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La Jolla Cove / dusk dive
Dropped down at 6:13PM.
Surface and depth water temperature, 70 degrees.
The Cove was fairly flat, with a 5’+ high tide.
There were constant gentle swells with the occasional but
predictable large set.
Visibility in the Cove 2’-3’, occasionally less. Occasionally much less.
Visibility at depths beyond 25 fsw increased to 5’-7’.
Very strong surge throughout the dive.
I took my camera this time, but visibility was so poor and the surge was strong enough, that I shut it down and clipped it off for most of the dive.
Larry, Jenn, Mickey, Terry and I met up at La Jolla Cove this evening for a dusk/early evening dive. Terry and I hadn’t been diving together in quite a while, so in our anticipation, we were suited up and first in the water. The other members of our group were still getting ready, so they waved us off and signaled us to start our dive. We were only too happy to oblige.
Timing the sets, we entered on the lull, slipped our fins on and started the kick out that would take us out of the confines of the Cove and head us on a bearing straight out from the stairs. We dropped down in approximately 20 fsw and headed north, away from the Cove. Visibility was green and very poor. We hoped it would improve as we gained depth, which it did, but not appreciably. Working our way out along the bottom, the surge was strong and constant. We were on a heading almost due north, so since the swells were coming out of the west, we were shoved side to side 4’-6’ with each flex of the surges power. The poor visibility or the surge would not have been bad in and of themselves. Combine the two though, and we were in for Mr. Toads Wild Ride.
Continuing on our heading, basically north, a quick shove east followed by a quick shove west, then north again, eventually got us to 25 fsw, where the visibility improved somewhat to 5’-7’. This was a hands in front of your face dive, since your forward progress was constantly being surprised by kelp or rocks materializing in front of you only moments before you hit it. Combine that with the strong surge, and you had a dive profile that included an underwater obstruction looming inches in front of your face, before you were swept sideways away from it, sometimes to open water, occasionally to an obstruction even more obnoxious.
We quickly hit a point where we mutually decided to stop our forward progress, make a u-turn, and head back towards the Cove. We had seen fish, Garibaldi, Senoritas and Perch among the most prolific, but since we couldn’t stay in one place long enough to see them, usually only a foot or less from our masks, we decided they weren’t enough entertainment value to keep us going. We did see a small overhang, filled with 50+ Lobster, ranging from young pups to huge monsters of the deep. They were crawling all over themselves, making their plans for world domination, or whatever Lobster do when they gather in such numbers. On the return trip, we also saw a 3’ Horn Shark, and at one of the points where visibility was poorest, Terry spotted an unknown shark shape heading off into the gloom. Since it was a traditional shark body with a prominent dorsal fin, i.e. not a Horn Shark or such, we changed direction and headed after it to see if we could find it again. The visibility was so poor though, it could have hitched a ride on our BC’s and we wouldn’t have known, so we soon turned back towards the Cove.
Entering the Cove, with visibility dropping to 1’-2’, or less at times, we encountered the great patches of Eel Grass. There were several places where the Eel Grass wrapped around us, with Kelp blocking our path and the dreaded Feather Boa Kelp clouding the waters to inches of visibility. Combine that with the surge pulling us through the grass and our HID lights making painfully little change in the darkness, we finally decided enough was enough, and headed to the surface to get a bearing and head in.
Once we got a lineup on the stairs, we dropped back down and headed straight in. At approximately 12 fsw, with a wall of zero visibility, much larger submerged obstacles and the ever present Eel Grass clutching at our fins, we finally surfaced for good, and did the remainder of the return trip on the surface. We neared the beach just as a couple of the large swells retuned to party in the Cove, so we hung out for a few minutes, then headed back in with their passing. It was an easy exit, and we were soon at the top of the stairs and headed for the showers.
"Beyond the ken of mortal men, beneath the wind and waves,
There lies a land of shells and sand, of chasms, crags and caves,
Where coral castles climb and soar, where swaying seaweeds grow,
And all around without a sound the ocean currents flow..."-Graeme Base