Posted by Elaine on February 09, 2004 at 04:27:06:
The Great Escape departed 1am Saturday morning with 20 some members of the Sea Divers aboard. The trip out was relatively calm. Winter can bring any kind of sea conditions to us Southern California divers and the ocean was being kind to us.
At sunrise we were near China Hat, at least that is what some people call this rock formation, and, the soft tones of the morning sun really made the it and the island look kind of special.
Few clouds were in the sky and the air temperature showed signs of hitting 70 °F - not bad for February diving. We proceeded around the island to China Point for our first dive.
The group was the usual mix of hunters, photographers, and recreational divers. Clemente this morning was ready to meet all of our expectations. The visibility was at least 80 feet and the water felt relatively warm and comfortable, somewhere around 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Diving conditions were as easy as they come.
Everyone seemed to be finding whatever it was that they had made the journey for. The lobster hunters were doing their thing.
The photographers got right down to business.
Those just out for a nice day of diving were reaping the rewards of their quest.
The only complaint was that, although large groups of lobsters were found waving their antennas, as usual, Clemente was the "Island of the Shorts".
We made our second dive at East End Reef wall. As the name implies, this was a great spot for a traditional wall dive. Lots of gorgonians, drop offs, overhangs, and depth. On this dive I ran across Chris, our webmaster, and, Kathryn his girlfriend. I realized on this chance meeting that Chris has developed the ultimate dive buddy system for someone who can't decide if they want to hunt lobsters or do photography. Kathryn seems to make the perfect all purpose sherpa. If you want to hunt lobster, hand Kathryn the camera, if you want to do photography, get Kathryn to carry the lobster bag.
The third and fourth dives were at Mosquito Cove. Conditions remained near perfect but this site was probably the least photogenic of the day and more directed toward obtaining home cooked lobster tail with garlic butter sauce.
So ended our near perfect dive day. The trip home was horrible. The wind and the swells had picked up. The Great Escape took on the San Clemente to Catalina channel and rolled with the punches. I don't normally get seasick but on this crossing the thought did occur to me. Somehow the crew kept smiling.
Our neatly arranged dive bags were all over the deck and anything that wasn't secured found its way to the floor. We had a little respite in the shelter of Catalina and then a slightly calmer trip across the San Pedro Channel back to Long Beach with a great California sunset
text & photos © Elaine Jobin
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