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Diving Farnsworth Bank and Catalina Island  –  California Channel Islands  –  and then onward to great white sharks – July 25, 2010 – Captain and guest blog

July 25, 2010 Written by

Our last California Channel Islands trip and our first Guadalupe white shark trip of this season were combined to form this 12 day expedition to explore the famous kelp forests off southern California and experience the rush of a close encounter with The apex predator of the oceans.

Scheduled to begin this past Friday I was ‘asked’ by Captain Mike  –  who is very superstitious –  to wait until just past the stroke of midnight before setting off from Ensenada, Baja California North, in order to avoid the bad fortune believed to befall vessels departing for sea on a Friday.  I’m not a particularly superstitious person myself, however I complied and Mike was proven correct after our very comfortable and safe overnight passage to our first destination, the Islas Coronados.

We arrived at the northern island in plenty of time to drop anchor and set up all our gear for the checkout dive in a beautiful, sheltered cove on the east side of the island. Sealions frolicked near the stern and we enjoyed two easy dives with almost no current and a gentle sea state.  For our third and final dive of the day we headed to the south island where lies a large, thick patch of kelp growing off a relatively shallow bank, around 70 ft depth. This site always offers a beautiful underwater forest with thick overhead canopy and the occasional big sea bass.

After a pleasant appointment with US customs and border patrol officers in San Diego we headed back out for an overnight run to Santa Catalina, one of the most popular destinations of the Channel Islands due to it’s proximity to San Diego and Los Angeles, and it’s abundant sea life and kelp. The first site we visited is an offshore pinnacle called Farnsworth Bank, featuring a rocky pinnacle rising up to 50′ from the surface from a surrounding depth of 300′, and offering an impressive topography of steep walls and rocky outcroppings. Visibility was excellent, current was non-existent, and several playful sealions entertained us in a balmy bath of 15 Celsius. Two great dives.

As I’m writing this we are anchored alongside a kelp-filled cove, with a rocky point jutting out into the sea on my stern. The sun is starting to poke through and I have a good feeling about this place. I will let you know more once all my divers are up!

Captain Gordon Kipp

Hey, I am Evelyn from Austria,

Normally I am not the one looking for cold water dives, but today I had a great dive near Catalina Island / California – dive site: Cape Cortez.  For me this kelp area is like a mystic jungle – it is really fantastic and during some moments I feel like in a fairy tale, especially when the sun is coming through the “kelp-trees”. But beside the kelp this dive site had an other present for us – the reef is covered all over with gorgonians – it is like a never ending colourful garden. Until now I have seen such coral gardens just in the tropic area and the more I was surprised to find it in the kelp area too. The more I get used to Nautilus Explorer and the cold water the more I am sure, that this trip is not my last one 🙂

While Evelyn is lingering on about her fantastic underwater experiences, I myself, Caroline, also from Austria, am not exactly a diver. So what am I doing on a boat like this? Well, I love live a boards, I love the relaxed way of life leaving all the stress and hassle behind. To really forget about every life and recover from the stress there is just no place better to be. Great food, great people, great music… And in order to deserve more of the delicious food I even did some snorkeling today and I can tell you the kelp jungle is just as mystik from up high than it is from down below – only a lot more lighter. Bye for now, dinner is calling even more powerful than the ocean…

Diving conditions – current moderate to mild, water temps 10-15C, moderate surge in places, visibility 20-40ft

Topside conditions – mostly overcast with sunny periods, air temp 20C, light winds, and small to moderate sea height

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