Arena Rock trip report

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Posted by Eric S on July 01, 2008 at 10:48:37:

We finally made it out to Arena Rock again. I now have 4 dives out at this incredible place.

Jon Davies came up for a visit from Socal. He had business in S.F. and creatively figured out a way to finagle some diving on the North Coast.

All the planets and stars lined up, the tide was at a minimal exchange, and the swell model and wind looked premium, so I decided to make good on my promise and we were going to attempt Arena Rock, or “wash rock” as the locals call it.

We got up at the crack of dawn and headed out. When we got out to the coast we were amazed to see that there was not even a ripple on the ocean and absolutely no wind. This is extremely rare.
The hoist at Pt. Arena pier was virtually empty. A few local urchin divers were launching their Radon’s.

The run out to the rock was a full throttle day. There was some patchy fog and the air was cool.

The ocean was so flat that at first I couldn’t even find where wash rock was. My GPS took us out there but to actually find the high spot that washes was a challenge. I had to hang around for a few minutes and go in circles to see if a swell at least 2 feet would come by so I could at least see where the top was to reference my anchorage. I finally found it and we set the picks. The water was really green, that was the only part about this day that could have stood improvement. But a bit of a bloom wasn’t going to stop us.

The rock was just as I remembered it, full of overhangs and completely overgrown with filter feeding life. Within a few minutes we started coming upon some BFB’s and began to bag up. By the end of the first dive our bags were so heavy that it was difficult to drag it around.
Despite the low vis and the darkness we had a very cool dive. Jon was blown away by the undercuts and the vertical nature of the rock. A few of the BFB’s were laying right in the gravel and required no prying, just collecting.

We stayed anchored and did a second dive at the same spot but instead, we went to the left instead of the right. This time we got more BFB’s but also found the extensive cave system of the rock. I was truly blown away by the porosity of the rock and how it has been eaten away and carved out by the ocean. We found one cave that went in quite a ways and as we went in we could see holes or skylights big enough to get through but the main cavern continued on. On one there was an entrance to get in about 3 by 4 feet and once inside the cave opened up into a huge room about the size of a small kitchen. There were all kinds of these systems and I could see how it could get very disorienting to go through these because it becomes like a labyrinth. In one cave I shined by light way back up onto the ceiling and in a space way back up in there I could see the biggest BSB I ever layed eyes on. I tried like hell to reach back and get it but I fell a few feet short of being able to reach it. I would have had to take off my rig and wiggle my body back up in there with a hookah to get a shot at it and that was a bit out of my comfort level.

I was worried about currents at the place but on this day they were non existent. When we were done with our second dive we loaded up our stuff and took a little surface interval. There were a couple other guys hanging out around in an inflatable. One did a dive while we were diving and the other guy was fly fishing over the top of the rock catching blues with light gear. We were talking with them on and off. They set an ab float as close to the top of the wash as possible and left it there as a reference so when they buzzed around fishing they always knew where the top of the pinnacle was.

After we left the rock we decided to go down to Saunders reef and see what that was all about. When I was about 2.5 miles away from it heading south my motor suddenly began to sputter and cut out. My heart sinks whenever something like this happens. It would idle fine but when I tried to give it gas it would sputter. I let it idle down for a few minutes and then it resumed full power. We never made it down to Saunders Reff for obvious reasons. Instead we found a fairly large kelp bed to check out just south of the point that protects the harbor. The base of the reef we found was in about 45 to 50 feet and the reef came up off the bottom at a 45 degree angle creating an overhang. We saw some really large abalone way back under the rocks and the kelp was thick. I found two more BSB’s to fill our limit. The vis sucked worse at this spot but not by much. It was just one of those days. The bloom should clear up in a few days. I can’t wait to get back to “Pointless” Arena as the locals call it.

It was an incredible day of diving and it was equally as great to dive with my buddy Jon.

Chris: It’s your turn next.

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