|Trip Report and Photos: Catalina/Santa Barbara Islands with the Sea Divers|
Posted by Elaine on November 02, 2005 at 12:48:53:|
Sea Divers Trip to Catalina and Santa Barbara Island
October 28 and 29, 2005
On the Great Escape
Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin, may not be reproduced in part or in whole without advanced written permission.
Traffic was bad on the concrete path to Queens Wharf. A normal 1 hour trip turned into 2 plus hours as I at on the freeway and rolled slowly to the Great Escape. I unloaded my gear, recovered, signed in, greeted Sea Diver friends, and went with Chris, Katheryn, and Dale downtown for a nice dinner.
Two Sea Divers were celebrating their second wedding anniversary.
The pre departure harbor conditions were deceptive. It was smooth, dark and peaceful as we made our way to the breakwall. I love looking at the lights at night. No matter how crowded and congested LA has seemed I feel like I've gotten away from it all.
As we exited the harbor, it got a little bumpier. A short distance out of the breakwall someone spotted dolphins off of the bow. I've seen dolphins a ton of times, but never like this. They were electric dolphins clearly outlined in a very distinct bright light. An incredible bioluminescence display. I tried to get a photo, but without flash I got nothing, with flash the bioluminescence couldn't be seen.
A short time later, I was asleep in my bunk dreaming of a wake up at Tanner or Cortes. Instead, early morning brought near shore lights and an anchorage at the Catalina Isthmus.
Many of the dedicated lobster hunters had been up and diving for hours. Some had already gotten their limit and were ready to return to bed.
I've got Isthmus burnout. I've been there so many times. I'm not sure what the cure will be. Until I get over it, I have a symbol of the isthmus - The Green Buoy - to help me work through my feelings. If I go to a shooting range, I'm taking the Green Buoy Target. For other occasions I've got the Dart Board. Thanks to Jeff Shaw for his photoshop help..
I made my first dive late in the morning at Ship Rock. The visibility at Ship Rock was excellent at most depths. I saw rockfish and lincod and schools of fish. The kelp forest vistas were amazing. That is the hull of the Great Escape in the last picture - not a whale or a great white.
Our next stop was at Parsons. At the gate I turned around and took off my dive gear. The Fish and Game Zodiac was approaching. I found their visit educational last year so I wanted to see what it would be like this year.
They tied up near the stern, and, instead of blocking the swim step, Warden Potter climbed in over the rail..
I remembered Warden Rojas from last year. If Fish and Game ever does a "Warden Calendar" I hope they make him "Mr. October". Men seem to dislike F&G inspections. Attention female divers - if this guy is a part of the inspection team, you may have a hard time understanding why some people dislike Fish and Game visits so much. He remembered me from last year too with a "hey, aren't you the photographer - haven't some of your photos been in the Fish and Game Magazine?". His next question was back to business "Do you hunt lobster/" "No" I explained, "I live through lobster season". He gave me an understanding nod.
Capt. Tim had his Fish and Game papers for the boat checked by warden Potter. They were a little surprised when I popped in for the photo.
Next they looked in the game bags. They counted and they measured. They made a quick survey of the ice chests on the deck.
They took notes and conferenced. They asked to meet the owner of the game bag containing 9 lobsters - the legal daily limit is 7. Uh Oh, I knew the presence of a game bag with 9 lobsters wasn't a good thing. I had a strong feeling that one of my ship mates was going to get a ticket.
They issued a citation. The two smallest lobsters from the "over limit" bag were confiscated. Dang diving friends: Don't break the law - it isn't worth it..
The Zodiac readied for departure at the dive gate. I figured the events were over so I joined the lunch line. Nope, I missed a photo. Warden Potter exited the Great Escape and landed in the ocean instead of in the Zodiac. I don't think that he was hurt but he got soaked. It will stay in my mind as the photo I missed for a long time. The Sea Divers have offered him an nickname in good spirit - "Splash".
Almost everyone who did not already have their limit of lobsters returned with at least one.
After everyone was tucked back on board, we made a run over to Santa Barbara Island.
I haven't been to Santa Barbara Island for a while. The places that we stopped had little kelp, lots of brittle stars and invertebrate life, some schools of small fish, and an occasional sea lion. After the first dive I changed to macro and close-up because the wide angle just wasn't very pretty. A few divers really liked the first dive, but they must have gone in a different direction than I did.
The water was cooler here than at Catalina. On a surface interval I momentarily thought that Sharon had an inflator valve, but, Skylor was just goofing off. The extra hose connects an "Aqua Heater" to a tank mounted battery pack. This device got a two thumbs up from Sharon for helping her to stay warm.
These are some of my Santa Barbara Island macro shots. I had to look past the carpets of brittle stars to find interesting photo subjects.
Crew member Steve joined in on the last dive. He brought up one 3 1/2 pound lobster
On the return trip the group posed for photos with their amazing lobster catch.
Thanks to Captain Tim and the crew of the Great Escape for another trip well done.
Remember to be good diving citizens. This diver posed for a photo in the game well at the end of the trip. It made the lobster hunters very nervous. If you hunt, know and follow the law. The ocean is a fragile ecosystem, just as fragile as the lobsters in the game well. The Fish and Game laws were enacted in part to help keep our resources sustainable.
Until next time...........
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