Thursday, January 31, 2013

10 Mile Point 27/01/2013

For our Sunday dive, Jim, Greg and I decided to do 10 Mile Point near Victoria.

I had done 10 mile twice before, but this time we'd be using scooters. I was excited! We'd also be using a much easier entry from a small beach to the North West of the regular parking lot. The entry at 10 Mile was not a lot of fun when I'd done it before, doubly less fun in doubles, and pretty much impossible with scooters and stage bottles.

For the first dive, we used the sand bottom bay to practice skills and run some line. Greg brought tent spikes that we used to tie off the line to, since finding good tie off points was usually a challenge. The skills and drills went well, and we all learned a lot as usual. I swallowed more water than I can remember in a long time, so made sure to refine my regulator switching procedures!

Jim discovered that his new scooter had flooded its light in the nose. We also were trying to figure out why it hung so low in the water when he stowed it behind him. He was not that happy at the prospect of probably having to send it back for repairs.

On the second dive, we scootered over to the 10 Mile wall. We discovered that it was very important to scooter out away from the shore, then bear back in. When we didn't do that, we ran into very large and shallow rock outcroppings, making scootering very difficult! No one hit anything, but it wasn't very fun.

Once we were on the wall, we stowed our scooters and took our time looking at all the life. 10 Mile wall really was spectacular. Visibility was maybe 20 feet, so not the best, but once you got up close, it didn't matter. You wanted to get up close anyway with all the little things to see. There were tons of decorator crabs and nudibranchs. I found a very pretty Clown Dorid that I had only seen once or twice before.

There were a lot of other divers at the site that day too. The tide was definitely right, since there wasn't a lot of current at all. We zig-zagged back and forth along the wall three times, and still there wasn't a lot. Scootering back was better, since Greg took us farther out then back in. His navigation was spot on, and we ended up right back in the bay.

A very good day of diving indeed! 

Nanaimo Wrecks 20/01/2013

I emailed Jason Kolba, and asked if he'd like to stay overnight at our place in Nanaimo then do the Wrecks the next day on the Sea Dragon. We also had along Guy, Greg, Shawn and Jim. Jim finally had his suit back from repair, and had his new scooter as well. They all planned to do a scooter and tech dive.

Christine and the Sea Dragon were great as always. They gave us sandwiches and soup, and combined with the food that Jim and I brought we had quite a feast for the surface interval.

The first dive was on the Cape Breton, and Jason and I had a great time going through a few swim-throughs and viewing the huge Cabezon that frequently rested on the deck. One bit of video I got had the fish's shadow in Jason's light beam. There were a number of very pretty cloud sponges as well. We watched the "scooter" team zoom past us at one point, which was pretty cool.

The second dive was on the Cape Breton again. Jim wanted to do some wreck penetration with Guy, and had not been through the sky lights before. Jason and I decided to spend more time on the bow instead of the stern, and do more of the swim-throughs. Since the ship was so big, and there was always so much to see, it wasn't bad doing it a second time.

One thing I have to work on more was drills in mid-water. I started to do a valve drill on the line while we were at our safety stop, and it didn't go very well! I had forgotten how challenging it was when you could not see the bottom. Anyway, something to improve on again was always good to discover.

Here is some video from the trip:

Maple Bay 13/01/2013

Greg, Shawn and Guy were doing some line work and skills at Maple Bay, and I joined them.

Guy lived right there in Maple Bay, which was very convenient for him! I had thought I had told them I was coming, but was mistaken when I arrived at the usual time to find them done their first dive. Oops. I checked and found that I had not actually told them I was coming!

Guy had some chores to do, so he could not do the second dive, but Shawn was good to go. Greg ended up doing three dives, as Shawn left after the second dive. It was great that Greg had enough gas and enough time, otherwise I'd be only doing one dive.

We worked on maintaining our position on the line, doing gas sharing practice on the line, and our regular drills. It was a lot of fun! Everything went pretty well. Greg did remind me to use my light more when signalling a problem, a bad habit I had developed. I tied off the line a few times, and had some practice running the reel too.

When Greg and I got out of the water on the last dive, we came across a Lewis Moon Snail out in the open in about 10 feet of water. I had only seen one of them before ever, and was pretty excited. Greg had no idea what it was, and had never seen one before. They were without doubt one of the ugliest creatures around, but kind of cool looking as well. They spend most of their time burrowing in the sand, so you rarely see them out. I had my camera, and thought I got a great bit of video, but when I checked later, I found that the camera had not been recording! Oops! Got to make sure that the lens cap isn't on!

At the very least, here is a picture someone else took of the creature, so you can see just how ugly it really is.

And farther down this page, you can read a little bit about it.

China Creek 06/01/2013

When I had gone on the trip with IDC to Barkley Sound, the boat trip had us pass by an RV park near China Creek. It was not far out of Port Alberni, and I was told it was a pretty nice dive site.

Luckily, Greg, Shawn, Chris and Kim invited me along to do a scooter dive there. The actual place is called China Creek Marina and Campground.

The dive site was not at the Marina, like I found out, but at campsite 55. The drive there was quick from Nanaimo, but the road leading to the place was rough to say the least. It was dirt logging road with giant pot holes. I don't think I'd like to drive it without at least a truck! During the drive, I was really second guessing myself as to where I was going, and thought surely I was on the wrong road. But Google maps did get you me there.

I met everyone at the campsite, and we talked about the dive. Chris and Kim didn't bring their scooters, so we decided to tow them. There was a wreck of a ship to the right, and we decided to do that first. Visibility was quite good and it was fun towing Chris. I had only towed someone twice before, so it was good practice. I don't think he got a very good view though, hanging on behind me!

At the wreck, Kim, Chris and I teamed up and Shawn and Greg did some wreck penetration. It wasn't a large wreck but it was very interesting. It was at a steep 45 degree angle, so it was very odd hovering over top of it. There was a very nice cloud sponge growing off of one of the railings, and swimming past the props was nifty as well. We did about 3 circles of the wreck, and watched Greg and Shawn come out of the wheel house, then headed back. We did a few skills, then called the dive.

Chris and Kim decided to take the opportunity to get home early, so it was just me and Greg and Shawn on the second dive. The surface interval was cold and rainy, but Shawn had a portable canopy tent that kept most of the rain off. For the second dive, we decided to scooter as far to the left as we could. The wall there just seemed to go on forever, and the rock topography was very cool. There were large patches of debris here and there. At one point, there was a wide expanse of discarded fishing net draped over the bottom.

Scootering so long did get cold, so we were feeling it when we got back. We stopped at a sunken log tug boat hull, and did a few more skills. Greg signaled me over at one point, and had spied a young wolf eel living in one of the tubes coming off the deck! It was poking its head out, and seemed very curious. It was a great find, and I got some nice video of it. In the video, it looked gigantic, but in reality the pipe was only about as big across as a water glass.

I would go back to China Creek again for sure!

Quadra Island 08-09/12/2012

I had been really looking forward to this trip. Alan Johnson of International Diving Center had arranged another trip to Quadra Island. The previous year I had missed it, but this year both Heather and I signed up. I had heard a lot about diving at Quadra, and the visibility here was supposed to be second to Port Hardy.

Our boat was the Ata-Tude with Captain Bill Coltart of Pacific Pro Dive based out of Campbell River. The hotel was the Whiskey Point Hotel just a short hop by ferry from Campbell River. The hotel obviously caters to a wide range of water-sport enthusiasts, as it has a dedicated drying room! That was a very nice treat!

The first day of diving had us visit Row and Be Damned, and Steep Island. I can't remember the story of the names, but the dives were excellent. The current was not too bad, and it just provided a nice relaxing drift. Having the luxury of being picked up by a boat was a great treat. The Steep Island dive had fantastic rock overhangs and huge clusters of black-tufted tube worms. Bill also said that the rockfish would eat an urchin out of your hand. On this rare occasion, I gave it a try, but the rockfish seemed very uninterested.

That night, I did a night dive with AJ from IDC off of Whiskey Point. We heard it was quite nice, and got a lot of good details from Captain Bill. Here is a google map link to where the spot was:,-125.221159&spn=0.003604,0.006974&hq=whiskey+point&hnear=Quadra+Island&t=h&z=17

Bill warned us (with good reason) to plan the dive carefully. The currents around Quadra were very strong, and the ferry terminal was just around the corner. Being swept the wrong way could be very hazardous. Fortunately, his instructions were spot on for the dive. The key was patience in waiting for the current to turn. While waiting, we threw sticks in the water to have something to gauge the current direction. AJ's choice of one stick was very amusing, when it promptly sank like a rock out of sight. I laughed pretty hard at that!

The dive itself was great. The current was minimal, and we spied a pretty little giant pacific octopus out in the open. AJ had not seen one before, so it was a great success. Visibility was amazing as well. I would not recommend Whiskey Point as a dive site to anyone unless they had a keen understanding of the currents in the area, and were a pretty skilled and comfortable diver. The entry and exit is rocky and rough, and the current is not to be trifled with. Unlike other dive sites near a dive "resort" this is not really one where you can just jump in and paddle around easily after a long day of diving. But it was still worth it.

The next day had us doing three dive sites in one. We did Copper Cliffs, but the current was so fast that it took us over at least three dive sites according to Bill. it was a fast, but extremely fun drift dive, probably one of the fastest I'd ever been on. The feeling of flying was just incredible. You had to be quick on your inflator and dump valve though, because the current would also bring you up and down like a bit of a roller coaster. Exhilerating!

In the end, it was an excellent dive trip, as always! I would be back to dive with Bill anytime.

Here is a bit of video:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gabriola Bluffs and Dodd Narrows 24/11/2012

Jim Dixon organized two boat charters out of Nanaimo. There were enough people to fill two boats! There were some GUE divers up from the States, and they went on the Sea Dragon with Greg and Shawn, while Jim and I, and the other Anton and Kseniya went on Bill's boat. The other group went to Gabriola Narrows, while we went to the Bluffs and Dodd Narrows. This was exciting for me because I had never done Dodd Narrows (correctly). The last time I went the wrong way, and missed the dive completely! So it was a bit of a vindication to get this dive done.

On the first dive, we did Gabriola Bluffs. I was again impressed by the rock features and the beautiful wall. Visibility was pretty good, too.

For the Dodd Narrows dive, it was a bit hairy. The current did not turn when we expected it, so we spent a great deal of the beginning portion of the dive hauling ourselves along with our hands. The current was too strong to fin against, we would exhaust ourselves in short order. Several times we stopped to rest. We couldn't tarry because the boat expected us at the other side at a pre-determined time, and we knew surfacing in the Narrows would be very dangerous. Halfway through the dive, the current started to turn, and we got some of the drift dive that we were expecting. A very tough dive to plan! I know now why people don't like doing it. It must be timed very carefully. On surfacing, we saw the other danger; a huge log boom getting pulled through the channel. It was traffic like this that also made this dive difficult, because it can turn the channel into an overhead environment. However, we were all very well briefed, and all the contingencies were covered, so everything was good.

Finally I could mark Dodd Narrows as a success!

Here is a bit of video:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dolphin and Wall Beach 18/11/2012

Jim, Shawn and I met at Dolphin Beach near Tyee to do some skills and check out the wall there. During our exploration, we overshot the exit coming back and had to swim a hell of a ways back, against the current. Oops! Dolphin was pretty nice, with excellent visibility. After that, Jim and went to scooter Wall Beach. Shawn could only do one dive that day. I had not dove Wall Beach before, the one attempt previous was in the wrong location! This time, we got it right, and there was a lot of great topography to see with scooters. We found the various walls and reefs, but didn't find any octopus and wolf eels. It might have been because we were going so fast! Still, it was great to have a lot of trigger-time. We got pretty cold though, since the fast movement really contributes to cooling you down. Here is a short bit of video from Dolphin. I didn't do any video while scootering.

The Jibb 11/11/2012

I met Jim and Shawn and Greg at The Jib for some skills. They had already been out for a tech dive. When I arrived, it was rainy, cold, windy and miserable! Not a nice day. They were still in the water on their deco, so I watched their bubbles from shore. The visibility was excellent. I could see them at their 6 meter stop. Once they were out and warmed up, and finished their surface interval, we went out for some skills. I had my stage bottle with me for some practice. Greg and Shawn and Jim were working with two extra bottles each. It was a fun load of skills! I was rusty on my valve drill, and struggled to get my left post. All the gory details were on video, so I can't lie! Practicing is a very good thing...

Madrona 07/10/2012

Jim and I went out to Madrona for two good dives. On the first one, we got a bit lost. We were scootering, and we went too far and missed the right wall. It didn't take too much to get back on track, though. The visibility wasn't as good as some days, and we didn't find any octopus, but we did see one wolf eel.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Kelvin Grove 04/10/2012

Jason, myself, Jim Dixon, Dave Williams and one other fellow whose name escapes me at the moment planned to go out and dive Kelvin Grove as a night dive. It was a lot of fun, but since we had so many cars, we ended up having to park very far away. I was going to park "illegally" but one of the residents was going by and advised that you'd get towed. It would be really nice if Kelvin Grove had more parking! Anyway, it wasn't raining, and it was a beautiful night. The visibility was decent, even though we didn't see anything really spectacular.

Topline 30/09/2012

Heather and I went out on the Topline again, this time to dive Bird Islet and Passage Island. I had dove Bird Islet before, but never passage Island. Jan said that it was one of her favorite dive sites. There were a lot of nice giant plumose anemones, and a lot of sea pens. I don't remember if they were exactly a sea pen, and will have to look up exactly what it was. Two very good dives as usual, with the Topline!

Topline 12/08/2012

Heather and I went out on the Topline this weekend, and dove the Collingwood Day Marker and Hutt Wall South. You couldn't ask for a better day, it was sunny and beautiful. We saw some nice cloud sponges, and had a very nice set of dives.