Nov 072013

two harbors and cactus Diver in kelp starfish and kelp California Spiny Lobster

Last weekend we went to Two Harbors on the isthmus of Catalina Island with the PowerScuba group. We had gorgeous weather and the diving was great. More photos can be found here: More photos of diving and hiking at Two Harbors, Catalina Island

It has been a number of years since I’ve been out, so I was surprised to learn that the dive boat which was dedicated for the site (the Garibaldi) had been dry-docked for a while. This means that any diving happening here is from boats coming from Long Beach/San Pedro area on the mainland, or coming up from Avalon area. This makes it much more difficult to organize dive trips with Two Harbors as a base as there is no local boat to help service divers. One never knows the whims of the CIC, who dictates what happens for much of the island.

Two Harbors always feels like a quiet rustic getaway, but that is partially because of the time of year that we show up – in late fall. By this time of year most of the moorings are empty, a far cry from the 4th of July when almost every harbor on the island is pushed into overflow and the island is packed with people. This time of year we are able to stay in the overflow temporary staff housing, which has a bit of a trailer park/work camp feel to it. The cabins are all close together and offer a meeting area for cooking and gathering, so it feels a bit like going back to camp as a grown up. This is one of my favorite places to visit, and my favorite time of year. Needless to say I really enjoyed the trip and meeting folks from PowerScuba. I can’t wait to go back!

Oct 202013

A month back I finally got around to getting back in the water for some diving. I had just splurged on a large purchase – the Nauticam underwater housing for my Olympus OMD EM5 camera. I just had the kit lens and housing in this instance, and no strobes or lights attached. Some first impressions:

  • It is heavy.  My previous experiences have been with plastic body housings and this has a very different feel underwater and above.  I’ll need to think about adding some floats to achieve neutral buoyancy.
  • It is well made.  Everything is very well fitted together and machined, no need to worry about anything breaking on it.  All buttons are accessible and easy to use.
  • I’m going to use the LCD most of the time.  The housing has the option of using either the large live view LCD screen or the smaller viewfinder screen.  Thus far I find it much easier to use the larger screen with a mask

Next steps I need to get it fitted out with a tray, arm, strobe, and probably a video light of some sort as I have an existing one which can be converted.

Jun 192010

avalon dive park avalon dive park avalon dive park avalon dive park
Photos of Avalon’s Underwater Dive Park

Adam, Paul, Pete and I took the Dana Point ferry over to Avalon for a day of diving. It started overcast and turned into a lovely sunny day. I need to take more Fridays off. Adam joined the club and picked up a Stanley 24gal tub for transporting gear aka dive box on wheels. Pete and Paul tried out their new DSS backplates. We are starting to look like a scuba gang from the 50’s – same box, same dry suit, same backplates. Hmmm. We need some sort of snap dance to intimidate other gangs.

Aug 182009

yukon ruby e yukon ruby e yukon ruby e
2009.08.06 Diving Yukon and Ruby E

Heather, David, and I had some great dives on the Yukon and Ruby E at the start of the month. Visibility was the best I had seen on the Yukon and it was a lot of fun to explore.

avalon dive park avalon dive park avalon dive park
2009.08.14 Diving Avalon Dive Park

Adam, Paul, Pete, and I took off for some quick ferry diving at Avalon dive park. Our ghetto dive boxes with tank bands worked great.  I’ll post some photos at some point.  Visibility above 40 feet was great, deeper it was very cloudy. I got to meet Oscar, the huge sheephead. His size isn’t apparent in the photos, but he is a monster.

Nov 182008

Anna, Pete, Paul, and myself had a great time on Catalina Island last weekend. We started in Avalon, had a nice night in the Aurora Hotel, and then took a taxi van overland to Two Harbors. The ride was a bit crazy but provided great views of the island and even a few bison along the way.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The Santa Ana winds that were burning north LA were calming the seas and warming the air on the island. We did several dives over the course of the weekend, here is a quick round-up:

  • Friday afternoon we swam over to the north point off of two harbors for a nice easy dive.  Run time was about an hour due to the shallow depth.  Visibility wasn’t amazing, but there was a fair bit of life around to explore.
  • Saturday morning we dive Ship Rock with a bit of current.  Loads and loads of blacksmith in the kelp with a curious sea lion buzzing the divers.  The swim south was tough going against the current, but gliding back around the rock in the current on the way back was a lot of fun.  Visibility was decent, 25-50 feet.
  • Late Saturday morning we dove the NE side of Bird Rock.  We started to the east on the fantastic gorgonian walls – I love em.  After that we explored the north wall and the shallow kelp.
  • Saturday afternoon we kayaked over to the marine preserve and went free diving and snorkeling in the kelp.  No seal buddies were there to play, but the lobsters and horn sharks were fun.
  • Sunday morning we tried a kayak dive off Isthmus Reef.  The reef wall was interesting, but very bare.  The life at 20′ more than made up for it – lots of leopard sharks and other fish.
Apr 232008

Two weekends ago (man am I slacking on posts) Anna and I went to Two Harbors with the dive group again. It was a gorgeous 3 day weekend – Flat water, hot weather, clear skies. We did some kayaking and wandering around the island, but nothing too adventurous. I managed to get in a night dive, two boat dives, and a kayak dive. The night dive had a lot of octopus out on the sand hunting, which is always fun to see. The first boat dive was to sea fan grotto, which was interesting in spots, but didn’t hold much life. The next dive was at Bird Rock, which had a load of sea fans, some cool swim-throughs, lots of nudis, and a good showing of fish. It was so nice we kayaked back to it on Sunday morning for another great dive. A long weekend Two Harbors is definitely worth the drive to Long Beach.

Apr 092008

Last Friday I headed out to Avalon for the day with Anna, Mani, Adam and Randi. Anna played aunt and watched Carson while we did a few dives. Visibility wasn’t as fantastic, but kelp forests are always great to explore. It is a pretty easy trip for some great diving, so I’m sure I’ll be back.

This Friday we will be in Two Harbors, Catalina’s isthmus.

Nov 122007

bat ray harbor seal kelp forest opeleys
Photos of Diving and snorkeling near Two Harbors, Santa Catalina Island, California

Continued from Two Harbors, Catalina Island

We arrived at Two Harbors in the morning, and got in the water as quickly as possible. As part of the package for our trip to Two Harbors, there were a number of kayaks available for free use. Anna and I took the opportunity to use them to get to snorkeling spots in the marine sanctuary near the UC research station. The area has a great kelp bed, and a lot of sea life. We had a lot of fun snorkeling around the kelp and spotting fish and rays. Great visibility in the morning, probably around 50 feet.

Some of the most fun snorkeling was when the harbor seals came out to play. In the shallow water of the kelp forest there were three that would come to visit. Two were a bit skittish, and would only nibble and sniff when they didn’t think you were watching them. But the most curious one eventually started to be more and more bold, hugging my legs, and examining Anna’s hands. It was a lot of fun to see them blow bubbles and corkscrew around you. It wasn’t quite as bold in deeper water, but if you swam about 10 feet away when it was hunting on the bottom, it would follow you and your tasty fins to the surface, before swimming away. I’m assuming they are wary on the surface in deeper water because of the local shark population.

That evening I did a night dive with some people from the dive group. The kick out was amazing, the bioluminescence was so intense you didn’t need a light to see other divers under water. Everyone glowed teal and green. The group was too big for wandering around the kelp, and some of the divers didn’t seem to be that comfortable with the kelp, especially in the dark. Splitting up and moving into the less dense waters eventually happened, and we managed to see some life out on the sand then – shovelnose, rays, halibut, and some horn sharks.

The next day’s dives started at Ship Rock. This was a great site with huge numbers of fish. It is also a great mixed environment, rocks and kelp forest from 0-60 feet, then mixed plants, corals, and fans from 60-100 feet, with a sandy bottom. The kelp was amazing to dive through, some of them in the 50-60 foot range. We saw a seal hunting, but he didn’t stop to play. Lots of sea cucumbers, but I couldn’t find any eels. Great dive, and the visibility was fantastic, 40-60 feet.

The next dive was near the shore and a boy scout camp, deserted for the fall. It has a great kelp forest just off the shore with lots of fans and corals. The visibility on this dive was a bit churned up from divers, but still a lot of sea life to spot. Shallow depth made for a nice, long dive. Sunday morning we got in one last snorkel session with the seals before packing up for the 2 PM ferry. I hope to come out here again soon, the diving and snorkeling was amazing.