The thought of diving in cold California water always scared me. Getting in a 7mm wet suit isn’t easy. Thicker wetsuit also mean carrying more weight. I made a bold decision this past 4th of July weekend to liveaboard for 3 days and dove in Channel Islands. I seriously had no idea what I was getting myself into.
When I checked in with the dive shop (truth aquatic) in Santa Barbara, I realized this is not a guided tour. As in divers will be on their own, navigate on their own, no dive master going along with you. Basically they expect all divers know what they are doing, know how to dive and how to be safe. For that I started to make friends on the boat. There were total 25 of us diving. As it turned out I wasn’t the only solo diver. I ended up hooking up with Jerry to be my dive buddy for the next three days.
Weather condition was perfect in my opinion. T-shirt temperature during the day and maybe a light jacket at night. Very little wind. There were a bit of current and surge in some areas but not a lot. We only got to visit two islands: Anacapa and Santa Cruz.
The marine life in CA is totally different than tropical places that I’ve visited. However no two dive sites are the same and CA can’t be compared to others. It has it own uniqueness. Just to name a few. Being surrounded by kelp is like being in a thick redwood forest. But be careful, one can get tangle and die. That’s why it’s always a good idea to bring a knife and a flash light with you down. Some new underwater critters I encountered during this trip are: spanish shawl, nubibranch, sea hare, sea lions, sea sheppard, leopard shark, kelp forest.
The visibility wasn’t that good. On our best day we got about 30ft or so and most other days, we got about 15-20ft. Water temperature at 40-50ft is about mid 50.
If you love diving, liveaboard can bring you a lot of dives per day. On average we had about 4-5 dives a day, including night dive. It’s up to an individual to dive as much as they want and where to dive once the anchor is dropped. Boat life, on the other hand, can be a bit dull. Beside diving, one can kayak around the island if he/she has the energy. Some of us just sat around and talked about our dives and diving experience. Others were into cooking their gatherings after the dives. We had rock scallops in many different ways of cooking every day – ceviche, pan fried with garlic, grill…etc. And also fresh sea urchin. On the 4th of July we made sangria for dinner. For the most part, we were well fed by the boat crew – hearty breakfast (omelet, cereals, English muffin, bagels, fruit, juices…etc) , lunch (juicy hamburger, fajitas) and dinner (steak, pork loin) with snacks in between meals to keep us on diving.