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Divers Cove: a long swim, a shameful exit and a wedding crasher

Published on 2012-06-10 15:55:09

I was hoping for another dive at Cress this week end but the Moon and the gods were against us as the very low tide and the surf patterns of this early Saturday morning made that particular cove in the "pound on your face" category rather than the "lake Laguna" we had two weeks earlier. So the South Orange County Dive Club Saturday morning dive would take place at Divers Cove. Off we went. Parking is priceless in this almost-Summer month of June but I still managed to find a free parking spot where my European-sized car could fit and not that far from the stairs to the beach.

The weather was rather crappy. Not very warm and gloomy. June in full force. There were a couple of sets that wouldn't have been anything to worry about if it hadn't been for the huge patches of kelp they were carrying with them and that could knock your off your feet in seconds if you are not careful.

Our group of 12 rather experienced divers safely managed to make it past the surf zone and we started our long swim toward the main kelp bed. It seems the board of SOCDC has decided that the club had to promote healthy workouts and that swimming at least a mile before dropping to our dive site was to become mandatory on all club dives. Oh my!

En route, we spotted a fairly sized bat ray laying on the bottom. The group decided against dropping down to pay it a visit as the area is supposedly full of these creatures and we would certainly see plenty during the dive. I decided to follow the group instead of dropping down to snap the  shot... And the cover of California Diving News escaped me once again...

We dropped at the first kelp bed. Viz was not great. Some reported 20 ft afterwards but they must have estimated it facing the reef five inches away. It was murky as hell. I managed to stay with my buddy the whole time though, but it was probably more because of him than because of me.

I did not find anything spectacular, the kelp seems to thrive there too, except that there were a couple of nascent urchin barrens at a few spots which does not bode well for the future of the kelp in this area. I found a big sculpin which always makes a nice picture, the Garibaldis are off protecting their nest, so it's this time of the year when you can have a little fun with them.

For all the close-up shots, the usual settings work fine: Tv 1/80s, forced flash and auto-macro. The shadow of my G12 lens tunnel is very perceptible on most shots and forces an increased focal. I shot every macro at an equivalent of 35mm to avoid it.

On the way back, we surfaced in front of Heisler Park, one cove away from Divers. I decided to swim parallel to the beach to exit at Divers. That seemed like a good idea, before I realized that there was no beach left at Divers (remember, low tide, the Moon and stuff) and that I had to exit in the rocks. Not a good thing. When it became obvious that removing my fins in 15 inches of water and 3ft waves was hopeless, I swallowed my pride and crawled back to the beach on all fours, fighting the pull of the three and a half ton of dead kelp trying to drag me back toward the ocean... I made it OK but sandy, nothing a good dunking in the basin at Laguna Sea Sports can't get rid of... Maybe next time I'll choose the easy way and exit Heisler. There was a wedding that day and at least one of us crashed it in full gear...



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