Labor day 2001 Trip on the Great Escape

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Posted by Chris on September 05, 2001 at 22:19:36:

Labor day Trip on the Great Escape

My girl friend Kathryn and I went on a three day live-aboard trip on the Great Escape labor day weekend.
The first day of the trip was spent at Santa Barbara Island (P9012224.JPG - P9012304.JPG).
The first dive was a spot Captain Tim call's Chris's arch, named after me when I discovered it bug hunting a few years ago.
The water was 48°F at 90 ft. with warm water layer above about 30 ft.
We then dove Sutil Island with about a half knot current, Blue Caverns, Sutil Island again, Arch Reef with about a one knot current, and then a few dives at Shag rock.
The next day we went to Tanner Bank (P9022306.JPG), there was a mild current, but Kathryn and I had no problem swimming to the anchor line. The visibility at Tanner was only about 50 ft. because of a plankton bloom, but still a very cool dive.
We then moved to Cortes Bank (P9022325.JPG- P9022424.JPG) where we dove the rest of the day, and for one of the best night dives I have ever done.
On the second dive I found the wreck.
The chain locker where I had seen thousands of bugs in years past has now collapsed.
I went into an open area in the middle of the wreck where there were about 500 lobster, many in the 4-8 lb. range.
Dale Lopez took pictures of a Mola Mola swimming around the wreck.
I also saw many bugs in rock piles, walls, and crevices on every dive.
It was so calm (the picture is at sunset) that Captain Tim elected to spend the night there.
I jumped at the chance to make a night dive at Cortes, but only four other people went.
I did not understand because a chance to night dive there is very rare.
I went out and swam around with Kathryn in a rocky area of 40-60 ft.
There were scattered bugs out walking, most in the 3-5 lb. range, with one about 7 lbs.
After about 25 minutes Kathryn became cold and I took her back to the boat, and then headed for the kelp and eel grass.
Once in that area I could not believe the bugs.
I saw five that were well over ten pounds, and hundreds that were over five pounds.
They were almost everywhere.
There must be many caves and holes we have not discovered yet, because I have never seen so many large lobsters on a single dive.
It was amazing.
On Monday we went to San Clemente and dove Nine Fathoms Reef and Castle Rock.
We saw a 100 lb. Giant Black Sea Bass, octopus, and many large calicos there.
The best dive of the trip was the night dive at Cortes.
I personally don't understand why more people did not make the dive.

... Chris

p.s. see the link for the pictures

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