Rocky Point, June 2014
  • One of the Dispensibles' Guiding Values is Top quality gear and regular maintenance are probably not in the budget. So when Calum, our newest member (Global VP Human Resources) told me "I bought a GoPro" my first thought was "Yeah, this guy's just not gonna make it."

    But, having see the success of other members' GoPros I thought let's just humour him and give it a shot. So we scheduled a trip to Rocky Point, and invited the team. Everyone said "no way, diving in Rocky Point sucks." Oh how wrong they were.

    The tides were forecast to be slack, which is the best time to dive in Rocky Point. Now, slack tides in the northern part of the Sea of Cortez means a tidal range of only 5-6 feet, which can still create some good currents. But the weather was supposed to be calm and when calm weather combines with slack tides that usually means halfway decent visibility and a shore entry that will leave most of your skin in place.

    As we approached Rocky Point in Calum's almost-new Frod (note: we're not commercial here, so the brand names have been obscured) he noted that the vehicle was twitchy. Mexican freeway construction is noted as being among the finest in the world, so the road grade couldn't be causing it. The giant plumes of windblown sand roaring over the desert mountains like that giant sand demon in that one movie with what's his name, you know the one, could provide an alternative explanation: the wind was up. That didn't bode well.

    As we entered town we decided to go to Sun'n'Fun to get the local opinion. One of my personal guiding values when diving is to always approach the local experts when conditions suggest caution. They know what they are doing. Anyone can check the internet. The lady in the shop logged on to Accuweather and declared the diving would be great, no wind and 0-1 ft seas. Then she rented us 4 tanks at $13/tank. Hmm, $52 in tanks to go diving in poor conditions didn't seem right, so we got one tank each and headed for Cholla Bay.

    The approach to Don's cove was unremarkable, and honestly the waves didn't look too bad. The visibility appeared good, and we had no idea what the forecast was like (and wouldn't have believed it anyway) so we decided to head in. The water was just below the bottom of the path to the right of the white house, so there was a little rock scrambling, but overall entry was pretty decent. The waves were around 18", no breakers, a little surge. No obvious current in the cove. The plan was to head due south and return at 1500psi.

    The due south line took us along the reef edge. There was a remarkable array of tropical fish, tons of sergeant majors, triggerfish, parrot fish, and a few stingray species. We didn't hit too much sand so the stingrays weren't as common. The usual brown guppy things were everywhere. Some nice flatworms, sea cucumbers of course, and the snapping oysters/clams were deafening at times. The visibility held up for most of the dive, and was 10' or so. You could see the surface from 15' although it was hazy. There were some larger fish too, large groupers. One was over 2' long that I was following. Just as we transitioned from the edge of the reef to the sand, at about 25', I came over a ledge and there was a huge leatherback sea turtle relaxing. It was huge, and as it took off and disappeared into the hazy it's back ridges made it's shoulders look like big knobs. Sadly, Calum was too busy filming a guppy with his new GoPro to see it. And, honestly, the visibility wasn't that great and that sea turtle took off fast. There is a picture of me pointing at the sea turtle, the best objective evidence that we have.

    By this time Calum was at the turn-around level, so we headed back. By this time the current had picked up and the visibility was deteriorating. Also the tide had fallen so previously easy-to-navigate reefs became barnacle-wielding buzz-saws. Calum was down to about 800 and we decided the surface swim was safer due to the current. The waves were up at 3' and were breaking now.

    Egress was trickier, and we did get a couple of minor scrapes. No lost gear though (and I had a vice-like grip on my dive light for the whole dive).

    So, without the sea turtle this would have been an average dive for Rocky Point, typical vis but nice fish. But the sighting of the sea turtle has made me eager to return.

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