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Old 08-19-2008, 11:04 AM   #1
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Default 8/16/2008 19SUR aboard Cypress Sea by Alberto Nava

8/16/2008 19SUR aboard Cypress Sea by Alberto Nava -- [View in Reports Page]

Bottom Team:Susan Bird, Alberto Nava, Devin MacKenzie
Visibility:10' - 60'Time:12:00 AM
Temp:48F - 57FSurge:2'
Scooter:Gavin ShortBurn Time: 
Max Depth:160FSWAvg Depth: 
Bottom Time:0:25Total Time:1:10
Bottom Gases:21/45Deco Gases:50/25,O2
Backgas Config:Double HP120Deco Tanks:AL40
Deco Profile:
Yesterday was a very successfully diving day. BAUE booked the Cypress Sea for some tech diving at Big Sur Banks. It has being quite a long time since we have had an all BAUE charter at the banks and we were all looking forward to it. We had 11 divers on the boat split into 4 teams and the objective was to do 4 dives (2 per team) at the famous 20SUR and 19SUR pinnacles on the south end of the banks.

At 8:05 we arrived at the banks (5min late ;-) ) and we started to deploy our down-line which consisted of a hook, some line and
a couple of red marine buoys at the end. We watched one of the buoys disappear underwater which was a sign of strong current. We added one more line and a third buoy so the divers had space at the surface to hold while waiting for their team mates. The fog bank was large but it was high in the sky so we decided to try a live-drop of the first team and see how they would handle the current.

Allison, Kevin and Robert were in one team and Dionna, Mark and Harry were in the other team. They drifted nicely towards the line and started their descent. We watched for about 10min in case any of them could not make it. However, it looked like they were all diving :-). After 60min they all surfaced, and they reported the hook had moved to deeper water and they had missed the target of 20SUR pinnacle :-(.

After getting all the divers back on the boat we relocated the hook while using a bigger/heavier object as a hook, because it looked like the tension of the pulling divers was too much for the little hook to handle. Clinton, Nick, Susan, Devin and myself were in the second group. It looked like the current was even stronger as the tide changed so the surface current was pretty fast.

It took about 6min to descend to 150ft while using our scooters but we finally made it to 20SUR. We landed on the north side in front of the pinnacle and headed for a loop. We rapidly found the canyon that runs through the middle of the pinnacle and let ourselves drift with the current from one end to the next. There were tons of purple hydrocoral and several school of small fish. I was a little surprised that we could not see that many big fish. We could not see vermilion nor yellow eye rock fish.

We motored to the south and found a nice congregation of blue rockfish. After about 10min we returned to the north to check if we could see the team of Clinton and Nick at the site. We could not see them so we decided to go and check the top of the pinnacle. The moment I looked towards the top I saw the reason why we didn't see many fish at the pinnacle. There was a large (10-12ft) thresher shark hovering over the shallow peak at 20SUR! There was strong enough current that it did not need to swim in order to get water thought its gills so it just sat there. It was difficult to see if it was hunting or just being cleaned by the school of little fish at the top.

I moved my light to try to signal my buddies and as I did that the animal sensed the beam of my HID light and it moved its tail very quickly and looked at me. We both looked at each other for about 3 seconds and it then swam away from the pinnacle. I signaled my buddies about the shark and we all waited to see if it would come back. I know that threshers are not aggressive towards humans but there is something about having 20 min of deco to do and seeing a big shark underwater, especially for certain members of our team who have mild phobias about sharks. We waited a few minutes and after that we moved to the top of the pinnacle to enjoy the purple/pink hydrocorals at the pinnacle.

We did find a juvenile yellow eye rockfish at the top, near its favorite crack. After 25min we called the dive and had a "nervous" drift thinking about our friend.... fish are our friends ;-)

After our dive we knew the hook was in the right place so the first set of divers and Clinton/Nick decided to go for a second dive using this confirmed down-line. Using the same procedure that the first dive the teams were able to drift into the ball and pull themselves down the pinnacle. It was pretty interesting to see 8 divers drift towards the float and swam in an angle in order to hit the target. They had about 90 seconds to make it to the float or get push past it. This worked much better than the anchoring of the boat we did on the second dive.

For the 4th dive of the day we went to 19SUR. Susan, Devin and myself went for another drop. The moment we saw the pinnacle we realized where all the fish had gone. I think the shark scared the fish from 20SUR and they all congregated at 19SUR (300ft away) There were school of vermilions, yellow eye, china rockfish of all sizes and colors. We saw a very large, old, yellow eye at about 170ft and we could also recognize the area where we once saw the nice posing GPO on the DSV DVD. Susan found a couple of nice mola mola and Devin found a free swimming wolf eel at the top of the reef. It was a super dive in an amazing place.

Everybody did a great job on their planning and execution. I'm looking forward to the next trip in September :-)

Here are some photos from the team.
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