Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nanaimo Wrecks 16/04/2011

Jason Kolba and I signed up to go on the new/old SeaDragon that was now running out of Nanaimo. Dan from the Mamro was captaining it, along with Christine who helped do some of their accounting, and was also a dive master. Christine said that she already felt she knew Jason and I since we had been out on the Topline and Seadragon more times than anyone in the last year. We both thought that was pretty funny.

The Seadragon was much as we had remembered it. Nothing had changed. There was still the upper sundeck that was great in the sun but crap in the wind/rain. The back swim grid was roomy and Jason and I were put there with our doubles. These two benches were the only real area for doubles anyway as there were cylinder circles welded onto the benches. The midship deck was still covered but a bit cramped. 8 divers could get in there in a pinch but it wouldn't be fun. Jason and I were lucky to have the swim grid to ourselves. The reward for diving doubles I guess! I had my stage along too just for fun.

We had a pretty full boat. An instructor was doing the final dives for a class, and some others from out of town were fun-diving for the whole weekend.

Christine and Dan made the trip very pleasant. Coffee, soup, nanaimo bars and lots of friendly chat and help. Dan had a few stories about Steve Redding who from IDC who used to help on the Mamro dive charter for him.

The day started off cold but sunny. It turned miserable for a time during our surface interval but then turned sunny again for the trip home.

We did the Cape Breton first. Our dive plan was for 50 minutes and an average depth of 80 feet. We were going to circumnavigate the wreck, but current stopped us from getting as far as we wanted. Visibility was not that great either, maybe 15 feet. Too bad since it was Jason's first time on them. It was still a good dive though. We went through some of the swim-throughs and saw some big cabezon along with rainbow shrimps. On the ascent I did a mask removal for practice and froze my forehead. The water was cold!

On the surface the weather had turned. It was choppy, rainy and windy. Not nice! We had some lunch and relaxed a bit. My new Xen dive computer's battery failed, which wasn't good. However several other people had reported the same problem. Guess mine had it too. Good thing I had my backup bottom timer.

We moved the boat to the Saskatchewan and geared up for the next dive. The chop made it difficult to tie up the boat. Christine and Dan tried 4 or 5 times before success. We went down amidships, and followed a similar 50 minute dive profile, but with a shallower average depth. We checked out the deck guns first, and I took out the new dive buddy, JD (Just Duck) for a photo shoot. I had to stick him inside the gun barrel because he floated so much. It was also pretty impressive how crushed he was at 90 feet! Poor guy.

Stuff we saw were large cabezons, a brown box crab, a huge yellow eye rockfish, and tonnes of anemones. Everything seemed covered in them. There we're no nudibranchs that I saw, except for a shag mouse nudibranch on the ascent/descent line.

A good set of two dives, and it was good to see a good charter operation move into Nanaimo now that Diver's Choice had met such hard times and closed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuwanek 26/03/2011

Jason Kolba and I wanted to circumnavigate the North Island of Tuwanek now that he had gotten his double cylinder setup. One long carefully planned dive was very appealing, rather than doing two separate ones with a surface interval. Our planned dive time would be 90 minutes, with an average depth of 40 feet using 32%. We hit that exactly.

The dive was good, but the visibility wasn't as great as Tuwanek usually is. That was one of the big reasons to go! It was too bad, but it wasn't a show stopper.

At the beginning of the dive, we got a bit turned around moving around the East side of the North island, but got that sorted out. We found the wolf eel, but he looked to be alone. Jason commented later that he looked sad. Maybe because his mate died? Not sure. I got some obligatory video of the wolf eel. I swear that it is one of the most videoed and photographed critters around. How he puts up with all the divers poking their nose into his lair with their lights and cameras I don't know.

At the end of the dive, we did some valve drills and S-drills. They went pretty well. We videoed each other so that we could see how we did.

A fun trip!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Northerner of Clyde UASBC 19/03/2011

Jason and I went out with the UASBC to help survey a wreck near Egmont called the Northerner of Clyde. The UASBC had dove it before in April 2010, and we were lucky to have one of those people along; Tim Novak.

We had to catch the early ferry to the Sunshine Coast, so it was a very early start. Everyone met up in good order and we made the ferry in plenty of time. Time enough to get a coffee in Horsehoe Bay fortunately, since I needed it!

On the trip over we prepped dive slates with Mylar and the dive instructions. Keith did a great job breaking out each team's responsibilities. We had three teams: one doing the deck, one doing the port and one doing the starboard. Main team activities were to get more accurate measurements of the wreck, get a compass bearing and document the overall layout.

When we arrived in Egmont, we met Bryce of B Line Charters. He had a water taxi / dive boat that would take us out. I learned later that Bryce had also sold the Topline boat to Kevin and Jan of Sea Dragon Charters. The dive community certainly was small!

The B Line boat was not badly set up, and fit us comfortably. There were no real benches, but there was a step down area where you could put on doubles. The main stumbling block was no ladder! Bryce said it was in Vancouver. Later I'd actually meet the guy making Bryces's ladder, on a trip over to Tuwanek.

It didn't take long to get to the dive site. We didn't know precisely where the wreck was, so Jason and I volunteered to find it. We also decided to do the port side survey.

I brought my new birthday present along on this dive, the GoPro Hero video camera that Heather got me. I left it on for the entire dive, and got some pretty interesting video. Hopefully I can post some soon.

Descending to the bottom at about 60 feet we started looking. Visibility was very good, and we quickly located the wreck. Although as I recall, I was looking in the opposite direction, and it was Jason who found it. I shot a surface marker, and we took a tour of things before getting into the tasks.

The first thing I noticed was the prop. It was still attached and in good shape. It looked great. The wreck itself was a lot smaller than either of us had figured at about 21 meters or about 70 feet. A lot of it had collapsed in, but the wheel house was still intact. The port side was pretty deteriorated, with a lot of holes. The vessel listed to port as well, to about 30 degrees, but overall upright.

We found a lot of debris and artifacts scattered on the bottom by the port side. Some things of note were coffee cups, plates, pulleys, tires, deck hatches and a metal box.

We completed our tasks pretty well but could not identify any engines or other machinery. It was too difficult to see inside the hull.

While surfacing I got some interesting video of of everyone on the way up. The bubble show was very cool.

Getting back on the boat in doubles with no ladder was tricky. We took our rigs off and climbed aboard, but hoisting the cylinders back on. Yuck. Ladders were good!

After some lunch we had to decide what to do next. In the end the Power Lines won out. They were not far from the wreck, so we headed back that way.

I had done the power lines before, and I was looking forward to it. It was an awesome dive. Tonnes of cloud sponges, as well as chimney sponges. We found one very interesting fish that was some sort of sculpin. There were some really nice frosted nudibranchs too. I will let the video that I should have together soon speak for me. The sun started to come out too which really helped brighten things up.

All in all, a very successful and enjoyable trip.

There are some pictures here:

Whytecliff Scooter Dive 06/03/2011

Scooter dive at Whytecliff with Vince Janelle and John Campbell. Vince had his X-scooter out, and John had his short body Gavin. I brought out my stage bottle as well for practice.

At the beginning of the dive, John had a small leak in his dry-suit, but we fixed that. He just needed to adjust his neck-seal.

We went up the Cut, but cut the dive a bit short. Vince was having trouble equalizing. After we got back in, John and I went back out quickly and tried a few barrel rolls. He did a lot better than I did. I ended up on the bottom upside down a few times, hah.

I also took out my birthday present, and here are some pictures and video here:

St. George's Pool 24/02/2011

Jason Kolba got his double 130's, and he asked if I'd go do some pool-practice with him. It was always good to work on skills, so I was pretty happy to go.

Everything went pretty well. IDC was there with a dry-suit class, so we did have to avoid some students. Jason rocketed to the bottom on the first descent because he wasn't used to the buoyancy change of the doubles. But he did well. We ran through valve drills, S-drills and some helicopter turns and other propulsion. I tried my best to demonstrate things as well as possible, but messed up on one valve drill. But that's when you want to mess up, in a controlled situation. It was a good learning experience, that's for sure!

UASBC NAS Intro Course 19/02/2011

On Saturday February 19th, Jacques Marc and John Middleton put on a Nautical Archaeology Society Intro course for the UASBC.

The NAS site, and the course write-ups are here:

The UASBC site, and the course write-up is here:

There were some pictures taken by John that I put up here. The first two are of the land-work we did, then there is myself doing some tasks in the pool, then a group shot.

The full course participant list was myself, Jason Kolba, Keith Bossons, Greg Bossons, Greg Nuttall, John Campbell, Joe Smith, Rob, Randy Parke, and Jiri Kotler. We met at the Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre in Victoria, and it was a beautiful sunny day. Many of us came over the night before to have more of a civilized morning arrival, but a few like Keith and his son came over that morning. Jason and I crashed at Jaques' house, which was very nice of him. He even made us pancakes!

There was some organizing to be done in the morning, as the room was not quite ready for us. Fortunately everything went relatively smoothly, although Jacques had to drive to his office to get a projection screen.

We started with introductions all around, and explanations as to why each of us were there. It was quite a mixed group. Most of us were there to expand our diving in some way. Some mentioned wanting to dive more wrecks, some mentioned learning new skills. One mentioned how it may help directly with his occupation (RCMP police diver; very interesting!). For me, I was there have fun at a new aspect of diving and to learn new skills.

Jacques handed things over to John, who started everything off with an introduction to the NAS program and the types of archaeology. After that, Jacques ran us through underwater survey techniques and the skills we would be practising in the pool. We had some donuts and coffee and headed outside to do some dry-land survey practice in the playground. I found the trilateration exercise very interesting. Taking two measurements from different points really made sense in helping increase accuracy when measuring things. Jacques also went over some of the things we might forget in the pool session. Tips on how to get better measurements, checking the markings on your tape, going over how you will measure things before you get in the water, and things like that. He joked that he still fully expected everyone to make all the usual mistakes, but that was part of the learning process (and the fun!).

We got changed and set up our gear at the deep end of the pool. Jacques had help from Holger who set up the underwater portion of the course before hand.

Each of us were split off into buddy teams, and sent on the various objectives. The tasks included three exercises. One was doing a perpendicular measurement of several items to a baseline. There was a scuba cylinder, a mitre box and a tape measure. On the other baseline we had to do bilateration (the trilateration we learned, but a bit less accurate). On that one there was an elbow shaped PVC pipe and a home base plate. It was tricky to get enough measurements to reproduce the objects accurately later. We ended up going back to both of the exercises to re-do and make some new measurements before we got out of the pool.

The final exercise was to sketch several objects under a grid. I had to sketch a dive knife, a light, and a garden hand-rake. It was very hard. You had to keep the grid at the same distance or things would be off. Buoyancy and being able to keep your position was very handy. Part of the trick was to keep the grid-lines lined up with each other, since there were two sets, one under the other. So if the lines were one, you were in the right spot. Jason and I did an extra exercise by doing a side profile of the side of the pool.

After all that, we did one last lecture on maritime law and plotted our measurements. We did it on tracing paper to a 300 scale and used simple drafting tools. I figured I'd be buying grade-school math equipment again! Once it was plotted, everyone put their plots on the window. With the tracing paper, the light shinning through let you see how everyone's matched up. The tape measure moved all over the place. People kept picking it up and putting it down, because it didn't look like part of the exercise! Jaques had some good comments to help people do better measurements, and said that we all did a pretty good job.

It was a great course in the end. I learned a lot and it was very interesting! Jason and I would be putting the course material to work on the next dive, which was coming up fast.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Furry Creek 13/02/2011

Jason had not been out to Furry Creek before, so we decided to go do some more exploring. I had not found the wall that was there so I wanted to do that at the very least. It was a fun dive the last time, too.

The day was awesome. The day before was terrible. Poor Jason was out doing an open water class that day and it was rainy cold and windy. Generally unpleasant! But not today. It was sunny and relatively warm.

When we arrived there were already some divers in the water. I was quite surprised! I didn't expect anyone dove this site with any regularity. But it was a pretty nice day. We asked the other group breifly where the wall was, and got some better directions. They were not sticking around for a second dive.

We got geared up again down the walkway on the wooden bench. A few dog-walkers went by while we were there, and we got several questions about what we were doing.

Again,t he logs on the beach were problematic. Not so bad with single cylinders, but doubles would be a bit difficult. There was a fair amount of clambering and stepping involved. That was the only downside to this site.

We entered the water off the small beach area to the north east. Jason wiped out on some of the slippery rocks and tore his marigold glove. He had a cold, wet hand for the whole dive unfortunately.

We swam out on the surface to the white marker buoy, which was almost straight north. We did not go for the red buoy, as that was in the wrong location. We descended on the line of the white buoy and headed north. It was quite shallow where we started, about 30 feet. The bottom was pretty sandy and devoid of features. We came across some rocky boulders and kept heading north. The plan was to hit 80 feet and find the wall. The bottom sloped gradually down, but once we were past the boulders there were no features and it didn't look like anything would appear to the north. So we swung north east and before long ran right into the wall.

In hindsight, a better way to find the wall at Furry Creek was this. Enter the water off the beach closest to the cul-de-sac and just follow the shoreline contour along the north east. This will start off pretty shallow, but will put you right onto the wall with no problems.

We didn't come across anything too spectacular, but there were a lot of small cloud sponges near 80 feet. A lot more than seemed normal. There were a lot of nice large anemones too, not just the regular plumose ones. Not many interesting fish, just the regular greenlings and ling cods. The rock wall was interesting in itself, with a nice formation. In the shallows there was a large rock overhang. Too small to get under, but you could see through it.

After some food and a surface interval, and some warming up, we were back in for the second dive. The water was noticeably colder, at 6 degrees. We both were feeling it!

The second dive was to see if there was anything worth seeing to the north west. We swam out along the bottom this time to the north and curved back in south. This proved to be relatively uninteresting. We came across the boulder ridge that runs east-west along the 40 foot contour or so, but that petered out very soon after following it west and south. We found the large concrete block that the red float tied to, but everything around that was sand and shallow. So we turned around and poked around along the boulder ridge for a bit and headed back in.

There was a lot of octopus evidence, but we didn't find any. Also none of the boulders concealed anything exciting. A lot of coonstripe shrimp peered out at us, but that was about it.

Visiblity was quite good, so the swim back in was quite nice.

Apart from the cold water, it was a very good day of diving!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nanaimo Wrecks 30/01/2011

It had been a long time since I had dove the wrecks outside of Nanaimo. When Anita said she was going to get her friend Bill to take his boat out to them, I jumped at the chance.

Bill wanted to get going by 9, so that meant getting up early. 4:30am early. The previous day had been rainy and cold, but even though it was dark, the day was looking good. The ferry ride over went without incident, and we arrived early enough to go to Tim Hortons first. When we made it to the dock, Bill hadn't arrived yet. We met one of the other divers, Alan. When Bill pulled in with his boat, Anita kept saying it wasn't him because it didn't look like his boat. Funny enough, it was indeed Bill, and his boat was not how Anita remembered it! It was a very nice dive boat. You could easily run a charter with it.

Bill said some other folks were joining us, so we settled down to wait a bit. The boat had a back splash deck, a great ladder, and nice benches. The back area was covered to add to the comfort.

Bill and Alan were diving rebreathers while Anita and I were on open circuit. I'd not seen a rebreather used before so it was pretty interesting. I could certainly appreciate its usefulness as a tool, but I figured I had a long way to go before open circuit was exhausted for me.

We waited quite a while until we found out that the other divers had bailed. Once we heard that, we got under way.

It was an awesome day; sunny but cold. The water was pretty choppy, too. At one point the swells were enough to topple Alan's rig. There were bungees to secure cylinders, but the sheer force of the swells was pretty powerful.

We decided to do the Cape Breton first. With the rough seas, we also decided to dive with one team on the boat at all times. It was pretty dicey getting into my doubles with the waves like they were, but I managed.

Anita and I went down first, leaving Bill and Alan to mind the boat. I must say it was a nice feeling knowing someone was manning home base. However, it would in the end make the day much longer.

We descended on the stern, because that's where we tied up to. The expansive stern deck opened up around us. The mooring chain was making quite a racket due to the waves. I hoped that it would be strong enough!

Our dive plan was to have an average depth of 80 feet and a 50 minute dive. We set out towards the bow, and marvelled at the amount of life. The doorways and hatches were very eerie.

At the bow, the anchor equipment made what looked like a face.

On the way back to the stern, we came across more cabezons than I'd ever seen before. I saw one and was quite excited. Then another and another and another. It started to seem pretty ho-hum! I had seen only one cabezon ever before. I had mistaken buffalo sculpin for them many times until someone pointed out that buffalo sculpin were tiny. Cabezon are a few feet. I chased a few of them with the video camera and annoyed them to no end I'm sure. They reminded me of angry bull dogs.

Huge Cabezon

Decorated warbonnet curled up in a tube

On the surface we helped Bill and Alan get into the water. The boat was pitching and rolling a lot, so it was difficult. They were slinging 2 extra cylinders so even though the rebreathers were lighter, they had far more gear. Again it was dicey getting into the water with the waves but it worked.

While they went down, Anita and I went up. Up to the pilot deck and the sun and some lunch. It was surprisingly sunny, if a bit windy. We had a nice home-made soup, cave-aged gruyere and other cheeses, and some nice bread. A very civil affair.

After Bill and Allan were on board, we moved the boat to the HMCS Saskatchewan. Since we had our surface interval done, we started our dive pretty soon after we moved. The amidships and stern tie-up lines were missing so we had to tie up to the bow. Bill said he'd get in touch with one of the Artificial Reef society people about it.

The Saskatchewan was still my favourite wreck. With the gun turrets, the tall superstructure, and all the hatches and life it was a lot more interesting than the Breton. The Breton was bigger though. We saw some awesome nudibranchs on the line up to to boat, a shaggy mouse nudibranch amongst others.

Back on the boat, we relaxed more in the sun while Bill and Allan did their dive.

At the end of a very long day, all of it was worth it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Porteau Cove Scooter Dive 22/01/2011

Vince bought a scooter, so we decided to go out to Porteau Cove for some test runs. We met Alan Wong and Jim Sergent there. Jim had bought the same model scooter that Vince had. It took a bit of time for Vince to get weighting sorted out, so Jim and Alan started the dive before us. Our original plan had us all going as a group.

While I was waiting in the water, Vince left his scooter with me at one point. I couldn't resist the urge to do a short video with two scooters in hand!

I didn't try it though. Far too unwieldy. We did a bit of practice circling around on the surface.

The dive itself was good. We scootered all of Porteau, as well as out to the Nakaya and back. At the Nakaya, we stowed the scooters and swam for towing practice.

There was a very well camouflaged buffalo sculpin on the Grant Hall as well.

I guess this blog entry was all video! I am going to leave it at that for now.

Plowden Bay UASBC Trip 16/01/2011

On the morning of January 16, 2001, the UASBC undertook an expedition to get some more details on a “mystery” wreck in Plowden Bay near Port Mellon. The story went that it was probably an old YMS-class minesweeper that was being converted into a fishing barge. In the 80's (I think), it apparently sank due to neglect.

Mike Juren had this to say in one of the planning emails. I think he got a lot of details from Dave, who had dove it in 2005:

The wreck was 60% intact in 2005. The wreck was sitting upright on a slope, with the starboard side and the stern facing down slope. The slope was fairly steep, about 30 degrees. The wreck measured approximately 30' wide by 140' long. Most of the superstructure had been removed, but 3 hatches and compartments with bulkheads were still in place. The hull consisted of wooden planks and steel bulkheads. The engines had been removed. On the foredeck the windlass was still in place as were some of the stanchions. The anchor fairlead jutted over the bow. The wreck was orientated to about 60 degrees, or East-Northeast, with the stern to the south and the bow to the north.

We departed Horseshoe Bay aboard the Topline, from Seadragon Charters. Skipper Kevin and Jan were aboard, along with helper Shay. From the UASBC side there was Nicole and David, along with the 8 or so divers. We originally had 13, but there were several last minute cancellations. A not-complete list of divers was: Keith, Mike, Joel, Gary, Jason, Keith's son, and me.

We could not ask for a better day. It was overcast and raining in the morning, but it stopped pretty quickly. We got underway a bit later than planned. On the trip out, David gave a comprehensive briefing on the wreck and what we would be doing. It was very good. The wreck site was at Plowden Bay, near Port Mellon. Nicole did a pile of work putting together the diver slates and wreck diagrams, checking people in and out, and generally keeping the UASBC equipment side straight.

It had been quite some time since the last survey of this wreck, so everyone was curious to see what we'd find. The general plan was to have four teams of divers. One would lay a survey tape from bow to stern, one would measure the width of the hull, one would check the stern area and one would tour around the whole wreck. Individual teams got more detailed instructions, and I wasn't present for all those, so I don't have all the details! On the first dive, Jason and I were tasked with measuring the width of the hull, as well as identifying any hatches and holes in the deck.

No wreck penetration was allowed or planned. We also got several reminders to be mindful of sharp metal and line, to be careful with the surveying tapes (entanglement), and to not sacrifice safety for any reason. Keith's son actually did tear his drysuit on the second dive, unfortunately. There were the ever-present waivers and release forms to fill out, along with the standard dive check-out and check-in depth, time and pressure. With the experienced boat crew and UASBC folks, this all went smoothly and without complication.

Keith and his son descended first, and shot a line and a surface marker at the bow. They ran the first tape from bow to stern as well. When Jason and I descended, we got the first view of the wreck itself. Visibility was pretty good for Howe Sound, maybe 10 to 15'. The bow was recognizable, if somewhat worse for wear. The anchor chain was clearly visible going down to the rocks at the bottom. We followed the port side hull from the bow to the stern to get an overview of the wreck first. There was no sign of the deck and hatches that had been reported in 2005. All that had either fallen in, deteriorated or been swept away by water action. Maybe 30% of the hull remained sticking up from the bottom. The ribs were clearly visible in many places, as were the several bulkheads dividing up the hull. Not much remained of each bulkhead either. There was some kind of inner hull coating in sections which appeared white, but I couldn't tell what kind of material it was. There was quite a bit of debris scattered about the main hull too. Several tires, line and pieces of wood for example. I didn't spend a lot of time looking at anything other than the main wreck though.

I had a camera along, and took a short video of the swim down the length of the hull.

After that, we got to work measuring the width of the hull. I had not worked with a tape underwater before, and it was doubly challenging using a survey tape meant for land use. At least once the end of the tape got caught on a part of the ship. Also, the main tape line got in the way more often than not. All this hammered home the point that any kind of line underwater has a mind of its own, and should be respected.

We got a measurement of about 8 meters for the hull width. From there, we spent a good deal of time documenting where the bulkheads were, and looking for the “hatches” (which didn't exist anymore). I did a lot of sketching on my underwater wetnotes, and toke a bunch of reference measurements from the main line.

Once back on the surface, we compiled a pretty good sketch of what things looked like. The mandate was "get it documented now, or you will forget". From my experience writing up dive trip reports, I completely agreed. My memory would fade even a few hours after a dive.

Here is another short video of the mess of stuff that was near the bow. Note the toilet tank! There always seems to be a toilet somewhere...

There was a question about whether or not to do a second dive, since the wreck had deteriorated so much. After reviewing the video, David decided that there was enough to warrant a second dive. My one mistake on the trip was opening up the camera housing to check the video. Once I did that, the inside of the housing completely fogged up and was useless on the second dive. I didn't have any desiccant/silica with me either. Too bad!

The assignments for the second dive were to document more of the physical layout of the wreck and to confirm its compass orientation. Also, we were to try and get the width between the hull ribs, and the dimensions of the ribs themselves. Those measurements could be useful in identifying the ship's origin. We also had to go down to recover the main measurement line, and the marker buoy that had been deployed at the bow.

On this dive, Jason took the tape measure, and I had the slate. We had some difficulty communicating measurements with hand signals even though we had ran through them on the boat. It always amazed me how the best plans and discussion can go out the window when you get underwater. However, no planning is certainly worse, so I'm glad we did something! The rib measurements were a bit tricky but we got most of them. I used the slate itself as a measuring tool to back up the tape measurements. It worked pretty well. I drew a bit more of the debris and locations of certain items. There were quite a few tires that had been hung along the side of the hull and they were scattered about. There was also a set of metal posts for mooring line that I noted. We went up to the bow and tried to look for the anchor. The anchor chain hung straight down from the bow and ended at the rocks. I tried to move the chain and it wouldn't budge. Either it was still connected to the anchor somehow, or it was so rusted that the links were fused together. There was no sign of the anchor. It looked to me like the anchor might be under the wreck itself. It certainly didn't exist at the bow.

Since we had been focusing on survey and documentation tasks, we didn't see much life on the wreck. Still, there were some decorator crabs and a couple of nice nudibranchs. One team found a clown dorid, which was pretty nice.

Back on the boat, we finished transferring our drawings and measurements to paper. In the end, we got some pretty good results for a group of "regular divers". The wreck certainly had changed in 5 years!

I certainly look forward to the next UASBC dive...

Tuwanek 15/01/2011

Back to Tuwanek on the Sunshine Coast! Always good for a great dive.

Anita and I were out this time, and I was getting some practice in on her camera. I was going to borrow it for the next day of diving with the UASBC.

Unlike previous Tuwanek trips, we took the later ferry so didn't have to get up so early. It made a big difference not having to get up at 4:30am! The ferry ride was uneventful, and we spent most of it going over the camera functions.

When we arrived at Tuwanek, it wasn't raining. The weather was certainly threatening though. No one else was there diving, which was great so we had the place to ourselves.

We planned on one long dive around the north island, and it was. Our average depth worked out pretty much as we planned, 45 feet. The dive time also worked out to be in-plan, but just. It was an hour and 28 minutes. This was the longest dive I had ever done to date.

We saw the wolf eel, and carried on around the back side of the island. There was a large section of the back side that was pretty barren. Smooth granite rock mostly, but not a lot of life. When we turned into the channel between the two islands it got interesting again. On the north-east side of the island, there were several pipes coming down from the rock above. There was a cabin up there, so we figured they were for some kind of water system. We ended up not coming down south far enough, and surfaced near the house just north of the creek. All in all though, pretty good navigation.

Here is a video of the wolf eel I took. It's the same as all the other Tuwanek wolf eel videos!

And here is a video of some swimming striped sea perch.

And here are some moon jellies.

After all this, we had a nice lunch and then went to the Halfmoon Bay General Store and bought some of their special bacon!

Kelvin Grove 09/01/2011

The big plan was to dive Kelvin Grove with a bunch of people. Anita and Teri had two people driving up from Seattle, and it was going to be a picnic day, too. But, weather forced the Seattle pair to not come, so it was just four of us, not six. A good thing too, because parking was limited at Kelvin, and today there were two other groups of divers there already. We barely all fit!

We showed up later in the afternoon because the two folks from Seattle wanted to do a dive and then a dusk dive. With them unable to come, it was too short notice to schedule things earlier, but it worked out OK.

We arrived around 1pm and started the dive at 2. I don’t recall much from the dive unfortunately. I left it too long to do this write up. I seem to recall everyone saying similar things, that there really wasn’t much of note. We went to the right. Current wasn’t present and we did a pretty standard depth profile. Poor Teri had a hole in her glove so her hand was frozen. I had brought my stage bottle along for practice, and must remember to pay attention to my fins on descents along sloping bottoms. Teri let me know that I was stirring up a lot of sand on the way down. I was not far enough away from the slope.

After the first dive, we had our picnic. The day was fabulous. I do remember that much. The sun was on the beach and it was quite warm. Teri and Anita brought some great soup and cheese and other nice things. It was a great meal.

They didn’t stick around for a second dive, but Jason and I were still game to see how things would change at dusk. We did a similar dive, but stayed a bit shallower. We found a pretty big octopus under a rock which was the high-light of the dive. I used my stage on this dive, and at the end deployed my SMB and sent the empty stage to the surface as a bit of practice. Unlike the previous time when Alan Johnson and I had done this, the stage was empty enough to actually go to the surface!

Getting out of the water, it was still somewhat light out. It got dark pretty fast, so I was glad to have my headlamp. We got geared down and everything was wrapped up by about 6pm. A good day of diving.

Whytecliff 06/01/2011

I did a quick night dive with Vince on this evening.

Thank goodness it wasn't raining, as it was pretty cold. i also had a bunch of gear problems that normally I don't have. My backup regulator was bubbling, but a periodic purge or adjust would stop it. Later I would find that the high-pressure seat in the first stage was worn. That got replaced and it was fine. My suit zipper leaked quite a bit too. I think something must have gotten caught in it because it was closed. There was something else that happened too, but I can't recall. All were very minor issues, but a bunch of them together slowed things down a lot and were very annoying.

The dive itself was interesting. Originally we had thought to do Porteau Cove, but the tide was quite low so we decided to skip that and do the day marker at Whytecliff.

On the way out to the marker, we came across a huge congregation of coonstripe shrimp. And I mean a lot of them, all piled up in one spot. There were a few fish and crabs in the mix too. It was very odd until I realized that they were all crowded around a seal carcass. The carcass looked a lot like a grey rock, so I missed it at first. It also didn't have any flippers or head. Very weird. But the critters were certainly having quite a feast on it.

We also saw a very nice small octopus wandering on the rocks out in the open. It was maybe the size of your hand.

There was no current to speak of, so it was a nice pleasant dive.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Furry Creek 02/01/2011

The first dive of the New Year!

It was a perfect day for a dive, sunny albeit cold. There was ice on the logs of the beach!

I had wanted to do Furry Creek for some time. A link:

You could not park near the beach, so we had to unload our stuff at the cul-de-sac and then park the car at the parking lot further up. But it wasn't a big deal.

To get to the entry point, you had to walk down a small path past the houses. There was a wooden bench that we used to gear up on. It wouldn't be great for a lot of divers, but for 2 it was perfect.

Getting to the water was harder. The beach was covered with logs. If the logs hadn't been there, it would have been a snap! Still, it was doable. Once you got to the water, the sandy/gravel bottom was quite nice. It was shallow quite a ways out, so there is a bit of swimming to do.

We swam out not far to the north and then headed to the north east. There was supposed to be a wall, but we did not find it. Instead, we came across a boulder strewn slope that was pretty interesting. There was a mound of garbage, filled with old leather shoes and bottles at one point. The shoes looked about size 14, and only the leather soles were left. There were many hiding places for critters in the rocks.

Next time I think I shall swim out to the red marker buoy and go more north. That is where the wall should be, deeper than we were. Our dive was only about 40 feet max. The wall should have been around 80 feet.

Coming back in to shore, we came across the remains of an octopus. Or at least that's what I thought it must be. There were no tentacles, but it was a large mass of white and purple rubbery organic matter. It wasn't artificial that's for sure! Kind of an odd find. Also, right at shore, there was a big buffalo sculpin on the bottom.

The swim back in was magical. The water was shallow, but with the sun out, it created an awesome fish-bowl effect. Very nice!