Abalone diving and the mysterious house

Abalone diving and the mysterious house

A few years back, Tim invited some childhood friends for a camping trip out in Mendocino County, to go diving for Abalone diving. Like many of us today, I didn’t even know what an abalone was, and only later came to find out the big black market behind it (check out this article about the dark side of Abalone diving Prized but Perilous Catch).

So there we were, in one of the many beach front campgrounds in Mendocino county. I would love to say which one, but I can’t. First, because I don’t remember; second, it is a family secret spot; and third, I’m still a bit scared of some of the events that happened. Yeah, that’s right, I still can’t explain some of the things that happened there. Believe it or not, it wasn’t the abalone diving.  Will get back to this story in a bit.

With our abalones after abalone diving

Me, Tim and Jamey right after our dive

Abalone diving is a fun thing to do if you really love the ocean and all it has to offer. 1st) you have to dive into freezing cold waters, 2nd) you have free dive up to 20 feet deep (its illegal to use an air tank), 3rd) while underwater you have to measure the abalone; it has to be at least 7′ long, and with a spatula be quick enough to pop the abalone from the rock before it sucks back down and you miss your chance, 4th) and finally the most important, you need to be on the lookout for your friendly neighborhood sharks. The week before we got there a diver was bit by one; luckily we only found out at the end of the trip.

The front and back of my abalone right after abalone diving

My abalone, front and back

If you can get past these 4 things and you have a great friend that shows you their secret spot with many abalones to choose from, you will really enjoy the experience and want to go back again and again. Due to the big black market behind abalone diving, if you do decide to go, I really suggest you take a look at the rules to make sure you don’t break any of them as they can be very heavy on the wallet (Regulations Abalone Diving).

On the second day of the trip, after we each brought back 3 abalones, I decided to go kayaking up the river with Jerry. So we grabbed the kayaks and went up the river to explore. The river was beautiful, right where it reaches the ocean the water is clear, you can see the sandy bottom and the small fishes and crabs swimming around it. As we paddled down the winding river, enjoying the scenery, we didn’t take notice how far deep we had gotten into the forest. It was extremely silent, you could hear the current hitting the edges of the river and and occasional splash from our paddle. It was very nice and relaxing, as if we were the only ones there. So we thought.

As we came around one of the turns, we saw in the distance a house floating in the middle of the river. Not really understanding what was going on, we decided to paddle closer to check out what that was all about.  I don’t know why, but as we got closer my hands started sweating and my stomach got that sick feeling you get right before the girl dies in a scary movie.  You know the type of movies where kids are walking around secluded places and then get attacked by some crazy psychotic family.  That was the feeling, but for some some strange reason the house was hypnotizing and we kept paddling towards it.

The closer we got, things didn’t get any better. The house looked like it was abandoned, some of the windows were boarded up, a rusty refrigerator along with some other furniture were laying out in the lawn, and a lot of dead plants. It was really an odd sight, as the house was built on an island in the middle of the river with no connection to the land. As we rounded the house, we started hearing some noise coming from inside. It was weird because it sounded like a lot of tinny foot steps running crazy up and down. That’s when we saw them coming out.

There were about 8 or 9 of them, all different kinds of crazy little dogs – there were a couple of pugs, bulldogs and beagles, one of each of the terrier: jack russel, border, cairn, and even a chihuahua. These dogs were barking like crazy at us, following our everymove as we drifted around the island. It was almost as if they were some sort of security system. But why does an abandoned house, or so we thought, in the middle of the river, have so many dogs? Even worse, if there are so many dogs, where are their owners? How did they get there? Is there someone in the house watching us?

These were some of the many questions we had in a split of a second.  But we sure hell didn’t care to find out. So we turned around and quickly paddle back to the camp, always looking back to make sure know one with an axe was coming after us!

Safe and sound in the camp, we asked around about the mysterious house and the crazy little dogs, but apparently this was a topic no one wanted to talk about. So we let it go and enjoyed another beautiful sunset in the abalone diving camp.

Recap, to go abalone diving you will need: a friend to show you the secret spot, be adventurous to free dive with possible sharks, and great friends to enjoy it all with. And if you find yourself kayaking down a winding river, make sure to bring scooby snacks as the crazy little dogs might be hungry.

Sunset at Abalone diving campground


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