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6/19/2010 East Pinnacle aboard Escapade by Clinton Bauder -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Clinton Bauder, Melissa Litwicki
Visibility: 70' Time:10:00 AM
Temp: 47F Surge: 2'
Max Depth: 70FSW Avg Depth: 55FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Single HP100Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
The wind had been howling in Monterey for at least a week and the forecast for the weekend didn't look promising predicting 15-25 knot winds. Conditions inside the bay where we might be sheltered were known to be mediocre with recent reports all indicating very bad visibility. Jim sent me an email on Friday asking me what I wanted to do about the charter. As I've missed way too much diving this year for various reasons I stubbornly said I wanted to go diving, damn the conditions.

Having done that I then spent the next 24 hours, and especially the drive down to Monterey fretting that I might have committed other people to getting up early and driving 2 hours for the pleasure of getting seasick and diving next to the breakwater in 5 foot vis. As we first caught glimpse of the ocean near the beach hotel my spirits started to lift as there was nary a whitecap in sight. At the dock Jim seem at least willing to give Carmel a look and off we went.

The right down was a bit bumpy but certainly nothing too scary. We wondered a bit about what kind of ride home we were committing ourselves too and promptly forgot about that as we rounded Cypress Point. There the ugly greenish-brown water rapidly transitioned to a beautiful deep blue. As anchored at the East Pinnacle Captain Greg reported practically being able to see all the way down the line to the top of the reef. Sweet.

I jumped in and went to put my mask on my head to see for myself. Naturally the strap came right off the mask. The buckle has been partially broken for months and I had neglected to do anything about it. Probably a lesson there somewhere. Fortunately in addition to the non-prescription backup in my drysuit pocket I had another prescription mask in my bag which the crew promptly retrieved for me. The delay meant we weren't first down the line but ah well, no real harm.

The visibility, if anything, was actually better than Greg reported. Melissa and I were able to see Allison, Jim and Erik on the reef the second we started our descent. We started off by heading west and then began a slow counter-clockwise tour of the pinnacle admiring the lovely hydrocoral. Surge was minimal and conditions couldn't have been much better. Not having a camera on this dive I immediately found a Cuthona lagunae. For whatever reason I never can find this species when I do have a camera but regularly see it when I don't. We found loads of other slugs as well including literally dozens of Hermissendas and Flabellina trilineatas.

At the East side of the pinnacle we encountered a large, tight school of blue rockfish. This was the first time I'd seen a school like this in at least 4 years which was certainly heartening. Hopefully they will recover now with the Outer Pinnacles being protected by the MLPA. Also saw several cabezon sitting right on top of the reef.

After about 40 minutes we started getting cold so we headed up. Looking at the conditions we decided discretion was the better part of valor and we headed back to Monterey. I might have preferred to go park at Stillwater cove and heckle the US Open but OTOH beating against 25 knot winds and 8 foot wind waves didn't sound like fun so I think we made the right choice.

Being cold (and looking looking at the icky green water at the shale) Melissa decided to sit out dive two. I buddied up with Allison. Visibility on the bottom near Shale Island varied from 5 to maybe 15 feet. Making up for this was the variety of slugs and we had a pleasant dive poking around and looking at small stuff.

In the end a really nice day of diving which all goes to show that forecasts are only good for keeping you occupied at work during the week. Except in extreme cases they shouldn't be used to talk yourself out of diving. Always go look. Otherwise you'll miss out on the days with 70 foot vis and no surge at the East Pinnacle.

Shale Pictures here: