Dive Report: Cortes Bank & SBI

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Posted by Chris on October 09, 2002 at 12:13:37:

Last Sunday & Monday I went with the Sea Sons to Cortes Bank & Santa Barbara Island on the Peace.

I arrived at Ventura Harbor on Saturday just in time to see the Peace coming in from their trip with "the Andersons."
We had a 9PM departure scheduled, because of the long trip to Cortes.
It was so calm you could not tell that we had left the harbor.
I woke up just before sunrise to see some fishing boats ahead at Tanner.

We passed them just as the sun ascended.
We arrived at Cortes at about 8:45 AM and found that the Peace was the only boat there.
We made our first dive in an area of about 90 ft., with scattered rock piles.
This was the only dive at Cortes where I came up empty, however Hans Eckert grabbed the largest bug on the trip, 9 ½ lbs.
The water was 68 °F at the surface and 66 °F at depth.
It had warmed up from the 64°F a week earlier.
The visibility was close to 100 ft, it seemed as though you could see forever!
For the next dive Captain Kevin put us near a ledge & shelf that dropped into the 90 ft. area, but came up in places to near 30 ft.
I headed along the wall for a way, and pulled two "Foster's" sized bugs, and then headed into a an area of pinnacles that came up to about 30 ft, with the bottoms at 60 ft.
In between two, I saw an area that looked like red grass; there were so many antennas.
I first grabbed one that was bout 4 lbs.
Then I saw one very large pair in about 55 ft. and headed for it.
I swooped in and made a clean grab, an about 6 lb. male.
As I pulled it I saw a huge bug behind him.
Not worrying about that one at first, I bagged the one in hand.
I went back and saw a bug that was easily 12 lbs.
I then looked at my air gauge and saw 800 psi :{
I knew I would only have one try, I slipped the backpack off of one shoulder and lunged in, I could touch him, but not get a good hold.
Being low on air, I left very disappointed.
I did a slow ascent and hit the surface with 300 psi, but a bag of four very nice bugs!
When I returned to the boat, I had to take my wetsuit jacket off, because I was overheating, especially in the 80°F air.

Carol Beck also pulled a nice 7 lb. bug on this dive in a deep rock pile.
This is the first Peace trip I can remember where people were not huddled around the hot tub.
We continued to slay them all day.
For the last dive of the day Kevin double anchored us in a 50 ft. area where the kelp was thick.
I jumped in and immediately grabbed a 5 lb. bug.
Other's came back with bags full of bugs.

Dale Lopez grabbed two nice bugs from the same shallow hole, one 8¼ lbs. and one over 7 lbs.
We did a night dive in the same spot.
I got one bug, and there were a few others, but we had already worked the area.
However one diver got to pet a Giant Black Sea Bass, another came across a sleeping White Sea Bass.
I had a large (5 ft.) batray come and play in my light. She brushed up against me and was doing summersaults in the light beam.
You could not ask for a better day of diving.
After the night dive we headed for Santa Barbara Island.
In the morning we dove the area outside of Webster point.
I did very well in the 50 to 70 ft. range, and saw nothing in shallow.
The water here was a very nice 63°F. with 50 ft. visibility.
At the end of the day, the 22 divers on board had taken 276 bugs, including the crew the count was 307.

Everyone got bugs, a few their first.

Firefighter Jan got her first bugs on this trip!
On the way back I saw a dorado jump.

And then we went through a pod of bottlenose dolphins that wanted to play in the bow wave.
This was the best dive trip I have had this year!

Pictures from the Sea Sons trip to Cortes Bank, October 6-7, 2002.

. Chris

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