This trip is with my dive buddy SoCalDave.
We started out emailing back and forth about heading out either Saturday or Monday for a day of diving. Beach or boat we just hadn’t made a decision. We finally got together over the phone and made a plan to go out on my boat from Huntington Harbor to Catalina for a three tank dive trip on Saturday the 5th.
Saturday morning we loaded up the boat with gear and supplies (food, beer...for the ride back) and headed out. It was warm and sticky from the humidity so it was good to be underway. The trip out was nice with about three to four foot swells with a long interval and no wind chop, out to the island in about a hour. We got to Goat Harbor and headed west to find a spot to get wet. The island was quite crowded due to the long weekend.
Our first site was Lava Wall named for the beautiful red rocks tilted at steep angles right up out of the sea. We anchored in about 30 feet of water, raised the flag and geared up. Once in Dave said "Viz is great". Now having dove Catalina numerous times I was expecting maybe 30’. I was blown away when I finally took a look and saw we were floating in air. Viz was easily 80’ making this the clearest dive at Catalina I have ever done. We headed along the reef looking for critters and came upon thousands on juvenile fish of all sorts. We also saw a four foot shovel nose guitar fish. A first for me. Numerous skates and large bass. Dive time 47min. Additional bonus at the end of the dive, Dave found a brand new manual bilge pump in about 30’ of water and gave it to me. I love salvage.
We pulled anchor and headed west to Bird Rock to dive the wall and check out the swim through arch. Once around the point the wind and swell picked up, not a good omen. We got up to Bird Rock and the windward side was completely blown out and the leeward side had another dive boat in the only anchorage that was protected from the wind and swell…and the stench of bird guano. Having nowhere shallow enough to anchor far enough away from the dive boat we decided to head back around Blue Cavern Point to protected waters.
We found an awesome spot to anchor just around the point in 50’ of water fifty yards around Blue Cavern Point. I was really concerned about the anchor losing its bite as the stern of the boat was only 20’ from the rocks. We sat for a bit to see how the boat wanted to settle. Satisfied we geared up and went in. We started out west and took a look at the anchor line and decided to dive down and insure the anchor had a good bite. Glad we did. It was ever so slightly lifting with every swell. I did not like the look of it. Dave took no hesitation in grabbing the anchor and shoving it under a very large rock. It was sound. We then took off and found the most incredible wall at around 70’ with large overhangs. That wall dropped off into who knows how deep of water. Found a great honey pot of lobster (mental note) and lots of beautiful growths of Gorgonians. Numerous juvenile fish, bass and sheephead. Dive time 54 min. at a max depth of 75’.
We came up to find some joker had anchored 15’ feet off the port side. I was pissed at first then remembered that the world is full of idiots. I am unsure of the distance, but I think 100’ away at idle may be safe from divers in the water.
We stayed in the same spot for our third dive and after a surface interval and some food we switched tanks and jumped in. We headed east this time and did a lot of looking in cracks and crevices. We found a couple of large Morays and Dave took a good number of pictures. (my daughter had been using my camera for myspace pics and had temporarily “misplaced” it). This dive was okay but not as eventful as the first two. Dive time was 60min at max depth of 53’.
We changed to dry clothing and headed back to Huntington. We knew the crossing was going to be rough so we just went a little slower and cracked a beer. The seas were a steady four foot swell with occasional six footers, with severe wind chop. You just had to pick your spot in the swells and throttle up or down to navigate through. We made it back in an hour and twenty, had another cold one, docked the boat and cleaned her up. Great time and looking forward to the next one.
Excellent day of diving with a great divebuddy/deckhand.