Dive Report Sunday, 01/07/07– Pale Riders –Redux

Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Patrick on January 08, 2007 at 21:59:55:

The weather forecasts indicated that Sunday would be a better on the water day than Saturday, so Sunday was chosen. Despite the extra days notification, everyone invited, whined some excuse and begged off – Broken leg, my ass!

Based on the acceptable conditions we’d found up at the north end of Santa Monica Bay the previous week, and the swell, wind and runoff since then, we again opted for that area. From the data, we thought (hoped) it would have been less affected, and because of the offshore winds, marginally better.

On the turn from the harbor in to the main channel, we again picked up an egret escort. Even though this has happened many times, it is a real treat to see these beauties glide in and settle down on the boat for a ride. Since I last reported the egrets landing on the boat, Max emailed me offering tips for “taking them out”, suggesting a “big old pole spear” or just “whackin’ ‘em” with a XL-Jet fin. He said something about using the feathers to lure nudies for his macro photography. He added that he though Jim Lyle might have a recipe or two for preparing egret. I told him I thought that unlikely; Jim would probably have a cook prepare the birds.  I told Max that even though his photo skills were good and getting better, Merry still had her work cut out for her “domestication of Max” project.

After a couple of years of yelling, L.A. County has finally gotten the Army Corps back to remove the sedimentation and shoaling at the North Channel entrance.

A jack-down rig with materials barge was operating as we made the turn out. After threading our way around the biggest backhoe dredge I’ve seen, we headed up coast.

Metering around we located several small rock piles off Malibu, marked them with float and dive flag, and prepared to dive. It was just over 80-feet to the bottom and our guess on reasonable conditions was more than met. Temperature on the bottom was a very acceptable 55 degrees and visibility was a spectacular 30+ feet. The rocky area was not particularly large but was dense with life. Plumes of blacksmith drifted over the reef while skittering pairs of fat, nervous, sand bass darted under and around the bottom structure, bumping the occasional disgruntled sculpin, ling cod, or cabezon, out of the way. Calico “flew” top cover 15 or 20 feet off the bottom while stately looking sheephead glided through the area keeping an eye on everyone.

The area held a rather robust lobster population, seven of whom I invited home to dinner.

Captain Andy found and dived on a nearby reef with similar conditions and results. For my second dive, I chose to revisit the first reef and continued exploring its ample offerings.

For the third dive of the day we decided to make a jump on the Star of Scotland. Conditions there were, I thought, not as good as further north but still very good. Bottom temp was again 55 degrees, but the visibility was slightly milkier. I saw one of the “baby” GBS – about 75-100-pounds, several lost hoop-nets tangled in the wreck and all the usual customers that call the Star home, plus one newbie – a very large Finescale Triggerfish. It is the first time I’ve seen one on the wreck, the first time I’ve seen one other than at the Redondo Breakwater or the Santa Monica artificial reefs. I guess they’re spreading out.

Well after an awesome day of local diving, there is only one thing that can bring the adventurous diver any more joy –

And that’s a little head…

Just before ascending from the dive I spotted something a bit disquieting sticking out from under a fallen plate on the Star. I was thinking, “Damn, I really hate body recoveries,” when I realized I knew the “person”. It was the head from a RescueAnnie, every diver’s good buddy from CPR class. Since there was a Dr. on board the good ship Moby Kate, I rescued her and brought her up for treatment.

It turns out that even though Annie is a blond, she wasn’t as empty-headed as some comedians would have us believe. Annie’s head was filled with… Coonstripe Shrimp! Who would have thought that?

And except for cleaning the boat and hauling gear, it was another splendid dive day in mid-winter southern California.

Stay wet.

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