On the evening of Thursday September 9th 2004 the Sea Divers gathered in Ventura California for yet another adventure; this time, a two day trip to San Miguel Island aboard the Peace.
The early morning arrival at San Miguel was heralded by Will in the usual fashion. (At least for purposes of this trip report)
In past trip reports, Will has been trip report mascot/photo boy many times.
On this trip several Sea Divers agreed to "ham it up" and give it their best "Will Lemley". I guess the bottom line is that nobody does it better than Will - so thanks Mr. Lemley for all that you do for the photographic impact of my trip reports.
Now back to San Miguel Island. Miguel greeted us with wind, waves, and some currents. The water, at least the shallower water, was a thick shade of green. On an anchor line descent it was not uncommon to travel through layers where visibility was only about 10 feet. However, at about 90 feet the water cleared and visibility opened up to some beautiful scenery. These were good conditions for the pinnacles that we dove as obtaining depth was not a problem. On the shallower reefs, visibility remained limited.
The diving conditions were challenging. Swell was at times at least 4-6 feet. We used the bow entry and the anchor line to reach the tops of the pinnacles. Some sites had currents and the anchor line was also the only safe way to traverse the 60 to 90 foot return from the top of the pinnacle to the boat. Not loosing track of its location was a goal on almost every dive.
Diving on the pinnacles meant a series of deeper dives. I started my day with my computer set to air and 32% nitrox in my tank. I intended to keep the computer on air settings for the extra safety margin. As the day went on, I finally set the computer to the actual nitrox mix because I found that I needed the extra bottom time to make all of the days dives.
Some notable quotes from the first dive day included :
"Visibility as far as you can see, and water as deep as you can dive".
"I came here for wind and swell".
"I stepped off the bow entry and just about got washed back onboard. I guess that is why they call it the bow entry."
"How do you know if you are bent?"
"I never saw so many huge abs"
We started our trip on the pinnacle Skyscraper and then went on to the pinnacle Boomerang. Shallower dives followed at The Canyons, Wycoff Ledge, and The Bluffs. On day two we started at the pinnacles Crooks Point and Egg Rock, followed by a shallow dip at Little Wilson.
Divers hunting fish had some great successes and those taking scallops seemed to have never ending smiles.
These were some of the 20mm wide angle photos that I liked from the pinnacles.
These are some of the diver photos:
Iím starting to wonder about Chris Grossman. I think that he is trying to grow gills, or, maybe he has already successfully done it. In almost every photograph this trip he is without his regulator.
At the shallower sites I used my Nikonos with the 35mm 1:2 extension tube. I found plenty of nudibranchs and a few fish were seemingly unafraid enough to actually be photographed with the extension tube framer. Unfortunately, I couldnít begin to do justice to all of the HUGE abalone at the shallower sites.
Topside provided pleanty of photo ops also. Here is some of my topside people watching photographic haul.
Many thanks to Eric and the crew on the Peace for all of their work. It was a terrific trip and we know that it was you guys who made our "San Miguel Pinnacle Diving" wish a reality. Really nice job.
I also had a birthday on this trip. Many thanks for the cake and the friends to share this solemn event with. I have many great dive memories from the past year and hope to accumulate just as many by my next birthday - which, Oh my Holy Cow, will be the big 50.
Until next time.
Story and Photos © Elaine Jobin