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Dive Review of Truth Aquatics in
The Continental USA/Channel Islands

August, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Abe Glazer, IL, US
Report Number 2891
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas, Cayman, Malaysia, Great Lakes
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
58   to 72    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 40    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Standard rec limits (130 ft)  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Not a lot of space for cameras.  One rinse bucket. There were not a lot of
people taking pictures so it was not a problem.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
Truth Aquatics owns three live-aboards that operate out of Santa Barbara. 
Most of their trips are booked through third party operations (dive shops
and travel agents) but you can always find out who is running the trip
through their web site.  We went on a trip organized by Bill and Kristy
Finstad who book the boat several times a year. These boats were designed
to be diving boats so the layout is quite effective even though the boat
can hold up to about 35 divers.  Sleeping accommodations are in bunks and
can be noisy when the boat is running since you are sleeping next to the
engine room.  I brought some earplugs and they did the trick.  There is not
a lot of room in the bunks so if you are claustrophobic you might have some
problems.  The rest of the boat has plenty of room and I never felt cramped
even though we had a full boat.  

The trip I took was a four-day trip.  We left Santa Barbara about 10 PM and
headed down to San Clemente Island which is about 100 miles due south.  We
were there by about 6 AM the next day. San Clemente is owned by the US
Government and is occasionally off limits to divers and boaters due to live
fire exercises.  We got a day of diving on the east side of the island (5
dives).  Most of the dive sites were near the shore and usually had plenty
of relief to them.  There was a decent amount of marine life on the kelp
and a lot of critters hiding and growing on the rocks.  It was obvious it
was not lobster season because we would see 10-20 lobsters on every dive. 
After the night dive we then headed up to Catalina Island.  

We spent two days and nights around Catalina, again on the east side to
weather conditions.  Diving on the west (ocean side) of all of these
islands is dependent upon how bad the swells are and in our case they were
pretty harsh, so the captain avoided taking us over to the other side.  The
highlight of Catalina was the giant sea bass.  These large docile creatures
were almost fished to extinction but are making a moderate comeback around
Catalina now that they are protected.  The captain knew of a spot where we
had a pretty good chance of spotting them and he was right.  We saw a
school of about 10 of them in about 70 feet of water.  By moving quite slow
and being patient we were able to get within a foot or two of them.  The
largest one probably was about 300 lbs and five feet long.  We ended up
doing two dives at this site called Goat Harbor.  Most of the other dives
around Catalina ended up being on pinnacles near the shore.  There was
plenty of kelp and marine life on all of the sites.  The next day, we went
over to the west side to the Farnsworth Bank and ended up getting one dive
in.  There are two spots to anchor on this site and another dive boat had
already grabbed the shallower site.  We did a short dive in about 120 ft
along a reef that had a nasty current (2+knots) and was not for the novice
diver.  This was the only difficult dive we did on the entire trip.  Most
of the sites had little or no current and decent visibility (40 ft).

We moved again at night back towards Santa Barbara and ended up on Santa
Rosa, which is part of the Channel Islands.  We got two dives in on Santa
Rosa at a spot called Cueva Valdez.  This location had two caverns that the
ocean had cut out of the rocks.  There was a family of harbor seals living
around this area and they had a done a decent job of eating most of the
small fish.  After lunch, we headed back to Santa Barbara and arrived about
6 PM.  For a three and half day trip, we got in a total of 16 dives.

In summary, if you want to do something different diving in water that is
not that cold and easy to get to, this is the trip to take. Being from
Illinois, we figured the water would be colder so we brought our drysuits. 
The water ended being warmer that we thought (typicaly mid 60's at depth)
so to keep from overheating we did not wear hoods and gloves.  We were
quite comfortable.  Most of the other people on the boats were wearing 7 mm
and this would have been plenty of exposure protection.  There was always
plenty of food and liquor is BYOB.  There is a liquor store about two
blocks from the dock so this is not an issue.  Tanks can be rented at the
dive shop which is located next to the dock.  We used steel 95's which
turned out to have plenty of air for most of the dive sites.  Nitrox is not
available but considering most of the dive profiles, it would have been a
waste.  We were not pushing deco limits even at 5 dives per dya. 

Where else can find perfect weather in the middle of the summer, decent
diving, and not break the bank?  The cost of the trip was about $700 plus
airfare.  I plan do this trip again in July or August next year.

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All The Continental USA Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to The Continental USA
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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