Sunday, October 23, 2005

Dances with Wolf Eels

Members of the dive club met on Sunday, Oct23rd at Day Island wall near the Tacoma Narrows, a high current dive site. This is a tricky neighborhood situation so we try to car pool and be discreet.

Divers were getting out as we were getting in. I lead my dive buddy Paul Riggs who hadn't dove the site before. We kicked out and I knew we were late, as we drifted north with the ebb. I hate it when your not 2 mins into a dive and you know there's problems. It was supposed to be a low exchange afternoon, so there was hope.

We submerged and swam hard out cross-wise to the current in search of the wall. We went over a couple of ledges at 65' and I though the wall would drop off soon, but we had missed it to the north a bit and had to circle back from 90', kicking hard. When we did find the wall we'd used up a third of our air. Continuing south, the current let up and we could relax a bit.

The attraction here in the murky depths are wolf eels. Lots of wolf eels, we lost count at 10. They have condos in the hard sandstone/mud walls along the lip. I had brought a bag of old chicken to see if they liked it. The answer was YES!

Poking my HID light into a hole I got an immediate response. He went after my light! Then flew up and was in my face. He was about 6' long or so. I dug out my food from my pocket and had to pet him gently out of the way so I could open it. Like an over-eager puppy; down boy!

Held out bits to him, which he found and gulped down and then went nuts again. He was twirled around me trying to get at the bag, chicken flying in the current. Paul was slightly below me, enjoying the show. Then the wolfie went after Paul's hand. They have teeth, but his were not pronounced. Paul didn't know what to do and I was laughing so hard I flooded my mask.

We continued the dive finally, and tried a few other eels to little success, they seemed shy. Also saw a couple of medium-sized GPO and lots of Red Irish Lords who loved the treats.

We swam for quite a while along the wall and I realized we'd gone past one geographic turn around spot, so we went up over the lip and partially rode the current back until it backeddied and we had to kick like hell again.
Ended up just about right, other divers had a hard kick back in.

But feeding that big friendly fella was a memory that will stay with me for a while.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Getting Crazy at Keystone

Old Keystone Pier
Originally uploaded by Pixel Letch.
I lead the first of what I hope will be ongoing club photo dives at Keystone Ferry Jetty on Whidbey Island today.

We had 16 or so divers show up and probably 10 cameras or so! I had suspected that there were a lot of people that had cameras, but weren't using them. Keystone is a great photo site with lots of current and life.

Unfortunately when we got there there was another huge class already there from Silent World, like 15 cars full. OMG! And the calm, partially sunny, day that was promised didn't materialize. It was cold, cloudy and very windy, kicking up a 2' foot or so chop. This is a fairly steep round rock beach, so the chop can be a little treacherous.

Several of us decided to dive the old pier that is just to the south of the jetty and avoid the students. Others went on the jetty and said the most prevalent marine life they saw was other divers. But most all of us had a good dive.

A late arriving group decided to do a drift dive from the pier to the jetty. This is quite doable, but you must stay shallow like 30', or you will get shot right past the jetty and into the state ferry lane, not a good idea. Very unfortunately they did exactly that - went to 55' around the jetty, had the ferry go right over them in 40' of water, then swim back around the end. I climbed out on the rocks to assist one diver who decided to climb out. One of the divers was very upset, scared, and it took a while to talk to her and make her feel better. So I only did one dive.

But the dive was excellent, except for the surge and strong current in 13-22' of water! Very clear viz, had me trying some close focus/wide angle shots, a first for me with the Ike/Fuji F810 system, as we don't get these conditions often. While the subject matter could be more spectacular, I was quite pleased with the shots technically and the stock lens on the F810.

My thanks to all who came and particularly Jim McGauhey who brought his rolling RV party wagon and saved us from the cold winds! It was also nice to meet several new divers in the club and dive with them. And a personal thanks to big Carl Harrington, my dive buddy and fin man extrodinare!