Sunday, September 20, 2015

Whiskey Cove 19/09/2015

Off to Whiskey Cove again for some crabbing again! Actually, we ended up not doing any crabbing at all, and it turned into a fun dive day with skills. Originally it was going to be Heather, Wendy, me and Josh, but Dave and Vlad also came along. It was a very wet day and it was back to regular BC diving weather from the hot summer! With so much rain, we stopped at the Belcarra picnic area and got into our suits there. Heather got this picture of Wendy on dive two, to show you just how wet it was.

And here was me gearing up.

Heather and Wendy formed one team, and I went with Dave, Vlad and Josh. Josh wanted to do some stage bottle practice, and Dave was trying out a new light. On our first dive, we checked out the rocks to the right. Visibility was alright, but not great. There were quite a few schooling perch as well as rockfish. I could have sworn that I saw some black rockfish, but they were probably just juvenile copper rockfish with a darker colouring. The dungeness crabs looked bigger this time around (they were very small last time). I was hoping for more nudibranchs, but I only saw one yellow margin dorid. We also came across some of the rock overhangs that the 151 Dives book talked about. They were not caves in any way, but some of them were a few feet deep. The one we found was about 20 minutes into the dive. On the way back, we passed Heather and Wendy doing their first dive, then Josh and I did some stage bottle practice.

Dave had to go home, but Vlad, Josh and I did another dive doing skills and it went well. Whiskey Cove was quite good for that. There were many concrete blogs and chains from the floating docks above, giving a lot of good reference points. You did have to watch where you surfaced though.

I got some video, too. The giant moon jellies were very cool! We also found some treasure, some lost dive weights. Vlad got to try out a PVC tube that he had put together that could be used to hold stuff like that, or used to clean up line or other garbage from the bottom. It worked pretty well, and was better than trying to carry things in your pockets.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Oahu Snorkelling 07/09/2015

While we were in Hawaii, there wasn't just diving. We also went snorkeling!

We had heard a lot about Hanauma Bay, and arranged for a trip out there. Unfortunately the hurricane north of us had quite an affect on snorkeling. Here was our first view of the Bay. The surf was crazy! We heard the people manning the visitor's center comment that it was never like this.

The waves out at the point were impressive.

Unfortunately, the visibility in the bay was only a few feet with an incredible amount of stirred up silt. Also, the surge made snorkeling not a lot of fun. Instead, we hung up our snorkels and played in the surf, and laid on the beach. We also saw one of the mongoose that lived in the area, as well as some of the feral cats. Very cute!

When we were leaving, this was a picture of what the bay should have looked more like. But we couldn't stay.

We had a lot more fun snorkeling on Waikiki Beach just out front of our hotel. There was a lot to see! We saw a scorpionfish, schools of reef fish, and some pretty nice coral.

Look closely for the scorpionfish!

The video that we got turned out pretty good too!

It was too bad that Hanauma Bay wasn't the greatest, but puttering round in the shallows at the beach was almost as good.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Oahu Diving 06/09/2015

It had been a long time since we had done any warm water diving, and Heather arranged for us to do some with Dive Oahu while we were in Hawaii. I had never been to Hawaii, and it was an amazing time. We had a lot planned, with diving and snorkeling just a portion.

We got picked up from the Hotel by Tiffany in one of the Dive Oahu vans. As it always seemed with diving, it was early! We hoped that going out early in the day would pay off. There had been some hurricane activity, with Hurricane Jimena to the north, and the surf was definitely up. We also hoped that this wouldn't affect the diving too much!

When we got to the dock, we realized it was just a few minutes away and we could have just walked. At the dock, we met the rest of the crew: Captain Matt and Brian, as well as the rest of the people on the boat. It was a small group, only six of us. A picture of our boat, the Ocean Spirit.

In the waters just by the dock was a school of Moorish Idols, and a zebra moray. I couldn't believe that we were seeing things right in the marina!

Here was a picture of Tiffany and Brian (in the back) talking about our first dive site, the Sea Tiger. The wreck had quite a history.

The day was perfect, as you could see by this picture of our trip out of the marina.

And here was a picture of Captain Matt, taking us out on this perfect day.

The Sea Tiger wreck did not disappoint. We got some pretty neat pictures on the descent.

It was a deep dive at 100 feet and we saw more Moorish Idols, moray eels, white tipped reef sharks and just an incredible array of life. At the beginning of the dive, Heather came over to me and showed me her camera housing. It was sloshing water, and clearly flooded. The o-ring must have not been seated properly, but getting a waterproof camera inside a housing paid off! After the dive, it was fine.

This was a pretty good picture of one of a white tipped reef sharks cruising by. It was at about 130 feet, and we were at about 100.

And here was a snap of the bow of the Sea Tiger.

There was quite a lot of surge and current on the dive, much more than I was used to. It wasn't bad, and made the dive fun and challenging. It was apparent that going out early had paid off, as we watched more and more boats coming out behind us. The dive site was only about 10 minutes from the harbor.

We had a short surface interval, but our next dive site was very shallow with a depth of 40 feet. Tiffany and the crew were keen to get us to Horseshoe Reef ahead of the other boats in order to check out the turtles before they got too overwhelmed with divers. It paid off.

This was a snap of the reef itself. It was not as vibrant as I might have expected, but pretty good considering all the traffic it got and its close proximity to Waikiki. It was literally just 10 minutes out.

Heather got a picture of me checking out the reef.

We both brought Sola dive lights along, but I kept forgetting to use it to illuminate things when I was using my GoPro. I was used to my HID light, which just washed things out, so I was in the habit of pointing my light away.

This was a picture on the way to the turtles. There was a ledge under-which they slept quite often.

The surge here was even more pronounced. It was nearly impossible to fin against it, so it was much more efficient to not fight it, and fin ahead on the surge, almost like a drift dive with a push. The sand on the bottom stirred up in what reminded me of underwater snow-storms. It was quite cool, even though it brought the visibility down.

Tiffany got us over to the turtle area, and from that point, it was just magical. There were about five of them. Patient watching paid off, and I was lucky enough to have several encounters with them. It also gave an opportunity for us to use the picture-enhancing software Vivid-Pix, which helped out quite a bit on the clarity of some of the photos.

This was probably the best shot, with one turtle swimming right past my camera!

Too soon, it was time to ascend and pack up. I couldn't not include my signature self-portrait from turning off my GoPro!

It was a great morning of diving, all thanks to Brian Benton and his crew at Dive Oahu! Here was the video that came out of the day. It turned out great! Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Whiskey Cove Crab Dive 30/08/2015

Heather and I had talked about going crabbing off and on for quite a while, but never quite seemed to make it. We had several books, and even attended a "how to crab" session at one of the marine stores in town. We had the crab sizing tool, marine fishing licenses, a crab bag; pretty much everything you would need to go do it. We just hadn't gone!

So, we finally took the opportunity to knock two things off our list: go crabbing, and explore a new dive site. Specifically, Whiskey Cove near Belcarra. I had heard of it, but had never dove it before. Wendy from Heather's office also took the opportunity to come along.

Getting to Whiskey Cove wasn't hard, but it was a bit of a drive, and the directions we had left a bit to be desired. I found the best way to plot your directions was to use the bus stop, that is located right there.

There was space for maybe 3 or 4 cars to park. The trail that leads down to the entry was clearly marked as well. We made a note to be quiet as well, since the beach is right between several houses. Conscientious divers would make for happy residents, and no nasty articles in the newspaper! Wendy got a good picture of what the entry looked like at low tide.

I would certainly recommend aiming for high tide when diving here. Also, there were many docks and boats, so you really needed to watch where you ascended at the end of your dive.

The dive went pretty well, but we didn't succeed in keeping any of the crabs we caught. All were under the size limit. There were also an incredible number of females, which you couldn't keep. Out of maybe 15 crabs that we inspected, only 2 of them were males, and both of them were too small. Still, we could see why Whiskey was a popular site for crabbing. There were loads of dungeness, as well as red rock crabs. The dive itself was shallow and easy. We went along the rock wall on the right side. You might make 15 meters or 50 feet of depth if you were lucky.

Visibility was pretty good as well, despite the recent storm we had. We even managed to get a few photos. Here was the prey. They sure could pinch if you didn't grab them right! I wore wet-gloves for the first time in 5 years, and that worked out pretty well. I didn't have to worry so much about the claws cutting my dry gloves.

We also got a funny selfie at the surface, when I was mucking around with the camera.

We also came across some nice moon jellies.

Finally, we even managed to get a very short bit of video.

All in all, a lot of fun! We would be back, hopefully when the crabs had grown a bit bigger.

Whytecliff Scooter Dive 26/08/2015

It had been some time since I had been out for a scooter dive, and Vlad and I decided to join the Whytecliff Wednesday crowd to change that.

Arriving on a perfect evening, we got ready for our dive. Vlad had taken his scooter down to the beach, and when I went down, I couldn't see it at all. My first reaction was that it had been carried out by a wave, but then I found it. It was behind a log that made it difficult to see from the path.

The tide was going out, and the visibility looked not too bad. Our plan was to scooter from the bay past the Cut, and then back. The first 15 meters of depth was pretty murky. But beyond that it opened up fairly nicely. We ended up seeing a great deal of life, and it was a great dive.

At the beginning, we came across a tiger rockfish near the day marker. They were not very common as far as I have ever seen, so it was very cool. 15 minutes into the dive, we also came across a lion's mane jellyfish. I got a too up close and personal with it, unfortunately. I saw it, and tried to turn left to avoid it with my scooter. That put my right into its tentacles, which dragged across my upper lip. It stung like the dickens! Up to that point, I had never actually come into contact with a lion's mane. It was painful but not horrible, and the cold water helped. I decided it wasn't enough to cancel the dive and we kept going. The next time, when I see a lion's mane, it will be stop first, then think about how to avoid it. I seem to remember the mantra "stop, think, act", which I didn't do in this case!

We also came across two octopus on the dive, along with a spidery tanner crab, and a brown box crab. The brown box crab was like a dull version of a puget sound king crab. Vlad got some good video.

At the end of the dive, our original plan was to do skills in mid-water. But the visibility was bad and I was feeling worse for wear with the jelly sting, so I made us do some skills near the bottom instead.

Back on shore, we rested on a log. Vlad turned his light on my face, and thought I was some kind of horrible monster. The jellyfish sting had really puffed up my lips. Here is a picture!