Coastal trip-November 17, 2013
Coastal dive report for Channel Islands Dive Adventures. Trip was on the Peace on Nov. 17, 2013 and was an excellent trip.
Diving the coastal offshore reefs is one of the things I like most and the fall to early winter is the best time to do it. Some people wonder why dive the coast when the islands have great diving and that is because lots of divers just seem to get stuck in the same old rut and never really venture out to see and do something different. That is the one reason I started Channel Islands Dive Adventures because there is so much to see that most divers never even thought about.
Also, to be honest what comes into your mind when someone asks you to dive the coastal offshore reefs? Probably a beach dive from a boat but what you don’t realize is how much you would be wrong with that thought. Sure it won’t be great all the time but it isn’t great all the time ANYWHERE you go to dive and to see something different you just have to make sure you do a little more planning to ensure a better time on your trip and that is why this trip was scheduled for November. I have dived some of the same spots in July, August & September but November through January are still the best times with the best results.
Not to brag but Channel Islands Dive Adventures is the LEADER in doing coastal dive trips. There are some other boats that occasionally try to do the same thing and either they pick the wrong time of year or just can’t get enough people together to do the trips and to top it off most all of their GPS coordinates came from CIDA on trips we have done previously with these boats when we chartered them for coastal trips.
Anyways, all that aside the coast has some EXCELLENT diving on the offshore reefs and the reason for this is simple-very limited access! Some of the sites we visit are too far to swim out to, hard even for kayakers to get to and when you’re talking 20-30 miles south from Channel Islands or Ventura Harbor it is too far for most boaters especially if they don’t know the areas. Most all the sites we visit are from 50′-100′ deep and 1/2 to 1 mile offshore and because these sites are so far offshore the visibility in the fall can be awesome. I have personally seen 50′-80′ of visibility at these sites and seen more underwater at these sites than I would at the islands and of course on the other end of the spectrum I have seen 10′-15′ of visibility at these same sites when diving them during late summer.
This trip was a dream come true for me! Over the years I have been trying to get enough people interested in a trip like this so I could use the Peace and get further down the coast in comfort and it WORKED! We had a full boat with a waiting list and it turned out great. We left at 4:00 am so we could make the 3 hour ride down to our starting point and then work our way back.
Our 1st dive was at Decker Cyn. Reef. This reef is out from Decker Cyn. Road and El Matador state beach along Hwy. 1 at least ½ to ¾ of a mile out from shore. Thanks to my friend Jonathan Hanks we had some good data to look at for the dives at Decker Cyn. When we made it there Kevin metered the area to find the best structure which was more to the east of the reef and this is where we anchored. The dive was excellent and the reef is large with a smaller wall around a lot of it and just about under the boat was some of the best structure on the reef. There was some kelp but not lots of it and plenty of cracks and crevices for lobsters to hide and we also seen some healthy fish populations. The rocks had lots of sea fans and small invertebrates and many large dorids along with some nudibranches I haven’t seen much before. Depths here at Decker’s were about 50’-60’, no current and about 25’-30’ of visibility.
We than moved to a reef on the outside of Nicholas Cyn state beach that was at least ¾ of a mile out from shore. This again was a large reef but had much more kelp on it and went from about 45’-60’ deep. This was an awesome dive! Out towards the outer deeper area there was lots of rocks piled up to about 5’ tall with lots of bugs hiding in the holes, most were small but there was some large ones to be had. Under the boat my buddies Michelle, Michelle & I came across a large halibut that wasn’t afraid of anything. We got some pictures and video and they went back up to the boat and I continued to the shallower part of the reef where there was lots of healthy kelp and plenty of fish with some nice rock structure.
For the 3rd dive we stopped at the outer area of 1000 steps that is between Leo Carrillo and County Line. This dive was a little closer to shore and was a shallower dive with LARGE rocks and structure everywhere. The outer deeper area had lots of sea fans and the shallower stuff was more barren but still a good dive. I would like to check this area out more but out deeper. Depths here were between 25’-40’, still no current and visibility running about 30’.
For the 4th dive we moved to Ring Reef out from the condos west of Neptune’s Net restaurant along Hwy. 1. I have dived this reef plenty of times and it has lots of life. It is a healthy reef with kelp, fish, invertebrates and lots of very cool structure. The reef is named for a large metal ring fused into the rock that I have never seen. Either way it is an excellent dive except the visibility here was only about 15’-20’. Ring Reef has a wall around it dropping to a sandy bottom. The top is around 45’ deep and the sand is about 55’ deep. This whole area has some incredible diving and if you ever get the chance, dive it in the late fall or early winter. This is also where I have seen 80’ of visibility in mid-November hunting for bugs.
Afterwards we had desert and enjoyed our 2.5 hour cruise home getting back to the dock about 5:30 making for a perfect day out diving with friends.
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By Ken Kollwitz