14 February 2015

Finn and Jerry make their first two Open Water Dives off Tower 3

Finn and Jerry, my students, were late, but the parking lot had been taken over for some festival or other. Ryan O'Connor showed showed up. He and Luis buddied up, which was a good thing.

Leo helped me with the students. Weighted them heavy and planned on putting air in their BCDs to adjust the buoyancy. Before we got in, I noticed Jerry's tank was really low, so I took that opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the loose tank band skill.

Despite being at least 4 pounds over-weighted , both Finn and Jerry had trouble getting down and staying down, but neither of them seemed light. As we were grouping on the bottom, Jerry headed to the surface. I went after him trying to slow him down. We surfaced together and I asked what happened. Jerry said that he got soap in his eyes from the anti-fog he put on his mask. He washed it off and we went back down.

Finn initially swam head up suggesting he was over weighted. Jerry did a little better, but he was dragging in the sand at the beginning of the dive. When I got to 2500 psi, I checked their air: both of them claimed to have 2000 psi left. Leo had the flag and was with Jerry just behind Finn and I. At 2000 psi, I checked again, and Jerry was down to 1300 psi, so I turned the dive and we headed back.

We moved a little faster on the way back and Jerry shared air with Leo part of the way back. On the Algae Patch we found an Atlantic Guitarfish which Finn claims not to have seen but Leo, Jerry and I watched it for quite awhile before it swam away. We swam into 4 ft of water and stood up, walked to the beach and up to the parking lot.

Water temperature was 69 degrees; Dive time was 65 minutes; consumption was 31.02 psi/minute at an average depth of 17 feet; SAC rate was 20.47 psi/minute on an aluminum 80.

We were out of the water for almost 2 hours trying to warm up. The sun felt really good, but I wasn't really getting warm. Reluctantly, we decided to gear up and get back in the water for the second dive. Neither Jerry nor Finn wanted to change weights. I'm not sure it would matter. I think they are still getting comfortable and learning to breath to adjust their buoyancy.

Anyway, we got back in and swam out on the surface to a sandy spot and went down. Finn was slow getting down, but he did make it. We then went through the various skills. Both Finn and Jerry were having problems hovering, so I inflated their BCDs until they could perform the skill.  We would have a conversation on the surface about their being too light to descend yet too heavy to hover. After we had gone through all of the skills, I checked on their air and we headed East. At about 24 ft we turned South and headed up towards the Jacks, but along the way, Jerry signalled that he was down to 1600 psi, so we turned the dive and headed back.

Again, we went faster on the way back and Finn and I lost Leo and Jerry at one point, so we surfaced and I chased the flag, getting to it just as Leo and Jerry surfaced to look for us. We went back down to swim in. I had trouble getting up the step onto the beach and Finn kindly came back to give me a hand. I popped my knee-cap loading the truck and it swelled up during our dives. I was limping on the way back to the parking lot.

Water temperature was 69 degrees; Dive time was 56 minutes; consumption was 33.75 psi/minute at an average depth of 18 feet; SAC rate was 21.84 psi/minute on an aluminum 80.

12 February 2015

Another Surprising Dive on the Yankee Clipper Jacks

Slept late, but got to the beach by 8:15 am. Read a little then geared  up. Shot one picture and everything seemed to be working, but the second one didn't fire. Seemed as if the battery was dead, but I had changed it this morning. Took the camera anyway, since it promised to be a bright and sunny day, but the the calm flat surface of the ocean was hiding a mass of currents with lots of surge and very little visibility.

I stepped in between breaking waves and was suddenly in over by head. The next wave pushed me onto a 2-foot shelf and I had to push back into deep water to get my legs under me. I started East to get beyond the breakers, but the ocean floor was pitted with deep holes and quick rises. I finned up and swam out, keeping air out of my BCD and exhaling to go under incoming waves and breakers. I got out, but it was work. I thought about taking the camera back to the truck, but decided against it. The Lifeguards would be coming soon, and I had not figured out exactly when that was. Didn't want to be beached for "my own good." So I swam out over the algae patch and then descended just before the sand. Found a couple of nice Gaudy Naticas and eventually got to the 24 ft section, where I ended the first dive and went up.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption was 30.11 psi/minute at an average depth of 20 feet; SAC rate was 18.75 and RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.

When I descended, I was still North of the Jacks by about 30 feet. I almost swam into them. Stayed North and stayed away from the Jacks. I couldn't control the flag line in the surge and I was afraid it would be hung up on the Jacks. I headed West past a single Jack and then over the sand. Seemed like I was either flying West or hanging onto the reef to avoid the counter-surge to the East. I did take some pictures, but they didn't come out very well.

 Got this shot of a Smooth Trunkfish,
and this shot of a Spotted Scorpionfish, though I had handholds to the East and West of him and had to take my shot as I flew by in the surge.
Found this little Yellow Sand Ray on the Algae Patch. It let me scratch the underside of its wings a couple of times then moved off slowly.

I got onto the white sand of the beach and went up even though I still had 1000 psi of air. I was in front of Tower 1, but there were guys riding boards down what appeared to be really large breaking waves. I swam in and timed things so I got into shallow water between breakers. I quickly got my fins off and stood up, only to be knocked down by the next wave that came along. I rolled on my side to protect the camera and managed to push back into deeper water and try again. Second time was the charm, I got pushed up the beach and held on.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption was 32.47 psi/minute; SAC rate was 21.87 psi/minute with an aluminum 80 tank.

10 February 2015

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks

Got to the parking lot early, but the wind was up and I was cold standing around, so I geared up and got in. Wind was at least 10 knots, but out of the West, so the ocean was flat. Swam South to the cut out, then East to the sand. Drifted way North and went East along the bottom of the 3-tiered reef to 25 feet of water and turned South. Went up at 55 minutes.

 Got this shot of a Balloonfish over the Algae Patch,
then this shot of a Bearded Fireworm on a patch of sand,
 This shot of a Flamingo Tongue walking along the bottom, and
this shot of a Smooth Trunkfish over a small patch of coral.

Water temperature as 73 degrees; consumption was 27.13 psi/minute at an average depth of 19 ft; SAC rate on an 80 ft3 tank was 17.21 psi/minute.

I did not mess with the computer on the surface this time. I descended after a short surface interval and went to 24 feet of water. Headed Southwest and hit the Jacks.

Stayed on the North Side of the Jacks and swam West. Got this shot of a Giant Anemone as the Jacks cut into the 3-tiered reef.

Got this shot of a Planhead Filefish on the sand North of the Jacks.
Kept going West over the reef to the Algae Patch where I again searched for the juvenile reef squid, but didn't find any. I did find this Rock-boring Urchin along the South edge of the Algae Patch.

Swam West slowly and spotted the buoy in front of Tower 1. As I crossed onto the lighter sand, I got this shot of what I think is a Horse-eye Jack. Went out on the sand to 9 feet and came up.

Water Temperature was 73 degrees; consumption was 26.88 psi/minute at 15 ft average depth; SAC rate was 18.48 and RMV was 0.48 ft3/minute.

09 February 2015

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks

Turns out the ocean was very calm this morning. Should have made a couple of night dives, but slept in, instead. I got to the parking lot at 7:30 am, geared up. I swam out towards the swim buoy and noticed someone on a board paddling along on his belly. I considered that it might be a lifeguard seeking to force me to turn back, so I sped up. As I crossed the buoy line, Bill Evans said hello from his board.  Nice to see him.  I continued swimming out onto the Algae Patch and descended by a little after 8:00 am.

Visibility was surprisingly good: over 20 ft. Still, it was early and there were not a lot of fish around. I swam slowly East and got lost in my own daydreams. Got turned around once and was going West for who knows how long before I looked at the compass and recognized the problem. Found some shells. Got some pictures.

 Got this shot of a Juvenile French Grunt,
 this shot of a Yellowhead Wrasse,
this action shot of a Yellow Sand Ray,

and this shot of a Smooth Trunkfish.

I spotted an Atlantic Guitarfish on the sand North of the Jacks, but wasn't fast enough to get a picture. We were both startled, but that Guitarfish really shot out of there. I ascended at 1700 psi and 46 minutes, just a bit North of the Jacks.

Water Temperature was 73; consumption was 28.8 psi/minute at an average depth of 20 feet; SAC rate was 17.93 psi/minute and RMV was 0.46 ft3/minute.

Just relaxed on the surface. Sky was overcast, but light. Storm clouds to the South. Tried to change mode on the computer to see the water temperature, but the computer would not do it. Did extend the 5 minute turn over time, so I stayed up for 12 minutes before I got to a new dive. Descended to about 25 feet and swam promptly up to the Jacks. Lots of fish on the Jacks and I got some okay pictures.

Got this shot of a Blue Tang on the Jacks,
and this shot of a Glassyeye Snapper,
Unfortunately, I also found a got this photograph of a Lionfish on the Jacks.
Also got this shot of a Porkfish along the top of the Jacks.

I went up and over the Jacks, then swam West on the South side of the Jacks. Reeled the flag line in, as the line got hung up on the Jacks once.  Left the Jacks with about 1400 psi. Went across the sand then drifted a little South and went slowly across the Algae Patch looking for a little reef squid, but I didn't see anything. Swam across the sand to the beach and came up in 10 feet of water.

Water temperature 71; consumption rate was 26.30 at an average depth of 16 feet; SAC rate was 17.71 and RMV was .46 ft3/minute.

08 February 2015

Diving the Yankee Clipper Jacks

I swam out to the swim buoys and descended, then slowly swam to the East. I took my camera this morning, but visibility was not much better than yesterday and there just were very few fish around on the Algae Patch.

 I got this shot of a Bicolor Damselfish.

 Then this shot of a Reef Butterflyfish.
When I got on the sand, I got this shot of a Saucereye Porgy.

I overcompensated for the current and went North some, too.  Swam across the sand to about 25 feet and turned South.  I ascended at 1774 psi and just floated for a short surface interval.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption was 34.12 psi/minute at an average depth of 21 feet; SAC rate was 20.85 and the RMV was 0.54 ft3/minute.

While on the surface warming myself, I swam SW. I descended to 24 feet and continued heading SW.  Picked up some shells, but nothing spectacular. Swam to the Jacks and then along the North side of the Jacks and SW to the beach.
I got this shot of a Spotfin Butterflyfish on the Jacks.

Then this shot of a Hogfish, also on the Jacks.

I got this shot of what I think is Ivory Coral on the Algae Patch headed back to the beach.

I came out well South of Tower 1, but the slope of the beach was not so bad.  There was no step, or, probably more correctly, the step was lost in the high tide and I got to walk out without a great deal of trouble, except that the slope was sort of steep and I had little time to get my fins off and get organized for the walk out.

Water temperature was 71 degrees; consumption was 34.74 psi/minute at an average depth of 16 feet; SAC rate was 23.4 psi/minute and RMV was 0.60 ft3/minute.