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6/22/2008 Mating Amtracks by Robert Lee -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Robert Lee, Allison Lee, Jonathan Derosier
Visibility: 10' - 40' Time:8:00 AM
Temp: 50F Surge:  
Scooter: X-scooter Burn Time: 0:40
Max Depth: 75FSW Avg Depth: 75FSW
Bottom Time: 1:20 Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double HP100Deco Tanks:AL80
Deco Profile:
1's, 3 3 up
Allison, Jonathan and I decided to seize on the weekend's flat conditions to go do a dive that we'd be kicking around for some time. The plan was to go out from Lovers Pt. in search of the Mating Amtracks. While this is typically a boat-dive site, we had been looking at the maps and confident that the distance from shore was manageable, so we set off to Lover's Pt. to begin the quest at about half-past the crack of dawn.

The Amtracks are located about a half-mile off of the point, but without any discernable structure near-by. In fact (as we later confirmed), there is almost nothing but sand for at least a thousand feet leading up to it. We rolled into the parking lot at Lovers 3 and found that all of the signs are for 2hr parking?! Is that a new development? As if the parking situation wasn't enough to dissuade me from diving at Lovers, the base of the stairs in cove 3 have been washed away so that the last 5-10 vertical feet almost require a climbing harness. Oy; barely civilized. After making several trips up and down to schlep the doubles, stages and scooters down, I was almost ready for Turtle Bay. But alas, there is exploring to be done :) Right before we got in, I noticed that the meter-people had chalked my tire (oh yeah, 2hr parking?!). A little spit took care of that (hey, stupid system) one, so take that Pacific Grove.

We hobbled in the water (no camera today for me) and headed out on the surface a little bit. The plan was to take a roughly 30° magnetic heading until we hit the 75'-80' contour, then turn SSE and spread out in a search pattern. We had allocated 10 minutes to searching after hitting the contour before giving up and trying to find something else out there of interest. The trip out was really uneventful, seeing as there's almost nothing there. I kept futilely scanning the sand for bat rays, but I suspect that was mostly out of wishful boredom. Soon enough, we hit the contour and started in on our first search pattern.

The viz which was pretty milky and gross on the surface cleared up pretty nicely below about 30FSW or so to about 40' horizontal, which was good because it allowed us to spread out quite a bit and cover a large swath while scootering in parallel. Allison was anchoring the search in the middle, with Jonathan and I flanking her around the limit of visibility. About 4 or 5 minutes into the first leg of the pattern, Allison started signalling me, so I turned in. I fully expected it to be to regroup and start in on the second leg (since it was approaching the agreed-upon time), but instead I was motioned towards Jonathan's side so we headed over there. Turns out Jonathan's track planted him almost smack into the Amtracks (again, there's *nothing* else out there so these things really stick out like a sore thumb.)

Woohoo (or "w00t" even)! After exchanging a scooter-by high-five, we settled in to examining the Amtracks. Being the first time I've ever been there, I was pretty impressed by the amount of life on them. I suppose this is to be expected to some extent as the surrounding area is pretty barren. There were literally hundreds of Hermissenda, and maybe half-as-many F. trilineata. There were also an impressive amount of rockfish (including many juveniles) settled into various nooks and crannies, as well as a juvie Cabezon and (what I believe was) a juvenile sculpin of some sort.

We spent about 40 minutes on the wreck until our stage bottles ran out. After switching off the bottles, we decided to turn the dive and head for home. We followed pretty much the same path back, heading WNW for a few minutes before turning towards about 210° magnetic. We had agreed to surface from about 30FSW to get our bearings and to avoid getting run into the rocks, so we put a bag up and headed up. I had heard a boat motor by shortly before we put our back up, and surely enough, we surfaced about 100' aft of the BeachHopper. It turned out that we were right on track as we surfaced about 50' or so from where we had dropped, so we surface-scooted the rest of the way back to Cove 3 (though I had half a mind to scooter over the BeachHopper and attempt to "re-board" :) 77', 80minutes, 50F

All in all, it was a great dive, and pretty satisfying that we had found the Amtracks. Having now been there, I'd love to go back, but this time with a camera and a macro lens. I'm sure that there was a fair amount of luck involved in finding the spot so fast the first time out, so I'm not sure how dependable a scooter dive it really is. Probably better to try to bum a ride from some of the local boat crowd...

After rinsing all the gear out from a long dive weekend, we headed to the Chowder House for dive 2, into a bowl of chowder and a crab sandwich.