Dive Report: 3 days at Santa Cruz & Anacapa

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Posted by Jeff on March 05, 2003 at 19:20:28:

Despite my anticipation of heavy weather from the forecasts, we had a glorious 3 day trip to the islands of Santa Cruz & Anacapa. This was probably my last chance to take my son on a trip before he “flies the coop” after this, his senior year in high school.

Thursday night when boarding, one of our new shipmates talked us into leaving our al80s behind & renting steel 95s, something we'd never used before. This turned out to be a great idea (Thanks, Mark!!) as son Steve dropped 7 lbs, & I dropped 5 lbs from our wt. belts. Also, we noticed a lot of additional bottom time! YES !

Friday started us out at Gull Island, where we got 50ft + vis around the giant kelp. The very first
dive of the trip, I lost my divelight (luckily, it was “only” my backup), but I felt OK about that, since
I found a nice dive knife that was (after a lot of cleaning when I got home) in quite good shape. It was a fair trade.

We saw a couple huge ling cod, I really like those guys! I only hope the pictures I "tried" to take turn out.... Bowen point is where I first saw those "stars" (Brittle ?) whose little arms were so active I almost thought for a moment I was seeing octopus!

The next "cove" we hit, Steve found several horn sharks, & we saw our first lobster of the trip. We watched a Garibaldi chase a pretty big fish out of it's home area, fascinating to see how "serious" the orange guy was about keeping strangers away! This dive, at 52 fsw, was 52 degrees, & quite pleasant to us in our 7mm wetsuits. It seemed about 1/2 the group were in drysuits, which is something I'!d really like to try, but we were actually comfortable as we were. I do like the idea of being dry while offgassing; the evening prior to the first night dive, crew advised us that too much time would go by between the last daylight dive & the night dive, that we'd get too cold waiting, so, we “stripped” & Geez, it sure is unpleasant getting back into a wet-wetsuit at night! Next time, I will just stay in the wetsuit w/ my windbreaker on top…..

Regarding those lobster, there were several serious lobster hunters, but if my recall is accurate, a total of maybe 8 keepers was taken. I actually got my fingers on somebodys antennae – Man those babys are fast! Since the holes that I found them in were all so deep, I tried the “approach slow” idea, got them to come toward my hand with open fingers, & two of them “flew” away before even touching my fingers, but the third, I actually had about 2 whole inches of antenna tips in between my fingers, but alas, he shot out so fast, almost the very moment I closed down on him, & he was gone. I was glad to have gotten that close! But next time, I will just try to grab, really really fast!

Several of the hunters gave up on lobster & started bringing up scallops, even Steve brought back a few from one of the dives. I still can’t believe how tasty they are, & nothing like what the grocery store carries!

Our first nite dive was at Coches Prietos, which turned out to be a very pretty area…. I guess like most nite dives, there was lots to see! I love those horn sharks (again, I hope the pictures turn out, we’ll see if that’s what they really were…..)

At Cueva Valdez, we hung out with the only sea lion of the entire trip! Bob & I made that dive together, & had this playful ballerina follow us almost the whole dive. What grace! I love the acrobatics! The loop-de-loops, & just plain friendly curiosity! Again, the weather was fantastic; sun was out, seemed always to be a little surge, never too too much, & here we got 44minutes at max of 51 fsw, & it was 53 degrees! Great!!

The only place the whole trip that I personally thought of as a little boring (I don’t know the name of this site) we got 2 dives in; there was more surge here, no lobsters, and approximately 490,895,302 small purple urchins. (that number is a guess…..) If ya’ didn’t watch out, ya’d get poked ! On the second dive, we made 64fsw max, for 36 minutes, & saw a bunch of sea hares. These are really fascinating creatures! It was sort of surprising how active some of them seemed to be!

At San Pedro Point, Bob saw an octopus!! He said he looked for 4-5 minutes for a witness, but none were found, so he just hung out all alone with the 8 incher for a few minutes, got some ink, then that was that…..
I saw a tree fish here, I think it was the same one in the book I got for this trip! (& again Thanks to all of you for suggesting the Humann book, it’s great, & was sure fun to have along)

Sunday morning, we left Santa Cruz & jogged over to Anacapa; this was the “worst” ride we saw the whole trip, skipper said the seas were maybe 4-6 ft….. it was not bad at all. The first dive site this day was the only time we dropped a single anchor; it was great for us newbies, since Steve & I got to practice watching & timing, from below, the swinging boat. It was no problem to get back on the step, but I can sure see how it could be! if the weather was bad…. It was pretty windy here topside, but the diving was beautiful. My son added to my own excitement – we are both enthralled by the kelp diving!! It’s beautiful! Meandering through those swaying giant vines really is like flying through a forest; & then as we got more shallow, we found these huge “clumps” of bright green “grass” (what is that stuff called?) The color is magnificent! I think this is the place where Henry got 2 bugs that were keepers, he showed us how to measure them, they were both somewhat over 4 inches. I think he said he got these guys around 55 feet. Again, it was pretty windy here, but the sun made it a fantastic place to dive.

Cat Rock? or Cat Point? was the name of the last anchorage. We were able to get in 2 dives here, both were around 40 feet, & truly beautiful, kelp diving miracles! More of that long bright green grass to breeze around with, & lots of fish here to watch.

I’m sure you all are aware, but let a “foreigner” remind you all of what a truly beautiful & fantastic part of the world you are fortunate to live in. I will be back!!!

jeff in landlocked (dammit) arizona

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