San Nicolas Island

Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Brad on May 27, 2002 at 20:58:00:

Took the good skiff on a run back to the Island of the Blue Dolphins last Thursday. It was a tough go most of the way there, the first 30nm weren't too bad, but the last 25 were rough, particularly the last 7nm. After the 5 hour run, i went into the East end below the sandspit. There were whitecaps raging from the West off both sides of the island, the only lee was right below the spit. Even that area is a tough go when the wind comes over the island. It gusted to 30kts until a little after dark. Good thing the swell was down or there would be no place to hide....

Friday morning was overcast and calm, but the visibility in the water was only about 15ft. That makes for a tough go when freediving with a camera. I dove a couple of spots and saw the usual assortment of critters. I didn't see a single lobster on any of the dives though.

The sea lion pups have dispersed for the most part by now, just 3 and 4 at a time milling around, not like 40 or 50 that were there last month. The male elephant seals have taken up their mating calls. They thump out a quick series of low frequency sounds that resemble a huge bullfrog. The juveniles are sparring on the beach and male sea lions are warding off any potential rivals. This is the time of year when you see many heart rendering confrontations on the beach.

Friday night was still, warm and overcast. The moon was nearly full, but it didn't show from the clouds. The only good side to that is there is usually no dew when the sky is overcast. I would have preferred the moon. Saturday morning was overcast and the winds were calm so i went off exploring! First stop was a special place up by the West end. The vis was below 15ft and the water was 54. It is a tough go to get a nice picture when there is so much content in the water....

After a somewhat disappointing dive, i went over to the place they call the Boilers. The seas were as mild as they ever get and those rocks were still spitting water out every which-way. You can see water shooting into the direction of the surge, you can see water popping up and spraying everywhere. That rock formation is flat out mean to the water! I took some video footage and headed off to Begg Rock for a look around. The visibility at Begg Rock was only about 20ft and the swell was way down and not much current. I was there last fall when the vis was real good, but the current was too strong. Then i could see a very interesting pinnacle, but this time i couldn't see it so i decided to stay on the skiff and have a picnic before heading back to Nic for the last night.

The kelp on the front side of the island is rebounding very well. The kelp is extending for almost a mile off the island at some places.

Saturday night was very much like the previous night, dry and calm. A couple of sea lion pup played by the skiff all night long. A couple of times during the night i was rudely awakened by a surprise splash of cold water in the face. Pups will be pups! I dove a couple of places around Dutch harbor on Sunday morning before the inevitable run home. I put off leaving until around 9:30, then pointed the skiff @ 50 degrees. All systems go, so i made my way back down that mountain, glassy seas all the way to safe harbor, yet one more time....


(loves the sea)

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