Diving Santa Barbara Island

I signed up for the 2 day diving trip organized by Bluewater Photo fairly early since i have been wanting to dive the northern channel islands again for a long time now. This trip was aboard peace dive boat which i have been on before and i really like it. The service is great, crew is super helpful and they give great high pressure fills.

Afte the oil rigs trip my dive computer died for unknown reason, the display was all wonky so i had sent it back to scuba pro to get it fixed, as i was driving to hollywood divers to get a rental i received call from them that my computer had returned from service.

I was really glad about since i didn’t have to rent another computer and work with some unknown algorithm while doing multi day dives on nitrox. Last time a rental computer on farnsworth trip put a 10 min safety stop at 10 ft on my second dive even though i didn’t go into deco on the first dive.

Got my stuff ready and didn’t have much difficulty getting to the boat, i was worried about bringing all the different chargers for the batteries, can light etc. I didn’t manage to sleep as well as i had expected but it wasn’t too bad.

We had crossed over to Santa Barbara island, i was little disappointed since i was hoping to dive either san miguel or santa rosa islands but the conditions didn’t permit to do so.

SBI is a great place to dive and i still remember the dive site of black caverns from last time i dove here so i was hoping we would dive that site.

The first dive was going to be a site called the wall and the conditions at this site weren’t exactly ideal. There was a fair amount of swell and significant current on the surface. I have dealt with similar conditions before so i wasn’t too worried.

First Dive: The wall, which didn’t happen.

I buddied up with Ron who was visiting from AZ for this 2 day trip and even though he hadn’t been diving in CA much, he was pretty experienced diver. Since there were some issues with his rental gear he decided not to do this dive and so i buddied with Eric for this dive.

I decided not put on the inner lining of my dry glove since i suspected it being cause of leak on the previous trip, i was so wrong on that and it turned out a huge mistake.

We got into the water from the bow gate since it would make it easier for everyone to drop in using the bow anchor. As soon as i got into the water my left glove started to leak, oh boy here we go again. I adjusted it little bit and started to descend but the leak only got worse so i signaled to Eric and called the dive.

I could have dove without my glove but i didn’t want to make all the adjustments on the surface with the current and the swell so i just swam back to the boat and decided not to dive. Back on the boat i made couple of attempts to adjust it and see if worked and it didn’t leak once so i was hopeful.

To avoid the swell we moved to the back side of the island and the best dive site available to us was Rookerie which is popular for sea lions. I have mixed feelings about this dive site since there isn’t much of structure but if the sea lions come out to play its an awesome site.

Dive 1: Rookerie.

This time was determined to do a dive with or without my dry gloves working and for some reason i decided to use the inner lining of the glove. I borrowed a pair of gloves from the boat, just in case if i had to abandon the dry gloves entirely.

Descended from the stern anchor line, no currents or swell here and my dry gloves worked just fine and i was super happy about it.

Few minutes into the dive i came across one of the biggest lobster that i have seen so far, that bug must have easily been 10 lbs or more. The sea lions were there buzzing us once in a while but not really hanging around too much which was a disappointment.

But soon enough as i was going through the kelp there was a torpedo ray chilling, i was surprised to find it since usually i have seen them in deeper waters not in 30-40 ft depth. He hung around enough for 3 of us to be trigger happy on our cameras. For some of the pictures i shut off one strobe and tried to take some silhouette pics which have come out to be good.

After this encounter it was time for me to get back onboard and get ready for the next dive.

Dive 2: Rookerie.

Since the conditions on the rest of the island weren’t that great and others on the boat saw a bat ray and angel shark we decided to stay here for the next dive too. I have never had a really good encounter with an angel shark so i was really looking forward to this next dive and hopefully run into one.

We got back into the water and i made a conscious effort to stay in the sand and find an angel shark but no luck. Since i was having no luck with the sharks i swam back and knew there would be plenty of sea lion action.

The sea lions were in mood to play but they were being themselves not really giving any good chances to take their pics and not hanging around us as such. I was startled once as sea lion charged towards me, though he was just being playful.

It was a fun dive for sure with lot of sea lion action and i tried to take as many shots as i could but they were stirring up the sand so the pics weren’t coming out to be that clear.

It was time for lunch and we decided to move to another dive site even though the conditions weren’t 100% ideal.

Dive 3: Brittle Star Reef

The swell on the front side had gotten less but there was still some current going there, we decided to dive the site called Brittle star reef.The dive plan was to descend down the bow anchor line and ascend along it since there was a decent current.

As the name of the dive site suggests the entire reef is covered with brittle stars, i have seen sea floors with brittle stars but nothing compared to this site. The entire reef was covered with brittle stars and there were anemones and dorids between them.

This was a really good macro site but with the wide angle lens there wasn’t much choice, i tried to take some close up shots of the nudis and they came out to be decent but nothing too exciting.

I was swimming along and i spotted another dorid but there was other person on the boat who also saw it and we went forward to take its pic at the same time, it was funny. I let that person take pics first and then got my shots of the nudi.

It was a really beautiful site but with the current i didn’t want to venture too far out away from the anchor so i didn’t really explore too much and stayed within a certain range. There was also a sea lion but he didn’t really stay for long.

The rest of the dive was pretty uneventful and after getting back on board we decided to head back to rookerie since the conditions were best there.

Dive 4: Rookerie

We were going to be anchored on this site for over two hours so it gave an opportunity to do two dives or one long dive. I decided that i would do one long dive and then the night dive.

I got into water and there not much action going on. There were no sharks and the sea lions were in no mood to play. After half an hour of swimming around and not finding anything i decided to head back to the boat.

I wanted to do the night dive but i figured that it would be offered at this same dive site so i decided to call it a day.

I was wrong about the night dive but after a sumptuous dinner it would have been really hard to motivate myself for it. The people who did the night dive were fighting the current all the time so in a way i was glad about my decision.

It was a treat on how the dinner was organized on the boat, everyone sat down at the same time and the crew was serving the food to everyone. I have never encountered such hospitality and a formal dinner while diving, really enjoyed the whole setup and the experience.

We agreed to head back to santa cruz island tomorrow and hit two dive sites there for macro and then do couple of dives at anacapa island which could provide us with encounter with giant sea bass and harbor seals.

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