Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sucia Part Two

Lawson Bluff
Originally uploaded by Pixel Letch.
We returned to Sucia Island again the weekend of Sept 10-11th. (see first trip: Scallops and Tigers and Nudis - Oh My! Sucia is one of the northernmost San Juan islands. This time we came in force and loaded for "bear", or nudibranchs anyway. We were apprehensive about the weather, as it poured rain on the drive north, but cleared by Mt. Vernon and was beautiful, except for just a little rain at night.

Fellow Marker Buoy Club member Greg Wilson has a fantastic, bright red 16' Zodiac with a 25HP motor, just made for diving. He, Chip Petit and I loaded it with 9 tanks and all our dive gear, then towed it behind my 28' sailboat Maggie May. It was dubbed the Dive Barge and probably weighed over 1200 pounds loaded. The cool thing was that even loaded, it still towed well enough to sail and we had a good time going and coming! Greg and I feel like we've worked out a great solution for diving; I have the comfortable "bunk house" and he has the fast dive platform. The Zodiac easily got up on plane with 3 divers, gear and 6 tanks.

Steve Lodge and his boat along with his son, girlfriend and Carl Baird met us up at Sucia on Saturday morning. We dove at Little Patos Island across from Sucia and then back to Lawson Bluff on the north side of Sucia. I wasn't too impressed by Little Patos, but I think we dove too far away from the point. Visibility was excellent, really opening up nicely to 40-50'. We saw lots of Copper rockfish and small invertibrates. The only bummer was when Greg was pulling his rig off, he managed to snag and loose his Cochran wrist computer into 150' of water.

For the second dive, we did Lawson Bluff again. I'm getting this site wired and have found the perfect little cove to pull into, put our gear on, and do an easy shore dive from the rocks. We also found a treasure trove of scallops there and collected a bag of Pectins for an or'sderve! The depth is easy and we found lots of photo subjects. Lawson was a much richer site, lots of Dendronotus nudibranchs, Copper and Puget Sound rockfish, with a few large Ling Cods cruising by. I shot macro on both dives, yet with the visibility opening up nicely, I'm starting to yearn for a wide angle lens, it was much better than two weeks ago.

We were going to get up and do an early dive on Ewing Island, but were lazy and just decided to have a big breakfast and head home; spending the early afternoon sailing and enjoying the sunshine!

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Scallops and Nudis and Tigers, Oh My!

Tiger Rockfish
Originally uploaded by Pixel Letch.
Club member Steve Lodge and I staged a boat dive in the San Juan Islands to Sucia Island, my home-away-from-home, over the weekend.

There were 5 divers from our club, 3 on my sailboat "Maggie May" (myself, Jim McGaughey and Carl Baird), and Paul Riggs and Steve on his powerboat "Makushla". We met up Friday, spent a bouncy night at anchor, and then moved around to the other side of the island to Fox Cove and found a mooring there. Steve and Paul tried doing a dive to find some crab to no avail. We transferred 10 tons of dive gear to Steve's boat and motored around to the north side of the island and dove Lawson Bluff and then Ewing Island. Weather was gorgeous - in upper 70's and sunny.

There are nice walls and ledges with large boulders that have fallen off the sandstone bluffs above on these sites. We tended to have fairly square dive profiles, but not overly deep at around 55-80 feet. I dove on 32% EAN, that gave me long bottom times on my steel 98. Lots and lots of schools of fish, from small Puget Sound Rockfish, Quillback Rockfish in every size, Kelp Greenlings, large Ling Cod and so forth. Unfortunately the viz was so-so, maybe 15', so they were hard to shoot. Currents were light.

Photography-wise it was up and down for me.

I shot a couple of rare nudis not found south of the islands, and shot a Tiger Rockfish, also a rare and timid species. BUT I made a major mistake when switching into RAW mode I forgot to change the ISO back to 80 from the default 200. This is one feature I've stumbled over before on my Fuji F810, it takes two places to change back and forth from RAW and you have to remember to change the ISO back. So the photos are pretty grainy. Dimwitted at 70'.

I also managed to create a fog inside my case when shooting hard towards the end of the second dive. I forgot to add in silica gel packs, maybe got a tiny bit of water when changing batteries.

Had a great dinner Sat. On Sunday Steve, Paul and Jim went out on Jim's RIB dingy to do another drift dive with Carl doing surface support. I stayed back on the boat and made a huge brunch for everyone. Although overcast, we had a calm passage back to Blaine, got back to the dock, and had most of the boat unloaded before the rain deluged us. Jim had had some car problems towing his boat up, so his wife met them to take the boat in tow, so Jim could limp home.

So win some, loose some, great weekend, we're going again in two weeks. Practice makes perfect!

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