|Trip Report and Photos: Sea Divers to the Moody on the GE - May 20, 2006|
Posted by Elaine on May 28, 2006 at 18:55:35:|
Trip Report and Photos
Sea Divers visit the Wreck of the Moody, the Wreck of the Avalon,
Pt. Vicente, and Old Marineland on the Great Escape
May 20, 2006
Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission.
I arrived at the Great Escape on Friday evening. Usually most people on the Sea Diver trips arrive the night before. On this evening, I walked into an empty galley. I was welcomed by a brightly lit welcome sign and Captain Tim. Where was everybody?
A short time later, Chris and Kathryn arrived. We did our usual pre trip dinner run. When we returned, the Great Escape was still mostly empty.
After a very peaceful nights rest, we made our 5am departure for the Moody. There were only 13 Sea Divers on our trip. THIRTEEN people - what a grim number - a Sea Diver dozen. The bright side was that the thirteen of us had the whole boat to ourselves. Plenty of room to spread out. Heck, this was going to be a great trip!
When we arrived at the Moody, Captain Kevin donned his drysuit. He made the first dive to be certain that the anchor line would lead us to the wreck.
We waited patiently for his return and the news of the site conditions. Well, most of us waited patiently. Chris Grossman took a few eggs from the galley and held target practice while Kevin was on his 10 foot stop. Fortunately, Chris was a really rotten shot and Captain Kevin did not emerge looking like an omelet.
Kevin reported no current, a layer of pea soup to traverse with several eggs in the water column, decent visibility below about 80 feet, and a very dark wreck. With that information we began our dive day on the Moody.
My trip down the anchor line seemed to last forever. It kept going, and going, and going. I must have checked my depth gauge about twenty times to see how much farther 145 feet was going to be. At long last, my flashlight brought pieces of a structure into view. The surrounding darkness was stunning. All I could see was whatever the battery powered beam landed on. Looking up, daylight had changed to a faint green glow. It was eerie and a little disorienting. I cautiously moved a few feet from the anchor line. I could see the dive lights of divers descending behind me and it gave me confidence as to the location of the line. "I can do this" I thought and I raised my camera to begin grabbing some photographs.
I became absorbed with the autofocus that wouldn't lock on the dark scenery. I would shine my dive light on an area and hear the mechanical whir of the searching lens. Only sometimes would it catch and fire. I tried to set up a three foot manual focus lock - I couldn't catch the distance and lock it - something that should be easy to do just wasn't happening. After a while I noticed that my short term memory was "drifting". As best as I can describe it, I was loosing my sense of moment to moment continuity. Whatever I wasn't directly focused on was disappearing from my awareness completely. Mental information that I take for granted - like knowing the general direction I had just traveled from was missing. I had the sudden urge to get out of the situation. The anchor line no longer had dive lights coming down it and was harder than I anticipated to find. I did find it though and began a slow ascent. At about 120 feet I started to feel better and more confident. I had remorse that I was blowing a great opportunity for some interesting photos. I decided to give it another try and descended once again to 146 very dark feet.
These are two of my photos from the first minute or so of the dive. Not great, but at least I could overcome some of the obstacles. They were shot on Provia 400 pushed to 800.
These are two of my photos taken on my second attempt. Interesting, but not in the way that I had hoped.
I decided to cut my cards and give up. I looked around for the anchor line. This time I couldn't find it. I had probably traveled little more than 10 feet from it but there was now a cloud of silt in the area so heavy that all I could see was silt. I searched for a brief while and then made the decision that my best option would be to ascend without the line and do it before I became even more lost, disoriented, and nitrogen loaded. There had been little to no current on the way down. I crossed my fingers that there was still no current as I began my slow trip back to the surface without security of the chain handrail. It was a long slow journey through the green water column. I wondered exactly where I would be when I finally broke surface. The sound of the boat generator was a continual reassurance that I was not drifting far. A few minutes into my 20 foot safety stop I bumped into something. It was Chris hanging on the anchor line! A good ending to a precarious situation.
After the dive on the Moody, everyone had their own story to tell. Some had memories of a great dive, some had tales of nitrogen narcosis, everyone seemed to have a memorable dive of some sort.
Our next stop was at the wreck of the Avalon. From the surface, visibility looked limited. Expecting pea soup conditions, I opted to take a macro set up. I regretted this during the dive, at depth it was beautiful and visibility was about as good as I've seen it at the Avalon. I did find plenty of nudibranchs and these are some of my photos from this dive.
The sun finally broke through the clouds at our third dive site - a beautiful rocky reef off Pt. Vicente.
Visibility at the point was only 15 to 20 feet, but nudibranchs provided lots of photo ops.
The Grand Finale was a final dive at Old Marineland. I was hopeful to find and photograph a Dendronotus iris or "Rainbow Nudibranch." Phil Garner aka "Max Bottomtime" found a large colony of them this year during one of his many Marineland dives. Special thanks to Phil who has shared their presence and made them quite famous via the Internet. Roger Carlson gave me some instructions on where to look and the best strategies to use to find them. He also clued me into their size - several inches long - I had no idea that they were that big.
I left the boat, two camera set ups in hand and traveled across the sand toward shore. When I reached some isolated patches of rocky reef, I saw nudibranchs and a tiny baby flat fish, but no Dendronotus iris.
I located some tube anemones but none of them were productive for finding the nudibranch. Just as I was starting to feel a little discouraged I saw one crawling across the sand. Then I found another, and another, and another. Finally I began to see the anemones decorated with eggs and Dendronotus iris. I also found an underwater rope trail and an upline to an underwater marker. All along the rope path were anemones with eggs and nudi's. At the end of the dive I hung at the underwater marker for a long safety stop.
Great job Captain Tim and Crew. Thanks so much.
A few months ago I slid down a marina ramp and skinned my left knee. On this trip I fell over and skinned my right knee. I haven't had a matched set of skinned knees like this since childhood.
Until next time........
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