Another Dive... cont...

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Posted by seahunt on November 11, 1999 at 15:01:29:

The next spot was a place I first visited more than 25 years ago.
It had various names including Eel Reef. It's a sad commentary that I
haven't seen any eels there in a long time. I sure used to.
This is another group of pinnacles that come fairly near the
surface in places and goes down deeper than you want to go. Lem always
heads out to some rocks at about 105 feet. I always go across the 30
foot section of the reef and drop straight down the far side to the
sand around 80 feet before heading back around the reef at 60 feet.
Who knows where Carl and Gil were planning to go? Since this reef is
pinnacles rising from 80 feet or more, you have to be careful at depth
or you may lose track of where you are. You may then find that you
have crossed to a smaller rock, say the size of a house, instead of the
main part of the reef. Then you have to wonder which is the way back
instead of just going off into the deep water over sand.
I hopped in and could tell that the kelp was real thick and
healthy this year, though there was very little bio-luminescence at
this spot. This time there was 5 pounds of lead in my BC pocket.....
I saw a couple of shorts at the top of the reef which suprised me. I
expected that they would be deeper. Oh well. It was more likely that
I would find bigger ones a bit deeper, so I headed straight down the
side to the edge of the reef at 85 feet. There were no bug eye
reflections from out in the sand so I quickly moved around. Not only
did I see no bugs, I got the feeling that there were none there.
Hmmm. Time for a change in plan.
The reef is beautiful diving. There are lots of fish, urchins,
starfish and other critters. As I swam up I went past a school of
silver baitfish hanging out just off the wall of the reef.
I continued on up to the top of the reef betwen 20 and 30 feet.
There is lots of thick short seaweeds growing up here where the light
is strong. Sure enough, I started seeing a lot of shorts and then,
behind a large kelp plant, I got a glimpse of a nice bug on the side
of a rock. He didn't think that I had seen him until I swatted him
and gave him a look at the inside of my bag. He was easily a 2
pounder. There wasn't much point in measuring that one.
Well, if the bugs are up here, who am I to complain. There was
a light current from the west. I figured that they were coming out
to feed in the current. What I like to do under these conditions is
to get under the leading edge of the pinnacles at say 40 feet and
then move up to grab any bugs out in the open on the rock face
feeding from the oncoming currents. Sometimes, at the beginning of
the season, there may be groups of 7 to 15, or even more, grouped
together in the current. You just have to nail the biggest ones. I
was seeing bugs, even groups of 3, but they were all obviously short.
I just kept moving over the reef, figuring that with all the shorts I
was seeing, there must be some legals. It was shallow. I'd have lots
of time to look. Even though this reef is pretty diving, I was doing
far less sight seeing than I generally do. After that first goose egg
dive, I was seriously hunting.... to no avail. So many shorts, so few
legal victims.
Oh well. I did get one nice one. No one else did anything
special. Lem figured that he had gone to his deep spot once or
twice too many times... At least I was back in my comfort zone and
moving good. Hmmm, well there was one more dive to go.
Last dive for the night. This was the cliff. There is a large
reef area at one end, extending from shore to past 100 feet, with
sand in parts to fool you. I myself like to do a long shallow swim
right along the cliff where the reef is more narrow. I mostly use
snorkel and then when it's time, I turn around and search in the 15
to 30 foot range, out a bit, using my tank. It is always worth
looking at the base of the reef and out over the sand for walkers
and bug eye reflections. This dive turned out to be a bump dive.
I came to shore and started working along, trying to get a
good look at everything shallower than say 8 feet. This is tough
with big rocks that go to right near the surface. You can get in
small spaces and have to backtrack some to get around. Also, just
offshore, thick kelp started. It is thick enough along the cliff,
but just a bit out, it got tough to get through.
I was bouncing along and had passed the first corner. I look
along the vretical cliff face and on any flat rocks. Bugs often
hang out there. I saw a couple of shorts. Enough to make me
optimistic anyway. Then there was a flat rock in about 2 feet of
water. There was a huge bug, unmoving and spread out flat on top
of it. The rock was only about 2 feet by 2 feet, covered with
short red coraline algaes and the bug was near as big as it was.
I hesitated and deserved to have lost it then. It was so big and
still that it seemed a molt or just an unreal image of kelp made
by my eyes. I didn't hesitate all that long though. I just sorta
jumped at it, dropping my light and hitting it with both hands.
I've grabbed bigger and meaner critters than that and they don't
move much when I've got a grip. I VERY carefully changed grip to
one hand on the base of both horns, opened my bag and shoved it
in. Wow. Snorkeling in 2 feet of water. I've gotten bigger bugs,
but not at night and not recently. This is what makes it a bump
dive. You swim along, pulling up your knee just a bit to bump the
bug as you swim, just to make sure that it is still there.
I continued along the cliff. It's tough swimming because no
matter how calm the ocean is, there is going to be a lot of wave
movement right against the shore. I saw lots of shorts and bagged
one that seemed legal. I was actually suprised that I wasn't
feeling particularly tired yet. I had gone nearly to the end of
the cliff, which is about 1/4 mile or so. I did know that my
sinuses were unhappy though, so with that nice big bug it
certainly seemed time to turn back. Also there was that time
after Ohio when I had felt fine and then couldn't walk the next
I went on down to 15 feet and started to head back, looking
in the thick shallow seaweeds. Because the bottom is so uneven
and broken with big boulders, I had to look at my compass
occasionally to stay oriented. Sometimes I went out over the
sand at the base of the reef. I figured I had lots of air at that
depth. I was going over some weeds and saw a bug that was easily
a quarter inch over legal. Again I was suprised. Also it was well
positioned or was it just that I made a grab at its head, not
it's tail. Either way, I don't think I even touched it.
I came to the end of the reef and started out over the sand
towards the boat. I finally saw a small horned shark. Usually, I
see a dozen or so per dive here. I kept sweeping my light over
the sand and then contineud a bit past where I thought the boat
was. Last dive there, I came to the anchor of the boat and went
straight up. Lem said that he had gone about 15 feet further and
had found a couple of nice 2 pounders sitting in the sand. Not
this time.
I was first back on the boat, but could see two large spots
of aquamarine moving along the inside of the cove. That would be
Gil and Carl. One started coming in and before long the other
headed the same way. I arranged my gear and measured the smaller
bug. it was legal. Time to relax. It was a beautiful clear night
just made for watching the stars. I didn't see any meteors though.
When Carl got to the boat and asked how it went, I replied
that I had one that was sure legal. Gil came up and said that he
had found a big one. It was at least 3 pounds. They had both
gotten a few legals. I pulled out my big one and got the expected
suprise. After a short time, we saw Lem's light moving around the
outside of the reef off the point. He had gotten some really nice
ones, but then he had probably swam more than a mile. The guy is
a great diver.
Gil said that at one point he had come across a lobster on
the back of a large sea hare. A sea hare is like a purple slug
about the size of a large cat. It was just ripping the sea hare
apart with it's legs. None of us had seen anything like this
before. We had all just assumed that nothing would try to eat
one. Somehow I must doubt Gil in that he said it was out of
pitty that he saved the sea hare by grabbing the bug. I really
must think that self interest had something to do with it.
While I had only gotten 3 bugs, that big one made up for it.
There was only one disappointment to it though. I've always
wanted to see a big one out walking at night. I've always made
the night dive at San Nic or any outer island where I happened
to be at night, even if I was cold and tired. I figured that if
I got lucky and saw a big bull walking, it would look like a
monster under the water. I figured I sorta deserved to find this
one. I've done a lot of night diving looking for him. It's just
that I'm used to diving on a bug, doing a quick swat, barely
hitting it, doing some juggling, getting a few urchin spines and
then maybe getting it in my bag. This was a big bug alright and
looked huge spread out on the rock, but it was just sitting
there. Even though I hesitated, it never started to move and I
hit it clean enough with both hands such that it couldn't much
even struggle. Hmmmmmm. I guess I wish it had been a bit more
Enjoy the diving, seahunt

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