Report and Photos
Diving with Ross O.
The Fog Wreck and Pt. Fermin
November 15, 2009
and Photos © Elaine Jobin,
may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission.
Cast of characters: Jeff S., me, and Ross O. We exited Angels Gate and cruised onto a flat sunlit ocean. I'm not sure anyone but Ross knew what the dive plans for the day would be, and, I'm not sure he knew either. There are some days you just go where the ocean takes you.
A couple of miles out into the San Pedro channel someone finally asked "hey, where are we going". Ross said "the Fog Wreck, I think I want to see what it looks like without the nets". Cool, an idea and a purpose. History: a while back the Ocean Defenders Alliance had assisted with the removal of A LOT of derelict fishing gear from this wreck.
We anchored at the wreck, and, we made our descent down the anchor line. The water was blue and clear for the first 40 feet or so of the descent. After that, visibility went down to maybe 15 or 20 feet with only shadows visible beyond. At least there was no surge and not many big chunks of stirred up stuff in the water column. The conditions were the best that I've had for photography on my five or so visits to this wreck. The photos are in the order taken as I went along looking at everything. I was bracketing heavily.
The Fog isn't that large of a wreck, and, somewhere on the tour I finally turned my attention to Jeff. He was trying out Ross's scooter for the first time. I remember my first time. I think he liked it!
Ross sent a few pictures that he took of me.
At the end of the dive, Jeff began his ascent and Ross and I hung around for a few last views and photos. We had a long bottom time at 100ft and deliberately took it very slow on the way up. I was happy just to be in the water and the longer the ascent lasted, the happier I was going to be. An added bonus, was that for a change, I didn't need to get back to the boat to pee - even my bladder was working with me.
At about 75 feet, Ross disturbed my state of Zen. I noticed he was fidgeting, his eyes were huge, and he seemed agitated. My first thoughts were that maybe his toddler may have changed the labels on his nitrox mix and perhaps he was going to need some serious dive buddy attention. I was really relieved to see him point over my shoulder.
I turned around to see what he was pointing at, last week we had run into a cool jelly fish during the ascent, and, I'd gotten some fun pictures of that. Maybe Ross had spotted a new cooler jelly fish. (This was the our jelly fish from last week......)
I scanned the water column looking up and down. Then I suddenly saw it. Two huge pacific white side dolphins were less than 10 feet away. Motionless in the water column. Ross found his attention split between trying to watch them and trying to unclip his camera for some pics. I found my attention was grabbed and held by one of the dolphins eyes. He was staring at me so intently it was like a cross between getting hypnotized and hit by a stun gun. This must have lasted 5 to 10 seconds. A brain cell or two in my head finally awakened and "camera" came to mind. I needed to go for the shot.
I raised the camera, got the dolphins in the viewfinder, pulled the shutter and the auto focus wouldn't lock. I couldn't get the picture. They continued their pose for 2 to 3 more seconds and I just couldn't get the picture. Ever so slowly, the dolphins started moving away. I tried harder to get "the shot", I couldn't get the picture. In sheer frustration I threw the camera into manual focus. When all else fails, go for any kind of "proof that I saw it photo". I did manage to get a couple of those. This was our amazing dolphin, a little out of focus, right before he swam out of sight.
At 65 feet, something swooped into our faces. A sea lion flipped and twirled. Ross was in front of me now, had his camera in hand, and started filming in movie mode. I was busy thinking "Oh, I didn't really just have a close dolphin encounter, it must have been a sea lion." I barely tried to take any pictures as I was still trying to figure out if 10 feet below I had really been up close and personal with dolphins. I finally got in the spirit and grabbed a couple sea lion shots - the camera was still in manual focus of course.
At 55 feet I was trying to talk to Ross to find out if the dolphin thing really happened. Somehow he understood exactly what I was saying. He kept nodding his head "yes". I was relieved, as that would explain why I was jumping up and down on the anchor line like a little kid.
Back at the boat, as soon as my head popped above the surface I yelled "Jeff, you wouldn't believe what we saw down there." Jeff calmly looked into the water and said "you saw a dolphin, right?" I nodded. Next he said "I'm so glad you guys saw it too, otherwise, nobody would have ever believed me." The sad thing is, he was probably right!
After a surface interval filled with lunch and digital review to see if I'd gotten any kind of dolphin shot our thoughts turned to where we would dive next. Our inner dive devils wanted to go to the Olympic, our "higher selves" opted for something more shallow off Pt. Fermin.
The vis at pt. Fermin was maybe 10 to 30 feet, depending on depth and topography. There was some swell. Ross took his camera and took pictures of fish and some small lobsters that we found under a ledge. Jeff took a spin on the scooter. This is what the site looked like ....
These are the lobsters Ross found under a ledge.
After about 50 minutes, nature called ie: I needed to pee, so I returned to the boat to find Jeff already there. Ross stayed below to take a recreational spin on his scooter.
As I waited on the boat with Jeff, we noticed another boat with three fishermen on it just off our bow. Every time we looked, they seemed closer and closer. They seemed to be dragging anchor. When they got uncomfortably close, ie: maybe 30 feet away - we started yelling and pointing at our dive flag and pointing in the water. We couldn't pull anchor because they were too close over our line so I began thinking about the emergency knife to cut our line - a possible collision seemed well within the realm of possibility if we couldn't move. "Yes, yes" they said, but it still seemed like eons before they acted to move their drifting boat away.
At about the same time, Ross was finishing his safety stop on our anchor line. He watched an anchor drift by his head about 10 feet off the bottom. In Ross's words "Some retarded fishermen came within 30 feet of my boat while I was on safety stop. They were dragging their anchor around about 10 feet of the bottom and almost hooked my line. I surfaced and tried to tell them how retarded they were but I don’t think they spoke English. I’ll try the international sign next time." They finally started their engine and moved their boat, pulling their anchor as an afterthought when they were quite a distance away.
With Ross safely back on board, we returned to San Pedro. Can't wait until the next time......