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Posted by Eric S on October 01, 2007 at 21:37:56:

My fun started thursday at 4:00 am when my alarm went off. I was scheduled to go out on the NOAA boat with the scientists and start learning to drive the boat on the grid patterns they have marked out over Cordell Bank.

I left at 5:00 and was on the boat in Bodega Bay at 6:00.
On the way out to the bank we saw blue whales, a pod of black dolphins, several pods of grey whales, and a fur seal (yes, really, a fur seal!)
When we got to our first waypoint to start the transect we had to drop a very specialized piece of data collection equipment down with the winch to about 10 meters off the bottom then reel it back up again. This instrument takes many different readings of salinity, temperature, plankton etc. and must be dropped at an exact speed to gather the info acurately. This instrument got dropped down at almost every grid corner on our map.
We made a total of 6 transects following a huge grid pattern. Each transect took about 45 minutes travelling at exactly 10 knots. This is where it gets complicated because in no matter what conditions the direction and speed cannot change. There are scientists up on the flybridge recording all the animals and sea life they see. all this is recorded in accordance with the exact time and from that they can draw a map which shows visually where and how many animals they saw including all sea birds and even trash floating by. We came across a big piece of styrofoam floating by, probably from a dock somewhere over in Japan. We hauled it up on deck to get it out of the ocean.
All this time I will be putting into gong out on missions with NOAA will result in earned sea days and after many many sea days I will be eligible to take the USCG test and apply for a captains licence. Then I can look into possibly running dive charters on the North Coast. You see where I'm going with this?
While we where out there we also saw a huge male orca with a dorsal fin like a huge spike about 4-5 feet tall.
The day ended with us finally completing everything we had to do and we docked at 7:30 pm. 13.5 hours at sea.

I got home and started thrashing to get my dive gear ready for my trip. I got about 5 hours sleep and in the morning gathered the rest of my stuff and hit the freeway.

I rolled into Pasadena about 5:30 PM. Jon Davies and I caught up on things and cooked up some vermillion that I brought. At 10:00 PM we went to Flat rock and met up with Susan and Maciek up on the road where supposedly it's legal to park (more on that later).
We hiked straight down the goat trail to the point in the dark by flashlight. At 12:01 we hit the water and dove for 75 minutes.
I grabbed 4 legals after finding many shorts. The water was like a bath tub at 63-65 degrees. I think it may have been warmer on the surface. I was wearing a brand new 7 mil custom M&B wetsuit that was way to warm for these conditions. I should have brought something lighter.
The hike back up the fire road was murder. I thought I was going to have a heart attack! Wearing that suit, all the weight, bugs, light etc. made for a real grind up the hill.
The others left me in the dust, down right imbarrassing I tell you! When we got back up to our cars we found that someone had slashed the tires on all the vehicles starting with the first car parked in front of us. It just shows you that money can't buy class.
We got back to Pasadena at 3:00 AM and I crashed out on Jon's couch.

I was awakened at 7:00 am with a wet dog nose going all over my face and head. It started me laughing. I wake up early anyway so sleeping was over.
I tried to sleep a bit during the day but that's impossible for me.

I got back down to Redondo at 4 pm and got rid of, I mean, sold some backplates. At 5:30 I packed it up and went to Kings Harbor to meet up with everyone from the morning before and also Frank O. The 5 of us left the harbor at dusk on Frank's boat and headed to PV.
We did 2 dives at 2 different spots and I got 3 more bugs for a limit on the opening day. We got back to jon's house after midnight and in the morning I split and drove 7 hours back up north.
When I got home my wife, daughter and I had a lobster feast, then I had to get back in the car and take my daughter back to San Francisco to USF for another 3 hours of driving.
I got back home at 11:00 pm from that, had a glass of wine and passed out.

Today I was dead. I'm sore and tired but it was worth every minute. 700 miles round trip.

I can't wait to do it again.

Thank you guys for everything.



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