|Trip Report and Photos: Eureka and Olympic Wreck on the Psalty V|
Posted by Elaine on August 21, 2005 at 23:15:32:|
Oil Rig Eureka and the Olympic Wreck
Trip on the Psalty V
Saturday, August 20, 2005
Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or whole without advanced written permission.
Two Oil Rig dives and a wreck dive is an itinerary I can't pass up. I did this trip last year on the Psalty V and it was awesome, link to last years trip report. This trip was awesome to.
On the way to the boat, I stopped at the opposite end of the parking lot to look at the tall ships docked in the harbor at Ports O' Call. Because of where they were moored, I could only get photos of one of them.
I boarded the boat, met my six fellow boat mates, and we departed on our 45 minute run to the rigs. We had just enough time to eat some breakfast and change into our dive gear before we arrived at the Eureka.
Capt. Gary told us that we would be doing both dives at the Oil Rig Eureka, the Elly and Ellen were closed due to sand blasting. Capt. Gary also filled us in on why our Southern California Oil Rigs have a "no take" policy. He said that a private company has a contract granting them exclusive rights to harvest the scallops, etc. on the rigs. If divers take anything, it places the owners of the rigs in violation of the contract. I had always wondered, and, now I know. The good news for the hunters out there is that this contract probably is not perpetual, so some day the "no take" policy might change.
The visibility at the Eureka wasn't as good as it was last year, but at about 45 feet, it still wasn't too shabby. The water was relatively warm at the surface, and my computer read 58 degrees as the minimum temperature of the dive. I didn't notice any strong thermoclines, just a gradual temperature drop. Swells and current were slight. The sky was heavily overcast with a thick marine layer, after about 50 feet, it was a dark place to dive. I opted to shoot close-up and macro.
I spent a good part of the dive looking for the blennys that I had seen the week before. I found them but they were less friendly this week, and, they wouldn't come out for photos. Many of the fish seemed skittish on the first dive. I also looked for nudibranchs, but, I didn't see many of those either. I mostly ended up with photos of the invertebrate life.
I didn't know what these were. The second orange photo I believe is a Southern Staghorn Bryozoan, but, I'm not sure about the first.
On the second dive, I stayed in the same general area that I had been in on the first dive. My mask started fogging again. I kept pulling it up, wiping out the inside with my glove, and putting it back on. Somewhere I must have touched a hydroid because my face started burning from touching my glove. I had to stick my gloved finger in and wipe the lens every several minutes or I couldn't see. I opted for visibility and put up with the stinging. Between mask clearing and wiping sessions I watched the Rockfish. Just when I thought I had seen everything that Rockfish do I had a fun surprise.
I'm still not sure what that was all about. They were so focused on each other they hardly noticed the camera flash.
I surfaced at our entry area and scanned to get a visual on the boat. There was no boat. I did several 360 circles trying to find it, there was no boat. I don't know why, but my first thought was, "Uh Oh, I wonder if it sank". After a few minutes of nitrogen clearing I decided that was unlikely. I was in a good spot near the sea lion platform and ladder so I decided I'd do my waiting there - just in case it really did sink. The sea lions kept giving me dirty looks so I backed off just a bit. Fortunately, after five or so minutes the Psalty V came cruising back around the corner, and, once I had a visual I did my short swim to reboard. My fellow boatmates apologized profusely that they had drifted to the opposite end of the rigs and they had needed a pick up there. They were such polite people, I've never had anyone apologize for that before. Capt. Gary gave me a pat on the head for staying put while I had waited..
On route to the Olympic we had a taco/burito style lunch. I also found the "Bon Ami" and did another scrub on my mask lenses.
As we dropped anchor at the Olympic and prepared for our dive, a motor boat zoomed past about 50 yards from our stern. This guy had the whole ocean and he cut in close for a look. I don't get it. Maybe dive flags need "BIOHAZARD, DO NOT APPROACH" or something similar written down the white stripe. Maybe meaner looking boat captains with eye patches and peg legs would be a deterrent. Until they change the law, I don't know what we are going to do.
Once safely underwater, we found visibility at the Olympic to be good at 40+ feet. I swam the wreck, end to end for the first time. The bow and the stern are still somewhat intact (I'm not sure which end is which though), and the middle is pretty flat. I did notice that someone has been keeping the wreck free of fishing nets (Phil is it you?). I didn't have a lot of bottom time so it was a fairly quick tour. These are some of my photos from the Olympic Wreck.
One more dive day was over all too soon. Thanks to my boatmates for such a great day. You guys were so friendly and polite I hope that I get to dive with you again in the future.
Thanks also to Capt. Gary and the crew for a very nice day.
Until next time.......
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