04 June 2011

Diving the Fish Camp Rocks with Luis

Luis got a job, and it has been a while since we dove together. We decided to dive the Fish Camp Rocks, so we did. It was windy this morning and the surf was higher than it has been. Visibility over the sand was terrible, but got better on the reef. We descended on our bearing and just at the reef. I held a 90 degree course. Along the way, we encountered a Sharptial Eel and we both got some good shots. We swam slowly and I did not adjust much for current set because I did not think there was any. Although I about lost faith, I was right. It just took a long time to get there, but we hit the precursor rocks dead on and then went right in to the Fish Camp Rocks. Job well done. One of the coral plates had fallen off the Eastern most Rock. Too bad. Got some pictures of Bar Jacks and a Rainbow Parrotfish. Then we went to the Big Coral Knoll to hunt the lionfish I saw a week ago. We did not find it. Got some nice pictures of a Yellowtail Damselfish. We headed out to the South and found a Scrawled Filefish and a Scrawled Cowfish. Went to the Furry Rock and got some shots. The Giant Anemone I photographed a week ago was a mere shadow of itself. then we headed back. Near the sand, I came upon a small Green Sea Turtle lying on the reef. Unfortunatley, he was sleeping and I think my bubbles scared him. He jolted up and swam quickly away.

Diving the Fish Camp Rocks with Dianne

The lovely Dianne wanted to go diving this afternoon. We decided to wait until after the lifeguards quit for the day and maybe a few of the tourists had taken their cars to their hotel so we could find a place to park. Weekends are difficult. When we come up from our dives, cars are already circling and people are asking "Are you leaving?"

We went to the shop to fill tanks and Billy advised me that my Zuma Pro was in. So I dive it this afternoon. It seems a little flimsy at the truck when I am getting my shoulder through the straps and lifting it onto my back. In the water, though, it is light and effortless, so light that I had to add 2 pounds of weight. There is no back plate, but the straps cinch down tightly and the tank does not move. I liked this BCD aat the start of the dive and even more by the end. Get one.

After fawning over the Zuma Pro, Dianne and I entered in front of the Tower and swam out at 100 degrees, but we descended before reaching the reef and we got set by a North running current. I saw none of my landmarks on the way out. Still, I headed East, but we ended up at the Big Coral Knoll. I found a Hawksbill Turtle and got some shots. There was a lot of sand and material in the water, so I got a lot of backscatter. I was shooting wide-angle: the 28-135mm lens set on 70mm. I usually shoot the 100 mm macro lens. I'm usually close enough to my subject with that lens that I don't have a backscatter problem. But I miss the big picture shots and I have really been wanting a good shot of the Fish Camp Rocks.

From the Knoll, we swam South to the Fish Camp Rocks. I found and photographed a Clinging Crab, but it's just not the same in wide-angle. I also tried another video of a hermit crab pulling its shell onto its back. Still way to bouncy. Need a tripod.

We then swam to the Furry Rock. I tried to come back to the Fish Camp Rocks, but ended up East of the Big Coral Knoll. Just happened to recognize the area as we swam by. Swam back to the Fish Camp Rocks, then West to the beach. Fun dive as the sun was setting and the water was getting darker.

03 June 2011

Finding the Ledge of Turtles

The wind was up this morning, maybe 10 knots or better. The surf was a little bigger, but not bad. I entered in front of the main entry and swam to the reef, where I descended at the railing. From there, I swam 100 degrees, but I missed the Ledge of Turtles. I saw the crow's nest, but I missed the mid-way rocks and the Ledge. I swam around looking for the Shark Rocks. Once I found those, I back-tracked West and found the Ledge. There were two small Green Sea Turtles on the Ledge when I got there. Neither seemed particularly concerned about me and I got some good pictures, but I did not crowd them either. It was nice. I swam back on 300 degrees and went right to the railing. I had air left, so I explored a bit, looking for the crow's nest and the bearing to the railing. Turns out it was 110 degrees. So I was too far North: overcompensated for the South running current.

On the second dive, I descended at the railing and swam 120 degrees to the Ledge. The visibility had gotten worse. I did not see the crow's nest, but I did pass the mid-way rocks and the last rock. Then I was on the Ledge, but the turtles were not there. I explored a bit, then headed for Shark Rocks. Got a great picture of a Hogfish getting cleaned by a Neon Goby. Swam back to the Ledge and found both turtles. Nice.

02 June 2011

Two Tries; Two Misses at the Ledge of Turtles

I swim to the reef but cannot find the railing in the low visibility. I swim around, but have to surface to check my location. I descend again and am right on the railing. Now, I cannot remember the bearing I am to swim from the railing to the Ledge of Turtles. I swim out at 100 degrees, but I miss the Ledge of Turtles. I think I go South, but I'm not certain. I get to the edge of the dead staghorn coral and recognize the area. I swim North and find the Shark Rock. From there I swim West and get to the Ledge. The little Green Turtle is there as well as a Rock Hind and a Greater Soapfish, though I get pictures only of the turtle and the Rock Hind. I head West again to get to the railing, then to the beach. The current is moderately strong out of the North and it is difficult to correct for it.

I get out, dry off, change tanks and quickly get back in. I swim to the reef and descend at the railing. I swim out at 120 degrees, slowly, trying to control the current set. But I miss the Ledge. Again. I end up at the Shark Rocks and, again, swim back at 270 degrees to find the Ledge. My little Green Sea Turtle is there and I get some video and pictures. On the way back, I find a Fringed Filefish.

01 June 2011

Diving Solo on the Ledge of Turtles

I did not dive on Monday or Tuesday. I made 60 dives in May. That's enough. But today is Wednesday and its been a while since I've been in the water and I want to go diving. I get up early, but play with the dogs. I get to the beach around 7:30 am and get the first spot behind Tower 20. I want to dive the Ledge of Turtles.

The wind is from the East and fairly strong, maybe 12-14 knots. There is a small surf, so it hasn't been blowing all night. I swim out to the railing and change course to 100 degrees, but visibility is poor and I miss the Ledge. I stay on 100 degrees and end up at the Shark Rocks. I get oriented then come back at 270 degrees and find the Ledge. There is a little Green Turtle there. I get some pictures and then head back to the railing. I run into a Hawksbill and spend some time getting pictures of that turtle, then continue towards the railing. I miss it, but not by much and I quickly find it running a short U-Pattern search. Then I go to the beach to dry off, drink some coffee and change tanks.

I get back in the water after 15 mintues. Plenty of time to get to the reef before the lifeguards go on duty. This time, I head 120 from the railing and I get to the Ledge of Turtles. The Green turtle is there, but wary. He lets me swim with him some, but soon leaves the reef, only to return when he thinks I am otherwise occupied. Poor visibility generally, but it is nice to get back in the water.

29 May 2011

Diving on the Staghorn Coral Forest with Dianne

Dianne and I parked well South of Tower 19 and entered the water there. We swam out to the buoy line to descend. Once underwater, we headed NE, expecting to run into the staghorn coral forest. I'm not sure how we did it, but we missed the coral and ended up at the Ledge of Turtles, East of Tower 20. Because of the approach, I did recognize the Ledge at first. We found a small Green Sea Turtle at the Ledge and I got a couple of pictures. then we headed back. We found very few items of interest and I took fewer than 20 photos on the dive.

For our sedond dive, Dianne and I walked to Tower 19 and went East from there. We quickly ran into the Staghorn Coral Forest. I was looking for Pigfish, hoping to get a few good shots. Not only did we find Pigfish, but Dianne spotted an Indigo Hamlet. I got pictures of a Trumpetfish. I even found a small Fringed Filefish in the old coral. We were under 8 minutes shy of 2 hours and I surfaced with 650 psi.