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cortes bank
divebumNsandyeggo - 3/11/2008 1:04 AM
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Category: Travel
Comments: 1
howdy y`all - late last night i got back from working as a divemaster on one of the horizon`s ocean adventure cruises. when i was at work last tuesday afternoon, one of the guys from the dive shop came up and wanted to know what i had planned for the weekend - my response - yardwork i guess, since my taxes are done. then he asks me if i`m interested in divemastering on a charter this weekend. without even knowing where it was going i said hell yes. turned out it was the horizon, leaving thursday night for cortes bank, then sailing over to santa barbara island, from there to san clemente island, and then back into san diego sunday night. sucks to me be i think. so i took friday off, and thursday night i hopped aboard the horizon with eight other crew and thirty paying passengers. it was pretty hectic really, since i only knew one of the guys on the crew. very quickly i had to learn everyone`s name to the point where i could identify them coming up the swim ladder in their wet suit, hood and mask. i have to tell you - that isn`t particularly easy. basically what you have to do is give the pre-dive briefing, help people resolve equipment issues, keep track of who is in the water (or not) at all times, send the skiff to pick up errant divers, and handle medical emergencies if and when they arise (fortunately we didn`t have any of the latter). i was one of two dm`s on board, so we were able to take turns riding herd over the divers, and when i wasn`t dm`ing i got to dive. if you`re not familiar with it, cortes bank is a location 100 miles due west of san diego (yep, in the open ocean), where an underwater mountain range comes up to within 25 feet of the surface. it took us all night thursday night to get there, but by dawn on friday we were anchored on the bank, and we started diving around 8. we did five dives friday, and people were taking so many lobsters that the captain decided to stay there over night. i managed to get in one dive (i`ll upload the pics in a bit). saturday morning we started diving the bank again, but the wind and swell were picking up, so after the second dive (i got to do that one), we pulled up anchor and headed for santa barbara island. rough sailing - the boat was pitching the whole time, sliding down through the swells, and people were puking all over the place. fortunately, i`ve never been subject to sea sickness, so it was just an e-ticket ride to me. i think i slept most of the way over, but as we got closer the other divemaster approached me and said he screwed up his knee bringing the skiff back aboard on the bank, and could i handle the dm duties for the two night dives. the two night dives were pretty squirrely actually - on the first one i had to dispatch the skiff to get four of the divers, and eight on the second one. it all worked out though, and i was really happy to report to the captain just after midnight that everyone was back on board and accounted for. plus, they got some hellacious bugs there. after we had everyone back on, we pulled up anchor and steamed over to san clemente island, where we were anchored when i woke up sunday morning. if you haven`t seen the island, you haven`t missed much (looks like baja basically), but the diving in the kelp beds is frickin beyond. the other dm was working sunday`s dives so i basically had the morning off, so i slept in, then got up and got geared up for the last dive of the trip - unbelievable. i`ve done 1300 dives up and down the coast of california, and i`ve never experienced viz like i did on that dive - it was every bit of 100 feet. strands of kelp floating up from the bottom that you could see the entire length from 68 feet. i wasn`t hunting this weekend, and given that my camera housing had a bit of moisture in it saturday night, i opted to leave it behind on that last dive, and just work on fin kicks and go sight-seeing. i swear to you - the viz yesterday was at least as good as it was when i was diving the lee side of bonaire last august. so for a little over an hour i just wandered the reefs, worked on helicopter kicks to navigate and rotate, worked on modified frog kicks to get through the few areas of light surge, and generally just watched fish behavior. the only way i can describe it is that it was like diving in a massive aquarium. nirvana at its best. last night we pulled in around 7:30, said goodbye to my 30 new friends, then cleaned up and scrubbed the boat down. after that i got to talking with the captain, and apparently i did okay, as i`m on their list of standby dm`s for trips this summer, including some trips to guadalupe to play with the great whites. i can`t believe i get paid to do this.


BrianM - 3/15/2008 3:48 PM
Great, I kind of wish I hadn`t read this since I decided not to make the annual "end of the bug season" trip to Cortez this year... yes I am jealous! Sounds like a great trip. I haven`t been on the Horizon but I have dived off the Ocean Oddessy. Great bunch of people and nice boat. Did you get any pics of the bugs??