Trip Report: Monfalcone 09/02/06

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Patrick on September 04, 2006 at 14:56:29:

Saturday morning found us towing the Moby Kate through the Bridge to Breakwater 10K race in San Pedro, but with a few extra jigs and jags, and a couple of street cones worse for wear, we were soon launching at Cabrillo. (No joggers were hurt in the making of this trip.) The launch ramp was surprisingly empty for a holiday weekend, and it only took a couple of minutes to launch and get under way.

It’s good to be on the water – but who’s running the boat?

Conditions appeared good enough to try some of the typically dirtier spots down around Long Beach and Huntington Beach, and if they were the usual bad visibility, we’d check for cleaner water in some other locations.

Long Beach, East – where the big boys play.

Our first spot was the Monfalcone. Originally built in 1919 as a 5-masted barkentine, the ship burned and sank while operating as a gambling ship almost exactly 76-years ago.. After dodging some big ship traffic, we got on the spot and found that we had chosen wisely – or more likely, we were just lucky. The typical 3-4 foot visibility was replaced with nearly 25 to 30-foot viz., allowing us to really see the wreck for the first time. And allowing me to shoot available light on the wreck – unbelievable!

Captain Andy cruising the Monfalcone.

What we saw was pretty sobering. The wreck was really a bird’s nest of line and net. Monofiliment fishing line and of course the lures and hooks with it, anchor lines, snarled and twisted marker lines from lobster traps, stainless steel cable of several sizes and finally, lot of net. I can only base our lack of entanglement in earlier low visibility dives to good diving practices, and a whole lot of luck.

Fish life was a bit sparse as far as calico, and sand bass were concerned, and the lack of sheephead was noticeable. However sculpin were there in big numbers, covering nearly every horizontal surface.

Sculpin on the Monfalcone.

After a couple of dives, we ran in and did a dive on the Angel’s Gate breakwater, just to see what was there. A surprisingly dense kelp bed runs along the rocks in just about 40 feet, and the amount and diversity of fish and inverts it supports is really amazing. Though the kelp is thinner than Catalina, I’d have to say the biomass is better on the breakwater. Who’d a thunk it?

It was a quick trip in to the ramp, but we made a brief stop to capture a few more images of captain Sparrow’s vessel.

Another fun day in San Pedro Bay

Stay wet.

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