BAUE Trip Reports
6/7/2006 Mt Chamberlin - South Wall aboard Phil Sammet's RIB
by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
Alberto Nava, Susan Bird
5' - 80'
46F - 50F
||Double ||Deco Tanks:|
Susan and I had plans for diving with Phil today. Visibility has been pretty low recently so we were not expecting too much out of the dive, and there was a “small craft advisory” all the way to Wed night. However, as many people have been saying on ba_diving, some of the best diving days happen when the weather is not the best, so we decided to give it a try.
We met Phil at the parking lot and he recommended getting away from the greener waters of Carmel and heading towards the Yankee Point area. He dove there during the weekend and found clear water all the way to about 20ft. It did not take more than a couple of seconds for us to say ‘yes’ to Yankee Point diving. We have been diving in that area for at least 6 years and every dive there has been a stunning experience. No matter what the site-- Flintstones, PTP, the Arch, or Chamberlin’s Mount, it’s always a great dive.
As we motored out the weather did not look too bad. It looked like we were going to be lucky. Once we got to Chamberlin’s Wall we had to fiddle with the GPS for a while to find and set anchor at the right location (still beats triangulating with the trees ;-)) and after a few minutes we were settled at the wall.
This is an extraordinary dive site. It needs to be experienced first hand to understand its dimensions. It’s a triangular shaped structure with each side about 1000ft long. There are a couple of shallow areas at K1 and K3, and The South Wall runs east-west for 1000ft. The shallow areas on the wall are at 130ft and the bottom is about 160ft on the east side and 300ft on the west side.. The wall is almost vertical.
Phil dropped us at the East end, and the plan was to scooter west all the way to the end of the wall, and then come back to the middle and go through a small canyon heading north into the Mountain.
The water at the surface didn’t look very clear and once we hit the water it was obvious there was a strong surface current. We were glad to have our scooters to get closer to the boat and the anchor line for our descent.
Since the water was a muddy brown color and the current was pretty strong, we immediately hit the trigger and headed down the line. At about 30ft we stopped to do our checks and continued down. We were pleasantly surprised to see clear water at 50ft, and as we approached the wall at about 140ft the water was as clear as it gets. Of course, it was a little dark as not much light could penetrate down from the surface. After a minute of checking all our gear and after a slightly complicated descent we headed out west along the wall.
The wall is covered with dense Corynactous and many gorgonians. There are also Elephant Ear sponges of all shapes and quite a lot of rockfish. Some of the Vermilions were very aggressive and would swim towards us at full speed from maybe 50 ft away to a few inches of the nose of our scooters. I love those red fish!!
During the ride I kept looking south towards the parallel wall that run about 100ft away. I was amused that I could see the other wall in the distance. What visibility!!! It must have been at least 80ft. After thinking about the great visibility, the next thought was ‘I’ll bet it’s pretty cold!’ I had a look at my Uwatec gauge and it read 46F. The funny thing is we were having such a good time the water didn’t really feel that cold after all.
After about 12 min of scootering along the wall we reached the end. The terrain shifted from a vertical wall to more of a plateau from about 190-200ft until we reached the end of the West side. We found this little pinnacle, maybe 10x10 and we both moved to hover over its top and look down over the drop-off. We were sitting in about 200ft of water and we could easily see a 60ft drop. Of course there is probably nothing good to see down there ;-)
After a few minutes of playing around we headed back to the wall and towards a small canyon that goes north inside the mountain. We had been there before, and I remembered a very nice arch. Traveling another 100ft inside the canyon, we noticed both of our light beams pointed in the same direction at the black hole under the nice arch. We had ascended a little on the way back, maybe to about 170ft, but we could not resist the desire to head down and go under the arch (after all what’s the function of an underwater arch?...) There was so much life in the area we wished we had more bottom time to play around in there. As we moved away we found a relatively large juvenile Yellow Eye rock fish. It was approx 4 inches long, and still very brightly striped. We watched it for a while and then continued the trip through the canyon and towards shallower water.
Our ascent was complicated by the strong surface current that wanted to pull our bag away from us. (The sensation was akin to landing a marlin.) Oh well, otherwise it would have been a perfect dive. During the deco at 20ft, I looked to my right and saw this nice fish for a couple of seconds. It was a salmon. I have never seen one in the ocean before. Visibility was pretty bad in the shallow water and I guess the fish didn’t see us until it was very close.
Every 10min Phil would move the boat closer to our bag and give us a signal with the engine that he was on top of us. It was a nice feeling as we knew we were flying ‘blind’ with the current somewhere towards the south.
Once we surfaced we were surprise to see Lobos Rocks on the near horizon!!! We had drifted at least couple of miles south during our deco :-0.
All in all we had a great dive with so-so conditions. Go figure …..