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Jim is partially right. The depth finder helps to verify that the reef is indeed below us when we get there. But the triangulation that was showed to me by Pasley would have worked just fine without the depth finder.
When looking at the beach, if you line up straight out from the stairs on the left of the beach and line Seal Rock up with the flag pole in front of the house farthest left on the cliff, you'll be right over the inside of the reef. If you line the flag pole up between Seal Rock and the rock to the left of it. You'll be right in the middle of the reef. If you line the flag pole up on the rock to the left of Seal Rock, you'll be on the outside of the reef. This has worked everytime for me since I learned the method from Pasley. The trick is knowing what I mean by "straight out from the stairs". After you've done it a couple of times you'll know at what angle the stairs should be when you look at them. If they are pointing straight at you then you might be just past the reef in about 80 feet of water. Pasley and I passed it once and I passed it once with someone else. You're still within 40 - 50 feet though. You want to be a bit to the left of where the stairs are pointing straight at you.
Hope this makes sense.
I've noticed that some people think that they're at Deadman's when they have Seal Rock directly to their left, but you are only about half way there at that point.
I'll post a report for both dives I did to Deadman's in just a bit, but thought I'd post about the vis here first. As far as vis goes, I used my depth finder to ping the distance to a structure on both the first dive I did with Robert Phillips and the second dive I did with dazedone. I did this a couple of times during each dive.
On the first dive with Robert, we dropped down right in the center of the reef and then made our way to the inside of it. Since the sun was still higher in the sky during the first dive at about 3pm, the vis was a bit better. According to the depth finder, it was between 20 and 23 feet as long as we were on Deadman's. As we made our way toward shore it dropped rapidly to around 10 feet and even more like 5 feet closer to shore.
On the second dive with David, we dropped down right on the outer edge of the reef at about 60 feet deep. Since the sun was still shining on the outer edge of the reef at around 5:30pm the vis was about 25 feet. As we moved through a channel and over the middle of the reef the vis dropped to about 20 feet. When we got to the inside of the reef it was getting a bit shaded from the sun and dropped to about 15 feet. We spent most of this dive on the inside of the reef, so most of the dive was in about 15 feet of vis, so it wasn't quite as good as the previous dive because of the sun going down.
The vis on the first dive was not a clear 20 - 23 feet. It was a bit murky with lots of stuff in the water, but it was still pretty nice. The vis on the second dive when on the outside of the reef was less murky.