|Dive Log 1998 - Sea Divers
THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
Clint Eastwood was not on board our Peace November two day, but the trip sure invoked use of one of his spaghetti western titles. Weather wise things turned bad on Friday, south winds on the outer islands, swells from the northwest meeting swells from the southwest and a rain front coming through on Saturday. We left the dock about 3:00 AM, late to allow for some smoothing of the 'road' out. After bumping, rock and rolling, and smooth at times we anchored near the gap at the east end of Anacapa! Talk about the scenic route out. It took three and a half hours plus for a normally less than two hours run. Don't ask!
Anyhow, it was pretty much north side of Anacapa all day one for five dives. Conditions varied little from dive to dive with depths from 50 to 90 feet, visibility 40 to 60 feet, 50°F temperature, wind chop, and the ever-present current from noticeable to strong.
Bugs there were, with a take of about three dozen for the day, most just legal with a few two to five pounders thrown in. It blew, it rained, it basically sucked as a day. Diving was in the OK to good category. We made a run to Santa Cruz and it poured big time until we anchored about one mile southwest of Yellow Banks. For the relatively few who braved this dive there were slim pickings. Visibility was way down, less good for the photo and video-philes. Otherwise it was much the same as Anacapa.
Valley Arch was the choice for overnight, with no night divers. The anchorage was very comfortable with little boat motion. Sunday dawn was spectacular with obviously much improved weather likely for the day. Anchors pulled, we headed west, not very far, as the wind was still up and the southwest swells were still with us. We retreated to a spot about one and half miles west of Sandstone Point. This was a very ugly dive spot with lots of sand and small infrequent rock 'piles' here and there. Even the hardened bug hunters were unimpressed. The current was up and multi-directional causing several divers to miss the boat, the current line and almost the next point on the island. For the remainder of a great weather day we putzed around between the dive one spot and Smuggler's Cove just north of Yellow Banks. Once upon a time this was a great dive area but that's a whole other generation's story. Personally, I think it sucks, but we had no choice. Some bugs were found raising the two-day boat total to fifty plus -not bad, considering.
The two and a half-hour run back was warm, calm, and uneventful. Food fare was excellent, as was the attentiveness of the whole crew. The ownership change is truly transparent with a few noticeable improvements thrown in. The 5:00 PM arrival back at the dock was much appreciated, as it was Sunday at the end of the Thanksgiving holiday. Surprisingly, traffic was light. The Good - lots of bugs and the Sunday weather, the Bad - Saturday's weather, and the Ugly - dive one on Sunday.
THANKSGIVING DAY QUOTES
Our annual trip to Cortes Banks and Tanner Banks this year looked good early in the week. By Thursday the outer waters were pretty roughed up by hurricane sump-thing-or-other and breezy local conditions. Cortes and Tanner were out!
About 4:00 AM we were passing North West Harbor on San Clemente Island heading for our first dive just inside China Point. The water was calm, with no current at 60 feet, visibility was in the 60 feet range and temperature about 60°F. Nice diving, bugs everywhere, all babies and undersized teenagers. Dive two was in the center of Pyramid Cove as were dives six and seven (night) and our overnight anchorage. Inside the cove visibility dropped to about 30 feet at depths of 40 or 50 feet, water temps about 61°F. Not really great diving especially with thousands of undersized bugs. Take for the day was four legal bugs!! Dive three, the best of the day, was on the reef immediately off Pyramid Rock, visibility over 60 feet, depths to 100 feet plus. Always a great dive. Dives four and five were about one mile north west of Pyramid Rock in windy but calm conditions, visibility dropped to 40 feet or so. The sun was out all day and made up somewhat for the lack of making it to Cortes and Tanner. The "veranda" was quite busy alter noon, as diving tapered off.
Day two, weather wise, was even better, the sun was warmer and the breeze much less. Diving continued in the OK to good range. Dive one in Mosquito Cove provided for a nice wall dive to over 100 feet with crevices for thousands of (once more) the Classic San Clemente Shorts. Water conditions were much the same all day with calm, minimal current, 61°F/62°F water and visibility in the 30-50 foot range. Dive two was on a small rock with one, and only one, large cavern. Kathy D. entered ahead of myself. There were bugs everywhere, with no obvious "biggies". The silt stirred up immediately reducing visibility in the entrance to close to zero. I backed out to reduce the stirring and to avoid collisions. Outside the cloud of silt looked like the cave was on fire. Bugs were flying our of the cave in droves - all small. Net result was a semi-blind take of seven (or so!) shorts. Two or three were 3-3/16 to 3-31/32!!! The cave was the only action on the reef so near to 30 divers gave it a shot. Dives three and four were just on the south edge of the Restricted Area at the Blockhouse, been there, done that in June, reasonable dive but still no legal bugs.
Our new theory is that the San Clemente has a sub-species of lobster that hardly ever grow to the legal 3-1/4" requirement. As Tim B. stated, "I've been diving here for twenty years and the story has been the same". There are probably more bugs at San Clemente than any other island but they NEVER grow up!!
One booby of note, Faisal H. took his toothbrush diving. Wedged between his left rib cage and his wet suit, must have felt like a broken rib. Nice going Faisal, bet it tasted good the next time you brushed!!
The run back in the sun was nice and the 6:15 PM dock arrival was good, although it was already dark. We had a good time aided by the sun and an excellent crew.
"Cortes sticks much further out of the water than I remember"
He's going to stick his nose outside the point, turn around and anchor right here."
"You're finally getting in the water?"
"Your lips look much better than the last time I saw you. They were the ugliest I've ever seen."
"Can't get this kind of food at home."
"The rape and pillage of Lobsterville."
"It's a subspecies, they never grow to 3¼."
"Saved by a cork."
"We're out of ice!"
"A wannabe show pony."
"That rock was too small for thirty divers."
"Watch out for the big guy, he'll roll right over you."
"It's hot here, cool there. It's like a thermal cycle test on my body."
"I was on a Sport Chalet boat and the divemaster asked me for my bottom time. I told him 200 feet for 22 minutes. He went ballistic!"
Whenever we plan a charter to the outer islands, San Miguel in particular, we always know that the weather and ocean conditions play a major part in success or not. With Mr. Nino fading but still screwing things up (i.e. in May to the Channel Islands) we were hoping for the best …
We left the Ventura Marina about 50 minutes late due to last minute compressor repairs on Peace. Early AM we were off the south side of a hazy, but NOT windy San Miguel with the sun just rising over Santa Rosa. We made it! The first dive spot selected just west of Cardwell Point was pre-empted by a kelp harvester with a known record of running through a dive area. Nice! We settled on The Bluffs, far enough away for reasonable safety. Depths to 90 feet, with a slight plankton bloom keeping visibility to 30 or 35 feet, no current, calm, and high 50’s water temperature. Nice area with a few scallops for those interested.
We followed this with two dives in Adam’s
Cove near the west end of the island. First dive in closer to the
beach then the second. Visibility dropped 10 feet and there was more
surge from the swells still on the outside. Fish were the order here.
We poked our bow out into the swells and decided later would be better!
Back east to Tyler Bight and then to Crook Point. Conditions were
much the same as the first dive but it was obvious that the outside swells
were dying down.
Saturday 6:00 AM we pulled anchor and headed
northwest into the middle of nowhere, looking for Boomerang Reef.
A 30 to 40 minute Loran/GPS/depth finder search finally located the U-shaped
razorback. Spectacular dive with a huge variety of sea life including
large scallops. Depths to 150 plus with one small pinnacle at about
60 feet. The pinnacle was home for one huge Mola-Mola. Getting
on the boat was a little sporty especially with bags of scallops or camera
One booby of note. John D., for whatever strange reason on the Richardson’s Rock dive, attached himself via a 10 foot line to the anchor chain in order to hang-off for a few minute safety stop. The plan was seriously flawed, as John found out when a large swell came through and essentially jerked him out of the water. Nice going John. So we made San Miguel, two major advanced dive pinnacles and covered most of our plan. Great stuff.
“I was peaking probably about the time you were born.”
“The Vision? He’s probably making his big plans to move to his second spot of the day.”
“Spilled my beer falling asleep.”
“I hate a 24 hour clock. You have to add or subtract to get the real time.”
“I’m going to stand up and watch, this could be entertaining.”
“Start your stopwatch….”
“…What was that?! Three, four minutes of bottom time?”
“’Bronze God’?! More like ‘Alabaster Prince’.”
“Took care of cold, you’ll now bitch about too hot.”
“Sometimes you have to whistle faster. You know your own body.”
“Go to Cuyler’s. There’s only two or three maybes for the night dive.”
“I like you but you’re stupid…”
“…I know, I know.”
“Oh wow! Oh aah! This is smooth!”
“After you drink that don’t light anything.”
“He never used to talk so much before he owned the boat…”
“…He was just catching his breath – apparently.”
“Jimmy Buffet?!? No way. It sucks. It doesn’t say ‘music’.”
“So you’re just a leech. Is that what I’m hearing?”
“Just answer for 26, 27, 28, and 29.”
“You can’t drink and dive, the ice floats out of your glass.”
“Mr. Pinnacles is held together by his wet suit.”
“I think I hurt myself that last dive.”
“Never go home unannounced, it can screw up a good marriage.”
“He flew right out of the water. I knew I didn’t want to get too close to him.”
Our first wreck dive in seven years came in calm, no current ocean. Perfect wreck diving conditions. The Great Escape left the dock at exactly 7:00 AM, circled around the super tanker channel dredging operation and arrived in the vicinity of the Olympic wreck only to find a large number of fishing boats and another dive boat already over the wreck. A quick decision was made to head to the Avalon and then regroup.
Tim anchored over the Avalon and Kathy and I went in to confirm we had it. Not so, a square pattern to the south and east showed no Avalon. We surfaced and tried again this time to the north. Bingo. The still intact bow appeared out of the gloom. Marker cup released, we swam from bow to stem. No current, bottom visibility at 25 to 30 feet, much murkier above 50 feet or so. Water temperature was in the low 60's, very comfortable dive. Surface conditions were about as good as it gets.
Regrouping, we decided that the Dominator was divable, not very often the case, it has to pretty much flat calm. We anchored 150 yards from the visible stern portion, requiring a good swim before encountering bottom sections, ribs, plates and other debris. I had not dived the wreck in fifteen years and it has become much more a total part of the reef The stern posts, drive shaft etc. are still intact, sans plates, but things are so jumbled that unless you're a real Liberty ship historian, it's difficult to picture the whole. Nice dive in great conditions.
Due to a strange variety of "oopsies" in the non-Sea Diver contingent it was decided not to make a reverse profile attempt on the Olympic and to stick with shallower dives close in to Palos Verdes. Tim B. picked a spot right under the Point Vicente Lighthouse which yielded a few scallops and some nice diving in the reefs, small canyons, and plateaus typical of the whole area. Flat calm remained, sun was hot and the view was primo California. What more does one need?! Several dives were made in this vicinity and divers dispersed into the sun and relaxation.
We were back at the dock by about 4:30 PM
-great for a Sunday dive with chance to clean-up
"The wreck divers on the boat couldn't find the wreck."
"What a group. I took them to a shallow spot so they couldn't hurt themselves and one guy almost drowned."
"I'm going to my favorite spot and if it sucks it's Pierre's fault."
"This lady's zero for two diving today."
"Here comes Pierre, now the rescue is over... "...Well, at least Tim got his shirt cleaned."
"Walks slightly left of center." "This turned out to be quite the group."
TEN YEAR OLD OUOTES....
(From the Sept.1988 Newsletter)
"Your fish is drowning."
"Our dive instructor told us he would teach us the basics of diving on the last day of the course."
"Why are the guys on the fishing barge waving at us like that? Does it mean they all caught one fish each so far?"
"My farmer john is so loose, it's like swimming in a sea anchor."
The overnight run to Begg Rock was calm until about 4:00 A.M. when a strong wind came up and started to churn up some local wind waves. There were little or no swells.
Arrival at Begg saw slightly choppy conditions but well within diveable range for most on board. We anchored on the shoulder to the east of the pinnacles. Contact with the reef occurred at about 55 feet, with potential depths well beyond normal sport diving range. Visibility was 50 feet or so increasing to 70 plus just below the 100 foot depth. Temperature decreased from 62°F to 57°F at depth. Scallops galore, most in the 6" to 8" range at 55-75 feet and 7" to 9" at depth. We accomplished three dives at Begg in decreasing surface chop.
We then moved into the San Nicolas environs diving an "unknown" spot on the West End with 45' of water in 20 to 30 feet visibility - not a great spot. The fifth dive and sixth night dive were in Dutch Harbor, our overnight spot with similar conditions to dive four. Water temperature was in the low 60° 's, with not much game at either spot.
Five A.M. Saturday we were on our way back to Begg Rock. The ocean was calmer than the previous day and we anchored a little farther east. It became apparent that a strong current was running. This made the first dive somewhat strenuous but manageable. Dive two (or three) had little or no current to contend with. Conditions were otherwise much as the day before.
Scallops limits taken and surprisingly few varieties of fish to spear the fifth (or sixth) dive at Begg Rock (in two days) becomes less than challenging. Kathy D. and I decided to go "deep" and try to pick off one "trophy scallop". Deep we went, no trophy!
Bananas were on board, apparently causing a series of non-major events. About a half dozen computers went down, including my primary before the first dive on Friday. Lights, ab irons, game bags, and knives were lost in abnormal numbers. One of the boat compressors died after feeding "tasty" air to many divers. The anchor got stuck. Dived in the worst current in a long time. My face mask floated off my face at 65 feet... plus other sundry stuff. By the middle of the second day of diving the banana user was looking a little concerned!!! Despite having bananas smuggled into his galley the new chef rose above this potential for disaster and managed to prepare several extremely tasty meals. Nice trip!
"I used to work with a guy that used to be a girl that was married to a girl that used to be a guy."
"I was looking down at a good sized scallop when my face mask just floated away."
"My gear always smells like fish."
"Got to go to the head again. One of the joys of beer drinking."
"Don't know where this is but thought we'd try it."
"Why is there no engine on the chase boat...Just a minute!"
"We should get Tim to go over there where the sun is. Screw the diving."
"All right Tim! Found the sun."
"Pick a seat in the galley, screw the others."
"There's plenty of whine at this table."
"Ripping current, no fun at all."
"I just can't get it...
...That's my problem too."
"Odd fins, must be one lost from each pair."
"I don't take stress very well."
"More than 20 minutes, well maybe 20 boat minutes."
"I don't understand why she took a shower before she went diving."
|From July 14-18, 1998, seven Sea Divers of a group of 18 visited La Paz, Baja, Mexico. We stayed at La Concha Resort. Each morning, we were picked up from the resort's dock by the Rio Rita, the old dive boat that used to be located in San Pedro. We used 3 Al 80 tanks per day. The two trip diving highlights for Peter were seeing 10 large hammerheads on one dive (at 60 feet depth, up to 10 feet long, as close as 20 feet away) and repeatedly stroking a 500 pound male sea lion literally from head to tail. Others saw as many as 25 hammerheads on one dive. Water temperatures were in the range of about 75° -83° F, currents were sometimes strong, most diving was done in the 20-80 foot depth range and visibility was usually in the 40-80 foot range. A trip video is being prepared, and will be shown at a future Club meeting."
To put it bluntly diving so far this year has sucked!! Our February dive was canceled due to damage to the Great Escape, in March we fell back to San Clemente in lieu of San Nicolas, April at Catalina was horrible, the May two day on the Peace, despite Eric's boat heroics was a bust and the recent June dive to San Clemente fell well short of great diving - all courtesy of Mr. Nino!!
Early June was not bad weather wise, a little breezy at times but we expected good weather for the San Clemente dive. It was bumpy on the overnight run and early AM showed Great Escape pointed at the front side not Nine Fathom Reef. We eventually tucked in just south of the Navy restricted Area near the Blockhouse. It was reasonably calm with no current. Kathy D. and I dropped off the starboard side (away from the island) and drifted down to 90 feet or so in poor visibility before we realized we had missed the reef and wall. A 90 degree turn revealed the wall. Overall visibility on the reef was about 25-30 feet, 60° F temperature and no fish of any consequence. A 'Ho Hum' kind of dive. Some on board must have liked it as they were down for 50 minutes!!
We moved about 5 miles north and west, skirting the Restricted Area and anchored in about 50 feet of much clearer water. Nice spot with heavy kelp, leaning underwater from a medium current at the surface. The surface current was to be a factor the remainder of the day making it difficult for our two spear hungry skin divers. Below there were "millions" of small fish of all varieties typical at San Clemente. Good sign for the future, but little good for spearing. Water temperature was 59°F and visibility in the 50-60 feet range.
Next choice was the outer edge of Northwest Harbor. Ripping current with poor visibility say 10- 15 feet. Larger fish were available but they were tough to see!! A short move south failed to provide a good spot as we immediately dragged anchor in the current.
Spot five was back real close to spot two with little change in conditions. Some divers soldiered on others, including us, had quit and were looking for sun, which was elusive for awhile.
Tim B. tried to find good spots but Nino leftovers prevailed. There was also little entertainment in the booby stakes. However, a day out diving, cruising, and sunning beats a LOT of other options. Let's hope Mr. Niflo is DEAD!! On to the July two day to Begg Rock.
"Boat minutes or real minutes?"
"Where do you shop for your dive gear, at a land fill?"
"What on earth could you find to do on that dive for 60 minutes?"
"What's the name of this spot, 'Pillbox'?"... "No, 'Blockhouse'."
"There's some serious weaponry down there for such small fish."
"Not good. Ripping current."
"Straight in, straight out."
"I'll dive currents before I'll drive freeways."
"This is the first trip this year we made the island we planned."...
"Not exactly. We made Catalina in April - mostly."
"Another island!!! They're all over the place!"
Richardson's Rock. Wilson Rock. Castle Rock. These were just a few of the places that we didn't get to on the last Peace trip. That's the bad news. The good news is we managed to completely avoid the infamous Johnson's Lee too!
Peace, with skipper and soon to be new owner Eric at the helm, left Ventura Harbor around 1:00 a.m. When I awoke at 4:00 - ish I noticed we were anchored and decided unless Peace had recently been outfitted with some ultra-smooth high power nuclear engines.. .there was no chance that we were at the far end of San Miguel. We ended up on the front side of Santa Cruz where the combination of a large south swell and northwest wind was making the three conspicuously absent Sea Divers (A.P., J.D. and E.S.) look like they made the right choice!
Capt. Eric decided that MAYBE things would be a little better on the backside and piloted Peace around the point through numerous touch-and-goes and gained a not insignificant amount of airtime for his log book. Fortunately, there were no pukers on the boat and the only casualty during the run was a freshly baked pan of brownies who's seat belt someone apparently left unfastened during the trip. Once on the backside Capt. Eric demonstrated his helmsmanship by driving Peace deep into the painted cave, which if you've never had the experience it's a must see!! Considering the wind and sea conditions this was a uniquely testicular display of the Captain's piloting prowess.
The wind followed us to the backside but a few nooks and crannies were available for us to tuck into and do some diving. Most of the areas looked very similar with reef sloping to sand and numerous cracks and crevices for the adventurous to explore. Water temperature was in the mid to upper 50° 's. A few scallops were brought up on every dive. In addition some precision marksmanship was demonstrated on the part of some of the spearfisherman. The apparent philosophy being that ANYONE can hit a big fish!
Peter L. was the only real 'booby' of the trip as he managed to jump in off the bow with his glasses and left his mask on the deck. The fact that he had to continuously clear his 'mask' must have been the big tip-off. Chris G. had 'booby' potential tho' for his expression of abject horror when a spider crab was involuntarily tossed into the hot tub with him narrowly missing Chris's family jewels. Despite the wind the weather cooperated and sun prevailed. The boat had an extremely light load (13 passengers). That combined with the outstanding service and camaraderie of the Peace crew once more made the trip worthwhile.
"Good morning everyone. We're at Richardson's Rock. That's what WE'RE calling it anyway.
"You know this Bubble Watching isn't such a bad sport after all."
"Great dive. My regulator was free flowing, my primary computer went nuts and I forgot to turn on my secondary computer!"
"If he wrecks the boat he just won't sign the papers on Monday."
"What's his face, eats it."
"I ALWAYS have to sleep on the wet spot."
(Two people simultaneously...) "The verandah's looking good! "The verandah's looking good!
"Have you ever lit a barbeque before?"
"Maybe it'll tire him out and he'll shut up!"
"You should have bungeed those brownies in!"
"I'd rather eat Weblos."
"We can always blame the weather on Parker and Delaney unless it gets nice out!"
"I don't date anyone that lives closer than 3 counties away. That way they don't knock on your door unexpectedly saying they were in the neighborhood!"
"I hope you don't have a cavity.. you'll lose that fish in it!"
"Give yourself a wedgie in the morning."
"If I'd known you were going to move the boat I'd have brought a lift bag!"
"You don't look anymore beautiful with all that beauty sleep."
"Why don't you let him practice on someone else's tank?"
"I think I'll try using my mask this time."
After being weathered out in February from a storm broken boat and bad weather courtesy of El Nino we were hoping for better in March. The week preceding the planned trip to San Nicolas was warm and calm. A "small" front was due through late Thursday, but it dawdled in coming 12 to 18 hours late and much much more severe. Major stuff! Loading gear onto the boat in heavy rain sucks.
We left the dock as planned, just after 11:00 PM, on the belief that "it's better further out". We went smooth to fairly bumpy and 2:30 AM saw us heading south on the backside of Catalina!! Early light we were running along the front side of San Clemente heading for the calm of Pyramid Cove many miles away from San Nicolas. With the boat near full we were ready to hit the water before the crowd. The first dive spot was just outside The Boilers in Pyramid Cove, in calm, light current (into the cove), 57° F, 50 or so foot visibility water. The vertical walls contained many cracks with many, many, small bugs. Even at 80 plus feet we only saw undersized "teenagers". We presume bugs mate early in life as there were no moms, pops, or other larger family members to be seen!! Nice dive though, especially having not been in the water since late November. The variable clouds were slowly dissipating and, although still early, warmth was coming on.
The second dive, in almost identical water conditions, was in the west area of the cove. Here reefs dotted a sandy bottom at about 50 feet. Less of them, but the same small bugs. One halibut was found in the sand. A short run back around Pyramid Cove saw us looking for Steve's Pinnacle (or Reef). We finally hooked the top and 30 divers hit the water within a few minutes causing a minor traffic jam around this very nice pinnacle. Bubbles everywhere. Sea life disappeared, wouldn't you? The tip of the reef is at about 25 feet dropping to about 140 feet on the outside. Water temperature was at 59°F, quite comfortable for March.
By now the sun was quite warm and several divers decided to sun instead of dive. Dive four was about one quarter mile north west of Steve's Reef. Depths to 45 feet, no current and not much else!! A nice but not spectacular day of diving over we left at just after 1:30 PM. Rock and roll was the order of the day for the run back except for a brief period in the lee of southeast Catalina. We docked back at 22nd Street about 7:20 PM. There were no boobies of note on this trip, but El Nino unfortunately did it's thing!
"All that sand in your booties could really screw up your panty hose."
"Too many bodies on one reef."
"I wondered why you were rearranging the ecosystem."
"Afterburn, a LOT of afterburn."
"Don't get your cheeks in that gap, it'll nip you to death."
"I see you've made an executive decision - sun!"
"It's only a matter of time before you spill something."
"Harrison Ford to the rescue - That's new!"
"Watch out for the stop sign you always miss."
On Tuesday 3 February in the early morning, high winds that preceded the first major downpour caused the 22nd Street Landing's dock to break setting the Great Escape, Encore, Reliant, and Maverick either loose or banging onto each other.
The event was precipitated after failure of one of the outer pilings. The Reliant finished up on the rocks with bottom and side damage, the Great Escape and Maverick banged together for some period of time causing sufficient damage to the Great Escape to require dry docking for hull repairs. The Maverick's swim step and rear rails were destroyed. The Encore somehow managed no significant damage.
One Sea Diver couldn't take no for an answer. On the evening of the scheduled dive he was reported to be standing on the remains of the dock with his thumb extended outward.