Diving Before Work: A Night Dive + Morning Dive Twofer At Divers Cove & Fisherman's Cove

  • Updated: April 09, 2019
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

April 8th & 9th, 2019

Last week had been hectic and I only managed a single morning dive on Friday.  That was mostly because I returned from the Buckskin Gulch trip Wednesday night and left for the Alabama Hills Climbing weekend on Friday but still!

This week was a full 5 days of soul wounding gainful employment and I was determined to make the most of it since the Spring Advanced Mountaineering Program kicked off next week and things were likely going to get a bit busier again.

Jack being the amazing friend he is he agreed to my slightly aggressive plan of 4 dives including three morning dives and a night dive with these two being back to back.

We picked Diver's Cove for the Monday night dive since we'd been fairly active there recently and I was eager to see how much more we'd see at night.  The only downside is that we would have a bit further to walk / swim than some other sites since everything is on the southern end of the cove.  But hey, I'd come out of my lunchtime personal trainer session not quite completely wiped out.

We arrived at 6:30 pm and grabbed two open spots at the usual parking spots right by the stairs.  Since we were before 7 pm we had to pay for parking so in the future we'll probably meet a little later.

We scoped out the dive site, got geared up, and chatted about our respective weekends before strolling down to the beach around 7:30 pm.

We had a small audience from the beach and the cliffs above as we did our shore checks and waded out during sunset.

The effect of the dive lights underwater is something I struggle to capture with my current camera setup but there's something amazingly satisfying about how the beams light up the water ahead of you.  When we came out we had some people approach us and say how cool it looked from the cliffs above.

We swam out past the shallow rocks, did our final checks, and dropped down.

Night diving is a slightly different animal as while Laguna often has less than stellar visibility when we go things are really limited at night.  I was testing out some new dive lights including a more powerful BigBlue 2600 narrow beam that lit things quite nicely.

I always see lobster but this time they were out of the cracks and scurrying around the open floor.  At one point I poked one to make it fly off in Jack's direction just for fun.

Then came the main attraction.  A few minutes in I was kicking toward a rock when something huge shot by me less than a foot away.  I scrambled to get my light and camera on it to find we had a new friend.

An adult harbor seal must have seen the lights and come to investigate.  Instead of checking us out and then going on his way he started darting all around us and sticking his head into cracks.  I soon figured out he was using our lights to be able to see fish that were hiding in the dark and did my best to avoid directly illuminating anything.

He was with us for the length of the dive and followed us in to shore until the last 10 ft or so.

I didn't get many good pictures this time around since the seal was a blur of motion and my dive camera lights aren't the best.  Also our dive was a bit shorter than usual since we wanted to have a bigger buffer of reserve air supply and we ended up with a slightly longer than I'd like surface swim to get back to the beach.

We were back to the cars and breaking down by 9 pm getting me home a bit before 10.  I walked in the door, ate a quick dinner, and passed out on the couch so I didn't have to expend the energy of showering.

4:45 am came distressingly early and I flung myself off the couch, gathered my soggy dive gear, and drove out to Laguna to meet Jack again.

We'd decided to try Fisherman's Cove since that put us in a good position to check out the reef where Jack had lost his dive knife a few weeks back.  This would be the first time that dove this site and I spent a good 10 minutes before Jack got there driving back and forth trying to find the stairs that I found described online.

In my defense it was still dark so a lot of the private sidewalks along Cliff Drive look like they could potentially be beach access but as it turns out the stairs are literally right next to where we access Diver's Cove.

It's immediatly to the right of the condo driveway though the sign is a bit hidden.

It's a walk down to the beach but there seems to be less stairs than the other options.

We were down at the beach by 6:30 am doing final shore checks.

Getting in this morning was a bit more of a challenge.  There were rocks popping out of the water on the south end so we entered a bit further to the north.  This worked but instead of gently sloping sand there was a drop of about a foot a short distance in and then the water was obnoxiously shallow for a good while after that causing us to half crawl back as waves broke over us.

We finally made it out past the waves to where we had maybe 10 or 15 ft of depth, did our final checks, and dropped down...

...and found conditions that I can best describe as being in a sandy washing machine.  We had less than 10 ft of visibility and the surge meant we were constantly being tossed back and forth.  Despite this Jack did an admirable job of working on his buoyancy and we explored around what we could see until we ran through our air.

Thanks to conditions I ended up with even less photos than the night before but here's a decent shot of a live abalone that was handing out in one of the crevices.

Only looking slightly bedraggled we were back to the cars and had the gear stripped down by 8 am.  Ever the gluttons for punishment we decided to go ahead with our initial plans and dive the following morning as well.  So stay tuned!

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