11 January 2014

Luis, Leo, Vaughn and I dive the Jacks off the Yankee Clipper

Luis swam out well south of my mark and was still a little North of the Jacks, but much closer than I was. Visibility was not bad and he found the wall of Jacks by searching from the surface.

     We descended and regrouped by the Jacks, then swam slowly along the length of the wall and back. Wish I had taken my camera.  There were a lot of fish and probably some really good shots.

      We got separated on the way back.  Visibility was much worse West of the Jacks and certainly near the beach.  We all came in fairly close despite being unable to see one another.

10 January 2014

Two Dives off Tower 17 with Vaughn De Agrella (and one short dive while Vaughn went back to shore to fix his gear).

      Vaughn was late getting to the apartment and did not get his weight packets, so he is carrying 8 lbs in the single pocket on his BCD.  He got down and swam okay, but tended to list to the one side.  We stayed close since visibility was less than 3 ft for most of the dive.  I took my camera, but it could not focus and seemed to have problems with the mirror.  Something similar happened last time I dived.  I changed the battery on shore and that seemed to solve the problem, but maybe not.  No good pictures today, anyway.  Can't see much of anything.  Missed the blocks, though we should have descended right on them.  Ran into the Fish Camp Rocks and went from there to the Big Coral Knoll, then back and to the beach.

 Part of the star coral on the Big Coral Knoll.
 French Grunt along the South side of the Knoll.
A Sergeant Major on the South East corner of the Knoll.
Finally, a Flamingo Tongue on a Sea Rod.

      I took more pictures than these four, but these are the best of the lot.  Most of them are out of focus and filled with back scatter.

      We decided to make a second dive, but I decided not take my camera on that dive.  Vaughn failed to check his tank before getting in for our second dive, however, and when he turned the gas on  in the water, the O-ring failed to seal and air blew out.  I closed the valve and he went back in  to fix it.  By the time I got to shore, Vaughn was ready to go again.  So we did, except that Vaughn did not take any weights since he was troubled by the weight all on one side of his BCD.  We got through the surf and I descended at the swim buoy, but Vaughn could not get down.  He swam back on the surface and I came along much more slowly.  It was difficult getting in and out of the surf, but without the camera I made it easily.

      After the first two failed attempts, we finally got out and descended.  We swam East onto the reef, but visibility was very bad and we couldn't see much.  Fifteen minutes into the dive, Vaughn let me know he was down to 1,000 psi, so we turned around and headed back to the beach.  This time I got out standing up on my first attempt.

06 January 2014

Two more Solo Dives trying to find the Ledge of Turtles

      I might have gotten to the beach and in the water an hour earlier, but I fussed around at home this morning.  As it was, I was on the beach and in the water before 8:00 am.  I quickly descended and began looking for the rock pile, but I could not find it, so I decided to swim East from the swim buoy, which was how Daren Dalton had mapped the Ledge.  It took me a while to find the buoy, however, as I would surface and get a bearing, then descend to swim.  Always a bad idea.

     I finally found the buoy and used that as my mark.  Visibility was bad this morning:  too hazy.  So hazy that I couldn't see anything more than 8 feet away.  Anyway, I headed East, but never found the Ledge of Turtles.  I did take the camera and found subjects to shoot.

I found this Purplemouth Moray Eel peeking out from under a Coral head.  I tried to lure him out some more, but he wasn't having any of it.  

 I also found a rather large spread of Mat Zoanthid.

This Spotted Scorpionfish was lying next to a bed of Blue Y-Branched Algae.  Not the best job of blending-in I've ever seen.

 Got a nice shot of a Doctorfish sailing past me.
 I also got a shot or two of this Butter Hamlet.

Although I thought I was headed due East, I surfaced as I was getting low on air and found that I had traveled North past the Pelican. I came South hoping to find Shark's Rock or some other landmark I might recognize, but no such luck.  I never did find the Ledge of Turtles, but it was an interesting dive.

      I warmed up after about an hour in the sun.  My vest and shirt dried out, as well, so I decided to make a second dive. I hiked up to the View units to go in, hoping to avoid any trouble with the Lifeguard.  I tried to take pictures, but the camera battery seemed to be dead.  Nothing worked.

      I swam out to the Eastern Ledge and then came across the Ledge of Turtles by accident on the way back.  I then swam back to look for the Nipple Rock and Sharks Rock, but somehow got set to the North and could not find them.  Headed back to the beach.  I fell over trying to get out in the soft sand, and had to roll over and wiggle out to deeper water so I could stand up and try again.  This second time, I made it out like I knew what I was doing.  The camera survived both exits.

05 January 2014

Leo and I dive off Tower 17

      Luis forgot his compass and computer and he borrowed my spares.  We geared up and got in, trying to time the breakers.  I decided against taking my camera.  The surf was too rough and visibility was unlikely to make taking the camera worth the effort.

      The beach was steep and it got deep quickly.  I had trouble putting my fins on and swimming out.  The waves were beating me back and the current was fairly strong near shore.  I didn't want to put air in the BCD, to avoid drag and to allow me to dive under breaking waves.  Once I got beyond the breakers, I looked back and saw Leo also beyond the breakers but Luis was fighting to get back on the beach with all of his gear.  Leo was worried about his car keys, which he had placed in Luis's car.  They exchanged signs and then Leo and I went diving.

      We headed East, but got set North and ended up just West of the Knoll.  I spotted the Swept Rock as we swam by.   We adjusted and swam to the Knoll, which we toured.  From the Knoll, we headed East to the Ledge.  Once we got on the bottom sand, we headed South, but apparently not far enough.  We were slightly South of Tower 17 when we got back to the beach, but not as far South as I had wanted.  Both Leo and I went down trying to get on the beach.  I pushed back out, got to my feet and climbed out.  Luis helped Leo get in.  It was an adventure.  I was glad I had not taken the camera.