Notes About California Diving

CopyRight @ 1997

     Much of the best California diving is from the many dive
charter boats that go out from San Diego to Monterey. Most of these
schedule their destinations as the Channel Islands. Single and two
day trips are the norm, but some trips are for a week or even more.
Since this page describes California boat diving, it can only really
be of use to new California divers or divers from out of state that
are unfamiliar with how it is done here. It is not like most places.
It is colder than any coral waters, yet warm enough for comfortable
diving. Because of the length of the trips and variety of diving, a
diver is likely to use more tanks in a day than most other places.

     Most trips are to quite casual diving at Catalina, Anacapa or
Santa Cruz Islands. Santa Rosa, San Clemente and Santa Barbara
Islands are considered a bit more remote. San Nicolas and San Miguel
Islands are long hauls that require good weather.
     A one day trip to the Catalina often starts at 7 AM and returns
at 5 PM. It is pretty standard for an enthusiastic diver to do 4 tanks
of air on one of these trips, though 5 is common enough. A one day
trip to San Nicolas leaves at midnight. Diving starts at dawn (or even
before) and the crew will want to leave the island by 12:30. This
should allow for a return before 7 PM. That pretty much limits divers
to a maximum of 4 dives.

     Realize, this may refer to one trip on a boat, but it may be two
dive trips. There are likely to be two kinds of divers on any trip.
There is your casual diver out for sight seeing or photography and
there is your manic hunter out to maximize bottom time and cover
territory. The casual diver may only do every other tank. The hunters
may do 7 hard dives, with a big tank or doubles, and cover ground at a
full sprint. The hunters reach their greatest frenzy in lobster season,
but the halibut hunters do swims that are amazing. There tend to be
much fewer hunters on the trips to the inner islands and fewer of the
casual divers go for the long hauls to the outer islands. Both kinds of
divers are on the boats though, so these descriptions must be read with
this in mind. Casual divers tend to like summer and fall. Lobster
hunting is in fall and winter. Halibut is hunted all year, but
especially when lobster season is closed. Casual divers tend to avoid
the cold of winter.
     Little needs to be said about the casual diving. It is less
demanding and more comfortable. You normally do not dive at every stop
and you do not travel far from the boat. Catch some rays. Take off your
wetsuit. Jump in the hot tub. Get some sleep. It's nice.
     The hunter on the other hand may be casual. They may like calm
weather, sunny days and good vis... or they may be hard core and have
only one thing in mind. They get out of the water, get their gear
ready for the next dive and then try to preserve their body warmth.
Miss a jump... Only if they are into decompression already.

     Multi day trips are another story. A multi day trip will likely
leave and return at the same time, but the pace is likely to be quite
different and there is likely to be time for a night dive at the
evening anchorage. For the casual diver, they are a pleasant and
relaxing vacation. The boats are comfortable and the food is usually
good. A couple, few dives a day are great. Waiting to find a spot that
seems to have particularly good vis or calm water is just a sensible
     On the other hand, the hunter on a multi day trip is going to try
to hurt them self. Cold or rain just come with the territory. The gate
time to get off the boat is likely to be restricted to 15 minutes or
less. This can allow for 7 tanks, and that is before the night dive. A
friend of mine does his hunting with a 140 cubic foot tank. I used to
use double 90's. Yah, that may have been a bit much. It's great. I
used to get to work the next day and try to hide that I was brain

     I must add that there are actually some half day charter trips in
the few locations where the diving is close enough to where the boat
docks. In Southern California, This is pretty much limited to boats
starting at Catalina Island or San Diego. It works great in San Diego
where diving is close enough to do a 2 tank morning trip and a 2 tank
afternoon trip. Same with Catalina. There are also dive boats in the
Monterey area that do local dives.

     There are night diving trips scheduled, in the beginning of
October, for the start of lobster season. These may be 2 tank trips
out of San Diego or to Palos Verdes. There are also boats that
occasionally go to Anacapa or Catalina for a night of diving.

     Boat Diving Equipment Check List:
  Ear Plugs

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