After a very successful final day of diving with the white sharks of Isla Guadalupe, we gave 1 long blast on the ships whistle in farewell and set a course for Islas San Benitos Island and her untouched kelp forests.
We have been to San Benitos several times throughout this season, and last season as well, and have experienced some amazing diving there. Some of the most healthy, beautiful kelp forests you can find anywhere, teeming with california sea lions, guadalupe fur seals, and the occasional harbour seal. Northern elephant seals can also be seen along some of the beaches. Bat Rays, horn sharks, yellow-tail, abalone, and lobsters also make their home there. From Guadalupe it is a 16 hour overnight run to reach San Benitos, and in the morning before reaching the islands we could feel the swell building and getting quite large, as Captain Mike had warned of us. He watches the weather models like a hawk when he is shoreside. .
On arrival we could see the big, long swell building even more as it reached the shoal water of the west island, slowly being pushed up by the shallows even a couple of miles offshore, then racing in towards the island before cresting and crashing down in a mess of white water. It was a very impressive sight. Unfortunately for us these big left over waves from some far off weather system were not kind to the dive conditions at Benitos. We could see immediately that the water was quite green, and in closer to land, where our divesites are, the visibility was reduced to around 2-3 meters (10 feet). The big swell was also hard to escape, with a wraparound effect even in the sheltered bay the swell was felt quite significantly. Everyone still got a dive or two in, but with conditions as they were it was a little disappointing. That being said, as I asked the last diver of the day to come up, ‘how was your dive?’, he answered that is was really great! So, I guess it’s all your perspective on things.
We had planned on diving two days at San Benitos, but decided to cut it short after the first day and start heading straight for the Socorro Islands. It is a 600 nautical mile journey from San Benitos to San Benedicto, Socorro, which will take 3 nights and 2 1/2 days to complete. As of writing this log we have been underway for 27 hours, and it has been one of the most pleasant transits in memory. All day today the sea was as smooth as silk, with not even a breeze for the majority of the day. The swell is long and low, creating a very smooth, undulating vista as far as the eye can see. The vessel movement is minimal and what movement we do feel is gentle, slow and relaxing. Just before lunch today we came across a pod of Risso’s dolphins. These greyish-white dolphins are rarely seen (it is my first time ever seeing one), and have a very high, distinctive dorsal fin. We spent 20 minutes cruising slowly with the pod of roughly 30 animals, watching them tail-slapping, breaching and spy-hopping to sneak a peak at the big white boat.
This evening we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset, not a cloud in the sky, not a ripple on the water. Just the orange glow of the sun against the smooth, light blue of the pacific ocean. A beautiful transit so far and expecting (hoping) for more of the same tomorrow.
Captain Gordon Kipp
Weather conditions: winds light/nil, sea height 6-10 ft with a period of 17-18 seconds, skies clear, air temp 25C
9. Tag 04.11.2010, Tagebuch Nautilus Explorer, Repositioning Trip Pazifik
Auf Grund von schlechten Sichtweiten vor San Benito entschloss sich die
Gruppe nach dem ersten Tauchtag abzubrechen und auf direktem Weg nach
Socorro zu fahren. Ja nach Strömung und Wetter werden wir die 600 Seemeilen
in ca. 55 Stunden zurücklegen.
Der Tag heute an Bord war sehr entspannt. Viele bearbeiteten ihre Bilder,
manche zogen sich mit einem Buch in ihre Kabine zurück. Andere genossen ein
Sonnenbad oder entspannten sich bei angenehmen Gesprächen. Gegen Mittag
sichteten wir eine Schule von Risso´s Delphinen (Rundkopfdelphine), ein
fotografisches Highlight. Niemand von uns hatte je vorher diese Art von
Delphinen gesehen. Eine volle halbe Stunden kurvten wir mit der Nautilus um
die Delphingruppe herum, einfach herrlich! Mal schauen, ob wir morgen
tagsüber auf unserem Weg nach Socorro wieder so ein Glück haben werden.