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12/4/2010 Deep E3 aboard Escapade by Clinton Bauder -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Clinton Bauder, Robert Lee
Visibility: 20' Time:10:30 AM
Temp: 50F Surge: 1'
Scooter: X-scooter Burn Time:  
Max Depth: 218FSW Avg Depth: 170FSW
Bottom Time: 0:35 Total Time: 1:25
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:EAN50,O2
Backgas Config: Double LP80Deco Tanks:AL40,AL80
Deco Profile:
Deep Stops, 6,4,4,4,4,18,6 Up
 
The forecast all week had been for calm weather. Naturally as we arrived in Monterey my first question to Rob was how he had managed to keep the van from overturning in the high winds. Been that kind of year. At least it was from the Southeast so it didn't limit us too much. As it happens what did limit us was the huge tidal change.

After a brief delay to free some debris from the prop shaft we made it to Carmel in good order. Despite the wind the surface conditions weren't much of an issue. After looking at E3 we decided to try further south and try to dive the Nixies. The first couple of attempts to set a downline failed as the ball was swept off the reef. This should have been a hint but we persevered and got it set on the third try. The wake from the ball should have been a hint too but Rob and I jumped in anyway. Some very minor delays clipping gear off and getting the pitch set right on my scooter did us in as we were swept past the buoy. Even at full speed on the scooters we were losing ground at a good clip and so we finally wised up and headed back to E3. (I think this is where I'm supposed to admit John was right but I'm not going to do that.)

E3 was much more tranquil. Rob mentioned he wanted to go look for a purple gorgonian that Beto had seen here at about 200 feet. I pointed out that my camera is only rated to 180 and that I've had dodgy results taking it deeper than that. So our plan became 180ish with the idea to scooter over to Deep E3 and back.

Visibility below the thick jellyfish layer wasn't so hot but soon a target rich environment made me forget about conditions. First up was a nice basket star at about 180 feet. As I started to line up a shot I noticed a mosshead warbonnet in a old barnacle shell. Pretty soon Rob was motioning me deeper as he'd found a Quillback Rockfish. I'd seen one here before and but from what I gather they are quite rare this far south, especially at diving depth. As I started to shoot that while trying to include the nearby little Yelloweye rockfish in the frame Rob started signaling me to come deeper still - to nearly 220 feet! Oh well, the camera IS insured. This time he'd found the mythical purple gorgonian so we grabbed a few quick shots before retreating back up to shallower water. Rob says he saw a Bocaccio as we returned to E3 but I missed that.

After a mild comedy of errors getting the cameras squared away and the bag sent up we began our deco. I was starting to get cold at the 20 foot stop so I brought the camera back out to shoot pictures of Rob in the jellyfish soup. It's amazing how much warmer you are when you stay busy. By the end of the deco the surface conditions had really deteriorated making getting back on the boat a bit of a chore and so we decided to call it a day after one dive.

Pictures are here:

http://www.baue.org/images/galleries/v/local/DeepE3_12-4-2010/