Dive report and photos: Anacapa Island with dive boat Peace, 5/8/05

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Dick Analog on May 11, 2005 at 01:08:54:

We made a trip aboard the dive boat Peace to Anacapa Island this past Sunday, May 8th , despite an “iffy” weather forecast. The day turned out to be spectacularly beautiful, with near cloudless skies and fairly calm water. We did a total of 4 dives – three on the chilly frontside (with water temperatures hovering around 54degF) and one dive on the backside at Cat Rock. Conditions for all of the dives turned out to be very good, with visibility staying consistently in the 30-40ft range. We ended up spending more time on the frontside because of a pervasive southerly swell which hit the backside a little harder.

Our first dive was at a seldom-visited site called Gunsight Reef, on Anacapa’s frontside. This was a deep dive. The site is highlighted by a 15-25ft high wall which is first encountered in about 80ft of water, and which wraps around the cove and reaches a depth of at least 110ft. I suppose because there is no kelp at this particular site, the wildlife density seems relatively low. Nevertheless, we found some large rockfish lurking in deep crevices, and many colorful invertebrates. The depth of the reef at this site added a nice sense of adventure to the dive. The site was actually chosen because a group of pro/tech divers and accompanying photographer on board were doing a photo shoot for one of Dive Training magazine’s unique front-view/back-view cover pages. I’m not sure what the theme will be for this cover page, but the main photo subject seemed to be a colorfully dressed, drysuit-clad diver.

After a quick trip to Cat Rock on the backside, a site which we have done several times and have yet to tire of, we headed back to the frontside for the last two dives of the day. These last sites were in the marine life protected area and were by the far the fishiest places I have seen in the Channel Islands. One site went by the name “Goldfish Bowl” and the other was called “Cathedral Gardens”. A member of the Peace’s crew complained to other crew members that they were giving away all their ‘secret’ spots on this particular trip. These really were special spots. The last site in particular, Cathedral Gardens, was absolutely teeming with fish – mainly opaleye, halfmoons and thick clouds of blacksmith. Every once in a while, the small reef fishes would suddenly bolt in unison, and a marauding pack of 5 or 6 large male sheephead would come cruising through. It was fascinating to watch the interactions between the hunters and the hunted.

In addition to enjoying plenty of great diving, we were treated to the Peace’s famous cuisine and well-attended by the always professional crew. We’ve decided to make Ventura Harbor our “home port” – not only because it is a faster, simpler drive from the Santa Clarita Valley, but it is the home to great dive boats like the Peace.

Here are a few photos from our trip.

The first dive site – Gunsight Cove on Anacapa Island’s frontside.

Rockfish on deep reef at Gunsight Cove.

Goby and companions, Gunsight Reef.

A juvenile (vermilion?) rockfish, hovering over brittle stars at base of wall; Gunsight Reef.

Colorful invertebrates, Gunsight Reef.

Yummy invertebrate, Cat Rock.

Golden gorgonian, Goldfish Bowl.

Fiery soft coral, Goldfish Bowl.

Transition from rocky reef to kelp canopy, Cathedral Gardens.

Male garibaldi, guarding roe embedded in wine-colored algae; Cathedral Gardens.

A large male sheephead on the prowl, Cathedral Gardens.

Halfmoons and opaleye fleeing pack of male sheepheads, Cathedral Gardens.

One of the bad boys, up close; Cathedral Gardens.

A beautiful sight, ending a perfect day of diving.

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