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1/7/2011 Flintstones aboard Escapade by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Susan Bird, Alberto Nava
Visibility: 40' Time:12:00 AM
Temp: 53F Surge:  
Max Depth: 192FSW Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time: 0:56 Total Time: 1:30
Bottom Gases: Deco Gases:EAN50,O2
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
Today we were lucky to have two Capts on board of the Escapade. Jim had his captain's hat on as always, and 'Capt in Training' Luke was at the helm for most of the trip. Luke is building experience on the Escapade so he can be the designated mid-week Capt. Early in the morning the wind was not too strong but the swells were already11ft :-) outside of the bay.

As we motored out, the bay was unusually calm and was carpeted with a massive pod of Risso dolphins lazily making their way towards the harbor. They were very close to shore and we saw many mom & baby pairs.

Once we rounded the corner, it was a different story. Due to the large swell we decided for an off-shore pinnacle. We went over Mt C. and continued all the way to Flintstones, which is always one of my favorite dives.

We set the float and headed down towards the bottom while following the large North-South canyon that divides the structure. Vis was 40ft but a little milky and the swells were noticeable all the way to 190ft. We checked out a portion of the canyon on the south and then headed for the parallel reef west of the main structure. There were tons of gorgonias and some large red rock-fish. After about 20min we moved back to the main structure and located a large school of blue rockfish and several small baby yellow-eyes.

We finished the dive by circling the shallow part of Flintstones while sharing the area with hundreds of rock-fish of various sizes. We were being pulled up and down with the swells like a couple of rag dolls. At one point I saw about 9ft difference in my computer in no more than 3 seconds. The weird thing was that I didn't move too far from my visual reference on the reef... so a huge swell must have been rolling overhead.

After 56 min of fun we deployed SMB and drifted the deco while looking for grey whales. No luck this time, but Jim & Luke said there were several whales that passed within 50 ft of us.

By the time we surfaced the weather had picked up quite a lot and it was tricky to get back on the boat. Large swells and confused seas... a bad combination.

On the way back we saw several grey whales and we met the large school of Risso Dolphins as they were heading back south & out of the bay. We spent a few minutes with them as they swam super close to the boat.

All in all a great diving day on the Escapade!

1/1/2011 Pt Lobos by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Susan Bird, Jim Capwell, Alberto Nava
Visibility:   Time:10:00 AM
Temp:   Surge:  
Max Depth: 150FSW Avg Depth: 130FSW
Bottom Time: 0:40 Total Time: 1:20
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:EAN50
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
During my last trip to Mexico I had the chance of diving with Roberto Chavez quite a lot and we had so much fun diving together than I offered him to come a visit us in Monterey whenever he wanted. He took the offered and joined us in Dec 29 for some end of year/start of year diving.
First dive was at Point Lobos . We headed for Twin Peaks for a fantastic dive with 60ft of visibility and tons of fish and invertebrates to see. We found 3 large Dinora Albolineata, tons of female lingcods and several are school of rock-fish. Bottom time was about 40min and Max depth of 150ft.
Second day plan was to head out to Carmel on the Escapade. However, the winds were very strong from the south so we could not get there. We dove inside the bay and visited Kawika’s Garden. Nice gorgonians garden and the high-light was a 3x4 torpedo ray that was swimming btw Susan and Roberto.

Tomorrow Lobos again!

12/4/2010 Deep E3 aboard Escapade by Clinton Bauder -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Clinton Bauder, Robert Lee
Visibility: 20' Time:10:30 AM
Temp: 50F Surge: 1'
Scooter: X-scooter Burn Time:  
Max Depth: 218FSW Avg Depth: 170FSW
Bottom Time: 0:35 Total Time: 1:25
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:EAN50,O2
Backgas Config: Double LP80Deco Tanks:AL40,AL80
Deco Profile:
Deep Stops, 6,4,4,4,4,18,6 Up
The forecast all week had been for calm weather. Naturally as we arrived in Monterey my first question to Rob was how he had managed to keep the van from overturning in the high winds. Been that kind of year. At least it was from the Southeast so it didn't limit us too much. As it happens what did limit us was the huge tidal change.

After a brief delay to free some debris from the prop shaft we made it to Carmel in good order. Despite the wind the surface conditions weren't much of an issue. After looking at E3 we decided to try further south and try to dive the Nixies. The first couple of attempts to set a downline failed as the ball was swept off the reef. This should have been a hint but we persevered and got it set on the third try. The wake from the ball should have been a hint too but Rob and I jumped in anyway. Some very minor delays clipping gear off and getting the pitch set right on my scooter did us in as we were swept past the buoy. Even at full speed on the scooters we were losing ground at a good clip and so we finally wised up and headed back to E3. (I think this is where I'm supposed to admit John was right but I'm not going to do that.)

E3 was much more tranquil. Rob mentioned he wanted to go look for a purple gorgonian that Beto had seen here at about 200 feet. I pointed out that my camera is only rated to 180 and that I've had dodgy results taking it deeper than that. So our plan became 180ish with the idea to scooter over to Deep E3 and back.

Visibility below the thick jellyfish layer wasn't so hot but soon a target rich environment made me forget about conditions. First up was a nice basket star at about 180 feet. As I started to line up a shot I noticed a mosshead warbonnet in a old barnacle shell. Pretty soon Rob was motioning me deeper as he'd found a Quillback Rockfish. I'd seen one here before and but from what I gather they are quite rare this far south, especially at diving depth. As I started to shoot that while trying to include the nearby little Yelloweye rockfish in the frame Rob started signaling me to come deeper still - to nearly 220 feet! Oh well, the camera IS insured. This time he'd found the mythical purple gorgonian so we grabbed a few quick shots before retreating back up to shallower water. Rob says he saw a Bocaccio as we returned to E3 but I missed that.

After a mild comedy of errors getting the cameras squared away and the bag sent up we began our deco. I was starting to get cold at the 20 foot stop so I brought the camera back out to shoot pictures of Rob in the jellyfish soup. It's amazing how much warmer you are when you stay busy. By the end of the deco the surface conditions had really deteriorated making getting back on the boat a bit of a chore and so we decided to call it a day after one dive.

Pictures are here:
11/27/2010 Pt Lobos by Mark Lloyd -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Gary Banta, Mark Lloyd
Visibility: 20' - 50' Time:9:14 AM
Temp: 51F Surge:  
Scooter: X-scooter Burn Time:  
Max Depth: 89FSW Avg Depth: 53FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time: 2:06
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
Gary Banta invited me to dive with him at Lobos after the Thanksgiving holiday. The weather was supposed to worsen around lunch time so we arrived at the Lobos gate sharply at 8am to take advantage of the conditions. The lady at the gate was a bit overwhelmed as everyone had the same idea. We geared up and decided to do one long dive instead of two shorter ones. Gary suggested we have a look at Bluefish cove, then head out along the West side of the wall and up to Great Pinnacle if the conditions allowed. Visibility turned out to be quite good in the cove and you could see the worm patch from the surface quite clearly.

After dropping down Gary lead the way past Hole in the Wall, Lone Mitridian, Rock Garden, and finally into Bluefish Cove. The cove was great with a huge school of Rockfish hanging out. After spending a bit of time taking pictures we headed a bit more east till we were parallel with the wall heading North and to Great Pinnacle. Gary kept us right on track following Marcos Pinnacle all the way to the top. From there we had to make the jump to Great Pinnacle which we could not see but was there in the distance. Just before the jump a couple of sea lions came for a visit and I could see a thick layer of jellies about 20′ above, their long stinging tentacles trailing behind. Great Pinnacle came into view a minute later and Gary and I stopped to take a few more pictures. Getting going again, we headed round the top end of Great Pinnacle, back to Marcos along the east side, returning to Rock Garden and the Lone Mitridian. We still had a fair amount of gas left so decided to continue the adventure over to Granite Point. Gary and I had the same idea as we both headed behind Granite Point and I took a few more pictures of this area. Its a fantastic site with many towers and canyons which is pretty fun on the scooters.

Alas our time was up so we headed back into the cove where the visibility was still holding. As we surfaced after 2 hours under the water, the sun was just coming out, and it was time to clean up, and have some lunch.
11/13/2010 K2 aboard Escapade by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Susan Bird, Joakim Linde, Alberto Nava
Visibility: 30' Time:10:00 AM
Temp:   Surge: 10'
Max Depth: 203FSW Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time: 0:40 Total Time: 1:30
Bottom Gases: Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
After what felt likes years w/o getting a good BAUE tech charter today we had a great time. Sue, Joe and myself dove K2 with the rest of the BAUE teckies, Clinton, Matt, Bob and Allison. We dove the north side of K2. Vis was about 30ft and the swells were large but manageable away from shore.

We found a nice purple sea fan, a couple of baskets stars, several juv. yellow eyes and tons of gorgonias at the north peak.

The top of the pinnacle was a little bouncy with the large swells going by.

We had lunch at the "almost" finished deck :-)
10/16/2010 Que Paso Pinnacle aboard Escapade by Kenn Hwang -- [View this report only]
Bottom Team: Steve Dawson, Allison Lee
Visibility: 40' - 50' Time:10:00 AM
Temp: 51F - 56F Surge: 3'
Max Depth: 100FSW Avg Depth: 58FSW
Bottom Time:   Total Time: 0:06
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Double LP80Deco Tanks:AL40
Deco Profile:
I joined Steve and Allison on the rec boat aboard the Escapade on Saturday, in hopes that we'd be able to make it far south for some great recreational dives, and boy did they deliver.

Once we were in the water, the crew gunned the engines and we found ourselves alongside the Beach Hopper II for most of the way down, seems everybody had the same idea.

First site was Que Paso, which I've heard and read about, but have never seen before. We descended onto a tiny 6x10ft pinnacle at 100ft that was lined by metridium all long its sides--it looked like white, heart-shaped path in the gravel. From there it was a short hop over to the main pinnacle, which featured some great vis (40+ft), dramatic structure, and all sorts of nooks and crannies encrusted with marine life. The highlight was 6-8 molas, all swimming in buddy pairs, that were just on the edge of the pinnacles and following us around on our return to the boat and ascent.

A 25 minute hop north brought us to the second site of the day, Fan Shell Beach Pinnacles, named after Fan Shell Beach just on-shore, which I suspect was in turn named after the fan shells found on said beach, which in turn must be named after the fans that the shells themselves resembled. But back to diving. Here, we got more of the same - fantastic viz that let us see the sandy bottom 40-50ft below us, dramatically rising vertical structures, lots of fish life, free-swimming sheep crab, and strangely, some large vertical faces of sheer granite without a trace of coral or corynactis. It'd go on for 15-20 ft, and then suddenly, encrusted again, with no apparent change in direction or topography. Stark. No molas this time, but plenty of surge at the top of the pinnacles to throw me for a loop a few times. Water temperature above 45ft was 56 degrees...that's almost hot-tub warm!

In all, couldn't have asked for a better set of dives!

Video on Youtube here
10/2/2010 Pinnacle Point Wall aboard Escapade by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Susan Bird
Visibility: 10' - 20' Time:1:30 PM
Temp:   Surge: 4'
Max Depth: 195FSW Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time: 0:40 Total Time: 1:30
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
Yesterday we went out for the Oct 2th BAUE tech charter. We woke up and the fog was better that it has been the last week. We could see Monterey from Seaside (we could not see it for most of the week). We motored out towards Carmel and found the fog increasing as we traveled south :-(.

We decided to invert our diving schedule, by doing the rec dive first, and then the tech dive. We were hoping the fog situation would be better in the afternoon. We dove the Needle for the first dive, and I always like to go back and forth on the south wall while looking at the invertebrates who live on the wall. The highlight on the rec dive was a baby tree fish, and also a nice Cabezon on the wall.

The fog lifted a little bit in the afternoon so we headed towards Pinnacle Point Wall. The vis was 10-15ft and by the time we got to deep water it was quite dark, miso soup style. However, there were tons of fish there to greet us on our descent... including a large school of rockfish and a dense cloud of orange colored juveniles. As we slowly made our way along the wall, we encountered several nice vermilions and a lot of lingcods.

The wall was covered with tons of gorgonias and some really nice yellow sponges. We located several yellow-eye rock fish babies, and a few nice decorator crabs. We spent a good portion of the dive circling the top of the pinnacle and admiring the corynactus and the elephant ear sponges on the wall. Really nice terrain to look at.

After 40min of fun we deployed the SMB and drifted our deco. There were tons of sea nettles, some of them very large, which made for an interesting deco, as we pushed & punched sea nettles away from each other.

All in all, a very different and fun day of diving.

9/25/2010 Channel Islands: Anacapa & Santa Cruz aboard Unknown Boat by Kathy Dicker -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Kathy Dicker, Rick Guerin, Phil Koehler
Visibility: 20' - 50' Time:12:00 AM
Temp: 51F - 57F Surge:  
Max Depth: 60FSW Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time:   Total Time:  
Bottom Gases: EAN32Deco Gases:
Backgas Config: Single Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
I headed down to Ventura last weekend to join a couple of other So Cal GUE friends for some single tank fun (warmer water) diving off Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands. At the last minute Heather Hamza joined our gang, so we split into two teams and stuck together.

6 hours down to Ventura Harbor isnt that bad a drive. $120 covers a bunk for the night, breakfast, lunch and 4 recreational dives on the Spectre. The boat only pumps air, so I just smuggled some extra tanks of 32% on board with no problem ;-).

The water was glassy calm on the trip over. The sun was shining and the sky was painted a brilliant blue. A huge pod of dolphin joyfully splashed off the bow. Birds (maybe pelicans?)
flew in a mesmerizing formation. It was the perfect boat ride!

We did a couple of dives at Santa Cruz Island (Cavern Point & Fence Line) ejoying the 40-50 ft vis and 57F water, vibrant orange Garibaldi, huge Sheepsheads, brilliant Spanish Shawls, loads of purple urchins, and the sun rays penetrating into the outstanding kelp forests.

Then, we headed over to Anacapa to Underwater Arch, where young sea lions seemed to enjoy our mid water hover so much, they spent almost half the dive playing with us. They kept swooping down in huge loops and stopping eye to eye just inches from my face as if to say hi ;-).

On the fourth dive, Underwater Island, we followed the anchor line through 20ft vis for a nice kick with a bit of current around a pinnacle where we spotted and several very beautiful reddish brown Two Spot Octopi tucked back in cracks along a rocky wall.

Diving on the Channel Islands was a fun change of pace from our local diving and it was easy to synch up with other GUE divers for our first dives together (although I missed my BAUE friends).

If anyone wants to carpool back down one of these days, Id probably be up for it. The trip makes for a fun but exhausting weekend ;-)! All of these dives maxed out at 60ft or less.
9/18/2010 20SUR aboard Escapade by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Susan Bird, Alberto Nava
Visibility: 80' - 100' Time:10:00 AM
Temp:   Surge: 2'
Max Depth: 170FSW Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time: 0:40 Total Time: 1:30
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:50/25,O2
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
Mark Loyd organized our Saturday tech dive on the Escapade. Target was to go as far south as conditions allow and yesterday we could have gone to Partington Canyon (no much to see there...), so we decided to go back to BigSur Banks. As Jim Capwell/Escapade had already gone to Sur19 3 times this year) , we decided to venture to a different spot so Sur 20 was our destination.

Sur20 has more peaks and valley than Sur 19. There is a large canyon crossing the pinnacle in half and some small swim-ths on the south side of the pinnacle. Visibility was close to 100ft at the base and 80ft at the top. It was really an amazing scenery with all the juv rock fish, the pink and purple hydrocoral and the medium size lingcods swimming around.

I'm still surprise by the lack of large red fish: this year we have not seen any large yellow eyes or that many vermillion or caneries. It seem like the fishing has taken its toll at the banks :-(. We still need to check Mid-way to see if the fish are still there.

For the second dive we decided to dive Castle Rock Wall. I can't recall if I dove this before but if I did it was more than 10 divers ago. It's a large pinnacle 400ft long with two small peak coming from 100ft to 30ft. There were tons of se~norita fish, school of sea perches at the top of the peaks, and beautiful bulb kelp all over the place. All the walls were covered with corynactus and all kind of invertebrates. Really cool site!

All in all another day in Paradise :-)
8/15/2010 19SUR aboard Escapade by Alberto Nava -- [View this report only]
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Bottom Team: Susan Bird, Joakim Linde
Visibility:   Time:10:30 AM
Temp:   Surge: 3'
Max Depth:   Avg Depth:  
Bottom Time: 0:40 Total Time: 1:30
Bottom Gases: 18/45Deco Gases:EAN50,O2
Backgas Config: Deco Tanks:
Deco Profile:
This past weekend was the best diving of the year :-). We had scheduled a lot of trips on the Escapade this summer with the intention of going as far south as the conditions for the day allows. Before this weekend the weather had been a little bit too rough to venture past Yankee Point, and last Saturday we even had to do Point Lobos/El Paso due to strong weather ;-) On Saturday we headed south and we decided not to start with a very ambitious goal. We reached Yankee and it was still a 'go'. We went past Bixby Bridge and it was still fine, we reached Big Sur light-house and conditions were still a go, so we headed to the SUR 19. This is the prettiest of the pinnacles at Big Sur Banks and it reaches from 160 to 120ft. It’s totally covered with the most beautiful hydrocorals as well as rockfish of all colors and shapes. We spent 20min at the base of the pinnacle looking for GPOs but had no luck. There were tons of baby fish so it was fun to scooter around them. Susan found a nice wolf-eel on the wall, and after looking at it for a while we moved up to 130ft and spent another 20min enjoying the amazing view, including large pink and purple hydrocorals, as healthy as you can image. After the dive we headed north looking for a destination for the second dive. Finally we settled on Lobos Rocks. This has been one of my favorite dives on the coast. Two small rocks that come out of the water by about 50ft, tons of wave action hitting the rocks and often times dozens of sea lions waiting to play with the divers. It cannot get any better. We started our dive by motoring to the white water near the rocks and we dropped down to about 60ft. We circumnavigated the West rock and found the best visibility in the channel between the two rocks. You could see the bat stars at the bottom from about 60ft away. We ended the dive at the 20ft washing machine area. Here you hover btw 30-10ft as the waves splash violently against the pinnacle and enjoy the experience. As your ears ask you to stop the abuse your brain keeps asking for more. As each wave gets to the washing machine, you hear a loud noise, then it becomes dark and finally you’re in white water. As this is happening 3 to 4 sea lions come by at full speed and bark at you underwater. Doing this with the scooters gives you more maneuvering power which is even more fun as you can try to chase the sea lions back on to the rocks.

On Sunday we were hoping for a repeat of the previous day. However, as we reached Soberanes area the wind picked up and the boat was getting quite a lot of movement so we decided to head back to calmer water. There was quite a lot of disappointment from the divers on board, especially the ones that didn’t visit SUR19 the previous day. As we headed back we looked at our options and decided that K2 could be a good plan B for the team. After the boat anchored all the divers headed down the pinnacle, and each team went in their own direction. Sue and I followed the valley btw K2 and K1 until we reached 200ft at the end of the wall. The whole area was filled with baby juvenile rockfish, and we really enjoy scootering in and out of the schools. The fish would react to our lights by moving sideways and then as we moved into the center of the school we would get covered by fish. It was a spectacular experience. After 20min we headed shallower to enjoy the K2 proper wall. The top of these pinnacles is at 70ft and with 60ft vis we had a super view of the top. There were huge, dense schools of rock-fish at the pinnacles tip. As we were preparing to loop the pinnacle we saw a large crack and as we put our light in that direction we were surprised by large white circles all bundled together at the top of the crack. GPO!!!!! We moved to the depth where the animal was and as we approached we were surprised by the animal coming out of the crack. It swam towards us with two of its arms extended trying to reach us. YIKES!!! We did some back-kicking and it finally positioned itself with the head up and away on the rock and all tentacles extended. Susan signaled to me to try to get some more interaction going, but I gently declined the invitation. We had much deco to go play with a 10ft GPO. After about 1min it decided to go back into the crack and we admired it for another 3 or 4min before deciding that it was time to go up. We had an amazing encounter with that animal. We were able to signal "GPO!!!" to Rob and Allison, and they got some images of it. All divers were super happy as we moved to the 70ft top and started our deco. Another amazing diving weekend at home :-)

here some photos from sunday.

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