Saturday, September 17, 2016

Night at the Breakwater

Anywater's monthly fun dive for September was a night dive at the Breakwater. Considering how many times I've dived there, it was a bit of a travesty that I hadn't done it at night and this was something I meant to rectify. The drive down to Monterey in the afternoon was horrendous, almost an hour more than usual and felt even worse than what I usually encounter on the way back home from a dive day. I got to the lot around 6:30PM and hooked up with Ouvea and sea_otter, the plan being to get in around 8PM as the sun was setting. sea_otter decided she wanted to do a pre-night dive, headed in with Gianni,  came back with a leaking wrist seal and had to skip the actual night dive :P

Ouvea and I debated diving the pipe or the kelp to avoid the inevitable crowd at the wall but, with reports of craptastic visibility and our low motivation to attempt any navigation in said muck, we ended up there anyway. We swam out and dropped at the #8, confirming the viz was actually as bad as we had been told. We couldn't see the bottom at all, even when we were within an arm's length of it. Not wanting to immediately make a fool of myself by cratering in the sand on the descent, I let Ouvea go down first and followed his 21W HID light saber down. I have a compact homebrew 10W-ish LED can light which works really well and cost about as much as a small backup light but the it ended up being less than useful in the 5ft of extremely particulatey viz we had - it was barely useful for signaling and even less so for looking around. I ended up keeping it pointed down and using the ambient light of the HID. I was super impressed by how far it punched through the murk; it didn't have an insanely bright hot spot but made it so you could see much farther. And the beam made it super easy to keep track of him as well. Guess I know what I'm saving up for next ...

The dive itself was pretty good, despite not being able to see much beyond my fingers. We saw a red octopus in a little nook and a bunch of barred shrimp. And then Chewie showed up!! Initially, I just got a couple of fleeting glances at him but then he settled down right next to us for quite a while, using our lights to pick off the few fish that were about. He definitely enjoys divers' company and is practically close enough to hug. Even if we had seen nothing but Chewie on the dive, it would have been worth it. We called it early after he disappeared as it looked like there was even more sand roiled up in the water than before.
-> 44ft, 48min, 57F

Another cool thing that night was watching the other dive teams surface after we were already up. Their lights created glowing pools that were slowly making it up to the surface - reminded me of movie scenes where submarines or spaceships rise out of the depths.

It was almost 10PM by the time we had broken everything down and I didn't get home till midnight. Luckily, Billie, Cousteau and Koda hadn't completely wrecked the house after having been left to their own devices since the early afternoon.

 - U