and Photos, © Elaine
Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced
I was able to escape my
personal drama of "home improvements" (?) on the last day of February
for a dive day at Catalina. The Sundiver was offering an "open boat"
to Catalina, and, I had my spot.
When I arrived, I saw many
familiar faces, and, I made some new diving friends. It is great to
show up somewhere and see so many people that you know on a Sunday
morning - without having to sit through a sermon.
Some brought their family
members with them.
Some brought lots of toys.
With everybody, and everything,
on board, the Sundiver set off for the west end of Catalina Island.
The channel was smooth
as glass for our crossing and some dolphins broke away from a feeding
frenzy to do whatever it is that dolphins do in the bow wake. The
water was so still and transparent it provided a great opportunity
for dolphin viewing. My camera settings were a little off from a recent
episode of night photography, but I managed to save a few images via
Captain Ray dropped anchor
at West End Reef. It isn't often that the western most point of Catalina
Island offers good diving conditions but on this day - it was fantastic.
The visibility was a Catalina average of 40 to 50 feet in shallow
areas, but below 80 feet it opened up to awesome. Wide eyed I looked
at the amazing scenery of the steeply sloping rocky reef. There were
beautiful gorgonian decorations everywhere. It was California diving
with a distinct tropical feel. I cruised down to the deep sandy bottom
at about 130 feet, partly to check it out, and, partly just to say
that I've been to the sand on the western tip of the island. It was
still the morning sun, so the available light at depth was fine for
looking around, but less than ideal for photography. The following
photos were taken at the western most point on the frontside of Catalina
at about 130 feet where the rocks meet the sand.
On the way back up the
reef I saw a nudibranch I have never seen before - I believe it is
a Peltodoris species - maybe one of the nudibranch experts out there
can verify this. I only had the wide angle lens, so these aren't the
best photos for identification.
I saw many of my boat mates
in the shallower water.
Some friends cruised by
with their scooters. On this dive, Captain Ray may have established
the first scooter parking lot on the west end of Catalina Island.
In fifty years - maybe there will be parking meters.
During our first surface
we rounded the corner
to the backside of the Catalina west end.
Oh boy!!!! another shot
at this dive site from a different angle. Capt. Ray suggested that
I might want to head along the shore toward the backside. Uh un I
thought. I want to go back where I was. The sun was higher and brighter.
More/better photos of the point - a second opportunity"greed" run.
We did our last dive at
Deadmans. Capt. Ray suited up for this dive and endured quite a photo
shoot for the event. He gets in his wet suit and he moves too fast
for good photos. Ray, slow down, pose for the cameras; the ocean,
and the lobsters, will still be there in 5 minutes. Also, maybe Captain
Ray needs to be added to the BBS Gallery
of California Backpack Divers.
I took the "little camera"
this time. Visibility was still terrific and I was almost sorry not
to have wide angle, but I saw plenty to keep my inner photographer
happy. An angel shark, nudibranchs, sculpin, gorgonians etc. I also
saw the largest Christmas tree worm I've ever seen here. Normally
our California Christmas Tree worms are some of the smallest in the
world. This one was several inches tall and wide - amazing sight.
A dolphin escort arrived
for part of our trip home.
Back at the dock, Phil
(Max Bottomtime) appeared out of nowhere, and, he helped me schlep
my dive gear back to the car. He actually came to meet Susan and to
give her the lobsters she had caught on a dive the previous day. Thanks
Phil - and Susan for that matter. It was a perfect end to a perfect
Until next time.........