Monday, January 21, 2008

Metridium Fields for ever

Anne and I had watched the sunrise from somewhere on Hwy 101 southbound on our way to Monterey for a meetup with other
and people. It looked like it was going to shape up into a great day, and as we headed past Marina and could see the water I got very stoked: glassy, hardly any swell, and bright sunshine.

We pulled into the lot at the Breakwater and got the last spot on the lower lot, somehow, even though it was 9 am and all the parking spots should have been claimed by then. It was a harbinger of good fortune.

The grass was vivid green in the morning sun, and the water looked great. Last time I'd been to the breakwater had been a red tide day, so it was nice to see better conditions. Sarah and Mark had already begun spreading out tarps on the grass so we joined them and soon Michelle and Brad showed up along with some others that I'd only known from online. Kevin and Denise from dropped by on their way to Lobos, and it was a fun, relaxing morning.

Soon everyone was geared up and Ron was giving the briefing about how to find the Metridiums. I'd never been out there, though as a North Coast diver I'm used to long surface swims. As it turned out the swim to the end of the pipe was about the same as the swim out to the mouth of Ft Ross East Cove. No big deal, and with the flat seas and lack of wind, the swim out with about 15 others was easy and fun.

The pipe runs on about a 40 degree heading, so after lining up with Reeside to the west, the white rock to the north, the end of the breakwater to the south (roughly) we dropped and found the pipe almost immediately. Following the pipe for another 30 meters or so we found the end and continued that same heading for another 30 meters or so and soon we could see the shale beds and metridiums looming in the distance.

Vis was about 15-20 feet, compromised a bit by the billions of fry in the water. Anne and I cruised around the Met Fields and found numerous clumps of rock to the north with big crops of anemones, all unfolded in their glory.

Turn pressure was 1800PSI and our plan was to head back on a 210 degree heading aimed at the stairs by the bathroom. I'd thought we'd see nothing but sand on the way back but was wrong. There were loads of tube anemones, and frequent clumps of rock with bat stars, corynactus, palm kelp and fish. We found some junk on the bottom: an old dive light with parts missing and a restaurant napkin, which we swept up and brought ashore. Also in our path was a pair of huge concrete blocks with a big rusty chain off of one of them.

We swam from one rock formation to the next finding shallower water until we ran across the big pipe again, which we followed for another few meterse into about 10 feet of water where we surfaced for a leisurely swim/walk to the beach. The tide was super low and we walked out past many rocks that would normally be underwater.

Back on the grass people fired up barbeques and laid their wetsuits out in the sun to dry.

Around 2pm we geared up again for a dive out the wall and back. The tide was even lower and you could walk out to about the number 5 on the breakwater wall. We swam out to the bend and dropped in a group. There was some confusion with so many divers and Anne and I decided to get out in the clear so we kicked a bit along the wall and found some relatively clear water. Vis was about 15 or so, pretty good for breakwater.

I love the tube anemones and they were all over the bottom. There were halfmoons in the rocks and lots of stars. I was looking for nudis but didn't see any, and neither did I see any seals or sea lions.

Pretty soon we were heading back along the wall, encountering other divers on the way and gradually finding brighter sunlight in the shallower water. The breakwater isn't a spectacular dive, but I always enjoy it because it's easy and zero stress, while there is always something to see in the rocks and on the sand.

Here are more photos from the day:

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