Channel Islands with VDM – Not What We Envisioned!
By Gayle Hudson
In September, nine Tooters joined Vaqueros del Mar Dive Club for their annual trip on Truth Aquatics’ Vision, organized by Bill Delameter.
Also aboard were three San Jose Flipper Dippers and underwater photographers Bill and Mari Conaway. At our November General meeting, Alan Throop presented a video he compiled using still photos and videos, taken by the divers on the trip.
The Vision left the harbor at 4 am and reached the south side of San Miguel Island at 8 am. It was announced the EAN compressor was malfunctioning as divers prepared to dive at Rain Barrel and Abalone Alley, well named as abalone were everywhere. Dives followed at Judith’s Pinnacle and Ledges, prolific in rockfish, Sheepshead, scallops, nudibranchs, and salps.
In the late afternoon, a storm was brewing and the Vision anchored in Cuyler Harbor to ride out the weather along with Truth Aquatics’ Conception, which also sought shelter. The decks were cleared due to a lightning storm, providing entertainment to all aboard with a dramatic light show well into the evening.
By morning, the weather had cleared and Captain Ian moved the Vision to the south side of Santa Rosa Island. The first dive was on Ten Fathoms, an area largely populated by sea urchins and a fairly brave octopus, along with Sheepshead, rockfish, and lobster. Diver Barbara Davis celebrated her 1,200th dive at this site. Dives at Robb’s Knob and Ian’s Reef followed and Alan Throop got a great photo of a Yellow Fringehead Blenny.
More mechanical problems followed when the skiff motor failed and, when the Vision was ready to move to another dive site, one of the transmissions failed!
When the announcement was made that the Vision would need to limp back to Santa Barbara Harbor a day early, the divers took the news in stride. The wetsuits and dry suits came off, dinner was served and wine, beer and a quart of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey appeared on the dining tables. With only one transmission, the usual four-hour trip took eight hours but all aboard were highly entertained by lots of laughter, the booze and a huge pod of dolphin who leaped and rode the bow waves for a long time, some with their babies alongside for the ride.
When the boat reached the harbor, two harbor patrol boats met the Vision at the entrance and guided her to her berth since, with only one transmission, Captain Ian could not fully maneuver the boat. All aboard spent the night on the Vision and were served breakfast in the morning.
Truth Aquatics was very apologetic for having their boat fail on the trip and were quick to provide a refund for the trip of 1/3 the cost of the charter. Everyone aboard enjoyed each other’s company, some making new friends and trading contact information. The crew was outstanding – boat crew were very attentive to divers, every effort was made to keep everyone comfortable, and the galley crew kept everyone well fed.
Bill Delameter has been organizing this trip for a number of years and only books enough divers to cover the costs. As a result, the back bunks are not filled and the boat feels more spacious than with some other organized trips. Next year, Aqua Tooters will once again join Vaqueros del Mar on this terrific (and sometimes eventful!) trip to the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.
Alan’s video can be viewed on YouTube.