Dive Report 01_20_07 North SM Bay With Pete Haaker

JuJee Beads, handmade flamework glass beads

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Posted by Patrick on January 28, 2007 at 17:22:40:

00: dark-thirty - Time to abandon a warm bed and trade pleasant dreams for loading dive gear and getting underway for another episode of mid-winter diving. On arrival at the Kate’s homeport, I find the rest of the day’s crew already at work loading stuff on the venerable Farallon 25. And also trking of a couple of the spare anchors on board; we were thinking that they might be affecting the boat’s performance… ;)

Found Anchors

Quickly throwing my gear aboard and checking that the dive ladder is up, the antennas are down, the trailer electronics are plugged in and the hitch is locked, we’re making the turn out of the driveway just after sunrise. Though it is cold, at least there is no ice on the boat this week.

The crew today is Dr. Captain, Andy, moi, and long time California Fish & Game biologist (ret.), Peter Haaker. Zero traffic allows for a quick, uneventful trip to the Marina launch ramp. (Did you know that traffic signals that are set for 35-mph work at 70-mph, too?)

At the ramp, there was only one other boat being launched, and that process for the Kate was quickly accomplished. I was amazed and pleased that the upper end of the launch ramps that usually are piled with all manner of flotsam, jetsam and plastic debris, are sparklingly clean. Perhaps the trash skimmer that the Harbor Department has been operating is having a noticeable effect.

As I have mentioned in previous reports, we usually end up with a bevy of birds – Snowy Egrets – hitching a ride on board as we turn in to the main channel. Today’s departure was slightly different. We had hitchhikers but they weren’t birds. We were pursued by a “flock” of one-man outrigger canoes. I slowed down as I passed them so as not to jostle them with the boat’s wake, and invoked a great squawking uproar from the flock of paddlers. “Crap” I thought, “I’m running slower than you guys are paddling. “You want me to stop?” Andy stepped aft and listened to what the flock was yelling about. He listened for a moment and turned and said to me “Run it up. “They want you to go faster!” So I did, and provided a couple of the flockers with a bit of outrigger surfing, courtesy of the Moby Kate’s wake.

The flock swoops in…

One of the outrigger “flockers”

Dodging by the dredging operation still underway at the north jetty, we headed up coast to the Malibu/Paradise Cove end of the bay.

Conditions were nearly perfect – light offshore wind was barely ruffling the water and the sun was breaking through widely scattered clouds. The up-coast trip was smooth and uneventful and in no time, we were idling over an area with the fathometer reading many prospective dive spots.

Pete Haaker & Capt. Andy.

I hit the water on the first dive of the day at 08:28. The site was a rock reef in just over 80-fsw. Visibility on the bottom was a very nice 20-plus feet and the temperature was just fine for wetsuit diving at 56 degrees. The life on this reef was amazing. Though it was a bit too deep for kelp, Corynactis and all manner of invert life covered the reef, and the number of scallops was impressive. Just sitting in one spot on the bottom, I counted over two dozen scallops smiling from their rock foundations. Of the piscatorial residents, first and most noticeable were the Sand Bass. Lying like balks of wood densely scattered across the reef, they were everywhere and BIG! Plumes of Chromis drifted back and forth while sculpin and lingcod shared the bottom with an amazing number of lobsters. The greatest percentage of the bugs were fleas – way undersized, but cute - but their numbers speak to a very healthy and effective sex life for the northern bay bugs. However, some of juveniles didn’t have the 411 on what a scuba diver represented as they were out strolling across the bottom. Feint grabs got them to scuttle back into nearby crevices; maybe this would teach them about daylight strolls, and if they survived a couple of years, would make them more challenging opponents in a future season. The legal bugs in the area were wily and quick, but Peter and I persuaded several of them to come home with us for dinner.

Peter on the stern

By 12:30, Moby Kate headed back to the Marina with the crew well sated with the day’s diving. A solar shower rinse and a change into dry clothes made the trip back quite comfortable.

Usually the report is pretty much over (except for the required taco stop on the way home) once we’re back inside the Marina, but the ocean can always surprise us mortals. As we were passing the Harbor Patrol offices in Marina del Rey, we were amazed to see a large, gray dolphin passing us to port. This was unusual for several reasons: First he/she was complying with the navigation Rules of the Road far better than most boaters in the Marina, and second, it was a dolphin in the Marina! Granted, he/she was headed out, but how cool to have a visitor like that! Of course there wasn’t a camera ready for this encounter, but the memory is just as good (though not postable).

At the launch ramp, we were welcomed home by several juvenile pelicans.

The un-crowded docks allowed for immediate loading of Kate on the trailer. A quick sort of the day’s catch, and by 14:00, we were on the road and calling in our order for fried zucchini and carne asada tacos.
I LOVE California diving!
Stay wet

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