18 April 2014

Dennis and I Make Three Open Water Dives

Dennis had taken the open water course two years ago, but not completed his fourth and final dive needed for certification.  This was Dennis's 4th Open Water dive in this class and the final dive he needs for certification.  Leo lead the dive and Luis and I completed the group.  We geared up and hit the water.  Getting out was a bit of a challenge, but everyone made it.  We swam to the blocks and descended, except we were North of the blocks.  I found them, but no one else came, so I went up, swam to Leo's flag and pointed him in the right direction.  From there we headed East, but got set to the South and ended up at the broken coral head, where we turned North and went to the Knoll.  I stopped to watch a Smooth Trunkfish and the others swam away.  I went to the Perpendicular Rocks, but no one came, so I surfaced to find the flag and swam to it.  I was on the surface long enough that the computer ended this first dive at 41 minutes and started me on a second dive. Leo, Luis and Dennis were headed almost due South and I swam to catch them and get them headed to Tower 17, which I did. It was definitely work.

Dennis and I stayed out of the water for about an hour and warmed up, then we switched tanks so he had a tank with 1221 psi while I had his with 835 psi.  We went in for a short dive.  Leo and Luis came with us past the swim buoys, where we descended, then they headed East.  Dennis and I just swam around hoping to find an octopus.  No luck.  I tried to get Dennis to focus on his breathing, but he wasn't having any of it.  He used speed and inertia to try to stay on the bottom and he ran out of air minutes before I came up to deal with the flag. It was actually an interesting dive and something that dramatically brings home the diver's buoyancy control.

Got a nice shot of this Sergeant Major,

Green Sea Turtle,

a French Angelfish, and

 a Smooth Trunkfish.

17 April 2014

Another Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles

Dennis had planned to go and apparently did show up at the apartment, but well after 7:45.  He called me about 8:00 am, but I was already coming up on Sunrise.  Just as well.  Surf was rough, there was a lot of surge at depth and visibility was poor compared to yesterday.  Still it was a good dive.  I went down before the swim buoys, looking for an octopus, but I didn't see any.

I did photograph some weird looking creature, looks kind of like a big brother to the mantis shrimp looking critter I saw on the Big Coral Knoll.

When I got to the reef, I had to hunt for the Rock Pile, but I did find it.  Headed off at 120 degrees and spotted Turtle Rock at the limit of my visibility, which was no more than 10 ft.  If I had been a foot or two North, I would have missed it.  From there, of course, it was easy to find the Ledge and  I hung out there for the whole time.  

Got several pictures of Squirrelfish,

some Juvenile Porkfish

and a Brown Chromis, which I had not seen before.

 I increased the shutter speed in an effort to stop the blur on the light blue to white dots on the Juvenile Yellowtail Damselfish, but, as you can see, I need to increase the speed some more.

A Spotted Moray Eel came along and was hunting on the two coral heads on the East end of the Ledge.  I like this shot with the Squirrelfish looking at the eel with its mouth open.

I got some additional shots of the eel as he left the Ledge and headed North to the Staghorn Coral.

My time on the dive was 2 hours and 7 minutes, but should have been more.  Tim gave be a really good fill yesterday.

16 April 2014

Dennis Vaiznikov Swims to the Eastern Ledge to Perform the Ascents and Performs the Skills on the Sand on the Way Back to the Beach

Dennis and I got to the beach a little after 8:00 am, geared up and got in by 8:30 am, then swam the 400 - 600 yards out to the Ledge, where we descended to make the ascents.  Dennis had a lot of trouble getting down, so I decided to do the Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent ("CESA") first, in case he couldn't make a second descent.  I tied off the reel, signaled to Dennis that I wanted to do the CESA first and then we did it.  Dennis was too fast out of the blocks, but I held the line and slowed him down to our 60 ft per minute rate of ascent.  At the surface, we discussed his initial exuberance on the CESA and whether or not he could make a second descent.  He elected to try and, although it took some time, he managed to get down.  He then successfully performed the alternate air source ascent.  At the surface, I advised him that he needed only to get down to 25 ft so we could swim in over the reef.  He wandered off once in a while by the visibility was good enough that I had him in sight except for two short intervals.  We swam West to the beach, but got set by the current and ended up at the Lost Knoll.  We had to correct by swimming North to the Gray Mid-way rock, then West again to the beach.  Once we got off the reef and on the sand, though, I put him through his paces on the other skills and we got them completed on this dive, as well.

We got out of the water and tried to warm up, but it was cold and windy.  I wasn't getting warm and neither was Dennis, so we went back in the water.  Dennis spotted a Green Turtle from the surface just past the swim buoy, so we descended.

Dennis with the turtle

and the turtle giving us the evil eye.

Found a Spotted Trunkfish

and an Octopus posing as part of a rock.

With all the attention he was getting from us, the Octopus apparently decided that his ruse was not working

and he swam away

only to curl up on the sand and pose once again as a rock.  He caught the attention of a Mutton Snapper, who came over to investigate.

This was short but excellent dive.

14 April 2014

Solo Dive on the Ledge of Turtles

I swam out to the Rock Pile, though I could not see it from the surface.  Visibility was only 3 ft or so.  Bad enough that the camera had problems automatically determining the ISO setting needed for most shots.  There was also a black area at the bottom of each picture.  I manually set the ISO variously on 1500 and 2800, and got some shots, but the black area at the bottom remained.  I cropped it out of the pictures, but you can still see a suggestion of the black line at the bottom.

I went up the 120 degree bearing and ended up in front of Turtle Rock, so I swam straight away to the Ledge. Hung out with the fish.

Got this picture of a Sharpnose Puffer, with the eyes made-up like a clown's.

Also got this picture of a Christmas Tree Worm.

This Bluestriped Grunt is asking the Neon Goby to clean its mouth.

One of the several Spanish Grunts that were just hanging out at the Coral Heads on the Eastern edge of the Ledge.

This Rock Hind was not pleased that I was on the Ledge with him, but he did not move the entire time I was photographing him.

Lots of little Yellowtail Snappers like this one.

This is a pretty good shot of the Cymothoid Isopod on this Doctorfish.

I stayed on the Ledge until I got down to 1100 psi and then I headed back to the beach.  I found the Rock Pile and stayed there until I passed 110 minutes, then I slowly headed West to the beach.  Surfaced at 122 minutes.