Saturday night (Feb. 3), we drove out to Ventura, where we loaded our enormous quantities of gear on to The Peace. After a glass of wine and several rounds of Texas Hold'em, we settled into our bunks and were soon fast asleep.
We were awakened around 6:00 the next morning by the boat motors firing up and the smells of delicious breakfast foods being prepared in the galley. Dozed off and on for another hour and got up when the boat pulled away from port. Ate some breakfast and found a spot on the deck to hang out. The trip to the island took about two hours, and on the way we passed a pod of dolphins.
The biggest pod of dolphins I have ever seen. More than likely, there were actually multiple pods.
There were, literally, hundreds of dolphins surrounding the boat. A bunch were "bow-riding," swimming along right at the front of the boat, darting from side to side, jumping out of the water every now and again. It was a fantastically cool thing to see.
Other dolphins were swimming beside and behind us, leaping and playing.
Before we knew it, it was time to suit up and get ready for dive number one. It was still pretty chilly out, and the water temp was in the high fifties, but fortunately it was also quite clear. Sure, we didn't have the kind of visibility we got in Cancun, but it was still pretty good. It seems that there's a lot more to see in the Pacific, too.
Many sizes/shapes/colors of sea urchins
Schools of fish
And crazy brittle stars!
The highlight of the dive, of course, was the pinniped encounter we had during our safety stop at the end. As we were waiting to make our final ascent, we were joined by either a sea lion or a harbor seal, who darted up and down beside us. It was so damned cool.
Back up on the boat, there was a steaming pot of tomato basil soup with pine nuts waiting to chase away our chills as we cruised to the next dive site. The galley cook, Trish, was kind enough to let me copy down the recipe (which I will post sometime this weekend). I would be hard pressed to find anything more satisfying than hot soup after a cold dive. Freaking brilliant.
Dives two and three were much like dive number one, minus any large sea mammals. I saw more kinds and colors of starfish that day than I'd ever seen before, along with two lobsters as big as my cat. We got progressively colder as the day wore on, especially when (by dive three) we were swimming around in the shadows of the island.
Which was blessed with an overabundance of pelicans.
Though most of the boat hit the water for a fourth dive, we called it a day after three and hit the hot tub instead. Yes, there is a hot tub on The Peace. Doesn't get much better than that.
Body heat regained, we dried ourselves, re-packed our gear, and settled down in the galley for the trip back to Ventura. Trish (who had continued to serve up fabulous spreads after each dive during the day) baked brownies and peach cobbler, which we devoured with ice cream as we fought off sleep. We passed through the giant herd-o-dolphins again, and I took a little video that I'll attempt to upload a little later. Back home that night, we were passed out by 9:30, dreaming of our oceanic adventures. Next month there's a two-day trip to the Outer Channel Islands scheduled...and perhaps we'll be on it. ;)