McAbee Beach

The weather was not so good today (7/29). It was foggy and the sun was not breaking through, but it was not too cold. I picked up Julie at 6:30am and drove down to the usual parking lot across from El Torito on Cannery Row. Parking was $10.00 for the day; later they raised the price to $20.00. Our two other dive buddies; Jay and Glenn, along with Glenn's girlfriend and her sister; showed up at 8:30am. The sisters were our personal photographers.

We all got into our gear and headed down to the shore. The plan was to make two dives at around 40 feet. That was not going to happen. As it turns out, the area was overgrown with kelp and other alga. About 200 yards offshore, there was a kelp wall that was helping to keep the wave action down, but it also provided a nearly inpenetrable barrier too.

After a not-so-thorough buddy check (alert! alert!), our dive plan was to head out 60 to the edge of the kelp and work our way west along the kelp wall. We descended into average visibility (surface vis: 10 feet horizontal, bottom visL 10 feet horizontal). At the bottom we started working west and didn't see anything more interesting than alga and kelp. There were a few fish (surf perch). At one point, I turned around to check how everyone was doing and to check air supply. Everyone was doing well and had plenty of air. We surfaced because visibility was making it difficult for four people to dive as a group. At the surface, I divided the group into two primary buddy pairs. We took a new heading (120) and started our descent again. I tried to penetrate the kelp wall, but thought better of it. It was so dark and thick with kelp stipes that it would have made diving too dangerous with a group of four. Our primary buddy pairs got separated during this time. James and I made a one minute search and headed for the surface. Julie and Glenn surfaced later. Glenn's BCD was not power inflating so we cut the dive short. [Depth 19 feet Time 18 minutes]

Jay could stay for only one dive, so the three of us headed down to the shore to do buddy checks. This time, Glenn's BCD was working properly. Our plan was to head out 70 to the edge of the kelp wall and work west again. This time, the visibility was better at the surface and at depth. We descended onto more algae covered rocks and started swimming on a heading of 330. We crossed over one of the old Cannery Row waste pipes that run from shore out to deeper water (60). Then we passed over a sandy area. With a quick brush of my hand over the sand, I revealed a number of cowries burried just underneath the top layer of sand. We headed farther west and actually found a less dense portion of the kelp wall. We penetrated the wall and proceeded to do an air check. Glenn had plenty and I had plenty. While Julie was reading her gauge, Glenn and I started pointing vigorously toward Julie. She though we were trying to rush her, but we were pointing out a harbor seal. We all watched the seal swim around us (at a distance of two body lengths). We turned our course back out of the kelp wall. We surfaced because I was becoming to positively bouyant. We took a new heading of 170 which would take us back to the sandy area and then we would head into shore (270). Julie took the lead so that when I was unable to descend, the dive could continue. Julie lead us back to the sand and right back to the waste pipe. We turned toward shore to finish our dive. On the way back, I did some litter removal. I found a party cup and a coat; I deposited the coat on the beach and the cup I tossed into the trash. [Depth 19 feet. Time 26 minutes]

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