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Old 09-22-2016, 06:19 PM   #1
No I'm Josh
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Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

We got to our destination and were mildly dismayed to find some of our competitors had camped there so their kayaks were in the water, waiting for them to get back from registration. No problem we decided, we’d be limited and on the way home early anyway. The contest regs only allowed for five fish total plus one abalone so it would surely be a quick job to get the work done.

As soon as we started out we noticed that the swell had increased significantly. The water was glassy but as soon as we got out of the shelter of the cove we could see immediately that it was far worse than the previous day. We had to take a different route to our reef as open ocean swells were now exploding in areas that had been flat the previous day. No big deal we said, we’d be diving reefs that started at 30’ so we should be able to escape the surge by going deeper.

We got to our spot and it was chaos. The kayak jumped around in the swells and waves would lump up, making us wonder if our reef was deep enough. It was though and soon we were both in the water focused on the hunt. We were buddy diving so we quickly fell into a rhythm of breathing up while the other was on the bottom. It allowed us to share information although after finning out of sight it was truly impossible to see where the other had gone. Regardless, we stuck to it and soon had some blues, blacks and some perch on our stringers. I was pleased to see Dan bring a midsize cab to his stringer, the first fish of any real size.

The cabezon aside, it was decidedly less fishy and several of our fish were right at qualification. Points were awarded for one fish per species and for weight so we had hoped to not be anywhere near the cut-off sizes. Even with the meds we were still struggling to focus though and the surge, even at 45’ made the hunting very challenging. Aspettos were out of the question so instead we slalomed through kelp stalks looking for prey. We both had 9lbs on our weight belts and that seemed to be comfortable at depth. The ab Dan had spotted the previous day was unfindable and the few that were there were scarcely over 8.” Our outlook was getting dreary as we fought seasickness and struggled to find fish that had been so available the previous day. I took a 25” ling for the dinner table which was a fair consolation prize by this point. On leaving we found that the anchor was stuck at 60ft so I went down to unhook it but got distracted by a greenling that vanished into the deep. I came up and lamely asked Dan to get the hook which he gladly did.

We packed up and paddled for shore, leaving ourselves 20 minutes to find a couple of 9” abs in some water that looked good on the way out. We knew it was a long shot but we were happy to leave the rough seas and get in where it was flat.


Our ab spot was in 35’ of water and we quickly anchored and got to work. There were plenty of them on the bottom and I had a hunch that moving deeper, away from the kelp might provide some grounds that had had less pressure from other divers. My gauge clicked on a shell and I was ecstatic to have my first 9” of the trip. I called Dan over and he quickly had one as well. I then headed further still and couldn’t believe my luck when I grabbed two in the same dive, one measuring in at 9.338,” giving me much needed points on my tally. We took all of our abs without ab bars, snatching them before they could clamp down.

We loaded back up and hustled to the contest site with 15 minutes to spare before cut-off. Or so we thought. When we got there we didn’t see any lines of fishermen waiting to have their fish and abs measured. We had mis-read the contest rules and had mixed up the beginning of weigh-in for the end of it. We felt sheepish not exploiting the full 7 hours but at the same time wondered how much more time we could endure the conditions. We decided that we could have sought flatter water for potential greenlings or lings but beating ourselves up over it didn’t make much sense.

Both of our perch were disqualified measuring just shy of the required 14” so only blacks and blues made the tally on my stringer. Dan’s cab boosted him into the top ten percent of the 150 competitors which was a proud moment for Oregon spearfishing. I ranked approximately ten spots after him so we both had a good selection at the generous prize tent that Freedive Shop offers every event.

We overheard several divers talking about the “ten foot plus” conditions. That was without a doubt an exaggeration (fishermen, right?) but regardless, the surge at the bottom and the boiling cauldron at the surface made for the most difficult conditions we had ever fished. It was the opportunities that were scarce though and we found ourselves shaking our heads that we weren’t able to summon a fraction of the fish we had seen the day before.

We slept like corpses and got out of town at 8 the next morning, Google telling us we’d be home by 6:14PM. We bombed back up the coast then took a sharp right into the trees on the endlessly winding Highway 1 that then fed into more curves on Hwy 101. The time flew by as we talked about our strategy, mistakes and successes and all in all we were feeling pretty good about our results and how we would improve on them next year.

Then the car died.

We had just gone around a narrow corner and it just turned off. Miraculously Dan was able to coast us into a pull out that appeared exactly where we needed it. With the trailer in tow, it would have been disastrous absolutely anywhere else. It was Sunday and we were after all on Hwy 101 that motorists use to get from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada.

Neither of us had cell reception and we couldn’t believe our luck to see a call box right at the pull out. Closer inspection revealed that it had been roughly dismantled however and we speculated that it may have been repurposed in a kitchen or lab of sorts.

The electronics had gone out completely and it was now impossible to roll up the windows, lock the doors or do anything at all that involved electricity. A young, deeply tanned, bike touring, French Canadian car mechanic, towing his dog in a baby cart quickly appeared and offered to have a look. The dog who also looked like he was living on war rations, eyed us suspiciously as his owner poked around. He recommended getting a new battery in there, saying that the alternator may be malfunctioning and not charging it. He wished us good luck and the two of them continued on their way to Mexico.

Dan then set off to the next call box that our cyclist friend had described as just around the next bend in the road. Dan was back in 45 minutes with news of a local he had met who offered to take him up the road to Garberville, 30 minutes away for $50. That sounded like a fine deal at this point and as Dan was about to set off, a very large Hawaiian man by the name of David pulled up in big white truck. He was friends with the guy from up the road and gave nods to more than one car and Harley that rumbled by as he spoke with us. He was a transplant from Hawaii via LA and said that if the 300 people in that town weren’t directly related to each other, they sure knew each other then. He also explained that it was local custom to help folks get back on the road whenever they could. He was keen to help but got a worried look when it unfolded that Dan needed to go to the next town over to purchase a new battery. He pointed to his Raiders ball cap and explained that his game was on at 1PM. Regardless, they climbed into his truck and headed off, sure to be gone for at least an hour.

We had broken down on the bank of the gorgeous South Fork of the Eel River. It was a slow, meandering river that beckoned me with clear water and a trout lazily finning around for bugs. I locked all valuables from the truck (like Dan said, “no one is going to drive off with it”) in the camper and wasted no time suiting up and climbing down the bank with my camera and water housing.

The water was in the low 70’s and it felt sublime to lay on the bottom in the still, clear water. I took some photos that I was happy with of a school of Northern Pike Minnows who swirled around my head and camera lens. I was so completely content to be there, I felt a tad guilty, knowing that Dan was anxious to get home and working hard to make it happen. I stayed within earshot and was soon called out of the water. I crawled back up the bank, got out of my wetsuit and got back on the road with Dan and our new battery. David had refused any help with gas money and had even turned down fish and abalone that Dan had offered him.

The mission was now to get to Garberville, buy a new alternator, install it then get back on the road asap. We pulled in to the auto parts store and standing on the side of the building there was a clean cut kid in a nice plaid shirt. He looked at me, held up a drawing of some cartoonish looking scissors and said, “I need a job.” I had picked up a young couple hitchhiking once who had recently come from this area in the Fall. I had given them a lift for an hour up I5 and they had told me in great detail about this kind of work. Weed. I told the kid that we weren’t from there but to keep trying, he would surely find a job. I asked him where he was from and he replied, “Russia.” Harvest time in the Humboldt mountains turned the sleepy little towns into bustling, international destinations. At the Subway/gas station there were two stylish young couples who spoke Spanish not like South Americans but with the distinctive lisp of Spain. They engaged my eye as well but I looked away before they could ask me for work. Several others that were considerably more scruffy lined up to hitch-hike out of town.

Dan came out with a guy from the shop and tested the alternator which was totally dead. The new battery had powered the engine with zero recharging from the alternator all the way to Garberville. Dan then proceeded to remove the diseased unit and replace it with a shiny new one. I sat there and marveled that you could just do that. Well, maybe you but not me.

But run again it did and we were soon on our way. 50 miles or so later we were passing through a small town when a man pulled up to our truck and informed us that there was a hose dragging from our trailer. The cap had come off the bumper and the large flexible sewage hose inside had partially sneaked out and was bumping along on the road. I told Dan that it was never a good idea to drag your hose.

We passed through the next couple of small towns without incident but did see numerous road side naked ladies. I failed to get a phone-camera capture from the car window and Dan said that in his experience it was no good to take pictures of naked ladies.

Rolling through Eureka, a woman with an incomplete mouth of teeth leaned out her window at a stop light and said, “ya ain’t got no lights on yer trailer.” We pulled into a parking lot and Dan opened the hood once again. This time he went into a black box filled with apparently important things. With some pliers he extracted what I’m pretty sure was a flat blue tooth that had some sort of cavity in it. He replaced it with another tooth that didn’t have any cavities and bingo the trailer light magically came back on.

After Eureka, things went without incident for the most part with the exception of the frequent odor of Tillamook Valley that plagued the car from under my seat. Luckily for us the automatic windows were back in operation.

We got back to PDX around midnight, some 16 hours after leaving Caspar Campground. We were exhausted but grinning, knowing that the perfect road trip was in the books.

Northern Pike Minnows (photo J. Humbert)

Tooth.

Naked ladies. (photo copyright unknown)

Game day bounty. (photo D. Semrad)
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Old 09-22-2016, 07:21 PM   #2
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Brilliant write up Josh, and very entertaining! Last time I did the Triton X we had the best conditions I think they had ever had for the last 20 years. I knew anything after that would be a disappointment - ha!

That event is always about the people and the buzz and the prizes, and the rankings are just an afterthought. Probably the most fun tournament put on by anybody on the west coast.

And that Dan guy - well, remind me to take my car when traveling with him...

Fish are hard to find in that area unless you are really experienced in that section of coast - makes me glad for what we have up here in Oregon.

And boy can fish change locations in a hurry. One day you have plenty, but the next - nobody home, especially if conditions change, as they did for you.

Thanks for taking us along on your trip! Vicarious diving is the next best thing to being there!
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:25 PM   #3
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Josh- thanks for the TR! what a trip.
I'm a big fan of Transderm Scop patches. Lasts 3 days. I'm very vulnerable to seasickness, but with a patch behind one ear, I can and have read a book on a rolling boat in big swells! Various pills give me about half the effectiveness. Stupid they are prescription, and not cheap, but so worth it. YMMV. Ask Tomo about when I forgot my patch at yonder rock ;-) urrppp#!&%.... his actual comment was "That'll attract 'em!" as in chumming. What I heard in my sickened state/wearing a hood was "That's attractive!" as in you gross'in me out dude. <g>
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:14 PM   #4
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Such a great trip! Thanks for writing it up Josh! I'm stoked that Max has already volunteered to drive us next year!!
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Old 09-23-2016, 12:45 AM   #5
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Congrats Josh & Dan! And great report Josh!!!
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:05 AM   #6
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Thanks Max! I thought of you when we purchased the Dramamine. I remember you having it when we went out of Newport with Lewis and Calvin a few years back. We need to revisit those scallopy grounds on of these days!
Leigh, thanks for the suggestion of the Scop patches. Sure hope to never have to resort to that but I could see that really being handy in rough contest conditions.
Dan, agreed! Very generous on Max's part.
Thanks Alexa! Nice to know the report got read. Took me ages!
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:24 AM   #7
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Count me in for next year for sure. It has been too long. And, I'll drive - we just have to hook up Dan's trailer to my truck and we'll be off to greatness! Great photos from both of you.
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Old 09-23-2016, 12:05 PM   #8
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Awesome report Josh! It's been too long since I've been to Mendocino; thanks for the detailed vicarious experience. Sounds like an episodically wild ride.

Definitely put me on the mailing list for next years event as well! I would love to take part.

And FYI Josh, that tooth is called a "fuse". They are important for many things beyond trailer lights. I love the cavity analogy though considering the associated lack of dental hygiene.
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Old 09-23-2016, 01:40 PM   #9
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

That was a good read, Josh! Hard to plan an event in the mighty Pacific, but it does make for a memory to be out in extreme conditions. One of those things that you wouldn't recommend to anyone, but...
As a connoisseur of antique autos, I have noticed that the further one gets from home, the more weird noises you start hearing.
Cool that you and Dan made it down!
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Old 09-23-2016, 04:02 PM   #10
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Great Max, let's do it!

Clayton, will put you on the list as well. We have a solid party brewing! Haha, feigning complete mechanical stupidity made for a better read. Artistic license.

Thanks Tom! Yes, the ocean doesn't necessarily have our greatest comfort in mind. Interesting being pushed into conditions we would otherwise pass on. I think it forces you to up your game a little but yuck, what a lot of work!
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:55 PM   #11
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Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Wonderful story. Thanks for putting the time into making it an epic read for the rest of us.


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Old 09-24-2016, 04:28 PM   #12
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

I want to go back next year!! That was a fun trip. Wish I could have made it this year. Nice TR Josh. Cant wait to dive with you in the near future.
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Old 09-26-2016, 07:43 PM   #13
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Re: Trip report! Triton X 2016 Oregon represent (part 2)

Thanks Kyle! Yeah writing it was on the epic side for me for sure.
Don, let's get out there!
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