Archive for April, 2006

Pinta, Independence II, Apr 02, 2006

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Pinta 02, 2006


Independence II pulling in.


It’s great to be back in the water! We headed out on the Independence II with a full complement of passengers and crew for a Season Opener Dive on the Pinta. Vis was in the 20ft range. The bottom temp was 42. The surface temp was 44. The sky was clear, warm, and sunny.


Inland on Saturday night, the wind died down around dinner time. Driving down to the marina on Sunday morning, there was not a breath of air. While the forecast was for 4-6 over night, dropping to 2-4 by Sunday afternoon, I was anticipating much better. When we arrived at the shore, there was a strong north west wind blowing with white caps on the bay. Not a good sign, but Capt Dan opted to take a peek and see how the conditions were. This was a good call as the ocean had only 3-5 foot of chop with a southeast swell. By the time we tied in, the chop was already dying down. By the surface interval we were in 2-4. The residual swell from the southeast was still holding.

Like most Season Openers, people had the standard issues: missing hoses, overhauled gear, leaking o-rings and the ever popular dry suit shrinkage. Most were easily worked out as we all tried to get back into our regiments of donning gear. I had new seals in my suit, so I was just hoping to stay dry. One by one we hit the water, and you could hear people exclaim “boy that water is warm”, or something like that. On the way out Capt Dan told us the sensors showed a 44 deg surface temp. My log from last year indicated 38 degrees in May. 44 degrees would be warm by comparison, but the bottom may be cooler. Soon the report came back from Terry that it was 42 on the bottom. Not bad for April 2.

This was my first time to the Pinta. She is about 200ft long on a sandy bottom in 85 ft of water just south west of the mud hole. She went down in 1963 after a collision with the freighter City of Perth. The Pinta was struck forward of the bridge which looks to have cut her in two, or nearly so. Both sections lie on the port side about 30 ft apart. The cargo of hard wood boards is now strewn across the sea floor.

Terry tied us into the aft section right at the break in the hull making navigation easy. Arriving on the wreck, I tried to tie of my reel, but it jammed immediately. This was not an issue since there were other lines headed off in all directions. Being an intact wreck, I was quickly able to orient myself and find the bow and stern.

The wooden cargo seems to be holing up better than the ships steel hull. Looking at the wood. there did not seem to be much breakdown or marine growth. My first thought was that someone had recently dumped planks onto this wreck. Only after I surfaced and talked to the Capt Jay did I find out that this had been the ships cargo. All of the crevices must make great hiding places for fish and lobster.

The hull is not holding up as well. There has some gaping holes making penetration easy. Most of the upper structure was covered with a flowing array of anemones and hydroids. They were grouped in matching colors almost giving a camouflage look to the hull. Other patches of the hull appear to have a fresh coating of mussels. Groupings of larger mussels appear here and there lower on the wreck. In the debris of the stern section there appears to be the engine complete with valve springs. One mast still juts out of the bow section horizontal to the sand. This is also covered with anemones and mussels. Here and there you find a rope or line hanging from the wreck with masses of mussels encrusting it. I was tempted to bring some home, but figured mussels inshore would not have the best flavor.

After two passes around the wreck, the cold got to my hands, so we headed for the line (bring your drygloves next time dummy). The sun’s heat was welcome over the surface interval. Wet black drysuits were steaming in the warmth. Those in the know turned their gloves and hoods inside out to dry. While we sat soaked up the sun, Capt Dan told us of all the great trips they are planning for the year. We talked about BTS and the Doria displays. Many stories were exchanged before we suited up for the next dive.

The seas were even calmer now maybe 1-2ft. There were still swells that caused some surge on the bottom. There seemed to be more light on the bottom this time, and more fish about. Swimming about the wreck we saw mostly Cunners. In the washout by the bow there was a group of small Ling. I caught a glimpse of one small Tog in the stern section. Here and there were signs of excavation, but no good size lobster were found. Large hermit crabs and Sea Ravens could be seen here and there. After about 40 minutes the cold got to my hands again, so we headed up. At least I stayed dry!

Terry quickly pulled the line, and we headed back to shore. A great day to dive!