Pettyfogger's Dive Log
Monastery Beach South on 1/27/2011
They didn't nickname this place 'Mortuary Beach' for nothing. This dive venue is, IMHO, good only for those capable of advanced rough water beach diving. I've only been able to do a standing-up exit once there, the rest of the time, like everyone else, I had had to do the 'Monastery Crawl' to get out. The sand is STEEP, making for a monster backwash, with beaucoup rip currents in the middle part of the cove. Leave your SCUBA mouthpiece in your mouth at all times until you are standing on dry sand. If you get knocked over or tumbled by the merciless shore break waves, you need to be able to breathe while getting tossed around under the wave. Hold onto your mouthpiece if you're knocked down and sucked under a wave. If you find you can't make it in with your gear, ditch it and swim in with just your fins - then crawl out pronto. Bodysurfing experience is invaluable to mastering this place, and those familiar only to lakes and quiet boat dives in the tropics are taking their lives in their hands going in here without expert instruction and personal professional dive master. On the positive side, the reefs and sea life are the best California has to offer, and it's nice not having the Lobos rangers breathing down your neck.
Stillwater Cove on 1/27/2011
Easy-peasy to get to and a great beginner/intermediate shore dive. Since this beach is usually in the lee of the prevailing northwest wind, it's usually calmer than any other place around. Don't let the proximity of the golf courses and tony facilities fool you - you're in a very active ecological environment, with multitudes of fish, flora and sea mammals such as sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals. The fish can get big here, too. Two of my usual dive buds were boat diving at about 100 feet off of Stillwater when they saw a fifteen to twenty foot great white shark cruise by them (I missed that dive, and have never had the privilege of seeing one myself - Sigh…). They said it looked as big around as a VW, with a large, black dinner plate-sized eye looking at, through, and finally away from them. Killer whales also frequent Carmel Bay as well, and they have come up and surrounded my friends' boat - again on a trip when I wasn't along. Hey, when you enter the ocean, you also enter the food chain - and not at the top. War stories aside, this is a great place to dive.
Whalers Cove (Point Lobos) on 2/5/2011
Feb 5, 2011, 12:00 AM
Whaler's Cove is the gateway to all of Point Lobos' unbelievably rich and pristine walls, pinnacles, and kelp forests. The cove itself, with about a thirty foot depth, is fine for snorkeling and beginning divers. The only place that you can legally enter in this highly patrolled and regulated dive site is the boat ramp located at the parking lot at Whaler's Cove. Small inflatables use this ramp for launching, so take care when you're in the water and you see a boat moving in or out of the cove. There is an underwater swim-through at the entrance ramp at Coal Chute Cove, and it is fine for intermediates and above (you can see all the way through it from both sides). Whaler's itself does not have the best visibility, but it makes up for it with dependably calm conditions. If there's a swell breaking on the South beach, skip diving that day, since the viz in Whaler's will be zip and outside the cove will be far to rough for diving. I have carefully mapped Whaler's from the cove out to the Cannery Pinnacles. There is a sand channel starting directly in the middle of the entrance of Whaler's leading almost directly North. Kelp cannot grow on sand, so there is a dependable open channel in between the kelp beds which leads to the much more exotic and features of the underwater preserve. It's a good kick just to get to Cannery Wall, which is located outside of Whaler's and to the West. A great dive is to drop down from the channel to the sand, turn West, and go under the most beautiful overhead (kelp) you'll ever see. You can fin right up to fish, and they hardly move until you among them. Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions abound. I once had a school of rockfish completely surround me throughout the dive, either out of curiosity, or trying to look like too big a mouthful for a Great White to handle. I like diving alone here, though it's illegal to do so. I love the solitude and not having another diver scarring the sea life when I'm trying to video. DO NOT swim in between the rocks and the cliffs at Cannery Point to try to get to Bluefish Cove. Rogue waves come out of nowhere at Point Lobos, if you get caught there, it'll turn into sashimi faster than you read this. Attempt Bluefish, the Pinnacles, or other spots farther out only by boat (and you can only use a boat which has been launched at the Lobos ramp. There are toilets and a cold water hose at the ramp parking lot - that's extent of the amenities. Make you reservations early, as this place fills up quick, particularly for weekenders. During the middle of the week is the hot ticket, IMHO, 'cuz you'll have the whole place to your self (and to me, that's what Lobos is all about).