Cortes Trip

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Posted by Brad on December 11, 2008 at 01:38:33:

Took the good skiff out to the bank last Friday morning leaving the house at the lea surly hour of 10 AM--{How presumptuous of me!}

Beautiful run out! 30kts past the east end of Catalina then around the west end of Clemente and 45nm out to the bank, arriving at 2:30PM. When i got there the swell on the high plane was bouncing all over the place. Imagine being on a football field where every corner was ten feet higher or lower than the other--constantly undulating in all directions simultaniously.The corridor over the wreck crested a half a dozen times from the west. The depth sounder was going from 30ft to 42ft every 8 seconds..

The vis was less that 15ft with a healthy chlorophyll content. The water column was full of small sardines feeding voraciously--the pinnipeds feeding on the forage throughout the water column..No sign of big fish predation, everyone was content :) I anchored in 50ft of water a couple hundred yards south of the wreck. Free diving with your camera in fifty feet of water with 15ft vis is a tough go, so that and the strong current kept me in the skiff the remainder of the afternoon..

The night was calm and the skiff just sat on the water until about 4AM when a slight flow came thru from the west. By sun up the gentle flow took on an appearance that gave hint to a big change despite the NOAA forecast being favorable for another night. The vis hadn't improved overnight so i decided to run off the bank and go to the east end of San Clemente Island for the next night.

On the way to the island i came across a few Humpback whales flying out of the water! Two weeks ago coming home from Nicolas, i had a fabulous encounter with some fin whales. Fin whales are curious, but they STAY in the water unlike Humpbacks! I play a soundtrack of some very interesting techno/native aboriginal music and it transduces very well into the water with this new Clarion stereo system :) Orcas , Grays, Blues, dolphins and other unidentified whales are all fascinated by the sound and actually stop and hang around the skiff to listen. When i approached the Humpbacks flying out of the water, my senses told me to not get too close. i held off about a hundred yards and watched one swim thru a huge kelp patty and grab an pectoral fin full of kelp and swim away with it--a few seconds later this one flew out of the water and flung the kelp off its back and fin. Was he using the kelp as a tool to remove tiny parasites from its skin?? Because there was little wind and the surface was quiet, the whales came directly toward the skiff to check out the strange sounds. As these hyper-active goofballs approached i decided not to let them get too close...I did get one nice video sequence of a huge individual coming out of the water in what can only be described as natural exuberance..I continued toward SCI.

I checked out a few areas near China Point and didn't see any good prospects for diving. Gotta love that window in the bottom of the good skiff!

i swam in that tiny cove at the bitter east end, front side. I visited the grotto of my old buddy Longfellow-- I haven't seen my Moray eel buddy in 5 years so i wasn't holding out hope that i would see him this time.

I anchored 4.5nm down the front side from Pyramid. The evening started out with a slight breeze from the west. By 7PM the wind picked up and it was a tough night with the current pushing the skiff into the wind chop..I watched a bad movie on the DVD player, mixed a cup of fine rum and coke and went to bed--the wind blew all night. By sun up Sunday morning there were white capps as far as you could see- the NOAA forecast said there was a chance of TSTMS. By 715AM i had stowed all my equipment, donned my foul weather gear and made ready for the 55nm run back to Alamitos Bay. I fastened the velcro around the wrists, put the engine in gear and 4 seconds later i took the first shot of cold water.. And so it was every few seconds for the next 3 and a half hours back to safe harbor in a 20kt clearing wind that NOAA couldn't predict even the day before....

33 trips, 31 nights anchored on that incredible bank...


(loves the sea)

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