Posted by Jeff in landlocked @#$%^* Arizona on October 22, 2004 at 21:51:19:
I had reservations for a 3 day trip on the Peace, & it turns out that in my short diving career, California Channel Islands diving is my favorite! I've been to the islands on 4 separate trips so far, & will continue doing it as long as I'm able! I vote the Channel Islands as the prettiest place (underwater) in the world! Oh, yeah, I actually met one person from this bbs - he was leaving the boat, as we were coming on.... Hi ya, Chris! (I'm the guy that told you I'd come all the way from Arizona to haul your gear up the ramp!)
What made this trip so special? Well, I thought it would be because it was so soon after the lobster season opened, but, turned out better than that - my son had just returned from 4 months in Europe, & we were able to secure him a spot on the boat!
He came home the night of the 11th, we were together on the boat for 3 days (14th-16th), it was a very enjoyable time to be together!
On my last 3 trips, I averaged 5 dives per day; this time, I totaled 8 dives in 3 days! I was exhausted from just having come off my night shifts, & the long drive from Arizona; but it was certainly nice to just relax & dive leisurely with my son! His jet-lag must have rubbed off on me, too! Both of us got some sleep time in this trip!
I did discover how serious you bug-hunters are.... WOW! I thought I was gonna be ready for it, but not so; you guys know what you are doing, & you do it HARD! Well, I certainly enjoyed watching & learning.... I actually got 2 (Thanks to Andy!!), but we told ourselves we didn't care; we were having fun watching everyone else, & just getting back into diving together....
Now, here's my scary story. Very serious, & what a lesson.
On our very last dive of the trip, we played around under the boat, & at the appropriate time, made a nice long safety stop; upon bobbing on up through the very thick kelp, discovered we were probably a good 50 yards off the port beam. So, took a quick compass heading, & dropped back under, & off I shot! Now, we had been in a similar situation the day before, so without even talking about it, figured we'd drop down to about 15ft, then head on in.... I found myself at 30ft, with no son in sight.... I "knew" he was just above me, but as this water was very "dirty" (viz was maybe 10ft), I decided to just continue on at my depth, & knew we'd meet up at the boat.
I found myself in a pretty big surge, probably even some good current, but was enjoying just kicking away.... Well, when I assumed I was pretty close, I came on up, did a safe stop again, & WOW, I was probably 75 yards off the starboard beam! Now, not only was I surprised & "shocked" that I had come so far, I was seriously winded! I do not recall swimming "that hard," but here I was, on the surface, in a very very thick kelp bed. In fact, the whole ocean in this area was thick with kelp; the crew had even, on several dives, warned us about the stuff, & that they wouldn't be able to get the skiff out to us.....
Well, I was so winded, & so worried about my air, that I decided to stay on top to "rest" a bit; I think this was yet another mistake (I still had almost 1000 lbs in my tank), I was sucking air so badly, I knew had I gone back down, I would have sucked it dry (so I told myself), so I started to crawl over the kelp. When I started becoming more entangled, & even more winded (I didn't think that was possible at that point because I was already breathing so hard), I started to get panicky. Well, I had enough sense to look to the boat for help; sure enough there was a fellow diver standing near the rail, so I "waved" hoping that he'd see me - & I immediately heard that person call out "someone's in trouble."
They tried to throw a line to me a couple times as I got a little closer, but the throws were not very good (I'm not faulting anyone here!); I tried to swim for the line, but that proved to be futile, due to my out-of-breath situation; I just tried to back-float & tell myself to relax, & slowly deep-breathe, in order to get my breath back. One of the crew soon arrived, & was able to pull me in close enough to the line, where they hauled us back in.... During that "ride," I was able to be totally motionless, & by time we were back to the swim step, I had gotten myself rested up, & my breath was back.....
WOW !! I'm sure you can see the several mistakes I made, of which I'm "embarrassed" but very willing to share - in hopes that maybe, maybe, someone will read this & remember - you must always be thinking! Diving is as safe as you make it, & this day, I blew it!
Steve, the crewman that hauled my butt in, graciously said, as I apologized profusely, "that's what we're here for" & "it gave me a chance to swim!" I'm certainly happy to have been diving with crew like that!!
So, enough of that; suffice it to say, I am certainly humbled by this experience, but certainly have etched "all" these mistakes in my brain . . . . . .
All the dives we made these 3 days were between about 30 and 55fsw. The viz for all 3 days, in my estimation, was between 10 & maybe as much as 15 to 20 feet - not good for sight seeing, but totally fine for lobster diving! Bottom temps were 58 - 60 degrees, I remember thinking my 7mm farmerjohn & shorty were almost too much !! I think the sun might have been out for an hour or two on day 2, but mostly just overcast weather.... Very Pleasant tho, I'm sure not complaining! At times, the ocean looked like a lake, it was so smooth....
I don't know the names of the various anchorages, but we spent the whole time on north side of Santa Rosa. I do recall that my very favorite spot was the wreck site of the Aggi. I remember especially about that spot, gliding over the massive beams of the old ship, & going down into the "canyons" in the kelp, & seeing the old structure laying beneath, hidden, as it has been I guess for some years; upon coming up out of the "kelp canyons" at times feeling almost disoriented because of the sway of the kelp, & seeing the stillness of the beams. What a beautiful selection of fish here! Some of the biggest lingcod I've ever seen (not that I've seen that many!), & some huge sheepshead, too. I do recall that everything I saw was fabulous!
Now, the lobster story - You Guys ROCK, er, I mean HUNT !!! As I said earlier, this was a group of serious hunters, my son & I both enjoyed very much being with this group! I enjoyed the fact that everyone seems to know, as well as obey the laws, but even more, they respect the game! I saw Andy put back one old bug that Kevin said was at least 35 years old. On my video, you can see the scale tip at 10.4 lbs, MAN was this a Monster! Especially cool, the crew & the guys all took time to show us the bugs, & teach us stuff, like how you tell the male & female apart (the one with the higher pitched voice is a female!) I think there were several in the 8 - 10 lb range, & most if not all of them were put back in . . .
If I recall correctly, the final count was, among 20 hunters, 250 bugs taken! How nice is that! I know there were some feasts going on the next few days....
This was my second trip aboard the Peace, & will certainly not be my last (that is, if they'll have me back!) My son said he noticed a huge difference from another dive boat he'd been with me on a couple years ago, he really liked the crew & the food!! As usual, there was more than enough to eat, & it was all great!
Kevin, Brayton, Bob, Steve, THANKS to you All !! I think you are the best crew ever! & the Cooks, too! You guys put on one hell of a feed-bag & dive trip!
& we really enjoyed making new acquaintances on the trip - all of you guys on the boat were great - thanks for being part of a wonderful dive trip! I hope we can meet again one day!
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