Dive Report 12-29-2012: On Santa Monica Bay? What kind of fools are we?

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Posted by Patrick on December 30, 2012 at 14:16:49:

It was a dark and stormy morning and the stalwart (idiotic) crew of the Moby Kate was once again headed out for a day on and under the sea. Despite the forecast of wind, rain and swell in the afternoon, we thought we’d try to sneak in a dive or two in the morning before the weather turned.


The weatherman lied to us again. We figured this out as we arrived at the launch ramp under dark, drizzling, seriously threatening skies. There was just one other boat being launched as we were putting in. It was unusual (other than they were going out at all) in that there were a large group of Asian gentlemen departing in a small, open cockpit boat with no fishing or other gear visible. Well, it always brings me a warm feeling when I can find others wackier than me and the rest of the Moby Kate crew.

Motoring out, the rain fell a bit heavier and then tapered off as we cleared the breakwater and headed north to try the artificial reefs near Topanga. Dark clouds continued to build at all points around the compass and it occurred to me that a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast might be a better thing to dive into than the slate-colored waters we were cruising over.

Clearing the breakwater

Looks good – I’m sure it’ll clear up

Maybe not?

On the site of the artificials, the surface water color was an amazing, clear, greenish blue. Well, maybe this would be ok…Cindy and I suited up and prepared to roll in.

You’d think we’d know better than to go diving on a day like today

She was carrying her camera with the new 12-50 lens and port while I carried a goody bag – just in case. Just as we were about to hit the water, Nature gave us a departure fanfare in the form of a huge roll of thunder and a lightning strike out west of us. It was still raining. Denny’s was definitely sounding better, but since we’re here…
We rolled in.

The top 30-feet was spectacular allowing us to clearly (though darkly) see the hull of the Kate overhead. At 36 feet depth, that all changed; it was like diving into a mint-mocha frappe from Starbucks but without the mint. We found the top of the rock pile by impact. Not good. Once our eyes had adjusted to the dim, dark murk, we had a whole three feet of visibility, sort of. Once I got the down-line weight clear and turned on a light, we had maybe four or five feet of visibility. Looking toward the surface provided the faintest glow of lighter water; just enough to almost see the shadows of the Chromis that nearly always cluster around these structures. On one of these surface-ward glances I sensed the Chromis herd turn as one and rush at me. Then right behind it a large, fast, dark shadow!

What the Heck?

At that moment I found that my adrenalin system worked fine and certain parts of my body puckered up like a molested Metridium. Sliding to a halt about 18-inches in front of my wide-eyed face was a feisty female sea lion. I’m sure she was laughing her ass off and after giving me a bubble kiss, she disappeared into the murk allowing my heart rate to fall back below 300.

Diving is always wonderful; sometimes it is more wonderful than others.

Cindy, optimist that she is, was occupied actually shooting with her new lens so I took the opportunity to check out the area.

Keyhole Limpet – Up close

Corynactis seemed happy in the 52° water

Is that an Amphipod living on the gorgonian?

Sirena makes her last appearance for 2012

Zoanthis is happy in cool water too.

Gorgonian garden

The good news: here, juvenile lobster recruitment is excellent. Literally hundreds of flea and hummingbird-sized bugs filled every rocky nook and cranny. Hopefully this bodes well for the local population of Panulirus interruptus. The bad news (for me) was there were no legal bugs to be seen. Well, there was one.

One keeper for the dive…

Actually given the visibility there wasn’t too much of anything to be seen. After 20 minutes we called the dive and headed up to choppy seas and rain, COLD and just a little more thunder and lightning.

This situation finally allowed me to complete my 2012 New Year’s resolution to do a good deed. I did this by advising Andy as we came aboard to fore go any thought of diving and instead consider breakfast in a warm, dry, stable restaurant. He took the advice but I don’t think he was seriously considering making a jump after considering the declining weather and our blue lips as we doffed gear. None the less, I’m counting it as a resolution complete.

So it wasn’t a great day, but little did I realize, the most embarrassing and painful was yet to come, and I’m not talking about not getting breakfast either. By the time Cindy and I had gotten into dry clothes and got our gear packed we were nearly ready to dock back at the launch ramp.

Trying to warm up after the dive. The new Hannibal Lector face warmer will be a big hit in 2013.

As Andy ran the boat, I took the lines and prepared to tie us down when we came in. I noticed our Asian friends from the morning tying up on the adjacent finger as I prepared to step on to the dock. As I stepped onto the dock I immediately became aware of the amazingly high lubricating quality that layers of pelican and seagull crap have when distributed on a slightly dampened wooden dock. I hit the dock and my feet (and the rest of me) went airborne. I executed a maneuver that many an Olympic gymnast would have envied. When I landed (in the previously mentioned pelican and seagull deck coating), my left leg was in a position that I had never had it in previously – another slip toward total enlightenment – and it seemed to be telling me this was not a good thing.

As I regained my feet, I discovered two things. The guys across the slip were holding up sheets of cardboard marked – 8.7, 8.5, 9.1 and 6.2. Hey, that performance was way more than a 6.2. Somebody bought off that judge. The second thing was that Warm Wind dive coats are seagull and pelican poo retardant. Just a few minutes standing in the freezing rain trying to get feeling back in my leg and it was washed clean. Except for the smell…

Some days you win, some days you lose, but if you don’t go, you won’t know. But some days you just ought to go to breakfast at Denny’s and think about better days to come.

The final insult; the weather cleared in the afternoon and was beautiful.

Looking at Catalina from Palos Verdes above Lunada Bay

Stay wet

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