Trip Report and Photos
Diving with Ross O.
Scootering around the Olympic II
February 6, 2009

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

Ross planned a "ditch work and dive Friday" dive day several weeks ago. The truth was, neither of us were really "ditching work" - we had a legitimate day off. It was more about ditching everyday responsibilities and obligations for a day of play.

The boat was fresh from extensive backyard maintenance. The eisenglass sparkled from restorative polish. The cabin glowed from carpentry revisions. The mechanics were humming.

Photo by Elaine Jobin

Everything was perfect except for the weather. Rain, 5 1/2ft. swells at 5 - 10 second intervals, waves splashing over the breakwall. It didn't look good. We proceeded with caution and decided to give it a try anyway. We could always turn around. This is a picture of our potential dive day breaker.

The other brave soul on board was Tobin George, the owner of Deep Sea Supply. Tobin manufactures back plates and wings, instrument mounts, lift bags, spools, and custom lithium ion batteries for x-scooters (just to name a few). This was the first time he and I had officially met - what a treat! It was an extra bonus that he brought two x-scooters with him.

Photo by Elaine Jobin Photo by Elaine Jobin

The trip to the Olympic II was a bit like skiing a mogul course - we proceeded in a slow deliberate fashion - "technical boating" . It took a while - but we made it to our dive site. Conditions weren't a lot better at the Olympic II and the next decision we had to make was "to dive or not to dive". On the "dive" side - there was no current, there was no fog, wind was minimal, vis looked to be about 20 feet, we had our surface signaling safety gear, and we all had experience diving in choppy seas. On the "not to dive side" - gearing up on a boat that is pitching in the sea isn't easy, conditions could change for the worse during the dive, and there was a huge negative - a GILL NET.

Photo by Elaine Jobin

The gill net was disturbingly close to the Olympic II - I'm not good at guessing distances, but it was way too close for comfort. We took a long time trying to decide if it looked like it traversed the wreck. Because we couldn't really tell for sure, we made an "unexpected encounter with the gill net" plan of escape and double checked our emergency dive knives and scissors.

The Olympic II is located just outside of the three mile coastal limit for gill nets. It is a popular dive site that attracts relatively high human diver traffic. The State of California does not act to prohibit gill netting near dive sites - it is evidently Federal jurisdiction. The Feds - well, they're in Washington, they aren't out diving in Southern California. What seems like simple common sense - active gill nets shouldn't be on dive sites - has no backing by legislative or fishing industry standards ( it seems like the fishing industry would regulate itself on this issue because it is such an obvious safety hazard to human life - to me - it is inconceivable that they don't). Anyway, we didn't want to be the first human victims so we almost called the dive. This is a link to a past encounter with a deadly gill net.

Tobin did ultimately choose to stay on the boat. Ross and I managed to get in our gear and into the water. Once in the water, things were amazingly nice. I brought my camera. Ross brought the modified prototype "cuda" x-scooter. Vis dropped to 10 feet or less on the wreck, it was dark due to topside weather, but there was no current.

Once on the wreck, Ross gave me the signal to "hop on for a ride" and we began a ride a time or two around the Olympic. This was so much fun, I can't describe it. It was like the Disney or Superman movies where someone who can fly takes someone who normally can't out for a spin above the city. I loved every second of it. The forward view, pictured below, wasn't spectacular, but the side view crusing easily beside the wreck was awe inspiring - even in the low vis chunky water.

Photo by Elaine Jobin

This was definitely the biggest thing I've done for pure fun in a long time. When the ride and the dive were over, all I wanted to do was to go and do it again.

I took really crummy underwater pictures today. These are a few of them.

Photo by Elaine JobinPhoto by Elaine Jobin
Photo by Elaine Jobin Photo by Elaine Jobin

Thanks so much Ross and Tobin for the coolest experience ever!