Southern California Deep Reef and Wreck Diving
on the
Great Escape Live Aboard Dive Boat

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Deep Offshore Reefs

We are one of the few boats which constantly visit thediver stops to inspect a large hydroid on a step wall dive hard to reach offshore reefs.  These sites are deep and have exposed positions, thus they are not for the beginer.  Some of our favorite sites are listed below:

Cortes Bank is a large area of almost virgin territory near the Mexican border.  Underwater terrain includes steep walls, deep canyons, small caves packed with lobster, and a large shallow plateau.  Cortes offers excellent game, large lobsters, pink abalone, and even a great wreck dive.  A favorite spot for the hard core diver.

Tanner Bank is a deep (100'+) plateau with spectacular drop offs near the Mexican border.  This area is known for it's large red, pink, and purple hydrocoral formations, huge rockfish, and cabezon.  In the summer, it is not uncommon to see large schools of tuna, yellowtail, and bonito here.  This is thought by some to be the most spectacular dive in Southern California, and one of the most spectacular in the world.

Begg Rock is a small remote offshore "rock" near San Nicholas Island, and is rarely dove.  Weather permitting, we always try for this spot on San Nick trips.  Begg is a deep divers dream including it's famous "razorback ridge", a sheer drop straight down to the black abyss.  There are vast meadows of sea anemones and huge (30lb+) sheephead.  Bring your lift bag because your goodie bag will be so bulging with rock scallops that you will be unable to lift it.

Three Mile Reef located near San Nicholas Island has many canyons, crevices, and caves.  It is home to big fish, lobster and rock scallops.

Nine-fathoms Reef is located near San Clemente Island offers clear water, lots of rock scallops, purple hydrocoral colonies, pink abalone, colorful sea anemones, palm kelp, lobster and big fish.

The bottom at Brittle Star Reef, close to Santa Barbara Island, is alive with millions of brittle stars.  Here you will find deep caves, walls, and shallow kelp covered plateaus with pink and green abalone.

Farnsworth Banks is another offshore pinnacle system with depths averaging diver taking pictures of purple hydrocoral at Farnsworth Bank, a small female sheephead is in the foregroundaround 100'.  Quite often the visibility is so good here that divers can see the boat from the bottom!  Many agree that this is one of the best dives in Southern California.   Farnsworth is home to the rare Allopora californica or Purple Hydrocoral.  Hard corals are rare in cold water, this is one of the few species that exists.  The pinnacle is covered with the stuff.  Some experts have suggested that the variety found at Farnsworth is a unique species and this is the only site in the world to see it!  Look but don't touch as the coral is protected here.  Farnsworth is also a home to the rare white abalone.  There are great picture opportunities, and Farnsworth is also a great place for deep dive training.

Ship Rock is another favorite site, a small rocky island at Catalina Island which is surrounded by 300'+ depths.  This is one of the few sites that you will see the rare, and docile,  Angel Shark.  This friendly shark can grow up to 6' in length.  This is always a beautiful dive.

Little Farnsworth should not to be confused with the real Farnsworth Banks.  This deep rock pile is located close to the city of Avalon and is a beautiful dive.  The Great Escape is one of the few dive boats that regularly visits this site.

Wreck Diving Sites

Not many know it, but Southern California is home to some great wreck diving.  Spread about Catalina's Sue Jac Wreckour area are several wrecks that we will visit.  Several offer some penetration dives, and most are for the intermediate to advanced skilled divers.  Here are some of our favorite wreck dives:

Olympic - A old three mast turn of the century whaler ship which sunk in the 1930's.  Depths around 100', and the hull is still intact with lots of rubble to explore.

USS Palawan - is a 444' long WW-II liberty ship sunk in the 70's as an artificial reef.  It is a truly awesome sight to explore something this large underwater.  A great dive!  There are many rock scallops attached to the hull and you might even see a lobster here.  This dive is the personal favorite wreck dive of the crew.

USS Butler - is a WW-II destroyer which was shelled and sunk by the Navy as target practice.  A big chunk of the hull and structure remains on the bottom with lots to explore in a well protected cove at San Clemente Island.

USS Peacock - a WW-II era wooden hull minesweeper, the same design as the famous diver stares through a hole in a wreck a a colorful nudibranhCalypso.  This boat is in very well protected cove and is great for training.

Valiant - Located next to the city of Avalon, the private luxary yacht Valient caught fire and sunk during the prohibition era.  There was a personal treasure of gems, diamonds and coins on board that has never been fully recovered.  Lucky divers are still bringing up the much valued "Valient Tokens" used for drinks once the ship was beyond the three mile limit.  Nearby are several smaller wrecks and the wreck of the Sue Jaq, pictured above, with all the rigging.

Avalon -  This old boat is sunk in about 80 feet of water off of the Palos Verdes area.

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last modification: August 28, 2001