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Old 11-28-2013, 01:38 AM   #1
Fej
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November Mendocino & Humboldt Dives: The Comeback!

On October 8th my left eardrum ruptured due to an ear infection I'd contracted after a dive weekend for Humboldt State University's Scientific Diving class a week before. I've never been one to run to the doctor to get pumped full of drugs, my immune system is reasonably strong and takes care of most things on it's own quite well. I was aware of the infection several days after the dive weekend but was putting off going to see the doctor because there was almost no pain, I ended up going in only because it hadn't gotten any better after a week. Saw a nurse that afternoon and she said it didn't look bad at all, only a little inflamed and flakey skin, but I could make an appointment to see the doctor the following day to get antibiotics. That night while I was torturing myself by looking at all the fun you guys had been having in the ocean the pain ramped up over a couple hours and then went partially away, after this I noticed some nasty fluid coming out of my ear. Saw the doctor the next day, drum had ruptured and the hole was about 75% of my eardrum. I was crushed, I'm in a two semester divemaster program at Humboldt and left the office convinced that missing a month or more of being a teaching assistant would end the program for me. Thankfully it wasn't as big of a deal to my instructor as I thought it would be and I just got stuck with beachmaster duty for the next three dive weekends. Fast forward a week and I see the same doctor again and I find out that the hole had healed to a surprising 25% of my eardrum. One week later, no hole or leaks at all. At this point I'd already been in contact with my ear, nose & throat doctor and had been scheduled to see him on Nov 6th, he would not clear me to dive until after seeing him and could not see him any earlier so I had to wait another two weeks. Saw him, he cleared me, mumbled something about me being an alien for healing so quickly and almost wrote me a doctors note that said "The above patient is insane and can resume doing insane things."

The timing of this worked out perfectly because I had long standing plans to meet a bunch of diving friends in Mendo for Veteran's Day weekend. I got to get back in the ocean for the first time that Friday at a site near Ft. Bragg. After getting over the thrill of being in the ocean again I spent most of the time getting back into the swing of things and very slowly & carefully working my way down to 30ish feet to ease my ears into it. I ended up leaving with "only" a 7.5" rock scallop (second largest to date), my friends got some abalone and some perch.


Saturday it was on! Two of my buddies and I split from the rest of the group to head to a spot in search of trophy abs. We hit a spot that one of my buddies had pulled a 10.3" ab out of recently. The site is pretty exposed and the large abs in deeper water (~40ft) which given the conditions that day made it one of the more physically challenging free dives I've ever done. We weren't able to get exactly where he'd been before but I was able to drag a 9.65" slug off the bottom. After that we headed to another spot the same buddy had been wanting to check out, swore up and down it would be packed full of 10s. The entry was pretty rough but once we got passed the surf it calmed down a lot, started seeing the occasional 9"+ ab as we headed out. I ended up finding and then gauging at least a dozen different ways a beautiful 9 13/16" abalone. But I was convinced the 10s were close and for some reason that I can't understand now waved one of my buddies over and let him pull it. Of course that ended up being the largest abalone spotted by far, but I was able to leave with two fatty black rockfish. First fish I'd shot in over a month and I knocked both of them out cold with headshots.





The 9 13/16" ab


Sunday I did a kayak/SCUBA/spearfishing dive with the buddy I gave the ab to at Caspar. Dropped down in 40ft on the north side of the cove right on top of a 30"+ ling and somehow managed to ***** up a perfect shot on a motionless fish. Between the two of us we got a handful of scallops, a couple copper rockfish, one black and I snagged a decent ling right at the end of the dive.

Monday morning before heading back up I went to the Headlands with one of my buddies and two newbie ab/freedivers. I spent most of the dive helping them get their limits and only had a few minutes to pull an 8.5" ab for myself.


The morning of the 13th I went on a 6 hour long kayak dive with a friend of mine out of Trinidad. Hit up a spot of ours looking for scallops and 10s outside the bay, despite the swell we had an shocking 15ft of vis. We only saw one abalone that was about 8.5-9" and no matter how much we tried we couldn't turn it into a 10 so we let it be. I managed to pop a shot into a the head of an 18" cab as I was being pushed over a crack by the surge, my buddy found a nice scallop and shot a decent ling.

While he was still braining the ling I was poking around nearby to see if there was anything for me and spot an octopus sitting on top of a rock... I shot to the surface, yelled OCTOPUS!, unloaded my gun & shoved it into his hands and went back down. This was my first octopus and my buddy had never taken one either, so I hit the surface with this squishy squirmy ball of ooze and said "now what?..." Thankfully I was able to dispatch it quickly with my knife. I considered the bite it between the eyes method but it had already grabbed my face and stolen the mouth piece to my snorkel at that point and bringing it closer didn't seem wise. Even after it was dead I wasn't convinced and refused to let go of it for a good ten minutes...

After the octopus we paddled back into the bay and checked out a kelp paddy we'd never hit before, dropped down into a huge school of black rockfish with some blues scattered in too and then found a crack that was loaded with lings and monster blacks. I got one small ling and a big black out of there and my buddy another ling and a monster black too. Shortly after I was checking out a different crack and heard my buddy yelling at me underwater, turns out I'd dropped down and then swam into the crack about 5ft below a 26" ling. It bolted as soon as I started to line up the shot but I managed to shoot it right as it disappeared into the crack. Finally got my first limit of lings! Hit up a couple spots looking for abalone on the way back in, I found a nice cab sitting on top of a train wheel and waved my buddy over since I'd left my gun on my yak. Between the two of us we left with eight scallops, three lings, two cabs, two black rockfish and an octopus.




My haul


My buddies haul


I've got a fancy hat!



I learned the next night that even though it tastes amazing, octopus doesn't cook "pretty."


I also learned that octopus cooks down a lot more than I thought. End result, the ceviche was fantastic but could have used a little more octopus...

Last edited by Fej; 12-02-2013 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:31 AM   #2
laguna80
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

Oh man what a dive day!
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:36 AM   #3
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

Awesome! Great report, and nice mixed bag you took home.

I freaking love Trinidad, it's so insanely beautiful up there.
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Old 11-30-2013, 12:50 PM   #4
Spear n Surf
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

Great report! thanks for posting
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Old 11-30-2013, 02:29 PM   #5
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

Fantastic! Congrats on the great hauls and big Octopus! I've been meening to head up that way. Ill have to give you a hauler when I do. Glad to hear your mutant ear healed so quickly

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Old 12-02-2013, 01:58 AM   #6
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

Just nominated you for report of the year. Not sure if i did it right though.

http://www.spearboard.com/showthread...=1#post1901376
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Old 12-02-2013, 03:58 AM   #7
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seeco View Post
Just nominated you for report of the year. Not sure if i did it right though.

http://www.spearboard.com/showthread...=1#post1901376
Wow, thanks! I didn't even know that was a thing.

Last edited by Fej; 12-02-2013 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 12-02-2013, 04:07 AM   #8
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Re: Mendocino & Humboldt Dives

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Originally Posted by norcalsurfer View Post
I freaking love Trinidad, it's so insanely beautiful up there.
I was born and raised in Trinidad and it still manages to blow my mind fairly often.
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