Dive Log, 2011 Previous logs: 2007 2008 2009 2010
Running list of dives in 2011.
Dive totals to date:
Days diving: 22 Local dives: 38 Elsewhere: 1 YTD Total: 39
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.
12-18: 2 dives: Outer Chase Reef with John, a different Jeff, Tom and myself
(plus Wheatley and Cali topside), then Trevor's Pinnacle with the same group
Jeff had his OW student again, but John and Jeff B. had come down the night before, and Jeff's drysuit student came back down to do a dive. The four of us plus two dogs headed out to see what conditions were out near the point. Though I knew John was a pretty aggressive diver, and Jeff was on his own with John, Tom was the variable that limited the site selection (actually, him, and the dogs comfort while sitting topside.) So, rather than go to John's new favorite spot from New Years a couple of years ago, I chose Outer Chase, as the swell was minimal, the depth was not too crazy (near the top, anyway), and it appeared that current was non-existent. Looking in, we could see nettles cruising by from the surface to about 40 feet or so; nice, clear water.
John and Jeff got in and headed down; I made sure Tom was OK (little trouble with the BC, but all in all pretty smooth) before I hopped in. Caught up with Tom at the bottom, and tried to keep an eye on him while looking for photo subjects (not like it mattered - surge was bad enough that pics were pretty much out.) We ended up staying fairly close to the anchor; John and Jeff headed off in different directions, hopping ledges (probably looking for deeper water.) Vis at the bottom ranged from about 30 to 50, a bit hazy, occasionally less when the surge kicked up a bunch of sand. Big school of smallish Blue Rockfish, several Yellowtail and Blacks, a lone Treefish out in the open (at least until I tried to get a pic), a couple of Lings, several Kelp Greenling, and a bunch of really big perch. Nothing unusual slugwise. Tom headed up after about 20 minutes, and I followed him up the line (he'd had buoyancy problems near the surface the day before.) Watched him up to the surface, then delayed a bit to try to get some nettle pics (like I don't have enough), then surfaced to find John and Jeff already back (probably should have noticed the BC's floating next to the boat, but hadn't.) 81 feet, 25 minutes, 54 degrees.
Relatively short (for me) surface interval in the lot, and out for dive 2, less Tom who had somehow gotten a couple of gallons of water into his suit. John mentioned that all that was missing was a whale sighting. He suggested Outer Otter Cove as a site, but as we neared Otter, the waves cresting over the point had me imagining a bunch of diver-attired pachinko balls pinging off the boulders. Headed a little further offshore to Trevor's Pinnacle, where I hoped the depth would alleviate the surge a bit. Dropped the hook, gave John and Jeff a quick description of the site, and cut them loose. Geared up and headed down, a little disappointed in the 15 foot green water at the surface. Quite a few nettles as well. As I descended, I saw a bunch of salp chains and siphonophore sections (at least, I think they were), but the seemed to be limited to a certain depth range, as they were gone well before the bottom. Vis was 20 to 30 or so, and reasonably surgy. Seemed like a fair midwater current was running, but nothing at the bottom. John and Jeff were nowhere to be seen, so I started looking for photo subjects. Guy's Rockfish Crack was curiously empty, with just a Kelp and a few Gophers. Not really anything exciting along the entire face of the seaward wall. Hopped up on top, and missed shots on a few Greenlings, then managed to find a reasonably cooperative ling, only to have it scared off by Jeff coming over the top. Got buzzed by a few young sealions, and later again by a large bull. Searched around for a Longfin Sculpin, but came up empty (saw several on about the first 6 dives on this site, and damn few since.) Headed up to try my luck at the salps, and was a little afraid they were gone when I hit 30 feet and they hadn't appeared. At 25 they did, mostly Cyclosalpa bakeri and a smattering of others. I was the first up, with John right behind, and Jeff surfacing a ways away. Once everyone was back on board and gearing down, I spotted a whale spout about a quarter mile away, and pointed it out to John. That one was followed by several others, seemingly a small pod of three or four whales. I pulled the hook while the other two arranged gear, and we headed over to the area, but never found the pod. I did spot another, though, a single grey, and we followed it for about 10 minutes or so, along with a couple of the commercial whale boats. About that time, Jeff radioed that he was done and was heading out to haul the crab pots (soaking since the night before), so we met up and headed out to the drop area. Pointed out Jeff's pots to him (he hadn't gotten the numbers), and went to pull mine. The first had 15 keepers, the second had 11 (actually, probably a few more, but we tossed the marginal ones.) Only two actually undersized, as I recall. Jeff's haul got his limit and made up the shortage of our third limit, so the days take was the 40 allowed. On the way back in, I saw what I thought was a pod of dolphins, but it turned out to be a gang of teenaged sealions dashing off to somewhere. Just off Breakwater, we found a pod of actual dolphins. A small pod, granted, but rounded out a good day anyway.
12-17: 2 dives: Steam Engine and Anchor 5, both solo
Jeff had one private open water student and a drysuit student (not concurrently), so I decided to head out to do a couple of dives alone. Had a bit of a delay when I discovered that all my strobe batteries had discharged (presumably from sitting in a cold truck for the last couple of weeks.) Luckily, my truck has an inverter, so 45 minutes or so later, I had a set ready to go.
First order of business was to drop the traps (Jeff had tried a deeper site last weekend and ended up with nothing) so I headed out to our normal 230 foot site, and bent a little east, running to 255 or so. As it turns out, Jeff thought that was the same area he had hit. Oh, well. The water out there was a royal blue, clear as I've ever seen it out there.
Came back in after setting the 4 pots (2 of mine, and 2 of Jeff's), and decided to see what kind of damage had been at the Steam Engine. Dropped anchor pretty much on the numbers (which used to be about 100' from the engine itself), and figured I'd search for the engine first, then see if the Fringehead-in-a-pipe was at home, assuming I had time to search for it.
Hopped in, and the first thing I noticed was that from the anchor line, about 5 feet in front of the boat, I could see the prop (meaning a bit better than 20 feet.) Hopeful. Dropping down the line, the water got noticeably hazier, but vis opened up to about a dark 30, maybe 35 feet. A really slow, slight surge kept suspended stuff moving around, but was barely discernible to me. Finding the Steam Engine was pretty simple, as the anchor was about 6 feet away from it. A long straight ridge of broken shale ran along the flat just below the Engine (drag damage?), and off in the distance, I could just make out the ledge the Engine used to sit next to. Engine found, I headed over to the ledge, and immediately found an octopus trying to look like a rock. Noticed a few pieces of broken rusted metal just off the shelf; wonder if came from the engine? Headed down the ledge, and quickly realized that I've forgotten the layout of the site, but still managed to find the pipe (not, I think, in its original location, either.) A fringehead is in residence, but this one has very small cirri, and is obviously a new one from the last time I was here (which isn't all that surprising, I guess. It's been a while.) Returned to the engine, and noticed a mass of fish eggs on top, but nothing else was around, so I have no idea what they were. Saw another interesting looking fish out hitting something as I was ascending the anchor line, but it had retreated into a small crack by the time I got back down. I suspect it was a small One-spot Fringehead (and a cursory look at the pics seems to confirm that.) Vis seemed to close down during the dive; aat the end, it was down to 20 to 25. Ran into a fairly noticeable yellowish layer at 35 feet on the way up, and dind't notice the decent vis at the surface. No jellies on the dive. 82 feet, 30 minutes, 52 degrees.
Long SI in the lot, then back out for dive 2 while Jeff watched Cali. Decided to do a quick dive at Shale Island, primarily because I had my sunglasses on, my regular glasses were in the truck, and the sun was doing a rapid dive for the hills of Monterey. Dropped on Anchor 5 as another boat was hooked up, well, somewhere on the island; they reboarded their boat as I geared up. Hazier on top on the descent, but a nice 25 to 30 at the bottom. Short version (as it's getting late): 3 octopus, 3 swell shark mermaids purses (all yolk only; no sharks visible inside), 2 fairly brave Kelp Greenling, no Yellowfin Fringeheads, one Bull Sculpin.
Back into the ramp, where Jeff was waiting with another pack of chicken to rebait the traps. Ran back out and pulled all 4, rebaiting each for an overnight soak. Though there were about 18 or so keepers, Jeff had left his fishing license in his truck, so we took 10, leaving the other keepers in the traps. Picked up the last trap just after dark, then made the run back in, and pulled the boat. Jeff headed home, while I checked in to a hotel. Dinner and the Sharks game at Monterey Cookhouse.
11-27: 1 dive: A repeat spot, a quarter of the way between Aumentos and
Ballbuster, which I have marked as the Drop. Jeff solo on Nitrox; Pam and myself
on Aurora with Cali along for the ride.
Normal arrival time (about 9:30); lots of trailer spaces left. Had to drop tanks off for fills, and kludge together a working reg, but eventually got everything set. A bit longer to get my crab pots set up, then changed into the drysuit and headed out to drop crab pots and find a spot for dive 1.
On the way out from the ramp, Jeff transmitted a radio check, but didn't respond to my response. Yelled to him, and it turned out he had fused his VHF at 3 amps when he reworked his electronics, and it blew a second or so after hitting the transmit button. He wanted to clear the harbor before replacing the fuse (with a more appropriate value) and as we got even with the end of the jetty, a humpback broke the surface about 100 yards out. Jeff drifted just off the end of the jetty while Pam and I went out to the footprint to watch for a second blow. It came, between Jeff and the tip of the jetty; about 20 yards from him. After that, it headed back out towards Point Pinos. We left the whale to the whale watch boat that was shadowing it, and headed out to deep water, where we dropped 2 pots per boat within about a quarter mile. then back it towards Cannery Row, with a brief high speed run for a CG call of someone in trouble off Lovers Point, which was canceled shortly thereafter. Pam got to choose the spot, and elected to show Jeff the spot we found a few weeks ago. We ended up doing a bit of circling after I noticed some pretty good relief nearby, but as near as I can tell, I was looking at the seaward side of Trevor's Pinnacle. So on to the Drop, and toss the hook.
Geared up and hopped in, and after telling Cali to be a good dog, headed down. Fairly chunky 10 foot vis at the surface, clearing to a fairly chunky 30 foot or so vis at the bottom. Checked the hook, which was set, but not in any kind of conventional manner. Still, it looked secure, so I decided to leave it alone. Lots of rockfish all wafting back and forth in the surge, mostly blues, but with some blacks and Kelps thrown in. Found a decent sized Kelp Greenling apparently guarding eggs, except that there weren't any eggs. Lots of urchins out and about, many camouflaging themselves with bits of kelp and shells. Not too many slugs, and certainly nothing unusual. Surge made it impossible to shoot anything sessile anyway. Found a pair of joined salps of some sort, so spent several minutes up off the bottom shooting that, then found out I had no idea where I was. Headed back along the anchor bearing, and eventually caught sight of Jeff's fins, then Pam's bubbles. Shortly after, spotted my anchor, and decided to check on the pup. Almost lost the line on the ascent due to a weird midwater current, but caught the drift just in time to keep the line in sight. Cali was fine (if a little pissed off.) 52 feet, 30 minutes, 54 degrees.
Headed back on to grab something to eat, and let Jeff check on Roxie (who was left in his truck with Cindy and Bill keeping an eye on her.) Lunch from the deli, a little chat with Chuck and Linda while they packed up (with Chuck bringing up the possibility of traffic due to the end of the holiday weekend), then Jeff and I sat around long enough to get really lazy, and run late enough to risk having to pick the traps up in the dark. So, we flaked on dive 2 and ran out retrieve the pots. I ended up with 6 keepers and Jeff had 4. We both had several undersized crabs that went back in.
10-23: 2 dives: Some random spot between Aumentos and shore, and Eric's
Pinnacle. Dive 1: Pam, Fofo, Steve, and myself; Dive 2: Fofo, Brad, and myself.
Woke up about 6am to get out of the hotel and ensure a parking space, but after taking Cali for a walk and seeing little action anywhere, decided to grab another half hour of rest. Jeff called at about 7, saying he had just gotten a call from Steve, and the lot was filling quickly. Got out of the hotel and deadheaded for the Breakwater lot, where I got (I think) the last trailer spot. The other two or three dozens boats were out of luck as far as the lower lot went (including Chuck and Michael Murphy, among a bunch of others.)
Jeff and Brad took off for an instructor-evaluated deep dive, while the rest of us dragged our feet (official excuse: waiting for Fofo.) In addition, Jeff was worried about his motor (looks like one of the steering tube bearings is gone), and wanted me to be available in case he needed a tow. So of course, I went to get breakfast. Jeff radioed a while later saying that Ballbuster was choppy, but pretty good (he said 40 feet, which is probably a little conservative), and that we needn't wait for them. So, with the silliness and stupidity on the boat ramp finally over, we headed out for, well, somewhere. Chuck radioed that the Deep Shale was pretty good as well, but I think we all wanted to get out closer to Pt. Pinos if we could. The run out was pretty uneventful, if a little rougher out past Lover's. I started to head for a big structure spot I know of between Aumentos and Chase, when Fofo noticed a nice 20 to 25 foot change on the fishfinder. Circled back to verify it, then got a unanimous Go to dive it. Dropped the hook about halfway down the slope, and we started gearing up. A large bull sea lion popped up about 25 feet away, and started shredding a mola, which got Pam wondering if that drew in sharks. The four of us got in and headed down, water was a little cloudy on top but cleared nicely at about 15 feet. The bottom ended up being a mostly boulder field, interspersed with huge granite blocks. The dropoff Fofo saw was (I think) the face of one of the blocks. Steve found what looked like a huge cabezon, but it was tucked well into a hole and all we could see was its face. Spent most of my time looking for odd/unusual stuff, and came up lacking. Visibility made up for it, though; you could make out rocks about 50 feet away. A slight surge made macro stuff hard to shoot, so I limited my shots to firmly anchored critters and long range fish shots. On one return to my anchor, I noticed the chain lying across the side of a Gopher Rockfish; it hadn't been there before, so I assume it wedged itself in there. I showed it to Pam, then later moved the chain; the rockfish very casually swam off. Came up a bit after Pam, finding Steve already up. 52 feet, 37 minutes, 52 degrees. Got out of my gear, and Steve mentioned a diver a ways out with a marker buoy (I knew that would be Fofo; Steve hadn't.) Fofo was swimming back from a long ways out, with his marker buoy at about a 30 degree angle. Then the excitement began.
Monterey Coast Guard issued a Pan Pan call about a diver in distress off Aumentos Rock (which is about where we were.) I immediately contacted them to see what triggered the call, thinking someone on shore had called because of the SMB. Turns out a diver off the beach at Coral Street had come up in the kelp (at least that's what Monterey Fire said) and started calling for help. Someone on shore dialed 911 and was transferred to the CG, but they couldn't return the call as it went straight to voicemail. The CG 25' SAFE boat and Monterey Fire arrived a few minutes later; by that time I had gotten in as far as I could without cutting kelp (which I'd do if needed), and was trying to make out what was happening via binoculars. I could make out divers in the water, and could see EMS (maybe a couple of units plus a fire truck) on the street, but not really much else. Headed back out to tell the CG what I could, and about that time MFD reported the victim was on the beach. So we decided to head back in, accompanied by MFD (who couldn't quite keep up.) The 25 boat, still on scene as we neared Lover's Point, managed to catch us before we rounded the Breakwater wall - that thing is fast.
In talking to other divers in the Breakwater lot, there was a second call for a victim at Breakwater, but I couldn't get a coherent story about that one.
Grabbed a bite to eat, and Steve and Pam both decided to call it a day, leaving Fofo and myself on my boat. Jeff and Brad were to be on Nitrox. Pam then reported that a group on the lawn had suffered a mass theft: Tanks, BC's, masks; everything was taken.
Heading out for dive 2, and at the last second, Tom decided to come along for a ride (he had come down with a pretty decent cold the night before.) Unfortunately, on our way to Chase Reef, Jeff's motor started acting up again. Transferred Brad and Tom to my boat to lighten the load, and followed him back in (with one brief stop to talk with Mike Murphy anchored up on the Barge.) Once Jeff was back at the dock we took off again, and changed plans to Eric's Pinnacle in order to show Brad a little structure (and I think Fofo said he's never been there either.) Unfortunately there was another boat hooked up there, so we puttered around looking for decent structure with a little depth, but by the time we decided to forego the depth part, the other divers were up. Waited for them to clear the site, and dropped the hook. Fairly hazy on top, lots of nettles shallow, then it opened up to about 50 foot vis below 20 feet. I spent most of the dive making sure that Brad didn't wander off, but kind of enjoyed just swimming around the rock. Fofo stayed really close to the anchor, I think. Don't recall seeing anything unusual, but it was a nice dive anyway. 62 feet, 44 minutes, 50 degrees.
Steve and Lori took off to swap the camper for their work truck and a load in Reno, and Jeff, Tom, and Brad headed back to meet Pam for a BBQ, so I chatted with Fofo for a while until he had to take off to pick up some plastic sheeting. Oh, and apparently hell has frozen over: Every fisherman who pulled their boat while we were talking pulled into a parking space to secure their boat, rather than parking in the traffic lanes. Homeward at about 6, and at home about 8:45 (stopped for a bite to eat in Gilroy.)
10-22: 2 dives: Somewhere off Pt Pinos with Jeff, Tom, and Brad on Nitrox, and
me and Steve on Aurora; Shale Island with the same group plus Fofo and Pam on my
Got out of the house about an hour earlier than usual, and arrived at Breakwater just after 8. Several trailer spots still open, but they filled up pretty quickly. Steve, Tom, Brad, and Jeff were there already, having driven down the night or day before. Fofo had texted saying some work he had to do was running late, so he'd join us for dive 2; Pam texted a bit later saying she had overslept and would also join for the second. Cali had a friend to stay with on shore (Steve's wife, Lori), so she didn't have to suffer the indignity of the dog flotation device or the misery of waiting for the divers to surface.
The rest of us did a leisurely gear-up, and headed out for the first dive. Originally we planned on hitting Outer Inner Chase, but it was calm enough around Pt Pinos that we ended up going around, and dropping on some random spot that Jeff chose. Swell after anchoring seemed to be a couple of feet, and the wind was pretty much out of the north. Tom and Brad were doing the instructor/ex-student thing, so Steve and I left them with Jeff and headed down. No current at the surface, and the water seemed a tad hazy (though I didn't really look at vis up top); As I started down the line, I spotted an egg-yolk jelly quite a ways below, but decided not to chase it. At the bottom, vis was a nice bright 40 to 50 feet, with either a highly variable current, or a really slow surge. The anchor was bundled up in chain and sitting in a little rock pocket, so I straightened it out and planted it in a small sand patch. Took a couple of quick shots of Steve, which he didn't seem to appreciate (turned and swam off), then started looking around. Nice terrain - boulders with mini pinnacles all over - but no fish. Checked up close on a small wall near the anchor, but didn't see anything particularly exciting. Swam around a bit, and out beyond the anchor I ran across a school of Yellowtail Rockfish, with a few Blues tossed in. As I tried to get one of the Yellowtails to sit still long enough to get a pic, the school became a larger group of Blues with just a few Yellowtails. Found a decently large Treefish in a crack, positioned perfectly so that any picture would look like crap (which didn't stop me from trying.) A few skittish Kelp Greenling were out and about, and one fish that I think was a Rock Greenling (no pic, so I can't be sure); pattern was similar but colored and patterned slightly different to the KG's I'm used to. Other than that, a large Crevice Kelpfish rounded out the interesting stuff. Headed up, and found myself flagpoled off the anchor line from about 40 feet to 20. Top and bottom were reasonably current-free. Steve was up already, and Jeff, Tom, and Brad were making their way back on the surface having come up well off the boats. Wind and swell had died while we were down, and the result was a glassy surface with just a touch of disorganized swell. 73 feet, 46 minutes, 50 degrees.
Pam was at the ramp on our return, and Fofo was on his way towards B/W. Fofo arrived during lunch, and we eventually got underway for Shale Island, except that a sailboat race was in progress over much of the deep shale, with over a dozen small catamarans running every which way. As we started out towards Cannery Row, it appeared the chase boats were collecting the turn marker buoys, so I motored over to ask if they were finished. They were, so we reversed course, and headed back to Shale Island. I dropped on the numbers, and Jeff dropped nearby (I thought.) Fofo tied off with virtually no scope, then let out a ton when I asked him to lengthen it. We ended up hanging about 210 feet from the numbers. Jeff, who had dropped about 100 feet off the numbers but along my line, ended up ahead (almost no scope.) Surface was dead calm; just a slight breeze, and not really any noticeable swell. Pam got in first, followed by Steve, in order to clear room for Fofo to get his doubles on; I hopped in once I was sure he was good to go. Surface water was really crappy; Steve couldn't see his fins. He and Pam headed down as I geared up, and I followed about a minute later. The cloudy stuff cleared at about 15 feet, and vis opened up to about 20 or so. I passed Pam waiting out her ear-clearing problems on the line, and followed the line down to the bottom, then back up again where it crossed onto the Island. Jeff's anchor was about 10 feet to the right of my line, which I assumed would end up on the other side of the Island. Jeff said our lines were tangled (he straightened things out after a couple of tries), but I didn't notice that. Found a really tiny octopus, and pointed it out to Fofo. I continued on to check my anchor, repositioning it slightly. Checked on the Yellowfin Fringehead on the promontory, then headed off towards the Rockfish Convention Center. Lots of Rockfish there this time, mostly Blues, Gophers, and Coppers, with a few Vermilion and Blacks. Another large Treefish sat under the ledge. Kelp Greenlings occasionally darted through the crowd. Looked for, but didn't find, the large Ling that used to hide there. Found another octopus, amazed that one of the hundred or so fish around hadn't snapped it up. Headed further around to the south, and came across Pam, Tom, and Brad at Jeff's anchor. Headed back to my anchor, and turned the other way, eventually getting to Anchor 5 before turning back for my anchor and my ascent. All told, I found 8 octopi, and a half-dozen Yellowfin Fringeheads. One Swell Shark egg case. No unusual slugs, other than a couple of masses of Onchidoris bilamellata. Surfaced to find everyone else up already. 60 feet, 55 minutes, 52 degrees.
We were planning to do a night dive on Shale Island (hence the recon dive for Brad and Tom's benefit), but that sort of fell apart when they decided to dive off the beach. Which worked out Ok, as it enabled a bit of beer drinking while listening to the Sharks game. Dinner at Black Bear with the whole group less Steve and Lori, who had decided to eat somewhere closer to B/W for an earlier bedtime.
9-18: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Deanna and Ray, then the Barge with Deanna
Planned on an early getaway to ensure a parking spot; didn't work as I set my alarm for Saturday morning rather than Sunday. Out of the house at the usual 7am; Breakwater lot at just after 9. Reports said there was a light parking load Saturday, but Len at the Deli said there were a few White Seabass landed, so Sunday was heavy again. There were only two trailer spots open on my arrival, but one of those was blocked by some bozo who had his trailer a couple of feet over the line (I got even by having the meter guy ticket the truck. Didn't look, but I hope it was for being an idiot.) A localized fog bank had most of Cannery Row socked in, so we screwed around for a while waiting for it to lift.
Jeff was teaching an OW student, so Deanna and Ray (who were due to try their Stress/Rescue class again) joined me for the first dive. Headed out towards Pt Pinos, but after dropping the hook on Outer Chase, we noticed that the boat was hanging at right angles to the wind, and the bubbles from the hull hitting the water were going upwind. A tag line dropped in the water held a decent angle (more current than I wanted to deal with given a single boat), so we pulled the hook and relocated. Ended up at Trevor's where, although the current was still present, albeit reduced, at least the boat hung pretty much straight downwind.
Listened in to a strange radio conversation, with some guy requesting a number or contact for someone to rescue a [garbled, but pretty sure he said Pelican.] The woman he was talking to asked for clarification: Pelican or Penguin? The guy went on talking about the bird's plight, but never clarified the species. The woman kept asking Pelican? Penguin? Eventually I lost interest in the two people making absolutely no effort at communicating, and decided to dive instead.
Deanna and Ray headed down first, while I spent a little time on the surface making sure the dog was going to stay on board. As I headed down the anchor line, vis was pretty snotty; 7 feet or so, and a sort of snotty soup. Cleared at about 25 feet, and at the bottom (70-odd feet deep) vis opened to about 40 or so. Saw the other two several times at a distance, but we never actually met up. Checked out the Rockfish Crack (lots of usual fish; nothing really interesting), then headed up on top of the reef. Then back down to the sand, over to the other side, where I spotted Deanna and Ray heading up the line. Poked around a bit more, then followed them up. Swell and wind had picked up quite a bit, and whitecaps were everywhere. Dog was still on board, though the waves had apparently been splashing her head a bit. 75 feet, 25 minutes, 52 degrees. Headed back in for Jeff's BBQ, with a brief stop to watch a sea lion savage a mola just off the Aquarium.
After lunch, Jeff ran Deanna and Ray through their S/R class, except Ray cramped up then panicked, giving Deanna a bit of hands-on rescue experience. After getting Ray and his gear back to the trucks, I talked Deanna into diving the Barge, which Patrick had reported as "really good".
Ran out and anchored, and started getting gear in the water, but stopped to listen to a Coast Guard radio call reporting a capsized sailboat with 3 people in the water somewhere off Sand City. Looked along the beach with binoculars, but couldn't see any sign of the boat. About then, the CG 47 MLB and Monterey Fire were underway, and Fire reported the people were out of the water, so we went for the dive. Murky layer to about 25' then it opened up to something over 20 feet, perhaps as much as 30. Almost immediately, spotted a Kelp Rockfish with the head of a tubesnout sticking out of its mouth. Patrick had reported a large ling, a large cabezon, and a wolf eel. I found the ling and 2 wolf eels (one hiding, one returning from somewhere out over the sand), but no cab. Deanna spent most of the dive trying to keep distance between us, afraid of silting up my shots. She really didn't have to worry, as I was doing pretty well at that myself. Ran across a nice cooperative Brown Rockfish, then headed out over the sand to see if I could find anything interesting. Saw several tube anemones draped with Dendronotus iris eggs, but couldn't find a slug. Finally spotted one heading towards a couple of tube anemones that had a small Vermilion Rockfish parked between them. Got a couple of shots off before the slug hit the fish, which sent it bolting off. I decided to watch the slug, as it appeared to be heading for its dinner. Took about 3 or 4 minutes for the slug to climb the tube, and I framed the shot and ready to catch the attack. Tricky little sucker instead went for the tentacles of the other anemone, and in an instant it was dragged from its perch and drawn into the tube. Decided not to wait for the slug to reemerge, so headed back up the line. 65 feet, 37 minutes, 52 degrees. Fire and CG were gone from the sunken sailboat scene, but a Securite' message later said the sailboat was still on the bottom in shallow water.
All in all, a very nice day of diving (though Ray would probably disagree.)
8-27: One scuba dive on Colby Reef, Mendocino County, with several other divers, all looking for fish to spear. Bottom line: No fish, fair vis (about 15 feet), 50 degrees, 105 feet, 25 minutes. Could have taken a Copper and a China, but they looked too comfortable to shoot. Got lost. Twice, actually. The first time put me on Jeff's anchor line, then, once I lost that, managed to stumble across my anchor line. On the 3-day trip, a total of 15 minutes freediving yielded 2 limits of abs.
8-21: 2 dives: Some random spot off Pt Pinos with myself and Deanna (and Cali
playing the part of anxious dog) on Aurora and Jeff and Ray (sort of) on Nitrox;
Mola Mountain with the same group, plus Roxie on Jeff's boat, except that only
Jeff and I got in the water.
Planned to leave at about 3 to make sure I got a parking spot (Jeff had gone down the night before), but didn't make it out of the house until about 6. Saw about 6 CHP either actively pulling cars over or citing and another couple shooting radar (or laser or whatever they're using now); apparently the Hayward CHP were on a mission. On arrival at Breakwater, all the spots in the lower lot were full, but noticed a guy working on gear at a motor home with a Mini taking up a double spot (who Jeff said had arrived the night before.) I asked if he knew who the Mini belonged to and he said he was just moving it. So, I claimed the spot.
Killed time mostly talking with Jeff while Roxie and Cali played (for about ten minutes, then they both went to sleep.) Met Jane (CallmeJane on BA_Diving), who was parked in the single space on the end, but was just leaving. Deanna and Ray arrived about 45 minutes later.
Geared up and dressed, splashed the boats, and headed out with no idea on sites, but decided to check out near the Point since swell was forecast to be down. And it was, maybe a foot or so on the rocks directly in front of the Pt. Pinos Lighthouse. Jeff picked his way into the sparse kelp field, and dropped his hook. I offset a bit, and dropped my anchor next to a spot that showed about 30 foot relief. Deanna got her gear ready, as did Jeff; Ray had a problem with a freeflowing reg. He dealt with it (with a little assistance from my toolkit), but it took another half hour or so. It was 11:30, as I recall, before we hit the water. Deanna went to partner up with Ray, so I was diving solo. Vis was nice: about 40, maybe 45 feet, nice and bright. Limiting factor was a haziness. slight current that seemed to sort of circle around; barely noticeable, except it kept making me drift in weird directions. Lots of rockfish (including a single large Treefish and a large school of second or third year blue rockfish.) Not really anything else of interest that I can recall. Saw Jeff and Deanna about 15 minutes into the dive; Jeff told me that Ray was topside already. Shortly after, I started getting a little anxious about what Cali was doing, so headed up. On hitting the surface, I couldn't see her, but as I get to the boat, her nose peeked over the tube. Deanna and Jeff had beat me to the surface, but not by much. Ray apparently had an anxiety attack of some sort, and ended his dive about 25 feet down the anchor line. Deanna came up Jeff's line, swam back over to mine, and reboarded. As she was gearing down she found something on her glove, and asked me what it was. Skeleton Shrimp. She jokingly showed it to Cali, who promptly licked it off her glove and ate it. My dive was 68 feet, 27 minutes, 50 degrees.
Lunch from the deli, until Jeff got antsy about getting going (he wanted to dive Hopkins Deep), and we managed to talk both Ray (still anxious), and Deanna (ear problem) to go along as surface support. As I rounded the end of the Breakwater Wall, I saw a small (10 foot or so) RIB with a small outboard being rowed in by a guy while his wife sat in the back. Swung by to see if they wanted a tow in, but they declined. Jeff saw me take off and radioed me, but didn't believe they didn't want help, so he went to check as well. And was on his way a few seconds later.
Dropped the hook on the numbers, and Jeff dropped a little ways away. I headed down a bit after him, caught him at the bottom, then lost him while I reset my hook. Saw very little on the dive, except for small barnacles. A couple of Spanish Shawls, and a Kelp Greenling, a few assorted rockfish, and that was about it. Not for lack of effort looking, though. The metridiums were having a feast on Egg Yolk Jellies, though; I think more were feeding on them than were not. Found a nice, clean, and surprisingly empty Moon Snail shell turned upside down on the sand, but it turned out to be occupied by a tiny hermit crab, so it went back. Managed to get lost twice in the 10 to 15 foot vis but managed to find the anchor again both times.Decided to not try that a third time, and headed up. Left the line on the stop to shoot some Egg Yolks, but managed to find it again. Pretty decent offshore current had come up during the dive, but nothing unmanageable. 85 feet, 35 minutes, 50 degrees.
7-2: 1 dive: Somewhere near Pinnacle of Doom, with myself and Ray on Aurora, and
Jeff a little further up on his boat.
Arrived a little early due to a fear of no parking, which apparently was justified: about 4 trailer spots open on arrival, two about 20 minutes later when Jeff arrived. Reports didn't sound too hopeful; 5 feet at Breakwater, but someone reported about 20 feet below 70 closer to the point. Since the nice sunny warm day hadn't materialized (foggy and cold), I decided to leave my dog in the truck.
Got everything ready to go and splashed the boats, then headed out, hitting a nasty 2 to 3 foot wind wave/swell combination as soon as we cleared the wall. Had the boat airborne 3 or 4 times in the first 30 seconds. Throttled back a bit and ran up along Cannery Row, swell increasing the further we got. Decided, since Ray hadn't been in the water for a while, to avoid the bigger stuff, and ducked in just past Lover's Point. Sitting on the hook, swell was a fairly manageable foot and half or so. Anchor line disappeared where it hit the water.
Hopped in and headed down, watching the line bounce around in the surge. Ray and I hit the bottom about the same time, but I lost track of him as I was checking my anchor placement. headed southeast into the boulders to see what I could find, bottom line can be stated as: not much. Took ten minutes to find a fish other than a Painted Greenling; total fish on the dive was less than a couple of dozen: a Kelp Greenling, a couple of Sculpins, a Kelp Rockfish ("Whatcha Doing?") and the remainder small blue rockfish who I guess figured I'd be good protection and spent most of the dive just alongside. Only one or two slugs, and surge made it impossible to shoot macro stuff. At one point, as I was framing a crab, it disappeared as I was swept off, and I figure I ended up about 10 feet away. I came right back, but then couldn't find the crab again. Vis was about 5 to 10 depending on where you were and how badly the surge picked stuff up and threw it into the water column. Temp throughout the first half of the dive was reasonable (though I didn't look); about 30 minutes in it seemed to noticeably drop, to 50 degrees.
Got tired of dealing with the surge, and headed up, finding that Jeff had called his dive after 8 minutes due to water ingress through his neck seal, and Ray had called his dive at about 25 minutes due to cold. My dive ended up at 50 minutes, to 42 feet.
Headed back in to the ramp where Ray bought sandwiches, and we ate and watched all the fishermen pulling their boats and blocking the ramp getting ready to trailer. At one point, there were 5 trailers parked at the top of the ramp: 4 getting ready for the road, and one waiting for an opening to back onto the ramp. Before it cleared out, two more trailers lined up to pull their boats. I still can't figure out why they can't pull back into the trailer parking spot they just left.
Dionna came by and reported 5 foot vis at Kawika's Garden, which, along with Jeff's flooded drysuit, Ray's insufficient wetsuit, and a recurring leak onto the deck of my boat, pretty much iced bailing on dive 2. Probably better anyway, as my back was starting to ache a bit.
5-28: 2 dives: Shale Island (Torie, Lacey, Trevor and myself on Aurora with
Brenna providing surface ; Jeff and Steve on Jeff's boat Nitrox); Hopkins Deep
(Trevor and me on Aurora, Brenna again up top; Jeff and Steve on Nitrox; Rob and
Deanna on Rob's inflatable with Evan tending a new tattoo on the surface)
Was planning to head down Saturday morning like usual, but got a call at about 11pm Friday night from Jeff who said that parking was filling up with motor homes. Headed down at about 1am, arriving at B/W a bit after 3 after running the gauntlet of CHP and local Police who were lining the highway. Must have seen 3 dozen LE vehicles, most with people pulled over. Let the dog out to romp around on the beach for a bit then retired to the truck for what turned out to be a brief nap.
Woke up at about 6:30 to the sound of Jeff and Steve talking. Steve and Lori supplied coffee, and my divers started arriving at about 9. Once everyone was there and loaded up, Jeff and I launched to drop crab pots and return for dive 1, while Rob, Deanna, and Evan continued prepping their boat. Their plan was to tail us and drop pots in the same area, then dive roughly the same spot (they didn't have sites marked in their GPS, though I didn't find that out til later.) Cali and Roxy were staying with Steve's wife on shore. Jeff took off a bit early, and I was trailing by about 5 minutes, when, just as we were ready to untie from the dock, Brenna came running down. She left to park her car (upper lot, I think), and about 5 minutes after that, we were underway. Ran out the 4 miles or so, met Jeff at the crabbing site, and got the pots in the water. Headed back in to dive Shale Island, as I had 1 new diver (about a dozen dives, but only the OW dives in cold water), and 2 who hadn't been in in about a year.
Dropped the hook about 25 feet off the numbers, and started getting everyone geared up and in the water. Top water looked pretty bad: couldn't see the anchor line from 5 feet away. Started down, and was wondering how much crap I'd take for choosing a site with near-zero vis. Trevor was taking his time descending, so Torie and Lacey were at teh bottom and exploring by the time we got there. Vis cleared about 10 feet off the bottom, to a hazy but acceptable 20 to 25 feet that seemed to come and go. The anchor had ended up on top of the shale, northeast of the promontory with the Yellowfin Fringehead. It seemed pretty well hooked up, so after undoing a knot in the chain, I let it sit there. Pretty much poked around near the anchor for most of the dive, riding herd on the other divers; I seemed to keep running into Jeff, who was just about everyplace I was, but going in the opposite direction. Never saw Steve during the dive. Torie and Lacey succumbed to cold after about 20 minutes or so, and headed up. Had Trevor follow me to the Rockfish Convention Center, where there were a good number of Blacks, Blues, Coppers and Gophers, a Treefish, and a couple of Kelp Greenling. Didn't have much time there due to Trevor getting cold, so returned to the anchor before I could check under the ledges and see if the Ling was still there. Slugwise, nothing unusual: A few Peltodoris, a ton of Diaulula, Cadlina luteomarginata, and Doriopsilla, a single Limacia cockerelli, and a couple of small Cadlina flavomaculata (has anyone else noticed that C. flavomaculata are never in a good position for a picture? They excel at non-posing.) Trevor headed up shortly after our return to the anchor, so I poked around a bit trying to find some Ochidoris bilamellata for Brenna, but there weren't any to be found as far as I could tell. Headed up about the time my hands started to ache. 58 feet, 37 minutes, 48 degrees. No jellies, as far as I remember. Torie and Lacey decided to bail on dive 2 due to cold.
Rob and crew arrived just as we were geting ready to leave; another boat that had been loitering around pulled up and dropped the hook, but weren't on the Island per se. I was going to put Rob on the site, cleared it with the anchored boat (thanks, ladies), but Rob decided to head in and join us for dive 2 instead.
SI back at the ramp, with a bunch of chatting between old friends. Sun was out, and it was actually very pleasant, sunny and reasonably warm. Wind had picked up during the SI, but the seas, while choppy, didn't look all that horrible. Headed out for dive 2, which, by consensus, became Hopkins Deep.
Was getting ready to drop the hook, when Jeff radioed asking where we were diving ("Isn't Hopkins back here?") I told him that since he was pretty much short of the Aquarium, well... His reply: "I hate it when you're right," after which he pulled up and joined me. Rob anchored a hundred yards seaward. Trevor was a little tentative about heading in, as he was tired and feeling a little off - not sick, but not quite right - I got him in by telling him he could head up whenever he felt like it. We got in the water and headed down, again a slow descent because of his equalization problems. Near the bottom, I dropped off the line to shoot a Scrippsia pacifica that appeared about 15 feet off. Once down, Trevor seemed OK, so we poked around close to the anchor, where ther was apparently a convention for hermit crabs in Coopers Nutmeg shells. Must have been 50 or so in and around the area where the anchor was. Vis was about 20ish, and dark. Continued poking around the anchor for about 6 or 7 minutes, when Trevor signalled he was heading up. I waved goodbye and started concentrating on finding stuff between the Metridiums on the high points of the rocks. 5 minutes later, another diver appeared, and it took me a second to realize it was Trevor. We poked around a bit more, and a couple of minutes later, he waved goodbye and headed back to the anchor line. And returned about a minute later. Third time's a charm, and he actually headed up after about 25 minutes (visually confirmed this time.) I continued poking around but never found anything that I thought was all that interesting so followed Trev up the line by a few minutes. Spent the safety stop checking out a bunch of little gelatinous critters that I had no chance of shooting. Hit the surface at the 30 minute mark, showing a max depth of 92 feet, and a temp of 50 degrees.
Rob and Jeff had pulled their hooks by the time I got my gear stowed; Rob transferred Deanna and one set of gear to my boat to make room on deck and took off for the pots, while Jeff hung around for a bit. We pulled our hook, and trailed Jeff by a bit on the way to the floats, until a bump over a larger swell caused my BC to start inflating. Idled down while Trevor rearranged the rigs, then took off again, arriving about the time Jeff had his first pot up. Jeff radioed Rob, getting a "We're fine" message back. Found my first pot and Trevor pulled it up; disappointing catch with 6 crab for 2 legals. A large shapeless blob of jelly was inside the bait box, which I assumed was a nettle, but Brenna ID'd as a Pleurobranch. Checked it out for a bit then returned it to the water, just after which Brenna realized she should have gotten a few pictures of it. Oh, well. Had a bit of a search for the second set of floats, and found them about the time Jeff had picked up his second pot (he had a total of 8 keepers.) Trevor handed the time over to me when he got tired, so I finished pulling while listening to Steve catcalling from Jeff's boat. A little better this time; about 8 crabs, 4 more legal sized, for a total of 6. And, another pleurobranch, which allowed Brenna to get to get her pics. Apparently, those guys really like chicken. Headed back in, realizing we had never seen Rob and Evan (though their pots should have been pretty close to ours.) Jeff checked back at the ramp (still out), so I took a close look to see if I could find them. Spotted a boat underway beyond the Mile Buoy,, but it was heading the wrong direction. Repeated attempts to reach them via VHF failed, so we headed a bit further out, and stopped to do a close visual search. No joy on that or another radio try. Headed back out to where we had dropped the pots, and were doing a downwind return in case they had lost their motor, and got a reply on a late VHF contact. They were back at the ramp, having arrived a minute or so after we left. So, back to the ramp to pull the boat, unload gear, and get ready for the trip home. Trevor took a couple of crabs, and everyone else passed (from my catch anyway; not sure how Jeff disbursed his.) Out of the lot about 7pm.
5-21: 2 dives: Aumentos, and a new site we're thinking about naming Guy's
Pinnacle. Just Fofo on the first dive, Guy and Fofo on the second.
Headed down to get a couple of dives in, assuming I'd be diving solo (Jeff was down for a class.) Called Fofo on the way, and arranged to meet him there. On arrival, Larry, Carol and Royston were geared up and ready to go, and Fofo and Guy were waiting for me. Carol and group took off to dive somewhere; Guy agreed to watch my dog on the surface for the first dive; Jeff arrived, a bit early to drop crab pots and eventually we got everyone ready to go.
Headed out following Jeff in order to drop my pots, swell 3.5 miles out was noticeable - about 3 or 4 foot steep swell, with occasional whitecaps. Dropped the pots, and Jeff took off to meet his student while the rest of us headed out for dive 1. Decided on Aumentos due to probable heavy swell closer to Point Pinos, and the fact that Fofo hadn't been there before. Dropped the hook well off the wall to keep the line from dragging on the rock, scoped out, and waited to see where we ended up.
Despite a fairly stiff wind blowing along the shore back towards Breakwater, we ended up hanging with the nose of the boat pointing towards Moss Landing. Adjusted scope to see if I could get the boat hang on the end of the line, but it just swapped direction. Odd, as there wasn't any evidence of a lot of current. Geared up and hopped in, and found the current that there was was quite manageable. Said goodbye to Cali, then I headed down the line with Fofo following. Surface water seemed pretty clear; no jellies. Spotted the sand at the bottom from about 20 feet, which meant vertical vis was at least 40 feet. Once at the bottom, the wall was nowhere in sight. Moved the anchor towards the wall, and set it when it came into view. By that time, fofo had taken off, so I headed over to see what was around. Almost immediately, I spotted what I think was a 4" sixspot prickleback out over the sand. I tried for about 10 minutes to get a decent shot of it, but it wouldn't allow me to get a head-on shot. Just as I gave up, a Lingcod came swooping it to make a grab at it (missed.) The Prickleback retreated into some cracks in the base of the wall, so I took off to see what else was around. Bottom vis was 25 to 35, seriously hazy, a lot of stirred up sand and kelp and surfgrass near the bottom; just surgy enough to make shooting macro difficult. Spent most of the dive on the NE wall, but didn't find a whole lot interesting. Working my way back to the anchor, found a couple of male Kelp Greenling, one a beautiful golden color, but I don't think I got a decent shot of either of them. Saw Fofo briefly, as he returned from somewhere out over the sand, then decided to call it and see how the dog was handling my absence. Heading back up the line, the nettles had returned zipping by in the stiffening current. Spent the safety stop flag-poled on the line (though it was still swimmable), mostly dodging nettles. Saw quite a few with hitchhiking crustaceans in the veils, but they were moving too quick to get any shots. 61 feet, 44 minutes, 50 degrees. Fofo came up a couple of minutes later. Dog did OK at least, though she apparently doesn't really like being out in the rocking boat.
SI back at the lot, where Jeff had already finished up with his class. Mike Guerrero showed up and agreed to watch Cali during dive 2, and help with pulling crab pots. Guy wanted to check out a potential third Amtrack a little ways away from the Mating Amtracks (found poring over the bathymetry data from somewhere), so once everything was settled, we headed out, Fofo, Guy and Mike on my boat, and Jeff on his boat along to keep us company. Swell and wind had built a bit, and we anchored on Guy's numbers in 3 foot swell with a bunch of wind chop. Guy and Fofo headed down, and I followed a minute later. At the bottom, vis was about 25 feet, fairly dark, and very hazy. The Amtrack turned out to be a couple of low rocks just poking up out of the sand. We later agreed to call it Guy's Pinnacle. I headed off in some random direction, chasing down what appeared to be a dark shadow that might have been another rock line, but it ended up being a phantom. On my way back to the rock, I saw Fofo and Guy reeling their way off somewhere and I sort of decided to head back up, but decided to follow their line (assuming they were heding for the Mating Amtracks.) Caught up with them as Guy was tying off his line. Did a couple of quick laps around the tracks, then headed back to the anchor, and back up the line. 81 feet, 26 minutes, 50 degrees. Guy and Fofo came up a few minutes later.
Transferred Fofo to Jeff's boat to help him pull his pots (they took off early), pulled the hook, and made the run out to the floats. Swell was running 4 to about 6 feet, and occasionally breaking. Jeff (well, Fofo, actually) was pulling his first pot, so I headed to my first one. Mike pulled while I kept the bow into the swell, and the first pot came up with about 10 or 11 crabs, 6 legal. Jeff had moved onto his second pot. While measuring and sorting, we got hit by breaking wave that dumped about 30 gallons of water onto the deck (Cali, who was uncomfortable up to that point, got drenched, which really made her miserable.) Jeff called asking if we were OK, but as I was up front, I couldn't answer, which I think scared him a bit (Guy was at the helm, but didn't hear the radio, and couldn't hear me telling him to reply.) Took a timeout from sorting, responded to Jeff, and had Guy take the helm and keep the boat into the swell. Finished up with the first pot, and Jeff called saying his batteries (plural) were dead. Made the run over there, and tried to see if we could get that sorted out. His trim and electronics worked, but the batteries didn't have enough to crank the motor. Wasn't looking forward to a run back in and out for cables, so after a bit of consideration, I decided to pull and transfer one of my batteries. All the salt water made getting the battery loose a bit of a challenge (getting shocked every time I touched the positive terminal), but I got it loose and got my wiring reconnected, and passed the battery over to Jeff. While he was getting it installed we ran out to my second pot and pulled that, yielding another 6 or so legals. Tossed the excess, and got back to Jeff and Fofo just after they had restarted. The run back in was pretty slow, running across the swell, following at about 30 degrees. Pretty much without incident, though, and we got back to the ramp without further incident. Mike took 3 crabs, Guy passed, Fofo got a couple from Jeff, and Kathy (who happened by) also got a few.
Jeff (who was doing the commute thing for the weekend) and I passed on dinner, and headed back up to the Bay Area while everyone else stayed.
One dive: Shale Island, sort-of with Jeff.
Made it to Monterey for my first day of diving in about 6 weeks; been dealing with my Mom's unexpected passing.
Plan was to join Jeff and Pam for a dive or two after dropping crab trabs out along the 250 or so foot contour (which is about 3 miles northish from Breakwater.) Pam's Dad was coming down to supervise or learn or maybe just kill time (interesting guy: 81 years old, trying to heal up some cracked ribs sustained when a snowboarder ran into him while skiing; wanted to heal quickly because he was going rafting on the Colorado River in a month, plus he was missing chances to get out windsurfing.)
Plan changed almost straight off when Pam decided to work on her drysuit skills off the beach. She and her Dad (Ray) played babysitter with Jeff's dog and mine while Jeff and I headed out to drop the pots, and hit Shale Island on the way back.
Chuck and Linda were hooked up at some location and already underwater, so I opted to drop on Anchor 5, which put us (I thought) far enough away to not be dropping anchor on anybody. Geared up and headed down (nettles were there, but not exactly thick); at the bottom, on a whim, I decided to check under a couple of large flat pieces of shale just off my anchor line. Found a Gunnel under both of them, but wasn't able to get a shot of either of them. Checked another half-dozen rocks, but came up empty, aside from brittle stars, a juvie rockfish or two, and other assorted slimy stuff. Vis was oh, 15 to 20 depending on where I was, and I don't recall any surge. Checked in a Fringehead #2 (well, for Chuck, I guess it would be #5 or so); Still where it used to be around the corner from #1. Couldn't find the little guy who was in a hole nearby. I did a rather cooperative red octopus up on top of the shale, it was sporting a rather striking goldish color; hope the shots come out. Checked up top, but didn't find any unusual slugs. I was feeling a little cold, but chalked it up to not being used to it. Then I looked at the temp: 50F. That would explain it. Despite a lot of poking around, about the only other interesting thing I found was a toothshell hermit crab perched on top of a conical orange sponge. 54 feet, 42 minutes, 50 degrees.
Jeff BBQ'ed while Pam did her dive, then we headed out to collect the traps. Rocking and rolling where we had dropped them; 4 to 5 foot steep sided swell, almost-but-not-quite breaking.
Pulling the traps after a, what, 4 or 5 hour soak yielded limits for both Jeff and me, plus a couple of legal returns. Lots of shorts.
3-13: 2 dives: Trevors Pinnacle area (sort of) with Larry, Carol and Royston on
XTSea, Jeff alone on Nitrox, and me, Deanna, Elliot, and Bob on Aurora; and
Anchors 2&3 with Larry and Carol on XTSea, and me and Bob on Aurora.
After constant reminding, Jeff missed the time change, so his planned 8am start was more like 8:45 (to be fair, his phone read an hour behind until about 5pm, when it chimed and performed the DST change, 15 hours late.)
Headed out for Ballbuster, only to find one of the commercial boats already hooked up there. Alternate became Trevors. I let Carol drop on the numbers, and put my hook about 65 feet away. Jeff dropped in some random spot, and I adjusted my scope to give his student a shorter swim over to Jeff's boat. Don't know how Jeff and Elliot's dive went, but the rest were pretty screwed up: Both Carol and Royston had equipment problems and didn't get in long enough to count as a dive (I assume Larry bailed as well); Bob stressed out trying to get down and burned through his air pretty quick, forcing Deanna to surface earlier than she wanted; I set my compass to the direction the anchor line was running, and never looked at it again, ending the dive with no idea where I was. General details of my dive: Top water about 7 foot vis, near the bottom was 20 to 25, at the bottom variable 5 to 20 depending on how much sand was being kicked up by the surge, which ran anywhere from a few feet to as much as 15 or so. Saw lots of Kelp Greenlings, but that was about it. I was rigged for macro, and it was way too surgy to get close enough or steady enough to shoot anything. Headed up early (since I didn't have to waste time looking for the anchor, I guess), and hit the surface way out in front of the boat. 65 feet, 30 minutes, 52 degrees.
Headed back in, and got lunch at the deli. After lunch, I ran out to drop Elliot and Deanna on the Metridium Fields for a swim back in, then came back in to pick up Bob. Larry, Carol, and Bob and I headed out to dive the deep shale, and Carol selected Anchors 2 & 3. Dropped hooks, and headed in. Bob had a little trouble getting off the surface (later attributed to a change to a thicker undergarment), but eventually we all made it down. I spent most of the time on the shale (rather than the anchors and chain or the block), but didn't see a whole lot that was unusual. The Onchidoris are making a strong showing, though, so maybe the barnacle siege will be beaten back a bit. All the usual slugs and bottom fish. Found a small octopus, and a single Acanthodoris lutea. Aside from a ton of Blue Rockfish, not a whole lot of finny guys. 81 feet, 30 minutes, 50 degrees.
Jeff radioed, and said he wanted to pick up the traps while his newly certified divers were diving with spouses. He ran out to meet us on the shale, and as soon as Larry and Carol hit the surface, we headed out to retrieve the traps. Jeff had Deanna and Even on board, and I had Bob. The 4 traps yielded a total of 24 or 25 keeper Dungies, and one or two rock crabs.
3-12: 1 dive: Steam Engine, solo
Jeff was supposed to have a mixed class (or 2 classes, if you prefer) on Saturday: AOW for a couple of students and OW for 3. A night dive was planned for Sat nt, which I planned to horn in on. On Sunday he was supposed to finish up the OW students, finish up one of the AOW students, and run a Stress and Rescue class with 2. I was planning on running the students around if needed, and diving if I wasn't. Guy had originally planned to join me for both days, and Bob was supposed to come down for Sunday. Ray was one of the S/R students and was going to join my group of diving when his class was idle. Best laid plans and all that...
Guy called, and said some kind of business was keeping him in the East Bay for the weekend. Ray had dogsitting problems, and was bailing on the weekend. So, after a bunch of waiting, I collected Jeff's 2 crab pots, and headed out to drop the 4 pots and do a dive.
After running out to the 250 line and tossed the pots, I decided to keep it simple and short so hit the Steam Engine. Headed down through 5 foot vis which lasted to about 35 feet. Below that, it opened up a bit, to about 20 to 25 feet at the bottom. I didn't recognize where the anchor had landed at first, but eventually found it wasn't too far off the normal area, just out of visibility of any distinguishing landmarks. Took a look around the shelf and the Steam Engine, not really finding anything of interest. Worked back along the top, ditto. Headed over to see if the Fringehead in the Pipe was home; it appears to be a different specimen than the last time it was different specimen, just a few months ago (at least, I think it was.) Poked around in the rubble for a bit, and found what looked like a youngish Wolf Eel, but it was tucked back in hole and really didn't want to be photographed. Eventually decided it was going to be one of those dives and headed back to the surface. 80 feet, 34 minutes, 50 degrees.
Had a hotdog for lunch, and spent a while chatting with one of the OW students, who I knew from a prior abablone trip. By the time I figured out that the AOW students would be going off the beach, and got up the ambition to head out (during which the students did their dives), the timing was getting dicey for getting the dive in and making it to the restaurant to watch the Sharks's game. So, I bailed on the dive, and Jeff, Evan and I headed out on my boat to pull a trap or two and try and get a snack for those still in the lot. The first trap we pulled yielded 5 Dungeness and a Rock crab (along with 2 or 3 under-limit Dungies.) Rebaited and redropped the pot, and ran back in to the dock. Lenny at the Deli boiled the crabs up for us, and we gave him a couple. The rest was devoured in short order by me, Jeff and the remaining three students (with a little help from Bob, who showed up half a day early.) And, that was that for Saturday.
Apparently, somone got washed into the water from the rocks near (as close as I could see) Pt. Pinos. Missed the radio calls, but saw the CG 41' boat and the MFD boat head out in a hurry. They appeared to be in the area between Coral and Pt Pinos, and I caught a radio call saying the victim was on a stretcher and being transported to the hospital (though I'm not sure how - no helo that I saw, and I can't see how a boat could transfer a victim to shore in the surf that was there. Might have been picked up from shore.) No other info.
2-21, Presidents Day: 2 dives: Mount Chetron (I think) with Larry, Carol, and
Royston on XTSea, and Fofo, Bob and me on Aurora; then the Barge with just me,
Fofo, and Bob
Arrived at 8 to an empty lot. 3 or 4 cars parked midway along the wall, and one motor home was it. And, as I should have been suspecting, 2 fishing boats just out of the water, being prepped for trailering, parked in the center aisle, blocking most of the trailer spots. I really don't get it.
Jeff was supposed to be down early, but had a bit of trouble with a blown trailer tire, so The rest of use decided to go ahead and dive. Larry and Carol had driven back down after dropping off the dogs and Matt, and had Royston joining them. I had Bob (from yesterday), and Fofo.
Headed out to dive somewhere; I didn't want to go too far since Jeff wasn't too far out, and was planning to join us for the dives (or dive, since he was late.) Decided on Mt. Chetron, and Carol led the way, as I had no idea where this site was. As it turns out, it's really close to two sites I already had marked: Square Hole, which I got from Furbie; and God's Fingers, which I had named after a granite formation that looked like the second knuckles of an upturned fist.
After a quick briefing for Bob (along with a warning to watch his depth and time) we got everyone in, and headed down. Topwater vis was pretty good, 25 to 30 feet at a guess, with a few nettles. Towards the bottom, it was a hazy 30 to 40 or so. The surge was quite manageable, and rather intermittent, only showing up on the larger sets of swell. Moved my anchor from a crack in a rock to the sand, and started looking for stuff on the rock which had engulfed my anchor. Not a lot there, so I headed over to the next rock, then the next. Then just started rock hopping in a sort of circular pattern, eventually working my way back to the hook. Somewhere along the way, I saw Carol's anchor and chain piled on a flat piece of granite. Saw Larry and Carol a couple of times, and Fofo a few times, but I don't recall seeing Bob or Royston. Found a lone Acanthodoris lutea, and was rigged right for images, for a change. A while later, I saw a strange looking slug on a rock, but I think it was just a Geitodoris heathi with fuzzy stuff stuck to it. Saw Fofo looking at a couple-foot long piece of a salp chain, so wandered over to take a couple of shots. Carol said she found a piece about 15 feet long. I headed up with about 7 minutes bottom time remaining, and spent the safety stop shooting nettles (thin enough to be relatively easy to dodge, unless you were chasing them like I was.) Bob was up already, and was working on his computer (Atom 2) which had locked him out. I know he hadn't hit deco, as we were both on air, and he was up at least 5, probably closer to 10 minutes before me (and there wasn't enough relief to get that much of an absorbed nitrogen difference.) We never figured that out; he'll have to look at the log of the dive after the thing releases (Wonder why they decided to lock out the log for a deco violation?) My dive ended up being 80 feet, 35 minutes, 52 degrees.
Once everyone was up, we were going to run back in to meet Jeff (he had radioed just after I got in, but he didn't know I heard that call), but it turns out he had already splashed, and had run out to drop his crab pots. Since mine were back in the truck, we all ran back in, offloaded most people, then Jeff and I headed out to drop my pots, with Bob along for the ride. Then back to the parking lot for lunch. Lunch turned out to be fairly long, and then we had to figure out what to do with Bob. Pulling the battery didn't do a thing, so we rigged him up with a different computer.
Underway, Carol wanted to dive Outer Chase, so we headed out towards Point Pinos. About even with Lover's, water started pooling on the deck, and I immediately knew that the sealing strip between the tube and the hull had failed again. I dropped the drain trunks, and kept on, but high speed had enough water coming in to overwhelm the drainage. I aborted, and headed back towards the ramp, while Larry, Carol, Royston, Jeff, and Pam kept on for Outer Chase.
As we headed in, I suggested that Fofo and Bob drop on the Barge, and swim back in while I got the boat out of the water. They agreed, and rather than hot drop them, I dropped the hook. Sitting there while they geared up, I decided that not enough water would come in to really hurt anything, so I decided to make the dive. After warning Bob not to take the computer to NDL (unlikely at the Barge anyway), we headed in. Again, top water was decent, with the bottom a bit hazier. Though you could make out contrasty items out to about 30 feet, the vis was probably 15 to 20. I was afraid I had hooked the structure when I short-scoped for Fofo and Bob's descent, but the anchor was nicely placed in the sand about 15 feet off the Barge, rising well above it. I started a clockwise circuit of what's left of the Barge; not sure where the other two went. Halfway along the seaward side, I ran across a large Cabezon. All the usual critters were out and about, but at the end where the Kelp Rockfish love to sit, there was, out over the sand, a school of about 40 rockfish. Headed over to try and get a shot of the Blues, but discovered they were all Kelps and Coppers. In a near-choreographed move, as I got to about 10 feet from them, all the Coppers turned 90 degrees and ran for cover in the Barge, and all the Kelps turned 60 degrees and came to check out what the big clumsy bubble making thing was. Kind of different. No pics at all, which is OK as I had the wrong lens anyway. Back to the end of the Barge, made the turn around, and headed back towards the anchor. Several female Kelp Greenling flitting around (saw maybe a half-dozen of them), and a couple of skittish males. Found another, smaller cab on the shoreward side. A fairly large Brown Rockfish was perched in the sand (at least until I chased him off), and a whole bunch of juvenile what I think were Vermilion Rockfish. Did another circuit; didn't find much on the first leg, but saw Fofo off in the sand hovering (not sure if he was looking at something or not. Decided not to bother him, and went back to the second lap. Almost immediately, saw a slug-shaped object in the sand, and closer inspection showed it to be an Aeolidea papillosa (haven't seen one in a really long time.) Took a bunch of shots, then turned to get Fofo's attention, but found him gone. Took a couple more shots, then headed for the anchor. Headed up, and found Bob on board, along with about 6 to 8 inches of water at the transom. Very manageable. Fofo came up a couple of minutes later. 65 feet, 36 minutes, 54 degrees. Jeff called just as we got the anchor on-board to say he was up and ask if we needed help. Motored around a bit to clear the water from the deck, then back to the ramp to pull the boat.
Jeff was kind enough to provide transport to retrieve all 4 crab pots, final count was 19 keeper Dungies (plus about 4 just-barely-legals and about 8 or 9 undersized tossed) and 3 Rock Crabs. Pam was impressed that we managed to stack the 4 pots and Jeff's 2 rope boxes on Jeff's boat. Jeff donated a crab to Len at the Deli, who said it was great. Everyone but Jeff, Pam and I took off for home (Fofo took a crab, Bob and the Cohns declined, and Royston had already left); the three of us headed for dinner at Black Bear prior to driving home.
Wish I could say I'll be back next week, but the next trip will have to wait for the weekend after 5 or 6 dry days in order to get the repair area dried out.
2-20: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Larry, Carol, and Matt on XTSea and me
alone on Aurora; Shale Island with Larry and Carol on XTSea and me and Bob on
A new dive buddy was supposed to meet for a weekend of diving, but apparently had the same problem my usual dive buddies have, and overslept. He said he'd meet up for dive 2 if he arrived on time, or defer to the next day. I was figuring places to go solo (actually, conditions sounded like the only diveable spots would be solo applicable), until I pulled into the lot and saw Larry, Carol, and their son Matt getting gear ready. I joined them, and don't think I held them up all that much.
Headed out through reasonably small swell, and Carol chose some site that I don't have numbers for, except someone else was either on it or very nearby. She wanted me to select the next choice, but I didn't really care, so she eventually chose Trevor's Pinnacle. A bit of a scare when it looked like that, too was occupied, but it turned out that boat was a hundred yards off (and I never did figure out what they were doing.) So, Trevor's it was. Carol dropped on the numbers, and I dropped about 40 feet downwind, but whoever pulled the hook the last time did a weird job of flaking in the line, and it hung up while paying out. I suspected I had dragged the hook a bit while clearing everything, but decided that, based on position relative to Carol's boat, it didn't look all that far off, so once I got the scope out and tied off the anchor, I got gear in the water and hopped in. Second concern was that I was diving a new drysuit, and I was a little concerned about weighting: I had a bit less undergarment, but this suit is compressed neoprene, and I wasn't sure what kind of buoyancy change I would get.
Looking down, I could see nettles. Lots of nettles. Dumped air in the BC and headed down, dodging nettles as I followed the line. At about 30 feet, the nettles thinned then disappeared. Found my anchor in a small patch of sand a bit east of the Metridium-covered rock on the east end of the site, and decided that I'd just live with where it was. Vis on descent had looked reasonable, maybe 30 feet; at the bottom, it was occasionally stirred up by larger surge sets, but overall was 25 to 30. Not a lot special on the face of the north rock, so I hopped up on top, finding a 2' Ling who didn't seem to want to move. Working back around towards the anchor, I ran across a fish I didn't immediately recognize: Sculpin-looking (Cabezon was first thought but something looked wrong about it), but colored similarly to a Painted Greenling. On looking at pics, I suspect it's a late juvenile cab. Headed up early in case I didn't have enough weight to do a stop, but it didn't seem to be an issue. So, played Dodge-the-Nettles on the stop (I think I hit the next level of the game, as they weren't all coming from the same direction), then back on the boat. The other three were a *long* time hitting the surface, giving me a good chance to get cold while sitting in the wind. Turns out they had had a fair delay getting in, then hit the bottom before discovering that Matt's computer hadn't started, returned to the surface, got things sorted, then came back down. Oh, well. My dive was 80 feet, 37 minutes, 52 degrees. No idea what theirs turned out to be.
Back to the ramp for lunch, where Bob was just arriving, and Matt decided he didn't want to do a second dive.
Done with lunch, a bit more of a delay when Bob discovered his reg had a hose that wouldn't fit his integrated inflator, but we re-rigged it with a standard inflator and he decided to forgo an octo (wouldn't fit as his computer transmitter blocked the only available low pressure port.) So, after 20 minutes or so, we were on our way to the Island. I dropped on the numbers so I could show Bob the Yellowfin Fringehead, and Carol dropped 25 feet off (on top of the Island somewhere; never saw her anchor, but I did see where she had reeled her way to the edge.) Gave Bob a quick briefing on the site, and we hopped in. Up on top, it was nice and clear; nearly blue water with little snot balls every foot or so. Vis was probably 25 to 35 feet. Heading down the line, it closed to about 15 to 20 at the bottom, seriously hazy and a bit stirred up. Found the Fringehead on the projection after a brief search, and showed it to Bob, who probably missed it. Took a couple of pictures, and found that Bob had headed off somewhere else, so I briefly went to look him. No joy. On the way back, Carol was inspecting the projection for the Fringehead. Went over and pointed it out to her (after a brief search - they are really well camouflaged), then headed off to search for the other Fringehead around the corner. Ran into an octopus on the flat shale, but it was very leery about me getting close, jetting off whenever I got close. Found the YFF fairly easily (for a Yellowfin Fringehead), but also found, on the next ledge down, a tiny (about 1/4 the size) second Yellowfin. Tried to get a few shots of the little guy, but I wasn't rigged for macro, and I doubt I got much. I did, however, run into a second octopus when I put my hand on it and it slithered off. Finished up with the Fringeheads (somewhere in there, I saw Bob swimming along to someplace), and headed over the top to slug hunt. Nothing special there, so I dropped off the edge on the far side of the projection, and found a third octo. Shortly after, I ran into Larry and Carol again, and tried to see if Larry was rigged for macro. Couldn't tell, so I just took him over and pointed them out, leaving him to take whatever pics he could. Headed out towards Anchor 5 (never made it that far, but found Carol's tied-off line, which I seriously contemplated moving, until I figured out I'd have to move the other end to do any good), then found a fourth octopus. Worked back along the ledge stopping to take a couple more shots of Fringeheads 2 and 3. Noticed a couple of tiny orange slugs (probably Rostanga pulchra); took a couple of ID shots (as well as I could, anyway), then figured that I should probably head up as Bob was likely already up. No jellies anywhere on the dive. At the stop, spent my time looking at the little snot balls (nothing else in the water column); they apparently are a feeding web for some teeny little orange critter in the center, swimming along with a little wagging tail. Bob was, as I had guessed, up already, having thoroughly enjoyed his dive. 55 feet, 49 minutes, 52 degrees.
2-6: 2 dives: Trevor's Pinnacle with Jeff and Steve on Nitrox (Jeff's boat), and
Fofo, Guy, Stephanie, Evan and myself on Aurora; then Anchor 1 with Jeff solo on
Nitrox, and me and Fofo on Aurora.
My cousin's daughter and her friend were supposed to meet me for diving, Steve was staying in the lot, and Guy and Fofo were planning to dive as well. Would have been a pretty good boatload, but Jeff came down and provided a bit of relief.
We all loaded gear and got the boats ready (at our usual slow pace), then we were somewhat hindered by a guy with a 23 foot Whaler (I think) who was continually launching, recovering, parking in the aisle, inspecting the boat, relaunching, leaving the parking lot, returning, and starting over (this went on all day; the guy left for good about 4:30 or so.) Once the boats were in the water, another delay, as Jeff wanted to drop crab traps along the 200+ fsw contour, and I had told Scott that I'd drop him and a student out at the Barge. Jeff took off crabbing, and I had my divers wait (except Fofo, who was giving me a hand), and we motored out to the Barge. I dropped a weight on a line as a marker (which apparently dragged off the site before they got down), got the two in the water, waited in the area until they descended, then returned to the ramp to pick up my divers. Underway, one more stop to pick up my line and weight, and we were off towards the point.
Ran out to about Ballbuster, and conditions looked OK for diving - 2 to 3 foot swell with occasional 4 or 5 foot rollers, with a touch of wind chop. Unfortunately, Ballbuster was occupied, so we headed inshore to Trevor's. We had a bit of a wait while Jeff ran back in from his traps, but eventually we both dropped anchor and started getting divers in. No surface current, which was nice. Jeff and Steve dropped first; my boat was a little slower, but we got everyone in, and the 5 of us started the descent together. I led the pack (no idea by how much), and had to clear the anchor line from a rather serpentine group of snags on the outlying rocks. Found the anchor in the usual area in the sand, wrapped up in chain and a wad of line. Cleared it and moved it out towards the opposite wall, then started poking around the west wall. Bottom line: Not a whole lot to photograph, but a beautiful dive. I'd call vis a solid 45 feet, Guy and Fofo said 50. A little surge, and a slight bottom current. 52 degrees, though it didn't feel like it. All the usual characters out and about; but not much unusual, except maybe a huge number of Kelp Greenling. Jeff and Steph (and maybe others) spotted a largish Lingcod (Jeff called it 3 feet; Steph just said huge.) I looked for 3 critters, and found none of them (Longfin Sculpin, juvenile Treefish, and the weird sand-dwelling shrimp.) A sealion buzzed me from behind, but didn't stick around to play. Ran out of time, and chased NDL up the line while trying to re-clear it from the rocks (too much scope and not enough wind meant it wanted to drape on the bottom.) A couple of nettles on the stop, as I recall; nothing else that I saw in the water column. Surfaced to find Steph and Evan on board, as were Jeff and Steve. Guy and Fofo weren't too far behind me. 75 feet, 46 minutes, 52 degrees. Michael Murphy showed up to ask about conditions, then headed off for Ballbuster in search of 60 feet.
Longish SI in the lot where Steve decided he was done, Guy decided to repeat his boat-then-beach thing from yesterday, and Evan and Steph took off so Evan could make a Super Bowl party. That left Jeff, Fofo and I for dive 2.
We headed out to try Anchor 1 again (since it didn't work too well last weekend, when vis was 30 feet until the bottom 5 feet or so, where it dropped to 5 or less); anchored up and headed in. And found crappy bright water at the surface, crappy dark water in the middle, crappy really dark water near the bottom, and a surprising 20 feet of visibility in the bottom 5 feet. Exactly the opposite of last weekend. A few years ago, I had found a juvie Wolf Eel in the chain at one of the anchor sites, so after a quick look at the chain pile, I headed off along the stretched out chain. About 15 feet out, I spotted a odd raised shape extending from one of the links. Octopus. Took several shots, trying to find a somewhat photogenic angle, then spotted Jeff and managed to point the octo out to him. I moved off while Jeff checked it out, and did another pass over the chain pile. Returning to the Octopus, it was out of the chain and on the shale, so took several more shots, then left it to do its own thing. No unusual fish, no unusual slugs. I did find 2 fairly large aggregations of San Diego Dorids, but that's not really unusual, just, well, kinky? Dunno. Called the dive based on time. 76 feet, 35 minutes, 50 degrees (this one felt like it.) Mike showed up to chat with me and Jeff before Fofo surfaced, and reported conditions at Gorgonian Gardens was pretty similar to Anchor 1.
Back in to the ramp to pick up Pam and Sierra who wanted the ride out to collect the traps, then out to wherever it was that Jeff put them. Swell was rolling pretty good out there, four feet with occasional 6's. The first trap yielded about 11, the second, 5. Managed 12 keepers and returned the marginal ones.
Steve, Lori, and Sierra walked over to the Bulldog to watch the end of the game, Guy took off for home, and Fofo left to drop off dive gear and do some work errands, leaving Jeff, Pam and I for dinner at Black Bear Diner.
2-5: 2 dives: Ballbuster with Ray, Steve, and Guy; Hopkins Deep with Ray and
Steve (and Steve's niece Sierra acting as surface support.)
Ray actually woke up, Steve arrived the night before, and Guy and Fofo were supposed to be joining us (and they're always on time.) I arrived at just after 9, and Ray was about 40 minutes behind. Fofo had forsaken us to dive with a more attractive buddy (can't say I blame him) and was off at Lobos.
Coasties were intercepting people at the ramp for safety inspections, but I managed to convince them that leaving the ramp open was a better idea, and they did my check in the lot. No problems, and the guys actually seemed apologetic at having to go through the motions. Shortly after, we splashed the boat and got underway.
Guy was sitting on dive 299, and I think he wanted to do a memorable site for number 300, so I agreed to take a look when he suggested Ballbuster. Though the swell built to around 4 or so feet, it seemed diveable, so we dropped anchor off pinnacle to the northeast. A really slight current blew back along the boat, but not enough for me to toss a current line. Geared up and headed in, a little disappointed in the 15 or so foot visibility on the way down. Dodged a few nettles, and at about 60 feet, started seeing Metridiums on the rocks below me. Vis opened up, and at the bottom (108 feet), it was pretty good: 40 to 45 feet (though Guy estimated it at 25.) Ray was somewhere out in front of me, and after I checked the anchor set, I saw Steve and Guy coming down the line. I headed over to the pinnacle and wandered around the east face, but didn't find anything all that interesting. I caught sight if Guy once, I think, and that was about it. Bottom time was disappearing pretty quickly, so I headed back towards the anchor, and found a smallish Cabezon on some bryozoan. Got off several shots, and got down to about a minute remaining. Luckily, the cab was about 5 feet from the anchor so the start of my ascent was pretty much immediate. Chased 1 minute to NDL from 108 to about 60 feet, where time started opening up a bit, and vis closed down. Hit safety stop depth, and hung there, with Nettles coming in waves, a bunch every 20 or 30 seconds or so, with empty water in between. Got back on the boat, Guy was up a minute or two later; Ray after a couple more (100 feet back), and Steve a few minutes after that (a hundred yards inshore.) 108 feet, 26 minutes, 52 degrees.
Spent a lengthy SI in the deli, after Guy had taken his leave of the group. His wrist seal was on the edge of failure, and he didn't want either to try and get out of the seal, or sit around for the SI, so he was going to swap out his tank and head in off the beach. The rest of us (along with Steve's wife Lori, and their niece Sierra) grabbed lunch at the Deli, and eventually headed out to dive the deep shale. Sierra came along for the ride, as she had never been on the ocean before. As we left the dock, Chuck and Linda came back from their dive at Chuck's new location (can't remember what he was calling it), and reported the visibility was closing down and current picking up. So, having learned from last week, we headed off to another location. I chose Hopkins Deep to avoid the building swell further up towards Pinos, and the closing vis on the Shale.
Hopped in and tried to gear up, but found that my weight pouch had tangled up behind the backplate. Took a few minutes to sort that out and don the rig, test the drysuit connection, grab the camera, and swim to the anchor line. Heading down, I was really disappointed: vis was maybe 5 to 10, and fairly dark. At about 25 feet, I started adding air to the drysuit, except that nothing happened. No hose connected, either. Clipped the camera off as I dropped, and reconnected the hose. Vis opened as I dropped, to about 20 or so really hazy and chunky feet at the bottom. It didn't get any lighter, though. Ray immediately got my attention and had me follow him to where two Sheep Crabs were locked up in a territorial dispute. I was rigged for macro, though, and couldn't get them in the frame. I think Steve might have gotten a couple of shots with his camera. I wandered off to some other rocks, and found what I think was a convention of Cooper's Nutmeg-housed hermit crabs. There were literally hundreds of them. Other than those, a trio of Sealions who seemed to enjoy showing off were about it. I tried to play with them, but was hopefully outclassed in the agility department. Steve said he tried as well, and ended up stuck on his back. Headed up shortly after, and played Dodge the Nettles on the stop. Did most of the stop under the boat, chasing Nettles fo really bad pics. Ray was already up, having called the dive on account of darkness. Steve hit the surface a couple of minutes behind me. 88 feet, 32 minutes, 52 degrees.
Headed out toward Pt. Pinos to see if we could spot any wildlife outside the bay, but were turned back around Ballbuster by 6 foot swells which were just starting to crest. Since Sierra was in street clothes, I decided that keeping her dry trumped anything we were likely to see further out.
1-30: 2 dives: Outer MacAbee and Anchor 1, both with Fofo.
Arrived at Breakwater about 8, to a wet parking lot. It had rained overnight, but was simply overcast in the lot. That didn't last long. It started raining off and on until Fofo arrived at about 8:30; then started raining in earnest. We prepped the boat and loaded gear, launched the boat, and headed out along Cannery Row trying to ignore the rain stinging our faces. Swell was reasonably small, allowing for a fairly high speed run. The commercial boats were all huddled in the Hopkins area, we we passed that by to see what was happening further up. Made it to the area around Ballbuster, where we sat and watched the waves breaking on Pinos. Swell was a bit larger there, about 5 feet on the big sets. Looked like it probably would have been diveable, but surgy, and had the possibility of getting really ugly if the swell worsened (as it was supposed to.) We decided to be safe and retreat back into the bay.
Since everyone was stacked up around Hopkins and the Aquarium, I decided to check out someplace I hadn't been in a while: Outer MacAbee. At the spot I chose, the sonar showed structure starting at a depth of about 50 feet or so, and the kelp hinted at more rock further in. Harry and Dionna pulled up a short time later, and anchored up a bit south. Geared up and hopped in, and found reasonable visibility (15 to 25 feet or so, depending on the surge) pretty much all the way down to the anchor. The line was draped over a rock, so I tried to move it clear, which gave Fofo enough time to disappear. Several feet of surge was running at about a 45 degree angle to the anchor line. I headed off in the same direction as the descent, crossing several smallish boulders before hitting a rocky reef. Vis got progressively worse as I got shallower, about 10 when I hit the reef, to 5 or so when I decided to turn around at about 30 feet. Hadn't found a single photo worthy subject until just before I hit the end of the reef, when I found a beautiful silver and red Crevice Kelpfish. It, however, decided to be fairly camera shy, and never really gave me a good pose. Figures. I anticipated being way off line on the return (I seem to have a tough time holding a course when I'm not running with or at 90 degrees to the surge), so I figured I'd work out a endpoint from depth, ascend, and deal with the surface swim. I was rather surprised when, crossing over a rock, I spotted a line draped through a fissure. I hadn't thought I'd be off-line enough to hit Harry's anchor, but there you go. Followed the line back, and discovered it was my anchor. Okay; moved the anchor a little more to clear the rock and cleared it from the crack, and saw Fofo hovering head towards me just off the bottom twenty feet ahead. Just beyond his feet, a Cormorant was darting around, pecking at the sand. A bunch of wild gesturing got Fofo to turn around just before it moved off. I checked out a couple more rocks, and managed a snapshot of the bird when it returned. Lost Fofo again, and since he had asked about a half hour time limit before the dive, I headed up. Fofo hit the surface about 5 minutes after me. 57 feet, 41 minutes, 52 degrees. A hint of surface current. I was going to wait for Harry and Dionna to hit the surface, but then reconsidered when I thought of their doubles rig and their getting in after us. So, back to the ramp for lunch, just in time for the rain to start again.
Quick SI, then back to the boat for a second dive, as I was still afraid of the swell building. Took a detour over to K-Dock to look for Melibe leonina (Fofo's suggestion this time), where we not only found Melibe, but Clinton Bauder, Michael Murphy, and, I think, Kenn Hwang, all disembarking charter boats. Clinton warned us off Shale Island, as they'd had 5 foot vis at the bottom, lots of surge, and a thin brown top layer.
Back under way, Fofo and I debated whether to run back out to Hopkins (reported 20 feet and surge, but that was a couple of hours old), then decided to take a look at Anchor 1. Once near the numbers, we drifted for a bit to try and gauge the swell, which didn't seem too bad. About 3 feet or so for the several minutes we were watching. Surface water looked blue. Dropped the hook on the numbers, and scoped out quite a bit, and immediately got hit by several long period 5 foot rollers. Decided to go anyway, and hopped in. Gorgeous blue top water, 30-plus feet of vis; lasted all the way down to within about 5 feet from the bottom. Once in the ground effect water, vis dropped to about 5 feet or less. Probably a good 10 feet of surge. Luckily, the hook and hit about 4 feet from the concrete block, so finding the anchor and chain pile was easy. I tried to get a few shots of critters on the chain, but the surge made any kind of framing pretty much impossible. Ditto with the concrete block, and any of the surrounding shale. So, I started poking around under loose blocks of shale to see what was hiding there. Mostly brittle stars, as was expected, and a few shrimp, but I caught a glimpse of what I think was a six-spot prickleback, and found another large (4 to 8 inches long) segmented worm. I was also rather surprised at the number of Leafy Hornmouths that had managed to work their way under the rocks. Saw a few Onchidoris egg masses, but no slugs. Did a quick trip around the chain and anchor to look for Fofo, and decided he had headed up. Repositioned the hook to make it easier to retrieve, and headed up. No Nettles, and just a couple of Moon Jellies below me on the safety stop. Fofo apparently had wandered off along the ledge, which is why I didn't find him. He surfaced about 5 minutes after me. 75 feet, 31 minutes, 52 degrees. All in all, we should have believed Clinton.
Spotty rain (some heavy) on the way back to the Bay Area.
1-29: 2 dives: The Rope and the Steam Engine, both solo
After a couple of weeks battling some weird flu, and a weekend of poor weather outlook, finally bit the bullet and headed down to get in the water. My planned buddy Steve picked up a last minute load heading to Calgary, so he bowed out a couple of nights before. Talked to Guy at the bar last night, and he tentatively planned to dive, but according to Fofo, he apparently had a fitful night, and bailed at the last second. Fofo was diving off the beach with Kathy, so I started getting stuff ready to go.
After a leisurely gear up, I headed out to do an easy dive (still not feeling all that energetic), and was flagged down by Chuck and Linda as soon as I cleared the Breakwater wall. They were adrift with a dead battery, but luckily Chuck carries jumper cables, so a couple of minutes later we got them running again. Followed them back to the ramp to make sure they made it back in. Chuck reported 45 foot vis, a Monkeyface Prickleback, and a Wolf Eel at the Steam Engine, but I decided to do something a little more pokey, so headed out to the Rope off Lover's.
Reasonably flat water on the way out; once there, the swell was maybe a couple of feet with a long period, and I contemplated moving further in to avoid the surge. As I took off, though, I noticed the wake was nice cobalt blue, so I returned to the numbers I had for the Rope and dropped the hook. Got my rig and the camera in the water, finished getting dressed, then hopped in and geared up. Heading down, I could make out kelp blades on the sand from the surface, and ripples in the sand from about 10 feet. Spotted the Rope about 30 feet off to the side (I never said my numbers for the rope are any good), and could see the anchor in the sand up ahead, so I left the line and headed over to the Rope. Vis was a little tough to ascertain since there wasn't a lot else around, but I'd guess maybe 35 feet. On the Rope, the first thing I noticed was that the encrusting algae was considerably thinner than in the summer. I decided to work from the top down to avoid having my bubbles scare everything off before I saw it, so went up the top and started circling my way back down. Didn't find any interesting little stuff, which was OK, as I wasn't rigged to shoot small stuff anyway. I did find first one, then another, Tubesnouts, which were I think, in a somewhat amorous mood. Well, one of them was, anyway. Took a few snapshots of them, having a little difficulty closing in on them as I kept being pushed off by a slight current. Eventually, I got a little too close, and they disappeared out into open water. Worked down to the bottom, then started back up, and found the Tubesnouts again. A few more pics, and they disappeared for good. Went back down to the bottom, and it turns out that the Rope is probably not going to last too much longer as a site, as the chain at the bottom is just about rusted through. Took off to take a look at some of the low-lying rocks nearby, but didn't see all that much of interest. Eventually moved the anchor closer to the Rope, and headed back to the boat. Had a visit from a juvenile Sea Lion, but it didn't stick around for long. Checked out some kelp near the boat, but didn't find anything but snails. 40 feet, 39 minutes, 54 degrees, a touch of surge, and a slight current.
Back to the ramp for the SI, where Chuck's boat (which had been docked at the end of the south pier) was gone. I had a missed call from Brenna, but no message, and return call went straight to voicemail. Fofo and Kathy were just coming back from their dive, so Fofo and I headed to the Deli for lunch (Kathy was satisfied with her Power Bars.) Brenna sort of appeared out of nowhere, as near as I could tell, and she joined us. So, after a leisurely lunch (in which Brenna had a perfectly reasonable reason for the barnacle infestation - you'll have to ask her to explain it), Kathy joined us for a bit, then she and Fofo headed out for dive 2. I decided to try the Steam Engine, though I didn't expect to find the eels.
After dropping the hook, I saw a bit of a fog bank just coming over the water from Downtown Monterey, so I turned on the anchor light in addition to putting up the dive flag. Hopped in and headed down, finding nice clear water with big snot strings. A few Nettles drifted by, and I noticed a lot of tentacles on the anchor line. The nettles disappeared below about 30 feet, and I continued on to the bottom. Vis was about 45 feet or so, but still filled with snot strings, and it was a little dark. Did a lot of poking around, finding lots of Onchidoris eggs, but comparatively few Onchidorises. All the other usual slugs were out and about. No really unusual fish, other than a couple of the weird lizardfish-like guys that I still haven't nailed an ID for. Despite quite a bit of looking I never found either of the fish Chuck and Linda reported, or any octopus. Headed back up the line, finding considerably more Nettles, and a lone Moon jelly, all above about 30 feet. 78 feet, 33 minutes, 54 degrees. No surge, no current.
Amusing item of the day: The guy with black inflatable with twin 40's was recovering his boat about the same time I was recovering mine. The owner, still in his drysuit, was holding his dock lines on the pier while his friend (dressed in jeans and tennis shoes) waded in to secure the boat to the trailer. Well, I found it amusing, anyway. [Additional info: The jeans and tennis shoes guy was apparently in the water because he had attempted (operative word) to step from the trailer onto the boat, and ended up waist deep. The boat owner said that was pretty amusing as well.]
1-1: 2 dives: Pinnacle of Doom with Ray, and Shale Island with Ray staying
Got to Breakwater shortly after 9, Chuck's rig was the only one in the lot, and only about 3 or 4 cars along the wall. Michael Murphy showed up with his boat a few minutes later. Ray arrived not too long after I did, and we loaded gear and headed out.
Ray hadn't been in the water in a few months, so I suggested we start out with an easy dive. Pinnacle of Doom seemed to fit the bill pretty well, so we skirted one of the commercial boats (Hopper?) that was a bit further offshore, investigated what I thought was a dead sea lion (ended up being a log), and anchored up at POD. Geared up and headed down after briefing Ray on what was around (like I remember.)
At the bottom, I moved my anchor as it was draped neatly between several mini spires of rock and a few kelp stipes, relocation got it out in the sand where it was supposed to be. I saw Ray following me down, but I don't think I ever saw him on the dive proper. Hook relocated, I ran across a weird shrimp, and spent a few minutes getting shots of that. Then off into the rocks, where the main thing I noticed was a dearth of fish. For the first half of the dive, the fish count consisted of 2 kelp greenling (or one twice), and a couple of pairs of perch (or the same pair twice.) Visibility was 20 feet or so, and fairly hazy, but that seemed to come and go depending on location. Lots of neat little stuff in the encrustation on the rocks, but nothing all that unusual. Once I admitted to myself that I had no idea where I was, I decided to take a look up and down a multiple strand kelp stipe, and reorient myself at the surface. Got sidetracked trying to get a pic of what I think was a Crevice kelpfish hiding in the fronds, and blew off figuring out where I was. Found another weird little shrimp on some algae, then found myself swimming through a large sandy area. Hmmm. Don't remember a large sandy area near POD, at least in the direction I started off. Up to the surface, and get a bearing to the boat (way the hell away.) I think I was likely out in the mouth of Lovers Cove but I never looked that direction, so I'm not sure. Headed back to the bottom and meandered my way along the bottom in the boat's general direction. Nothing else of note (that I recall, anyway), so ended the dive. 40 feet, 53 minutes, 54 degrees.
Started the SI by running out quite a ways to check out a flock of birds working a baitball or something about a mile offshore of Lovers, but they had pretty much finished up before we got there. We ended up watching a bunch of birds sitting on the water. The upside was that Chuck sent a DSC position request while we were out there, which must have really confused him. Ran back to the ramp with a quick sidetrip to chat with Chuck and Linda who were getting ready to drop on Shale Island, then had lunch at the Deli. After pissing off Valentina by making fun of a movie she was watching, we headed out to dive Shale Island.
Chuck and Linda were just hitting the surface, so we waited for them to stow gear and pull the hook, then occupied their spot. Chuck reported 3 octopus behind the promontory that the Yellowfin Fringehead occupies, which got Ray excited, as he's never seen one. Unfortunately, he also reported that the Yellowfin was no longer there. He had, however, found the newly discovered one around the corner to the northeast (I think.) Ray and I geared up and hopped in, and he immediately developed hamstring cramps. I told him to reboard the boat and drink a bunch of water and to join me if his hamstrings relaxed. I headed down for a quick dive to see what I could find. Vis was about 15 feet or so, with just a touch of surge. I had dropped about 30 feet from the numbers, but tried to correct as the anchor dropped, so I was anticipating having to move the hook a bit to get it visible from the Island proper. The anchor was fouled in its chain, but the set seemed secure. Straightened everything out, then started dragging it in the direction I thought the Island was, only to discover the hook was already on top of the Island, not too far from where it normally lands. Okay, fine. Since I was at the promontory, I decided to see what the Fringeheads hole was looking like, only to find the Fringehead comfortably residing there. Okay, fine again. Wandered off to see what was up top, then went to check on the second Fringehead. Took a few shots of that guy, then headed up top again. And ran across a third Yellowfin. This one was darker than the other two, nearly black, and was performing short lunges at any speck that came within about a half inch of its mouth. It was, however, in a nondescript area of the top of the Island, and I doubt I could locate it again without running into it again by chance. Decided to head up since Ray hadn't shown up, and worked my way back towards the anchor. And found a weird gray segmented worm thingie, about a foot long and a half inch wide, that looked almost like the Night Crawlers my dad used to fish with. It was alive, but a couple of sections looked damaged, so I figured something had taken a bit out it and found it distasteful enough to leave it. One end was poking around as it to find a hole to egress into; the other end seemed rather inert. Overall, it could twist and turn fairly actively. No idea what it was. I should have poor pictures up in a few days (I was rigged for macro, and couldn't get an overall pic of the thing.) Over to the anchor a short distance away, and headed up. Ascent was pretty routine, and Ray had ended up waiting out my dive. 52 feet, 33 minutes, 54 degrees.