South Coast

A.C.E. Becomes Southern California’s Newest Dive Site

Five years after the 58-foot, steel-hulled A.C.E. drum seiner sank off the coast of San Clemente, a team of divers from Beach Cities Scuba (BCS) recently located it and prepared the site for recreational diving.  Now buoyed about five miles south of the Dana Point Harbor, the A.C.E. offers divers an opportunity to explore a new wreck that’s roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Completely intact and resting on its port side with her mast pointing away from shore, an ecosystem is thriving […]

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 […]

Terranea Resort, the New Marineland

I have some wonderful memories of visiting Marineland of the Pacific: Bubbles the pilot whale, Orky and Corky, Baja Reef… but my favorite memories came after the park closed in 1987. For a few years I seemed to have the place all to myself. Sea lions hauled out on the rocks at the point. A mating pair of barn owls would perch on an abandoned light post each morning. Around 1989-90 word got out that the public access was still open. It didn’t take long […]

Goleta Beach

A poor visibility dive need not necessarily be a bad dive. Goleta Beach is one example. Water clarity here is never above 10 feet and is often as little as 5. Even so, there is an exceptional amount of marine life to see, it is an easy beach entry, and beachside facilities are great. The underwater attraction here is the sewer outfall pipeline that parallels the pier. If you are concerned about health issues, the treated effluent is dumped about a mile offshore in 95 […]

Newport Pier

For many years I’ve heard about diving under the Newport Pier. I was never keen on the idea. It’s surrounded my surfers and sand, and protected by a curtain of fishing poles. Three years ago, my friend Jim, finally talked me into it. “We’ll make a quick dive before work,” he said. I work 10 minutes from there. So what, I’ll be a little late?” Upon arrival, my expectations held. Lots of surfers, lots of sand and lots of fisherman. The upside was, it was […]

Point Vicente Wash Rock

Fall is an interesting time of year for Southern California divers. The water remains warm despite increasingly cooler—and shorter—days. Offshore breezes locally referred to as “Santa Ana’s” turn ho-hum sunsets into kaleidoscopic extravaganzas that not even Steven Spielberg could duplicate. Lobster hunters salivate at the thought of the season opening night. It’s during this special time that scuba diving along the Palos Verdes Peninsula really gets good. You see, for the majority of the year this stretch of coast line is buffeted by waves of […]

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. […]

Los Coronados Islands: Lobster Shack

A school of tropical triggerfish dances 20 feet away in 100 feet of visibility. Closer examination of the reef in shallow reveals brightly colored cardinal fish. You are in Mexican waters, to be sure, but getting here did not involve a long plane flight nor even a time-consuming border crossing. In fact, it was only a 90-minute boat ride, straight out of Mission Bay in San Diego, good old USA. No visas, no customs, but a different world just the same. The Los Coronados are […]

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