Trip Report and Photos
Diving with Ross O
The Shipwreck "Fog" and Old Marineland
and Photos © Elaine
Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or in whole without advanced
Phil Garner asked me if I wanted to go on a trip to an off the beaten path wreck where a wolf-eel is known to reside. I have never seen a wolf-eel. Phil sent photos of the planned destination and of the wolf-eel. It looked awesome. Ross O. would be doing the driving.
I met Jeff Shaw, Phil Garner, and Ross Overstreet
early Sunday morning at the dock. Ross had his foot in a orthopedic
appliance - he wouldn't be diving, just driving. Jeff did his best
"Wil Lemley" impersonation to show our excitement over this trip.
When we exited the harbor, the sun was shining and the ocean was reasonably calm. When we arrived at our destination, Phil played "anchor boy".
Where exactly were we? I had no clue. What kind of ship were we going to dive? I didn't know that either. All I knew was that it was possible to see all of the ship in one dive and that it sat in about 100 feet of water.
We suited up. Ross O. played topside quarterback and called our dive plan. We would go down the anchor line. Phil would attach a reel to the anchor line and start a sweep to locate the wreck. All the uninitiated would have to do to get to the wreck would be to follow Phil's white line. It sounded easy enough.
Jeff was the first in the water. He did a sleek backroll entry and proceeded to drift rapidly down current. A short stiff swim landed him back on the swim step. Hum....whats a group of divers to do when they can't even make it to step one of the dive plan? Ross saved the day by rigging up a granny line. We rolled into the water, grabbed the line and pulled ourselves to the bow.
Jeff led the way down the line, I took the middle, and Phil covered the tail. At first the current made the descent all muscle, but somewhere between 20 to 30 feet the current started to fade. By the time we reached the sandy 98 foot bottom it was completely calm. Phil took off with the white cord from his reel leading the way (we hung a left at the sand). A mere 20 yards into our search we saw a dark structure looming ahead. Whoopie, we had done it - we found the wreck right away.
My mouth must have fallen open when the wreck came into better view. It was beautiful. Huge white metridiums sat in front of the tallest part of the structure. It reminded me of a cottage with a front yard flower garden. We spent a few minutes silently oohing and ahhing at the metridiums.
Next, Phil located a port hole and held it up for a photo. When the photo was done, he put the port hole back down where he found it. Hopefully, it will still be there for the next guy, and the next guy, and the next guy, so that all who visit this wreck can have the experience of finding it.
Next, we got down to the business of searching for the wolf-eel. In a very short while I saw Jeff and Phil waving their flashlights. I knew that it had to be that illusive critter. I looked in the first hole that they pointed to and didn't see anything. I looked in the second hole and there he was - a big, ugly in a cute kind of way, purple wolf eel. He was adorable. This is my photo of him. Since he is the first wolf-eel that I've ever seen, I've named him "Barney" - as in "purple dinosaur".
After the photo session with the eel we took a swim around the wreck. I kept checking that I could still see the white line that lead back to the anchor. I knew we didn't want to do a free ascent with the surface current that was running. Visibility was good and the white line was easy to keep tabs on. These are some more photos of the wreck.
All too soon it was time to leave.
We followed the line back to the anchor and did a slow ascent with a long safety stop. Our safety stop was back in the current zone and we hung like flags while we off gassed.
Next, we headed for Old Marineland. On route we entered an area where the chop increased, the sunshine decreased, and there was even light fog. By the time we dropped anchor we were sitting in some good sized short interval swells. Jeff announced that he was starting to feel sea sick and his face actually took on a greenish cast. He wasn't going to make the dive. Our fearless captain announced he was feeling a little queasy too. Only Phil and I would make the dive and we wouldn't be long. As I climbed into my drysuit, my neck seal snapped - it was the worst tear I've ever had. Phil pulled out the duct tape to see if the dive could be saved - it just wouldn't stick. Jeff offered me his wet suit. At first I burst out laughing, then, I said "OK". Jeff is taller than me by almost a foot. I went below and climbed into his suit - it was big but it was better than nothing. This is me in Jeff's wetsuit.
I rolled into the water and immediately felt like screaming. Ice cold water ran into the suit. This dive was definitely going to be "mind over matter". This area is famous for its nudibranchs and I'd never done a dive here. I was determined to see what all of the fuss over Marineland was about.
We went down the anchor line and found a landscape of sandy bottom densely dotted with rocky reefs. Colorful Carynactis californica was everywhere and Spanish shawls were a dime a dozen. I think I saw at least 10 different kinds of nudibranchs on this short dive. I tried not to move around too much to keep the cold water out of the wetsuit. I was overweighted and every reach for the BC inflater hose let cold water come up my arms. Swimming caused cold water to pour in through the neck. I took a lot of photos but they were mostly pretty bad. The camera had some fogging initially which is unusual for a Nikonos V. These are two photos that were OK from Marineland. My computer chart of this dive is also included - I just about fell over when I saw that the minimum water temperature had been 46 degrees.
After the dive, Captain Ross had a short dispute with the bilge pumps, he told them to shape up or they would be replaced with a newer model. ( I received photos of Ross's new pumps this week). We pulled anchor and headed for home. Thank you Phil for the invite along. Thank you Ross for having such a cool boat and letting me tag along. I hope that your foot is rapidly mending and that you will be back in the water soon. Thank you Jeff for letting me use portable ice machine, I mean your wetsuit. That trip was a lot of fun.
Until next time........