Local LA Wrecks-Asante-February 21, 2015
For 2015 Channel Islands Dive Adventures decided to try something different and schedule some trips using a smaller boat for dive sites such as some of the less dived smaller wrecks out of the Long Beach area and some other places like the rigs and Farnsworth. Smaller boat equals less divers, easier time getting to know others, better chance at getting like-minded divers for certain dive sites and of course faster so getting in isn’t so late and people still have time to get home at a reasonable time.
What better choice is there then the Asante. For those of you that don’t know the Asante is the old Sea Bass with a new named and now owned by Gary Jackson and Kevin Bell. Gary also owns the Hatitude. Gary and Kevin have made many changes and improvements to the boat since buying her and they run a great operation.
This trip was the first of many CIDA trips aboard the Asante and even though I was somewhat sick I wasn’t going to miss it although I didn’t bring any dive gear to tempt me to dive when I shouldn’t. Sometimes just being out on the water and doing something different is all it takes and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and learned about some new wrecks thanks to Patrick Smith.
For most CIDA trips that involve wrecks CIDA is very fortunate to have Patrick Smith on the trips and why is that you might ask? Easy, Pat has a passion for our local wrecks and not only did he co-wrote a book on SoCal shipwrecks but has also been a speaker at the scuba show many times along and works with NOAA and other agencies on marine archeology trips. Pat is a wealth of info and if you haven’t been on a CIDA trip with Pat you are really missing out.
For this trip we had a few ideas of the wrecks we wanted to try and Pat made it very easy by bringing along his secret well-worn book of personal wreck info with GPS numbers. Having someone with this type of secret info on a trip is invaluable and really made for an excellent day!
Because I didn’t dive and only wished I could have dived the following info is from Pats account of the day.
Our first dive of the day to the wreck of the Ace 1, ex- Navy LCI-735. The Ace, a WWII vet that had been converted to a fishing barge went down in 1948 and has become one of the deeper artificial reef sites and supports myriad local species. On the dive, the warm, blue, 50+ foot visibility from the surface down to 70-feet gave way to 55° on the bottom with a dark, milky, 20-ish feet of visibility that didn’t allow for much photography but it was an interesting dive none the less.
Next dive was on an unidentified wreck a bit shallower in 110 feet where visibility was slightly better and with more vertical structure. On the ascent, between 70 and 40 feet, we were joined by a number of the Pelagic Red Crabs. They were pretty skittish and not really amenable to having their pictures taken.
Dive three we ended up aborting. The location of the Georgia Straits (a small tug that went down in a collision in 1965), ended up being very close to and equidistant between three of the large container ships that are waiting to unload in the ports of LA/Long Beach. The proximity of the ships was somewhat daunting but workable since were operating live boat. What wasn’t workable was pretty much zero visibility on the bottom.
The next jump was on the as yet unidentified wreck known locally as the African Queen. Visibility on the wreck was a hazy 8-10 foot which you would think would be enough to be situationally aware, but apparently not for me. I managed to kneel on a very well camouflaged Torpedo Ray who responded by zapping my right leg. As startling and attention-grabbing as the shock was, I managed to get a bad image of the live wire before she drifted off into the murk. The ache from the shock was manageable so I completed the dive, but despite being an interesting experience, it is one I will gladly forgo in the future. (I have to say when I, Ken seen Pat come up from the dive I was wondering what happened because he seemed to be in a daze and I could tell something had happened and it probably wasn’t a sighting of an old sea captain ghost)
Interesting events for the day were not quite over. On the run home, a loud thump and a revving of one of the engines indicated we had an issue. The issue was a broken prop shaft on our port engine. After Diver Dave pushed the shaft in far enough for Captain Gary to secure it, we slowly and safely made our way home on one engine.
A very interesting day on the water with a great crew!
Report by Ken Kollwitz