Not all that exciting, but here you go...

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Posted by brianc on April 25, 2001 at 09:21:00:

In Reply to: Re: How about a dive report?? posted by Steve on April 24, 2001 at 16:59:49:

I was DM'ing for an O/W class at Gerstle Cove Underwater Reserve, Salt Point State Park, Sonoma Co.

For those of you who don't know Gerstle, I'll give a brief description. This site is probably the best place for an introduction to North Coast shore diving. The cove is shallow (~22 ft max) and well protected, being south-facing. The abundance of life in Gerstle Cove is amazing. Imagine the most densely populated tidepool that you have ever seen expanded to the size of a cove about 250 yds x 150 yds. Then add lots of abalone (often > 10"), cabezone, rock rish, sea perch, giant kelp, sea palm, sea lettuce, sea grass, coraline algae... It's an amazing example of what this coast used to look like. It is difficult to find a place on the bottom without life. Outside the boundaries of the Reserve the depth quickly drops to 40-45, but the abundance of life drops off too. A bit further out, at 60-65 ft are some nice pinnacles with a good amount of large life. Real adventurous sorts can swim out to depths of 120+ one one 80 tank, but plan on a long surface swim back with a current to contend with.

Saturday morning saw the tail end of a storm passing, so the water was too rough for a large O/W class. We did go in with an Advanced Student after lunch. Conditions were very surgey and the viz was shot. On Sunday, it was a different ocean. Flat as glass (OK, almost) and very nice viz for this site - 15-20 ft. That's plenty of viz as there is just so much to see. The am dive was so long since some students were having trouble with skills - esp. weight belt remove/replace. I spare you the details. The temp. was 52F, which felt nice to me, but some of the students complained of cold so we took a very long SI - 3 hours. Surface conditions and the viz had improved by the afternoon, but the water temp. had dropped to 48F. But, hey, I dive dry and we kept the students busy no it was no problem, just a beautiful day on the North Coast diving below the cliffs which mark the edge of a beautiful pine and redwood forest. I think that the second dive was something like 29 ft for 39 minutes. I stay on the bottom supervising the class, while the instructors are on the surface doing skills with individuals, so I get more bottome time than the students. My time was cut short though by a student with an ear block who I had to escort back to shore.

The entrance to the beach is paved, but cars can only go so far (and real diver walk down - wish I could write that with an Arnold accent). The walk down in gear is a good aerobic exercise. The rocky beach is a good test of balance, especially in the Summer when the rocks are covered with algae that's more slippery than ice. I took three falls on the rocks in full year last year, but that's just part of the fun... At a $2 day use fee, Gerstle is the best bet for an easy, but beuatiful North Coast dive.

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