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Channel Islands... new diver :)

Discussion in 'New Divers and Those Considering Diving' started by kathleen2018, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. kathleen2018

    kathleen2018 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: California!
    18
    11
    3
    Hello!
    I have my first live a board for 2 days in the Channel Islands in Sept. I'm going with the dive shop that certified me, and there will be a guided tour with a master diver w/a max of 3 ppl he/she watches, so I feel pretty good about that! But this is my 1st open water dive since I am certified and I only have experience in Monterey where I was certified entering via the beach. Don't know which island we will go to but I trust them and did tell them I'm newbie... does anyone have any experience with diving there and what to expect about currents and this place as an intro to a new diver?

    My goals are to be more comfortable in cold water diving in general, then work my way to going on diving trips abroad in warmer waters, and in the U.S like FL and HI. I am buying a new 7mm suit there's a couple of brands I've been recommended and just have to go in a shop and try them on. Thanks for any feedback on what to expect. Basically I'm asking the dive shop too, but other opinions of ppl that I am not paying is a plus! :)
     
    Blueringocto_73 likes this.
  2. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    895
    620
    93
    I really loved diving off those Truth Aquatics boats in the Channel Islands, the reefs are beautiful, but you need to be prepared because it’s more like boat camping than a luxury cruise. You will be sleeping in a slot, a curtained bunk, not a fancy cabin. I found it really helped to bring an old fashioned thick flannel lined padded sleeping bag to lay on top their thin pad, and a fleece blanket to put over me. And a pillow. Make a nice nest!

    Get a dry bag to put in your dive bag so when you take off your clothes you can stuff them in there and they stay dry because everything along the gunnels of the boat under the benches where you must put your dive bag may get wet. Boat etiquette is you get the space under your tanks for a dive bag, that’s it, things are tight, don’t leave anything in the walkway. A dry bag is good for towels too, and of course protect your electronics with pelican boxes or cases. Boats are sometimes cold even in summer so bring a fleece and a wind proof shell and warm ski hat and a sun hat.

    Soft ear plugs are nice at night because the boat fan is noisy below decks. If you need seasickness meds start them ahead of time. Get there early if you want to have your choice of spots above and below decks—it’s kind of like a rummage sale everyone hurrys aboard to claim space. Examples of a good spot on deck for your tanks & BC are either near an exit gate or under some shade. Below decks sleep away from noises or smells, maybe a lower bunk if you don’t like to climb up.
    There is a lot of comraderie on the boat, you will have fun and lots to eat, but if you are vegetarian let them know ahead of time.
    Don’t forget to tip the crew with cash at the end, ask what is customary. They earn it!!!
     
    Eric Sedletzky and kablooey like this.
  3. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    895
    620
    93
    As for the diving September is a great time of year there. Water tends to be clearer and you may have warm Indian summer weather. There may be current on some sites and none on others.
    If you can, after you get your new wetsuit do some pool dives at your shop to get your weight and buoyancy dialed in. Then add 5 lbs more for salt water. Make sure your BC pockets or BC/weight belt can accommodate all that weight and your trim is good. If possible rent steel tanks and you will be able to drop 5 lbs.

    Going with a dive master is great but if they have three people be on the lookout for an experienced buddy... it is easier to keep track of just one other person, especially if the is lower viz. Bring a bright dive light along and if you loose your buddy make circles with it as you rotate around and they may see the light. Agree ahead of time on buddy separation procedure, usually search for one minute then surface. Probable you will be diving in a kelpy cove, so at the end of the dive surface, take a compass bearing on the boat, then descend several feet and swim back under the kelp. The kelp forest is amazing... I miss it! You are lucky to dive there!
     
    Eric Sedletzky likes this.
  4. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    21,869
    4,415
    113
    If you were certified in Monterey, the Channel Islands will likely not be any more challenging. IMHO boat dives are much easier than shore dives with respect to entry and exit. Conditions in the northern Channel Islands (Anacapa to San Miguel) vary quite a bit along the east-to-west transect. Anacapa can be reasonably warm and San Miguel quite chilly with corresponding changes in the marine life. Vis can vary as well. There are pretty protected dive sites as well as some exposed ones (especially on the outer islands).
     
    aquacat8 likes this.
  5. stretchthepenn

    stretchthepenn Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Atlanta, GA
    100
    61
    28
    Everything that @aquacat8 wrote. She's right on the money. The Channel Islands have some great diving, and it's not particularly hard diving, either.

    Regarding your specific question about currents, I've never experienced strong currents at the Channel Islands. If there is a current running, the boat usually moors out of it, in a relatively sheltered location. That being said, there is sometimes a mild current; if so, you'll need to follow a few basic guidelines.

    Basic Tip #1: Wear gloves. As you already know, California water is coolish, so thermal protection is a plus. Even more importantly, you're going to be holding onto well-worn synthetic ropes, so you need to protect your skin.

    Basic Tip #2: Grab onto the anchor line. Hold onto it/let it slide through your hand as you descend and ascend. Doing so will (a) keep you together with your leader/buddies, and (b) ensure that you don't go floating off during your safety stop.

    Basic Tip #3: Use float lines to drag yourself on the surface. Once you giant-stride into the water, use the bow-to-stern rope and drag yourself forward to the anchor line. Once you surface, float to the stern, grab the "granny line" trailing off it, and wait your turn to get aboard. You'll expend less energy and save your breathing gas.

    A bigger issue is surge. You might find yourself being pushed back and forth by the wave action. Don't fight it. Just (literally) go with the flow. As long as you're not next to a reef, it's all good. You can actually swim through the kelp forests very easily, as the stalks are swaying back and forth.

    Thinking of kelp, here are two tips:
    • Eliminate all the danglies from your gear. They're kelp-magnets.
    • Kelp is extremely strong lengthwise, but it's weak crosswise. In the unlikely case that you get seriously tangled, bend the stalk and it'll snap.
    Have a good time!
     
    aquacat8 likes this.
  6. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    455
    285
    63
    Just my 2 cents: grabbing the anchor line can cause more problems than it solves. The motion of the boat in a swell translates directly to the anchor line, and can make it very difficult to hold onto... or worse (I've seen people come close to getting smashed in the face by an anchor chain because they are so dead set on holding onto it.)

    You should be able to maintain your position in the water without holding the anchor line. I recommend using it for visual reference on ascents and descents (you did this in your OW class... ascent and descent with visual reference only), but stay 10 feet away from it.

    This is only my recommendation. It's what I've taught all my students that I've taken to the Channel Islands on boat trips. And I've never had a problem with it.

    Have fun on your trip, and stay safe!
     
  7. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    4,844
    3,979
    113
    Are you going to have an actual buddy or just diving with two other divers and guide?

    Pay close attention to the dive briefing the boat gives and then go over your dive plan with your buddy if any changes need to made.



    Bob
     
    aquacat8 likes this.
  8. drbill

    drbill The Lorax for the Kelp Forest Scuba Legend

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Santa Catalina Island, CA
    21,869
    4,415
    113
    Generally I'd agree with that given my 50 years of diving the Channel Islands. However, I remember one dive that started out calm and then a current measured at nearly 4 knots kicked up during the dive. There are also sites like Farnsworth Banks off Catalina where currents can kick up.
     
  9. aquacat8

    aquacat8 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Savannah, GA
    895
    620
    93
    A new diver should probably skip farnsworth don’t you think?
     
  10. Eric Sedletzky

    Eric Sedletzky Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Santa Rosa, CA
    2,877
    2,132
    113
    Find out what Island they plan to go to. If it’s Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, they will probably take a pulse of the skill level of the bulk of their passengers and figure on an average. There will be some deepish sites, probably nothing over 60’, and more in the 40’ range. They might even take you into an MPA and you’ll be amazed at the quantity and size of the fish and lobsters!
    If the boat is dominated by hunters then they probably will not go to too many (or any) MPA’s, but I’d bet money it won’t be one of those.
    I doubt they will take you out to San Miguel, that’s a small island and very advanced diving.
    They may also drop down to Catalina. It’s nice, fairly benign around the island but nice sea fans and a lot of garibaldis.
    If you get real lucky they may take you to a sea lion rookery and you’ll get to play with the sea puppies! A treat that you’ll never forget!
    I doubt they will put you into any notoriously currenty areas or potato patches as they are known.
    Most of you dive spots will be on the lee side of the islands which is pretty flat and lake like. I don’t know how the kelp will be. Hopefully it’s healthy with nice thick forests. I have been truelly awestruck at times looking up at the beauty of some of those giant kelp groves.
    San Carlos beach where you did your OW was probably rougher than 80% of where they will take you.

    Socal dive boats are SO MUCH FUN! Great value, great food, great people, great diving. I’m way overdue myself.
    It’s where us Norcalers go for a quick cheap tropical dive trip. Way better than Hawaii IMO.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
    aquacat8 and Bob DBF like this.

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