A day in the life of James Cavanaugh - or a few

SCUBA Weekend!

Alright, so this past weekend Katie(a couple weekends ago now), Vishnu, Ilya and I went on an awesome trip down to Lover’s Point in Monterey to do some scooba diving. With no reservations and the US open occurring during the same weekend as when we were down there, we had an adventure in itself finding a place to sleep. We brought all our camping gear expecting to find a camp site some where some how with an available spot. First site we get to, is hard to say how full it was, and it was almost in Santa Cruz, a little bit of a drive…and the price at $65 a night led us to keep on looking. Next site we get to was like 20 min off highway 1, at $35 it is a little more reasonable, however there is a sign that says campsite full. As we leave the side roads to get back on the highway, it just so happens that cop gets behind me and sees that I didn’t put on my new registration sticker, so he decided to pull me over. After determining that I am not drunk and have up to date registration, he lets us go. The pursuit for a camp site continues. We look at 3 more places, and either they were full, or it was a state park that did not allow camping. Either way we eventually hit Monterey without finding a place to camp. At this point it is 2am and we are all exhausted. Ilya thinks we should just sleep in our car, and at this point, that sound like a pretty good option. We find a nice vista point right on the ocean that is nice and dark. We promptly fall asleep around 2:30. Knock knock, I wake up to a bright light shining in our car, and no surprise, a cop, luckily it is a different cop and he tells us we can’t sleep here. We tell him our story and ask him where we should go. He says Safeway. So we drove to camp Safeway. I slept pretty good, and when we woke up, we could easily get some breakfast at Safeway, pretty convenient. Anyways, we finally get to the point why we drove 5 hours and slept in our car…Scuba diving.

The water looked amazing. Very calm with hardly any waves. We picked a great spot, by looking at the direction of the waves/wind using surfline.com and finding a spot that would be protected from the waves. I was pretty excited to try out my new camera housing…which I bought for $50 online and it looks like it might have trouble holding up to the pressure. Since the housing was so cheap, I didn’t have much access to the buttons on my camera…so I just turned on the camera and pushed record, placed it in the housing and recorded everything until the battery died. I have never continuously recorded video on my kodak zi8 before, so I wasn’t sure how long the battery would last. Luckily it lasted quite a while, and I was able to get about an hour and twenty minutes of video before it died. I also learned that the video will automatically split at 2 gb, and the total time frame before the video died was almost 4gb. Unfortunately on the first dive, it was the first time Ilya had been in the pacific with this wetsuit, and rental gear, so he wasn’t sure how much weight he needed. He ended up needing more than his 26lbs, so I gave him one of my 3lbs weights, which brought me down to 27lbs. This was a pain to do in the water, and since we didn’t know he wouldn’t sink, we had already gone down and up, essentially we didn’t get started on our dive until about 40 minutes in. The second 40 minutes was underwater, and it was a great dive, we kept going straight out and hit this rock which had tons of life on it, and it was pretty cool to swim around it. We saw many things like abalone, sea cucumbers, striped surfperch, black surfperch, kelp rockfish, blue rockfish, crevice kelpfish, nudibranch, sun star fish, a big red anemone, a hermit crab, spider crab, tons of other types of anemones and star fish, and lots of little fish I am not sure on what type they were. We dove 37 ft deep and stayed under for 37 minutes.

I charged the camera between dives, in my car with my laptop, however only charged it about 1/3 of the way, so I didn’t get much video on the second dive, since we decided to swim out to the bouye and dive down on the same rock that we ended our first dive on. There wasn’t anything really new on this dive, compared with the first one, and I could tell Katie was getting cold, based on our handy dandy hand signals. We started to swim back toward the shore in pairs, so Katie and I were in front followed by Vishnu and Ilya. Katie being cold is trying to warm up and starts swimming faster. I notice a harbor seal swimming right behind her so I stop and look at it. It was really close, the closest I have ever been to a seal under water. It was really cool and most definitely the most amazing thing that I saw on the entire trip. Katie stops and looks back at us, and now Vishnu, Ilya and I are all in a line pointing at the seal. Katie turns around, and we all suspect that she sees the seal practically riding on her tank, and she starts booking it away. I thought for sure she was freaked out by the seal and was trying to get away, so I start swimming after her as fast as I could, with the intention to get the seal away from her, of which was swimming alongside Katie for a while longer and eventually veered off. I grab katie and have her swim back to Vishnu and Ilya since they were now out of sight since we swam away so fast from them. Vishnu and Ilya were almost out of air so we surface. It is at this point that I am shocked to hear that Katie didn’t even see the seal that was literally within a couple feet of her. I also find that the seal was grabbing Vishnu’s octopus, and Ilya proceeded to pet the friendly seal that reminded him of a little kitten. Man we all had a good laugh and really wish that of the 3 cameras that were under water at the time we saw the seal, one of them would have batteries…unfortunately we didn’t get any footage of the event.

We met up with our other friends staying for the U.S. Open and ate dinner and got a couple drinks. We went back to trusty old camp Safeway since we didn’t feel like driving south to more most probably full camp sites. Sunday morning we took a better approach with the cameras, this time I wore Vishnu’s camera on dive 1, and carried my camera on dive 2. There was some random guy diving alone in the parking lot named James, who tagged along with us for the first dive. We were planning on dropping in closer to shore, and swimming along the rocks closer to the kelp. Right when I dropped in I saw a baby harbor seal that was about a foot and a half long. Katie also saw the seal, and we have it on footage for a brief second. Our original plan to swim along the rocks on the west shore proved to be not the best idea, visibility was worse than the first day, and the currents were also stronger. After swimming through the kelp for a while, we decided to change direction. We crossed an open area that was pretty cool, cause the bottom of the ocean felt like it was moving since there was so much loose kelp and stuff floating that the whole floor would move with the currents and occasionally a rock would pop out, and obviously wouldn’t move. It was pretty weird, however when we crossed this open area the water cleared up more and we had better conditions.

On our final dive it was just Ilya, Katie and I. I saw a couple fish I didn’t see on the other dives, like a bay goby, and what looked to be some type of sculpin fish, I am not sure on. I took the camera and was focusing on keeping it steadier and focused on one object for a longer period of time. I noticed I got some better footage, but I still have a long way to go before I am a good oceanographer.
Now I just need to do some post processing and see if I can condense the hours of footage into a few minutes of good stuff. Stay tuned.

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