I’ve managed to neglect my blog for a little over three weeks. It’s been a VERY busy three weeks. My friend Brian was up in NorCal for a conference and decided to tack a little scuba side trip down here before he went home. Two days after he leaves, I need to tend to my responsibilities as one of the managers of the Exhibit Hall for Anime Expo. Then a week after AX, it was July’s model build gathering. Strap in folks, time for a long ass post… okay, fine, I’ll split the post. So first things first, the scuba diving weekend with Brian.
With Brian coming out, I decided to do a day trip out to Catalina on the Friday after he gets into town. Add in Art, Jenn, and Helen, the four of use woke up around 4 in the morning so as to catch the first boat out to the island that left downtown Long Beach at 6:15 AM. Jenn and Art were still on their fishing kick so they brought all their gear. Helen originally wanted to do the zipline thingy but it was booked solid so she was just going to wander around town and hang out with the fishers. Brian and I, of course, were going to be spending all our time underwater.
The boat trip takes about an hour and we’re on the island. We split up and make plans to meet up for lunch around noon. While gearing up, some old guy comes up asking if we can dive near his boat that is moored in the marina for his cell phone that he dropped into the ocean. Not really thinking it through, and being the good Samaritans that we are, we agree. We gear up and walk towards the marina and I see a sign that explicitly reads “no diving”, and raise the question. The guy assures me that he’s already talked to the harbour master and has permission. Fine, we continue, get into his little dingy, and head over to his boat. I jump into the water as does Brian, and at the same time, some harbour master patrol boat comes by and screams at us for what we were about to do. The old guy tells the harbour master that he’s talked to another harbour master, and they sorta figure things out. The harbour master then tells Brian and I that only one of us can dive. So Brian gets back into the dingy and I dive down. Dropping about 25 ft, I find the cell phone in less than a minute and surface. I get back into the boat and the guy tried to give us some money for our services. We decline. Hell, we just want to get the f out of the marina area so we don’t get ticketed for diving in the marina area. The old guy takes us to the edge of the dive park and we pop back into the water to begin our first dive.
We get in and drop to the bottom which puts us at about 90-80 ft. And we start heading towards the island and shallower waters in a slow pace. A school of fish follow us most of the way. As we continue, we’re about 5-6 feet off the ocean floor and gliding along. There is no other description other than flying that can accurately express the feeling as we swim with the fish in a singular direction towards the island. While heading shallow, I see a leopard shark, and as I fiddled to get my camera ready, it turned and just bolted. I couldn’t even get Brian’s attention so that he could see it before it ran. It was about 3-4 ft in length. Damn pretty shark!
The visibility isn’t the greatest, but it’s fair enough. We finish the dive and exit. A few divers on shore asked us if some old guy came and asked us to get his cell phone. We readily admitted that we already helped the guy to which the divers all said that the old guy was asking around all day the previous day for help and the divers around were all reluctant to help him out. Apparently, the divers didn’t want to be ticketed or fined for helping the guy out. No truer has the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” rang in my head. Brian and I decide to keep our involvement with the guy to ourselves. As we’re finishing up our surface interval and preparing for the next dive, a diver comes up and asks about the cell phone guy. Apparently, this diver had made a deal to go get it for a small monetary fee. We told him that the issue was resolved and he walked away slightly annoyed with himself for being late. And Brian and I didn’t even think twice about our answer when money was involved. Stupid Brian’s bloody morals are starting to rub off… well, influence is a two way street….
We head back into the water this time entering with another group of divers. We dropped in and split off from the divers to just explore. I picked up a decent shot of a tree fish and a really nice shot of a Garibaldi. And as you can see from the first shot, visibility wasn’t the greatest. At least we’re in the water I guess.
We surfaced after about 40 minutes. Our tanks were sent off to be filled and we packed some of our gear up and headed towards town to meet up with everyone. Still in our wet suits, we meet up with Helen. Apparently, Art and Jenn are doing quite well fishing so they’re not leaving their post. Helen has been tasked to retrieve food for them. We sat down and had a decent seafood lunch. After lunch, Brian and I headed back, Helen went and grabbed food for the fishers and we parted ways.
Our third dive stayed a little on the shallow side as I just spent time looking for fish and snapping pictures. Lots of bass, golbys and kelp fish.
Brian points out an abalone. Too bad we’re not allowed to take anything, it would have been damn tasty! I picked up a few rocks and rubbed them together which usually draws the attention of fish. I tell Brian to do the same and he immediately attracts some fish. Bass and sheephead fish come and see what all the commotion is all about. And a calico bass got right up close to Brian.
We surfaced and had about a 2 hour long surface interval as we started chatting with one of the locals on the island and someone Brian is familiar with through the SCUBA Boards forums, DrBill. Our fourth and final dive lasted a little longer at about an hour and change. We stayed shallow and I snapped pictures of a school of mackerel. Towards the end of our dive, we found a fairly large horn shark napping on the ocean floor.
When we surfaced, almost all the divers were gone. Coming in were divers getting ready for evening dives. We chatted with a few people while we dried our gear. Helen walked out and greeted us at casino point. Art and Jenn were still furiously fishing away. With our stuff dry enough, we packed it all away and started our march into town with all our gear. Damn rough on our backs. As soon as we got into town and saw the taxis, we hailed one to take us to the pier where Art and Jenn have camped out and where we’ll eventually board our ship back to the mainland.
We get to the pier and Jenn and Art are still busy fishing. They’ve managed to throw about 112 fish back into the ocean, and keep about 70 or so. No dinner for them, they’re going to stick it out and fish until the sun goes down. Our return ship leaves at 9:45 so we have a good couple of hours. We leave our gear with the fisherman and Brian, Helen, and I walk back to town to have dinner.
Nothing like a liter of hefeweizen from the local microbrewery to end the day. After our meal bbq meats, we order food for the fishers and head back out into the cool night.
The trip back to short was very quick as we all, with the exception of little miss sea sick Jenn, passed the f out on the boat. Back home, the fish was laid out and separated.
The next day was a recovery day. We did go out and get the tanks filled, but didn’t dive. Conditions were really bad off the coast. We then spent the day making fish tacos with the fish that Art and Jenn had separated out for our own consumption. Damn good fish tacos. Not being able to get onto a dive boat for the following day, Brian and I decided to head back out to Catalina on the express and do another full day of diving. Time time, we packed our own lunch and had plans for all our dives. Again, waking up at 4 in the morning, we headed out to Long Beach and took the first boat out. Landing, we grabbed a taxi and headed for casino point. I grabbed the taxi’s advertisement brochure so that I can call the dispatch from casino point for when we want to get picked up at the end of the day. We also booked the 4:45 boat back to Long Beach. This put a time crunch on our dive schedule.
Without the need to deal with some old guy and his cell phone. We geared up and dropped. Our first dive was planned for a depth dive. We wanted to hit 115. We dropped and headed straight out towards our target depth. on our way out, I saw a huge bat ray sleeping just under the surface of the sand. I wanted to snap a picture but Brian motioned to keep our goal in mind and not do anything else until we hit our goal and returned back. So no picture of the huge sleeping bat ray. We hit about 110 and decided to call it as our time at depth was getting close to non decompression times. We took a quick picture of our depth and headed back. The water was damn cold at about 54 degrees.
When we got shallow, there wasn’t anything else for us to do but just enjoy being under water so we started taking goofy pictures of ourselves.
Not wanting to be outdone, Brian pulls his mask and reg, but keeps his eyes closed… kinda defeating the purpose of the picture. But more silliness ensues.
We surfaced and did our minimum surface interval while our tanks were filled, then headed back into the water. This trip, we wanted to check out the glass bottom boat, so we headed out to the middle of the park and dropped. The visibility was much worse the two days prior when we were here, so I didn’t get many clear shots. And the cold was causing a bit of condensation on my wide angle lens. We found a wine bottle filled with sand so more silliness was to be had. Brian decided to retake his mask off/reg off picture, this time with his eyes open.
Throwing the bottle, I accidentally hit a fish with it. Funniest thing I saw on that dive. We surfaced, had some snacks while we waited for our minimum interval to pass, then headed back down. This time, we wanted to hit the Sur Jack, a fairly large ship that lies on the bottom of the park near the area where we first dropped on the first day. We headed out on the surface then dropped down to find the boat. Not much was left of the thing and the poor visibility didn’t help with pictures. We explored it for a little while then headed towards shallow waters to finish our dive. The time was about 2 PM, and if we timed things correctly with our surface interval and our next dive, we would be able to finish the dive, dry our gear and get back in time for our schedule return trip to the mainland.
We time our last dive out to about 40 minutes and stayed shallow. I snapped some pictures of the really colorful plant life. Another picture of Brian snapping pictures himself, and another kelp fish.
We surfaced, geared down and let our stuff dry while we talked to another diver that was complaining about the rather poor visibility. We discussed tropical dive locations which only lends to fire Brian and I up on doing a destination dive. Once the gear was dry enough, I called the taxi dispatch and we packed up our gear. Arriving on the docks we had upgraded our tickets to the “commodore” lounge so that we wouldn’t have to wait in the long lines with the common folk. We each grabbed a rum and coke and enjoyed our ride back to downtown Long Beach.
Getting back home, we soaked and hung up our gear, showered, then headed out. On a whim, I suggested getting massages, for which Brian was totally up for, so we headed out to a place than Jenn recommended. I had texted ‘tine earlier to see if she wanted to have dinner with Brian and I, but she already had dinner plans. While at the massage parlor, she calls and asks if we’re eating yet. I tell her to meet us at Ojiya in Hacienda Heights around 9 as our massages would be done. Our feet and backs are completely destroyed – but we’re very relaxed and after a weekend of diving and lugging our gear around, this was definitely a good idea. We met up with ‘tine and hand dinner, then the three of use went back to my house where Jenn, Art, and Helen all converged and we just spent the rest of the evening hanging outside with the fire pit.
Our plan for a night dive slowly drifted apart. The next morning, upon checking the conditions – I made the call to not dive. Conditions were just too poor. Heavy surge, fairly high surf, and low visibility. Really not worth the trouble. We ended up having a three hour lunch with ‘tine at the Daikokuya in Costa Mesa. Then returned home for about an hour before heading out and picking up Jenn for dinner in downtown at the Wurstekuche. ‘Tine came out and had dinner with us as well.
Brian’s flight was at 7 in the morning. We get up and leave the house around 5:40, and with traffic, I manage to get him to the airport by 6:26. I only find out later that he had missed the baggage check in time, but was still able to check his bags and was rushed through the security line pissing off a older gay gentleman in the process. But he made his flight. I went to work with about 20 hours of sleep under my belt from whence he had shown up the previous Thursday evening. At 11, I headed back out to the airport to pick up Pam, the other manager of the AX Exhibit hall, and dropped her off at the Exhibit hall before returning to work. I went to lunch with Pete and Kris, I’m a complete zombie, they are amazed that I’m still functioning on a basic level. I ended up leaving work around 4 PM. I crashed around 6 PM and didn’t wake up until about 5:30 AM the next morning.
I’m back at work at 6:30, Wednesday, which is AX Day Zero. I will need to pick up Su from her house, pick up a few things from my house, costco, then head into downtown and start my Anime Expo duties. Story to be continued on the next post…
For more picture and videos from the SCUBA weekend, click here: http://gamerabaenre.com/scuba20.htm