07 February 2015

Diving the Eastern Ledge off Tower 15

I had looked at the Ocean Rescue page on the net, which said the lifeguards were on the towers from 9:45 to 5:00. They apparently don't update their page. I got to Birch State Park parking lot at about 8:40 am, but killed time in case Luis showed up.  He didn't, so when I was offered, I took the first ride on the new shuttle to the main entry. I crossed the street and got in the water. There was no lifeguard in the Tower.

I did not take the camera as the water was pretty wild and the visibility was unlikely to be worth the risk to the camera.  Indeed, as I got my fins on and was swimming through the surf, I saw the Ocean Rescue truck and some guys around it. I later learned that they were trying to get my attention and call me back because, their lack of experience and abundance of arrogance caused them to decide that the water was too dangerous for diving. I kept going and swam out beyond the swim buoy to descend. I then headed East to the Ledge off Tower 15.

Underwater, there was lots of surge, poor visibility and cold water, but I got out.  I collected some shells, most of which did not make it back, probably falling out of my pocket as I did not get upright when I put new shells in my pocket. At 1750 psi, I headed up. I surfaced from 35 feet and 38 minutes. Hung on the surface letting the sun warm me, then descended.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption at an average depth of 20 feet was 37.82 psi/minute; SAC rate was 23.55 psi/minute; RMV was 0.61 ft3/minute.

Got caught up in the flag line at the surface and had to take my gear off and unwrap the line from my tank valve. Typical, another mandated safety precaution from the fat cocksuckers in the red leather chairs that endangers others but profits their brother-in-laws flag making business.

Once I was clear of the flag line, I descended into 22 feet of water. Headed West and let the current push me South. I surfaced in about 10 feet of water and less than 2 ft of visibility over sand, but was slightly North of Tower 15.  I was concerned that someone would give me a hard time when I got ashore, but no one did. I swam on the surface to the main entry just South of the Tower and managed to get my fins off in time to walk through the surf and climb out.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption at an average depth of 19 feet was 39.68 psi/minute; SAC rate was 25.18 psi/minute and RMV was 0.65 ft3/minute.

06 February 2015

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks

The ocean was calm when I got to the South Beach parking lot.  Large rollers were breaking near the beach, but otherwise calm. I geared up and walked out to the beach, got in the water and was swept to the South by the current between the beach and the sand bar.  I finned up to swim out, but had to walk across the sand bar. Then I swam out to the swim buoys and descended.

Visibility was terrible and there was very little life on the algae patch. I took a very few pictures, but nothing good. This shot of a Gray Angelfish was the best of the lot, and that's not saying much.

 Or maybe this picture of a small transulcent hermit crab in a moonsail shell.
I kept this picture of a Sand Perch to demonstrate how bad the visibility was.

I went up at 45 minutes to find that I had overcompensated and was way North of where I should have been.  I was also cold, very cold. I wore the 3 mm jacket this morning, but it's a bit big and water flows through it or at least within it at strange times. I warm up on the surface.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption rate was 30.27 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 ft; SAC rate was 19.21 psi/minute; RMV was 0.5 ft3/minute.

I got tangled up in the flag line on the surface. The North wind was fierce and there were large waves traveling East, but the flag was going West, then Southwest.  I untangled the mess and descended well North of the Jacks. I swam SW across the 3-tiered reef, then headed West but let the current push me a little to the South, too. I was hoping to find the juvenile reef squid or the nurse shark, but no such luck. I got to the sand and hung around killing my tank then swam in to 10 feet to ascend near the beach. I swam in on the surface, but had some trouble getting my fins off, the flag reeled in and my camera secured.  I wobbled around coming out of the surf and a large wave came along, picked me up and put me on top of the shelf. Probably could not have done that myself.

Water Temperature was 71 degrees; consumption at an average depth of 19 feet was 31.88 psi/minute; SAC rate was 20.23 psi/minute and RMV was 0.52 ft3/minute.

04 February 2015

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks

Didn't leave the apartment until 8:30 am, so I'm really hoping the lifeguards aren't on duty until 9:30 am, which seems to be the case. I parked at 8:45 am, geared up and got in the water at a little after 9:00 am. I swam on the surface out past the swim buoys and then descended at 9:15 am. No lifeguards in sight. I headed East and was on the lookout for the juvenile Caribbean Reef Squid and the baby Nurse Shark I saw yesterday. Didn't see either one of them but I did get some shots of

 a Bearded Fireworm,
a Juvenile Green Razorfish,
 a closeup of a Sand Diver, and
a shot of a Yellow Sand Ray well hidden in the sand. After I took this shot, I found the tire and the Giant Hermit Crab I had seen and photographed yesterday. I moved the crab a bit to make a better picture, then went up while he calmed down and came out of his shell, again.

Dive Time was 52 minutes; consumption rate was 26.63 psi/minute at 20 ft average depth; SAC rate was 16.58 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.43 ft3/minute.

I used my breathing to get positively buoyant and go to the surface without kicking. Kind of like practicing a controlled emergency swimming ascent where I try to limit my exhalations so that I eliminate only the expanding gas while remaining slightly positively buoyant all the way to the surface, or at least as far as I can go. On the surface, I blew up my inner tube and floated, but it was pretty bouncy. I went back down hoping to find the Giant Hermit Crab and photograph him again, but I was over some patch reef and the tire and the crab were no where in sight. I was in 24 ft of water, so I headed South towards the Jacks, then decided I should really head SW back to the beach and spend more time on the Algae Patch looking for the reef squid and the baby nurse shark. I swam SE, but I didn't see either animal.

I did get shots of this small Spotted Goatfish,
this Smooth Trunkfish, and
this Sand Perch.

The water was a lot rougher today than yesterday and considerably colder, as well. I got back to the sand with still 500 psi, but only 38 minutes, so I killed some time along the algae patch before I headed in.  I surfaced in 10 feet of water pretty close to the beach. The flag line was wrapped around me and I could not stop shivering, but I did calm down and unraveled everything, then swam in. My left leg was useless. It tingled but did not respond until after I had crawled out of the water and onto the beach.

Dive Time was 41 minutes; consumption rate was 35.2 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate was 23.23 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.6 ft3/minute.

03 February 2015

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks and the Tower 2 Algae Patch

I left the apartment at 8:30 am and got to the South Beach parking lot by 8:41 am.The surface temperature was colder than the water temperature. I geared up, walked to the water and got in. I swam on the surface well past the swim buoys but not off the algae patch, and then descended. Not much life on the algae patch, that I see, anyway. I take my first pictures of a small hermit crab inside a moonsail shell in the sand furrows just East of the Algae Patch.

I see and photograph a much bigger hermit crab on the Sand just East of the 3-tiered reef.  I also get buzzed by some jet skis, so I go up to yell at the little bastards and warm myself in the sun.

Dive Time was 53 minutes; consumption rate was 28.23 psi/minute at an average depth of 20 ft; SAC rate was 16.94 psi/minute and the RMV was 0.44 ft3/minute.

When I descend again, I turn South to get to the Jacks and swim along the furrows looking for the Gaudy Naticas (moonsail shells with delicate green patterns instead of the all white shell). I take some photographs of various fish when I get to the Jacks, including these Juvenile Creole Wrasse.

 I also get several shots of a little Southern Atlantic Stingray as he took off from the Jacks.

On the Algae Patch, I find and photograph a small Nurse Shark with small dark spots.

and a small baby Caribbean Reef Squid. Then I surface, wind up the flag reel and swim in.

Dive Time is 41 minutes; consumption is 34.88 psi/minute at an average depth of 16 feet; my SAC rate is 23.49 psi/minute and the RMV is 0.61 ft3/minute.