Diving LA Wrecks – 07/21/2015

This year has not been one of my best diving years so far. I am working hard on changing that, though. As part of my 12-step program to abstain from dry land, I hopped on a small 5 diver charter to dive some of the LA wrecks. Going out I had my doubts about the wisdom of that decision, giving that we just had some thunderstorms and torrential rains in LA in July (that never happens). I was afraid of poor visibility and high seas. Turned out that we were very lucky. Seas were flat as a mirror and visibility was phenomenal. Mostly anyway.

First off was the deep wreck of the Palowan, a liberty class ship. It sits in about 130 ft of water with the upper structure at about 110 ft. That makes for short dives, unless you want to do decompression dives, which I usually try to avoid. The advantage of a small boat is that its maneuverable. The captain offered us the option of making a blue water ascent anywhere on the wreck so as to not have to come back to the drop line. So we started of with the plan to dive the length of the wreck and come up once we reach the end. The visibility on this day was a phenomenal 40 – 50 ft at least. Turns out that the drop line that we used to descent to the wreck was close to the bow and we chose to dive that direction by chance. We made it back to the line and did not have to take our chances in being found in the middle of the ocean. The wreck has great growth on it, while still having all the structure. Taking photos is a bit disappointing since the strobes just don’t reach very far. It was a great dive nonetheless.

Next was the barge. It is an upside down transportation barge that sunk for reasons I do not remember. The sonar and the captain were sure we were on it, but unfortunately we were not. A dive is a dive as long as there is water and so I am still happy.

The third dive was on the Wreck of the Avalon. This was a first for me and we almost missed it altogether. We went down the drop line and found a reef that almost looked like a shipwreck. It certainly had me second-guessing for a while until I got close and verified that it was rock and not rusted steel. Still a very nice reef with some nudibranchs I had not seen before. Thanks to me having my wide-angle lens on the camera, no photos of those. Thinking that we missed the mark again, I enjoyed the reef and was ready to go back up the line when I saw a shadow about 40 ft into the blue. Following my curiosity I decided to check it out and lo and behold, there was the wreck. Not much of it left, except for the bow. Still a nice little attraction.

The final dive of the day was on the wreck of the Star of Scotland, a ship with quite a history. Personally, it is not a wreck I like to dive. There is an abundance of fish there and we saw several giant seabass and a very nice sized halibut. The wreck is also covered in nice growth, but the structure has completely collapsed into a pile of rubble. Also, it is close to shore and the visibility is always bad (about 10 ft). Following the mantra that the only bad dive is one without water, I would still call it a good dive.

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