With swells up since December, it was with great angst and long felt need that I got in two successive days of diving the third week of January to kick off 2013.
It was two days of firsts. Apart from the new year, the dives marked the first sessions armed with more than my 43" JBL woody and/or pole spear. Thanks to two magnificent magnanimous Christmas gifts from my older brother and folks, I swam out January 16 armed with a 100cm Aimrite venom, carbon fiber speargun, and a brand new GoPro3. Beast.
The photos you see alongside were taken during the second of the two dives, on Friday, January 17, and feature a new dive buddy, Kris from Kauai, who made the trek down from San Francisco for his first cencal/Monterey dive sesh. Armed with nothing but a six foot three prong, Kris put on a clinic, bagging limits on multiple species, including three Cabezon (one Monster), a rock greenling, and assorted rockfish.
As you can see, the winter visibility was quite the welcome sight!
Looking down, getting ready for a dive in 30ft with the Kelp stalk for cover
After a long 3 1/2 hour solo dive the day previous, legs, neck and back were a bit sore, the cold damp wetsuit not something I was looking forward to, and I already had plenty of fish. However, it was scenes like these that brought me back. It is no wonder I see these places in my dreams!
The visibility milked out on the outside, revealing only ghostly images and leaving much to imagination.
After searching for about an hour, we found the first school of blues we had been searching for on the outside of the kelp. As we approached, they vanished into the milky haze, but it wasn't long before we were surrounded by their curious young.
A school of blues is always a good sign. While good eating, these are a bit small, what they portent is a good possibility of larger fish sulking in the depths...
That didn't stop Kris from choosing out a few of the larger fish in the school. Blues are too good to pass up! Here he is skillfully pinning a freshly speared blue against the 3-prong.
Looking up through the 'enchanted forest' one sees the world as if on land, except that if you so choose, you can fly up to those branches or glide along the bottom inches from the forest floor.
At this point in the dive I settled to only taking pictures and avoid taking any videos of the dive. The high resolution photos on the GoPro3 were taking so much space already on the SD card (which was only 2gb) and I couldn't get enough of shots like these.
'Oh, that Jelly looks pretty cool' were the words going through my head. Little did I know what would happen next...
Whirling around, I tried to capture them as they passed... Two magnificent giants of the deep, a Grey whale mother and her calf. This was the photo I shot... I'm lost for words at this point, as they fail to describe the experience. Catch me with a few drinks in me and I'll probably attempt to tell you all about it.
On a high from the encounter with the whales, we pressed on. Here is a pic of Kris skimming the bottom in his camo.
Having been witness to one of the most powerful creatures on the planet, spearing fish seemed almost silly, but we got back to it.
Kris surveying the bottom for Ling sign.
Here's Kris dispatching a grass rockfish that was hugging a small canyon on the bottom, Kris' 3-prong game was on point!
The ability to hunt with a 3-prong spear is a necessity if a hunter wishes to graduate to using a gun. The stalking method, knowing when and how to get close to fish, calculating the distance and taking the kill are invaluable tools for the underwater hunter.
About three hours into the dive, my GoPro3 battery beeped and died. This was one of the last photos I took, looking up through the kelp at the brilliant sunshine. What a day, what a day...