Dive Log: Catalina Islands, Big Giger Reef & Eagle Reef (06/06/2009)

Dive #9 and #10, a continuation of the boat trip diving in the Catalina Islands with the Magician Scuba Charter, Captain Jerry, the pirate divemaster and dive buddy Praveen.

Big Geiger Reef: Bottom time – 16 minutes; Depth – 10 meters

What a disaster of a dive! As we swam to another cliff face and kelp forest I noticed P continually clearing his mask. Getting through the kelp we moved into an area covered in red and green seagrass and P motioned to me to surface. Apparently his mask kept flooding and his eyes were killing him. We tried to figure out what was going on but with no luck, every time we descended, his mask flooded and he was most definitely not enjoying himself.

Signaling to the boat crew, who were looking at us in some consternation as we bobbed on the surface, that we were ok, we began a surface swim back to the boat over blue water. This was ardous and long and my leg started cramping up half way leaving both of us tired and exceedingly annoyed. The only enlivenment was a shoal of bait fish that came up and suddenly took off, flashing silvery into the blue. I looked around for what scared them (hopefully not a Great White) but there was nothing to be seen.

Eagle Reef: Bottom time – 29 min; Depth – 20 meters

It took a bit of convincing to get P into the water this time. Even I was a bit freaked because where before we had a cliff face to help with our navigation, this reef was alone in the water away from any discernible landmarks. Thankfully another diver in a drysuit wanted to buddy with us and we descended down the anchor line for the deepest dive of our lives. Huge rocks, caverns and dimness greeted us at 20 meters. The kelp forest here was truly huge, reaching up through the water to the invisible surface. It also seemed almost alive, swirling in the grey water. A couple of times when I was stationary looking at things, the kelp seemed to engulf me hungrily and it took some calm nerves and quiet tugging to break free of the slimy, soft fronds.

This was a fascinating dive, with our buddy showing us sights that our amateur eyes would have normally missed, nudibranches and a giant lobster hiding in a cave in the rocks. We surfaced as our no-decompression time ticked down and clambered on board with our reputation restored.  In fact P was quite chuffed to hear Captain Jerry say to the pirate divemaster that the new guys had done good.

The bright blue Catalina seas glinted as we lay tired on the deck, happy that we had seen our first proper kelp forests and more than anything we had survived!

The last thing to do on the boat was to take a shower, which was an experience in itself. With the strong surges this basically consisted of bouncing from wall to wall in the shower catching a trickle of hot water mid bang. Refreshing and energetic at the same time.

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