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8/12/2006 Big Sur Pinnacle aboard Cypress Sea by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Susan Bird, Alberto Nava, Clinton Bauder
Visibility:   Time:10:00 AM
Temp:   Surge:  
Max Depth:   Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time:   Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
You know you had a good day of diving when you managed to do 3 dives south of Point Sur :-). Yesterday Susan, Clinton and myself boarded the Cypress Sea at 6am for a long range trip down to Big Sur Coast. The weather was not the best as we motored from Monterey Bay towards Point Sur but we just held onto the boat and continued South until we crossed Point Sur. That gave us good protection from the swell :-)

The first dive was at a new pinnacle just south of the very large Kelp bed south of Point Sur. We located this site on the sonar and it looked like a promising site (Mt. San Michelle).

The base was at 100ft with a small area at the top at 40ft.

We anchored and started our dive. During the descent we found 100ft visibility at the surface. We used the nice kelp branches to descend and swam through a thick school of rockfish. Once at the base of the pinnacles we found a flatter structure than what we had expected, but it was still really nice. The best part of the pinnacle was from 60ft to 30ft. The shallowest area consisted of a very nice peak with an incredible kelp forest, with the branching kelp strands forming distinctive geometric angles as the trees reached towards the surface and were influenced by shifting currents. We found a twisted kelp bunching that looked more like a 10 inch diameter wire or dynamo. It's difficult to image how this kelp got so entangled/twisted.

For the second dive we headed south towards Partington Canyon.

It has been 6 or 7 years since any of us had dove there so we were all excited about diving it. The terrain on the surface has a vertical rock face that meets the water. There are a few rock formations and several small cracks on the walls.

The underwater terrain goes from 10ft to 300ft in no more than 200ft of distance. It's as vertical of a canyon as it gets. Because it was the second dive we decided not to go too deep. We started our descent in the kelp swimming at about 30ft until we could not see the floor anymore and at that point we descended straight down. We reached the sand at 120ft and continued until we hit our planned depth of 150ft. The sand was sloping at 45 degrees and there were small rocks with metridium and others invertebrates. We located a (rare) Brown Irish Lord at depth and Clinton got to work taking some nice shots of it. We worked our way to the 100ft mark and spent some more time around some small lingcods and big vermillion rockfish.

We reached the base of the kelp near the wall at about 70ft. We switched to our 50% and spend quite a lot of time playing inside the kelp. We found two monster size lingcods and several swim throughs decorated with sponges, hydroids and other marine life. Towards the end of the deco we reached the back side of the kelp, btw the rock and the main kelp. It was a gorgeous view. There was a flat kelp canopy at the top, then 20ft of water and a second really thick layer of some small kelp covering the rock on the bottom. The light came through the kelp and gently traveled down the water column. While decompressing in this nice area we saw some really big sheep heads, and a friendly juvenile harbor seal. At some point the harbor seal was sitting just on top and little behind of Susan looking up, with the flippers to one side and the head to the other side. I swear it looked like Susan's guardian angel harbor seal ;-)

For the 3rd dive we headed for a well known pinnacle, Compost, which we had dove many years ago.

This is a world class dive site. You can put this one against any dive site in Fiji or the tropics and it stands quite well. The pinnacle is in a flat sandy area which nothing else around it for 1000ft. It starts at 100ft (bottom) and it goes to 30ft at the top and it's of a circular shape.

On the west site it's a vertical wall from top to bottom and on the east side there is a very nice overhang. There is a little bit of kelp at the top which gives its hidden location away. The pinnacle is covered with life. I don't think there is an inch of the rock that is visible. It's covered with corynactous, barnacles, sponges, worms and many other invertebrates.

We found 3 very large cabezons, and two wolf eels, one large and one medium size. On the way up we spent quite a lot of time under the overhang taking some photos and looking at all the little invertebrates in that area.

All in all it was an amazing day of diving.