Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Quast Rock Complex

Kayak Dive #2
Quast Rock Area
June 6, 2009
Descent Time; 10:21
Depth; 68
Bottom Time; 00:42

Jeff and I planned a kayak dive to the Quast Rock complex (as it is called on "The Map" ™). This area consists of several dive sites including Quast Rock, Anchor Rock, and T-Rock. Jeff and I were to meet at The Boat Launch around 0800 Saturday morning. He invited another diver, Mike, to come along.

Being a natural early riser I was up about 0600 to get all my equipment ready. This time I would put together my gear before getting to the beach. Walking out to my car I was greeted by a beautiful sunrise. Some rain clouds to the east making for an interesting horizon. But above, clear blue skies. I assembled my gear and checked that I had all my kayak stuff. Made sure I had my anchor, dive flag, and extra line. These are things that I don’t use when I just go for a paddle.

I left for La Jolla Shores as soon as I was ready. Got there before our meet time. But that gave me time to get ready and enjoy the morning. It was still clear at the beach. This is unusual for this time of year. Typically we have the overcast skies of June Gloom. Today there was just a line of gray rain clouds out west. There was virtually no wind to speak of and small two-foot waves coming in. I parked the car out on the sand and off -loaded my kayak and dive gear. Got everything set up before Jeff and Mike arrived. I am diving today with my Farmer John wetsuit that I just got expressly for kayak diving. Now I don’t have to have my suit zipped up and hood on prior to reaching the dive site. It is much more comfortable to paddle out without being encumbered by 7mm of wetsuit restricting your paddling.

By the time they arrived, just after 0800, the tide had covered twenty feet of the thirty feet between my car and the water's edge. They set up, while I parked my car, and we paddled out through the surf of an incoming tide. Heading west towards Quast Rock we encountered a very small swell from the southwest. Oddly enough the surf was breaking large at Boomer Beach. Usually if this is true the swell is a lot bigger. As we passed Boomer Beach I started looking towards shore for the line up of the visual coordinates. (Check www.divebumes.com to get these and the GPS coordinates.)

I lined up the visuals and Jeff found the GPS coordinates and he dropped his anchor. We then tied the three kayaks together in line and I raised my dive flag. Getting on our gear we dropped down the anchor line into about 60 feet. Visibility was about 20+ feet, typical for this time of year. There was no surge to speak of, but we definitely had a thermocline. It was a chilly 53 degrees at depth.

As we approached the reef the first rock formation that I noticed reminded me of a deck gun that you might see on a sunken warship, encrusted with sponges or coral. The floor was strewn with a jumble of large boulders making for all kinds of nooks and crannies for life. Swimming around the "Deck Gun" was a large school of Blacksmith damselfish. The male Garribaldi were in force protecting there newly made nests of purple algae, as yet there were no yellow eggs masses.

Many Golden Sea Fans dot this area of the reef, along with plenty of sponges, strawberry anemones, and coral polyps.

We began exploring the reef complex. Just to the northeast I found a rock formation that looked like the bowsprit of an old sailing ship. This impressive rock points up at an angle of about 15 degrees and on the compass it points northeast 030. I seemed to have wrecks stuck in my imagination this day.

After circling the area a couple of times to get a general picture of my surroundings I started searching the cracks and crevices for critters. First off I noticed a good population of painted greenlings. And we saw a good-sized lincod hanging out on the bottom. Looking closer I began noticing the Hermisenda nudibranchs, plenty of those. These were some of the more interesting critters found this dive, but plenty of the regular reef inhabitants.

After forty minutes or so, with our air running low, we located the anchor line where we planted it, and surfaced to our line of kayaks. The swell was small enough and the reef rocky enough that the one anchor was sufficient to hold all three kayaks. I then reversed the process of getting in my dive gear. Taking off and stowing my mask & snorkel and light but leaving on my fins, I inflated my BCD and secured it to the kayak. Bellying up on to the kayak, I stowed my fins, hood and gloves. When everything is secure (in case I flip) I pull my tank assembly up on the kayak. In this case I tried to pull it up over the side. Hoses, straps and weight pouches snag on the side. Eventually, with a little help from my buddy, I got it. This process is something I have yet to perfect.

After a relaxed paddle back to the boat launch we stowed dive gear and kayaks and head off to for a bite to eat and recount the dive. Jeff thinks that we may not have been at Quast Rock. We were at one of the adjacent sites, either T- Rock or Anchor Rock. Between arriving at the GPS coordinates and getting the anchor set we probably drifted just a bit off the site. I am not sure this is anything that can be avoided. And next time we go there we just need to extend out the initial exploration of the Quast Rock Complex.

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