Big Sur-Vision-June 22/24, 2018
By Ken Kollwitz
Did a 3 day Big Sur trip this past weekend aboard the Vision and I think it was one of the best in the last 3 years and you shall find out why. If you know me I love cold water diving and all the beauty that comes with it. Now that I have had the chance to travel some I still love British Columbia, Big Sur, the central coast and the outer islands the BEST and I REALLY look forward to the 3 day Big Sur trips.
Something about the Big Sur coast makes it magical, interesting, beautiful and challenging all at the same time. It isn’t easy diving and it can test your abilities. If you have done it you will know exactly what I mean. It is also an area that gets few divers as there are no dive boats going there from Monterey or Morro Bay. Yes, a few divers shore dive certain sites like Partington Cove and Jade Cove but after the work to get down they don’t get out very far making most of the coast virgin territory.
Now the great part about this is that usually every year in June for about 3 weeks the Vision, owned by Truth Aquatics out of Santa Barbara moves the Vision up to Morro Bay where they run 2, 3 & 4-day trips along the Big Sur coast except for this year they only had two 4 day trips and then the 3 day trip I had a half charter on for my business Channel Islands Dive Adventures. Maybe next year it will be a whole charter!
Weather plays a very important role for the trip and I have come to figure out you need some weather to give you better underwater conditions such as visibility and color of water. Now how much weather is the dilemma because too much and most everyone gets sick and loses out on dives or too little and the diving sucks. This year we had a perfect balance. Some still got sick and missed dives but the two 4 day trips before us had very poor visibility of maybe 10’ and dirty water with us thinking we were in for a not so good trip but things changed quickly. We had a somewhat bumpy ride on the way up early Friday morning making me think what were we getting into but it smoothed out some, especially later in the trip and we ended up with much cleaner water with an average of 30’-40’ of visibility and on a couple dives we had more like 50’ plus with blue water. Of course there was the usual swell that sometimes made macro photography a bit more challenging but you could actually use the wide angle as well which was a step up from other trips.
Captain Ian and crew did an EXCELLENT job taking good care of us working hard behind the kitchen counter or on deck. We even had the chance to dive a couple sites that were new to me. One was Square Black Rock and the other was Esalen. Square Black Rock named after the exact same thing. This was actually in a sea otter marine protected area where boats cannot anchor in shallow so they dropped the anchor out deeper and put lots of chain out settling in closer to the dive area. Underwater there was probably the largest underwater arch I have ever seen at the end of a wall. Lots of large rocks, walls and crevices all over with bull kelp which is typical with the Big Sur coast. We were going to stay for another dive but the wind came up so we moved to another new site named Esalen which is below the Esalen resort. Another excellent site with VERY large rocks spread out creating mini walls and sand channels between them. It was also a great spot for us hunters getting vermillion red rock fish.
The sites we visited were Receding Reef, Metridum Ridge, Tide Rock, Little Tide Rock, Square Black Rock, Esalen, Julica’s Peaks, Pfiffer 5, Haystacks and middle Jade Cove. No matter if you were shooting with a camera or speargun you could get great results. For the hunters it was all about the vermillion and lingcod, for the photographer’s it was all about critters, macro and wide angle and for the sightseers it was all about staying warm and seeing things they never have.