diving san diego last saturday (aug 11)...


Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by kelphead on August 16, 2001 at 18:44:28:

it was absolutely beautiful!! the skies turned blue after our 1st dive--a rarity based on my experience diving san diego. the sun was out. it was an absolutely enjoyable dive day.

a friend had chartered the new boat, 'blue explorer', through the 'blue escape' dive shop. we had the run of the boat with only 7 divers on board. this boat is a little larger than the 'blue escape', but does not yet have a compressor on-board (i think i was told they would have one by next month, or so). it has two heads and they offered food, bevs, and tanks (and nitrox for those who requested it). this boat also has this funky stabilizer thingamajig which upon activation, will stabilize the boat enough that it doesn't roll around as much. it seemed to work pretty well, but if you are really prone to seasickness, don't stop taking those meds. apparently, this boat was a military vessel once upon a time that is now in the process of being converted to recreational diving needs. [[you can check it all out on the 'blue escape' website.]]

at about 7:30am, we headed out to the 'ruby e' wreck dive. i've dived this wreck only once before and it was, of course, a pleasure to dive it again. my buddy and i made our way across the deck. at one point, my buddy entered and then exited what i believe was the wheel house. at the exit point, i noticed a whole pile of abalone shells, just piled one on top of the other. they were covered in brown algae, which would mean to me that they had been there for a while, but i thought it was just odd to see a pile of abalone shells there.

we continued to make our way across the deck, there is a lot of life and color on this wreck. lots of nudibranchs, orange cup corals, even some purple colored ones(?), sponges, etc. at one point, my buddy entred another compartment--i don't know what that compartment was--but just before he did so, we saw a decorator crab crawling around the compartment's opening. i swear those creatures look like nothing more than a rock with legs!!! i think they're pretty funny.

after my buddy exited that compartment, we made our way down the starboard side of the boat and swam along the length of the boat back to the mooring line. at this point, i saw a small white metridium stuck to the side of the wreck. i believe this is the first time i've ever seen a metridium (aka white plumed anemone) outside of monterey waters. i've heard of them existing in san diego waters, but i think that was my first time seeing one in san diego.

my buddy spotted a type of 'cancer' crab wedging itself btwn the bottom of the wreck and the ocean floor. i peered through the portholes(?) and saw some of our group inside the wreck. saw another type of crab literally holed up in some hole on the side of the wreck. i also saw what appeared to me to be a neutrally bouyant spanish shawl--it was just hanging there in the water, not moving. i thought that was funny, too. lots of color, lots of life on that wreck. and it's pretty dark down there, so a really bright light is needed.

we made our way back to the mooring line, and at this point, i was reaching my ndl and running low on air. my buddy and i parted while he joined the others who were on nitrox. i made my way up the mooring line and did my safety stop there. a school of kelp bass decided to hang out w/me and keep me company--i sensed that one of them wanted to get unusually close to me, but every time i reached out, it swam away.

got back to the boat and changed my tank out while we waited for the rest of our group to return. and, boy!!, do i appreciate on-board compressors!! it's such a pain to have to change out one's tank on a boat--not once, but twice in the course of our day.

i don't have my vital stats in front of me right now, but the max depth on that 1st dive was ~80ft. temp was ~49F, if i remember correctly, and the vis was actually not bad, something in the range of 20ft or so.

re:the drysuit, i've only been in my suit a total of...16 times now. when i dived the 'ruby e' on this dive, it was my 14th time in my suit. i think i can finally say that i have it down. yay! i've got my undergarments figured out (after trying different combinations), i've got my wt down (that was fun!), and i've got the exhaust valve and bouyancy issues taken care of. whew! i would like to thank all those who provided me w/advice and opinion, and i would like to especially thank trial and error as they had the most affect on my performance. = : )

diving the 'ruby e' last saturday was the 1st time in a loooooong time that i had started to enjoy my dives again--no more worrying and fussing w/the suit. it was so wonderful.

after the rest of the gang came back aboard--and after retrieving the missing reg that had mysteriously unscrewed itself from a deco bottle--we headed out to the kelpbeds.

we dropped down on a site that doesn't have a formal name (a wall that one of the divers in our group had discovered some time ago), and as we were swimming along in the direction of the wall, a shiny object caught my eye. i turned to look and a short distance away, i saw what i believe to be the inside of an abolone shell pointing skyward. if i had time to stop, i would've gone over there and checked it out and brought it along with me, but we were on a mission to find the wall and i stuck w/the group.

alas, despite the fact that a heading was taken, none of us could find the wall, so we ended up swimming around. though there was disappointment w/in the group, i didn't mind too much, i was noticeably enjoying swimming around in my drysuit not having a care in the world, staying warm and controlling my bouyancy well. we saw a couple of shrimp (red striped kind), some interesting rock formations, and some colorful invertebrate life. not much life where we were at, but very healthy kelp, and lots of different kinds of fish. the sun was fully out now and it was relatively bright at depth--in fact, my big light was pretty useless at this point.

since my buddy was again on nitrox--and i was not--i signalled that i had to skidaddle. he decided he was done, too, so we did our safety and headed back to the boat.

we waited for the other divers to return, and after that chowed down on some EXCELLENT home-cooked beef ribs that my friend (who chartered the boat for us) made. DEEEEEEELISHUSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! mmm,mmm.

the last dive of the day was also in the kelpbeds, but at a different site. this time only 3 of us decided to venture forth--everyone else decided they were done for the day. this was a shallower and surgier site. we dropped down and there were lots of rock reefs to investigate. again, a big light was not necessary at this site, but boy, did it help when it came to finding that swell shark in a hole!!! = : D i have not seen any sharks for a looooong time now while diving, and i was ecstatic to see one camped out under a rock. couldn't tell how big it was, b/c all it showed out of its hole was its face and that was it. i tried to scream for attention (as i've been told i can be heard quite well, even underwater), but surprisingly that didn't work. i had to go after my buddies and bring them back to share the sighting w/them. i'm so glad i got to see a shark, i was wondering what had happened to them. same thing w/moray eels: the past year or two, i have missed seeing them. maybe i need to go back and dive the sites i dove way back when i started diving.

anyway, we also saw some lobsters at this site, as well as BABY spanish shawl nudi's. yeah, i know that they are small to begin with, but these were definitely baby baby baby tiny spanish shawls. a whole bunch of them crawling around on a rock. so cute!

midway through my dive, i started experiencing bouyancy control issues. it was getting to the point where i was becoming frustrated and confused and i was not having any fun at all. i couldn't understand what was happening to me, until something all of a sudden clicked in my head: i was in relatively shallow waters.

after i realized what was going on, i adjusted and i was fine after that, but it was getting to where i was ready to end the dive anyway: ndl and running low on air. i signalled to my buddies that i was done, one of them tried to escort me back to the anchor line--but we missed it--and i decided to ascend. my other buddy thought of doing the same, so he started his ascent shortly after i did. the other buddy had enough air and time and decided to hang out a little longer.

me and buddy #1 made it back to the boat. buddy #2 came back w/enlarged eyes and a rabid look about him. after telling us how he saw a stingray swimming around after we had departed, he then proceeds to tell us how he saw ~200--that's TWO HUNDRED--lobsters all at one spot. yeah, sure, ok, whatever. he swears that he saw that many--even reminded him of a horror flick! he was desperately trying to find out the name and exact location of this site just so that he can return in october.

...i don't know...if you ask me, i don't think that wall we were trying to find or the 200 lobsters really exist. i think that there is a real danger to all this nitrox use, and me thinks that hallucinations abound, especially when such sightings can't be verified by a group of divers. = ; b = ; b

all in all, it was a great of group of divers, it was a nice little boat (all the nicer since we had only 7 divers on board), excellent food, and very cooperative seas!!!!!, and beautiful weather.

now, as far as my drysuit is concerned: i never took a formal drysuit course so i don't know if the following lesson would be taught in such a course, but based on my own experiences and the advice of another diver, i came to the following realization...

one lesson i had learned was when i was drysuit diving off malaga cove w/a buddy back in june. we were in 20ft of water and what i noticed then--but apparently about forgot last saturday--is that in 20ft of water, i didn't need to use the b.c. at all. in fact, it would have been dangerous if i had done so. using the suit for both bouyancy and warmth in a depth of 20ft was just fine, thank you very much. when i came to this conclusion off malaga cove, the entire rest of the dive was fine and enjoyable.

last saturday, i learned that drysuit diving at 80ft is slightly different than drysuit diving at ~40ft. the deeper one dives, the more one needs to rely on one's b.c. for bouyancy control; the shallower one dives, one better NOT use that b.c. and instead one is capable of using the suit by itself for bouyancy. when that finally clicked in my head while i was having bouyancy control issues on the 3rd dive last saturday, i adjusted by bleeding all the air out of my b.c. and only relied on my suit for bouyancy. i was fine after that.

a friend came up w/his 33/66/99 rule (don't know if something like this is formally taught, buy my friend came up w/it, i believe, based on trial and error and practicing w/his own suit, etc.) the 33/66/99 rule goes like this:

**at 33ft, rely on the suit and not at all on the b.c.

**at 66ft, rely on the b.c. for bouyancy and the suit for warmth, while adjusting each--if necessary--to maintain neutral bouyancy

**at 99ft, one will have to rely more heavily on the b.c. b/c no amount of air one puts in the suit will be enough to stay bouyant AND streamlined

based on my own limited, personal experience, i can't agree more w/my friend. (i would add that the deeper one dives, the more one can rely on a semi-closed valve to keep the air in the suit from escaping; but the shallower one dives, it's probably best to keep that valve all the way open instead--better to have air escaping all the time in the shallows rather than get air trapped in one's suit and expand while ascending just a few feet.)

anyway, last saturday was a very fun dive day off the 'blue explorer' boat--we will return!!!!

kelphead.




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