The Winds That Blow Our Lives

Diving Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands on the Peace

A new day blows in gently

We all live our days blowin' in the wind. Recently I've been dealing with many winds from wispy spinning zephyrs to flattening tempests. There is the constant prairie wind of family that forces one to move head down with endurance. Then for the past few months our re-model has produced a nasty spell of unpredictable gusts from every direction that give us rude shoves and spin us unexpectedly. I've had personal tempests of health that cut through any coat that have forced me slow and look for less stormy paths. Then there is that endless roiling maelstrom of my thoughts that I try to keep tamed. Still, I felt a small warm breeze when Chris mentioned the openings on the Sea Divers trip on the Peace. It was to my favorite diving, the Northern Channel Islands. I hadn't expected to be able to go there until after the New Year, if even then. I checked with my personal weather masters and the pint sized ones said to go where my desires blow me. Yet no sooner did I get signed up for the trip than my weather expert told me I was out of my mind, "there's gonna be a hard blow where you want to be". Yes, the maps showed me the same thing, but it was supposed to lay down. I would hope for the best. "You're nuts to go into that" he replied.

When I got home from work I got prepared as best I could, but there were storms there too. The teary squalls of a child and the quite understandable low pressures of a wife caused by high pressure zones of family blow hards. Finally all that laid down with the calm that night hopefully brings. Finally I could load and hope I forgot nothing. Then I blew out the door. It's a mellow drive to Ventura Harbor, one filled with so many memories for me. I let the soft breezes of memory push me to the past. It was dark and quiet in the late night as I got to the harbor. I saw a sign of good things though. The flag at Hornblowers above the Peace was relaxed and just slightly moving in a warm Santana breeze. That was a good sign to start with. It was time to change state. To hustle the gear aboard. To talk with old friends and say hello to new ones. Chris took care of the paperwork and gave me my favorite bunk in the back. Elaine... No, It's Elaine and camera. It's so much a part of her. She greeted me warmly and was so considerate. She knows me and had an aluminum foil hat waiting. ... I think I gave some patrons of Hornblowers a thrill as I tried out my fashion in public while getting gear from my car. Hornblowers was almost closed, but there were were a few groups of people so young and animated in conversation that it made me wonder if I was ever that age, but I remembered fondly that I had been, with all that excitement and more. I missed that, but couldn't complain. We had fun playing with a variety of other hats that Elaine brought for us to try on. Reconnecting with so many good friends on the boat made bedtime after 1 AM.

A nice protected cove for the start of the morning.
The crossing was not that rough. I never bounced off my bunk, but I still slept very poorly as I often do on a boat. I expected that our trip would be up the backside of the islands, hiding from the weather out of the north. I felt it when the movement of the boat changed from the rising and fall of the bow to a side to side motion that meant we had gone as far as we could into the weather before turning back to look for calm anchorage.

Looking south. These islands are harsh. Notice the Cold War radar site on the ridge.
Morning came crystal clear as it does during the winter Santana winds. The winter sun rose far to the south of Anacapa Island behind us. We had spent the last hours of dark in the protection of Scorpions Landing, perhaps half way up the back of Santa Cruz Island. The first dive was to be at Willows. I decided that in the spirit my intent of relaxing on a trip of recuperation, I would take it easy and skip the first dive. I've skipped perhaps 10 dives in my 34 years of diving, but this is now. That was then. I just didn't feel completely centered. It could have been many things, but whatever it was, I wasn't altogether there.

This was great. Not only was it good to see Eric and Jon, it was also Eric's first lobster dive and his first visit to the Channel Islands. I slowly and somewhat clumsily assembled my gear while waiting for the divers to return. I ate a banana as a charm to ward off evil cramps. There was a firm, but manageable wind from the north.

Life in the sand.
The next stop was a bit further down the island at Blue Banks. The skipper gave a dive briefing and said that there were reefs behind as well as in front of the boat. If we went in front, we should follow the anchor line down. I was a bit slow to get into the water, but it seemed like most people went to the back. I headed down the anchor line until I saw some structure and headed straight down. Ah, in the water! It was very comfortable, probably above 60 degrees and the vis was 20 to 30 feet. There were bus sized groups of rocks sticking up perhaps 8 feet with sand between them. It looked like a healthy place. There were numerous fish and invertebrates.

A large sculpin posed for me. Sometimes, nasty looking is best.
I saw some lobster, but none looked legal. I had dove at Blue Banks often before, but I didn't recognize these distributed reefs. I had mostly been in areas where there was very little sand and bigger reefs. There was a lot to see and I took photographs. I saw numerous big picnopodia starfish, which is usually a sign of a reef with a fair amount of life since they are voracious predators.

Picnopodia Sun Star. They get 3 feet across. Lots of smaller cousins too.
I saw a nice sized scallop between two rocks. My sister had requested anything I could get for some Christmas Day ciappino. Unfortunately I did not have an iron and couldn't knock it off by hand. I swam about 20 feet to get a softball sized rock. A couple whacks with that broke it loose. Later I found another the same size sitting in the sand. You could see where its shell had been attached and I wonder what broke it loose. At one point while crossing between rocks, I found a large lemon nudibranch out in the open in a field of brittle strs.

Incredible collection of colors.
It was a fun dive, but I wasn't seeing anything to grab and it was time to head back. I got over sand and wasn't quite sure where I was, but figured when in sand, enjoy the sand critters. I saw a sea pen, but didn't think of taking a picture at the time. Actually I was surprised that I was seeing very little life as I tried to cover ground. Usually the sand is full of life, just different than the rocky reefs. I also wasn't happy that I wasn't seeing any reefs as it suggested that I was not as near the boat as I wanted to be. Sure enough, when I came up I was parallel to the track to the boat and about 100 yards out. Well, I hear that a nice morning swim is invigorating. I could do without.

Later a diver mentioned that they had met a large Black Sea Bass. I wondered if it could possibly be the same one that followed us through most of a dive 15 years earlier there. It's possible.

I climbed on the swim step and and a crew member took my fins off for me. Bob was there at his usual station at the center of the stern where I have always seen him over the years. A nice thing about the Peace is the fills. You get 3500 psi of NITROX and they hustle to try to make sure everyone has a fill well before the next drop. The Peace no longer checks people into the water, but the roll call after every dive is rigerous and double checked.

Across the chanel is Anacapa Island.
Then we moved south to the huge kelp beds off of Yellowbanks for the next dive. This was a dive I had to make. Among the endless ledges of Yellowbanks was where I made my first boat dive. We motored for quite a while before Kevin selected the spot to drop the anchor. The kelp bed went on for literally miles in the calm water.

There were lots of lobsters. Getting legal sized ones is another story.
Jumping in brought two shocks. First, it was pretty chill, perhaps 54 degrees. Second, as comes with cold water, the visibility was well over 100 feet. You could see the kelp reaching right to the rocky bottom in 70 feet. I wanted to move fast both to hunt and to get past the cool. It is a beautiful dive spot anytime and the visibility today made it fantastic, though there had been a surprising layer of current midway down to the bottom. Well, if the kelp was up it couldn't be much, but as always I started my dive by moving into it. There was so much life. The ledges here are deep and one on top of another. Six inches of rock ledge had six inches of shelf above and then ledge and shelf above that sometimes ten high. Each shelf is a safe haven for fish and invertebrates of every kind.

There was lots of cover so there were all kinds of rockfish.
I wanted pictures almost as much as I wanted lobster so I was really in the right place. Away from the ledges were boulders making more huge reef areas which obviously were ruled by the many huge purple Picnopodia starfish scattered around. I saw a number of lobsters that all looked short, but then as I came around a rock I saw one nice legal next to a short at the front of a ledge. I did a good sweep from the side and grabbed it cleanly, but it didn't feel right. It didn't feel near as big as it had looked. I didn't really think it was legal sized, but I jammed it in my bag real quick anyway and looked back in the hole again. Sure enough, the big one had jumped back at the last moment and I had grabbed his younger friend. He didn't have anywhere far to go though and I had little trouble reaching him. That little bit of adrenaline is great in the cold water. I kept moving on down the ridge since it had great ledges. I could see other ridges less than 100 feet away, but I figured this was the best place to be until I had to turn around. I saw other divers in the clear distance. At one point I found Larry well positioned taking video of some unseen tiny critter that probably had colors to put a rainbow to shame. I found some large nudibranchs that I have no idea what the specie was. I came upon some critters that I knew very well. There were two red abalone about 6 inches each, happily grazing in the open on some kelp.

It's not a great shot, but it is good news. The abalone are coming back.
When I finally had to come up there was obviously more current and the kelp had laid down under the surface. I followed a big strand up to about 18 feet and pulled it into the current to wait a bit at 15 feet. Luckily I was near the boat when I came up and just swam across the current as it swept me to the stern of the boat. I grabbed the platform before I went by. The skipper said the kelp was up when he called the gate open. He watched the divers go off, turned around and the kelp was all gone.

This is why they call it Yellow Banks. On a clear day, it is visible soon after you leave the harbor.
The current may have come up at the beginning of the last dive, but by the end of the dive the wind was there too and rising fast. We were at the southern end of the island already, so there wasn't anywhere to go really to get away from it. The skipper moved the boat north a bit and nearer to shore to what I still consider Yellow Banks. The wind was whipping and lifting the kelp leaves into the afternoon sun making a beautiful gold display of the kelp. The birds seemed to not notice it a lot. At least the kelp was up, so there wasn't too much current. Again it was very cold, but the visibility was just not like that last dive. Here it was perhaps 25 or so feet and pretty dark. The kelp was thicker than it looked from the boat. It was not big holdfasts. It was mostly individual kelp stalks every foot or so. It got pretty thick to go through in places. The reef structure was great. It was almost all rock ridges with lots of holes. Right away I grabbed a bug that was real close to legal. Right away after that I realized I had no goody bag. I didn't want to go back to the boat and was thinking of what to do. On occasion I knew that Mel had tied some bugs into a fish stringer and put them under his belt, but I have pretty minimal gear. I decided that the bug didn't quite feel legal, so I let it go, but I wanted to decide what to do before I did get a legal. I've held onto them through entire dives, but really didn't want to. My camera is clipped to my BC by its strap, but on the strap is also a wrist lanyard I can use. I figured I could shove a bug in that and cinch down the lanyard. It would probably work if I didn't mind a pissed off lobster tied up in reach of my face. Following the ridge I was on I was seeing small lobster and lots of life, but nothing to grab. There was lots to photograph and I took some pictures of a small bat ray I saw. The kelp was thick enough to present some challenge going through. I made a 90 degree turn to the left to find another ridge to follow back to the boat. After a while I saw something large above the reef about 35 feet ahead of me in the gloom. Maybe a black sea bass or a seal I figured. A bit later I got closer and saw it was a seal swimming with a diver. The diver later told me that the seal had followed and played with him for a fair amount of the dive. I of course made a hard right to follow another ridge that had not been covered by the diver. It was a very pleasant dive that I was taking fairly easy. When I was short on air I headed up through the thick kelp at a shallow angle while swimming to where I hoped the boat was. I was about 30 feet from the bottom and 15 feet from the top in the kelp canopy. It's a place I really like because the life there is different and it is like going through natural hiding place in the weeds. You never know what you will see. Schools of anchovies, perch, kelp bass and other fish are all through it. Then in front of me I saw an unnatural movement of some kelp strands. My first thought was another diver, but it looked odd for that. Then I saw everything move and though I couldn't see it I guessed it had to be the anchor line sweeping through the canopy as the boat swung in the wind. It was really impressive and nothing I was going to get near. I still couldn't see the anchor line, but I waited as I carefully moved forward. Then I saw the boat coming sideways pretty fast too. I watched the bow pass 10 feet above me and then headed up quick to get aboard before it went far or came back. Apparently just at that moment the wind had shifted by near 90 degrees and the boat took off. Eric said that he had been almost to it when suddenly it was just going away at speed. A few people had found lobsters, but nothing special. At least there was still no fast current like at the previous spot.

This is about when the wind was maxed out for us. The kelp fronds flip over in the wind and glow gold in the late sun.
The boat moved up the island to just under a cliff at Scorpions, past where the Conception dive boat was anchored. It looked like there was some nice reef at the bottom of the cliff, but I decided to forego the evening and night dive. I was watching the divers going in and the different newer technology lights gave off some really strange and ghostly colors as the divers entered and headed off.

It was a clear evening and even in this protected spot the wind was blowing good. While it wasn't so cold, it was a Santana wind, it did make for a quick chill. I sat in the Jacuzzi until I figured I had to get out. A warm shower and dry clothes made for a great improvement.

Kevin announced that though the wind was supposed to lay down some overnight, the Coast Guard had just put up gale warnings for San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands, so Talcott was likely out. We would leave about 5 AM for Santa Rosa and he would gun the engines to signal time for dive prep.

The Peace is pretty large, but it is not the biggest local dive boat (and none is big enough), so they have their own well tested system for making dinner comfortable for so many people. Everyone is seated and there is some crew person literally within 5 feet of everyone, making sure that there is no reason for you to have to get up. Food, drink, clean up, it's all taken care of instantly, often without you realizing they are doing it. Dinner was good tri tip with potatoes, asparagus and some other veggies. Desert was ice cream with all the fixins (butterscotch, yum yum) as well as decadent brownies. We were all yakking about the diving and it went on that way until well past when we should have gone to sleep. Frosty the Snowman showed up which was a bit strange all things considered. Later I heard there was some kind of incident about Frosty trying to hijack the boat. I guess getting locked in the below deck freezer isn't so bad if you're made of ice. Some lobster were taken on the night dive, but I was making sure that I rested some instead of going on a thrash fest that I make most lobster dive trips into. It was great talking with all these people and I drifted down to my bunk when only a few people were left.

In the morning it wasn't too rough, but I felt when the rocking of the boat changed and we turned back. I was awake and so got up to another crystal clear morning. Santa Cruz Island was behind us, so we had made it to Santa Rosa, but we were still pretty far south. The skipper later said that we had gone north past South Point and the currents looked far too much for diving.

The Rose Spotted Anemone is one of my favorites.
After metering around a bit, the anchor was dropped at what was called Ford Point Deep. That just meant the kelp bed farther from shore at Ford Point. The wind wasn't bad, but was steady and it was easy to feel that it was a (slightly) warm Santana wind. I again entered slower than is my habit and headed south west. At 70 feet, it was a bit like Malibu in ways. 30 feet of vis over low rock reefs through sand. Rocks were big enough to offer a lot of cover and holes that were too deep for a hunter to reach the back of. The urchins were thick and there were lots of Picnopodia. What surprised me was how many Rose Spotted Anemones there were. I was seeing them everywhere. Their vivid color and preference for rough water make them a favorite of mine. I was seeing lobster and I grabbed one that looked good. It seems that lobster diving was going back to the way it was many years ago. There is no longer very much urchin fishing in California and the urchins are getting thick again. Every grab for a lobster is a judgment of if you are going to get spined. At the years of the height of the urchin harvest, that wasn't the case. You could usually grab without worrying much about getting stabbed. No longer.

I guess I am just a butterfly attracted to bright colors.
I saw what looked like a nice legal and it saw me real good too. By the time I reached in the hole, it was long gone, but I could feel it at arms length and got a hold of the base of an antennae. It is time to relax and concentrate. The spines on the antennae make it so you can't get a better grip, but they also make it so that if you hold tight you won't slip off. Except for my fingers I completely relaxed my body to get in the hole as far as possible. Beginners tend to breathe real hard in situations like this, but it is time to be calm. Finally positions were not going to change so it is time to focus on holding tight and pulling out steadily. It was in the bag. I found another hole like it with a lobster just as deep and my fingers on the antennae base. I relaxed and positioned, but this time the bug made another fast wiggle and got loose. This time it was out of reach.

But like me, they love cold rough water.
I made my turn back to the boat and came to a reef that I could tell was a band of excellent geology for lobster hunting. There was lots of cover in the microwave to kitchen table sized rocks. I grabbed a few times and missed or didn't think what I got felt very big. Then I went over a rock and saw a few together including one that looked nice sized. Unfortunately they were already responding a lot more than most of the bugs I had seen. I went for it though and flattened a nice one just inside the hole. After putting it in my bag I reached around in the hole to see if I could feel any others. It was a big deep hole. My best guess is that I got that one because it had been blocked some by the other smaller ones in the hole behind it. Otherwise it would certainly have been able have gotten out of reach.

This anemone was pretty nice too, if a bit ghostly.
I came up a bit behind the boat and just as I got to it, a big set of swell from the winds sent the swim platform flying up in the air then crashing back under water. The second time it did that, I backed way off and just waited. It calmed and after a couple more I grabbed the platform and timed it to be all the way on before it went anywhere. As always there was a crew member on the platform to take off my fins and help if needed.

There were lots of sponges including orange ones like this and my favorite, the vivid blue Cobolt Sponges.
I had also picked up some of the big red sea urchins on this dive. I always stop on the way home at my friend John's house for fresh seafood. He likes the exotic and our cooking compliments. He seared the scallops. I made sachimi. He made a sauce from the urchins for it. I served Uni Roe with lemon. He came up with some new buttery lobster recipe. The martini's were smashing.

On the boat, Larry was reviewing some video. He had close-ups of the tip of the arm of a picnopodia. He said that they always have a few arms up sensing the water. His close up video of it looked like some SciFi monster with suckers waving around. I'd like to see some more of his videos. The little bit I saw were amazing.

The water was a bit chill by a lot of people's standards. As usual, I was wearing full foot fins with no booties. Everyone else had booties on. A number of people commented on my transparent booties, but my face feels chill far more than my feet. Of course I was reminded that on two day trips I tend to wear holes in my toes and have to put tape on them to protect them.

Diving is special to me. I don't always ask why. It just is. Lately my life has been a thrash. I have been too busy to do much of anything fun let alone go diving. The opportunity for this trip came unexpectedly at the last minute thanks to a comment on the BBS. Still, I wasn't really psyched up for it the way I usually am. I was a little disoriented at the beginning and my mind hadn't caught up with what I was doing. Now though diving was doing it's thing to me. It's that rest and recuperation thing. No matter how tired and burned out you are, diving has to refresh you. It was coming as a bit of a surprise like a memory emerging that you haven't had time to think of. It's partly the people and the magic of the Peace dive boat. I think I was starting to grin a bit because Bob seemed amused that I was getting a bit speechless about the diving. I don't get speechless about anything.

After everyone was aboard and roll call was over, we headed south to between Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island to the 3 1/2 Fathom Spot. As I recall, the reefs here are unusual in that they have huge growths of sand worms with lots of urchins and scallops. I think it is because of the fast currents that go through here a lot, but I'm not sure.

There is all kind of life in this picture including feather dusters and sea cucumbers.
After the usual dive spot briefing by the skipper we headed in. I went a bit south and found a reef that was a huge rock area at about 50 feet. Not really boulders, just a rock rising out of the sand as much as 15 feet in places. Vis was OK, but nothing special. It had person sized cracks in it that went down perhaps 4 feet. Because it is a current area there was a great deal of life on all surfaces including huge areas of corynacus anemones. There were feather duster worms, tunicates, lots of big picnopodia, bat and pisaster stars. For that matter, as the dive went on I was just amazed at all the life I was finding. I tended to go through the cracks, but the life was all over every surface. There were lots of fish and I took a number of nice sized scallops. It was a big rock and I was all over it. I saw some bright yellow sulfur sponges, some nufdibranchs and a small patch of corynactus with about the brightest Day-Glo red color I have ever seen. I didn't see any other divers though I was near the boat, so there had to be other reefs nearby across the sand at its edges. At one point I came to a small crack with more than a dozen 16 inch or so Sheeps Crabs on it. Most seemed asleep, but one got excited so I played with it to see if it wanted to fight. Just 15 feet further I found another small crack with another group of about 10 crabs the same size. They are good eating, but I don't take them unless they are a good deal bigger with a lot more meat.

I saw a lot of these yellow sponges on most dives.
By the time I got back to the boat, I was figuring out that the diving was doing what it does to me. I was near ecstatic. The spot was so beautiful and full of life that it just naturally was having its effect on me and I was remembering just how much I like diving the Channel Islands. It showed me why Santa Rosa is my favorite. Burnout was blowing away in a beautiful invigorating breeze that I have followed most of my life. Still, during the swim in I got a warning that I was tired. Unusual during the many years I have been diving and something to watch.

For some reason the green anemones had an almost a Day-glo brightness.
There had been very little cover for lobster. I had focused on getting scallops. I had only seen one small lobster, but with all the life on the reef, I figured that there had to be lobster nearby. Brian said that he had found a 9 pounder and spent a good deal of time trying to get it. He almost got to it and tried to get it from a different angle, but as he moved around, apparently it took off and he didn't see it again.

The pesto chicken Trish served for lunch was my favorite meal of the trip.

We headed up into the Potato patch between the islands where the waves come from every direction. It can be nasty in there, but though there was some swell from the north and the south. It wasn't the crazy bouncing from every direction that it can be. Someone said that we were heading towards Frazier Point. I figured if we did, it would be in the inner protected cove and not the outer point that is some amazing diving, but really rough on a day like this. As we got to the end of Santa Cruz Island, we continued on around to the front. There were some big waves hitting the end of the island. I didn't know where the skipper was going to try to find divable conditions, but the island is 27 miles long with lots of coves, so I figured they knew where they were going.

This area around Frazier Point offers a lot of special diving, but not on a rough day like this.
As we came around the corner, we went along the dramatic high vertical cliffs that are the main feature of the northern coast inside of Santa Cruz Island. There tends to be currents here. It was so clear that you could see from Point Conception in the north to the Santa Monica Mountains rising in the south.

The start of the cliffs on the north end of Santa Cruz Island. Often, they cannot be dove because of currents.
After a few miles of traveling along the island, the boat pulled into a cove that was perhaps 200 yards across with a sharp corner on the north side that protected it from the prevailing north swell. The shore was 200 foot plus high rock cliffs. Big bugs can be found in this area sometimes, 4 pounders often come up. The skipper told us this was a reserve and we could take lobster, but absolutely nothing else. We were warned that we were in deep water even anchored near shore and to follow the stern anchor line down or else swim to shore before descending. I was not slow out the gate this time. Eric and Jon headed straight to shore and I was right behind them. The vis was real good, probably near 50 feet. When I got to the kelp I went down which was probably a mistake because I was still in about 70 feet of water and the kelp was growing on isolated rocks. I wanted to be much nearer the cliffs and headed in quickly. I got to the main reef which is the rocks that have fallen off the cliffs over the years. It is a harsh place exposed to harsh weather, but it is a lush place full of life. There were lots of laminarias with thick stalks sticking up a few feet from the bottom. I was traveling by pulling on them and on the rocks. I wanted to move fast and stay in front of any other divers because it is not a large area. As I moved along I was aware of the vaguely seen line of dark and light 30 or 40 feet away that was where the water and the shore met rather violently. It was rough enough out here and I had no interest in getting too close to that action. There wasn't very good cover for lobster, but there were fish everywhere and I was taking pictures. There were lots of big sheepheads in the 10 or 12 pound range, though not as many as 30 years ago. Still, these reserves were pretty new. Give them a bit of time. I worked my way along boulders of all sizes up to truck sized. There was a carpet of large mussel shells, but no evidence of the octopuses that were probably responsible for them. I went a long ways about as fast as I could while taking a good look for bugs. At one point I was in about 15 feet of water, so I went to the surface to reconnoiter. I was less than 35 yards from the small point that was the southern end of the cove. Going past that would not be a good idea. There might be currents that I wanted nothing to do with and it was quite a ways from the boat. It was pretty primeval diving where I was and it's not a place to be careless. I went back down and traveled a short distance before I saw Eric and Jon in slightly deeper water. I forgot that I owed Eric a pay back from an earlier dive and continued swimming on. It was a only a minute before something had a hold of my fin and was shaking my entire leg. Since I knew Eric was there, unlike the last time, it ruined the effect. I did want to impress on both Eric and Jon that they should not go past the point and used hand signals as best I could. It was not obvious from underneath just where the point was. I finally made my turn and started heading quickly back. I knew I was tired and did not want a long surface swim. As usual I made the trip back at the bottom of the reef as I had made the trip out as near the top as I could go. There were fish and more fish. I found a group of baby calico bass and took their pictures. I found a ling cod looking out from a kelp stand. He stayed long enough for a picture and then took off into the gloom. Here the garibaldis that are so common off Catalina, were represented by only one individual that I saw. I flashed my light in one deep undercut and sure enough there was a couple near legal sized lobster way back in it and one more a little further on. I moved along quickly and got to a place where the rocks changed direction some and sort of forced me to the shore. I wanted nothing to do with that so I surfaced to see where I was. I had reached where the cove shore turned sharply out under the cliff. The boat was still a fair distance and I wanted to make the swim underwater, but I knew I was low on air. I went down and moved quick. As I came over a small boulder, there was a nice legal sized lobster right out in the open. I was already in bailout mode and did not have my mind prepared for an instant grab. That bug was long gone before I got my focus. It was time to go up so I headed away from the cliff at an angle up into the kelp. When I reached the surface I was behind the boat about 40 feet. Ahhhh. A few lobster were taken, but only a few.

There were a lot of large male Sheepheads. Considering the number of them here
and 30 years ago, I don't think that they can be properly called Alphas.

Frankly, I was thinking how tasty this guy looked.

What me worry? I'm in a reserve.

These baby Calico Bass were... well... cute.

This one is not cute by any stretch, though lings have an interesting beauty.

It is some harsh rock wall that hold sway against the waves that come in this cove.

I like a short swim just now.
The next stop was an interesting cove, somewhat protected like the last. I had been there before. I suspected it had no name, but I remembered the small blow holes along the shore where the waves forced water into the bottom of cracks, blowing out air and spray from the top with a fair amount of hissing. It was a neat place with two small islets at the end. There were a lot of lobster traps over a big area and it looked like a big reef. I decided that I should sit out the dive. I had pushed it pretty ahrd on the last dive and I remembered that I had been tired after the last dive. My days of 7 hard lobster dives in a day were past. Skipping the dive seemed the better part of discretion. I didn't think it would be that productive anyway. The lobsters were probably pretty safe in the deep cracks just below the surface that went into the island. A late night dive here might be pretty productive. I opted to dive the hot tub. Some bugs were taken, but not many. I was told that they were way back in as I expected.

Before the boat got crowded again I showered and changed. The simple pleasures of life can be among the best. We all babbled about the diving. I was talking to Jon about his compass as I have to replace mine. He had me laughing like crazy when he suggested that they gear me up DIR compliant and take a picture. That would be shocker. It was 3 1/2 hours to port and I knew to lie down for any sleep I could get. The ride back was mild, but I slept little. That was OK, I rested. When I went topside again, there was another dessert to enjoy and lots of lemonade as my choice for rehydration. It's so beautiful on the ocean.

I have to make mention of the Peace. I have gone on this boat so many times over the years, if too infrequently of late. It is really a special boat. I have my opinions of why. Frankly I am amazed that they have been able to retain what makes them so good for so long. Their motto says it is because they are willing to work the hardest. I think it is more. It is also because they care the most.

Soon we were in the harbor at the end of another great trip. The Santanas were still blowing, but here they were soft and warm. So many winds had been calmed as the effect of the ocean had overwhelmed them. I was ready to head home. I was also better ready to face the winds and demands of life that had so burned me out in the past months of stress. Sometimes diving brings us beauty, excitement and adventure. Sometimes it blows us the energy, inspiration and rejuvenation we need to face life.

On a calmer day I've swam around those rocks, but today they serve as protection from weather.

The evening has followed us down the island.

One already hit the pan.... Re-models suck. I want my kitchen back.