26 June 2014

Two Solo Dives on the Big Coral Knoll: Baby Squid!

I have been flirting with the idea of getting Solo certified.  PADI calls it a self-reliant distinctive specialty, kind of like when they pretend that recreational divers don't decompress during their ascent or say that a mandatory safety stop isn't a decompression stop. Problem is that no one has been offering the PADI course, not even Pavon.  Some question about whether you can avoid liability since PADI has made the buddy system the foundation of its open water course.  The reality is, of course, that the buddy system is broken. Even when I dive with others, I tend to wander off with my camera and few buddies have the patience to hang around.  Many wouldn't know when I was in trouble or what to do if they did recognize I was having a problem.  Seems like I'm often solo diving, even in a group. Of course most weekdays I don't have buddies except for students and DAN's accident statistics demonstrate that diving with students is considerably more dangerous than diving alone. All of which is to say I signed up to take an SDI Solo Diving certification course from Sean Meadows out of World of Scuba in Boca Raton.

Tuesday night I was attending a class in Boca Raton in connection with that course. I  picked up a pony bottle I'm borrowing from a friend and want to spend some time with it before we have our dives Saturday morning.  I was up late and couldn't get up Wednesday morning to dive. Spent some time trying to hook the pony up to my Zuma, but there just isn't enough Zuma there. I didn't have much time to fuss with the gear when I got to the beach, so I decided to take the camera and just enjoy the first dive and deal with the gear issue during my surface interval.

I swam out to the sea rod and descended.  I was setting up my gear and noticed two little quarter inch specs in the water that weren't moving with the rest of the sea weed.  I looked closer and they were baby squid.

I was shooting macro, but could have used a +6 diopter and a supermacro set up. There were four babies all together. They couldn't move very fast, but it was easy to lose sight of them.

I stayed with them for quite a while and quite a few photographs.

When I left them, I made my way slowly to the rock just North of the blocks.

Found this Yellowline Arrow Crab there and go this shot.

From the blocks, I went up the gun sight and up to the Gray Mid-Way Rock, then North to the Perpendicular Rocks, where I got this shot of a Bluestriped Grunt.
 When I got to the Knoll, I spotted these two French Grunts fighting over something.

I did take my finger spool and new $26 SMB.  I played with the SMB and sent it up a few times to gauge how much air I could put in it, but I can't say that I earned any new respect for the device.

Total dive time was 141 minutes; RMV was .39 ft3/min.

My surface interval was 50 minutes, but I needed to get in the water and outside the swim buoys before the Life Guard got to the Tower.  I had brought a suitcase strap and tried to hook the pony bottle up to the Zuma using that strap, but it was beyond me. Probably have to go with the Oceanic BCD, that's a gear barons delight with D-rings everywhere. I hadn't brought that, however, so I just took the camera and shot pictures on the second dive, too. Lots of pictures.  Too many pictures.  Gotta set limits.

Got this picture of a Juvenile Cottonwick at the rectangular Rock just North of the Blocks.


 This Rock Hind loves to sit on top of the larger rock and sun itself while keeping watch.
 This Yellow Jack came bombing through just inches off the coral on top of the Knoll

This White Speckled Hermit Crab had a perfect little home just off the Knoll.

Spotted this Gulf Flounder on the sand on the way back to the beach.  Could easily have missed it.

Nice dive.  Dive time was 160 minutes with an RMV of .35 ft3/min.

Still need to work out a harness for the pony bottle and should make one or two dives before Saturday morning. Hate to embarrass myself in front of the class.

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