One of the benefits of flex time is that I get to take a day off mid-week here and there. This Friday was one of those days. The weather looked promising and so I decided Thursday afternoon to hop on one of my favorite boats, the Spectre. We had a gray, overcast morning, which is good. It means there is no wind and the ocean is flat. Literally last minute I decided to succumb to my ingrained laziness and leave the big dSLR at home and only take my little point-and-shoot with me. The upside of the small camera is that I can stick it in into small nooks and crevices where the big rig simply wont fit. The downside is that there are no strobes and so the lighting is a bit one-sided. Figuratively and literally in this case.
The passage over the channel was smooth and soon enough we got to the backside of Anacapa. We typically call the pacific side of the islands the backside and the channel facing side the frontside. That is simply because from the mainland you see the channel facing side. Besides the somewhat arbitrary naming, the backside lacks the protection from the channel and is usually a bit rougher. Without the wind and no major storm anywhere, we got to dive some of the more remote spots. More often than not, the currents and swell will require to go to the more sheltered spaces close to the island.
First dive was of Aquarium, a good 500 yards off the island on the backside. It is a bit deeper and had some current. Unfortunately, it was a bit on the green side with lots of debris, so no good photos here.
The second dive of a section called “Outside Coral Reef” or “Coral Reef B”, has a nice ledge leading to about 80 ft of water. The wall is covered with growth and lots of little nooks for animals to hide in. For some reason today was eel day. I saw 2 on this dive and another 3 on the next. They even seemed to smile for the photos. One more interesting fact is that the eels always come with an entourage of shrimp (see cover photo above). I am not quite sure why, but if you see the red and translucent Red Rock Shrimp, there is a an eel nearby. Has to be nice to have a staff of cleaners nearby.
We moved to the frontside to the popular Goldfish Bowl for the third dive of the day. This was California diving at its best. Visibility of 50+ft and temperatures in the mid-60s. It is almost like diving in the Caribbean, just better. After almost getting a heat stroke on my first dive, I decided to dive without gloves and unzip my thermal undies. Before you think something naughty, I dive in a dry suit and use a special fleece jumpsuit as thermal protection. You know the water is hot if you see divers around here without gloves. Tons and tons of fish, eels, shrimp and tiny hermit crabs in a gorgeous kelp forrest. It was awesome and certainly one of the best dives of the year.