BAUE Thumbs Up Project

BAUE Thumbs Up Project

October 24-25, 2008

What It's All About
Project Location
Project Support
Weather, Efficiency, and Experience
Results/What We Learned
Project Data
Project Participants

What It's All About

In essence, all of our group projects are about team-building and creating a shared learning experience whereby our divers put their skills and training into practice towards a common objective. 

Divers have the opportunity to work together not only in small teams, but also as a large and cohesive unit to accomplish broader goals.  This requires a higher level of organization and discipline among team leaders, divers, and boat crew to ensure the smooth execution of a complex dive schedule.

BAUE’s 2008 Group Project took place at Point Lobos at an off-shore pinnacle named Thumbs Up.   Over the course of two days we conducted a series of dives for the purpose of collecting data and photographic documentation of the site.  Results of the project were then compiled to produce a web page for the state park and BAUE.

This was a mixed-level project including dives within recreational limits as well as dives with light decompression profiles.  Dives were performed within a depth range of 135ft and shallower.


This main goal of this project was to provide a training exercise for developing skills and mentoring new project participants. 

Our secondary objective was to answer the question: Does Thumbs Up deserve its name?

Some of the specific goals included:
  • Compare survey information with Sonar Mapping data.
  • Create a web space on Point Lobos site with:
    • Multimedia presentation (photos, video footage)
    • Nudibranch study
    • Partial survey of the pinnacle at 80ft and 60ft depths
    • Pinnacle top survey

Special Tools/Software Used
  • Garmin GPS housed in a waterproof container
  • 3 SMBs for GPS data placement
  • Software (GPS software, Global Mapper)
  • Wetnotes in the ReefCheck format

Project Location

Thumbs Up is located at: N 36 31.5709, W121 56.2919, due north of the eastern edge of Whalers Cove.  The pinnacle sits approximately 2500ft (or a 7 minute boat ride) from the boat ramp at Whalers Cove.  The depth range is 50ft to 110ft at the (variable depth) base.  Like many pinnacles in the area, the shallower portion is often subject to a significant amount of surge, particularly later in the day when wind velocity and swell size increase.

The pinnacle is oblong shaped, running (approximately) North to South, with a large (west to east) crack at the Southern end of the structure; the 'valley' of the crack sits at about 60ft deep.  The top of the ridge contains a series of small peaks and valleys.   The East side of the pinnacle is a sheer wall densely decorated with sponges & corynactus, while the western portion slopes to the base in gradual, more broken down manner.  There is a mini pinnacle situated on the West side of the main structure.

While accessible primarily by boat, the site can be reached on a well-planned scooter dive under excellent diving conditions.  Since Thumbs Up is within the Point Lobos Marine Reserve, reservations are required to dive at this site. 

Project Support

BAUE chartered the Escapade to support our activities for the day.  Permission and access for the boat to motor in the protected waters of the marine preserve was granted through Point Lobos State Park.

We were allowed direct boat access from the wharf to the site on both project days.  Subsequent dive groups (on day #2) loaded and off-loaded the Escapade from Whalers Cove.


Over the course of two days, 16 divers in mixed teams completed 19 dives on Thumbs Up.  All dives were conducted from the Escapade, with the full support of the captain and crew.

Preliminary Project Setup/Day #1

A small group of divers conducted set-up and reconnaissance dives on the site in preparation for the larger group effort on the following day.

Two teams of 3 scooter divers completed the following objectives over two dives:

  • Scouted the deeper area at the base of Thumbs Up for distinguishing features for future study

  • Set 2 survey contour lines, at 60 and 80ft depths.  (The 60ft line circumnavigated the pinnacle)

  • Established a semi-permanent surface marker for the following project day

  • Took photographs from key vantage points on the pinnacle

  • Determined ideal locations for nudibranch surveys

  • Captured GPS data from 2 set points on the pinnacle

Set-up teams left a temporary surface marker in place on the site to indicate the start position for surveys, at the Southwest side of the pinnacle.

Project Day #2

On October 25, 2008 a total of 16 BAUE divers completed 15 project related dives on Thumbs Up.

Dive teams focused on five areas of study:

1.  The collection of survey data (depth/azimuth/distance)

2.  A Reef Check style survey of marine life

3.  A nudibranch species count

4.  Photographic documentation

5.  Video documentation of the site

Each group had a team leader whose responsibility was to define objectives and assign tasks to dive teams.  Many divers were asked to participate in more than one area of study, and on various teams.  Diver capacity was such that we had the flexibility to utilize our resources in this manner.


Project participants were assembled into 3 dive groups, so that no more than five teams were in the water at a time.  Dive times were planned to be no more than one hour in duration, and all teams were on schedule.

Group 1:  After a 7:00 a.m. boarding time for the first group of divers, the Escapade motored directly from Monterey Harbor to the site.  The boat arrived at Thumbs Up at approximately 8:30 to find the surface marker still in place.  Group 1 divers began entering the water at 8:40 a.m. 

Teams in this group conducted:

  • Survey of the 80ft contour line
  • Line survey of the pinnacle top
  • Mid-water nudibranch study
  • Photographic documentation of the pinnacle

At 10:10 a.m., the Escapade ferried into Whaler’s Cove to offload the first group and to on-load divers for Group 2. The Surface Managers directed participants to swim between the boat and the ramp in a timely fashion.  Divers scheduled for consecutive dives stayed on the boat.

Group 2:  The Escapade departed Whaler's Cove and Group 2 divers began entering the water at 10:45 a.m.

Teams in this group executed:
  • Survey of the 60ft contour line
  • Reef Check style survey
  • Completion and clean up of the pinnacle top survey
  • Photo and video documentation

At the completion of their dives, the boat returned to the cove to pickup Group 3 divers.

Group 3:  The last group entered the water at 12:45, and all project dives were completed by 2:00 p.m.

Dive teams completed:
  • Deeper water nudibranch study
  • Reef Check style fish count, and video documentation. 
  • Removed all line from the pinnacle
  • Removed the semi-permanent surface marker
The Escapade made a final trip into Whalers Cove to offload divers and pickup those desiring a ride to Monterey on the boat.  Escapade departed Whalers Cove at approximately 2:45 p.m.

Weather, Efficiency, and Experience

Late October presents a challenging time for dive projects due to higher wind velocity and bigger swells.  Storms and general conditions are more intense during the late fall and winter season, at times confining dive boats to travel no further south than Monterey Bay.

Fortunately a window of favorable sea and weather conditions allowed us to conduct this project as far south as Carmel Bay.  Even under these good conditions, participants experienced significant surge during their dives. 

Dive teams were extremely organized, both on the surface and underwater.  All teams worked together to perform their required underwater tasks, and everyone stayed on schedule.  Surface managers did an excellent job of facilitating smooth transitions for groups loading and offloading the boat.

As always the crew of the Escapade did an impeccable job of supporting our efforts.

The combination of these factors enabled us to complete the project dives and objectives well ahead of schedule. The Escapade arrived back at the dock in Monterey before 4:00 p.m.

Results/What We Learned

We intentionally did a few things differently this year based on information gained through past experience, as well as a desire to grow in new directions.  

This is what we tried and what we learned: 

  • Project Forum:  We tried using a specified 'project forum' as the primary means of communication for participants.  Project overview, dive schedules, flow charts, team correspondences, FAQ's, and Rules of Engagement were posted on the forum. The forum had mixed results as a focal point of communication, as members seemed more responsive to email correspondence.  Over time we will continue moving towards the forum format in order to streamline project organization.
  • Distribution of Roles:  Team Captains were given more responsibility for planning, organizing, and executing team objectives.  Co-Captains were assigned for larger teams to help distribute the workload  and to foster more input among team members. The higher level of involvement by (all) members made the project more dynamic and successful.
  • Long-term Project Experience:  Many BAUE divers are currently involved in ongoing/long-term projects with specific research objectives (Nudibranch project, Point Lobos Mapping, Reef Check, EJPP).  These endeavors serve to hone skills and raise diver capacity.  Divers are well-trained, familiar with their tasks, and are therefore less 'task-loaded' during project dives.  More of their energy can be directed at research objectives, while less energy is expended towards dive logistics.  Also, more experience leads to better data collection. The experience and proficiency gained by divers through long-term projects blends perfectly with  single-day project events.   These divers serve as strong and capable role models for newer divers.
  • Importance of Setup Day:  We recognized the value of conducting a reconnaissance dive on the site prior to the (main) project day.  Thumbs Up was relatively unfamiliar to us as a group, so during the set-up day we were able to establish our bearings, clearly identify the site, and determine the best way to initiate a comprehensive study of the pinnacle.  Members of the setup teams were able to provide information to team captains, which simplified logistics and streamlined objectives.  The setup day provided familiarity with the site and general conditions to the captain and crew, which ultimately enhanced our diver safety. If logistically possible, we will expand future projects to a 2-day format including reconnaissance/set-up.
  • Added Feature:  This year we asked divers to submit a short narrative of the 'favorite thing we saw on our dives'.  Project dives are by nature task or goal-oriented.  While the accomplishment of a team objective instills a tremendous sense of fulfillment, most of us are primarily motivated by a deep and unabbreviated love of diving. The act of sharing a dive 'highlight' was a reminder that we dive for fun, and provided a way to tap in to the joy and enthusiasm derived by our team-mates.  It  allowed us to know and appreciate one another better, as we vicariously enjoyed our team-mates' varied experiences.


From an organizational perspective, this project reinforced the efficiency of protocols and procedures developed in previous project endeavors.  This event demonstrated the growing capacity of BAUE divers, as we comfortably executed the more complex logistics required to explore an offshore site in Carmel Bay in cooperation with the California State Park Services.

The project further demonstrated great progress in the strength and capacity of specified teams.  Team objectives were successfully fulfilled in an expedient manner, with a high degree of flexibility among divers, resources, and on-the-fly dive planning.  All divers and teams continued to show improvement in their data collecting skills.


Our goals this year were more 'process' than results oriented.  The project was designed to provide mentorship and experiential learning for newer members and to act as a springboard to launch more challenging offshore projects for our growing pool of motivated technical divers.

We successfully met all of these objectives.

We also determined that Thumbs Up most definitely deserves its name.  We unanimously give this site  a 'Two Thumbs Up' rating!

Once again, favorable weather, exceptional crew, responsible team leaders, and dedicated divers converged to make the 2008 BAUE Group Project a positive and highly productive experience for all involved. 

Project Data

Project Day Participants

Name Roll
Allison Lee Nudibranch survey, site set up, scooter exploration, set up day site survey
Matt Vieta Nudibranch survey
Suzanne Baird Pinnacle survey, clean up
Dionna House Pinnacle survey
Kevin Dow Pinnacle survey, site set up, scooter exploration, set up day site survey
Ian Puleston Pinnacle survey
Marciano Moreno Pinnacle survey
Harry Babika Pinnacle survey
Nils Brummond Fish species survey
Doug Simmons Fish species survey
Rob Lee Photographer, site set up, scooter exploration, set up day site survey
Mark Lloyd Photographer, project web page developer
Harry Wong Video
Beto Nava Site set up, video, scooter exploration, set up day site survey
Karl Haywood Site set up, clean up, scooter exploration, set up day site survey, pinnacle survey
Susan Bird Project Manager, site set up, scooter exploration, set up day site survey, pinnacle survey
Jim Capwell Escapade Captain
Gregg Shimaura Escapade crew
Ed Lovaas Escapade crew