|Trip Report and Photos: Cortes Bank with the Sea Divers on the Great Escape|
Posted by Elaine on November 03, 2006 at 19:45:55:|
Trip Report and Photos
Cortes Bank and Santa Barbara Island
October 27 and 28, 2006
On Thursday evening a whole bunch of Sea Divers converged on the Great Escape for a trip to Cortes Bank.
The weather was mostly looking good. Statistically, only 1 in 5 attempts make it to Cortes Bank. I've been there once and this was my 6th attempt - so I was due. If you figure that a trip to Cortes costs about $250.00 that means that those 5 tries to get there once cost you about $1,250.00. Not a cheap place to visit. Of course, if you don't get there - you get to go someplace else instead - but still.
In the morning, Captain Tim confirmed that we were at Cortes. (Um, I didn't tell him that I'd run into Chris twice during the night up on the deck - um, checking the GPS - once early on and once later when still 2 hours out from out destination and past the point of no return - so we cheated and already knew).
The above pictured sunrise was really strange. The fires created a very red color to the sky and the sun rose, was only visible for a few minutes and then disappeared again into the red sky.
Once anchored at 9 Fathom's, we got ready to dive. The sky now was a strange yellow color.
The water was beautiful. Very calm with at least 100 feet of visibility. My camera wasn't beautiful however. I had sent my F100 into the Nikon Factory for an overhaul in preparation for a new and hopefully exciting year. It had just come back. The problems that it had been having were all fixed, but, it had a new problem with the shutter curtain. Almost all of my photos had a dark area covering about a third of the slide. All of the underwater photos in this trip report were "salvageable". Some truly good ones were mostly trashed by the service department screw up. *@#@%&$. From this experience I learned - never even trust the factory service place - test my camera stuff as soon as I get it back. &&#@$$&@. (It's going back to the factory on Monday).
9 Fathoms was mostly covered with Bull Kelp - Nerocystis luetkeana with lots of Purple Coralline Algae as a ground cover.
After two dives, we moved on shallower areas at Cortes Bank. It was here that we witnessed one of the human highlights of the trip. Bob Davis shed his wetsuit and lobster hunting in his swim trunks.
I went and sat in the water with the camera specifically waiting to get some photos. I figured he would last about 20 minutes. 40 minutes later, I finally spotted him under the boat. He not only wasn't shivering - he had a bunch of lobsters in his bag.
There were some good macro subjects at Cortes too.
After 5 or 6 dives - I don't remember things slowed down for a great evening shrimp and steak dinner. Eric was kind enough to help me track down and seal a leak in my drysuit. Thanks Eric!
The next morning we were at Santa Barbara Island.
There were lots of gorgonians and brittle stars.
The very last dive was my favorite. It was at a beautiful wall. Down at the sand I joined a large torpedo ray as he toured the dive site. I kept one careful eye on him and watched really closely for any sign that he might be getting upset with me following him around. After about a minute he didn't seem to notice me at all and just went about his business. I was hoping to see him zap a fish for dinner, but instead he would cruise over the gorgonians like a vacuum cleaner. I had some great photos of his moves with the gorgonians, but alas, the Nikon factory. (%$##$#&).
These are some of the "Bug Trophy" photos from the trip.
A terrific job by Captain Tim and the Crew. Absolutely wonderful trip.
Until next time.
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