Dive Report – 04/12/08 – LA Harbor – Horseshoe Kelp

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

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Posted by Patrick on April 13, 2008 at 17:01:26:

Between work and weather, it had been five weeks since I’d been in the water and I needed to dive. I checked my log, and this had been my longest dry spell in the last 13 years. I needed to soak in salubrious saline.
We launched out of Cabrillo after dropping two and one-half bills for fuel. Despite being a beautiful day, there was very little traffic at the launch ramp so launch and parking were easy.
Clearing Angels Gate we found fantastic surface conditions – nearly flat seas with a light easterly wind and excellent visibility with the details on Catalina easily visible across the channel.
First dive, just to check things out, was the Olympic. Dr. John and I made the plunge. The top 20-feet was green and murky with lots of dime-sized and smaller jellies – it looked sort of like you had run Jello and a Romaine salad in a blender. Below that, at the thermocline, vis opened up… At 40-feet, I could see the wreck spread below me. It was cold – 49-50 degrees, with a moderate easterly current, but the vis was in the 50-60-foot range.
With the vis as good as it was it, was easy to take in the panorama of the Olympic site. At midships, you could view nearly three-quarters of the entire ship. It was a great way to get back into the water.
Unless you count Chromis and Sargo, there was not a whole bunch of fish residents to be seen. A few sculpin and Ling Cod, but the usually ubiquitous sand bass were nowhere to be seen. However sea slugs of every ilk were out and doing their mating-egg-laying thing in great abundance. It must be that time of year since this nudi behavior was present at all the places we jumped.
The other two captains elected to dive a rock pile near by. Conditions on this site (slightly shallower than the Olympic) were also cold with excellent visibility.
Since the vis was so good at our initial spots, Captain Andy proposed we take a look at the Gambler off the east-end of the Long Beach Breakwater. On the move to the new site we came across a large multi-layered chunk of Styrofoam that we removed from the water for disposal on shore.


At the Gambler site, conditions looked good. Typical vis is usually in the 2 to 7-foot range, and we feel lucky when we can get that upper end. Today, we found something rare and special; vis was 20-foot plus. The Gambler is a wooden ship and in some areas you can see the immense size of the timbers used in its construction. Structural timbers 18” to 24” are pretty standard, but some are up to 30” square. Thanks to some container vessel that dragged her anchor through the bow of the Gambler, many of these structural timbers are exposed and easy to see – when there is visibility. Water was warmer here – clear up to a scorching 52 degrees on the bottom and 55 degrees on the surface! The piscatorial residents were home, with sand bass, calicos, sheephead, rubberlip and the other usual suspects obvious in the myriad nooks and crannies of the wreck. One thing the excellent visibility revealed was the tremendous amount of fishing line and cable wrapped throughout the wreck. It showed how lucky we’d been in the past, and how cautious we’d need to be on future limited visibility dives on this wreck. This is definitely a dive you make with several sharp, cutting tools.
Captain Andy in his bid to help the environment (and re-stock his tackle box) carried out a mini-cleanup of fishing gear off the wreck and was pretty successful.


Back at the launch ramp, we found an interesting situation; A slightly different way to use the ramp to recover your boat…


Apparently you save time by just dragging the boat up the ramp and worry about positioning it on the trailer up in the lot.

Oops! Is the keel in the way? Just chainsaw it off…
We recovered the Moby Kate the traditional way and stopped for carne asada tacos at Pronto’s on the way home. A perfect way to end an amazing day of diving.
What a spectacular way to get back in the water…

Stay wet!

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