Posted by Elaine on May 03, 2005 at 02:37:20:
Trip Report and Photos: Farnsworth Bank on the Pacific Star
Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin. May not be reproduced in part or in whole without advanced written permission.
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On Saturday April 30, 2005 I went on the Pacific Star "Open Boat" to Farnsworth Bank. The scheduled departure time was 6am. To avoid a 4am departure from my home, I boarded the boat the night before. Most other divers on the trip also showed up on Friday night.
The Pacific Star is docked in King Harbor at Redondo Beach, and, there is lots of surrounding night life. I went out for a late dinner at Lu-e Luey's with Ralph and Eva. We enjoyed a round of the Kansas Steak special. The staff at Lu-e Luey's didn't get too upset when we took the tiki totem off the wall to pose for pictures (we carefully put it back when we were done). After dinner, Roger who hosts the "Moment of Fame" website motored by in the "Scubapro5" to say hello.
I slept through the early departure and breakfast. When I went topside for an "oh, @$%#@, its morning" coffee run, we were rounding the west end of Catalina and on the final leg to Farnsworth.
Farnsworth Bank is a pinnacle, or sea mount, (I'm not sure which is the proper technical term) a mile or two off shore (in the open ocean) off the "backside" of Catalina Island. When we arrived, several fishing boats were in the area, but fortunately none of them were anchored where we wanted to be. Capt. Dave located the high spot and dropped the anchor in 56 feet of water. We started our dive and realized that this was not a day for prime visibility. Only about 25 feet of chain could be seen during the anchor line descent. Visibility did improve at around 100 feet and the famous PROTECTED Farnsworth purple hydrocoral was abundant. I did find one large area that was a little bit different because it had a huge carpet of yellow zoanthids instead of the purple hydrocoral. I also saw a lot of fishing line, fishing nets, abandoned lobster traps, and various other non native articles. These are some of the photos from this dive.
Everybody was pretty jazzed after this dive. However, the amount of fishing paraphanelia littering the site was definitely a topic of conversation.
On the second dive I used the Nikonos V with the close up kit.
We traveled back to the front side of Catalina for the third dive. Maybe it was the nitrogen build up but sleep was a popular past time during this surface interval.
The wind and the currents were stronger on the front side than they had been at Farnsworth. Captain Dave checked out several dive sites before selecting Black Rock. Visibility at Black Rock was in the 30 foot range. These are some of my photos from this dive. While I was photographing the sheephead, the bat ray swam by.
When I surfaced, I looked around, and I saw that the Pacific Star was further away than I thought it should have been. I started swimming toward the boat. When I looked up, the boat was even further away - I checked shore line references to make sure I wasn't caught in a current - a mild current was sending me in the direction of the boat. The next time I looked the distance had grown even more. "Oh heck" I thought, "I hope Dave isn't leaving me here". I looked to shore to measure the swim and I thought about putting up my safety sausage, blowing my whistle, or flashing my strobes - be seen or it was going to be a long walk to Two Harbors.
I kept trying to figure out what was going on. Next I noticed other divers surfacing in the same general area that I was in. At this point I thought "something must have happened, so, I'll just sit tight". I thought about putting up my safety sausage to be more visible in the event of boat traffic, but, at about this time the Pacific Star started heading back toward us. It is funny, but you always know when a boat has a fix on you for a pick up.
I did a brief swim to increase the distance between myself and the rocks. As the boat approached, I was thrown a rope from the bow. I grabbed it, heard a "hang on" as I received a quick and easy tow to the stern. I climbed aboard and watched the other remaining divers get their similar quick tow in.
What had happened? The wind had increased and the boat had blown anchor. Not often, but sometimes, this happens. It is a part of California diving. It is part of why we need signal devices, and, it is part of why we always need a "Plan B" in our head in case something should happen to our boat. There was a final roll call to make sure we had all on board, followed by a smooth trip back to Redondo.
On the way home we spotted several whale spouts. It seems late in the season, but they are still out there. I wasn't quick enough to grab whale photos. Captain Dave, DM Larry, the crew, and the cooks did another fine job for a great dive day. . Thank you!
Captain Dave even came to work with a sore toe. Hope that it gets better soon.
This is the first Trip Report that I have put up all by myself. I had my fingers crossed as I hit the "Post A Message" button that it was going to look something like all of the great layouts that Chris has put together for me in the past. If it doesn't look as good. Be patient, it will get better. Merry Christmas Chris, you might even have that extra time to finish your PhD now.
Until Next Time.......
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