The boat is open after 7 P.M. the night before each trip for divers who wish to sleep on board. This is a good option for divers who live a long way from the harbor or for those who want to put together several days of diving.
Bunks are first come first served. We do not reserve bunks. Pillows and blankets are provided. There are shops and restaurants near the boat. Free parking permits are required for overnight parking and are available in the galley. Come to the boat when you arrive and grab a parking permit.
Carts are next to the boarding steps to use if you wish to load your gear. Come anytime during the night after 7 P.M. but if it is late, respect those who may be sleeping. Sign-in is done in the morning with the dive master.
What does Cal Boat Diving do?
We provide single day dive trips to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands on the Spectre dive boat departing from Ventura Harbor. Our services include reservations, rental equipment delivered to the boat, and friendly informative answers to your questions about scuba diving in the area and our services.
Do I need a guide and what is the cost?
Divers who’ve swam behind a dive master covering large areas of reef on a Caribbean trip often wonder about guided dives in California waters. We also have questions from newly certified divers who are concerned about getting lost and from divers worried about missing something if they don’t have a guide. We also have divers coming alone who are concerned about finding a buddy.
For passengers booking solo you are in good company. About 25% of divers on each trip come alone. We don’t assign buddies but during the dive master briefing we ask if anyone needs a buddy. Single divers find someone to dive with at that time.
We anchor on all the dive sites so there are no long swims or any need to travel far from the boat. There is plenty to see right there. Most dives are 25 to 50 feet deep. The captain gives a thorough site briefing before each dive. Our dive master checks each diver on and off the boat, answers questions, and is ready if anyone needs assistance on the surface.
Out of thousands of divers who join us each year less than 20 use guides. Guides are great for families who need help with their group, for divers who just completed training and want to learn more, and for those who are not yet comfortable on their own. If you think you need a guide by all means hire one.
We do not provide a guide or offer guide services. There are instructors who are available through dive shops and we can provide links to guide services. The rate depends on the guide and the number of divers in your group. You must also buy a spot on the trip for the guide since they take up a passenger spot. Rates for guides start at $175 for the day plus the price of the trip so the total is over $300. Email or call if you need assistance with guides.
What’s the Spectre like?
The Spectre dive boat is a comfortable 85 foot aluminum boat capable of carrying 40 divers plus nine snorkelers or non-divers. There are individual dive stations for each diver with air tank refills right at the stations. Among the many features are three showers, a large hot tub, sundeck, bunks, galley, game tank, camera rinse tank, and the famous outdoor barbecues used for every lunch. The Spectre has operated continuously since 1986 by Captain Ted Cumming and now by his son Nathan. It is the favorite of California divers as well as divers from many other states and countries.
How do I get to the Spectre?
The boat is located in Ventura Harbor, California at the Ventura Harbor Village. Visit our directions page for detailed directions to the boat.
How do I book a trip?
Everything can be done right from this website. While booking online add a rental package or individual rental items if you are bringing some of your own gear. We are also here to handle your booking by phone. Call us at 805-486-1166 or 866-CALDIVE. (866-225-3483).
What’s the diving like?
Generally speaking, dives are between 20 and 50 foot depths on rocky reef areas with a variety of plant life and kelp forests. Sea life includes a large array of colorful fish, seals and sea lions, bat rays, and countless creatures that float, swim, or attach themselves to the bottom. The boat anchors with both bow and stern anchors so divers can descend on a line or just swim to the bottom.
Which Island will we dive?
Anacapa Island is the first choice. It’s the closest island offshore, just an hour and 15 minutes from the harbor. Anacapa also has a marine protected area over the entire north side where sea life flourishes including kelp forests. It is home to sea lion and harbor seal colonies. Santa Cruz is the second island in the Northern Channel Island group just 20 minutes beyond Anacapa. It also has great diving. The boat goes there on days when conditions at Anacapa are unfavorable. Santa Cruz is the largest of the Channel Islands and offers great shelter from winds and swell. Ultimately the dive sites are dependent on the overall best conditions for the day.
Do you supply rental gear?
We provide any rental gear needed from tanks and weights to complete packages. Our equipment is delivered to the boat then picked-up after the trip. We also have snorkel equipment so bring a friend who hasn’t been certified yet. All gear can be rented by calling 805-486-1166 or by filling out the rental form. We just need your height, weight, and shoe size for a perfect fit.
Do I have to be a certified diver to use scuba gear?
Yes, only trained certified divers can use scuba equipment. We do not have “resort” type courses or do any type of dive training.
Is this the right trip for me?
If you want to see pretty scenery and not over exert yourself the Anacapa/Santa Cruz trip is perfect. For divers who wish to hunt or explore more challenging environments the islands further off shore may be better. Choose a Friday for the best price and fewer divers or do what many divers do and enjoy a number of single days back-to-back. Talk to us. We are here to answer your questions.
What do the trips include?
All trips include meals, snacks, drinks, and air fills. Trips do not include dive gear but you may rent any gear from us. Otherwise bring all your dive equipment including tank and weights.
What’s the food like?
The Spectre has a full galley with seating for 32 divers. Complete hot meals are included along with drinks and snacks. Vegetarian items are also available. The captain barbeques at lunch on all trips and hot brownie sundaes are served on the way home. Beer is available for sale after diving.
Can I pay by credit card?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.
What is the diving season?
The Spectre offers trips year-round. Peak season is from June through November. There are no trips on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday except holidays. Some Thursdays are available in the summer. Fridays and weekends are available all year.
How far in advance should I book?
For weekend trips, we recommend at least two weeks and sometimes more in the summer months. Weekdays are rarely sold out but booking a week ahead is a good idea.
What if I cancel?
Cancellation policies are available on the booking forms. We do enforce them. It’s not fair to other divers to hold spots on sold-out trips when others could use them. Reselling spots as the trip nears is difficult. We do try to sell cancelled spots and if we do we give credit. Rental gear is packed a day or two before the trip then delivered to the boat. Once delivered it can’t be cancelled.
Can I hunt?
Hunting is allowed. However the Spectre will always dive where the overall conditions are best. That means when the marine protected areas (game reserves) are the best place to dive we will be diving them. Be sure to bring a current fishing license and be aware of fish and game regulations.
Are these trips good for photography?
The Channel Islands are great for all types of underwater photography. The Spectre has a fresh water rinse tank, 110-volt outlets to recharge batteries, and lots of table space to work on equipment. Check our gallery page to view some examples.
Can non-divers go?
The Spectre now offers non-diver pricing on all trips which is about half the diver price and includes food.
Can snorkel divers go?
The Spectre has nine spots available on all trips just for snorkelers and non-divers in addition to our scuba diver spots. Snorkel gear rental packages are also available.
What’s the weather going to be?
Conditions are localized. They change from hour to hour making weather predictions largely a guess. Long term weather patterns are no longer as predictable either. Thankfully there are some great online sites to help with predictions and real time conditions. Links to some of these sites are available. Check our weather page and get the same information the captains depend on.
What’s the water temperature?
Water temperature goes from the low 60s in June to a high near 68 degrees through the summer. Fall months are usually in the mid to low 60s. By late January, it drops into the 50s and bottoms out at 52 to 55 degrees until June. Check the Anacapa Passage Buoy on our weather page for real time water temperature.
What should I bring?
Pack light but don’t forget bathing suits, towels, certification card, medications, layered clothing, sunglasses, and dive gear.
Can I bring an ice chest?
With 40 divers on a boat complete with all their gear and personal belongings ice chests get in the way. Food and drinks are provided and beer is sold in the galley. (Beer is sold only after diving, of course!)
Are there showers and electric outlets?
There are three hot freshwater showers on the Spectre and a large freshwater hot tub! The boat also has abundant 110-volt outlets both in the galley and bunkroom for hair dryers, phone chargers, and anything else that needs power.
Can I book solo and find a buddy on the boat?
Yes, about a quarter of our divers come out by themselves. We do not assign buddies but during the morning briefing the dive master will ask if anyone needs a buddy. Divers meet and pair-up at that time. Try to find a compatible diver. If you are looking to explore a large area don’t pair with a photographer who may want to stay put for most of the dive. If you are a brand-new diver don’t expect your buddy to be an instructor although divers tend to be helpful and glad to share their experience.
Do I need to be certified to use scuba gear?
Yes, you must have at least open water scuba certification. We do not offer any type of one day resort classes.
Can you provide instruction?
We do not provide instruction. We take students on nearly every trip but they come with their class. If you have an instructor, ask him or her to contact us for special offers.
Do we tip?
Tips are not included in the price of any trip. If the crew takes care of you a tip is welcome. Remember that tips are shared among all crew members.