Posted by Patrick on August 16, 2013 at 19:36:34:|
Last week was a trial. It was hectic and busy with a fair amount of annoying freeway travel that was to say the least, stressful.
A very good friend dropped by on Friday and after trying to talk to me for a bit noted, “Damn, you’re cranky, nasty and mean.” He went on, “Dude, you’re way stressed, your beard looks mangy and you’re ugly too. You REALLY need to go diving.”
It’s wonderful to have good friends, ones who can see and speak the truth (well except the part about a mangy beard and the ugly thing) and will kick you when you’re down. Till you get up.
I went diving.
Sunday morning found Cindy and I aboard the D/V Encore with Captain Elliott at the helm heading out off Long Beach. The plan was to head to Catalina to meet up with some friends at the isthmus and go looking for Black Sea Bass. It was decided that on the way we would take a look at one of the local wrecks and check out the conditions. Conditions were perfect with no wind, no swell and an incoming tide.
Descending on the African Queen, we found very nice conditions below the surface as well; 55-degrees on the bottom with a hazy 30-foot visibility. The bottom around the wreck was carpeted with clusters of squid eggs interspersed with a sprinkling of fish-eating anemones that were actually eating squid eggs – not much of a surprise there! A swim around the wreck found the wolf eel family at home and two of the three were accepting visitors. After dazzling the poor creatures with strobe and video lights for a few minutes, we moved on and completed a very enjoyable first dive.
Just one dive and I was feeling so mellow that when Captain Elliott said that I was once again cool and stress-free though still mangy and ugly, I was pretty much inclined to agree with him.
After a 40-minute trip across a flat, glassy channel we arrived at Cherry Cove and picked up fellow divers Kevin and Brandon C. A quick run down the coast found us at Little Gibraltar with great conditions. As we descended, the kelp on the pinnacle was lush and beautiful in the clear blue water and as we reached bottom we were greeted with a bat ray fly-by. Elliott led Kevin and Brandon on a GoPro tour around the site while Cindy and I drifted over and around the structure looking for subjects, but mostly just reveling in the warm, clear water. Cindy found a Black Sea Bass that was willing to pose for her while I was distracted with the one lone moray and his neighbors.
After hearing about the Blacks Sea Bass encounter we decided to make the next dive at Italian Gardens in the hopes of seeing more of the gentle giants. Though the dive was great – who can argue with clear (40-feet+) warm (61-degrees), water and beautiful, dense kelp – we struck out on the big guys (and girls) but found other critters that kept us happy.
The next day (Monday) my good friend stopped by again to check on me. “Dude!,” he greeted me, “you must have done a dive. “You’re lookin’ calm and stress-free.” Even your beard looks better.”
It turned out that the mangy beard thing was merely some bryozoan that had been caught in it from a previous dive trip and was rinsed away on these last dives.
“But you’re still ugly he kidded.” “That’s not what the Cabazon and wolf eels that swim with me think” I responded…