Avalon Clean Up - mini report and pictures +

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Posted by jlyle on February 27, 2006 at 20:19:38:

My two passions are scuba diving and bicycling. What could be better than a weekend of diving and bike racing? This is a mini report, long on pictures and short on narrative. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

This past weekend was the 25th Annual Avalon Underwater Clean-up. The event is run by the Catalina Island Conservancy and the money collected is used to support the Hyperbaric Chamber on the island.

Deborah and I drove down to San Pedro on Friday morning to catch the Catalina Express. Deb H. joined us on the Express with her dog, Nutmeg. Scott & Margaret were bringing the Popeye Maru over with all our gear on board so we didn't have to schlep it on the Express.

Avalon, Santa Catalina Island - "Twenty-six miles, across the sea. Santa Catalina is waiting for me. Santa Catalina, isle of love...romance..."

It's a seventy minute ride to Catalina. The Express boat at the dock in Avalon.

We met Scott & Margaret in Avalon. After checking into our hotel, we boarded the Popeye Maru for the short trip around the Casino building to the wreck of the Valiant. The Valiant was a private yacht that burned and sank off Descanso Beach in the 1920s. The wreck is covered in kelp and home to many fish. Outside the Marine Park, you have to secure permission from the Harbor Master to dive here.

The stern and bow of the Valiant are still standing, but the mid section has pretty much collapsed over the years. We were rewarded on this beautiful day in February with great visibility(30 foot+) and cold (57 degree) water.

Calico bass inside the wreck

My dive buddy, Deb.

The wreck was teeming with Calico Bass and many Sheephead.

as well as the California State Marine Fish, the Garibaldi

A nudibrach that Deb found on the bow, Mexichromis porterae.

Spotted scorpionfish

There were over five hundred divers participating in the clean up this year.

Looking towards the beach next to the Green Pier, lined with divers waiting for the start of the clean up.

After 25 years of clean-ups and lots of boater education, less and less trash is hauled out of the harbor each year. Bottles, cans, and anything that can fall off a boat is removed from the bottom. Prizes are awarded for the smallest, oldest, most valuable items. While we all do the dive for the love of the Island, no one turns down any of the fantastic drawing prizes: wetsuits, regulators, lights, dive trips, gift certificates, etc.

This is the air van that is located near Casino Point and the Marine Park.

The stairs into the Marine Park. Although there are lots of divers using the park each weekend, you rarely see anyone else in the water. It's a big park.

That's the Popeye Maru in the foreground, looking towards the Casino building.

The main drag along the harbor in Avalon

Saturday, we motored down the island to Italian Gardens for a couple of recreational dives. The giant Black Sea Bass were not home at this time of year, so we had to content ourselves with some great visibility and other photographic opportunities.

I was taking a picture of some little creature when I looked up and saw Scott pointing at something behind me. I turned to find an electric ray just off my heels. I've only seen a few of these fantastic creatures in the past, so this was a real treat. He obligingly stayed around for Scott and me to take lots of pictures.


A harbor seal stayed on the rocks until we were finished with our dives. I took this picture with my underwater rig - there were drops on the lens.

Blue-banded goby

Quoth the raven, "nevermore." These ravens were courting, passing a pretty stone back and forth.

Catalina tiles along the waterfront:

Alas, Olaf's wasn't open for breakfast!

Next to scuba diving, I love bicycling. The Amgen Tour of California bike race was scheduled for the same weekend as the Avalon Clean-Up! What to do, what to do? By leaving Catalina on the 10:30 am Express, we were able to get home in time for me to walk down to the course to watch the race. I took a folding chair and my camera. What a rush, professional teams streaming by at breakneck speeds around the turn in front of me - can life get any better?

A break-away group of four riders were, at one point in the race, a full eight minutes ahead of the peloton.

Scott Zwizanski, part of the break-away.

By the tenth and final lap, the breakaway riders had been caught, and the finish was a sprint.

Floyd Landis (Team Phonak) was the overall classification winner of the tour. He's the rider in the "gold" jersey next to the rest of the Phonak team.

The last support car is the "Broom Wagon."

Lance Armstrong wannabe - yours truly.

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