, I started hitting nettles; mostly small ones, but lots of them. At about 30 feet, the layer cleared, and I couple see the bottom. The nettles thinned at about 60 and were largely gone at the bottom. Vis was oh, 40ish, and a little dark. As planned, I continued along the ledge past the Engine by a couple of hundred yards or so, then hopped up on top and worked my way back. Nothing really unusual except for a couple of red octopus, neither of which was particularly happy to see me. Didn't have time to check on the fringehead, but did a really slow ascent shooting pics of nettles. Did a quick check of the 2nd round of boat repair; it seemed to be holding well. 82 feet, 35 minutes, 50 degrees.
Killed time on the hook for about a half hour or so (and found out that fishermen are, apparently, attracted to dive flags) until the 47 boat headed back in, loitering on the other side of Shale Island from where I was. Not really wanting to go through another boarding, I pulled the hook and decided that the Barge would be a nice, low energy dive. I didn't do enough of an SI, but decided to get going anyway. Same layer and same nettles in the upper water column, and it cleared at about 35 feet or so to over 25 feet of horizontal vis. I did a circuit of the Barge about 15 feet off in the sand, finding a bunch of smallish Black-eye Hermit crabs, and more elbow crabs than I've seen on a single dive before. While shooting a hermit on a little sand, I got a kind of weird semi-vertigo feeling. I raised up off the bottom a few feet, and saw why: a large depression that had been behind the hermit was teeming with sanddabs. Looking down on them looked like the sand was boiling. Another circuit of the Barge proper didn't really yield anything interesting other than one white phase Dendronotus iris, so, out of time, I headed up the line. 66 feet, 33 minutes, 50 degrees.
Came back in, and short-cut the 3-boat line on the left ramp by going to the right side (one boat, just leaving.) While cleaning up, the guys who hand walked the trailer to launch the boat came back, and tried again to back their trailer in. 15 or 20 minutes later, the two got in a shouting match, and 5 minutes after that, they detached the trailer and walked it down to recover the boat. Fun stuff.
7-29 thru 7-31: 3-day trip on the Peace
Day 1: Cortez Bank
Day 2: San Clemente Island
Day 3: Santa Barbara Island
Freedive hunters didn't fare too well, but us sightseeing scuba divers had a great trip.
13 dives over the three days for a total of 599 minutes underwater. Viz ranged from 20 to over 60 feet, temps from about 54 to 64.
7-11: 2 dives, both solo: The Rope off Lover's Point, and the Steam Engine
Initially planned on diving the outer Coral St area I've got marked as "Rocks", but on dropping the hook, the current was beyond my solo maximums. Pulled the hook and cruised along the kelp line back towards Breakwater, looking for someplace where the ocean wasn't trying to send me to Hawaii. Gave up on that plan, and started to head for the Deep Shale, when I decided to look at Pinnacle of Doom and the Rope. The kelp there was upright, and trailed out in different directions on the surface, indicating no current at all. Since the surface there was dead flat, I decided to try the Rope, and bail to the rocks if there wasn't anything to waste time shooting there. I also figured it would be a good time to refine my numbers, but ended up not bringing my buoy with me on the dive.
Geared up and hopped in, and was happy to see vis was about 30 to 35 feet with a milky haze. Figured I'd be able to spot the Rope from quite a ways in that vis, so just kept going west when I hit the hook. Saw what looked like the Rope off to my right, but realized it was a growth of that bead kelp stuff. Kept heading west, and eventually saw the Rope up ahead. Decided to work from the top down to avoid knocking stuff that I hadn't seen yet off the line (with bubbles; kicking the lower stuff off with fins would be my fault), so headed up to 12 or so feet, and started circling the float. Top to bottom, saw a total of: one (maybe 2) Dendronotus frondosus, one unID'd slug that was buried too far to get a pic of, a largish kelp crab (sort of - see below), a couple of Flabellina trilineata, one tiny crab of some sort, a couple of Hermissenda, a bunch of juvie rockfish, a weird yellow-spots-in-clear-goo egg case, two unID'd shrimp of different types (I think - didn't get a good look at the first one), several feather duster worms, one Scalyhead Sculpin, and a bunch of encrusting inverts and algae (tunicates, hydroids, sponges and the like.) Working top to bottom took about, oh, 45 minutes or so. At the bottom of the rope, a wad of surf grass was snagged on the algae, and as I inspected the bottom of the rope, I noticed a pipefish among the surfgrass leaves (fronds? blades?) Took a few shots, and noticed a second one (more skittish; never could get it in a favorable position.) Shot a few more pics of the first one, then a couple of a sanddab nearby (they seemed to be attracted to me lying on the sand.) When I looked for the pipefish again, I noticed there were three. Then another joined them. No idea if they were there all along and I missed them or if they were just coming in and showing up. Unfortunately, with the macro lens, I couldn't get them all in the shot. Headed back to the anchor, but missed it. Since I knew I was close, I headed over to a group of rocks, maybe 8 feet at the tallest point, and covering an area about the size of a large living room. Was surprised to see about a dozen male Kelp Greenlings, one female, and several juveniles, along with some largish Kelp Rocks, Blue Rocks, and Perch. Wanted to get some shots of the Greenlings, but they wouldn't cooperate. Leaving the rocks, spotted my line a short distance away. The haze made the white line disappear much quicker than the rocks or kelp. On the way up, spotted a single Cyclosalpa bakeri zooid (I think), and a bunch of small salps (Dolioletta?) 45 feet, 62 minutes, 52 degrees.
SI at the Deli, watching what was supposed to be the last few minutes of the World Cup Championship game. Still have no clue about rules.
Dive 2 on the Steam Engine. Getting in, noticed top vis was about 15 feet. From 10 to 20 feet, a bunch of gooseberries were drifting around. At 20 feet, vis went to about 5 feet, chunks of snot, with what looked like hairs interspersed throughout. Also in the mix were gooseberries, tons of the little jumpy football things (Dolioletta?) and a few tiny Beroes. At about 55 feet, the chunks disappeared and vis started opening up. At the bottom, I'd say it was a darkish 30 to 40. I could just make out the wheel on the engine from the anchor, but I headed off to find the pipe first, taking a few shot of the fringehead there. I think it's a different one than the last time I was there; this one had both cirri intact, and they were short and finely branched. Back to the shelf, and swam along it to the Engine, where I took a close look to see if any Onchidoris had shown up to relieve the barnacle assault (they hadn't.) Back to the line, and decided to stay on the bottom until I could barely see the line, then intercept it on a vertical ascent. Ran across a small octopus (uncooperative, but still got several shots off), then up to the line. And into the jelly show: Mostly Dolioletta and Pleurobrachia, with a few Beroe thrown in, but I also found what looked like the gelatinous equivalent of a bristleworm (no clue as of right now), a Carinaria (first sighting for me), and some other flying wing type thingie. A single crystal jelly with a couple of Dolioletta captured in the tentacles, and a single cross jelly with a tiny hitchhiking shrimp. Definitely the most fun I've had on a dive in quite a while. 81 feet, 50 minutes, 52 degrees.
Before pulling the hook, I saw a low rounded object in the water. I initially thought it might be another turtle, but it didn't seem to be making any headway. Let out a bit more scope and motored over for a better look, and discovered it was a dead otter (Interestingly, it's posture in death was eerily similar to the picture of the otter on one of the Franko's Maps or ID cards. The part above water was the shoulder hump.) I didn't remember who it would get reported to (if anyone), but a call to the Harbor yielded a call to the Marine Mammal Center, who said they would be interested, but wouldn't respond to anything out of reach from shore. So, back to the ramp and call it a day.
7-10: 1 dive: Carmel Ridge (1/4 mile offshore of Butterfly House) with Brian and
Plan was to run out around the corner and see what the water was doing there. I knew Larry and Carol were out (they were stuck in the upper lot as well), and I suspected Chuck was at Lobos (turned out to be correct.) Suspected Carol would go to Carmel, since a post had been made about good conditions there a day or two before.
Just off Lover's, Brian and I both spotted a fin to starboard, so I looked back over, and we paralleled a pod of about 8 or 10 Risso dolphins for several minutes. Then we continued on, rounding the corner and heading south. As we passed Pt. Joe, Brenna mentioned that Pt. Joe would be OK versus running to Carmel, so I headed for the plateau we had found a month or so ago. Had a little trouble locating the actual drop-off (the sonar kept losing lock when coasting), but eventually I managed to locate an area that appeared to drop from about 30 feet to 65 or so. Hooked up, we let out a lot of scope, and once sitting on the hook, I noticed that the bubbles from the small chop on the hull were rapidly passing astern. I mentioned it to Brenna, and she tossed a tag line in, then said something about a bit of current being right. I took a look, and the clip, which usually sits about 2 feet down, was only about 6" underwater, being swept back about 60 degrees, with a little wake coming off the line. Okay, so that's not going to work. Brian helped pull the hook, and we continued south heading for Carmel Bay. Caught a bit of conversation between Carol and Chuck about watching a whale so figured we could barge in on their party, but ran into another small pod of tiny dolphins or something off Cypress Point (turned out to be Harbor Porpoises according to Chuck's ID plate.) Headed south again, scanning Carmel Bay for XTSea and Black Dog. Eventually found them out at about the northwest boundary of Pt Lobos, and slowly cruised in to meet them. The whale turned out to be 3 Humpies, I'd call it one adult, one semi-juvenile, and one baby. Alternated between shadowing the whales and chatting with Chuck and Linda and Larry and Carol for about oh, an half hour or forty five minutes. Carol had a bit of water get into her suit and decided to call it a day, so they took off for Breakwater. We hung around the whales for a bit longer (Carol radioed a while later, but apparently couldn't get my reply - turns out they were on a 4-member pod of breaching humpbacks), then we decided to go do a dive.
Headed for Carmel Ridge (a site we found a couple of years ago while cruising around between dives), and dropped the hook about on the numbers. I let out a fairly small amount of scope to try and keep the boat out of the kelp. We geared up and headed in (well, I did, anyway; Brenna and Brian were still on the boat when I dropped, I think), and the first thing I wanted to do was check the hook because of the lack of scope. Water was milky, with vis varying between about 20 and 30 feet. Saw the rope/chain shackle from about 20 feet up, but didn't see any chain. As I got closer, I made out about 4 or 5 links that trailed off into a hole. The anchor had apparently seen a nice little anchor sized hole as it dropped, and jumped into it. Managed to pull it out, but couldn't find a good spot to re-hook it without putting the boat back in the kelp, so kind of did a wonky semi-vertical hook using a crack to keep pull in one direction. It almost worked too well. Started checking stuff out beyond the anchor, finding lots of smallish Blue Rockfish, average sized Kelp Rockfish, and smallish Gophers (or Coppers; didn't look that close). Lots of Peltodoris nobilis, a couple of Doriopsilla albopunctata, and several Diaulula sandiegensis. Soptted a large school of good sized Blues and a big male Sheephead cruising along a slope, but about that time, I had decided to check the hook again, only to find it missing. It was missing because I was on the wrong rock face. The hook was fine. Headed back out for another loop out in front, and then checked back under the boat. Same Blues and Kelps, but a lot of perch as well, with a few smallish Kelp Greenling skittering off. I didn't see all that much of interest, so spent a bunch of time shooting kelp shots. Eventually started running short on bottom time so headed up the line, not really seeing much of interest on the ascent either. Back on the boat, discovered that my fingertips were completely numb with cold (hadn't really noticed it underwater.) Ate half a sandwich while waiting for Brian and Brenna, who surfaced ten minutes later about as cold as I was feeling. By consensus, we decided to head back into Monterey Bay (no further Cetaceans spotted), where it degraded into a one-dive day.
6-27: 1 dive for Pavel(?), Stephanie, Ray, and me, 2 for Jeff and Corky. Dive 1
at Ballbuster, dive 2 at Trevor's Pinnacle.
Arrived at Breakwater about 15 minutes later than I said I was going to, and immediately ran into my cousin Stephanie, who was diving with a friend who was a soon-to-be father (makes sense to me why he was in Monterey...) They agreed to come out with me (since I had nobody else going, as Ray was still home in bed, I think.) Loaded up the boats and were ready to splash, when a largish cabin cruiser pulls up, backs onto the ramp, and starts transferring gear from the truck to the boat, undoing tiedowns, changing oil (well, OK, maybe not changing oil, but you get the point.) Jeff (who gets antsy when something's been decided on) goes over and gives the guy a piece of his mind (which is pretty generous if you know Jeff), then it's just a matter of waiting. About ten minutes later, the truck and trailer are off the ramp, and Jeff launches, followed by me. As I headed back to the boat after parking the truck, I heard the guy talking to his buddy ("Gee, I guess I broke some law or something..." People are clueless.) After putting some air in Aurora's tubes, we headed out.
Took a look around Pt Pinos, and decided that the swell was too large to have a likely surge-free dive, so we headed back in, ending up at Ballbuster, except that someone else was already there. People were still on the boat, and as I got closer, I saw it was Rusty. Motored over and asked if we could horn in on his choice of sites, and he didn't have a problem with it. I dropped the hook just off the NW edge of the pinnacle, and Jeff dropped (I think) off the SW edge. Though the boat didn't seem to be moving much (not much of a breeze), a current check showed a bit of movemnet heading towards the lighthouse. My briefing on finding the pinnacle kept changing as the boat pulled one direction, then a couple of minutes later was pointing somewhere else. Put out about 100 feet of current line, then after making sure Steph and Pavel got in OK (loaned them my big night dive lights, as they hadn't brought theirs), then hopped in and headed down. As expected, the vis was limited at the surface, and then dark but reasonable (25? 30?) at depth. My hook was placed pretty nicely in the sand just off the little boulder field abutting the pinnacle proper. Waited for Steph and Pavel to show up at the anchor, then noticed them cruising up above, heading for the pinnacle. Spent a bit of time in the boulders, trying to get some shots of the juvie Rosy Rockfish there, then headed up onto the pinnacle to see what was there. A smallish but reasonably cooperative Ling, and a very skittish female Kelp Greenling kept me occupied for longer than they should have. Didn't see a whole lot else that was different. Eventually decided to call it a dive, and headed out beyond where the anchor was to intercept the line. Except it wasn't there. Hmmm. Okay, head in a little closer, in case someone was pulling it up. No line. Head in a little more, and ran across the anchor, with the line trailing out exactly 180 degrees from when I had come down. Well, okay; that explains a lot. Headed up and did my stop (no heading under the boat today), and hit the surface to see Steph just finishing packing up the current line. Apparently, the shifting winds had wrapped it around Rusty's boat a few times. Oops. 105 feet, 31 minutes, 50 degrees.
SI in the lot, with Jeff providing most of the lunch. Ray had finally dragged his butt out of bed and down to Monterey (His anticipated stress and rescue class was postponed, however, due to everyone wanting to dive instead.) Pavel had gotten a little seasick somewhere between dock and dock (well, "little" probably isn't the right word. Maybe something more like "heavily"), and he said he didn't recover very quickly, so was planning on bailing on dive 2 (which meant Steph would, as well.) So, after a fairly long interval, Ray took the place of Pavel and Steph, and we headed out to Trevor's.
Swell had picked up; full throttle would have had us launching off every wave. Wind had picked up as well, blowing hard from the west, causing a weird whitecap pattern running at an angle to the swell. anchored up at Trevor's; Jeff and Corky anchored about 30 feet away, a bit further north than I had. Started gearing up, and found that my hood and gloves had decided to go diving without me. I initially thought that Steph had grabbed it when she cleared her gear, but Ray reminded me that I had moved it and his hood when swapping cylinders, so it must have blown out on the run to the site. I changed plans to sitting out the dive, then after Ray was in the water, had him swim to Jeff's boat, and started to pull the hook. And had to stop when Sanctuary, searching for a spot or something, ran across the bow a couple of hundred feet up. When they were clear, I pulled the hook and followed my path back to the Breakwater, watching the surface. Spotted lots of floating black objects, but they all turned out to be birds, sealions, or kelp. Offset down wind a bit and ran back out to Trevors; still nothing. Arrived in time to see 3 divers about a hundred yards off Jeff's boat, but I stopped short enough to not be able to tell who they were. Sanctuary had anchored a couple of hundred feet from Jeff, and apparently had divers in the water. Turned out the divers were Jeff and co.; they got back to Nitrox after a bit of a swim. I decided to run upwind, kill the engine and drift back to meet them, but misjudged the drift angle, and ended up passing closer to Sanctuary than Nitrox. Hmmm. Try that again. More better, and I managed to side-tie to Nitrox and retrieve Ray. Jeff pulled his hook, and Ray and I did a just-on-plane run downwind even more, but still didn't find the wayward hood. If anybody does locate it, I'd appreciate getting it back.
6-26: 3 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with James, Holly, and Chuck; Anchors 2&3 solo;
night dive at the Steam Engine with Jeff and Corky (on my boat for a change.)
Arrived early (about 8:30 or so) and had to beg off an invite to Pt. Lobos in tandem with a pair of Mikes. Helped them get going, then started swapping the trailer bunks for the ones I built last weekend. Went reasonably smoothly, and about the time I was done and cleaned up, James, Holly, and Chuck showed up for lunch, having done 2 quick dives at Lovers. Didn't take too much to talk them into a third dive, so after they were done eating, we headed off. Holly wanted Ballbuster, but I was a little leery of that since Chuck (the Chuck on my boat; not Mr. Tribolet) was pretty fresh out of OW, so with someone occupying BB anyways, I suggested Trevor's.
Dropped the hook a ways off the numbers (poor piloting), but figured it would be
on the rocks to the south of the main sand channel, which was fine. Hopped in
last and headed down through a heavy low-vis layer that broke at 35 or 40 feet,
opening up to about 25 or so feet with a weird gelatinous sort of property that
made everything seem, well, just strange. Moved the anchor about 20 feet to the
sand, and headed off to see what was out. Not really a lot. Quite a few Coppers
at the rockfish crack; not a lot of slugs anywhere. worked the NW wall for a
bit, then returned to the south rocks, pausing to sift though the sand, where I
scared up a burrowing shrimp of some sort. Found a couple of Manania's, then
decided to head back up. As I started the ascent, first one, then two, then one
more Scrippsia pacifica floated into view. A couple of moon jellies were further
up, along with a couple of ratty-looking crystal jellies. Nothing special on the
safety stop. With one minute remaining, decided to move off the line to under
the boat, and ended up about 25 feet off the starboard gunwale. Oh well... 73
feet, 33 minutes, 50 degrees.
Dive 2 was at Anchors 2&3; everybody had taken off, so it was a solo dive to see what conditions were closer to the ramp for a planned night dive. Surface water again was really crappy, and lasted to about 40 to 50 feet. Below that, it cleared a bit to about 30 dark monochromatic feet of vis. On and in the anchors/chain pile, lots of smallish hermissenda, several Kelp and Copper Rockfish, a lone Vermilion rockfish, a couple of skittish Kelp Greenling, all covered by a squadron of Blue Rocks up at the top. Poked around on the flats for a bit, but found very little worth wasting memory on. Absolutely nothing on the ascent or safety stop. 80 feet, 34 minutes, 50 degrees.
The night dive was at the Steam Engine, as I wasn't sure that Shale Island would be under the layer. Jeff had an ex-student with him, and we didn't see the sense in taking two boats out, so we were all on mine. Reasonably calm surface conditions, and a fairly dark night, so once we were hooked up, I got to test out my new deck lights (installed a few months ago) and my new night dive navigation lights. Both worked OK, but I may need to make some shades for the front deck lights. Jeff and Corky headed down first, then I hopped in and geared up. Heading down the line, the bioluminescence firing off my mask lenses was heavy enough to be fairly disorienting. As the line moved through the water, it left a definite swath of green. Jeff and Corky's bubbles were a ghostly glowing, writhing mass up ahead. Very cool. Again, the bottom vis was acceptable, at least 20 feet, probably more. I put a strobe on the line, and headed off to see what I could find. Lots of small (1") juvie rockfish; all the usual bottom fish, one Kelp Greenling, and that was about it for fish for most of the dive. No unusual slugs. Lots of shrimp everywhere, though. With about 6 minutes bottom time remaining, I found myself back at the anchor, and decided to do one more quick sweep of the rubble below the ledge. Didn't really see a whole lot new, and was just about to head up, when I saw an elongated fish sort of wedged into the rubble. A closer look showed it to be what I think is a gunnel of some sort (have to check the books.) Had time to fire off several shots, then I headed up. Saw Jeff and Corky as they hung on their stop, but they were gone by the time I got there. Finished my hang, and hit the surface after 36 minutes. 84 feet, 50 degrees.
6-13: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle and Steam Engine 3, both with Brenna, Brian,
Vanessa, and Ray on my boat, and on Nitrox, Jeff and Kirk on Nitrox for the
first, and Pam replacing Kirk for the second.
Had 4 people lined up for the day: Ray, Brenna, Brian, and Vanessa; Half the group was early, half was somewhat less than early. Arrived at Breakwater about 7:30, and was rather surprised to see the lot nearly full. Chuck and Linda arrived a few minutes later and got the last trailer spot. Jeff called, and was still an hour and a half out; I didn't bother telling him about the parking situation. Ray and Vanessa showed up earlier than expected (In Ray's case, that meant before about 11); Kirk showed up as well (I hadn't know he was coming; he was apparently Jeff's buddy du jour); Brenna and Brian rolled in about 9 or so. Jeff was waffling between launching out of Moss Landing or coming into Monterey and scrounging for parking; he eventually decided on Monterey, and ended up in the upper lot until the surface interval.
Eventually got everyone ready, and got the boats in the water. No plan for a dive site, so ran up along Cannery Row, and took a peek around the corner. Looked a little too big for any kind of relaxing dive (I was rigged for macro, and didn't really want to be in a high surge area, which anything beyond Aumentos looked to be.) Chuck radioed his Ballbuster report, but I thought that might be a little aggressive for a couple of divers we had, so Jeff suggested Trevor's, and we jumped on that. I dropped pretty close to the numbers, but my hook ended up on the edge of the northwest line of rocks (moved it out into the sand when I got down.) Jeff ended up on the west line of rocks. Despite a fairly decent NW wind, the boats were hanging pointing east. You could see the anchor line just begin to arc back NW as it disappeared in the cloudy water. A current check showed a fair bit of movement heading back towards Pinos. Not horrible, but enough to pay attention to when gearing up. Didn't bother with a current line, as: a) there were enough people that I figured someone would make it back to the boats, and b) the wind would have taken it the wrong way anyway.
Got everyone in the water, then put my gear in and hopped in. Ended up dropping a bit before Brenna and Brian. Snotty, hazy surface water (5 foot estimate for vis would probably be generous); didn't clear a whole lot til I was deeper than about 40 or so. Several crystal jellies and a bunch of small cross jellies on the way down. At the bottom, we had a hazy 25 to 30 or so. After relocating my hook, I worked the east rock line, not really finding all that much to shoot. Several Gopher Rockfish in the rockfish crack; no treefish this time, and no ling. Oddly, the normal Copper Rockfish majority was completely absent, as near as I could tell. A few dark rockfish were scattered in (Blacks or Blues; didn't look close enough to see which.) Ended up with a few shots of other stuff: crabs, anemones, and worms; not really a lot else. Headed up when my fingers started aching, slowly heading up the line, watching for gelatinous stuff. Almost immediately, a large Egg-Yolk Jelly appeared out of the gloom (too big for the macro lens to really do anything with.) At about 60 feet, started seeing a few comb jellies. By 50, the stream was endless: 5 or 6 Beroes in view at any one time, all blowing past in the current, giving me about 3 or 4 seconds to try and frame, focus, and shoot (which wasn't enough given the lack of contrast to the background.) I was pretty much doing a flag imitation on the line from about 50 feet and shallower. Every now and then, an Aequoria would drift in and blow past, which was at least somewhat photographable, as they stood out better, being more robust a critter than the Beroes. At about 40 feet, a Scrippsia pacifica appeared, then another. Ended up seeing more Scrippsia on this dive than I had before, lifetime. Probably over a dozen and a half in all, ranging in size from an inch and a half to about 4 or 5 inches. They usually just sort of drift around without doing much; this time a couple of them were actively swimming, which was kind of neat (nothing really surprising - they move like most belled jellies...) Surfaced to find Ray and Vanessa on the boat. Brenna and Brian ended their dive a couple of minutes later. 74 feet, 43 minutes, 46 degrees.
SI back at the truck, where a lot of time was spent watching Brenna nod off (or nearly nod off, anyway.)
Decided on someplace sort-of close for dive 2; Jeff said he wanted to see if there was anything out beyond Steam Engine 3. Kirk decided he was done (I think he burned himself out feeding the fishes); Pam showed up while we were eating and ended up taking his place.
Finished swapping out cylinders, and headed out to MY7, where we spent ten or fifteen minutes cruising around looking for structure, but didn't really find all that much. So, after giving up on a new site, I dropped on Steam Engine 3, and Jeff dropped pretty much next to MY7, about 75 yards away. With the aching hands thing still pretty fresh in mind, I swapped out my gloves for a new pair. Same descent order: Ray and Vanessa headed down first, and I preceded Brenna and Brian by a bit. As I got off the surface, I initially though I had lost the line, despite being within 5 feet of it. Surface to 10 feet was less than 3 feet of vis. It opened somewhat below 10 feet, then more below about 35. At the bottom we had 15 to 20, dark and green (but not all that chunky as I recall.) As I hit the rope/chain connection, I could just make out the Engine as a dark mass up ahead. The hook had landed about 5 feet from the engine, so after resetting the anchor, cruised over and checked it out for anything interesting. Nada. Pretty much the same everywhere else I looked as well. A few youngish rockfish, a bunch of shrimp (who apparently thought that night had fallen, as they were out and about), and the usual bottom fish; and not a whole lot else. Don't remember what I was shooting, but Brenna came up and motioned me to follow, and led me off about 30 feet to a section of shale, where she couldn't locate what she was going to show me (so I'm not the only one who does that.) She eventually gave up and headed off somewhere else, so I looked around a bit and eventually found a tiny Aegires albopunctatus. Took a couple of shots, and moved off, and found a slightly larger one, then Brenna came back and got me again. Another 20 foot swim, where she pointed out an Aegires albopunctatus. Hmm. Okay... Took a couple of shots of that one, then decided that enough was enough, and headed up the line. Nothing in the water column but snot, cross jellies, a few Gooseberries, and more snot, so it was an uninterrupted ascent to the safety stop. Almost immediately, I spotted a hitchhiking crab on a cross jelly, so started chasing to to get a shot. In the surge near the surface, that turned out to be a lot more difficult than I initially expected, and I ended up without a decent image. I also ended up 50 yards from the boat, a bit of current having come up while we were down. 75 feet, 44 minutes, 48 degrees.
6-12: 2 dives: Somewhere inside Eric's Pinnacle, and Shale Island, both solo
Nobody else I knew was down today, so it was another solo day. After getting fills at Glenn's, headed out to see what things looked like around the Point Pinos. Several charter boats were lined up along Cannery Row (one as close as McAbee), which didn't bode well. Swell outside the harbor was a couple of feet, but uneven. A decent wind chop made things a little lumpy. At about Lover's, swell was three feet or so, with occasional bigger stuff coming in. Chop wasn't any worse, though. Called it quits at about Eric's Pinnacle, where it looked like surge might be an issue, so I decided to try and find someplace to hide behind kelp, where maybe the worst of the swell would be knocked down a bit. Anchored tight to the kelp line in about 45 feet, and got gear in the water. Hopped in after taking a look down the line from the boat. Not good: I could only see the line to about 5 feet. Hopped in and geared up, then headed down. Crappy vis as I started down, 5 foot haze with lots of big snot chunks. At about 26 feet, it opened up a bit, and at the bottom, vis was about 20 to 25, seriously hazy, and still rather chunky. I wanted to get some kelp shots, after being reminded by my housing reseller that I hadn't gotten any with the new rig. So, off to the kelp stipes, and work on those for a bit. Checking out rocks didn't yield any really interesting stuff. In truth, neither did the sand between the rocks (unless you count a 5" sanddab.) The most interesting things were the hermit crabs and snails up in the kelp, which isn't saying much. After about 35 minutes, I'd had my fill of trying to get a decent kelp shot without backscatter (just about impossible, I think; certainly was for me), so I headed up, watching the water for jellies. And... absolutely nothing. So, spent a boring minute on the stop, when I noticed a little wriggly yellow tadpole, a few mm's long, in a mucous sac. Tried to get a shot of that (didn't work) until it drifted off too far to drag the anchor line, so started watching for more. Saw one more, but couldn't find it in the viewfinder, then noticed a large whitish mass just coming into view. Scrippsia pacifica. Took several frames of that, til it srifted off, then spotted a large comb jelly (Beroe, I think), followed by what I think was an Aequora. Nice end to the dive, even if the water was really dirty. 47 feet, 43 minutes, 50 degrees.
SI in the lot. Eventually headed out to dive Shale Island, as a recon for a possible night dive. Dropped a little north of the numbers as I wanted to make sure I was off the lip as the swell was up a bit, and I didn't want to have to chase the hook if it dragged across the top of the island. Top water was really hazy; 3 or 4 foot vis. At the bottom, it opened up to a hazy 20, but not as chunky as the first dive. Checked on the Yellowfin (still there), then headed off to the Rockfish Convention Center. As I passed neared Knob, there was a school of Blue Rocks, about 40 or so strong, hanging directly over and around it. And, by the time I readjusted strobes and sidled over, they had moved off of the Knob proper. Headed over to the RCC, but missed it. I realized it pretty quick, so turned, offset a bit, and made my way back, and ran across it (actually, was sort of led to it by a Vermilion Rockfish.) Not a whole lot there: a few Coppers, a couple of Vermilion, a Black or two, and a small Ling. Headed back up to the Knob, and sort of joined the Blue Rockfish school for a bit. Then back along the Island to my anchor line. Nothing that unusual slugwise, except for an Acanthodoris lutea, and a pair of Limacia cockerelli, one on either side of what may be their egg mass. Headed up when my hands started to hurt; nothing of interest on the ascent or stop. 59 feet, 41 minutes, 48 degrees.
6-6: 2 dives, both at Guy's Shale Island Analog; first dive at the West end,
second at the East. Both dives had me on Aurora, and Larry, Carol, and Dionna on
Yesterday, Guy had talked to Chuck and me about what he thought looked like a structure much like Shale Island, but in deeper water. He gave me two sets of coordinates: one for the West End, and one for the East End. I think he was saying that those were the areas with the largest apparent relief; but he said if I was nearby, I might want to see what showed up on sonar. I did, making a couple of passes over each set, but I didn't really see all that much that looked promising (not that much of a surprise, I suppose, as Shale Island doesn't really show much on sonar either, unless you happen to hit it just right.)
So, anyway, today Larry and Carol were supposed to be down, and had Dionna and Dan scheduled to show up (Dan begged off with an equipment problem.) Arrived at the lot about 7:45, and was surprised to find it fairly full (well over half the trailer spots gone.) Larry and Carol pulled up a short time later, and Dionna shortly after that (Hear that, Ray?) In nearly short order, we were loaded up and on the water. First destination was one of the two set of coordinates, I arbitrarily chose the West end. Dropped on the numbers, and Carol dropped about 20 feet away. I motored back to lay out scope, while Carol drifted back. Once at the end of the lines, XTSea was nearly on top of me, so I let out another 30 feet or so, then hopped in (had a little more trouble than usual getting rigged up) and headed down as Carol and Dionna geared themselves up with Larry... uh, supervising or something (probably something.)
Top water was cleaner than yesterday, with about 20 feeet of anchor line visible in front of me, disappearing into a haze. at about 20 feet, the snot chunks started showing up, and were pretty thick by 30. They lasted to nearly the bottom (thinner there, anyway), interspersed with a few Mitrocoma jellies, Gooseberries, a few sea nettles, and a couple of Aequoria. Caught a glimpse of some Metridiums as I passed over them, then I hit the bottom. Looking around, I'd say vis was a chunky, dark 30 feet or so. The structure was pretty reminiscent of that at the Steam Engine. Lots of slugs (Clowns, Hermissenda, Spanish Shawl, Tritonia festiva, Berthella, Cadlina luteomarginata, Doriopsilla albopunctata); several rockfish (nothing unusual, though Dionna spotted what she thought were juvie Rosy Rockfish); and a bunch of encrusting stuff. Lots of squid eggs off the shelf. Saw some kind of tube worm that I don't recall seeing before. Headed up the line, and between 40 and about 20 feet, ran into a myriad of gelatinous stuff that delayed my getting to the safety stop for a while as I darted here and there to try and get pics. Eventually hit the surface and the boat, and discovered why I had had problems getting into my rig: one of the shoulder straps had slipped and was several inches shorter than the other (was sort of wondering why the belt was so long...) Got that readjusted, and waited another few minutes for the others to surface, and that was it for the first dive. 91 feet, 31 minutes, 50 degrees. Larry said he saw a couple of comb jellies and a couple of Sea Butterflies.
SI back at the truck, until Carol got antsy and we headed out for dive 2. Carol wanted to check out near the Point (I thought it would be kind of lumpy, based on yesterday's experience, but Carol had to see it for herself), so we ran out that way. By Aumentos, swell had built to about 3 feet with the occasional 5 footer washing through. The wind added another foot or so of chop. I thought that inside the (rather sparse) kelp would be doable, as most of the swell seemed to be knocked down. A group of spearfishermen were just coming up from inner Aumentos, so I weaved my way through the kelp to ask about vis. 10 feet. I told Carol, and she didn't bother to reply, but hit the throttle and headed back to the Shale.
I anchored up on the east side of Guy's, uh, whatever, and Carol was again twenty feet off or so. Geared up and headed down, finding fewer jellies on the way down. Bottom was still dark, but vis had closed down to maybe 20 or 25 feet. Better structure here, if you looked in the right place (not sure the other three did.) Poked along the wall quite a ways, then worked my way back. Found a little nook with all sorts of stuff amassed there: plastic, beer can, a blue US Divers Blade fin, and a Taylor Made fender, among other stuff. Grabbed the fin and the fender, intending on clipping or tying them off to the anchor line and pulling them up later. That plan sort of went to hell when I couldn't find the line. Searched around for a bit ("Now where did I put that anchor?") then dropped the new acquisitions when I ran out of bottom time. Headed up into the water column, and was immediately buzzed by a couple of sea lions. Finned towards where the boats should be as I ascended, stopping a few times to shoot gelatinous stuff. Hit the surface about 25 feet off the stern of XTSea. 92 feet, 26 minutes, 50 degrees. The other three were down for substantially longer.
Much better diving than Ray and I found yesterday. All in all, I'd say Guy's site warrants further exploration. I'll be dropping by there from time to time, I'm sure.
6-5: 2 dives: Steam Engine 3 and sort-of Eric's Pinnacle with Ray.
Ray was running about an hour late, which was unfortunate, as I was an hour early. Killed time waiting for him, watching Chuck and Linda leave for their first dive. Guy came up from his first dive off the beach with a leaking power inflator. After figuring out that I didn't have anything that would facilitate disassembly, I looked in my Save-a-Dive kit, as I remembered having a spare. Swapped it out, and everything was good for Guy.
Ray arrived about 10:30 or so, and we did a quick load-up and hit the water shortly before 11. The water outside the harbor was choppy, with a slight swell making it pretty easy to get the boat airborne. I wanted to see how things looked near the point, though I suspected that the swell was going to cause problems. Saw Chuck returning, so slowed for a conference. He reported 10 chunky surgy feet at Ballbuster, so that kind of killed the "out near the point" thing. Headed for a bailout on the Deep Shale, and then changed my mind and ran back in to get Chuck's massaged numbers for Steam Engine 3. That done, we ran back out towards MY7, and dropped literally on the numbers (I think the GPS showed an error of 4 feet when Ray let go, and 6 feet when the anchor hit the bottom.) A quick current check showed nothing more than a bit of wind driven stuff, so we hopped in. Ray was about 7 or 8 feet away when he dropped, and I initially thought I had lost him. Things didn't get a whole lot better going down. The anchor turned out to be about oh, 5 or 10 feet from the engine (which is now covered with the tiny barnacles Chuck talked about last weekend), so Chuck's numbers seem pretty much spot on. Vis at the bottom was a dark, snotty 10 to 12 feet. Lots of juvenile rockfish, and not really a whole lot else. I didn't want to risk losing the anchor line, so kept pretty much within 30 feet or so of the Steam Engine, radiating out along different ridge lines before returning to the Engine and heading off along some other line. A fairly steady bottom current was running out eastward, and I eventually got tired of swimming against it, so thumbed the dive, which Ray was very agreeable to. Saw about a dozen or so Sea Nettles on the way up, then a few Gooseberries on the safety stop. Top water had cleared a bit while we were down, yielding about 10 to 15 at the stop and shallower. 73 feet for 30 minutes, 50 degrees. Upon surfacing, radioed conditions to Chuck, who decided to bail on dive 2. I told him that the surface had cleared and it might be an okay time to put Linda in for sea lion shots off the wall, not realizing he was already doing that.
Headed back to the truck between dives, stopping to chat a bit with Chuck as he shadowed Linda around the end of the jetty. After tying up, found Dave, Carrie and Troy (and Troy's friend TJ) sitting on the bench near the restrooms. Chatted with them for a while, until Chuck and Linda came back in, at which point I left to see how productive the sea lion dive was (answer: not very.) Headed back to the truck, talked with Guy about his dive and ours. Then Linda discovered that Chuck's truck had been keyed. A call to the police, and a bunch of sitting around til they got there. Took Guy and his problem inflator into Glenn's to see if he had anything that would get it open. He did (a real tool, no less; I was thinking about a pair of needle nose pliers or similar), and cleaned things out which got it working (some metal parts had flaking corrosion, which were affecting various O-ring seals.) Waited for Ray to finish eating, then we headed out for a second dive. We planned on Eric's since someone had reported about 20 foot vis and no surge. Dropped the hook a ways upwind of the pinnacle itself, which was probably a mistake, as the wind direction wasn't exactly constant. Surface water was hazy, and maybe 20 feet, with small chunks of whale snot. Dropping down, the chunk size grew, but vis remained fairly constant. Pretty surgy, though. Missed the pinnacle on the way down, and didn't really feel like jetting off to find it, so worked the boulders which were to the north of the actual site. Lots of encrusting stuff, a few unremarkable slugs, and almost no fish (one sculpin, three kelp rockfish, and a fleeting glimpse of what I assume was a Kelp Greenling. After circumnavigating the same three or four boulders several times, I ran into Ray and we headed up. I saw no jellies on the ascent; Ray saw his first Gooseberry. 55 feet, 31 minutes, 50 degrees. We sat on the hook for about a half hour after the dive, basking in the sunshine, and watching a weird line of foam drift rather quickly from Aumentos back towards, then beyond us. As it passed, it looked like something out of Deadliest Catch, with a boat in the pack ice. 5 minutes later, we were in clear water again, and the foam line kept heading in along Cannery Row. Odd.
5-29: 2 dives: Outer Aumentos (a spot I have marked as "Rocks" on my GPS) with
Ray, Roy, Jason, and (I'm sure I'm mangling this one) Hannika; The Steam Engine
(the original) with Ray
So on Friday 5-28, between dives, I checked my phone and found a message from Roy, asking if I was diving (little did he know that I was... literally.) I left a text message reply for him, but he didn't respond, so after dive 2, I called to invite him along. He asked if a friend could come, which I figured was fine. Sat morning, he texted again, and asked if there was room for his friends wife as well. Since Ray was the only one on the list, I figured it was doable. Ray, unfortunately decided to throw a wrench into the works, and was the lone late person, by about 2 hours. Not that big a deal, as the water was choppy when I arrived at shortly before 8, so we weren't missing anything by starting later. Chuck and Linda headed out to Ballbuster. Roy introduced me to Jason and Hannika, and we loaded dive gear into the boat, but delayed getting dressed. It was fairly warm for that early in the day, though a breeze kept things comfortable (well as long as you weren't steaming in a drysuit, anyway.) I kept tabs on Ray's progress, and we all changed into dive suits when Ray was about 10 minutes out.
Ray arrived (finally), and did a hurry-up load and change, and we splashed the boat. A few minutes later, we were on our way to take a look at conditions near Pt. Pinos. A short 1' or so swell grew to 3 or 4 feet near the Point, with occasional big swells running through. The NW swell in the bay was apparently be driven by a fairly strong SW swell around the corner, meaning most sites out there would have pretty decent surge. I elected to back off a bit and we ended up off Aumentos, a bit towards the point, at a site I simply called "Rocks" when I dove it a few times earlier.
Dropped the hook in about 50 feet, let out a substantial amount of scope, and gave as good a briefing as I could given my unfamiliarity with the site. Someone radioed the CG from the end of the Breakwater Jetty having run out of gas or something, but since we were already hooked up, well... Then they came back on saying that someone was towing them in. Roy and his two geared up and got in, then Ray and I got gear in the water and headed down. Top water was fairly clear: 15 feet or so, and it cleared to about 30 (Roy's estimate) or 40 (mine) at the bottom. A fair amount of surge would have made macro stuff tough, but I had opted for the kit zoom, so it didn't bother me all that much. The anchor had landed on a ledge on a sort-of pinnacle; just off that was a fairly deepish canyon, with another pinnacle about 30 feet away. I spent a lot of the dive looking for fish, but there weren't really all that many out: a few Kelp Greenling that wouldn't have anything to do with a camera, some of the usual rockfish, and few skittish perch. So, I swam from rock to rock a lot, without seeing all that much interesting. Eventually the cold overcame the urge to find subjects, and I headed up a bit behind Roy, with Ray staying just long enough to see us start heading up. I was keeping an eye out for jellies (given the two egg yolks from the day before), and was rewarded with a, well, not sure, but probably a largish Mitrocoma. Shot several shots, but the auto focus was having problems seeing it, so I'm not sure if I got it or not. Finished the ascent, and joined up with everybody on the surface (Jason and Hannika had started their ascent earlier, but apparently hit the surface just before us.) 71 feet, 40 minutes, 50 degrees.
After a bit of hanging on the hook, we headed in for an SI at the ramp, but caught a distress call from a sailboat ("We're on Del Monte Beach!") so headed over to see what the deal was. CG tried several times to get GPS coordinates, but all the guy would say was "Del Monte Beach", which encompasses, what 8 miles or so? Turned out he was right, though: he was hard up on Del Monte Beach between the two condo complexes. A CG Aux vessel that had been escorting Dragon Boats was already there, and Monterey Fire arrived a bit after that. Nobody could do anything given how far up the beach the boat was sitting (the waves were just lapping the hull at the stern, the bow was fifteen or twenty feet up the beach. I'd be interested in hearing how he got that far up. MFD eventually waved us off, so we headed back in.
Roy, Jason, and Hannika decide to call it a day, so that left Ray and me for dive 2. Grabbed lunch and were joined by Roy (eating a second lunch, and snacking on a third, I think.) Jeff was between dives with an OW student who had needed a bit more pool time. The MFD boat returned while we were still eating. Roy took off to go wetsuit shopping (some sale at O'Neill?) Chuck and Linda came back from their second dive at Steam Engine 3, packed up and left. Jeff headed out for dive 2 with his student. To let you know how long Ray and I sat out, Jeff returned before we headed back to the boat.
Swapped tanks, re-rigged the camera for macro, and headed out for the Steam Engine. Dropped pretty much on the numbers. 2 foot swell (with the occasional 3 footer) rolled through, occasional whitecaps dotted the waves. Surface water was green. Really green. Tough-to-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face green. Headed down the line and it didn't get any better for a long time. Spotted stuff on the bottom from about 60 feet, got to the anchor and found bottom vis about 15 to 20, near-night-dive dark, with a surprising amount of surge, given the depth. Don't recall seeing anything special. A largish copper rockfish hiding in the Engine? A lone Acanthodoris lutea? Lots of squid eggs? Not really anything unusual. Ray got cold and thumbed his way up the line, and I didn't see any reason to stay longer. I think I startled him when I showed up next to him at the safety stop. 82 feet, 32 minutes, 50 degrees.
On the way back in, we took a run over to where the sailboat was on the beach, and it appeared that they were using a large winch-equipped truck to drag it perpendicular(ish) to the surfline. They weren't making a lot of progress, wo we bounced our way back to the ramp. Jeff was supposed to come out and meet us (for a quick whale watching trip - searching might be a better word, given their frequency this year), but he was gone when we got back. Found a couple of cards tucked into the side window of the truck: one cold call boat service advertisement, and one from Jeff saying he wasn't feeling well and was heading home. Pulled the boat and got everything cleaned up, at which point MFD returned with lights and siren and ran to the fire boat. Initially thought they were heading for the sailboat again, but they ended up doing a couple of passes along the beach, then returned. Didn't see anyone other than MFD guys on board when they got back. Don't know what happened with that one. As for the sailboat, the truck on the beach appeared to have repositioned to push the sailboat off the beach, but they either didn't try or didn't make headway by the time I headed home.
5-28: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle, and Anchors 2&3, both solo
Took the day off work as a favor to Torie, who wanted to dive with Cathy, who in turn wanted to get in a couple of dives before heading to the Caribbean for a cruise. Unfortunately, Torie cancelled due to a friends family emergency. Cathy ended up a no-show (I had no contact number for her, so had to wait and see how things evolved.)
Arrived at about 8:30 (tried to beat the commute traffic from Hayward through San Jose. It didn't work.) Water looked glass smooth, with maybe a 6" swell. No Cathy, so I killed time drinking coffee and chatting with Rob, Trevor, and Cindy. Rob was running a scuba intro thing, Trevor was working, and Cindy was supposed to go golfing, so as the time passed without Cathy showing up, I started planning on a solo dive day.
Initially planned to dive the pipe near the mouth of the Salinas River, but once on my way, I started wondering if the run (8 miles?) would be worth the effort (last time I was there, there was too much current to dive solo), and changed heading for Trevor's.
Swell grew a bit but was still a manageable couple of feet, but the wind had picked up a bit. No current on the surface, so I got the gear in water, hopped in, and geared up. I was going to try some experimentation with manual focus macro (which, given the top water conditions was probably wise - well the macro part, anyway. Heading down, I was kind of surprised that the vis was probably in the 3 to 5 foot range. That cleared at about 10 feet, and opened to about 15 down to about 60 feet, where it cleared again, with the bottom vis in the 30 to 40 foot range, but dark and hazy. Nothing all that interesting found, and my camera experiment was foiled by a slipping focus gear. Oh, well. 74 feet, 26 minutes, 50 degrees.
Ran back to the dock for the SI, mostly watching tourists ooh and aah over the sea lions. Then out for dive 2.
Decided on the Deep Shale, and headed for Anchors 2&3. The wind had picked up considerably, and on anchoring, found the boat dancing in a couple feet of short swell with a nasty chop. Whitecaps were everywhere. As I got stuff together, I thought I was hearing sea lion exhalations, but I never saw one, making me conclude that it was the whitecaps making the hisses. Or not; don't know.
Hopping in, found the surface was even worse than at Trevor's: couple of feet or so. At ten feet it opened up a bit to about 10 feet with big snot chunks drifting around. That continued down to about 60 feet, when the big chunks dissipated, and vis opened up to about 30 feet. Moved my anchor from the cables, then collected the camera (on autofucus this time), and inspected the anchors. I'll say this: If anybody wants to shoot pics of Hermissenda crassicornis on red fluted bryozoan (see http://tinyurl.com/257twnm or http://www.chabotcollege.edu/faculty/jyasaki/photogallery/slugpics/P1010101aa.jpg - though that's not from this trip), now's the time. Probably a hundred H. crassicornis of every size crawling all over the place. Also found a really tiny San Diego Dorid and an equally small Triopha catalinae. Lots of small crabs sitting in the folds of the bryozoan doing crabby stuff, but the highlight was a tiny (maybe 8mm?) sculpin of some sort who stayed put long enough to get a couple of shots (no idea how they came out, though.) Took a look out on the flat shale, but didn't find anything all that exciting. Folded the strobe arms in and headed up, and just about in the soup, ran across a couple of Egg Yolk Jellies. Water was too dirty to try for a shot, but shortly after, I spotted a small (one inch?) cross jelly with a crab either on or in the bell. On a whim, I brought the camera up, and saw that one of the fiber cords had pulled out while folding the arms. Not enough time to fix it, so I framed and shot (with the strobes still folded), and I *think* it came out at least sort of Ok (it looks OK on the preview screen - don't know yet about larger.) 81 feet, 33 minutes, 48 degrees.
Quick note: On the north finger pier, the Harbor is experimenting with some kind of electric Sea Lion deterrent thing. At a glance, it looks like two wires on a long piece of plastic molding, hooked up to something like an electric fence controller. Might want to avoid stepping on it.
5-22: 2 dives: Hopkins Deep and Shale Island; both solo
Driving into the Monterey area, my first view of the water was waves breaking on Del Monte Beach: a line of three breakers: One just breaking, one collapsing, and one running up the beach. By the time the first started running back down the beach, another had reared up and was starting to break. Hmmm. Short period swell, I guess.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 8:30 and was the fourth or fifth trailer in the lot. The sea lions are trying to take over the ramp again; but I did see a harbor worker hosing them off the ramp (which I don't recall them doing last year.) Took my time gearing up and prepping the boat (mostly drinking coffee, but a substantial amount of just screwing around, too), long enough for Jeff and Roxie to arrive for Jeff's 11:00 OW class. Sat around some more watching his students go through the intro to Monterey, and start gearing up, when I got a little bored and decided to go dive. Splashed the boat, despite the best effort of one of Chuck's ramp parkers, who left me just enough room to get my boat off the trailer.
I was hoping for flattish water, as I was trying a new prop on the boat (same pitch as my other SS prop, but a tad smaller diameter and 4 blades.) Unfortunately, the short period swell and fairly substantial wind chop didn't let me get a top speed reading, or any other real data other than hopping out of the hole (which might have been better, but didn't seem all that different.)
Originally planned on something like Hopkins Deep since the surface conditions didn't look all that great but ran out to the Aumentos/Trevor's/Bottles area anyway. The swell built to around 4 feet or so, and the wind was howling (whitecaps everywhere), so I decided to back off and look for somewhat calmer conditions. Hopkins Deep it was. One other charter boat was tucked in near Eric's Pinnacle; two others were off the Aquarium. Swell was a couple of feet, at about 5 or 6 seconds. Tough to stand in the boat without hanging on to something. No current, so I hopped in. Vis at the surface was a tad over 5 feet, dropping down it cleared to about 20 or so at the bottom, but really hazy. I kept flooding and clearing my mask to get rid of the fogginess, but it never worked. No unusual slugs, and hardly any fish other than the normal bottom dwellers (Blackeye Gobies, Painted Greenlings, and sculpins): One Treefish buried back in a crack, a single Kelp Greenling (seen about a half dozen times), and a couple of medium sized Blue Rockfish. No unusual slugs. Towards the end of the dive I did spot one of those weird poacher-looking fish that I still don't have a solid ID for. Headed up a little early (due to cold), but did a really slow ascent. Started seeing cross jellies fairly early, as well as a sea nettle cruising by above. Higher up were more cross jellies, and few comb jellies. Saw something that looked like a tiny salp chain or something, that was very quick at squirting away when disturbed. Lots more nettles (though nowhere near as dense as last years infestation. Maybe a dozen and a half?) Just prior to hitting the surface, found a cross jelly with a hitchhiking crab, which was kind of neat. Didnt take the Mosquito on the dive, but it was something like 45 minutes, 77 feet, and 50 degrees (checked on the way up.)
Long SI in the lot, Sat by the wall for a while to enjoy the entertainment, but the swell wasn't big enough to knock anybody down. Tried to get Jeff and Rob to push a couple of their students over, but they wouldn't go for it. Had to settle for normal conversation (well, normal for our group, anyway.) Somewhere along the timeline, Jeff scrapped his plan for a night dive, so my plan of a recon dive to Shale Island was kind of moot. But, since the wind was still kicking up, well, where else was there to go?
Dropped the hook on the numbers, and headed in. Swell was up to maybe three feet. Surface vis was really crappy. I could make out light and dark on the bottom from about 30 feet, and at the bottom, had 10 to 15 feet with the same haze, with a couple of feet of surge. First stop was the outcropping with the, well, what used to be the Yellowfin Fringehead. Took a minute or so to locate the hole, and... Whaddaya know? The Yellowfin is back. Or did people know that already? Sucks being away from Monterey for so long. Spent quite a while getting macro shots of the little guy (with both a sculpin and a painted greenling jumping into the action), before finally moving on. Did a little exploring around up on top, but didn't find anything all that interesting; just worked on getting used to the camera. Called it a dive after about half hour. Had to reset the hook as it was buried under a ledge, but it reset itself nicely after being yanked from my grasp. Whatever works. 54 feet, 38 minutes, 54 degrees.
5-08: One dive: Colby Reef with Pam, Fofo, and Stan
Headed north for our semi-annual non-dive-shop Albion ab trip. Unusual conditions. Normally, on our ab trips, Jeff jinxes us on weather, and we're lucky to get in the water at all, much less have calm enough seas for tank diving. This year was an exception, and the swell was running about 2 feet, with decent wind that didn't seem to affect the surface much.
I'll skip the details of the ab dives, and get to the one tank dive we did.
Jeff and a couple of ab divers who had problems making the first ab dive took off early and headed up to our normal spot just north of Buckhorn Cove; the tank divers were a bit slower, and we headed out about 15 minutes later. My plan was to take a look at Colby reef, which is oh, a half mile offshore of where Jeff was taking the ab divers, and bail to somewhere else if conditions weren't conducive to diving.
Got to the numbers provided by somebody (Brenna, most likely), and found that they were a ways off the actual pinnacle itself. Motored over the top, and decided to drop the hook about 2/3 of the way along heading into the wind. Put out a lot of scope in case the hook dragged across the couple of hundred feet of pinnacle and into the 110 feet or so surrounding the rock. Contacted Jeff to tell him where we were, and he said when he had his ab divers back on board, he'd take a look at where we were in case someone got blown off the pinnacle. Not really any need, as there was only a slight wind-blown surface current. Geared up, and got in the water. Fofo and Pam headed down the anchor line first, and Stan (the lone hunter of the group) disappeared straight down (not the wisest choice in my book, but there you go.) I headed down the line to about 20', only to find it rising the further along I got. Eventually found Pam holding the line up, apparently having some ear clearing problems. After making sure she was OK, continued along the line (downwards this time), and checked the hook. Satisfied with the set, I went to check out a hole in the rock, about 10 feet across, and maybe 15 feet deep - perfectly circular, and with light encrustation on the sides. Dropped in feet first, and sort of spiralled down looking for slugs. Visibility in the hole was abou 15 feet or so, with a light surge stirring sand up from the bottom, and an overall haze limiting the vis outside the hole to 20 or 25 feet. I spent most of the dive near the anchor, while the others ranged a bit further and quite a bit deeper. Found probably a dozen species of slugs: Peltodorises, Hermissendas, Flabellina trilineata, a few Doris odhneri, a couple of Clowns, don't remember what else. Three I found I couldn't immediately ID, they're pending inspection of the pics. Not a whole lot of fish: a smattering of rockfish, several Kelp Greenling, a huge skittish cabezon, and a couple of smallish lings were about all I saw. No small rock dwellers as is common in Monterey, which I found kind of odd. Lots of encrusting stuff: the anemone population was pretty well established, and sea stars were plentiful. Another oddity was the lack of abalone. Don't think I saw a single specimen. Inshore, they were all over the place, but at Colby they were absent. After about a half hour, my hands were hurting from the cold and it was getting hard to manipulate the camera, so I decided to call it a dive. Up the line (had to force myself to endure the safety stop), and back on the boat to find Pam up already, and Stan swimming back down. Stan had shot a nice Ling, and headed back down to check out the pinnacle itself (he had been a bit off of it while hunting.) Fofo hit the surface a couple of minutes after I did, and Stan returned shortly after that. Turns out he had a bout of Mal de Mer, and figured it was better in the water than on it, hence the return to the bottom. About that time, Jeff came over, having run his ab divers back to camp (one of them was seasick as well), so he took Stan back in while Pam, Fofo, and I did the post-dive gear arranging, pulled the hook, and then headed back in. Neglected to take my Mosquito on the dive, but as I recall, I had a max depth of about 75 feet for 34 minutes, and a temp of 46 degrees. Pam's computer registered a low of 43. Don't know what Fofo or Stan got, but it was damned cold. Took about 10 minutes for my hands to stop aching.
The only amusing thing that needs to be posted happened on Sunday's ab dive: Heading out of the river to the cove, Mike reached for a hood lying on top of the gear, but was beaten to it by its owner. He started sifting through the gear in a panic: "Where's my hood?" At which point, somebody reaches over to behind his head: "This one?" Oh...
Anyway, if you get a chance to dive Colby, I'd say it's well worth it. Though I hope you get warmer water than we did...
4-18: 2 dives, both just south of the MY7 buoy (out towards the Beach Hotel);
both with Larry and Carol on XTSea, Jeff on Nitrox, and myself on Aurora.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 7:15; Jeff was already there (I think he drove in the night before.) Larry and Carol arrived a bit later, and Chuck and Linda pulled in a bit after that.
So with an early start and a familiar group all parked together, it was looking like a good start to a possibly good day. Then things got weird. Turns out that Chuck had neglected to load Linda's gear into the truck, necessitating a return home to retrieve it. I watched as he unlocked the hitch lock, then relocked it, all the while explaining to Linda how to handle the parking permit. He relocked the hitch, but had forgotten step 2: unhitching the trailer. He departed shortly after, with a warning from Larry about a speed trap on Hwy 1.
The rest of us prepped gear and got the boats in the water, with Carol deciding we were heading to Carmel (which happens anytime someone reports good vis down there, getting more insistent in inverse proportion to the forecasted swell height.) Jeff fueled his boat, and moved out of the harbor to wait for us. I pumped up the tubes on my boat and cast off the dock lines, then Larry and Carol reported an electrical problem: their GPS wouldn't fire up. I moved alongside, and saw Larry replacing fuses inside the console. He had about 4 or 5 that had already blown, and the fresh one he swapped in (a 15A fuse) blew as well, even with the electronics off. Which of course most likely meant a more direct wiring problem, rather than a problem with the unit. He found a ring terminal which had shifted enough to short, and corrected that, wrenching it as tight as the limited space would allow, then isolating it with tape. And we were good to go. I headed out to meet Jeff, with Larry and Carol trailing a bit. As I got to the end of the Jetty, Carol radioed, saying they were getting an alarm, and the motor shut down. They had it restarted by the time I circled back, so I told them to clear the harbor, and we'd take a look. Seemed to be pumping water OK, so I had Larry pull the cover, and I checked the oil (which was fine.) Dunno. Had Carol take off in the lead to make it easier to see if it shut down again, but apparently it was a random thing, and didn't recur.
Out near the point, the wind chop became pretty significant, and, added to the couple or three feet of swell, made for a really confused sea. I radioed Carol and told her that things were going to get really ugly coming back up through this stuff, and it would be worse when the wind came up. Her first reply was something to the effect that maybe it wouldn't come up. Then she agreed that it probably wouldn't be worth it, and she suggested Outer Outer Chase, which was a hundred or so feet off. She and I dropped anchors near the numbers, Jeff was off chasing something else, and returned a few minutes later. Carol asked about current, so I tossed in a tag line, and found a fair amount of current running into the bay. Carol didn't want to dive in current (nor, particularly, did I, after yesterday's dives), so we pulled the hooks and headed back inside. Carol suggested Mola Mountain, but I wanted to get a bit deeper, so I countered with a spot Jeff and I had been to a few years ago. I figured I'd wait to brief Carol on the bottom topography until we got there. In transit, Jeff apparently hit a wake wrong, and nearly ejected himself from the boat, and found himself covered in a white goo. Apparently, a small tube of sunscreen clipped to his grabrail had smacked itself against the guardrail hard enough to shatter the plastic cap, and the contents expoded all over the boat. We got to the area, and Jeff suggested looking for a couple of weight pouches that had been dropped there a few years ago, so we relocated a bit and dropped anchors. A couple of what looked like commercial squid boats, and a bunch of private fishing boats were a quarter mile away further along the shore. I briefed Carol on what to expect, and she was fine with it. So, gear in the water, and down we went.
Pretty much the same drill as the Deep Shale dive the day before: small stuff on top, growing to large snot strings from about 10 to 50 feet, then reducing in size and thinning a bit below that. Vis at the bottom was somewhere around 40 feet or so. My hook was in about 70 feet, and appeared to be pretty well hooked up on a shale block, so I started searching for fish in the undercuts of the ledges. Lots of sub-adult rockfish, mostly Blues, with several Vermilion, Coppers, and Kelps. As far as adults, a couple of Vermilion, a couple of Coppers, a youngish Ling, and, oddly, several Rubberlip Surfperch. Lots of Spanish Shawls, Tritonia festivas, Peltodoris nobilis, and Cadlina luteomarginata; a few San Diegos, a few Doriopsilla albopunctata, and a single Geitodoris heathi. Out of time, I started up the anchor line, and heard and felt a boom. Did a quick check of my gear (nothing wrong) before I realized it was probably the squid boats deploying seal bombs. Makes me feel sorry for any sea lions trying to get a meal. Hit the surface about a minute ahead of Jeff (though I never saw him on the ascent or stop.) 76 feet, 33 minutes, 52 degrees.
Jeff had an interesting story: He apparently located another Steam Engine. Part of the description sounded like the Steam Engine on the Deep Shale, and part of it made it sound like a large inboard diesel engine. I think he wanted me to bounce it and mark the spot, but I was out of bottom time. We agreed to abandon Larry and Carol and do the same dive for dive 2. Upon surfacing, they both said the dive was good enough to warrant a repeat, so that was that.
Longish SI in the lot, interrupted by a guy asking us to move our boats to allow the Disabled Vet fishing charter to offload. With that, we hit the water to head back to MY7.
As I was the only one with a decent fix on the numbers (obtained by guessing where Jeff's anchor had been and tacking on about 30 feet), I dropped first (about 20' off the numbers proper), with the other two boats spread on either side across the wind. Geared up and headed down, and, ten feet ahead of my anchor, found the Engine. It looks similar to the Steam Engine on the Deep Shale, but is 3 or 4 times larger. Key structure is a large flywheel (or belt drive.) The body has what appears to discrete cylinders visible (though encrusted enough to be tentative.) A long projection comes off the end opposite the wheel. Overall, I'd guess 8, maybe 10 feet. Nearby is a largish (20" diameter) prop on a shaft. Took off to see what else was around, but the only thing I found different from the first dive was a pair of mating Acanthodoris lutea. 76 feet, 32 minutes, 52 degrees. No seal bombs.
So, I was the only one of four boats to be trouble free today. Which, of course, means it's saving itself up for the next trip.
4-17:2 dives: The Rope off Lovers Point, and Anchors 2&3; both solo.
Arrived at Breakwater at about 10:30, 10:45 - something like that - and managed to get what I think was the last trailer parking space (though, to be fair, the early salmon guys started packing it in shortly thereafter.)
Chuck was between dives, and gave me the rundown on his Ballbuster dive then headed out for his second. I got things ready to go (took some doing, as its been a while) and headed out about the time Chuck was returning. I was planning on heading north to the Pipeline up near the mouth of the Salinas River, since: a) I had nobody to argue about the site selection, and b) the surface water conditions were pretty favorable.
On arrival at the Pipeline, the swell was about 2 feet, with another foot of wind chop. Wanting to get under any surge, I motored out along the pipe to where the base depth was about 70 feet, and dropped the hook. According to the GPS, I drifted back pretty much parallel to the structure. I rested for about a half hour, then started getting gear in the water. And, tossing an unloaded tag line in, saw a decent current running. I figured it was probably swimmable, but just barely. And, with no other boats around, well... maybe somewhere else would be a good idea. Pulled the hook, and ran back to the Cannery Row area, selecting the Rope as a backup site. A couple of boats (the black inflatable with twin 40's, and a commercial dive boat) were hooked up in Otter Cove (Eric's Pinnacle, maybe?) but well away from where I was (closer to Lover's Point proper.) Dropped the hook on the adjusted numbers, and figured I'd refine them a bit more, so I took a reel in case I had to search for the Rope. A bit of surface current was running with the wind (not all that surprising), but it seemed pretty light. Swapped the kit lens for the macro, and headed down. Top vis was about 20, which was hopeful. Checking the hook, I found it in sand, next to a low rock outcropping. Oddly, I was flagpoled out to the side. Letting go of the line revealed a bottom current running directly out from the beach, not horrible, but kind of tough going swimming in towards the shore. Which, naturally, was the direction I ended up wanting to go. I kicked back to the anchor, and debated whether or not tie off the reel, when I spotted the Rope about 30 feet away, directly up-current. Swimming over to it, I found it laying low in the water, in a sort of a quarter circle with the lower part being driven by the current. Started looking for stuff on it, but it was a bit tough as everything was flapping around, and I had a hard time kicking steady enough to stay in one place. Found a couple of odd green shrimp (odd in the "don't know what that is" way), and not a whole lot else (except for a Crevice Kelpfish who managed to disappear in a hurry.) Found it almost impossible to get the shrimp framed decently, though, so eventually gave up and headed over to one of the larger rocks in the area. Not a lot there on a quick inspection, so decided to muck dive one of the smaller rocks. Spent about 20 minutes poking around a low small rock (a bit larger than a dining table, I'd say); found another one of the weird cataleptic shrimp (in a tough-to-shoot location, of course) and a mostly-white kelp crab of some sort. Tired of dealing with the current, I headed up after about 35 minutes. Nothing of interest on the safety stop, so back on the boat. 46 feet for 40 minutes, 54 degrees. Max vis a hazy 30 or so feet. The wind had picked up a bit during the dive, and the two boats had multiplied to about a half a dozen.
Fairly short SI (for me, anyway) back at the ramp, then out to Anchors 2&3. Wind had continued to pick up, but the swells were still just a couple of feet. Almost no surface current. Headed down through small bit of whale snot, then large globs of whale snot, then lots of large globs of whale snot, then things cleared up. At the bottom, found I was on the opposite side of the anchors then usual. Vis about 35 to 40, and nice and clear. And, a bit of current blowing eastward, with the surge pushing more north-south. On the Anchors themselves, a bunch of Hermissenda on the red bryozoan; off on the shale, several Spanish Shawls and Tritonia festiva. A loose school of Blue Rockfish escorted me around, while a largish Vermilion supervised from a distance. In the chain, several Coppers and Kelps did fishy things, and a single 2 foot Lingcod just sat impassively near the bottom. Found a few small Cross Jellies and Gooseberries on the safety stop, but couldn't get a shot of them as they blew by on the current that had come up. 84 feet, 32 minutes, 50 degrees.
03-21: 2 dives: Pinos Rock, and the Steam Engine, with a large group: Larry and
Carol on XTSea, Jeff on Nitrox (Pam joined him for dive 2), Rob, Nina, and
someone else (Scott? Don't remember...) on Flying Fish, and me and Fofo on
Arrived at Breakwater at 8, to find it reasonably fogged in (Guy said I should have stayed in bed for another hour and a half.) Fine; more time for coffee. Fofo showed up shortly after, Larry and Carol arrived about a half hour later, and Jeff pulled in a half hour after that. Jeff was supposed to be meeting an ex-student to handhold him through a deepish dive, but the guy never showed. Rob and friends decided to tag along and dive wherever we ended up (the plan was for Ballbuster), so that made 4 boats heading out. Took a bit of time to swap my compass out, finding the one from yesterday empty; presumably a crack in the capsule allowed for the loss of the oil, and allowed pressurization that jammed it up on yesterdays' dives. Guy was having back problems, and decided to skip the boat dives to test out White's undergarment off the beach (Whites was doing some kind of demo thing at MacAbee on Saturday, and Breakwater on Sunday. Don't know what they had, as I never looked.)
I was going to donate a couple of kid sized lifejackets to the PFD loaner program that I remembered seeing the Harbormasters Office running, so while the other 3 boats headed out, I detoured to K Dock and dropped them by. Turns out the program is run out of Monterey Bay Kayaks, but Paul said he'd deliver them for me.
Fofo and I did a mostly full throttle run out to the point, but caught Jeff's radio call saying there was a waiting line at Ballbuster, and they were heading out towards Pt. Pinos. Strangely, when we reached the area, there were 3 or 4 boats just anchoring at Aumentos, but only Black Dog (Chuck's boat) on Ballbuster. Found our group already anchored up, so I motored to an area that looked close but with enough separation, and dropped the hook. A glance at the GPS showed I had dropped just about on the numbers for Pinos Rock.
A current check showed just a bit of wind driven current, so we geared up and headed in. I dropped before Fofo (I think), and had a long shallow swim to get to the anchor. It had landed on top of a rock at about 35 feet, but seemed reasonably well set, so I left it. Surge there was big: 10 to 25 foot swings depending on which sets were running through. I stupidly tried to set up a couple of shots, but there wasn't a chance of that shallow, so I headed off beyond the anchor into deeper water. At 70, the surge was still strong, especially on the bigger sets, but more manageable, so I picked around the bottom of the structure, occasionally going shallow to look at particularly intriguing walls and cracks. Lots of juvenile Blue Rockfish at the start of the dive (maybe I was just ignoring them later), a large number of male Kelp Greenling (along with a couple chasing others off from their turf), several largish perch, a number of Black and Yellow Rocks, a few Coppers, and a huge school of Blues up above. On the invert side, it was a little too surgy to look really close, but found a fair number of slugs, worms, crabs, cukes, etc. Nothing really unusual (I think - maybe one slug, but I have to bounce the pic off my ID resources to see if it was a Doris montereyensis or something else. [On inspection of the pic, it appeared to be a Rostanga pulchra - largest one I've seen, and speckled rather than the more common uniform orange.]) Eventually realized I had no idea where I was - I had been paying a little too much attention to searching and not enough to where I had been going. Decided it was probably best to do the blue water thing, but I didn't see any kelp nearby to use as a reference, so I headed to the top of the largest rock I saw in the area, and headed up. Good plan, but I lost sight of the rock before I hit my stop depth. Stop done, I hit the surface, about 200 yards ahead of the boats. Good thing I changed out the compass. 77 feet, 38 minutes, 52 degrees, about 30, maybe 35 feet of vis. Wile we were waiting for Fofo, Larry, and Carol, Rob and co. decided to head back, as his friends were freezing. Larry and Carol hit the surface, and Larry clipped off his camera and gear, then helped Carol out of her rig. On the boat, he pulled in the tag line with the camera, only to find that the camera had apparently decided to go on a photo mission by itself. He geared up again, and dropped down to retrieve it. Meanwhile, Fofo came up. Camera in hand, Larry came back and we called that a dive and headed in. Just before we hit the harbor, Chuck called to report a 4' Mola off the end of the dock (although I never did figure out where he was calling from.) Don't think any of us saw it. Pam was waiting at the dock when we tied up, and was going to join us for dive 2.
Lunch at the Deli, and a lot of sitting around and chatting, until, eventually, we decided to get moving on dive 2. Decided on Shale Island for Dive 2, so the four boats ran out and dropped anchor at least sort of near the numbers. The wind had picked up a bit, so there was a rumbly chop running out, but there wasn't a whole lot of swell that far inside, so I was looking forward to a non-surgy dive. Dropped down through a 15 foot brownish layer, then hit clearer water that extended to the bottom. Vis was over 20 feet, probably more like 30, but fairly dark. Saw the pipe just before I hit the bottom, so I dropped by to see the One-Spot Fringehead. It's definitely a different one from a couple of years ago - just little tiny bushy cirri over the eyes. Moved over to the secondary ledge and worked NW, then hopped over to the main ledge, and worked my way back. Plenty of slugs, but nothing really unusual. Spent a lot of time shooting stuff I normally wouldn't bother much with: worms, slug eggs, snails, that kind of stuff. Running a little low on time, I headed back to my anchor, and ran across some egg masses on a rock. Took a couple of quick pics, and headed up the line. 81 feet, 33 minutes, 50 degrees.
03-20: 2 dives: A random spot just north of Point Joe with Trevor and myself on
Aurora, and Efrem and Vic on Efrem's Zodiac; Shale Island with Trevor and
myself, plus Larry and Carol on XTSea.
Arrived at Breakwater about 9, and grabbed one of about 4 remaining trailer spots. Efrem and Vic were readying gear, and Larry and Carol were letting Otter meet people and dogs that were about. Trevor arrived a few minutes later, feeling ill from (presumably) a bout of food poisoning. Eventually got him convinced that diving while feeling bad would be better than sitting in his car in the Breakwater lot while feeling ill. He got his gear ready to go, and I noticed a low battery warning when I did my pressure check, but it started (which is supposed to mean it's good for a day of diving), so I let it go. Furby and Rich showed up, but were staying close. Trevor and I splashed the boat and headed out.
Efrem and Vic had anticipated having a bit of a speed deficit, and had made the run out to Pt. Pinos early, and the other two boats had a bit of a delay when XTSea recalcitrantly decided that the outboard shouldn't turn. A bit of convincing got that worked out, and we met up with Efrem and Vic several minutes later, after a brief stop to chat with Chuck who reported 20 foot vis at Ballbuster. Continued around the corner, heading initially for Point Joe (or thereabouts), but got a little sidetracked when, while running about a quarter mile offshore, the depth went from the 60 to 70 foot range to about 20. All three boats slowed, and we poked around the area, finding several spots that were 10 feet or less. A bit more idling around found the edge of the plateau, and I dropped my hook in about 55 feet. Efrem dropped his anchor about 30 yards away in about 75 feet, and Carol was nearer but on the opposite side. The boat drifted back pretty quickly, and Trevor and I started final prep on gear. Vic called out that there was a current running, so I tossed a tagline, which immediately swung back to about a 20 degree angle. Hmmm. I put out a current line, which satisfied everyone on my boat and Efrem's (they were hunting, so didn't care about tougher conditions), but Carol decided to pull her anchor and look for water that wasn't trying to control the dive.
Got Trevor in and geared up, and made sure he was good to go before I got off the boat. Got geared up, and fought my way to the anchor line. Headed down, and immediately found that my reg had a minor freeflow going. Not bad enough to be a worry, so I continued down. At about 10 feet, I checked the computer, which was going through its self test (must have gotten there faster than I thought.) Continued down, and checked the computer again, which this time showed a low battery warning, then went through its self test again, followed by a low battery warning, ad infinitum. Great. I figured I'd make a short dive, and come up well before any risk of running low on air. Being in 55 or so feet, I wasn't worried about loading up to the point of being an issue. So I checked my compass, and found the anchor line was running pretty much due north. Continued over a little ridge that the line crossed and checked the hook, then hung a right turn to see if I could find the wall or rise or whatever it was that led up to the plateau. A quick check of direction showed that I was heading due north. Another right turn showed that the boat was resting north of the anchor, which was north of the boat. So, another change: It would be a short, not-very-far-from-the-anchor dive. And it was. I had the macro lens on the camera, which was OK when I could anchor myself to some degree, but for the most part, the surge made it impossible to shoot much of anything. Decided to thumb the dive after about 20 minutes, which was fine with Trevor, as it was long enough for him to get cold. My Mosquito showed 63 feet, 27 minutes, 54 degrees. Vis was a seriously hazy 20 to 25 feet.
Pulled the hook, and dropped Vic and Efrem off near Pinos Rock where they were doing a second dive. Trevor and I headed in to grab lunch and do some (well, OK, a lot) of repairs. Between the boat and the truck, had everything to change the computer battery, make sure the reg problem wasn't a first stage problem, and do the second stage adjustment. I also had a replacement compass in the truck, but it seemed to be once again working pretty well, so I left it. Settled in for a long SI, since I didn't have any N2 loading data from the first dive. Grabbed a bite to eat, and just generally hung out. Eventually, Larry and Carol returned from the Inner Pinnacles, where they reported 40 foot vis, no current, but a lot of surge. They ate lunch, and quite a while later we decided to get going on dive 2. As we were heading to the boats, Efrem and Vic returned with their catch, but had to get going as Vic was returning to Reno that night.
Did another quick 2nd stage adjustment on Larry's reg, then we headed out to Shale Island, at Trevor's request. Carol hit the outer harbor and led the way out; I was near idle while Trevor adjusted something or other on his rig, then we motored out to the Island. Carol dropped her hook on the Shale Island numbers; I headed for Anchor 5. Geared up and headed down, with everything working (what a concept...) That lasted to the bottom, where the compass jammed again. Did a little poking around while waiting for Trevor to complete the descent, finding a couple of Cadlina modesta, a few Tritonia festiva, and an Acanthodoris lutea, along with all the other normal slugs. Turned back to the anchor to find Trevor poking along the ledge. Worked towards the Knob, against a fairly stiff current (for Shale Island; first time I can recall a current there.) I stayed mostly up on top, and Trevor along the ledge. For teh most part, I was shooting different stuff to see how the pics would come out, but saw a sun star doing a great impression of an octopus, and ran across what appears to be a white Peltodoris nobilis (might be something else; haven't had time to check) and an Adalaria jannae (second sighting for me.) Not many fish, but a single Bull Sculpin, and a Snubnose, I think. In the fire hose just west of Anchor 5, there was some sort of fish, but couldn't see enough of it for an ID. Trevor took off to do some exploring, so I worked my way back to my anchor, then headed up, hitting the surface a bit behind Trev. 56 feet, 46 minutes, 54 degrees. Vis, maybe 15-20.
03-07: 1 dive: Anchor 5, with Brenna and Brian
Intended to get out of the house an hour early, and was expecting to meet Larry and Carol, and Jeff. Brenna was confirmed to be there as well. Ended up getting out only about 15 minutes early, and that was offset by a 101 shutdown for about 15 minutes while a crew pulled a new power line crossing the freeway. Phone calls on the way revealed that Jeff was still in bed and was staying there, and Carol heard about bad vis on Saturday and got scared.
Arrived at Breakwater about 9, and was surprised that about half the trailer spots were occupied. The wall, while not completely full, was close to it. Looking out on the water, there appeared to be a fair amount of chop, with a small swell running. Saw, and chatted with: KathyD at the parking ticket machine, Doc Wong in the lot, Dave Drisdale and his wife as they cruised around looking for something (no idea what), and Kyle McCane (of AquaLung Fin fame) as he took a stress and rescue class out into the water.
Brenna and Brian arrived about the planned time; everybody got geared up and we got the boat in the water. Headed out to Shale Island, and found Rusty's inflatable anchored near the numbers, so we diverted to Anchor 5. Dropped on the numbers, and it took a long time to drift back to the end of the anchor line. A quick check showed why: we ended up 200 ft from where we dropped the anchor. Rusty and Patrick hit the surface as we were prepping gear, and came over to chat just as were ready to get in. Patrick reported about zero vis, and surgy enough that he was holding Rusty in place for some pics. That convinced Brenna to leave her camera on the boat, and upon consideration, I did the same. Brian ended up taking his along. In the water, the surface water was pretty reasonable: about 10 foot vis, and reasonably bright. Dropping down, I could make out light and dark patches from about 25 feet. At the bottom, though, it ended up being a seriously hazy and dark 5 feet. Good enough for macro shooting for the most part, but occasionally big surge would move me about 10 feet from where I wanted to be. Checked the hook and reset it, and poked along the ledge to Anchor 5. Headed up on top and returned to and passed my anchor line, then went back to the ledge and worked my way back along the base towards my anchor, passing Brenna and Brian going the other way (first time I'd seen them, and it was about, oh, 10 or 12 minutes into the dive.) They headed off clockwise, and I stayed pretty close to my anchor, just sort of poking around for slugs and small stuff. Spent about 10 minutes trying to lure a ronquil into taking food from my hand (might have worked better if I actually had some food item, rather than bits of algae and stuff.) Eventually got a little tired of being cold, not seeing a whole hell of a lot, and occasionally being moved way the hell over, so headed up. Without the camera, found it a little tough to hold a shallow safety stop. Could have gone deeper, but ended up just dealing with it. 56 feet, 43 minutes, a balmy 55 degrees (though you couldn't tell it from me; no swimming and you get cold.) Brenna and Brian hit the surface ten minutes or so later, and they decided to skip a second dive due to Brenna's clearing problems (which is why they were missing early in the dive.) The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to do a solo dive in surge with crappy vis, so I eventually bailed on the second as well.
02-22: 2 dives: Anchors 2 and 3 with Steve, then Shale Island solo.
Steve was planning an early departure to head somewhere out near Bakersfield to truck some artillery to Canada, so he planned a single dive. While we were getting everything ready, I stuck my head into Steve's trailer and told Lori that some dolphins were heading towards us. It appeared to be a pod of perhaps 75 or so Risso's, a couple of hundred yards offshore, heading in towards the jetty. Watched them for a while: they made it to about the Barge or so, then turned around and headed back out along Cannery Row.
Prepped the boat, and headed out to see what things looked like out near the Point. On the way, came upon the pod of Risso's we'd seen from shore, and puttered around them along with 3 of the whale watching boats. Continued on towards the point, where both Steve and I decided the conditions were in the "Not Good" range. I had the camera rigged for macro again, and was looking for calmer water than the Pinos area looked like it would afford. We retreated to the Deep Shale, running into the dolphins again off, oh, Otter Cove or so, then smaller groups further along (perhaps a hundred or so total) and finally dropped the hook on Anchors 2 and 3.
Water was a lot calmer, though there was still a fairly long 2 or 3 foot swell running. Not much wind, but a glance down showed the Return of the Sea Nettles (or maybe we're past the "Return of", and well into the "Beneath the Planet of" stage.) Headed down, started seeing details on the bottom from about 25 feet (through the Nettles, of course.) The hook was about 15 feet from the ledge, and I could just make out the dark mass of the chain pile beyond: call it 25 to 30 feet or so visibility. Steve was working the lower part of the chain pile to the NE (I think), so I headed up top, finding a few hermissendas and a few other things (sculpins, a Spanish Shawl, don't remember what else) on the Fluted Bryozoans. Too surgy to do much with though. Poked around the base and the shelf for a bit, shooting a lot of this and that. Eventually ran low on time, and took a look around for Steve. Not finding him, I figured he had headed up already, so I headed up, taking a few close up shots of the Nettles on the way. Taking a look to make sure I didn't lose the line, saw Steve coming up behind me. 80 feet, 37 minutes, 55 degrees. Wind had picked up considerably while we were down, capping all over. Ran back in to the ramp, where Steve off-loaded his gear and started packing up to leave.
Shortly after, a truck pulled in with a small grey jet RIB in tow; oddly, it appeared to be fully enclosed, with a lowerable mast just ahead of the transom, and a couple of outrigger thingies. Two guys started setting stuff up, then they launched the boat. The truck, with an empty trailer, departed, while the two continued working on the thing. Meanwhile, Steve headed off to pick up his semi in Lodi then head to Bakersfield to pick up his cannon; I grabbed a bite to eat.
After swapping back to the kit lens, I Headed down to the boat, stopping to chat with guys setting up the RIB. Turns out they were from the Naval Postgrad School, and were doing some experiments with autonomous navigation. Apparently, they program a destination into the thing, and it navigates its way there, using radar and forward-looking sonar (on the outriggers) to avoid obstacles. A remote control unit lets them abort the autonomous navigation and take control of the thing should it appear that the experiment is going awry. As I left the dock, they were still prepping the thing.
I headed out to Shale Island, figuring on seeing how the kit lens worked for shooting fish. Dropped the hook and headed in, finding the water a little hazier than the day before: call it 15 to 20, mostly 15. Despite my plan of heading straight for the Rockfish Convention Center, I dallied a bit at the promontory to get a couple more shots of the fish in the Yellowfin hole (not like it helps: Staring longer at something you don't know doesn't really aid in figuring out what it is you're looking at.) Eventually made it to the RCC, but nobody wanted to play: a couple of Coppers, and a couple of Blues, and that was about it. Quite a few other fish hiding under the overhang, but too deep to tell what. Waited around a bit to see if they'd be attracted by the commotion of my bubbles (as they usually are), and was disappointed to find that nothing else happened. Headed back up to the Island itself, working back towards my anchor along the ledge. Came across a rather shy baseball-sized octopus, other than that, nothing really special. Took a few shots of a mating pair of Acanthodoris lutea, and some of a pre-mating pair of Doris montereyensis, then decided to head up. 57 feet, 49 minutes, 55 degrees. Upon hitting the surface, saw the unmanned RIB, plus a second grey RIB (pretty close in design, but open, and with seats and controls) loitering near the yellow buoy. As I climbed out, I heard a roar, and the unmanned RIB started moving off towards the nearer of the jetski boundary buoys. Sort of. It kind of did a largely serpentine course, with occasional circles. The chase Rib stayed well within view, but moved off smartly when it appeared a fishing boat was heading towards the test boat. I pulled my hook, then headed over to get a closer view and try and figure out what they were trying to do, but I ended up still at a loss as to what their experiment was supposed to accomplish. Headed back in to the ramp after watching for ten minutes or so.
Pulled the boat, got changed, and about then the test guys were back. Asked if I could get a few pics, which they didn't object to. Unfortunately, I couldn't get good pics with the thing tied up, so waited for them to pull it out (they had 2 boats, but one tow vehicle, which explained why the truck and trailer had departed earlier.) Ended up being about an hour and a half before I could get the pics I wanted.
02-21: 2 dives: Eric's Pinnacle with Steve, Fofo, and Guy; Shale Island with
Steve, Fofo, and Brenna
Steve had headed to Monterey on Friday, after a month and a half or so of traipsing around the country (or perhaps countries, as he's been delivering stuff to Canada as well.) Work and family events had me stuck in the Bay Area until Sunday, so I headed down with the plan of getting conveniently sick on Monday unless conditioned really sucked. Plan was to get Steve out to some sites he couldn't do off the beach, and to try out the new camera rig (Canon T1i in a Watershot housing with a couple of Inon S-2000 strobes.) Fofo and Brenna were supposed to show up (though Brenna was iffy due to a balky back.)
Arrived at Breakwater at about 9:30, to a surprisingly busy lot considering the forecast: most of the spaces along the wall were taken, and at least six boat trailers in the double spots. Steve was up and about; Fofo and Guy were wandering around up top, and came down as I was paying for parking.
Started getting stuff ready to go, and about the time we were ready to splash the boat, Brenna called with an 11am ETA, which put her on dive 2. The boat hit the water, and after a bit more prep stuff, we headed out.
Nobody seemed to have a preference with respect to a site, so I arbitrarily chose Eric's, as it was a not-too-deep site (new camera), and would be more protected from surge than somewhere further out (clumsy photographer.) Nobody argued about the choice, so we dropped the hook a bit west of the pinnacle, geared up, and headed in. As Guy reported, the water was pretty hazy, and fairly particulate; I would have called vis closer to 25 to 30 than his reported 20 feet, but the bigger vis tended to come and go depending on where you were and what was blowing through. I had the kit lens installed (18-55), and was primarily trying to get a feel for the housing. As such, I took a lot of shots of nothing in particular, and, though I was looking for odd/unusual things, wasn't really looking all that closely. The surge made it to the bottom of the pinnacle,, making it tough to shoot little things, and the hazy water didn't bode well for shooting larger things, either; still, all in all I was pleased with the handling and operation of the new rig. Now I just have to learn how to actually use it to get images. 55 feet, 51 minutes, 55 degrees.
The wind had picked up a bit while we were down, and the ride back was bumpier going with the swell. Brenna had arrived by the time we got back. Guy decided that trying to stay near the anchor had him not swimming hard enough to stay warm, so he decided to beach dive; Brenna took his spot on the boat. After a reasonable SI and a break to swap lenses (kit lens for the 60mm macro), we headed out for Shale Island so Brenna could look for slugs, and I could figure out how the macro stuff worked.
Dropped the hook on the numbers, hopped in, and headed down. Water was a little hazier than it been at Eric's: 15 to 20 foot vis at the bottom, I'd say. A bit of surge. Took a few shots of whatever it is that's now inhabiting the Yellowfin's hole on the little point near the anchorage: Whatever it was didn't have the little bushy cirri patch, and seemed more reluctant to poke it's head out. I *think* it's a ronquil of some sort, but I'm not sure. Worked along the edge of the Island to the Knob, then headed down to the Rockfish Convention Center, where lots of Blue and Copper Rocks were, uh, convening? along with a few Vermilion, several Kelps, and a smallish Lingcod. Saw neither the Treefish nor the big Ling. Quickly came to the conclusion that the 60 macro lens isn't suitable for shooting full fish pics, so headed back up to the Island. Never saw anything all that spectacular (at least, not that I can recall now), other than a single Acanthodoris lutea. Headed up about the same time Steve and Fofo did. 59 feet, 58 minutes, 55 degrees. Brenna came up a few minutes later, having found a mating pair of A. lutea (I think), and a few Baptodoris mimetica, which I haven't seen.
Called it a day to get packed up and get to a restaurant in time for at least part of the Olympic USA-Canada prelim hockey game.
Upon arrival at the hotel, got set up to download and review images, only to find that my laptop wouldn't boot. Oh, well...
02-13 thru 15: 13 dives, lobster hunting off the Peace out of Ventura.
Trip was supposed to go to Santa Barbara Island, but the sea state made that impossible.
Day 1: 5 dives; Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands
Day 2: 5 dives; Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands
Day 3: 3 dives; Anacapa Island
The bugs won.
01-31:2 dives: Anchors 2&3 and Anchor 5, both with Carol and Larry on Aurora and myself on Aurora.
Arrived about 8 in case Chuck needed a hand ferrying divers for Corey's Memorial Dive. Larry and Carol were there with their boat, Chuck and Linda with Black Dog, Rusty with his RIB, and Patrick with his Whaler. The only thing missing were divers to ferry. Rusty and Patrick took off for a dive; Carol and I waited to see what was going to happen. Chuck took a load out (not sure how many), then Carol and I each ferried half of a foursome out to the Barge. On the way back in, Chuck radioed saying that we were done, as no other divers had shown up.
We changed heading and decided to dive Anchors 2&3. I let Carol drop first, but she missed the numbers by a bit. I offset a bit the other way and dropped my hook. With almost no wind, the boat just sort of lazed over the anchor, so I tossed out some scope and cleated it off. Geared up in the water and headed down, dodging jellies from the surface to the bottom. My anchor was wrapped up in its chain, so I straightened it out. There wasn't anything nearby to hook it on, but I figured it wouldn't be much of an issue as the line was still slack. I could make out the shape of the anchors and pile of chain about 20 feet away, so I headed over there to see what was out and about. As I neared the anchors, about 4 Vermilions scattered. Another was perched up near the top on some fluted bryozoan. Took a few shots of that one, then checked over the rest of the pile. Tucked in near the top was a large (15 to 18"? bigger?) Brown Rockfish. Out on the flats were quite a few slugs, but nothing all that unusual. Headed off to see if Chuck's slender shrimp were there (he had come by to refresh my memory as we were gearing up, then they headed off to dive somewhere else - Steam Engine?); found the Gorgonia, but no shrimp. Headed back to the Anchors, then spent a while poking around the rocks off the shelf. And then, it was time to head up. Dodge the jellies again, with one little weird stick-like gelatinous critter. Back on the boat (still inflated, no less) and geared down. Larry and Carol were up about 15 minutes after me (I think. I might have sort of nodded off.) My dive was 90 feet for 31 minutes, 55 degrees, and what I'd call 20 to 25 really hazy feet of vis. Just enough surge to make macro stuff difficult. Chuck and Linda headed out towards Pt Pinos to look for whales.
Took a brief SI at the ramp, until Carol got us going again. She wanted to head out to see what things looked like at Lover's, but I figured it stood a good chance of being either really surgy, or really stirred up. Which changed her mind, and we headed off to Shale island. Chuck had returned from his jaunt, and was anchored up, well, somewhere on the Island, so I led the way to Anchor 5 as Carol didn't have numbers for it. She was trailing me by about 20 or 30 feet, so I pulled past the numbers a bit and had her drop on one side while I took the other.
Geared up and headed in, and no jellies at all. Weird. Worked the ledge to the Anchor, and took a look for slugs. Nada. Worked the top across the Island, finding a bunch of usual slugs, and a bunch of Ronquils, but nothing all that interesting or photogenic, unless you count a swell shark egg case that had hatched. Came across Linda shooting something small, so gave her a wide berth, coming across the ledge shortly after. Spotted a small white slug that I thought could be an Acanthodoris hudsoni, so took a minute to put the two diopters on the camera. Found the slug again, and it turned out to be a small San Diego. Oh, well. Swam on a little further, and saw a dark, elongated fish wriggling around the scree. As I got closer, it disappeared into a clam hole. I removed the diopters and adjusted the strobes for a snap shot, and settled to the bottom to see if it would reappear. As I waited, a bunch of ronquils appeared, seeming to show more than a little interest in me. I wish they'd do that while I was trying to shoot them. Meanwhile the dark fish reappeared, flitted around a bit, and disappeared back into its hole. I tried luring it out with a small dock shrimp, but one of the Blackeye Gobies swam up and started snacking on it. Decided to get a few Ronquil pics, and sure enough, they decided not to cooperate. I looked up to see the dark fish out in the open with the shrimp in its mouth (not sure if it stole it from the Goby r what. Got several shot of it, but haven't looked it up yet. Worked my way back to my anchor, coming across another small A. hudsoni candidate. This one turned out to be a Berthella. Another Mermaid's Purse, this one pretty new. Headed up, hitting the surface after 53 minutes, 60 feet, 57 degrees. Vis was about, oh, 15 or so.
Since Fofo asked via e-mail, both Aurora and my drysuit proved to be leak-free.
01-30:One dive: The Barge, with Allen and three of his buddies.
Woke up at Oh-Dark-Thirty, and decided that it was not even close to time to get up. My dog apparently agreed, as she stood up, humphed a bit, then draped herself across me and went back to sleep. Was wakened a couple of hours later by a phone call from Florida, saying my new housing had been shipped. At least it was a good wake-up call. So, out of the house a couple of hours later than usual, and in to Breakwater at about noon. Nice thing was that I could listen to Cartalk and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on the way down (non-NPR listeners can safely ignore the last comment.)
Allen and a bunch of friends were in the lot as I parked, and in chatting, asked about how I find the Barge. Basically, I told him, I drop the hook on it and go down the anchor line. I gave him the lineups, but then, since I was solo, told him I'd give him and his buddies a ride out there, figuring a bit of recon for the memorial dive tomorrow wouldn't hurt. Harry reported Ballbuster was about 20 foot vis.
Got everything ready to go, splashed the boat, and headed out. Remembered to show Allen and group the lineups (at least the ones I know) for the Barge, and they got in and started gearing up. Before I had gotten in, one of the divers asked if the purge cover for his Air Source was on board, as it had gone missing sometime earlier. It wasn't. The four decided to do the dive, but swim back in to the beach instead of catching a ride back. I hopped in and geared up, but dropped straight down through a fairly healthy Sea Nettle population to see if the purge cover had fallen off when the gear was put overboard. Did a brief search, but came up empty. Headed over to the Barge, and didn't see anybody around (not really surprising, as visibility was about 10 to 15 feet.) Did a slow circuit looking for unusual stuff, but didn't see anything all that interesting. Found my hook had dropped directly on the barge, so moved it off a bit. Eventually ran across three of the other guys at various times. Checked the temp at the bottom: 55 degrees. Saw two male Painted Greenlings trying to impress a rather disinterested female. Several male Kelp Greenlings (or perhaps two that I kept running into) did their usual you-can't-catch-me routine. A bunch of Kelp Rockfish, and a bunch of Blues were out and about, and a few large perch cruised through on occasion. Found an octo after the other divers had split, but it wasn't coming out of its hole anyway. The only slugs I saw were Peltodorises, and not many of those (though they were pretty big.) Saw an egg mass of a Rainbow nudi, but never found the slug. Went back to look for the courting Painted Greenlings, but apparently they had changed location, as none of them were around. Vis had closed down to about 5 in places, but that may have been due to sand being stirred up by the other divers. Headed back up the line, and got back on board after 46 minutes at 64 feet. 55 degrees.
Took a brief run out to see if Harry, Dionna, and Mark were back up (somewhere off MacAbee); they weren't, so I headed back in. Rounding the end of the Breakwater, just before I was going to idle speed, a whale broke the surface just off my port bow. I slammed the motor to neutral, but felt a couple of distinct thumps (one mid-hull, the other aft - lower unit?) as I passed over it. Looked for a blood trail, but didn't see anything. Saw Doug the kelp harvester on his way out, and told him what had just happened, then continued in to check for damage. Didn't find anything untowards in the lower unit or the prop. Doug, when he returned an hour or so later, said that he'd followed the whale out, and didn't see any gouges or anything. He also said it had gone by pretty close to Harry's boat (Harry and co. apparently didn't see it.)
Was planning to do another dive, but found that the plate that mounts my anchor roller has worn through the tube fabric creating a slow leak, so decided to try an emergency repair at the hotel instead.
01-02: One dive: Anchor 1 with Steve
What a difference a day makes...
After Friday's reasonably spectacular dives, I was looking forward to fairly calm water with at least decent vis.
Steve and I splashed the boat (after a relaxed prep session that involved multiple trips to the deli for coffee) and headed out towards Pt. Pinos to see what things looked like out there. Rounding the jetty, the water appeared calm, but with a small, confused chop. At about the Aquarium, some swell began building. By Lovers, it was a couple of feet, but still slow smooth rollers. At the Point, swell was a 2 component job; large slow rollers from the northeast, 4 to 6 feet, with a really short south component running through at 45 degrees (you could actually see multiple south crests within each of the northeast swells.) We figured we weren't going to be diving out there, but took a short run down the outside to see if we could spot another whale. No joy on cetaceans, so we turned back, and basically ran in until the water looked flat enough to not have surge be a huge issue. That turned out to be beyond MacAbee (not sure if the swell had built or was more noticeable going downhill.) So I chose Anchor 1 (mostly because we didn't get to do it yesterday.) Surface was at least showing no swell, but still had a foot of chop, and the wind was light but constant from the north.
Dropped the hook, just ahead of the MBYC race committee boat and its attending Boston Whaler, which in turn were tailed by about a dozen sailboats and the little Nordic Tug. While we geared up, they set up about a quarter mile off. Hopped in, and took a look down; despite being able to see the anchor line quite a ways down, looking sideways was nothing but green. Once we were both ready, we headed down. A few Sea Nettles drifted by. I kept waiting for the water to clear at 15 or 20 feet, and it did a little, opening up to maybe 15. I stopped for a few seconds to take a quick shot of a Sea butterfly, then another salp or something, which let steve get ahead on the descent. Dropping further the vis clouded up again; then with Steve just ahead of me, the angle of the line shallowed. I saw, down below, what I initially thought was a Metridium, small enough to be about 20 feet below (wasn't watching my depth, as you can tell); turned out to be a clamshell at about 4 feet. Hit the anchor (you can take that literally, if you like), where Steve was waiting, trying to figure out which way to go. I did a quick 5 foot circle, and spotted the Metridiums on the concrete block at the edge of visibility (which put it at about 6 feet away. No clam shells this time.) We both sort of worked the chain pile and block and immediate surroundings; almost no fish, apart from a couple of sculpins, a couple of Black-Eyed Gobies, a Kelp Greenling, and a bunch of Painted Greenlings. Not really any slugs worth noting (unless you really like Peltodorises.) After about 20 minutes, Steve signalled he was heading up; I decided that sticking around in the murk probably wasn't going to be worth it, so I headed up as well, weaving a bit through the Sea Nettles. We started the safety stop together, which lasted about 15 seconds until I spotted another Sea Butterfly a little ways below. Dropped down to take some pics of that, until it drifted off, when I spotted another, then another, and another. A few other Jellies made an appearance, though I don't know offhand what they were: the little cucumber shaped comb jellies (really tiny, though; small Leucotha's?), some kind of bell with a smaller dome on top and a dark interior structure, and a few of those glassy flying wing thingies. Eventually made my way to the boat, where it turned out that the lack of vis and a distinct need for the nonesistent facilities were what drove Steve to call the dive. 81 feet, about 35 minutes total (including a long safety stop), didn't get a temp.
We decided to blow off a second dive. Steve and Lori headed out for Split Pea
soup then back to work in trucking; I headed back to relax for a day before
going back to work.
01-01: Two dives: Pinos Rock (Chuck said it's either the same site or near
Strawberry Hill, as I recall), with Jeff on Nitrox (plus Roxie as surface
support), Peter and Keith on Peter's boat; and John, Steve and myself on Aurora
(with John's dog Wheatley acting as guard, threatening to lick anyone boarding
to death); then a site near the MY7 buoy (I think) with Jeff on Nitrox and Steve
and myself on Aurora.
No New Year's Day hangover, as far as I could tell, though we were a little slow getting out of the motel. Met up with Steve in the parking lot, and Jeff showed up a few minutes later. John was joining us (the owner of the dive shop in Hayward); the first time I can recall him diving Monterey (certainly the first time I remember him in Monterey when he wasn't hunting.) Jeff, a day before, at home, had found a piece of plastic that he suspected might have been causing a fuel line blockage, and was eager to see if his problems were cured.
Jeff and my group loaded everything up and were joined by Peter and Keith on Peter's Zodiac. We ran out towards Point Pinos, finding that Peter's slightly-faster-than-comfortable speed was just under my 3-up planing speed. Jeff's boat stuttered once, but ran fine after that. At about, oh, Otter Cove or so, I looked starboard, and saw a fair size vapor cloud hanging over the water. Chopped power and swung the boat towards it, and got Jeff on the radio to tell him we had a possible whale. He replied that it wasn't possible, it was confirmed. I looked back towards the spot, and a Grey Whale was breaking the surface just beyond where I had seen the first blow. That sort of implied more than one, but we didn't really wait around enough to verify anything, and resumed the run out to Pinos. Jeff sort of decided that we'd do the same area as a couple of weeks ago, so I dropped at Pinos Rock. Peter dropped just downwind, and Jeff offset a bit and found a depth change from somewhere in the high seventies to the low twenties, and dropped on the top of the pinnacle there. Swell was pretty small, though some four foot sets would occasionally roll through. No current, but Peter, in the back, put out a current line anyway.
Started gearing up for the dive, with John getting in first and swimming over to Jeff's boat (he seemed pretty intrigued with the larger relief Jeff had found.) I geared up in the water, an found that my Mosquito watch had disappeared. I figured there was a small chance it had fallen off in the boat, but a much better chance that it had come off while getting into my rig. I contemplated dropping down to look for it, then decided that checking the hook would be a better idea, and went down the line. Steve followed pretty close behind. The hook was bundled up in chain, and tucked into a tight little crevasse, so I freed it, straightened it out, and reset it. Vis at the bottom was probably around 50, a reasonably clear blue, with mostly mild surge, though the big sets got things moving pretty good. Substrate was a cobble to boulder bottom, amidst big rock formations. Poked around a bit (we were a bit further north than two weeks ago), then headed out on what would probably be a waste of time to look for my watch. Still, saw quite a bit of gorgeous terrain, passing Peter (I think, anyway) working his way north from his anchor. Got to an area where I was pretty sure I had passed my boat, turned around, and almost immediately couldn't tell which canyons I had come through. Swam the compass back, but didn't recognize anything, so did a blue water ascent, hitting the surface well in front of the boat (as expected) but offset inshore a bit. Took a heading, descended, and worked my way back at about 15 feet, and ran across my anchor line. Followed that back to the boat, where I found John already aboard, just itching to rave about the dive. Clipped off my camera, and dropped back down to do another quick search, but, with all the holes and cracks and boulder piles, it was pretty much a given that I wouldn't find the watch, and, sure enough, I didn't. Surfaced again, to find Jeff up, and Steve on his stop. Reboarded, and geared down, got Steve back on board, and looked out to see Peter and Keith well seaward and out in front of their boat. They swam back without any trouble. At a guess, my dive hit about 78 feet for 40 or so minutes; others reported a temp of 54. The run back in was uneventful, and we spent our SI treated to lunch made by Steve's wife, Lori: Homemade (well, trailer made) cole slaw, and some sort of meat and cabbage pie in a flaky crust. Great stuff.
John took off for home, and Peter and Keith decided to do Shale Island, so Jeff, Steve and I decided to do Anchor 1. Jeff took off first, with Steve and I doing some quick equipment repair, then following a few minutes behind. Jeff hadn't anchored up yet, so we tied up alongside and drifted and chatted for, oh, a half hour or so, then decided to dive a spot where Jeff had lost a reel, oh three or four years ago (I had found it a month later.) Motored over and dropped hooks, and hopped in. Initially, it appeared to be a mistake: Surface water had about 10 foot vis, hazy with big chunks. Dropping down the line, it didn't really appear to get any better (though it did get darker.) At the bottom, I checked the hook, then started poking around the tiny ledges and, on looking around, was somewhat surprised at how [relatively] clear it was: 20 to 25 foot vis, dark, and no big chunks. I was also rather surprised at the fish: Lots of smallish Blue and Black Rockfish, seemingly pacing me as I poked along (though not getting very close.) Found a slightly larger ledge, and got a shot of a juvenile Rosy Rockfish just before it disappeared into the back of the overhang. Looking up, a couple of smallish Vermilion rockfish (though they might have been Canary's I think) saw me move and veered off for cover, but returned shortly after (maybe they saw I made no move towards them?) Either the same two, or some very similar fish, followed me throughout most of the dive. In all, I saw those Vermilion, and about a half dozen others, and what were probably a dozen Rosy Rockfish, ranging from about 4" to just short of a foot in length. A couple of the Vermilion were pretty good size. Throw in a few Gophers and Coppers, some Kelps, and some Yellowtails, and that pretty much covers the Rockfish. A few really skittish Kelp Greenlings and a lone smallish ling rounded out the larger finfish. I didn't do too much poking around for small stuff, and the slugs I saw were mostly Peltododis nobilis and Cadlina luteomarginata, with a few Diaulula sandiegensis and Doriopsilla albopunctata, a couple of Tritonia festiva, and a Geitodoris heathi or two. Running out of bottom time (it was a pretty square profile dive), I ran across a couple of weird things: a flat rock about 4' x 6' that appeared to have a perfectly folded edge (I thought at first that it was thick steel plate), and what appeared to be a long thin rock that ended up being some steel item about the same size and shape as an ice axe (it was wedged under some shale; might have been an anchor, but if so, it had pretty wimpy flukes and an impressively stout shank, no stocks, and no eye or other attachment point.) Headed up with about a minute remaining, and, on the safety stop, started looking for crustaceans in the Sea Nettles that were all over the place (not so thick that it was trouble avoiding them, but I wasn't having to move too far to shoot them, either.) While occupied with those, I ran across several Sea Butterflies, and spent quite a while shooting those. Then up to boat, to find Jeff on his boat looking more than a little perturbed at how long we took getting up (though he probably wasn't. And if so, well, tough.) Pulled the hook and found that we were trying to run back to Breakwater directly into the sun (which was also reflecting off the water), so I detoured out along Del Monte Beach to put more of angle on the sun so I wouldn't run any stray kayakers over. About halfway in, I noticed that Jeff was way back, and appeared to not be under power, so we circled back. Apparently his problem had returned, and this time, rather than running weakly, the motor wouldn't fire at all. Hooked him up on a tow line, and dragged him back to the ramp.
Dinner at Black Bear Diner, where Jeff and Pam (who didn't dive) took off for home, while Steve and I will be back tomorrow (with Lori on the beach.)