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Posted by Patrick on April 18, 2005 at 17:39:49:

We cleared the Cabrillo launch ramp after pumping $160 worth of gas – I think that was 12 gallons.

Clearing the jetty we were treated to the bulk of an Aegis destroyer – hull number 63, but couldn’t make out her name. Sailors walking patrol on her deck began unlimbering their M-16s as we moved closer. At that point the name didn’t seem that important. ;)

A quick trip out to the Olympic found just a moderate swell under broken overcast with the sun trying to break out. Amazingly, though there were several boats fishing in the area, no one was on the site.
I was go-fer.
Surface water was green with about 15-20 foot viz. On descent viz dropped till at 70 feet it was a very dark 5 feet. On the bottom, at the down-line weight, it was inky-black, not just black, but DARK black with about 12-16 inches of viz. I decided this wasn’t going to be a fun dive and after kicking the down-line weight clear of the wreck, aborted the dive.

The decision was made to run to Catalina, and 45 minutes later we slid into the east side of Ship Rock, the west side was already hosting the PEACE boat. As we were gearing up, a huge pod of dolphins passed by, just outside us. Literally as far as the eye could see were dolphin. Jumping clear of the water or just breaking the surface to blow-n-go, they were jammin’, headed south-east at top speed. It took perhaps 15+ minutes for the herd to pass. Pretty freakin’ awesome.

Visibility on Ship Rock was perhaps 20 feet – not good as far as Catalina goes but ohhh so much better than the Oly was. I dropped over the edge and poked around at the xxx-foot depth then cruised up and I shot some images of the scant remains of the poor Diosa Del Mar.

Next dive was the wall on north side of Bird Rock. Again, about 20-foot viz with a screaming current. There seemed to be an inordinate number of Calico bass in the water, along with more than the usual number of Garibaldis.

Last dive was at the Quarry by one of the crew that wanted to invite a calico home to dinner. Alas it was not to be. On hitting water and beginning his stalk, he felt something grab his leg. He repeated his thoughts to us on his return – I’ll transcribe his words for the more tender sensibilities of the board. It was : “Oh, dear! Something has grabbed my leg! Now what could it be?”
Looking down he was relieved to find a harbor seal (rather than a GWS) clamped on his leg like a lovelorn basset hound. For the remainder of the dive he was felt, licked, fondled and generally appreciated by this lonely pinniped. At one point he said he tried to push the adoring creature away (read carefully now) with the shaft (not the point or butt) of his pole spear, and the seal merely wrapped a flipper around the shaft appearing as though he was ready to take it and go hunting himself. Of course the Sony digital 3-chip was on the boat with its operator, and me and my Oly C-4000 were rinsing under the solar shower.

Never a camera when you want it.

The ride back was easy and the pastrami sandwiches on rye were excellent. Recovery at the launch ramp quick, and the other “boaters” provided wonderful entertainment in their attempts to negotiate the tricky aspects of recovering their crafts.

A particularly good day since it had been six weeks since I’d been able to dive. Of course anything short of a hurricane would have acceptable.

Stay wet

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