and Photos © Elaine
Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
we motored past the Yacht Club.
Ray pointed out the White Sea Bass hatchery and the bait tanks.
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. .
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.
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.
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.
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.
continued on to another Catalina backside site in Abalone Cove. The
decorative gorgonian scenery was quite stunning here as well.
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.
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.