20090613 Breakwater

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Posted by Tao H on June 15, 2009 at 22:14:17:

Dive 1
Monterey, CA, Breakwater Cove, Metridium Field
HP100 3442PSI EANx 33% O2
Start Pressure: 3400 PSI End Pressure: 0600 PSI
Max Depth: 57-ft Water Temp: 59F
Start Time: 05:16 PDT Bottom Time: 00:47
Ballast Weight: 18-lbs
Visibility: 15~20-ft (with lights)

Left Fremont at about 02:15 and just like NOAA said, it was drizzling in some areas as I was driving down. Arrived at Breakwater around 04:15 and looked at the water a bit, walked around a bit, and then geared up. Entered the water by the showers/stairs at about 05:00 and swam to the area that's in front of the old square building on the beach by about 100-yards; had to avoid some kelp while swimming there by taking a shallow dive and swimming underwater until it was clear. I was surface swimming face down with my hands in front of me and it was cool to see the bioluminescent particles glowing as they passed around my hands.

The sky was starting to show a hint of light when I took a dive down to about 35-ft at the start but it was still pitch black without lights as I went down. I took a heading 330 and saw the smaller pipes but I managed to overshoot the big pipe. I found it when I took a reverse heading at 150. Followed the pipe out for who knows how long, I just know I was feeling negative on the dive and decided to leapfrog it by grabbing the fittings at each section of the pipe and pulling myself through just so I can move faster. I found myself breathing faster because of this, but it was fun nonetheless. Looked into the pipe when I reached the end of it to see who was home, I think it was a kelp rockfish and a tube anemone.

Took a 0 heading from the end of the pipe and it didn't take long before I saw a large boulder full of metridiums, I looked further ahead and saw more and decided to keep moving on thinking I might find something spectacular. Basically, the area has clusters of rocks and just about all the rocks are loaded with them. They were everywhere. Among the metridiums I saw lots of kelp rockfish and a few of the perch species roaming around.

Took a 180 heading to find the large pipe on the way back to the beach and then took a 150 heading when I saw the smaller pipes thinking it will take me back to where I entered the water. Found a red rock crab in a hole just sitting there passively and didn't mind that I was recording it on video and shining a light in its face. I even tried to nudge it. Somewhere along the way, I surfaced just to make sure I was going where I wanted to go and then decided to surface swim the rest of it. Still had to deal with kelp and ended up having to go under again.

Saw a class assembling as I was making my exit, one of them grabbed his DSLR (I think it was someone among the instructing person(s)) and started firing away. I doubt anyone noticed or brought any attention to my backpacking this dive except anyone who might have been around SCUBA for a while. I wonder what they thought of my going in solo.

Anyway, I probably would've seen more if I wasn't in such a rush. I consumed air at a faster rate on this dive than just about all my other dives because I was moving so quickly. I found my buoyancy to be neutral between 15-25-ft with the amount of lead I had on this dive, I'm thinking I can lose a few more lbs of lead before I become too positive.

I will want to do this dive again.

Dive 2
Monterey, CA, Breakwater Cove, Wall
HP100 3442PSI EANx 33% O2
Start Pressure: 3400 PSI End Pressure: 0900 PSI
Max Depth: 49-ft Water Temp: 61F
Start Time: 08:21 PDT Bottom Time: 01:09
Ballast Weight: 17-lbs
Visibility: ~20-ft

Took 1-lbs off my ballasts for this dive to see how it will change my buoyancy but I don't think it did much, anywhere below 30-ft or so, I was negative and just dragging along the floor if I wasn't swimming. I was neutral where I needed to be and I think I can cut some more lead out to have a more wider range where I'm neutral. It'll take a few more dives before I can tune it to where I want it.

Fed 3 hours of quarters into the parking meter ($4.50) and headed out to swim along the wall. Decided to swim all the way out to the end of the wall and then stay underwater for the return trip. Not sure how much time I spent surface swimming, it sure felt like very long and I was beginning to wonder if I fed enough quarters into that meter. Seals were all along the wall taking their naps. Cormorants were just sitting all over the end of the wall past the fence while a few dozens of them were flying around, zooming by at some high rate of speed. I took some photos and shot some video at the end of the wall but kept it short because I didn't want to get run over by a kayak or boat who might not see me.

Took a dive down to 49-ft and a few minutes later I could hear several boats opening up their throttles as they exited Breakwater. I thought that was cool to experience when I was safely away from the boats, but it sent some of the fish into panic as these boats were passing by. I thought it was interesting to see a group of what looked like perch trying to crowd into a hole every time a boat was passing by.

Didn't take long before the Sea Lions decided to pay me a visit. I stared at one of the 3~4 sea lions that approached me and it stared back for maybe 5-seconds before taking off. I managed to video the last few seconds of our encounter and then they were gone, probably off to buzz the groups of classes that went into the water the same time I did.

Shot video of a Lingcod that must have been at least 4-ft long. I just know its head was almost as big as mine and it was in a hole. Its eyes followed me as I was in its face trying to get shots of it and I was sure I was overstaying my welcome. Left it alone after spending maybe 2 minutes there.

I basically spent much of the dive trying to shoot video or photo because vis was good for it. The sun wasn't out yet, so it wasn't easy to shoot photos unless my subjects were slow/steady (never happened). Found that manual white balance is only good for natural light; trying to fire the flash on manual white balance produces red-washed photos. MWB is also good for video under natural light to cut out the green tint in video. Maybe it's time I get that wide-angle lens I've been thinking about.

Anyway, I was at maybe 1200PSI and I wasn't sure if my meter was going to expire, so I decided to rush back to the beach just in case. Got out of the water with 900PSI left and found I had 40 minutes left.

I'm going to continue to tune how much weight I carry until I get what I want. I can feel that I am much closer to where I want it to be and I do notice myself swimming faster on a backpack dive.

Breakwater wall is not so bad if you're willing to swim out to the end; it has some nice and interesting structure and holes in some places. I was feeling hot before I reached the end of that wall during the surface swim and wanted to go down and start swimming in. Glad I stuck around until I got to the end of the wall.

Can't wait to do these dives again. Didn't think I'd have this much fun.

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