Steve wasn’t able to make the dives today, but he hired a guide who took us to dive two cool sites in “Wreck Alley” of the San Diego coast. We went out on the panga captained by Doug, Julie’s mate, to the first site the wreck of the Yukon. The Yukon is a 366 foot destroyer that was sunk four years ago to create an artificial reef for the wildlife, and to create a safe, penetrable wreck for divers. The water was pretty choppy and sitting on the bouncing raft with the tight neck seal around my neck didn’t make me feel to great, but I felt a lot better when I actually got into the water.
We descended down the line to the wreck, and once it came into sight (the visibility was about 20 feet), the looming shadow was enormous. The sunken vessel lists to the starboard side on the bottom, and is covered with many large white metridium (anemones). I saw a few fish on the tour that the guide led, but not too many. The Yukon is a fully intact wreck, which makes it a popular site to dive. We didn’t go inside, but explored the many surfaces onboard. It was amazing. We logged a bottom time of 36 minutes and had a maximum depth of 91 feet.
After the Yukon, we ate a little lunch and then rolled into the water around 2:30 to start our dive on the Ruby E., a coast guard boat that sank 12 years ago. The dive was BEAUTIFUL!!! The visibility was a little better on this one (around 25 feet) so we saw a ton of life-it was so cool. The wreck is covered with all sorts of anemones, including the little strawberry anemones we saw on the kelp bed dives. There were fish everywhere, which made it a very lively scene! We explored all around the wreck and dove down to about 77 feet. By far the best part of the dive was finding bunches of teeny little nudibranchs on the decks and other horizontal surfaces.
My favorite part was finding a huge brightly colored navanax, which resembles a nudibranch but is actually a type of sea hare that preys on nudibranchs! I thought it was a nudibranch, but Marty’s book told me otherwise : ). This little guy was black with thin bright yellow stripes covering its body. Two orange tipped ribbon-like protrusions ran along its back, and were spotted with bright blue patches. It was soooo cool. I sat there for a while just looking at it, and actually realized there were a whole bunch of nudibranchs right beneath me too! Our dive only lasted about 40 minutes because our guide was low on air, but it was by far my FAVORITE dive in San Diego!!
Back at the house we told Steve about our dives, and I was totally surprised when he gave me a mounted picture of a nudibranch—just like the one on Destiny! Unfortunately Pat and I didn’t get back to the house until around 10:30 pm because we had to spend the rest of the day waiting in the hospital (ugh!) because my glands were pretty swollen and I had come down with strep throat. Regardless, I still could not stop thinking about that awesome dive on the Ruby E.!