Emerald Bay diving video

I used the six dives at Emerald Bay to work up several new dive items that I’m getting better at. I have an updated wet suit for colder water diving – an Excel hooded full suit using thickness of 9, 7, and 6 mm material, which changes the bouyancy of the suit and you need to change around the dive weights. The suit has an interesting interior lining called “Thermo Dry Celliant”. The lining is kind of like a micro-fiber that is supposed to retain/reflect heat inside the suit. The lining also makes it relatively easy to get in to/out of the suit as the fibers are not as “sticky” to the skin as neoprene. The 976 suit is thicker and more bouyant than my 1/4″ neoprene wetsuit jacket that I normally use, so I spent some time getting the dive weights right. Turns out what works for me (so far) is 12 pounds on a belt, 10 pounds in each dumpable side pocket of the BC (20 pounds total), and 2 pounds each in the little BC pockets adjacent to the dive tank (4 pounds total) – that gives me 12 pounds on a belt I can easily drop, and 20 pounds in the BC I could also drop – the 4 pounds up by the tank are not droppable while wearing the BC. The tank is a high pressure (3400 PSI) steel 80 that is smaller (therefore more dense, though slightly lighter) than an aluminum 80 at 3000 PSI, in theory less weight is needed with the steel tank.

The camera rig all set up on the tray, with arms and foam floats. There’s also a wet wide angle lens that threads onto the Olympus dive housing – I did not use that lens for the dives. The GoPro camera on top of the Olympus dive housing cold shoe is the older GoPro that was lost during a dive in Washington – the replacement GoPro is essentially the same approach with the GoPro 8 in its plastic dive housing.

With the suit and weights worked out, next step was to bring in the camera and dive lights. I’ve used the camera previously, the lights and tray I wanted to work with as they are relatively new to me. One the details is remembering to keep the lights, as mounted on the ends of the arms, out of the image. It’s not that easy to peer into the rear of the camera’s dive housing to check out the image as I am near-sighted and use corrective lenses set into the mask – as I lean in closer to examine the camera’s rear LCD screen that little screen goes blurry!

This is the best image I captured of a Purple Sea Urchin with the Olympus camera. These were difficult to photograph as they are dark with a faint blue cast to the spines, but the camera mostly picks up a black blob with spikes. Getting the blue color to come out took some work with editing software to adjust the color levels, exposure, highlights (too hot), shadows (too dark), and finally you can see the blue on the spines. The little red and neon blue Gobies really are that billiant. They also flit about when you get too close as they try to hide behind the urchin’s spines.

With the camera and lights working I went around and tried out a bunch of things. That worked fairly well. Last bit up was clamping a GoPro 8 camera to the top of the main camera dive housing. The idea is to leave the GoPro running in video mode for the entire dive while using the Olympus camera on the tray to take still images. The lights are Light and Motion Sola Video Pro 3800, one on each arm. These are continuous lights and as such work for a video camera, and when close enough to the subject to a good job for the still camera.

After my first dive with the GoPro I figured out I needed to move a lot slower in the water and let things happen in front of the camera. The GoPro 8 does have a built-in stabilization mechanism and that mechanism produces distracting perspective changes when the camera is swung about too quickly. So slow and stable is what I tried out on the next dive.

I pulled together the better bits of that dive and connected them together as a short video representative of what I was seeing on the bottom in Emerald Bay. Above is the video, posted to youtube. The original video is 1920 x 1080 at 29.97fps, I edited it with Adobe Premiere Pro (the older locally installed software, not the current Create Cloud subscription-based software). I tested a series of different bit rates for the video image and found that 2 Pass Variable Bit Rate min of 20 max of 40 provided a reasonable image that minimized artifacting in the blue water while keeping the file size down (633MB file as compared to 1.2GB file). I use Zenfolio for image storage but Zenfolio’s video player is not as good as what YouTube provides, so I posted the video to YouTube. And unexpectedly, when I pasted the link into this WordPress page WordPress auto-magically brought up a little player with the video embedded in it. Most interesting!

– rob

Monday morning and headed for Channel islands Harbor

Good morning from the good ship Beetle – which is currently bopping along 4 miles off Catalina’s West
End en route to Channel Islands Harbor. It’s bright morning sun, a fog line ahead some miles, the incoming tanker Polaris Voyager is due to cross our bow in a bit less than an hour as they run east and we run NW. Hopefully the fog will burn off before we get too far into it – yesterday the reports overhead from boats in Santa Monica Bay were “pea soup fog”. One little boat was overheard having a conversation with the USCG in Marina del Rey wondering what the course was back to the Del Rey breakwater – only the little boat did not realize they were still in Malibu and the fellow stated they must have been driving around in circles in the fog as they left Malibu a long time previously. I guess it was foggy!

Yesterday was another great dive in the saddle between Indian Rock and the west end of the reef, found several more Horn Sharks wedged in under the rocks and surrounded by spiky sea urchins. The little sharks did not want to come out at all, I even touched on of the fishes dorsal fins and he didn’t budge, perhaps pretending he wasn’t there.

Late afternoon Charlie in the Harbor Patrol boat stopped by to tell us he had forgotten to tell us the ‘owner’ of the mooring was en route to Emerald Bay and we needed to move to another mooring. Kristen asked if we could shift over to Isthmus and he said, “Sure!” and set us up on C-10. A brief scurry around Beetle to clean up a bit and off we went for the short two mile motor to town. It was amazing to see all the boats there, as compared to practically nobody where we had been. And there were lights on shore, wow! Quite surprising to realize how different the places are despite their proximity. Boats also use the moorings bow-towards-shore, the prevailing breeze flows in over the isthmus.

We put Beetle together to head for sea in the morning, got in a great night’s sleep, were up at 5:40AM, harnessed the cats (easy to do when they aren’t that awake), and were off! There are eagles on Catalina Island, and saw three of them wheeling around above the harbor at sunrise – it’s easy to find them as they have a shrill keening shreak for their bird call/cry. Someone needs to oil their beaks and perhaps they won’t squeak quite so loudly.

It’s a 56 mile hop back up to Oxnard, the forecast is for variable to 10 knot winds, going W to SW as we travel along. Seas are 2 foot at most, with a SW 2′ ground swell. The goal is to arrive before dark, which makes for an easy entrance to Channel Islands Harbor – so we were up and out early.

– rob

Sunday morning and the fog has gone away, sunny day ahead

It’s super clear here in Emerald Bay, I suspect in large part because the bottom is chunky rock/gravel bits rather than sand, and it’s also shallow – normally I don’t anchor in 18′ of water and the mooring is in shallow water.

The morning started extra-early, it seemed, given the time change that happened some hours ago. My watch does not agree with the computer, which has automatically updated its time. Emerald Bay was shrouded in early-morning fog, sufficient to cut visibility to 50 yards or so. Conveniently the fog has burned off now as the sun warmed the air that was cooler than the water and the fog disappeared, leaving behind what looks to be a toasty-warm day with high clouds above.

Beetle on the mooring ball in the afternoon as we head over to the reef to do some exploration.

Kristen and I went on a combination snorkel + scuba excursion to the rock to see if that approach would work, but communications were difficult – she found a big lobster but couldn’t tell me about it, I found some interesting abalone but couldn’t tell her about them. Still, it was a good dive with many lobsters hiding in holes and lots of abalone cruising the reef. The only animals you’re allowed to take here are fin fish and that leaves lots of everything else to be seen. For this dive I added the new GoPro 8 to the mix, perched on a mount of its dive housing and attached to the cold shoe on the Olympus camera’s dive housing. My original GoPro 2 had managed to disconnect itself on a dive up in Washington and I didn’t notice it until too late to find the camera. This time I followed my brother’s approach of tying the camera to the camera tray so you can’t lose a camera without also cutting the line. The GoPro 8 works very well, particularly the built-in stabilization – now I’ve learning about how to obtain better underwater video.

I’ve found very few starfish here, and these little red guys are the only kind I have seen. Quite small with thin red arms, perhaps 4-5″ overall diameter – and they are not on the rocks but instead out on the open bottom that is encrusted with little coral-looking things.
A miniature, almost translucent, critter on the bottom, possibly a small Sea Hare? I haven’t seen sea cucumbers here, and at first I thought this guy might have been a cone snail.

I did a bit of trash collection, picked up half a pair of sunglasses, an old sardine tin, and bits of one of the fiberglass mooring wands that someone must have run over with their boat. Nice to leave the bottom a bit cleaner than when the dive started.

That’s Indian Rock in the background, where we’ve been diving. And those are the trick-or-treaters, resting in the morning sun after a tough night out looking for goodies.

And last night we had two trick-or-treaters that appeared, namely Nibs the Mer-Cat, and NumNuts the Minion. Blame cat costumes on Covid-19. Kristen secreted them onto the boat and two dressed cats knocked on the washboard in search of treats. They didn’t go for the Halloween Gummy Bear medley and instead held out for their special Frisky Party Mix treats. Once they secured the goods, they doffed the costumes tout de suite!

– rob

All Hallow’s Eve from Beetle

It’s October 31, and we’re having the second full moon of the month tonight – be on the look out for Werewolves tonight!

Out here on the mooring in Emerald there’s not too much worry about trick-or-treaters coming by, though Kristen did rescue the errant paddle board that drifted by after becoming undone from the catamaran Voyager moored up the line. The water is pleasantly warm enough that she swam the board over to deliver it back to them – quite nice to go for a swim as one wants.

On Beetle I ran the little Honda generator for an hour in the morning and again for an hour after my dive, that brought the batteries up to a nice charge and also provided convenient AC power to recharge the two dive lights. Three more boats have trickled in to the bay, and weather continues to be benign and pleasant.

I decided to try a dive on the north/outside of Indian Rock where there’s a fairly steep drop-off to 60′. Down at depth there are fronds of kelp coming up towards the surface, though they aren’t long enough to make it to the top just yet. The best critters were at the 10-16′ depth in close to the rocks: abalone are about, lobsters hanging out in crevices, some gorgonians are present, and the surge is minimal here as compared to Smugglers Cove on Santa Cruz Island. Also managed to almost lean over on top of a Horn Shark that was resting (sleeping?) under a rock overhang. I was looking at a turban snail type critter to take a picture of, and when I settled down on the bottom my left elbow touched the shark’s pectoral fin – he opened an eye to look at me and remained still. Then he got tired of my movement and moved over a couple of feet to get out of the way.

Today’s plans are to do a quick deck washdown with the bucket, a bit of battery charging, and water activities. There’s also a chance that Nic will be over here on the dive boat he’s running, and we’ve got the VHF on as he said he would call if their trip got to Emerald.

Here are some pictures from yesterday:

Abalone are molluscs with an oval shell and unlike a snail the abalone can not retreat into its shell – instead they clamp down to the rock with their muscular foot and you can’t budge them. This fellow is up and feeding, the little tentacles are up and waving about.
Closeup view of gorgonian polyps – these are soft corals and do not have the calcium backbone/skeleton of the hard corals.
A different gorgonian with all the red color – they really are that red, though it takes the dive light to bring out the color. This one is roughly 12″ tall top to bottom.
A California Spiny Lobster tucked back inside its protective crack in the reef. Quite a few of these on the rocks, though it takes some looking to find them as they are hidden well back out of sight – it’s the longer waving antennae that give them away.
The horn shark I bothered with my elbow – they swim slowly and like to rest on the substrate.
And part of the mooring chain setup that Beetle is riding to. There mooring line is a series of chains that change diameter – big ship chain on the bottom leading to mid-size links in the center changing to smaller 4″ links at the buoy. It works quite well and an interesting design.

– rob

Fun diving at Indian Rock

It’s Friday morning and Beetle is happily hanging out on a mooring directly in front of Indian Rock at Emerald Bay. As of last night there are a total of five boats making use of the mooring field, which makes this place fairly empty at the moment. I did a bit of digging and it seems the moorings here are anchored using 1-ton concrete blocks, one block in front where the mooring buoy, pick-up wand, and bow hawser are attached, a second block in back to which the stern hawser is anchored. To pick up the mooring you approach the wand, pick it up by hand as you drift up to it, pull in the 5-8′ of 5/8″ polypropylene line and up comes the larger diameter bow hawser with an eye spliced in the end – drop that eye over the bow cleat and you’re on the bow anchor. There’s a spreader line of 5/8″ polypropylene that runs between the bow and stern hawser, so you quickly pull that line in to the boat and lay it on deck, working your way aft as you do so. At the stern end up comes the loop, and in my case I got the loop to within 4 feet of the transom before it became too heavy to lift further – so I looped one of Beetle’s dock lines through the hawser and back to the stern cleat. The whole arrangement is designed to keep the boats in a fixed orientation between the concrete anchors (no swinging on the mooring), and with boats so constrained you can put in a lot of moorings.

The sun has just come up, there’s a bit of low fog over the San Pedro Channel and I can’t quite make out the Palos Verdes headland at the moment – the fog should burn off late and then the mainland will be visible again.

The little Goby’s like to hang out with the sea urchins; I suspect the urchin provides some protection to the little fishes as they can swim in behind the spines and hide there. There are zillions of the Gobys all over the rocks here.

Yesterday was a good water day, I did two dives with the camera and saw some fun critters. First dive was mid-day, after Kristen had launched her SUP (stand up paddle board) for a tour around Indian Rock. I had intended to go around to one side of the rock but the (small) amount of current coupled with the shallow water made that less interesting than dropping back in the deeper water between the big rock to the right and the small rock to the left. I spent most of my underwater time working with the camera to see about getting a picture of the little Catalina Goby’s hanging out with the purply-black long-spined sea urchins. I also wanted to get a good idea of the topography as it looked like a great place to do a twlight-night dive.

Lots of Garibaldi fish on the reef. The fish are fairly territorial and will swim right up to you if you get too close.

Late afternoon I fired up the dive compressor to refill the tank, then dropped back in just before sunset. The lack of sunlight completely changes the dive experience, as you’re focus is entirely on whatever the dive lights can illuminate – everything else is simply black. Kind of like a spotlight on a dark stage – you only see what the light picks out. The big difference for me on a night dive is that I tend to stay in one place and watch for critters to move around on a rock as they walk by me; by comparison on a day dive I’ll cruise around the rocks looking for fishes and larger things that I can swim over to.

The sea urchins are good at wedging themselves into tiny crevices in the rocks, and the Gobys like to hang out with them, even at night.

Neat part of the dive was when a little Horn Shark swam up to the camera light and lay down on the bottom a foot or so away. I did not know that these guys were attracted to light, but this one was. He (or she?) had black spots against the brown skin, that would make the fish an adult. Very pretty animal. Also saw a skate of some kind but it shot off into the dark as it did not seem to like the lights.

The little Horn Shark appeared out of the dark, swam right up to the lights and dropped down to rest on the sand. These guys have a stout spine just in front of each dorsal fin – perhaps they are concerned about being stepped on?
And then he swam slowly off into the night.

Back on board Beetle we had a late dinner with baked potatoes and grilled steak, then went to watch a movie using Kristen’s small (pico-size) video projector. The unit is a Kodak Luma 75, the smallest one Kodak has, and it’s an interesting idea: low power, pocket-size video projector. She and I experimented with it at the marina before heading over to Catalina and it worked fairly well, the resolution is low but the concept is great – no need for a big monitor with a large piece of glass, just a pull down screen (we used a white beach towel as the screen in our test), and the whole thing stows away easily. Kodak does make a slightly larger unit that has ‘full’ resolution that I use: 1920×1080, but that’s a fairly expensive piece of gear and not something I’m going to rush out and get – so far it’s an interesting experiment. Trouble was that last night I could not get the DisplayPort on the HP zBook 15u (nav station computer) to output a signal (using a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter) that the HDMI-input of the projector could see. More to learn!

Plan for today is to get back into the water this afternoon, Kristen will be out and about on her SUP, and the cats can continue exploring Beetle. Both cats are quite interested in the odd seagull that swings by to see if we’ll give it food. When the gulls make noise the cats get interested. So far neither cat has considered getting into the water – though when Kristen went swimming NumNuts wanted to be with her, only it was wet where she was. As she circumnavigated Beetle he would follow her from the deck, meowing – suggesting she was too far away or that she might have been in peil and not made it back on board for to give him dinner. One never knows with cats…

All goes well here, should be a nice sunny day today, and the forecast continues to call for similar through the weekend.

– rob

Beetle at Emerald Bay, Catalina Island

October is a super time to be out and about in the Southern California bight, and Kristen was able to take a week away from her work to join Beetle to spend some time at Catalina. The idea is to hang out at Emerald Bay on one of the moorings here and do some snorkeling and diving at Indian Rock. Turns out one of the folks I met in Mexico, Nicholas, is a dive instructor at Twin Harbors (two miles down the island) and I sent a note his way to see if he had any suggestions for the area – last I’d heard he was in Mexico but he could still relay any ideas. Turns out he is at Catalina on his boat, and while I probably won’t run into him (he’s on the other side of the island in Cat Harbor) he did say that Emerald Bay is great for easy snorkeling and some fun dives. I suspect that the Peet’s Coffee (whole bean) that I picked up for him will remain on Beetle for a while.

The moon was mostly-full for the slow sail to Catalina, which made for a rather pleasant evening on the water. Wind was 10-14 knots and Beetle scooted along quickly, so we arrived off Catalina rather faster than the hoped-for 4 knot average speed!

Getting to Catalina took a bit of waiting as the one weather event in Southern California that can shut down boating on the east side of Catalina is a Santa Ana wind – that’s a strong NE-E wind that sweeps across the Mojave Desert and funnels out through Los Angeles and out to the islands. Sure enough, the day we were to depart Channel Islands a strong High pressure built up over Arizona and the Santa Ana’s kicked up at 30-40 knots breeze for two days. A big fire started in the foothills above Irvine and started to burn towards the city, it blew super hard through Channel Islands Harbor, and we hunkered down. The Santa Ana is dry and typically fairly warm, and the Harbor Patrol at Catalina Island moved everybody off the moorings on the east side of the island – either get back to the mainland or run around ot the backside to Cat Harbor.

It’s 54 miles from Oxnard to Emerald Bay, and I have not been in here with Beetle before. The moorings are located behind Indian Rock and associated reefy bits, the NOAA chart definitely shows the rocks and a wreck but now how to navigate behind the rocks. I did not wish to arrive in the dark to try and figure it out on my own. So Kristen and Beetle and I (and the two cats, Nibs and NumNuts) departed Channel Island just before dark Tuesday afternoon on the back end of the dying Santa Ana winds, aiming for a leisurely and slow hop to Catalina with the goal of arriving Wednesday sunrise. Unfortunately Beetle moved too quickly, even with just the double-reefed main up, and we appeared off Emerald Bay in the inky black between the moon setting at 4AM and the sun rising at 7AM. Oh well, the wind was down to 3-6 knots and Beetle jogged along slowly and I got to watch a magnificent sunrise. A quick radio call to the Harbor Patrol and they set Beetle up on mooring Rome 9 directly in front of Indiain Rock – the travel to the dive spot consists of jumping in the water and following the mooring line 50 feet to the reef. Very nice!

Sunrise over the San Pedro Channel. It wasn’t cold or dark during the night, which made the hop pleasant, and there was enough wind to sail along and not use the motor – even better!

I had a nap after the fractured sleep of the overnight cruise, NumNuts was fairly seasick and looked miserable, meanwhile there was enough rocking and rolling through the night that Nibs had difficultly sleeping was in a most pissy mood upon arrival, especially after I rolled over on top of him in the bunk – but he has since recovered and is out exploring the deck now that his harness has been removed.

Motoring in towards Indian Rock at Emerald Bay. The mooring field extends the entire width of the beach, from frame left to frame right in the image. There does appear to be some anchorage available off to the right, though the one boat that was anchored there departed shortly after we arrived.

The water is calm in the lee of island and the mooring field with 102 spots is currenly occupied by three boats – which makes for a rather quiet area. Will be interesting to see if more boats travel over come the weekend. I got suited up and dropped in to explore the area underwater, Kristen donned her snorkel gear and did likewise. There are tons of little Catalina Goby fishes in their bright red scales and vertical bright blue stripes adorning the rocks, little to no kelp, ran across some lobsters, a big abalone cruising along a rock, an octopus garden, and lots of hermit crabs and snails doing their thing. Very nice place to spend some time under water.

Last night we were considering watching a movie but instead I lay down for a nap and woke up 10 hours later – clearly I wanted the sleep.

Sunrise from the mooring field in Emerald Bay. There’s a large cluster of buildings, at least some of which are the Pennington Marine Science Center.

It’s now Thursday morning, clear skies (Santa Ana winds tend to blow out the clouds and leave a bright clear sky behind), it’s going to be another beautiful day out here. The weather forecast shows this continuing for several days, should make it nice to be here. Beetle has lots of food, the water is clear and reasonably warm at 67 degrees despite it being October. Yesterday I got the weight distribution sorted out on the new wet suit (a thicker one-piece suit with neoprene thicknesses of 9, 7, and 6mm material). Today I’ll get the camera gear up and running and intend to do two dives – on during the day, and then another at twilight to observe the underwater critters change over from diurnal swimmers to the nocturnal guys.

Should be fun! There is intermittent network coming in through AT&T and Verizon, sufficient to download copy of Stellarium for working out which objects are in the sky at night, and uploading the images in this post. One just has to be patient! WordPress has also changed their post-editor, and I’m working to understand how the new one operates. Not too sure if everything above will actually come out as I intended. Things to learn!

– rob

California Blue Dorid nudibranch

Looks like the sea slug I came across in the little kelp patch at Smugglers Cove is a California Blue Dorid (Felimare californiensis).  I looked at a number of photos, and it sure looks like that’s what I found:

p3940041490-2

The little sea slug is bright blue with yellow spots – the spots are more like little donuts of color with a darker area in the middle. This one was doing it’s thing on the side of a rock, and the dive light made it leap out of the surrounding darker-yellow covering.

Turns out the little critter is found along the Calfornia coast, Monterey to Baja, until it disappeared in 1983.  It wasn’t until 2003 that another one was seen – the thinking is the water quality became too polluted for the animal’s food to survive (the blue and gold sea slug feeds on sponges), and they disappeared.  One paper thinks the passage of the Clean Water Act (1972) made a change in reducing pollutants going into the ocean and the sea slug has staged a comeback.  It is still rare, but can be found at Anacapa, Santa Cruz, and Catalina islands.

Fun to find one one!  I think I need to find a nudibranch guide with color pictures.

– rob

 

Sunday morning – preparing to head back to Channel Islands Harbor

It’s a calm quiet morning here in the anchorage, other than the occasional boat running the engine to charge up the batteries. Not much breeze to speak of, the wind seems to come up around 1pm as it sweeps around the island along the south side. Sneaky wind!

The wrap-around residual swell is down, there is a gentle slight roll under the hull so you know you’re not sitting on dirt.

Had good stars last night but the moon has appeared and the moon’s light drowns out the comet – so not much in the way of comet spotting.

Had a good dive again yesterday, and found a new nudibranch that is bright blue with spots. I spent a while working on getting a picture of the little guy, they are so small that it can be difficult to get the lens close to the critter and still get light in past the lens to illuminate the area without shining light into the lens at the same time. I ended up with a weird arrangement with lights above and below, off to one side, around the seaweed, to have a picture. Dive gear has all worked well, Ventura Dive replaced the O-ring on the HP 100 tank – turns out the O-ring as sold to me was hard, brown, and had a seam around the outside. The fellow at the dive shop had not seen an O-ring like that; the ones they use are soft, black, without a seam. The new O-ring definitely works better than the first one. I also purchased some extra O-rings and suitable silicon grease. I checked my wrenches and while I could undo the valve with what I have that wrench has teeth which would dent the valve’s metal. I’ll get a 1-1/2″ box-end wrench with flats, that will protect the valve when it needs removal (which is at least annually to inspect the interior of the tank).

Plan for the day is to do a bit of boat organization, then roll back Channel Islands Harbor. Breeze is forecast to come up tomorrow, and I’d like to give Beetle a fresh water rinse and get a few things done in town.

Should be a good day. There can be lots of porpoises to be found on the way back, so I plan to work on porpoise-spotting today.

Oh – and word came back from Friday Harbor Lab: the little red spikey tubular animal is indeed a juvenile California Sea Cucumber. I saw lots of them yesterday clinging to rocks and snails and shells and most any other substrate. So the sea cucumber population seems to be doing OK here.

– rob

A good dive Friday

It’s a grey quiet morning here in Smugglers Cove. It’s Saturday – expecting more boats to arrive by evening for the weekend out at the islands. Plenty of room here, there were 20 boats in the anchorage last night, a half-dozen have moved on to other places this morning.

Yesterday was a fun second dive with the camera gear in the small kelp bed. I spent a while on the bottom taking pictures of a nudibranch, also some snails, and large spikey sea urchins. The visibility isn’t great at maybe 10 feet as there’s a fair bit of churned up stuff in the water, but the surge is down and that makes working on a picture easier than when flying back and forth past the critter I’m trying to get in the frame.

I also got the GoPro to work as a continuous video camera, this time by the simple expedient of turning it on before putting it in the dive housing, and then leaving it on for the entire dive. A bit silly as one needs to chop off all the beginning and ending material that mostly consists of the underside of the dinghy as the camera hangs from a rope in the water while I finish getting the gear on.

The dive lights are Light & Motion Sola 3800 units, they have a good even light without obvious hot spots and are easily positioned using the little arms attached to the camera tray. I don’t particularly care for the bizarre fisheye look of the wide angle GoPro, so I leave it for the narrow field of view and that keeps the image fairly rectilinear.

Found some fun critters, including the Bat Ray that slowly went by – they are busy looking for clams and shell fish in the sand to munch on. They don’t have sharp teeth but rather flat plates that are good for crushing shells. These rays are fairly common in Southern California. This particular one sported a stubby tail, perhaps he got into an argument with someone and lost his tail. He still had the poisonous spine at the base of the tail so he was hardly defenseless. Do NOT pull the tail on a Bat Ray, they might not appreciate it.

When a dive is finished I hop up into the dinghy, turn around and retrieve the tank and inflated BC that I tie off to a line before getting into the dinghy (the gear is too heavy to make it up into the dinghy with the tank on my back). Then off go the fins, drop the weight belt, etc. At that point I start up the outboard and pull up the anchor – only this time the anchor refused to budge. Rats! I tugged and tugged and tugged, it wasn’t budging. I put back on all the gear and dropped down the dinghy’s anchor line, which I followed straight to a rock outcropping with the anchor firmly wedged underneath. No way it was coming out by pulling up but easily retrieved by sliding out sideways. Note to self: remember to check the anchor at the end of the dive *before* getting into the dinghy.

Oddly the GoPro editing software from GoPro, which I had installed on the Win 10 laptop while in the marina, won’t run out here – the software wants an internet connection before doing anything. I suspect that software wants me to join some online GoPro community. I don’t do online communities – I have my boat log and that’s about it. If GoPro wants me to create some account on their servers so I can be part of their ‘community’ before letting me use the software then I will look for other software.

By early evening the boats have arrived, 20 in the anchorage, including a large 90-100 power boat that anchored well out. Quiet boat, even with their generators running. Conditions are a light westerly filtering in over the island, little waves that bonk onto the beach, and not much else. A most pleasant evening.

Today’s plan is to do some more work on setting up the insect collection unit tray labels, charge up the batteries for a bit, and jump in the water again for another swim with the fishes!

– rob

Bat ray and nudibranch

Had a great dive today, saw several nudibranchs and while over the sand a bat ray went by.

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.