10/20/19 Dive Log - Point Lobos, CA
No, you aren't imagining things - we did back to back Point Lobos dives! After our first trip, we had such a fun time, Zach ordered a Sea Frogs housing for our Sony A6400 and we made an impromptu decision to return to Pt. Lobos so we could test it out. Although Pt. Lobos requires advance recommendations, Sunday still had some open spots so we decided to take advantage of our proximity and off we went!
While the conditions last weekend were absolutely superb, this weekend, we found ourselves in much less favorable conditions and decided not to do a second dive. There was quite a bit of offshore wind, which meant that on Sunday and on the days leading up to our dive, the swell was higher than we'd been diving in (reports were anywhere between 4-11 feet depending on source). There was also a lot of stirred up particulate matter from the rougher water, which made visibility lower than last week's dive.
Even with the lower visibility, there were pockets where we were still able to catch sight of some of the amazing life that Point Lobos and the surrounding Monterey area has to offer divers. We were joined right away by two curious harbor seals, who swam around us for a bit before deciding that they'd have more fun on their own. We were also able to see a number of starfish, including tiny, baby ones that couldn't have been more than a half-dollar sized, and some schools of larger fish that seemed content to sway with the current instead of swim.
Getting photos of myself underwater helped me notice a few things about my diving form and areas that I can improve. I hardly use my snorkel for anything other than a surface swim, but it's totally twisted around. My SPG (submersible pressure gauge) isn't well-secured - I haven't quite figured out where on my BP/W setup I want to attach it, and it shouldn't be dangling. Because of the underwater current, my backup secondary octo kept coming out of its holder - both Zach and I struggled with this on our kits and had to re-attach them to our gear during the dive. When I used my Dive Rite Octo clip last week in better conditions, it worked out great, so I think that this primarily had to do with my increased movement underwater in the more challenging conditions.
Duration - 0:27:00
Max/Average Depth - 32ft/19ft
Water Temp - 52.0F
Air Temp - 71.0F
Visibility - 5-10ft
Start Pressure - 2800psi
End Pressure - 1000psi
I had a small addition to my gear as well - I purchased a Big Blue AL 1200 WP and had that with me for the first time. I learned immediately that my solution of attaching it to my wrist and glove was a bad move - I didn't like having it freely floating right off my wrist, and I hated having my hand unavailable when holding it. It was very clear right off the bat that it added a small amount of risk - fortunately, we had an easy dive profile despite conditions, and it was a good lesson to learn early on. I'm planning to buy a wrist mount for it, so I can "set it and forget it" from now on when I dive. The AL 1200 WP is a wide-angle (85 degree) light with 4 light levels, starting at 120 Lm and going up to 1200 Lm.
I ended up calling the dive 27 minutes in. Zach and I were making our way back to the entry point after fighting through the current, and I had been feeling tense because of the conditions. I ended up getting a fin stuck in kelp, and we were having a bit of a tough time communicating (I need to work on being more patient) so we surfaced a little bit early and rested at the surface before heading out. We were in agreement that we didn't want to do a second dive, which we both felt okay with. It's important for us to dive within our limits, and this dive was testing them and expanding them. That in and of itself was good, but so is knowing when to stop is also a critical dive skill to develop. 😉
So, I've got some takeaways that I get to practice as a result of this dive. We have a better understanding of dive conditions and evaluating when we should make the drive down. I'm going to work on the following in my future dives:
Remaining patient when we're communicating underwater. Zach and I have our basic hand signals down, but I'm a very literal communicator. During this dive, I took our 'turn around and return back' signal to mean 'turn around' instead of 'I want to return to shore', so we weren't clear on what the intent for our remaining time was. We've since talked about this and come up with a more consistent, concrete meaning for this signal. We also decided to come up with a confirmation system when communicating messages to one another.
Better securing of my gear. I've already identified what I'm going to do about the light, and I have some ideas to test out with how I can better keep my SPG in a known good place. Ultimately, I think this might be something that I replace sooner rather than later - it's the only thing I don't like about my Deep6 regulator set, but I suspect it would be improved if I can get a case for it and figure out a good place to secure it to my BP/W.
Streamlining my process for evaluating conditions. Usually what I've done in the past is pick a weekend, we make plans, and we keep an eye on conditions leading up to the dive. In this case, we probably could have realized that conditions were going to be sub-optimal, but at the end of the day, we still had fun and we learned about our limits and were able to grow our skills. There's a great Facebook group for Monterey dive reports that I'd recommend - it's been a very helpful learning resource about local diving.
Plus, can you believe these photos? This was Zach's first time doing any kind of underwater photography and I think he did an amazing job despite the challenging conditions and poor visibility. He's a marvelous photographer and I'm so excited to see how his skills develop alongside our diving.
We don't have any trips planned back down to Monterey (our next few weekends have quite a bit going on) but I suspect it won't be more than a month until we're back. The water this weekend was actually just a tiny bit warmer than last weekend, so I have a feeling that we'll continue on through the winter. We'll have to alternate with our trips to Tahoe, though - ski season starts soon, too! Zach has just ordered his Deep6 regulator set, and has a semi-dry on order through our LDS, so I bet he'll want to take those out for a trip when they arrive. I won't complain! Any chance to go out, right?