Posted by Elaine on June 21, 2005 at 13:41:57:
Sea Divers Trip to Catalina on the Great Escape
June 18, 2005
Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or in whole without advanced written permission.
On Friday night the Sea Divers converged on Long Beach for another Southern California scuba diving excursion. In the wee hours of the morning we would begin our journey to Farnsworth Bank on the "backside" of Catalina Island.
The first thing everyone noticed was the new boarding ramp to the Great Escape. Ingeniously designed, there are no cumbersome stairs to traverse with those overstuffed gear bags. I actually caught some Sea Divers smiling while schlepping. Even those toting the new light weight .90ml "special tie" gear sacks found the new ramp to be an energy saver. In my mind, the Great Escape has definitely earned the rating of "best boarding ramp".
Once on board we did the usual
A. Sign in
B. Assemble our gear
The diver.net contingent showed off their new t shirts.
With visions of Farnsworth purple hydrocoral dancing in our heads we prepared to tuck ourselves into our cozy preassigned bunks. The calm water at the dock was great for sleeping.
Sometime after our departure, the Great Escape began rocking like a giant see saw with some thumps and bumps thrown in. Those in the top bunks could hear the gentle rumbles of dive gear sliding across the deck. I went topside to see what was going on and found things like our breakfast rolls tossed from the counter tops onto the floor (fortunately still safely inside their plastic containers). The rolling motion was so strong it took me three tries to successfully make it into little girls room to uh....powder my nose. I returned to my bunk and eventually noticed the sensation of trying to sleep on a fulcrum had subsided.
On a later trip to the deck I saw a beautiful sunrise. I also saw Ship rock. Uh Oh....Ship Rock could only mean one thing, this trip didn't make it to Farnsworth Bank..
Because Farnsworth is all the way on the "other side" of Catalina it is a place that is not always accessible. Cruising around the west end of the island exposes whatever fine vessel you happen to be on to the unsheltered open ocean. Mother nature could have done a better job of designing Catalina if she would have just finished carving out that little strip of land at Two Harbors that blocks a mid island passage. That one extra stroke of the creation chisel would have made the perfect shortcut to Farnsworth.
We donned our scuba gear as the boat continued eastward to our first dive site..
The anchor dropped at Long Point. Aided by a mild surface current I swam to the shoreline near the point to begin my descent. The water felt warm during the first 60 feet of the dive. A sharp thermocline made any diving below that depth noticeably chilling. Visibility was good near the surface and worsened with depth. Exploring the point I found California scorpionfish, garabaldi, and some spotted kelpfish as well as a giant kelpfish.. Some saw a giant black sea bass.
On the underwater traverse back to the boat I was accompanied by large schools of fish and I also found an eel.
We enjoyed breakfast as we moved to our next dive site.
The second stop was at East Rock Quarry. On this dive I saw many schools of fish and some fried egg jellies. I also found a mutant Chris Grossman - normal head completely replaced by a camera.
On the surface interval I joined in a Jedi pool noodle battle. Dedicated Sea Divers ready to fight to forever keep the fun in diving.
Our next dive was at Isthmus Reef. While many enjoyed this dive, I found myself suffering from dive site burn out. Isthmus reef had to be the most visited spot during lobster season. I saw it over, and over, and over during those months when Southern California diving turns its focus on obtaining bag limits of those tasty critters. As a frequent diver and non hunter, I almost needed a whack on the head with a pool noodle to remember that diving here is fun.
Our last stop was near Bird Rock. I did a swim to my favorite area here where there are lots of gorgonian covered reef structures.
Another Sea Divers trip was coming to an end. We had a smooth trip home Where was this calm water earlier in the day?
Thanks to the crew of the Great Escape for another wonderful dive trip!
Until next time........
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