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Man Up – PNW Dec ‘15

Discussion in 'Member Trip Reports' started by Sushi Boy, Dec 6, 2015.

  1. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    Well it’s been an interesting trip to say the least. Going into the week I had boat dives in the Seattle area scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. My first Saturday boat was cancelled on Wednesday, so I rescheduled for another boat, which was cancelled on Thursday night. My flight out was early Friday morning, so once I landed in Seattle I started calling dive shops to see if I could find a guide for some Saturday shore dives. On the third call I found a DM who was up for taking me to a local spot not far from their shop.

    As I was leaving the airport, some busses with police escort zoomed up behind me, forcing me to pull over so they could pass. As I followed them around a corner there was a small crowd with Seahawks signs and flags. Turns out it was the team headed to the airport for their weekend game.

    I met Chris, the local DM, at his shop Saturday morning and we headed to Redondo Beach. It was grey and drizzly of course. Fortunately there was a small bus stop-type shelter that we could gear up under. We made an easy beach entry with a small surface swim before dropping down to a gently sloping wall. It didn’t take Chris long before he was pointing out a Giant Pacific Octopus tucked under a sunken boat. Pretty cool. It was also about this point that I started feeling the water seeping down inside my drysuit. We moved down along the slope and saw some plume anemones/Medtridium, mostly white but a few orange ones. There were lots of crabs scuttling around and clusters of shrimp underneath any sort of cover. The water temp was 52 and by 45 minutes into the dive my fleece undergarments were pretty soaked, so we headed back up.

    I decided to grit my teeth and we switched our tanks and headed back in for a second dive. As an aside, while we were prepping at the shop, Chris said “I hope my friendly whale stops by for a visit.” I thought it was the regular diver facetiousness “oh we saw whale sharks” or manta rays, but he pulled up a video he shot last year of a grey whale buzzing him and his dive buddy in 40 fsw at the same site we were diving. Turns out he made the local news because it was the only known time that a grey whale was videoed in Puget Sound. Our dive was much of the same as the first one. They also have lights from the old King Dome that were once stacked to make artificial reefs. They’ve degraded now and look kind of bizarre, as does the old VW Bug that’s basically just a chassis now. Lots of life at depth though. There were several schools of small fish that cruised by on both dives. Vis was probably 15-20’ on both.

    By the end of the second dive, I was colder than I’ve ever been in my 15 years of diving and we headed back up so I could switch into some dry clothes and literally pour the water out of my drysuit boots.

    Saturday night I moved hotels from the Rodeway Inn in Fife (think Hobby Airport area) to a hostel in Fremont, a really cool and funky part of Seattle. After a couple of beers at a local brewpub, I was warm and happy.

    Sunday morning I woke up early only to get a call telling me that the Sunday charter had been cancelled as well. I was a little bummed, but the DM from the boat offered to meet me at Alki, a well-known local spot to do some shore diving. It was a really scenic spot, across Puget Sound from Seattle, so we could see the skyline in the distance (when it wasn’t blotted out by the rain) and the ferries moving back and forth. We entered on a rocky beach and dropped down to viz even better than yesterday and lots of life. Early in the dive, Adria (the DM) was pointing at some small crabs by a hole in the rocks. I was happily shooting pics of the crabs when I noticed she was still pointing madly. Turns out there was a GPO back in the hole behind the crabs. Lots more of Metridiums here, big clumps of them at the end of sunken pilings and lots of more crabs too. Near the end of the dive Adria found a wolf eel tucked up in some rocks as well. We also saw a sea lemon nudibranch on our way back to the surface. Unfortunately, my drysuit flooded on this dive as well, so I decided to call it after one today. Still really happy that I got to dive at Alki and thoroughly enjoyed the dive.

    Soooo, so far I’m 0/3 on boat charters and 0/3 on staying dry during the dives. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve been flooding and I think it’s because when I got by Bio Seal for my neck seal it was kind of tacky and would stick to my rubber neck seal. Now that I’ve been using it, the tackiness has worn off and I think my neck seal is starting to slide around, letting water into my suit. Gonna look into renting a wetsuit for my remaining dives. Very glad I came though, even with the drysuit flooding.

    More to come...
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  2. Heidi Ho

    Heidi Ho Grand Pooh Staff Member

    man up, indeed. I'm cold just reading this.

    Forgive my ignorance - is a GPO a somethingthatstartswithG Pacific octopus?
     
  3. McLOT

    McLOT Tiger Shark

    Sounds an interesting trip SB!

    Should be quite different diving to the usual reef/wreck/warm/dry kind of diving. :rolleyes:

    I think the weather will improve after the last storm moved thru.............

    Plenty of good bars to warm-up in.

    cheers,
    McLot
     
  4. DeepGeek

    DeepGeek Tiger Shark

    There is an emergency way you can use your neck seal for one last day... You lose the seal though.
    Get the glue from a couple of pee valve condoms, glue it on to your neck.
    It'll stay on all day. Cut it off at the end of the day and wear a turtle neck or collared shirt (or just look odd). The glue will be come off that evening, definitely by next morning.
    The snag of course is that you have to replace the seal of the suit, but it sounds like you might have to do that anyway.
     
  5. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    That's useful info, thanks. Holly, yes. GPO = Giant Pacific Octopus.

    Monday was a touristy day in Seattle. Took the ferry across to Bainbridge Island, checked out Pike Place Market, went up in the Space Needle for a nice panoramic view of the city. Oh, and at Idratherbegolfing's advice, I made a visit to the Fremont troll.

    On Tuesday I headed south to Oregon. As I got to Astoria, on the coast, I spotted a dive flag, so I turned off and found a dive shop where I could rent a 7 mil wetsuit. Right next door was a Rogue Brewing tasting room and I took the opportunity to pop in for lunch. It was a cool little complex built out on a wooden pier that was once a Bumble Bee canning factory.

    I have a feeling that I passed some really scenic spots on my way south down the coast, but it was kind of hard to tell with the wind and rain from the storm coming in from offshore. It made for kind of a hairy drive for sure.

    By this morning the storm had passed though and I got to dive at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. The first dive was in the halibut flats tank with (you guessed it) halibut, rockfish, lingcod, skates, and at the end I got to hand-feed several sturgeon. They're big and not particularly delicate eaters, so I learned quickly to keep my fingers tucked in! The 50 degree water was brisk, but the 7 mil did a pretty good job of keeping me warm.

    The second dive was in the open sea tank with seven gill sharks, soupfin sharks (talk about an unfortunate name), spiny dogfish, leopard sharks, bat rays, anchovy, mackerel and salmon.

    It was a really cool experience and it was worth driving through the monsoon to get here.

    I had a delicious lunch of halibut and chips at little crab shack across the street from the aquarium and then since the sun was out, I had big plans for some sightseeing along the coast on my way back north to my hotel. Traffic was at a standstill though. Turns out there was an investigation going on for a police-involved shooting on the only road going up the coast. So here I sit, overlooking the lights in the harbor, nursing a beer and hoping I can get back to my hotel tonight.

    There's another storm coming in tonight, so it looks like Thursday's jetty dive is a no-go. I wonder what adventures tomorrow has in store. Stay tuned!
     
  6. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    Well I did make it back to my hotel last night but today was more of an adventure than I had planned on. Apparently I've come during the wettest 5-day period since 1996.

    A major northbound highway has been shut down because of a landslide thanks to the rains. I thought I'd avoid that by taking Hwy 101 up the coast, but the gods had other plans for me.

    It seems that I missed a localized, but major hailstorm and the resulting 10-car pileup on both sides of the road by a matter of minutes. There was so much hail it looked like a half inch of snow on the road.

    At one point today Siri took me on a detour that started as a drive down a country road along the rain-swolllen Tillamook River (complete with a few very shallow water crossings) and ended back in the sticks on a bouncy logging road before finally getting back to a major highway. It probably would have been a lot of fun in the Hummer. Less fun in a Maxima. At least it's a rental...

    From there I thought I'd take the scenic route along the beach only to find flooded streets and neighborhoods. I rerouted through Tillamook with a lunch stop at Pelican Brewing and a short tour and tasting at the Tillamook Cheese factory.

    After that, I tried taking the more major route up 101 but it was closed due to flooding about 40 miles south of where I was trying to get to. For some reason around here, they don't give you notice of road closures until you get to the barricade.

    Soooo, I got to backtrack and enjoy a three-hour scenic detour through the Tillamook State Park complete with three trips from sea level to 1500 feet.

    Much more time in the car than I had counted on, but at least there was a beer and some oyster deviled eggs (surprisingly good) at the end.

    Onward and upward!
     
  7. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    Before I went to bed Thursday night, I learned that the Oregon Scuba Club dive outing that I was planning on participating in on Saturday had been cancelled (as they said “due to weather/flooding/landslides/road closures…pick one”). Ugh.

    Friday started out well though when I woke up and found a message waiting for me saying that a few people were still going and were happy to buddy up with me.

    I started out the day doing a few touristy things – checking out the stunning views of the Columbia River valley from the top of the Astoria Column in Astoria, OR and a quick tour of the Columbia River Maritime Museum and then a trip up to southern Washington to Cape Disappointment before heading to my final stop at Hoodsport, WA. It was really nice to have a car trip that was uneventful this time.

    I rented a wetsuit at the local dive shop and then checked into Sunrise Beach Motel and Dive Resort. It’s a little on the rustic side to be a resort, but they do have a compressor and a dock for diving a few feet from my room and some really nice views of the Hood Canal.

    Saturday morning I met my dive buddy Pat and we headed over to Sund Rock, a dive site that everyone has been telling me is among the best in WA. With the chilly, rainy day we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Pat hooked me up with some heat packs to put under my wetsuit which worked remarkably well while diving. If I do more cold water wetsuit diving, I’m gonna be getting some of those! The first dive was really nice. We went south from the parking lot along the wall down to about 75 feet deep. There were several wolf eels and a Giant Pacific Octopus as well as another lemon drop nudibranch.

    The second dive was absolutely stunning. We headed north this time to about the same depth and went to a wrecked ship. There was a HUUUUGE GPO underneath the wreck and a couple of gigantic lingcod hanging around, as well as dozens of rockfish in a wide variety of colors. It was covered in orange and white metridium as well. It was really a cool wreck to see.

    I was starting to get chilled at that point, so we headed back, but between the two dives, we spent an hour and 50 minutes underwater. I’ve got my fingers crossed that some of my pics turned out well from there.

    I headed back to the motel to meet up with a new dive buddy, Jeff, for a third dive for the day from the docks of the motel. It was a little less exciting wildlife-wise, but I did get to see several moon snails, which I hadn’t paid attention to on other dives. We also came across a spot with dozens of sea slugs piled together which looked like sea Tribbles to me, they were kind of grey/brown and furry looking. It looks like they were shaggy mouse nudibranch. I was really happy to be able to do this dive since it was number 800 for me. It was kinda cool to get to do it in the PNW.

    One of the DM’s here told me that the Hood Canal is the only fjord in the lower 48, so I guess I get to check “fjord diving” off of my list. Didn’t know it was on the list, but what the heck.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  8. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    Well it's all over but the flyin'. I had a great trip, but I thought this quote from Lewis & Clark was appropriate:

    image.jpg
     
  9. Heidi Ho

    Heidi Ho Grand Pooh Staff Member

    welcome home. I have fam in the part of the world so I was hearing about the bad weather from them too. But knowing you, you clearly made the most of what you got. Thanks for the updates. And do tell if you tipped at the aquarium dive :p
     
  10. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    I did tip the guide at the aquarium. He worked hard to make the dives memorable, so he certainly deserved it.
     
  11. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    Got my pics uploaded to the Gallery.
     
  12. Sushi Boy

    Sushi Boy DAM CHUMmer

    Here's a useful link for anyone thinking about diving in Oregon:

    Scuba & H2O Adventure article: Central Oregon Coast

    I wish I'd known about that Whale, Sea Life & Shark Museum while I was there.
     

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