Sunday, Matt ( one of my regular dive buddies), a friend of his, and I took the
dory up to Albion with three scheduled tanks to blow.
It was screaming cold once again at 7:00 am at the coast as we began to assemble our gear and load the boat when my buddies friend realized that the dive shop that rented him his BC forgot to include the low pressure inflator assembly. DAMN!
Matt and I went out for a first dive anyway as his friend went into Fort Bragg to a dive shop and waited for them to open. I had marked Bull Rock on my GPS from Watkins' book and my new garmin led us right to it. I saw in coming up as the 8 ft. swells would explode over the top. The top of the pinnacle was submerged, but those big swells coming out of deep open ocean have a way of really climbing up on anything sticking up.
We anchored about 300 feet away (which still seemed to close) and my depth finder kept giving me stange readings, 120, 35, 74, 100, 26 ? I figured it was on the blink. When we back rolled in off the gunwales and began our descent down the anchor line I realized that the finder was fine, we were over a sheer wall and the boat was just swinging back and forth from the swells.
Our main mission was scallops, and we began finding them right away. I only
found empty shells, but Matt was finding some good ones.
I sensed a shape of a giant spider above me and as I turned up to look I saw a huge box crab just launch himself off of a ledge about 40 ft above me and parachuted straight down with all legs completely spread out. I put out my scallop bar and caught him in the water column. I remembered a guy telling me that if you can ever get a box crab they are the best eating of any crab. This thing was huge. It weighed in excess of 5 pounds, maybe more. I wrestled with this crab for 15 minutes trying to get him in my bag but all the points and spikes and claws were making it impossible. Finally somehow he went in. I checked my depth and saw I had drifted down to 117 feet (oops) with one minute left of NDL (whoa). I better pay better attention. I looked up and saw my buddy hard at work still looking for scallops. I was starting to get low on air so I signaled to him and we started our ascent.
After we got back on the boat he was bellowing about this huge scallop he got and wanted me to pull in the equipment line with our game bags attached. When I pulled in his bag I saw that he had for some reason hooked it on upside down and all his bootie had fallen out while it was hanging in the water. What a bummer. Matt was pissed! I realized then that Mr. Murphy and his stupid laws had decided to pick on us that day.
OK, We had a great first dive, 30+ ft vis, vertical wall dive, a giant Box
Crab, and water exploding over Bull Rock. Oh yeah, and Matt hung his bag
upside down on the equipment line and all his scallops fell out.
Well it was time to pull the anchor and head back to Albion Harbor to pick up Sean. The anchor was stuck. We made several tries at every different angle and couldn't get it loose. Just then another massive wave had risen almost vertically on top of the rock and this time we were less than 50 ft from it. I looked up at the face and it looked to be at least 14 to 16 feet tall. The top broke off in typicall fashion and hundreds of tons of water thundered down in a deafening roar. As the white water moved towards shore the bottom got deep again and instantly all that wave energy disappeared into the depths leaving just a giant slick of foam.
That one was way to close for comfort and we even got some pretty good spray in the boat. I yelled to Matt " just untie the bitter end of the rope, tie on one of the fenders and throw the whole works overboard and we'll come back later and get it". Right then he yelled "I got it"! Apparently he was working the anchor the whole time the wave broke and that was the precise angle we needed to pull it loose. I nailed it and we were out of there.
The wind had picked up considerably and the ocean was getting nasty. It was a wet bumpy ride back to the harbor. When we motored up the river under the bridge we saw Sean standing on the dock all set to go. After a brief break we changed out our tanks and headed back out. I told those guys that due to rough water and how things were generally going I wanted to take the warnings and stick around in Albion cove and just do a dive there. They agreed.
As we were leaving the river and entering the bay I noticed the water really spilling out at a good clip. It was 11:00 am and low tide was not supposed to be till 2:00... hmm.
We anchored in 35 feet on the north edge of the cove (out of the boat traffic lane) and back-rolled in. This was a great dive. We got 61 minutes out of our aluminum 80's and the deepest we dove was 40 feet. Most of it was 20 to 35 ft. Believe it or not I found 5 nice scallops all in the 35 foot range very close to shore. This site could easily be done as a shore dive from the beach. I also found an antique bottle and an old anchor from the logging days. There were also a couple of big red urchins (uni) that I couldn't pass up. With air all gone we came up, loaded our stuff and headed back in. As I approached the river I saw that it was really spilling out now and there was only a small channel about 6 feet wide that I had a prayer of getting my boat up. As I tried to keep the boat in the middle I had the throttle almost pegged while I was looking at the bank seeing that we were making little progress. Just then I heard the prop going clang clang clang clang on the bottom, not somthing any boat owner want's to hear. Well, I cut the motor and we drifted backout into the bay. We wound up kicking the motor up and dragging the boat upstream along the shore with ropes. At one point the boat high centered on a big rock taking a nice gouge out of the gellcoat and breaking off the fish finder transducer.
We finally got the boat up the river and to the dock when I saw Mr. Game Warden come driving up and park his truck. As he got out we got out our fishing licences. We know the drill. Sean did not have a licence, but then he did not take any game either.
" Hi guys, how ya doing today? I was watching you guys from the bridge the whole time you were out there and have a couple questions to ask you". Anyway, he went through everything. He checked my bag and Matts bag and questioned why there were three prybars on the boat when only two of us had licences. We told him that one was a spare (which it really was). We were not over limit on any game nor in possesion of anything illegal. He questioned us over and over again. He finally left and we got the boat out of the water. Not more than a minute later here he comes again for a second time like Leutenant Columbo "There's just one more thing I forgot to ask ". He just couldn't get off the three scallop bars and two fishing licence thing. He swore he saw something coming out of Sean wet suit and the bar (which was complete and utter BS). We figured that we were probably the only game in town and he was bored.
Not only was it a day of good diving despite Murphy but my new wet suit kept me very warm. Yes, I bowed down to the Picasso gods when I pulled on that commercial 9 mil. in the store last week. It was custom fitted to my body somehow I swear! even before I tried it on. I just put a big smile on my face as I pushed $806.20 accross the counter realizing that I had absolutely no sales resistance when it came to a suit of that quality that fit me so good. I should have just gone there in the first place and saved myself a lot of running around.
Well, hope to see most of you at the big Van Damme event. Hopefully we can keep old Murphy stuffed in an old jar at the bottom of the ocean somewhere during the shindig so NOTHING can go wrong.
I am also thinking of putting on an Ab derby. Like maybe prizes for the overall biggest Ab and maybe another category for the most overall poundage for three, and last but not least, the prettiest Ab shell award. Any comments on this? or maybe legal issues that I'm not thinking of?
PS. When I got home I boiled up that crab in the biggest pot I have (which is big) and it barely fit! But, oh my god was that crab good!! It was the sweetest most flavorfull crustacean I have ever eaten. I looked through the DFG regulation book and saw nothing about this crab even mentioned so I assume it is legal to take?Back To Home Page