Trip Report and Photos
Diving with Ross O.
Buchannans Reef and Hawthornes Reef
November 11, 2009

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

Amid forcasts for 5 foot swells and a potentially messed up ocean, we boarded the Orion. We needed a dive day, really really bad, and, if the wind stayed down, maybe we could pull one off.

Traveling out Angles Gate, things didn't look so dire. Ross called the conditions a "kiddie coaster". I became almost hypnotized watching the swells, trying to time my body for the small jolts. Everything was going so smoothly it was a genuine shock when out of nowhere a huge bird crashed into the flybridge railing and spun out of control into the ocean - landing feet up, unconscious or probably dead. It had missed smashing into Ross by inches. We were all a little stunned and shaken by the collision. So much so, we overshot our first planned dive site - Buchannans Reef off Old Marineland by probably a half mile or so.

Ross turned the boat around and we pulled up to our planned anchorage, now admiring the blue water. There was a hint that maybe visibility would be good. The plan was for Ross and Gregg to go off on the scooter to search for and retrieve a known lost anchor for a friend. I would kind of hang out around the boat and entertain myself taking pictures.

We heaved ourselves over the side and down the anchor line. The vis looked great! I eyed the spindly kelp plants and wondered why some looked still green and "healthy" and others looked so amber and decaying.

About 20 feet from the bottom, the vis turned murkey and the bottom was in a state of surge and turmoil. I began the "backscatter" wars and most of the time it seemed the particulate matter was winning. These are a samples of a couple of battles that I almost won.

I've gotten so used to taking "diver" photos, I wondered if I could get back into fish photography. A juvenile rockfish came to my rescue. Not very intimidated by me or the camera he seemed intrigued by the dome port and the strobe. He even followed me around. I wondered if the little guy was going to last very long in life. I'm not sure curiosity is a survival trait.

After about a half hour I wandered back up into the visibility zone. There was a fairly clear division between the layer that had the heavy particulate and the layer that didn't. I tried to photograph the line of demarkation - not very successfully.

After a safety stop I decided to call it a dive. Right before I got back on the boat, Ross and Greg went zipping past on the scooter below.

Anchor retrieved, we decided to head to Hawthornes Reef. Maybe, just maybe, we could find some good vis in this beautiful blue water. Yaahh Hoo!! We were not disappointed! It was probably the best conditions that I have ever seen on this reef.

As icing on the cake, schools of baitfish presented a never ending ballet.

The ocean had done it again, turning our spirits sweet. Ross got back into "photo model" mode. First he posed in a small swimthrough,

and then he moved on to the reef and baitfish.

It was stunningly beautiful.

Impending DECO terminated our dive, but not our delight. A purple jellyfish, possibly a Pelagia noctiluca came by for a photo session on the anchor line.

On the way home, we met up with Brian Basura and Claudia Richardson. They are preparing the sailboat "Skylight" for their big trip to the South Pacific and their mission for RisingTides.org