Posted by Patrick on August 03, 2008 at 17:47:03:|
Since the local conditions had been less than stellar, (and there was a chili festival in Oxnard) it was decided to give the Channel Islands a try.
The drive up, launch and crossing were unremarkable except for the sighting of a juvenile blue whale about half way to the islands. First dive of the day was at Yellow Banks on the SE end of Santa Cruz Island. Conditions were spectacular – warm, sunny, flat with a barely noticeable long duration swell from the west. When the numbers said we were at the spot, we metered a bit and dropped our down-line buoy. Since there was no kelp visible on the surface, we expected some current and the buoy confirmed that.
Current conditions on the first dive
First divers in the water were moi, Bill Brush and Dr. John, with John and I hauling cameras.
On the descent the visibility was an easy 50+ feet, but on the bottom less, though still an acceptable 30 feet. The area is a series of ledges with 20-or-more feet of relief and festooned with all manner of invertebrate life that makes good use of the nooks and crannies the ledges provide.
Yellow Banks on the bottom…
Dr. John doing his photo thing…
Second team in – Captains Saxon and Kanner, found a bit more current, but again interesting terrain and diverse critters. After their dive, there was some spirited discussion over the species of abalone that was coincidentally located just a few feet from the down-line weight. When it came to the point where “satisfaction” was demanded, and faces had been slapped with wet dive gloves, I volunteered to make another jump and take photos of the critter under dispute and (hopefully) solve the question without bloodshed.
At this point the current had picked up a bit – to somewhere in the neighborhood of 2kts per our GPS which showed us drifting a quarter-mile in just over 11 minutes.
Current on the third dive – 2kts plus.
For my descent I got dropped about 80-100 yards up current and swam like hell for the bottom. That lead and spirited swimming got me to the bottom precisely at the ledge where the down line was hooked and the ab in question resided. After killing an appropriate number of pixels, I kicked off the bottom and went for the E-ticket ride in the Anacapa Passage. Attached is the image of the ab – Just for fun, who wants to take a guess on the ID of this guy? I’ll give you some hints: It’s not a Red, Green, Pink or Black. ;)
The ab in question…
With the current ripping we moved over to the SW end of Anacapa, looking for shelter from the current, and finally found respite just west of Cat Rock on inner Chain Reef. It was a clear (40-foot), warm (64-degrees), pleasant dive with numerous Garibaldi Dads doing guard duty.
Under the kelp…
Hunting the wily orange fish…
“You want a piece of me?”
Dad guarding the nest…
The run back was uneventful, and our attempt to infiltrate the Chili Festival (towing a 25-foot boat) was doomed. Denied sustenance there, we fell back to our standby – the Hoagie Hut – and made our way south well fortified by the best grease & salt French fries around.
Another spectacular day of southern California diving.