Getting Wrecked

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Posted by Patrick on February 22, 2015 at 13:09:36:

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do – so, Cindy prepping for our forthcoming nuptials banished me from her presence for the day. After giving it extended, deep and thoughtful consideration (about fifteen and a half seconds), I opted for a wreck diving sojourn with Ken Kolowitz’s (CIDA - Channel Islands Dive Adventures) trip aboard ASANTE. It was a light load with just five divers from the nine that had scheduled allowing tons of room for gear and cameras.

In the main channel on our early departure, we passed the morning feeding of the local sea lions at the commercial fish docks. The generosity of the fish market folks produced a feeding frenzy with gulls, pelicans and sea lions all scrambling for a bit of the bounty.

Our first dive of the day to the wreck of the Ace 1, ex- Navy LCI-735. The Ace, a WWII vet that had been converted to a fishing barge went down in 1948 and has become one of the deeper artificial reef sites and supports myriad local spicies. On the dive, the warm, blue, 50+ foot visibility from the surface down to 70-feet gave way to 55° on the bottom with a dark, milky, 20-ish feet of visibility that didn’t allow for much photography but it was an interesting dive none the less.

Next dive was on an unidentified wreck a bit shallower in 110 feet where visibility was slightly better and with more vertical structure. On the ascent, between 70 and 40 feet, we were joined by a number of the Pelagic Red Crabs. They were pretty skittish and not really amenable to having their pictures taken.

Dive three we ended up aborting. The location of the Georgia Straits (a small tug that went down in a collision in 1965), ended up being very close to and equidistant between three of the large container ships that are waiting to unload in the ports of LA/Long Beach. The proximity of the ships was somewhat daunting but workable since were operating live boat. What wasn’t workable was pretty much zero visibility on the bottom.

The next jump was on the as yet unidentified wreck known locally as African Queen. Visibility on the wreck was a hazy 8-10 foot which you would think would be enough to be situationally aware, but apparently not for me. I managed to kneel on a very well camouflaged Torpedo Ray who responded by zapping my right leg. As startling and attention-grabbing as the shock was, I managed to get a bad image of the live wire before she drifted off into the murk. The ache from the shock was manageable so I completed the dive, but despite being an interesting experience, it is one I will gladly forgo in the future.

Interesting events for the day were not quite over. On the run home, a loud thump and a revving of one of the engines indicated we had an issue. The issue was a broken prop shaft on our port engine. After Diver Dave pushed the shaft in far enough for Captain Gary to secure it, we slowly and safely made our way home on one engine.

A very interesting day on the water with a great crew!

Feeding time at the fish markets!

An intact cage lamp on the Ace 1 – the glass enclosure still holding air from the 1948 sinking

More vertical structure on the unidentified wreck

A quick glimpse of my shocking new friend

One image of the skittish pelagic Red Crabs (Pleuroncodes planipes) we found on the dives

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