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Posted by seahunt on May 02, 2002 at 09:14:34:

Spring comes and it's beautiful outside. It gets sunny and it
just seems time to dive. Well, that's not always true. As a
matter of fact, it's probably the worst time to dive in
California. The winds are blowing and the plankton is blooming
and diving is often just poor. Anyway, I've made a habit of
pretty much sitting out most diving in Spring. Not always, but
still, Spring is just not usually the best time to dive. Well,
the reason I write this is because there are a few events that
are why I tend to skip Spring Diving and will always crack me
up to look back on, so I thought I'd just mention them.
I'll never forget many years ago when the Sea Packer dive boat
used to go out of Port Hueneme. We went out towards Santa Cruz
Island, but it was just too rough. The skipper and the guy with
the charter talked about it and we turned back. The next
week, we tried it again. It wasn't that rough or choppy, but
there was this big, long period ground swell, probably at about
a 15 second period. From top to bottom, the waves were probably
an easy 12 feet, but at that period, that's not too bad. Then
came in a set. A big set. It was three waves of course. At the
time, I was in the bow enjoying the breeze and the view of
Yellow Banks. The first and second wave were exciting, but
the skipper missed his timing throttling back on the second wave
and dropped down pretty far in front of the third, biggest wave.
The boat went flying up on the next wave and the anchor launched
straight up. It went about 10 feet or so up in the air and came
down again on the deck. There was no discussion this time and the
boat just turned around.
Diving in Southern California is poorest in Spring, but it can still
be good. I spent a lot of time in driving range of the North Coast.
Spring starts later, but if anything, it is far nastier there. Even
if there isn't a swell, the wind howls. There may be a short calm in
the morning, but that's a maybe and its' gonna be a short lull.
Then if you go in the water, you hope it's green and not brown.
Some days you may go in and the top 5 feet may be brown with
3 feet of vis. Then you go down a bit more and the vis goes to
1 foot vis and dark brown. Then you can tell you are getting near
the bottom because it goes black. You learn to hold your ab iron
in your hand so it will slide through and not jam your wrist when
you hit bottom. It's time to go bodysurfing or dive the bar at that
point. A lot of times though, it's not just about the wind or the
plankton, there's that swell. It can be powerful. There is a
term called 'Spring Sillinous'. It refers to when you get to the
dive spot and you say 'well, it doesn't look too good, but I've
waited all winter to go diving and I'm gonna go'. It can make for
an exciting dive. It's OK though, cuz then you can go anywhere else
and the diving seems great.
I eventually learned another way to evaluate it. I'd get to a spot
and be looking at the water from on top of the cliffs, trying to
evaluate conditions. The surface might be wind blown, but that didn't
mean that it was undivable. You look at the water color and how the
waves are hitting the rocks. A lot of times you stand there in the
wind trying to some up with some rationalization for going in and
every time you start to convince yourself, the wind just howls a bit
stronger than before. Well, I sort of came up with a metric to make
the judgement. I pick a piece of nice fresh heavy iceplant and throw
it off the cliff. If it gets down the cliff, It might be divable. If
it hits me in the face forget it. If it flys over my head, I just get
out of the wind and forget it. ... It is beautiful though.
I've heard it said that some dives are better than others, but there
is no such thing as a bad dive. I have to think that the people saying
that were not with me a couple of times.
Enjoy the diving, seahunt

Bodega Bay
Bodega Bay, Windmill Cove. One of my favorite playgrounds.

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