New Year's Day Dive Report - WooHoo!

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

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Posted by Patrick on January 02, 2011 at 16:15:45:

Happy New Year, all.

As it has been in the past, so it was this year on New Year's day. Some of those associated with the Moby Kate (who weren't hungover and sleeping in) gathered and went to immerse themselves in the local offshore waters.

The New Year's Commodore

When Captain (Grasshopper) Cindy, Commodore Andy and I arrived at the MdR launch ramp, there was only one other stalwart greeting the New Year on the water. It was that well known, longtime Santa Monica Bay diver Harry Davis. Harry is perhaps the most knowledgeable bay diver around and has spent thousands of hours exploring under the waters of the Santa Monica Bay . After exchanging New Year's greetings we all launched and headed out.

Conditions (like last Tuesday) were again amazingly good though a bit on the chilly side. A 10-knot wind out of the NE seemed to be carrying the chill right off the snow covered mountains that edged the eastern horizon. The swell was moderate but right into the wind and created a bit of a bounce on the trip out.

Cindy and I were to do the first dive at the spot known as B&B – a small, 75-foot deep rocky area that is always interesting. Gearing up in the chilly wind, it was almost a pleasure to roll into the 55 degree water. Vis was probably 25-feet at the surface and nearly that on the bottom. On hitting the bottom, I barely had time to look around before Cindy was handing me a lobster – You retain your lessons well, Grasshopper...

As some of the board might remember, on the last weekend of lobster season last year, Cindy came along for her first ever lobster dive, and limited out almost to the embarrassment of several other far more experienced bug hunters on board that day. Her producing a bug almost as soon as we hit the bottom (this being her second bug dive ever, and after a 10 month hiatus) seemed to show that she learns fast and well.

Grasshopper & sensei

Scattered around the edges of the rocky areas were beach ball-sized clusters of squid eggs that seemed to radiate a pale, creamy glow as they moved in the surge. Several other bugs were taken while dodging the rather aggressive advances of some of the immense Sheep crabs that had moved into the area. A portion of the dive was spent tracking down and removing a bright yellow nylon line that had become tangled throughout the area, ensnaring an egg-carrying Cancer crab. She was not happy with our efforts to release her from the line and I received several nips before we got her freed and gathered up the tangled line from the site.

Andy did the next dive at the artificial reefs north of Santa Monica and reported similar conditions as to what we found on the B&B site and accumulated several more bugs for the day.

Grasshopper and I did also did our second dive on the artificial rock-piles and she continued to show her skill and ability in the esoteric art of crustacean gathering as she edged me in the total take for the dive; she had her limit and neither Andy or I did.

I may have to offer Grasshopper some lessons in modesty...

The best part of the dive was the amazing sea lion show we witnessed during our safety stop. Two sea lions performed and communed with us in a water ballet that had to be seen to be believed. After clowning, twisting, looping around us, they would jet to the surface where we could see them leap clear of the water, then splash back and race back to continue their performance. Awesome!

Andy's next dive brought him back to the boat with his limit of bugs, redeeming himself as a master bug diver.

That left only me without a limit, and I would be okay with that, but I did have one more dive I wanted to do; I wanted to take a look at the site where Fish & Game had dropped some of the old Red Car trolleys many years ago. There was the remote possibility of finding a couple of crustaceans and inviting them home for dinner, though there is not much structure on the site. Cindy opted out of the last dive so I was on my own (and didn't have to worry about “someone” hogging the bugs). She was claiming to be cold, but I think I heard her mumble something like “I GOT my limit...”

The Red Cars were used as some of the first artificial reefs placed by Fish & Game, but because most of their structure was wood built on a steel frame, they disappeared rapidly leaving only a few steel beams on the bottom and hardly any structure for the local piscatorial populations.

Vis was good and it was cool to swim over the remains of the old Red Car. Shortly into the dive, I spotted a square structure poking out of the sand, and on gently tugging it free, found it was one of the brass sliding windows from the old trolley. Moving around the perimeter of the site I came across a couple lobsters, just out for a stroll on the sand. I extended an invitation to come home with me for dinner and they accepted and caught a ride back in my game bag.

It also gave me a limit – take THAT Grasshopper!

Brass sliding window from one of LA's old Red Cars

The wind had dropped as we wrapped up diving for the day and headed back. The trip was smooth, easy and fast. At the dock, two of the tyro F&G data gatherers that we had met on Tuesday were there to greet us. Unfortunately, they could only count our catch, not measure them. They hadn't been issued their calipers yet!

A beautiful day of diving. Limits of bugs. A commune with old Los Angeles transportation/artificial reef history – what could possibly be a better way to start the New Year?

Grasshopper with the boat's limit of bugs!

Getting ready for the big freeze-up

And yes, we all had out new 2011 Fish & Game licenses

Stay wet.

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