Doug's Catalina Trip

California Kelp Forest

I've asked Doug Lowe, one of our instructors at Dive Utah to give us a report from the latest Psalty trip. (I think he liked it!)
~ Dave

What do you get when you combine perfect weather, a great group of divers, a boat with all of the comforts of home and Catalina Island? If you don't know the answer to that, read on to find out.

Our first dive was Hen Rock. After we were given a wonderful breakfast of quiche, fruit and bagels, we donned our gear and hit the water for a weight check and a very easy, shallow, warm-up dive. The water temperature was in the mid sixties. Everyone was very comfortable in 7mm wetsuits. Then it was out of the water and time to dive into the gourmet burgers thatawaited us.

The next dive was in Goat Harbor. We encountered a small, shy octopus holding a piece of shell. The kelp was incredible, waving back and forth in the mild surge. Visibility was fifty feet or better.

Our Captain, Gary, did not want us to see any of the same scenes twice. We relocated after almost every dive. Our next stop would be Long Point in Pirates Cove. This sight proved to be a very interesting place to dive. Huge lobsters peering out from under overhangs and a nearly tame, seven-foot moray eel greeted us.

Most of us decided this would be a great spot for a night dive. After a wonderful dinner of Grilled Ginger Chicken, we went for the water again this time equipped with lights. Now, there were lobster and fish everywhere. We also saw a small horn shark and some little pink shrimp running around in the sand.

Now it was time for cheesecake, chocolate cake and a good night's sleep. (Are you getting the idea that these guys really know how to feed you?)

The next morning (after another wonderful breakfast) we anchored at Italian Gardens in search of the mysterious Giant Sea Bass. These fish are the size of Volkswagens and travel in groups of 12 or more. They are a very peaceful fish and have no natural predators. At one time they were hunted to near extinction. Now their numbers are rebuilding and this time of year they are seen regularly in this area. About half of our group spotted them on this dive. There was a bit of a current, so we began by swimming into it so we would surface back by the boat. Gary provided us with a line that hung from the bow so we could pull ourselves up to the anchor line and descend that way. (These guys think of everything.)

We moved a bit and dropped anchor again. This time, the rest of the group saw the Sea Bass. They are beyond belief. "Amazing" is the only way to describe their tremendous stature and slow approach to friendly divers as if they were as curious about us as we were about them.

Lasagna awaited us back at the surface. I can't believe I didn't gain 10 pounds on this trip. Add a little warm French bread and a cold soda and I had to say to myself "It doesn't get any better than this." Well, maybe I could have uncovered sunken treasure on one of the dives but that would be the only thing that would have made this a better trip.

We had time for one more quick dive at a spot called Twin Peaks before our departure to the main land. It was full of life. One of the members in our group said it was like diving in a tossed salad.

So what do you get when you combine perfect weather, a great group of divers, a boat with all of the comforts of home and Catalina Island? A perfect sense of well being, a very full stomach and a longing to go back and do it all again.

Let's go diving!
Doug
Fall 2001

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