Big Sur Coast
Occasionally Truth Aquatics schedules liveaboard dive trips to the Big Sur Coast. This trip is for the adventurous scuba diver who is mentally and physically prepared to explore this untouched diving wonder. Seas can be big and rough or flat as a pancake; however every year has yielded yet another new spot that continues to impress the most discriminating diver. If you are willing to take a chance with Mother Nature, then you can be one of the lucky divers to find a new and exciting dive location to put into the log book.
Unlike other dive trips with Truth Aquatics this one departs from the sleepy fishing town of Morro Bay. The boat departs at 3 AM, and after some traveling divers wake up to a view of the pristine Santa Lucia Mountains with large cliff faces plunging into the blue pacific waters. This coastline is unlike any scene at the offshore Channel Islands. Coastal Redwoods, Santa Lucia Fir, Monterey Pine, and broad-leaved trees such as the Tanoak, Coast Live Oak, and California Bay Laurel are scattered along the mountain ridges. Jagged rocks lie off the coast just waiting to be dove and explored.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) nautical charts of this area are not detailed so metering the bottom with the onboard fathometer can result in new dive spots that have never been explored. Sights like the Schmeider Bank, Deep Plaskett, or the Haystacks have burned images in diver’s minds that will last a lifetime. Everyone attending this liveaboard dive trip needs to understand that particular spots are not always available for diving but that is also what makes this dive trip so special and forces us to discover new areas.
Located in Julia Pfeiffer State Park is the year round 80 foot McWay water fall. If weather is permitting on our Big Sur adventure we like to spend a minute and pull the boat into the cove to get some pictures of the magnificent water fall spilling onto the beach.
Sitting on the northern boundary of Julia Pfeiffer State Park is Partington Cove. More than 100 years ago homesteader John Partington built a tunnel that is six feet wide, eight feet high, and one hundred feet long through a formidable rock promontory. Built as a wagon trail for mules to haul lumber and tanning bark to ships waiting in the cove, you can still see the iron eyes secured in the rock faces used for the ships. On the point you can also see an old rusty stanchion that was used in the operation.
Although there were two Mexican land grants awarded in the 1830’s, which included most of the area north of the Big Sur Valley, neither grantee settled on the land. It was little more than a century ago when the first permanent settlers arrived in Big Sur. In the following decades other hardy persons followed and staked out their homesteads.
The landmarks bear the names of many of those early settlers – Mt. Manuel, Pfeiffer Ridge, Post Summit, Cooper Point, Dani Ridge, Partington Cove and others. Some of their descendants still live in Big Sur.
At the turn of the century Big Sur sustained a larger population than it does today. A vigorous redwood lumbering industry provided livelihoods for many. The Old Coast Trail, which had been the only link between homesteads, was still little more than a wagon trail. Steamers transported heavy goods and supplies and harbored at Notley’s Landing, Partington Cove, and the mouth of the Little Sur River.
Navigation was treacherous, and in 1889, the Point Sur Lighthouse Station began sending its powerful beam to protect ships from the hazards of the coastline.
In 1937, the present highway was completed after eighteen years of construction at a considerable expense even with the aid of convict labor. The highway has since been declared California’s first Scenic Highway, and it provides a driving experience unsurpassed in natural beauty and scenic variety.
Electricity did not arrive in Big Sur until the early 1950’s, and it still does not extend the length of the coast or into the more remote mountainous areas.