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January 6, 2007
Southern California Trip Reports and Photos
Catalina Island on the Sundiver II
(Cat Harbor, Cape Cortes, Abalone Cove,
and the Wreck of the Toro)

Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission.

On Friday, strong Santa Anna winds sent my trash cans flying to my neighbors house, and, left me with lots of easy backyard firewood from local trees. It also produced large waves in the San Pedro Channel that caused almost all dive trips to be canceled the next day. None the less, three hard core die hards set out for Catalina Island on Saturday morning aboard the Sundiver II. It turned out to be one of those dream days with conditions you live to dive for.

Little sister to the Sundiver, the Sundiver II is a 33 ft. Crystaliner express. Crystaliner Boats are used for lifeguard and rescue craft. They are fast and do well in rougher ocean conditions. Captain Ray took Frank Farmer and myself on board, we secured our gear, and headed out of the harbor with a spirit of "we will see".
Sundiver II, Photo by Elaine Jobin Captain Ray Arntz, Photo by Elaine JobinFrank Farmer, Photo by Elaine JobinSundiver II, Photo by Elaine Jobin
The first thing I did was to check out the boat. There was a nice dive deck with a game well, comfortable seats in the Eisenglass enclosed passenger compartment, a galley stocked with food and drink, some bunks near the galley, and a head that was actually roomy.
The Sundiver II, Photo by Elaine Jobin The Sundiver II, Photo by Elaine Jobin The Sundiver II, Photo by Elaine Jobin The Sundiver II, Photo by Elaine Jobin
As we exited the harbor, the conditions in the Channel didn't seem too bad. The swells grew as we made our way. The conditions were similar to those that make our larger dive boats cancel or turn back. The Sundiver II easily plowed ahead. About an hour after we left Long Beach, we found the west end of Catalina socked with bi-directional swell. With our fingers crossed we headed around to the back side. As we neared Cat Harbor, everything was looking great.
Peaceful conditions on the backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin
The only casualty during the crossing occurred when Frank's tank fell over and his BC inflator valve broke. Our first order of business was to drop Frank off at Cat Harbor so he could make the short hike to the Two Harbors dive shop for a replacement valve. Frank was gone for a little over an hour. The dive shop owner had been underwater repairing some of the damage that the waves had caused to the dock on the other side of the island. Frank had to wait for him to get out of the water.
I didn't mind the extra surface time at Cat Harbor. I had never been here before. The harbor has a quaint atmosphere and I enjoyed the scenery.
Cat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Cat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Cat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Cat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Cat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin
While waiting, we motored past the Yacht Club.
Cat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin PCat Harbor on the Backside of Catalina Island, hoto by Elaine Jobin
Captain Ray pointed out the White Sea Bass hatchery and the bait tanks.
White Sea Bass Hatchery at Cat Harbor Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Cat Harbor at Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin
It was impossible not to notice the presence of the Fish and Game boat, the Thresher. The Fish and Game Patrol boat was in the harbor checking for law violators. Besides ensuring those taking game were following the rules, no doubt they were looking for anyone with an expired fishing license. All permits issued in 2006 expired after December 31st. .
The California Fish and Game boat, the Thresher, Photo by Elaine Jobin California Fish and Game at Cat Harbor, Photo by Elaine Jobin
Frank returned with a replacement inflator valve, and we were approached by the Fish and Game Patrol Boat. Captain Ray gave us a quiet reminder not to do anything to antagonize the Fish and Game officials.
California Fish and Game at Cat Harbor, Photo by Elaine Jobin California Fish and Game at Cat Harbor, Photo by Elaine Jobin California Fish and Game at Cat Harbor, Photo by Elaine Jobin California Fish and Game at Cat Harbor, Photo by Elaine Jobin
Antagonize them???? As the boat pulled in closer, the first thing I heard was "Hey, I know you!" It was Warden Rojas (My "Mister October"). I hadn't seen him for 14 months and was starting to get worried. I was really happy to see him and I was almost sad when we left Cat Harbor to go start our dive day. Next time, remind me to ask for a tour of the Thresher.
California Fish and Game at Cat Harbor, Photo by Elaine Jobin
For our first site, Captain Ray let us off on the pinnacles at Cape Cortes and picked us up where ever we surfaced. I like live boats because it removes most of the need to think about where I left the boat. The pinnacles were covered with gorgonians and it was quite beautiful. On a day when the frontside conditions had been so bad, it was amazing that just around the corner, things could be so good.
Underwater pinnacle at Cape Cortes, Backside Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Underwater pinnacle at Cape Cortes, Backside Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Underwater Pinnacle at Cape Cortes, Backside Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin Underwater pinnacle at Cape Cortes, Backside Catalina Island, Photo by Elaine Jobin
On my safety stop I noticed several jellies that I think were Cestum veneris drifting past. It seems that the presence of jellies often accompanies a plankton bloom. I took this sighting to indicate that the beginning of our plankton season might be at hand.
Cestum veneris Jelly Fish, Photo by Elaine Jobin
Next we continued on to another Catalina backside site in Abalone Cove. The decorative gorgonian scenery was quite stunning here as well.
Frank Farmer, Photo by Elaine JobinFrank Farmer, Catalina Island Backside, Photo by Elaine Jobin Abalone Cove, Photo by Elaine Jobin Abalone Cove, Catalina Island Backside, Photo by Elaine Jobin Abalone Cove, Catalina Island Backside, Photo by Elaine Jobin
Calmer winds in the early afternoon increased our dive site choices. We rounded the corner for a peak at Catalina's frontside and conditions there were now much better. We went eastward to the wreck of the Toro, the 37ft Bertram Yacht that had struck the rocks and sunk early in 2005 (link to January 2005 trip report). It is presently not as intact, but there is still a lot of debris to look at.
Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, 
            Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin Wreck site of the Toro, a 37 ft. Bertram Yacht at Catalina, Photo by Elaine Jobin
After this last dive, Captain Ray gave us some time to get out of our wet gear and to prepare for the quick trip back to the mainland. What an amazing day, as far as I can tell, we had been the only mainland based dive boat out at Catalina. We had pretty much had the entire underwater island to ourselves . Thanks Ray, it was awesome.
Photo by Elaine Jobin
Until next time......