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11/20/2004 Butterfly House by Nick Radov -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Devin MacKenzie, Nick Radov
Visibility: 30' - 40' Time:12:19 PM
Temp: 52F - 54F Surge: 3'
Max Depth: 82FSW Avg Depth: 53FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time: 1:06
Bottom Gases: EAN32,30/30Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Single,Double LP80,LP95Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
I hadn't dived Butterfly House in about a year and Devin had never been there at all so we decided to have a look. Surface conditions were marginal with some occasional large waves, but just barely good enough to be safe. We swam straight west out to the edge of the main kelp forest and descended where it's about 45ft deep. Visibility was excellent with a lot of sunlight. Turned left and swam south-southwest through the forest and into deeper water. There were at least two, maybe four harbor seals shadowing us the entire dive. Saw the usual nudibranchs (Peltodoris nobilis, Doris odhneri, Cadlina luteomarginata) as well as one tiny Tritonia festiva. Not too much in the way of fish life, mainly surf perch and copper rockfish. After about 25 minutes we turned the dive to head back north slightly closer to shore. That was the best area of the dive with a really nice array of hydrocoral and some interesting rock formations. By the time we returned to our starting point a large school of juvenile blue rockfish had arrived so we did a slow ascent through those. Surface conditions had deteriorated further so the long surface swim back in was a real workout, but it was worth it (and I needed the exercise).
10/2/2004 Ballbuster aboard Escapade by Nick Radov -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Gary Banta, Nick Radov
Visibility: 15' - 70' Time:10:39 AM
Temp: 52F - 55F Surge:  
Max Depth: 97FSW Avg Depth: 65FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time: 0:37
Bottom Gases: 30/30Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double LP104,HP100Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
There was a layer of brown muck from 10ft to 30ft but as soon as we dropped below that the visibility was the best I had ever seen at this site. We could clearly see everything on the bottom from 30ft. As soon as we hit the bottom Gary signalled me and pointed out a large bat ray flapping by just to our left. We trailed it for a couple minutes but it effortlessly left us behind. With such good visibility and 10 other divers in the water this site actually seemed a bit crowded. After doing a full clockwise circuit of the base of the pinnacle we moved off a bit just to take in a full view of the huge metridium fields. Then we swam up along the peak to check out the hyrdrocoral. Would have liked to stay longer but we were on a time limit and had to get back.
10/2/2004 Pinnacle of Tremendous Proportions aboard Escapade by Nick Radov -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Gary Banta, Nick Radov
Visibility: 40' - 110' Time:8:19 AM
Temp: 52F - 54F Surge: 2'
Max Depth: 120FSW Avg Depth: 80FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time: 1:03
Bottom Gases: 30/30Deco Gases:EAN50
Backgas Config: Double LP104,HP100Deco Tanks:AL40
Deco Profile:
 
Gary and I were originally supposed to be on the Cypress Sea extreme charter but when it was cancelled we were able to switch over to Joe's charter. Got to meet some of his students and prospective new club members.
We dropped down the anchor line to about 60ft, then turned around and kept going down the side of the pinnacle. Hit the sand channel on the west side and followed it northwest, then north at about 110ft. Saw a couple Tritonia festiva on the wall as well as the other usual rock fish and nudis. Visibility was spectacular; on the way back we looked up from the bottom and could clearly see the boat on the surface. We gradually made our way up the pinnacle and then switched to deco gas right above the anchor at about 60ft. The regulator hose o-ring extruded on mine so even though I could breathe from it with no problems the first stage was bubbling in my face during the whole ascent. Kind of annoying.
9/26/2004 Tacoma (Wreck), Seattle, WA by Pete Gelbman -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Nick Radov, Andrew Georgitsis, Pete Gelbman
Visibility: 5' - 12' Time:2:45 PM
Temp: 54F Surge:  
Max Depth: 218FSW Avg Depth: 200FSW
Bottom Time: 0:25 Total Time: 1:28
Bottom Gases: 15/55Deco Gases:EAN50,O2
Backgas Config: Double LP104Deco Tanks:AL40,AL80
Deco Profile:
Relatively quick ;-)
 
We had several great dives in Seattle but I'll just report on our last
one.

Our dives over the previous days had all been in Lake Washington freshwater, this last
dive was our first in the saltwater sound. We were meeting the boat in
Alkai, which apparently is thier equivalent to our Breakwater. We got
there early and munched some clam chowder and fries while watching Joe T
teach a fundies class. Our boat arrived on time and some SCRET guys were
offloading from an AM dive - they had attempted to scooter another wreck
earlier in the morning but had 2' vis and couldn't find it on the
bottom, plus a few of them apparently scootered through some jellyfish
and had some nasty stings on their face. High tide was just arriving and
we were hoping for better conditions than they found. It was a just a
short boat ride from the dock to our wreck location in the middle of the
local shipping channel.

The captain sounded the bottom and I dropped the shotline when we were
over the wreck. No current, sun just starting to pop out, a fine day for
diving. Delia had to head off to NY early so today it was Nick, Josh,
Andrew and myself diving as one large team, with AG running video. The
boat is beautifully laid out but a bit small, so Nick and I gear up,
Josh helps us load up our stages and we hop in first and hang out on the
shotline buoy while he and AG gear up. They join us in a few minutes, we
do quick equipment check and down we drop. We pause at 40', get
ourselves comfortable, exchange ok's then continue the descent.

Its my turn to lead on this dive. The captain seemed to indicate that the
shotline was dead on the wreck. As such I didn't bother (ie forgot) to
note any directional information on the surface. Below about 80' there
is no ambient light and the water is B-L-A-C-K! Without lights, we can't
see our hands in front of our faces. Nick and I had some battery related
light failures already on the last two days and we learned the hard way
that backups lights with good batteries are just as important on these
type dives as in cave diving. We hit the bottom at 218' and we might as
well have arrived on the surface of the moon. The only thing I can see
is is the downline and a shot ball shaped indentation in the silty
bottom. No wreck, no nothing. We panned around 360 degrees, nothing. I
can only see about as far as my light penetrates this murky gloom, about
8-10'. Guess we're going hunting - we know the shotline was close to
the wreck, its just a matter of finding it in this low vis. Wish I had
thought a bit more about directions... Nick brought the reel so I asked
him for it, tied into the shotline and head off North. I have no clue
what direction to look and I'm pretty sure no one else does either so I
decided to just look purposeful and head off North, hoping that I might
get lucky and appear to know what I'm doing. Swam out for about 50',
nothing. I lock down the reel, and turn West, deciding to swim a
counter-clockwise circle patterns, increasing the radius until we find
the wreck. While we're swimming we pass a small cluster of Metridiums
and some simlilar shaped bright orange anenomies. Cool, nice to be be
back in saltwater, we have some life here! Suddenly something catches my
eye, a huge fish starts to take shape at the edge of vis directly in
front of me. I'm thinking hey maybe one of those famous 6-gill sharks
they have up here. As I swim to it I realize its a linkcod. The
grandaddy of all linkcods! No kidding this thing was a good 6' long! I
flashed my light on him to show the others and that spooked him away. I
could feel AG's twin 18w video lights just over me and was hoping he
caught it on video. Turns out he saw it too but didn't get it on camera
because he was using the camera lights to look for the wreck. Another
few minutes swim and we come across a piece of man-made rusting pipe
structure. I pause a minute and try to decide whether to continue my 50'
radius search or not. I figure this peice of junk might be from the
wreck so I unlock the reel and venture out in this direction to go see.
A few mintues swim and presto the vertical side of a ship appears
magically in front of us.

Cool, we found it, but darn we've been down here a while already. I look
at my watch and see we've been farting around at about 220' for 12
minutes. Including our descent we've been breathing our stage bottles
for about 15 minutes now. We were planning a depth of 200' and figured
we'd smoke our stages at 15 minutes runtime. I look down at my stage
SPG and sure enough I'm at 200 psi. Should I tie the reel into the
wreck or change to backgas first? I remember we tied into the
shotline with no current, and local protocol is to just leave
the reel parked in the sand so it can be pulled up with the shotline
from the surface rather than us burning bottom time to mess with it
when we're done. Josh is nearby and gives me the "drop" signal which
confirms what I was thinking. So I lock it down and dump it in the
sand. My stage is starting to pull hard, so I signal the team to
switch to backgas. Its fun to be at 200' in pitch black and breath a bottle dry. We get on our longhoses, turn off and stow our stage regs, and then
proceed up the side of the ship to the main deck at 200'. AG is
already there, waiting for us. Suddenly I realize we should have
ascended to this shallower point before taking time to clean up our stages bottles rather
than do it on the bottom. Oh well, lesson learned. Based on our
planned BT of 25 minutes we only have 10 more minutes to see
this darn wreck. Oh well, might as well make the best of it.

The Tacoma was apparently a passenger ferry which was later converted to
a freighter. There are lots of structures and openings to swim through
and poke around. Several huge linkcods, all in the 3-4' size range are
hanging out and there are Metridiums and other red anenomies growing
here and there. We arrived at the wreck in the middle of the port side.
We swim around the middle section of the main deck then make our way to
the starboard side and work our way up around the bow section. We swim
through some twisted i-beams that must have supported some sort of large
machinery and I take a minute to poke my head down into a huge opening
in the deck. Any contact with the wreck creates an instant rusty red
silt cloud. Man it would be fun to go inside... Josh is investigating
something on the port side and we're getting close to end of our time so
we head over to him and he leads us down the port side rail towards
where we left the reel. We're at 23 minutes BT and assuming we'll need
2 minutes to head back along our reel line to the shotline, so I give
him the "turn around" sign, motioning to our line. He says no lets stay
here. As deco clock man on this dive, he's officially running the clock
and seems to know what he's doing so I gather were not returning to the
shot line. No current, so works for me. We swim around for a few more
mintues then Josh thumbs it. I relay the signal to Nick and we start up.
The ship has a huge tower-like structure that reaches up to 150' so
we're able to meander around and through it enjoying the life growing on
it during our ascent right until we hit deep stop territory. In
hindsight we meandered a bit too long, as it took us a good 6 minutes to
get from 200' to 150'.

Jumping from fresh to salt somehow I didn't have enough weight even though I was using what I normally use around here (can salt water vary that much from place to place??) and found myself
a bit light on ascent which is the worst feeling there is. Fortunately around 100' Josh blew a bag and we sent up the empty 80's which helped, but I couldn't
achieve normal relaxed trim position due to having to contort myself to
get every last bit of air out of my suit and wing. Fortunately I finally got settled down and from 50' up deco was pretty relaxing.

This is a pretty long boring report but wanted to give some flavor of
what deep, dark spooky wreck diving is like. Its definitely a different
ballgame from our colorful, rich reef diving, as well as much different
from cave diving. Both of which are so peaceful by comparison. Basically
from my limited experience so far, deep wreck diving is an adreneline
rush from the time you jump in until you hit deco. Great fun, we need some wrecks around here!



8/1/2004 Great Pinnacle by Pete Gelbman -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Alberto Nava, Pete Gelbman
Visibility: 20' - 50' Time:3:40 PM
Temp: 50F Surge:  
Scooter: Gavin Long Burn Time: 1:00
Max Depth: 155FSW Avg Depth: 130FSW
Bottom Time: 0:50 Total Time: 2:00
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double LP104Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
Lots
 
With flat seas, gear still soggy in our trucks from yesterday (see Big Sur expedition reports trickling in separately), and both our wives away for the day, what else could we do but go diving? After a lazy sleepin AM, Beto and I met up for a relaxing scooter dive at Lobos today. I've been bugging him to see if we can make our way out to the Great Pinnacle, so that was our target for the day.

Crowded house at Lobos today and it took a while to stage all our scooters & bottles in the water. Dropped in the sand channel, headed north out of the cove, out past Hole-in-the-Wall, then northwest out to 3-Sisters. Tied in a reel at the far west edge of the 3rd Sister, short jump due west to a pretty ridge called Shortcut Reef. Tied off the reel, then used the ridge's natural navigation to guide us northwest towards our destination. After we ran out of reef, tied in reel #2 and after a 200' or so jump in same direction, boom, found ourselves looking up the face of the Great Pinnacle. Awesome! Vis had been nice darkblue 40-50' ish but out here it deteriated to a greener 25' ish with lots of particles in the water. We made our way counter-clockwise maybe a 1/3 of the way around the Pinnacle and still had plenty of gas in our stages but Beto wisely called it on time, knowing that we'd be slower picking up our line on the way home.

On the way back, I detoured us briefly to invesigate an interesting rock outcropping in the sand and was glad I did. As I was rounding it, Beto flashed me - I had flown right over a monster Dirona Albolineata nudi. He measured it larger than his pinkie to thumb spread, maybe 10 inches. When we veered back to our route, its cousin was waiting for us in a little den on the wall, a bit smaller. These things are stunning. Lots of reports of these last few days, seems its Dirona season.

In addition to the wonderful array of large usual suspects that make up daily diving at Lobos, we passed by a couple of monster California Sheephead patrolling thier territories, both male and female.

Next best thing to cave diving, California diving at its finest. Here is a high level map of our route.




7/31/2004 Big Sur Pinnacle aboard Cypress Sea by Kevin Metcalfe -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Kevin Metcalfe, Will Gore, Nick Radov
Visibility: 10' - 80' Time:10:00 AM
Temp: 52F - 56F Surge:  
Max Depth: 172FSW Avg Depth: 160FSW
Bottom Time: 0:25 Total Time: 1:08
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:EAN50
Backgas Config: Double LP80Deco Tanks:AL80
Deco Profile:
Deep Stops, 5,3,2,2,3,10,5
 
Got up at 2. Yes AM. Got on the boat at 6. Got off the boat at 6:30. PM. Got home around 9.


In between we had two pretty spectacular dives. The ride down was nice with several of us taking naps. We got to the general area at around 8:30 and started looking for spots. We found a pinnacle that topped at about 120' and was about 175' in the sand around it. Conditions were reasonable so all three teams went in right after each other. Beto and Susan went first, followed by Dave, Clinton and Pete. Nick, Will and I went in last.


Going down there was a bit of current and it was pretty green. By the time we got down around 70' it opened up and on the bottom the visibility was a pretty honest 60-80'. The reef itself was awesome. Lots of vertical relief, lots of Hydrocoral, lots of color. Just cool in general. I'll let the people who actually know what they are looking at describe in more detail what they saw. I do know that towards the end of our bottom time we ran ito Pete, Clinton and Dave and Pete was trying to get us to follow them, but we were out of time. Turns out they found a Giant Pacific Octopus that was bigger than the one they ran into the previous week in Carmel. Had we understood what they found we probably would have extended things a bit, but they were unable to find it anyway so we didnt' miss out.


After our gas switch at 70' I shot a bag and in retrospect the next 30 minutes remind me of the Hemmingway's "The Old Man and the Sea". At first the bag started pulling a bit and I figured that it was the swell. If I didn't let a bit of line out it was going to start pulling me up so I let more line out. And more. And more. By the time we were at our 50' stop the 150' spool was pretty much all out and Will handed me his reel and I ended up letting out another 50' to 100' of line out. Finally as we got up around 30' or 20' I was able to start reeling it back in and got back to being right under the bag. At first I thought that perhaps our bag had got caught on the shot line and we were drifting. Now I can only guess that the current was going two different directions at different depths.


In between dives, Phil and Marcos dove the same pinnacle.


We motored around for awhile looking for another spot and finally found a "different" pinnacle within 300' of the first one.


The second dive was a repeat of the first. Visibility was if anything better, but it was darker I think due to the layer getting thicker. A few divers thought that we were back on the same pinnacle. I'm not sure, but I don't care. I would dive that pinnacle every day for a week and be pretty happy.


The ride home was uneventful except for the sleeping bodies strewn throughout the boat. It was a great day, but a REALLY LONG one.


Dionna should get major kudo's for spending the whole day on the boat helping out. Also, as usual the crew was on the Cypress Sea was great.



7/25/2004 Flag Rockfish Triangle by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Alberto Nava, Susan Bird
Support Team:Russ S.
Visibility: 30' Time:12:00 AM
Temp: 50F Surge:  
Max Depth: 227FSW Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time:   Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: 15/55Deco Gases:50/25,O2,35/25
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
Sue and I did a different dive today. We dove a place called Flag Rockfish Triangle. This is a site we have wanted to dive for awhile but never had the right mix, right conditions, etc. Today was perfect. The ocean was flat, there was not much of a current and we were invited for a dive on board Voytek's RIB "gozilla".

The site is located 3/4 mile north of Aumentos Rock inside Monterey bay. It's 400 ft x 200 ft area located in 220ft of water. The sand is at 226ft and the top is 215ft. Not a huge reef but there were enough rocks for marine life to attach.

Once we reached the top of the reef we were greeted by huge metridiums covering most of the reef. Some of the metridiums were 3ft tall, and some of them were more of a yellow tone than white.

As we progressed north on the reef we were surprised by several Flag rockfish under ledges on the reef. Most of them moved away from our lights but by covering our lights a little bit we were able to get very close to them. Beautiful fish, white with red-orange stripes.

http://www.oceanlight.com/lightbox.php?sp=Sebastes_rubrivinctus

Also in abundance were longfin gunnels who were sitting on the top of the rocky shelves, and we saw at least 10 Spanish Shawls.

Another highlight of the dive was the discovery of a couple of widely opened basket stars, one of which had a center of at least 2 inches in diameter. Amazing creature.

We spent the rest of the dive checking the east side of the reef, where we found 2 rock crabs mating, then we ascended once we reached our predetermined bottom time.

Visibility was 10-15ft at the surface and 25ft to 30ft at depth. No molas :-(.

Cheers
beto
7/5/2004 Rubicon Wall by Delia Milliron -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Joe Talavera, Delia Milliron
Visibility: 20' - 40' Time:12:00 AM
Temp: 44F - 60F Surge:  
Scooter: Gavin Long Burn Time:  
Max Depth:   Avg Depth: 150FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time: 1:30
Bottom Gases: 21/35Deco Gases:EAN50
Backgas Config: Double LP80Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
Joe and I got out and did a little diving this weekend, too. On Monday, we headed up to Tahoe to DL Bliss state park to rinse our gear. (No, really, I hadn't rinsed my gear since Wednesday's ocean dive!) I had never been to Rubicon and was looking forward to some cool rock formations, having seen Joe's video of the site. I wasn't disappointed! We put in at the beach and scootered for 20 minutes or so, playing around and speed matching as we went, across the sand in 10-40 feet of water. Then, we hit the drop off. Wow. We bombed down the sheer rock wall, pausing to check buoyancy periodically. Before I could blink we were at our planned depth - around 150 feet.

We cruised the wall, ducking around pinnacles, cruising by massive cracks. It was hard to really get a sense of scale - I felt as small as the little crawdads tumbling down the rocks. At one point we saw a large dinghy on a ledge below us (maybe at 170-180 ft). It was pretty ripped up, making me wonder what happened to it. We were diving stages to save enough backgas for a second dive, so we switched to back gas as our stage gas ran low. It was pretty wild stage switching on a sheer cliff with blue all around compared to the well-contained cave passages we'd been stage diving in recently. We continued along around 150 ft in the same direction until we hit our planned bottom time (25 min), then ascended up the wall for our deep stops and our gas switch at 70 ft. We switched and started cruising back along the wall as we deco'd. Ten minutes into the deco we had passed through enough thermoclines to warm me up and I was really digging the brightly lit boulder field. There were several schools of fish who parted for our scooters as we slowly ascended, all the while traveling back along the wall. The timing worked well to finish our deco about when we reached the end of the wall and we finished ascending in the sand flats next to an anchored boat (where we wouldn't get run over).

This was a cool dive at every depth. Unfortunately, the surface swim is long, so it is most fun to scooter or get a kyack ride out there . We decided to skip the second dive and beat traffic back over the pass, but it was a completely worth while day!
7/1/2004 Monastery North by Pete Gelbman -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: John Heimann, Pete Gelbman, Mike Jimenez
Visibility: 10' - 30' Time:9:22 PM
Temp: 50F Surge: 5'
Max Depth: 112FSW Avg Depth: 63FSW
Bottom Time: 1:03 Total Time: 1:03
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double LP80Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
Long slow swim in the kelp
 
With very flat swell model and gray skies we were hoping for stellar N.Monastary conditions, but they weren't quite as excellent as we expected.

While searching for a minor leak in my drysuit before heading down, I managed to tear my neck seal. Arg, that has got to be the worst feeling in the world. After swinging by my house to pick up my backup suit, we got a late start out of Bay area and by the time we got to the beach the surf was pounding a little bit. South side was quieter and we hemmed and hawed about which side to do. The water looked a little green and the tide was favorable so we decided to tough it out by timing the sets carefully because we figured the depth offered by North side would lead to better vis. Turned out to be a reasonable plan, since the vis did open up fairly nicely below 50' and the waves quieted down a tiny bit during our dive so we had an uneventful exit.

Diving as 2 teams, Mike and Kirk on singles, John & I on doubles we swam along the edge of kelp line and dropped parallel with the wash rock. Stayed together for one circuit along the deep shelf at 80-100' most of the time. John and I said farewell and headed back for another run. This time a large fat grey harbour seal kept us company on & off for the rest of the dive. At one point he put on quite a show snapping and munching a large fish right in front of us. Several large nudi's, some decorator crabs, and other usual suspects.

Mike's previous experience at N.Monastary had been in the kelp shallows and he wasn't aware of the deep ledge at all, so the tranquility of the deep section was a new experience for him. "Huh, its so much easier to take pictures when the vis is good and things aren't moving around!" Ah, the joys of Monastary night diving! Speaking of which, here are some most excellent shots from his Canon S50.

Have a good weekend, all!

6/24/2004 Monastery South by Pete Gelbman -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Dionna House, Pete Gelbman
Visibility: 15' - 40' Time:8:30 PM
Temp: 50F Surge: 10'
Max Depth: 50FSW Avg Depth: 34FSW
Bottom Time: 1:27 Total Time: 1:27
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double LP80,HP100Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
 
Swell model looked good and skys were gray so we decided a mid-week PM trip was in order. Bumped into Marcos at the shop who was reporting beautiful vis at the Pinnacles and flat water at Monastary - he even mentioned that they could see the bottom from the surface in Whalers Cove, so we were eager to get down there. On arrival, North side was looking a just a bit too rough but south side was nice and flat so we opted for that.

After some home repairs on Dionnas flaky HID light we were ready for the hump over the beach. Peaceful entry, surfaced swam out about a 1/4 of the kelp line then dropped. Water was bit green and cloudy until about 30' depth then started to clear up. At 40-50' we got away from the surge and it was nice and clear. We headed out NW along the kelpline, foraging into to the kelp forest here & there to investigate rock formations, while keeping an eye on the sandflats for rays and other critters. Found a really cute eensy weeny octopus no bigger than a quarter who splayed himself out in terror until we left him alone. No sealions tonight, unfortunately. I've never had them not play with us at night before, they must be afraid of Dionna ;-) Temp and lack of p-valve for some team members made it necessary to come home eventually. On the way back, clouds of brine shrimp swarmed around our lights. Just before we were about to surface, we stumbled across a good size thornback ray in 16' of water who let us check him out for a nice long time - very cool.

Dionna got introduced to the pleasure of v-weights and was also happy to discover that shore diving at Monastary in doubles can be a peaceful, relaxing event.

A bit surgy but the water is looking good. Me thinks we're going to have a good weekend of diving!

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