July 18 Yukon Trip dive report (sort of) on the Humboldt

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Posted by Nitrox36 on July 26, 2009 at 22:15:52:

This is an unusual trip report about diving in San Diego and the Yukon wreck, which turned out to be very enlightening. I had looked on the web having never dived in San Diego before. Time, schedule and openings had lead me to the Humboldt, of Water Horse Charters (http://www.waterhorsecharters.com). It was a 3 tank afternoon on San Diegoís wreck alley. I had contacted Greg over the previous weekend and was able to schedule the trip, on what I would now say is the best boat in the San Diego dive fleet.

The pluses started adding up upon arrival. Parking is free on the street; there are carts to haul your gear from the street to the boat and back. Even though itís not listed on there web site it turns out that the Humboldt can provide Nitrox 32 for $12 a tank. While they canít fill Nitrox on the boat, they have plenty of tanks if want to do all of your dives with Nitrox. Several divers on my trips did all 3 tanks on Nitrox. If youíre diving air Aluminum 80ís are included in the price (yoke or DIN valves). Another nice touch is that they provide soft weights too.

We had a 1 PM sailing time and a short 20 minute ride to the Yukon .While we were sailing out to the Yukon we were passed by the Louis Ann returning from its morning dives. The Lois Anne was the other dive boat I was considering for this trip. I was surprised as to how little shade there was on the Louis Ann compared to the Humboldt. Being of Scandinavia origin, sun and I donít get along, and I always seek the shade. While most of the Humboldt is covered, the majority of the dive deck on the Louis Ann is in the sun. Thatís not to say if you want sun you canít find it on the Humboldt, just head up to the bridge our hang out on the back of the dive deck, there youíll find plenty of sun.

The Humboldt is equipped as I like a dive boat. It has a marine head, and a hot shower. You can look at their web site to get all of the boat specs, the most notable is that the boat is a little over 2 years old, and was specifically built for diving; itís not a repurposed fishing or crew boat. While the dive deck is crowded with a full load, itís not unmanageable. Gear can go under your station, you dive bag can go in the forward cabin, or on top of the deck cover. Even the tank racks adapt to the situation, with Greg changing them to accommodate a rebreather or other tank configurations. Yes the Humboldt welcomes rebreather divers.

Moored at the Yukon the captain gave a briefing and everyone suits up. So here is where my dive report stops. As I put my head through the neck seal in my dry suit I feel a release around the neck. Yup, my latex seal ripped, and it was a long rip which finished my diving for the day. The crew did propose duct tape, but the rip was to long and I didnít even want to mess with a suit flood.

So with my diving over I tried to enjoy the day on the water. This is where my comparison of another San Diego dive boat came in. While we were moored at the gun turret mooring on the Yukon and our divers in the water for the first dive, the DnD II motored up to try to moor on the Yukonís bow mooring. This turned out to be quite an interesting maneuver, and I think somewhat dangerous. Now Iím not a sailor so I may not know however with our divers in the water the DnD II seemed to come to close for my comfort to divers returning to the Humboldt. To add to this spectacle, the DnD II was not able hook the mooring, so the deck hand had to dive in to get the boat moored.

While the Humboldtís load of divers returned the DnD II divers went in. Again the comparative operations were startling. There was a slight surface current, so as part of the Humboldtís crew service you jump off the stern, the crew throws you a rope and tows you to the bow where you can reach the mooring and descend with no hassles. While the divers on DnD II had to try to kick to the bow and the mooring. It turned out some of divers drifted to our mooring to descend.

The story gets more sorted. While our divers, all back on the Humboldt, where enjoying the 2 warm soups, rolls, fruit, cookies, water, punch, coffee, etc. The divers from the DnD II started to return, however most had missed their mooring and started popping up around the Humboldt. I was impressed that even though they werenít the charge of the Humboldt, our crew kicked in to offer assistance to the other boats divers. First it was pointing them back to the DnD II, with more divers at the Humboldt the crew offering to tow them from the stern to the bow where they could get the DnD IIís current line. But the last group ended up at the stern mooring of Yukon, 360 ft away from the DnD II. The DnD II had no way of getting the divers with out unhooking from the mooring. Given the problem they have mooring in the first place I donít think they were able to unhook that fast. Those divers would have had a long wait and there was a couple foot swell. To the credit of the Humboldtís crew they went into action in under a minute. The Humboldt carries an ocean kayak, which they deployed quickly, in under 2 minutes. The captain manned the kayak while Greg feed out a long rope with a float. They had enough line to play out all the way to the end of the Yukon (366 ft). The captain got the rope to the 2 divers. While Greg was reeling in the divers to our boat, the captain kayaked to the DnD IIís short current line and brought it to the Humboldt. When the divers made it to our boat they picked up the DnD IIís line an were reeled in. Itís hard to say what those divers would have done if the Humboldt wasnít there to assist. But this adventure set in my mind that the Humboldt will be my first choice for a dive boat, and Iíd never consider going on the DnD II, to risky.

With the rodeo over and all of the DnD II divers returned back to their boat they moved off to the Ruby ĖE, while we stayed on the Yukon for a the 2nd tank. Our 2nd dive was uneventful with all returning to the Humboldt, even to the correct mooring. Itís of note that the Humboldtís crew is very helpful to all divers providing assistance where ever needed. The Humboldt has two ladders on the stern so that thereís no traffic jam of divers coming back onboard. As I mentioned the Humboldt is rebreather friendly, so we did wait for the rebreather diver to return. However by the same point you are free to dive your own time too. So if youíre an air hog or sip on a tank, thereís no problem, no worries, return when youíre ready.

On board after the 2nd dive there was a nice salad now available in the galley and the same drinks and soups to warm you.

The boats safety procedure does a roll call at the end of each dive to make sure all are on board, as well and a second check before we moved from the Yukon to the Ruby-E for our 3rd tank. As we came upon the Ruby E we found the DnD II was already moored, but with their divers returning we soon had the Ruby E to ourselves. The drill was the same with the crew assisting everyone who was diving to get in the water. Being the 3rd dive there were admittedly fewer divers as several had decided to sit that 3rd dive out for various reasons, cold, tired, etc. Even with some moving slower than others, there still was no rush and no worries, everyone got the same first class service from the crew.

As each diver returned to us already on the boat they enjoyed the warm water of the hot shower in the middle of the dive deck. The crew took another roll call before releasing the mooring on the Ruby E for the short 15 minute ride back to the dock.

Once docked there were carts available to help you roll your equipment to your car, with even the crew helping several people to there car personally.

I was very impressed by the Humboldt and her crew. I probably have even a better perspective having been dry all day and being a witness to all of there service and great attitude. So for the end of this story my dry suit is off to be repaired, and Iím looking very much forward to returning to now dive from the Humboldt.

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