VAMB CUP III Trip Report

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Posted by Tunnel Rat Richard on January 30, 2006 at 12:04:28:

It was a dark and stormy night... maybe somewhere in the world, but not at Queen's Landing, Long Beach! Eric and I showed up at the boat at about the same time Thursday afternoon-- only to find many ugly-looking rusty tools together with disassembled boat pieces laying all over the deck and Captain Tim nowhere in sight! (However, Eric and I, being veterans of many Great Escape trips, weren't worried. We've seen this before.) The weather was spectacular, not a cloud in the sky, the temperature was in the high 60s/low 70s, and the cole slaw at the fish market was screaming E. coli. We knew we had arrived in dive heaven once again. The Utah contingent showed up later that afternoon, in ones and twos. Sometimes two and a halfs. I knew we were in for a great trip when Gerald ("Bullets") appeared wearing an expression only a Utah diver can muster-- "Thank gawd I'm out of St. George, at least for the weekend!" Capt. Tim soon made a guest appearance; sporting a new growth against which antiviral drugs don't stand a chance, he soon had the boat reassembled and ready to rock. Scuba Steve (sick, but walking) and his fiancee, destined to be Galley Girl for the trip (Rob who?), followed. Gruppenfuhrer Travis and the rest of the bunch trickled in as the night wore on and then, out of the blue (or brown or green, or whatever) Moose Brother Mike arrived--with Mini-Moose in tow! Now this is a sight to behold-- this kid is only seven years old and already looks like a Pittsburg linebacker... The excitement was too much for yours truly, and I hit the sack soon thereafter, retreating to The Black Pit known as bunk #17. Some time later that evening Moose Bro. Art and the rest of the contingent arrived and we were ready for VAMB III!

I awoke the next morning only to lay eyes on the most beautiful of sights-- THE GREEN BUOY! Yes, we had traveled hard through the night, braving swells that ran, maybe, 6 inches, only to anchor at Elaine's Favorite Dive Spot, and a bug hunter's wet dream (the dive spot, not Elaine) at the Isthmus. About half the boat was soon suited up and in the water, and not too long thereafter our favorite crustaceans began making an appearance back on deck. Not in ones or twos, but in fives and sixes. The rest of the divers soon followed suit; Ron got in the water with his video and, despite still nurturing injuries from last year, I soon followed. I went to where I knew the bugs would be and, sure enough, there they were. Not even hiding under kelp fronds, but out in the open, walking around, at about 120-130 ft. It was the most amazing site-- the bottom was literally COVERED with squid eggs (about half an inch in diameter, and 4-6 inches long, all white) and the lobsters were out gorging themselves on the bounty! Having foresworn hunting for video I only bagged a couple for old time's sake, then proceeded to swim around viewing this awesome display of leftover squid frenzy. Sometimes eggs were in a bunch, displayed like an Indian headdress bonnet, other times washed together in random stacks half a foot thick. The dive/trip was worth it just to see this sight alone. By morning's end it was clear that we weren't going anywhere-- the bugs were here, several limited out on the first dive, the water and conditions were great. However, the VAMB Cup contenders were sitting on goose-eggs...

By afternoon we moved a little further along the channel toward shore, and anchored right on TOP of Secret Spot. It was "do or die" time for the Moose Bros. Unfortunately, it turned out to be closer to the latter. Moose Bro. M caught sight of crustaceans and was soon overcome by bug frenzy! At 100 ft and 200 psi, Moose Bro. A decided to haul Bro. M back to the surface for at least a glancing blow at a safety stop. And, as luck would have it, a current had come up. So now, sucking empty tanks, both Bros. had a looooong swim to the current line, then a looooooonger haul back to the boat. (Don't try this at home, kids.) Not a big deal, really-- all true bug hunters have been there / done that. AND MOOSE BRO. M HAD 6 BUGS-- SMALL, BUT LEGAL! Back at the swim step, eyes smouldering, spent as an old guy after 5 hours at the Spearmint Rhino (I wouldn't know anything about that), grinning from ear to ear, Mike emerged from the water-- a newly-baptized TRUE BUG HUNTER!

That night and the Second Day we toyed with a few other front-side spots, but nothing of great interest to report. It was the Moose Bros.' 42nd birthday, however, and we were all in a celebratory mood. Even Capt. Tim, despite staring birthday #50 the next day, was smiling... In the end, Gruppenfuhrer and many others limited out; Jack ended up with 7 bugs and, much to his chagrin, his son with 14! (This is a good thing, Jack.) And so, the time had come to go home-- the gear was put away, showers for many, a great lunch by Steve's fiancee. And the Awarding of the Cup. Now, in the Judge's opinion (i.e., Yours Truly, Emeritus Moose Tunnel Rat Richard), although Mike had a bigger bug than Art (who didn't have any bugs), Mike's bugs were NOT of sufficient QUALITY to merit the Awarding of the Cup this year, ESPECIALLY not for a True Bug Hunter (even a newly-baptized TBH). A turning point had been passed, the bar had been raised, a new precedent had been established-- a few bugs aren't good enough any more... HOWEVER, after much WHINING and GNASHING OF TEETH, the Judge's decision was successfully overturned on appeal!

And so it came to pass... This Year's VAMB Cup--No. III--was awarded to Mike LaCilento! (Number I wasn't awarded since neither Moose Bro. got a bug; No. II went to Art last year.) And so it was written. And so it was done.

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