Dive (Where the Heck is Summer) Report - Olympic Reefs 07/09/05

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Posted by Patrick on July 12, 2005 at 09:18:22:

Needed a dive fix, bad this past weekend, but ended up with a bad dive fix.

We launched out of Cabrillo just after 7 AM. The parking lot and ramp were amazingly crowded with numerous “cigarette-type” boats crowding the ramp. We soon learned that it was once again time for the mainland-to-Catalina-and-back water ski races. We would be reminded of that throughout the day.

The water color in the harbor (never a great indicator) was a muddy brown, but improved slightly as we cleared Angels Gate. We decided on hitting some of the numerous rocky reef areas around the Olympic II, since there were several trammel-gear nets sitting nearly on top of the wreck.

The day thus far was gray, overcast with a light wind chop and a fairly long duration swell from the SW. The surface viz was greenish and judging by our down line, about 10-15 feet.

Saddled up and jumped. Viz stayed about 10-foot till about 50 fsw when a thermocline of breathtaking change was encountered. Temperature dropped from the “toasty” 56 degrees on the surface to 50 degrees. On the bottom at 98 fsw, the temperature was reading 49 freakin’ degrees! You know those brain freezes you get when a fine Margarita is imbibed too quickly? Well I was experiencing the same discomfort from the outside, in. No Margaritas were involved. It was COLD!

And dark. Viz on the bottom was a very dark, dim, night dive-like 4-6 feet.

This is California! It’s the middle of summer! I hadn’t had a dive in water that cold since diving Cape Flattery! I did the dive. The area was rocky with lots of interesting structure. Fish life was sparse except for the Chromis who were represented in force. Swam over a Navy-type anchor with an unusually long shank, and found several square-sided medicine bottles heaped in one area. Found one lonely pecten diegensis - its tiny blue eyes sparkled like sapphires in the beam of my light. I figured that was as good as it was going to get, so concluded the dive and made my ascent.

On the surface, a serious discussion took place – to dive or not to dive. That was the question… And with a child-like faith (naiveté) that our experience should have over-ruled, and the compulsive need to get wet, we moved to another rocky area a couple of miles away, sure in the idea that conditions would be great (or at least acceptable) there.

It wasn’t.

The second dive to 87 fsw was nearly as cold (50 degrees) and as dark but the viz had “opened up” to maybe 10 feet. Again critters were few except for the Chromis who clouded the water column in dark swirling masses.

We called the day and headed to our friendly local cheap eats joint and enjoyed an early lunch of carnitas tacos (no Margaritas…) and headed home to do some timely maintenance on the boat. The gray overcast that had blanketed the coast gave way to hot, clear blue skies as we hit the 110 freeway. Almost as one we turned to one another and said, “You know, we ought to go diving…”

Stay wet

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