26 - 27, 2005
Trip Report and Photos
Easter Weekend on the Peace:
Oil Rig Grace and Anacapa Island
and Photos © Elaine
Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced
One of the first
things that I noticed when I arrived at Ventura Harbor was that
the "Fishermenís Memorial" has been completed. Iíve watched
it slowly materialize during the past several months and it
is now a beautiful addition to the harbor parking lot.
I boarded the boat
and completed the required paperwork and releases. Next, I was
herded off of the boat and onto the dock for an Oil Rig Security
Clearance. This is now a requirement to dive on the Oil Rig
Grace, inspired by 9-11. I entered the line up, photo ID in
hand, and waited my turn for the nod from the Harbor Patrol
representative. The entire screening process was relatively
painless and in 10 minutes time we had all been cleared for
We departed the dock
at about 7am. The sun broke through the morning haze during
our smooth crossing, and, at approximately 75 minutes after
leaving the harbor we were in the calm waters surrounding the
Oil Rig Grace.
Prior to beginning
our dive day, the bow area was cleared of passengers, and an
"arrival ceremony" took place. Crew member Steve stood devoutly
as a crane lowered its hook to our front deck. He attached a
gallon sized Ziploc baggy full of red licorice and small wrapped
candies to the crane hook. This "tithe" to the Oil Rig denizens
was then raised to the top deck of the Oil Rig. The completion
of the "candy sacrifice" marked the start of our Oil Rig underwater
At the stern, cameras
were placed in the chase boat for distribution within the rig
structure. At the bow, divers on single tanks, divers on double
tanks, divers toting stage bottles, and divers on rebreathers,
all lined up for the "live drop" giant stride.
from 30 to 50 feet and the water temperature was brisk in the
high 50ís. The decent at the Grace is interesting in that the
first 20 feet or so isnít too interesting. After that, the columns
of small white anemones dominate the structure. Somewhere around
60 ft the pink anemones abruptly take over, and at around 110
feet, the large Metridium anemones begin to appear. I organized
the following photos with deepest ones first.
We did two dives
at the rigs and we were split into two diving groups, (each
group had the opportunity for two dives). Everything went incredibly
smoothly. Some technically oriented divers went to 280 feet
and they reported extremely poor visibility there. I maxed out
at 120 feet due to my nitrox mix. Sometimes I wonder how the
tech guys can get back on the boat with so much weight in equipment
- but they do and they donít even seem to have a hard time doing
Two sea lions provided
entertainment during the surface intervals. Some divers were
disappointed that more sea lions werenít present on the rigs
for our dives. Two sea lions were all that we saw.
On route to Anacapa
Island, our next stop, many were busy cleaning their take of
scallops. 10 scallops per person per day are the allowed personal
harvest at the Oil Rig Grace.
We did two great
dives at Anacapa, the photos below depict the dive sites topside.
(To simplify things, I have put my underwater Anacapa photos
in the next section).
The ride home was
quick and smooth with an arrival back at the dock before 7pm.
It had been an awesome A++ kind of dive day.
I stayed overnight
on the boat and joined the trip back to Anacapa on the following
day - Easter Sunday.
An entire new group
of divers appeared for the Sunday trip. To my surprise, "Dick
Analog" was in the new batch of arrivals. Knowing that he is
into astronomy, I showed him my compass that has taken sick.
It works fine on the surface but freezes up completely underwater.
I was really glad to have my Desert
Star Systems dive tracker along as I depended on its electronics
for navigation the entire second dive day. "Dick Analog", however,
never needs frilly electronics - he can get anywhere on a compass.
Our first stop at
Anacapa was at Landing Cove - a very old marine reserve.
I jumped in and began
my exploration of the cove. The garibaldis have begun building
nests for mating season. A large tree was laying mostly intact
somewhere shortly past 60 feet. A sea lion was busy harassing
all of the "tourists", and, an eel in pipe at about 20 feet
was a line up attraction. There were some huge sheephead to
be seen here also. These are some of my photos from this dive.
During the surface
interval we rounded the corner and headed for the backside of
Anacapa. On the backside we dove at Cat Rock, Coral Reef and
Amphitheater Cove. The visibility at all of the dive sites was
One of the things
that I enjoyed about the backside is the prevalence of gorgonians,
many of them pink or purple. These are some of my gorgonian
Between dives, keeping
warm was not a problem. It was so sunny and warm that, for many,
most clothing became optional.
I stayed cool by
staying in the water as much as possible. On the last two dives
I shot macro. These are a few of my macro shots from the backside
of Anacapa. Several areas that I crossed during my dive were
plastered with brittle stars.
The sky became cloudy
and the air temperature dropped around the time of the fourth
and final dive at Amphitheater Cove. Many experienced this dive
site from the comfort of the hot tub. Hot beverages and blankets
also became a popular item.
The trip home ended
a terrific weekend on the Peace. As usual, the food was awesome,
the crew charming and helpful, and it is hard to think of a
better way to have spent Easter weekend. No detail is ever left
hanging on the Peace - extra camera buckets even appeared out
of nowhere at the Oil Rigs to accommodate the high volume of
photo equipment. Many thanks to Eric and the Crew for spending
your Easter with us!
Until Next Time.....