BAUE Trip Reports
5/29/2007 Ed's Wall aboard Phil Sammet's RIB
by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
Susan Bird, Alberto Nava
30' - 50'
46F - 51F
|| ||Deco Tanks:|
Beto & I extended the Memorial Day weekend to dive out of Point Lobos on Phil's RIB. We are sure happy we decided to play hooky today!
The day was overcast, with a breeze coming from the south & west. Whaler's Cove was calm, and there were very few divers in the lot. We shared the launch ramp with Bill Gomez (a frequent weekday diver), who was setting out on his boat with a friend.
Based on reports for calm seas, we had discussed diving Ed Cooper's Wall, a site we had visited several years ago. The conditions have to be 'just so' for this site, and we hoped for the best. As we motored out, it was clear that our wishes had been granted.
The site consists of a long ridge with a sheer wall, with several narrow perpendicular channels cutting the ridge into (large) segments. We anchored at the NW end of the ridge, and jumped into a strong current running north. It was a lively few moments, holding tight to the current line while unclipping & readying scooters. Once we let go of the line we were barely moving as we scootered towards the anchor line at full pitch.
We quickly descended to find a big bowl-shaped indentation carved into the top of the ridge at about 140ft. The bowl was 10 ft deep and approximately 15 ft across. We settled into the bowl, completely protected from the current, and caught our breath with the gargonians, vermilions, and rockfish who were also hanging out in the "fish bowl". A nice juvenile lingcod posed in front of a white sponge, wondering where Clinton was with his camera.
We then descended over the west side of the ridge, and dropped-- and kept dropping-- leveling off at 200ft, with plenty of depth left between us & the bottom. It was dark, but the viz was really good, 50 to 60 ft. We scootered along the wall, which seemed to go on forever! Along the way, we hit some patches of brisk, 44 degree water, but the water got warmer as we eventually made our way shallower, leveling off at 48 degrees for most of the dive.
So... the wall... how to describe it? In simple layman's terms, it was spectacular! The ridge creates a long, expansive, heavily decorated corridor, as it parallels a smaller, deeper second ridge. As we looked up, we could see that the wall/s angled out at times, creating dramatic overhang areas, perfect for sheltering schools of blue rockfish. The top of the ridge is quite uneven, containing a plethora of peaks and valleys.
Along the wall, there are numerous cut-out areas, kind of like miniature valleys at various depths. We knew we had a lot of ground to cover, but we nevertheless stopped to explore a few of the indentations. While in one valley area, I signaled to Beto to look back at where we had come from, and there was a huge school of blue rockfish following us hoping in vain that our bubbles were tasty fish-treats. Among the blues there were vermilions, calicos, china, and copper rockfish.
There were hundreds of horizontal and vertical crevices running the length of the ridge, and we looked for GPO's and wolf eels. No luck this time, but in one especially lavish crevice we did see a tell-tale pile of shells, sure evidence indicating a GPO den. Towards the bottom as we continued our journey there was a surprisingly dense population of treefish, some of whom seemed either extremely curious, or territorial.
We passed by the first intersecting channel, which cut a perpendicular path through the ridge from top to the sandy bottom. The walls were close together, maybe 10 ft apart, and both sides were lush with corals, sponges, corynactus, and lunging decorator crabs.
We continued towards the shallower end of the ridge, observing break down areas with huge boulders at the bottom and to the side of the wall. We kept looking up, taking in the craggy profile of the ridge above us, and soon we began to see bull kelp swaying in the surge. More fish, more color, shifting topography as we moved up to 120 - 100 ft range. We began to see hydrocorals, in bursts of color in cracks. We passed the second channel, much more 'open', with a rocky breakdown area.
We completed the dive at a wall with a distinctive overhang, surrounded by rockfish, treefish, perch, and a lone Sheepshead who was afraid of our lights. We looked for nudibranchs on the wall, and enjoyed colorful scenery until we left the top of the ridge at 30ft.
The last half hour of the dive was as lively as the beginning, with a definitive surge bandying us around like helpless kelp fronds. The wind had picked up, stirring the water into confused seas, making Phil's job of picking us up more entertaining for all involved.
This was one of my favorite Nor Cal dives, rating in the Top 10. Because we were on scooters, we got a sense of the massive dimension of this ridge and wall system. It was truly impressive, and we can't wait for conditions to allow us to return to this amazing site.