16 - 17 2004
Trip Report and Photos
Begg Rock and Santa Barbara Island
with the Sea Divers on the Great Escape
and Photos ©
Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced
On Thursday night July
15, 2004 the Sea Divers set out
on another fantastic trip aboard the Great
Escape, this time to Begg Rock and Santa Barbara Island.
Long Beach was uncomfortably
hot and humid Thursday night. It felt more like Florida than California.
There was almost no breeze. The bright side of the tropical weather
was that it had created ocean conditions perfect for our trip to Begg
Rock. We spent the night traveling on calm seas, and, we were greeted
in the morning by cooler air, sunshine, and one big beautiful rock.
Begg Rock is geographically
the last piece of "land" between California and Hawaii. Topside it
consists of one large jagged outcropping of rock, a couple of small
near by "boilers", and, a bright red whistle buoy that makes its distinctive
sound every five seconds. This was my first trip here. I had been
looking forward to this dive for months, and, my curiosity as to the
underwater landscape and marine life was insatiable.
Captain Tim anchored the
boat at an area where the underwater landmass came to within 20 feet
of the surface. The short trip down the anchor line dropped you off
at a departure point where you could stay as shallow as you liked
or venture off as deep as you liked. Visibility was only about 30
feet in the shallow areas. Below 60 or 70 feet it opened up to perhaps
100 feet or better.
Purple anemones dominated
the shallow landscape. Small white metridium dominated the deeper
landscape. Large brown sponges were also prevalent. Purple hydrocoral
was present on the westerly side of the rock. Hermissenhda crassicornis
nudibranchs were everywhere. Invertebrate life was so dense that it
was difficult to put a hand on the landscape without feeling that
you might be damaging something living. It reminded me of the landscape
The divers hunting scallops
were not disappointed. Plastic bags full of scallop meat were the
norm for many divers on the boat.
We enjoyed three dives
at Begg Rock. With each dive the current picked up a little.
By the end of the third dive we were flapping in the breeze as we
made our safety stops on the anchor line. It was time to call it a
day for diving at Begg Rock. We then made the 8 or so mile trek to
San Nicholas Island.
At Nic, the anchor dropped,
the gates never opened, and the anchor was raised. The Navy had closed
the island and kicked us off of our dive site. We settled in for the
trip over to Santa Barbara Island.
We dove at Santa Barbara
Island for the rest of our trip. Visibility here was excellent, at
times seeming to exceed 100 ft., I have never seen Santa Barbara look
as good as it did for us. The sun was shining and there was only mild
current. We dove some of the best sites including Black Caverns and
Sutil. Inside the cavern I tried some wide angle photography, but
it was so dark in there that it was mostly an exercise of frustration.
I have much better luck photographing dark caverns with my Nikonos
V wide angle, and, I had only my housed camera. I guess that doing
the cavern shots will be a project for the future.
One of the things that
I realized about Santa Barbara Island is that it is really very "Pink".
Pink gorgonians dominate the landscape Ė as well as those ever present
brittle stars. Baby nudibranchs were everywhere and in many different
We enjoyed our great sit
down dinner of barbecued ribs and chicken at our Santa Barbara anchorage.
At the end of our second dive day we had a wonderfully smooth ride
back to Long Beach.
Some of the very lucky
divers on this phenomenal trip were:
We had one surprise visitor
at Santa Barbara: A man on a wave runner who had come all the from,
some said, Dana Point by himself. He stopped by the Great Escape for
I donít know anything
about Wave Runners but traveling so far on one seemed both adventurous
and risky. I guess that to non divers, our dive trips seem both adventurous
and risky. It is all a matter of perspective. We donít always think
about it but with every dive we take a risk. Every time that we go
outside of our comfort zone in life we take a risk. Sometimes we get
burned, but most of the time, taking risks is how we get some of our
most fulfilling experiences.
Everybody dive safe. Until
Story and Photos ©