We arrived at the Wilmington docks around 8:30 in the evening and were welcomed by temperatures in the low seventies (what a nice change of climate!).
After a light yet expensive dinner at 22nd Street Landing
in San Pedro overlooking the yachts and
charter boats from the balcony, we found our way back to the "Aquatica"
and tried to get some sleep before the boat left the dock at four thirty
am. Teri had never been out on the ocean before so when the engines
started she woke us both up so we could go on deck and watch as we cruised
out of the harbor. Once past the breakwater it was back to bed for
the two hour cruise to Catalina Island.
Teri's biggest worry having not been out to sea before was that she would find herself digestively challenged. A worry that proved to be unfounded, especially since the sea conditions could be described as nothing other than flat calm. A good thing too, as the Aquatica is a converted research vessel which has three decks and was built in the 50's. It wasn't designed for land lubbers in heavy seas.
The bunkroom is below decks and slept 16 people comfortably
with the exception that the bunks didn't come with sheets to cover the
vinyl mattresses. Not quite camping but close. The diving deck
was huge and easily accommodated everybody and their gear with plenty of
room to move about.
The galley and salon are situated directly above the bunk room with the patio deck aft of the salon providing the official smoking section as well as a place for Teri to watch the happenings on the diving deck below.
The diving off Catalina and the Channel Islands is some of the best in the world. The kelp beds provide home to critters of all sizes from colorful tiny nudibranchs only and inch long to sheep head, barracuda and the playful California Sea Lion of which the males can reach over six hundred pounds. Sunday morning while Joe and the rest of the divers were exploring Farnsworth Banks three miles off the back side of the island, Teri got to see dolphins showing off for those who weren't diving. Dolphins tend never to go near divers as the bubbles make too much noise for them but for those who didn't dive they were happy to perform.
The weather couldn't have been better. Temps ranged from the sixties at night to the mid eighties during the day with water temps in the high sixties. Joe appreciated his dry suit which allowed him to dive in shorts and a tank top most of the weekend, while those wearing wet suits found that after about thirty minutes in the water they began to vibrate.
The cruise back to the harbor on Sunday was as smooth
as the ride out. With the bright sunshine and mild temperatures we
both got a reasonable sun burn. You'd think people who live in the
desert would know better but it kind of sneaks up on you when it's not
in the triple digits.
After spending all day Sunday diving, then driving three hundred miles home to arrive around midnite, work on Monday sucked!! But we've recovered enough now to look back on a great weekend and tell each other it was worth every second.