San Diego County

Ancient Artistry: Point Loma’s Sea Cliffs

At-A-Glance Skill Level: Advanced Location: Approximately 1 mile offshore of Point Loma running parallel to the shore. Easy to spot on depth finder. Generally along the seaward edge of the kelp forest. Directly west of the Cabrillo Light House has some excellent walls, even deep cracks and crevices. Access: Boat dive. Charter boats depart nearby Mission Bay. Public boat ramps there as well. Entry and Exit: Boats only but heavy swell can sometimes affect the area. Depth Range: 65 to 115 feet. Conditions: Surge in […]

Scoring a Satisfying Dive at Point Loma’s Goal Posts

One the largest continuous kelp forests in all of coastal Southern California is off Point Loma, San Diego. Depending on seasons and seas the Point Loma kelp forest can extend dozens of square miles. And not only is this forest thick and lush, but it’s also teeming with marine life.  A great place to experience the Point Loma kelp forest is at a spot known as Goal Posts. Much of the bottom off Point Loma is flat rock bottom. While it supports the kelp holdfasts, […]

Mission Beach’s NOSC Tower Wreck

The ocean has a way of taking massive metallic creations of man, smashing and tearing them, and throwing them to the sea floor in a heap. Then in its own sweet time, it turns the wreckage into a colorfully decorated thing of beauty. Such is the case with the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC) Tower off Mission Beach in San Diego. The Tower began its life as a 100-foot tall steel structure carefully secured to the sea floor in 1959. Although having nothing to do […]

The Wreck of the Ruby E

The Ruby E is adorned with colorful marine life, but alas, the grand old lady is beginning to show her age. After all, she’s been serving as an artificial reef since 1989. And she was no spring chicken when she was sent to the bottom, having been built in 1934. She had first seen service as a U.S. Coast Guard cutter under the name Cyane. Her later occupation was that of a salvage vessel under the name Ruby E. Eventually too old and obsolete for […]

Wreck of the Yukon

Technically, a shipwreck is a vessel that sank accidentally. And, since the sinking of the Yukon happened “accidentally on purpose” one might argue that the vessel is not an authentic shipwreck. What’s more, it’s outfitted with “fake” propellers and guns. But ask any diver that’s explored the Yukon and there’s no denying — the thrill of diving here is quite real. The dive site Yukon is a gem of Southern California diving. But let’s take a step back and tell the whole story. The Yukon […]

Wreck of Ruby E

Although it was all planned out, the actual process was a bit comical. Slated to be the second edition to the now famous “Wreck Alley” off San Diego, the Ruby E just refused to sink. It was figured with all the valves open she would succumb to the sea about mid-day and divers would be on her by late afternoon. But as the afternoon wore on and shadows lengthened, it was becoming obvious it was going to take more. Project coordinator Al Bruton, then a […]

NOSC Tower

If you were to have gazed to the ocean horizon off San Diego’s Ocean Beach from 1959 to 1988 you would have spotted what appeared to be, at first glance, a small oil production platform. It was, however, the Naval Ocean Systems Center (NOSC) tower dedicated to oceanic research. At 100 feet tall and sitting in 60 feet of water, it provided years of valuable data not only to the U.S. Navy but also to the scientific community. But in 1988 all that ended. During […]

Train Wheels

After playing a wicked round of e-mail and phone tag with my dive buddy Steve, we finalized our plans. I arrived at Shelter Island to see Steve waving his arms and guiding me over towards his new boat. Steve is a seasoned diver with well over a thousand dives logged in the Point Loma area. Today Steve is eager to take me to a place called “The Train Wheels.” Navy jets ran with their afterburners blazing right over us as we sped out of the […]

In Search of Purple Hydrocoral in Los Coronados Islands, Mexico

Last November, my dive buddy and I were invited by two friends, both experienced boaters, to check out the fields of Purple Hydrocoral, off the South end of the Northern most Island of the Coronados Island chain just over the border in Mexican waters, 17-20 miles from San Diego’s Mission Bay, depending which island you visit. The fields of Purple Hydrocoral are actually just a few hundred yards South of a site well-known to San Diego dive charters, called “Keyhole,” a large rocky arch which […]

Cortez Bank

We were in the water just before daybreak. As we descended, light reflecting off the white sand and shell bottom made it brighter 50 feet underwater than it had been at the surface. Visibility was about 75 to 100 feet; the water was crystal clear. We passed over swaying palm kelp and saw pink-purple coralline algae everywhere. As long as we stayed below 30 feet the surge wasn’t bothersome, but in the shallower areas we felt as if we were in a giant washing machine. […]

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