Saturday, June 18, 2016

Alert Bay Old Breakwater 12/06/2016

Heather and I were in Alert Bay again to visit, and since the last dive was so good we decided to do it again. Both our dry suits were in for alterations, so we decided to use wet suits instead. I had never dove in a wet suit before in cold water, so it would be an interesting experience! Here is the photographic proof:

We had tried to dive at Porteau Cove the weekend before but the chocolate water turned us away. I think it was the first time we had ever called a dive for that reason! In contrast, the visibility in Alert Bay was again excellent (over 40 feet at least). We could see the bottom easily from the dock.

The day was a bit cloudy and rainy, but at least it was cool. How cool I would soon discover. The initial walk into the water was great until the water got into my wet suit boots. Brrr! Heather had wrangled the Cadillac of BARE Sports of wet suits for me, so it was pretty comfortable for the most part. The worst was when I moved my arms and new cold water would come in around my neck into the areas around my shoulders and back. I learned to be very economical in my movements.

The dive was as good, if not better than the previous one. No octopus, but many more Helmut crabs, and at least 5 crescent gunnels in the eel grass. Very cool! Here was me at the start of the dive.

And here was Heather.

You could see just how good the visibility was.

Heather found a light edged ribbon worm. Neither of us had seen one of these before.

Heather also found a pacific snake prickleback, about a foot long hiding in the kelp.

We followed the old break water to the end again. On the way, we found a lot of critters.

A very pretty anemone (I think a pale crimson anemone).

Some unidentified gelatinous thing on the bottom. I would have to investigate more.

An interesting sculpin.

An anemone that we had seen in the Vancouver Aquarium tanks, also living on eel grass.

Many helmut crabs.

A large sea lemon.

We came across an old Honda generator too. I didn't think it was fixable!

Near the point where it changed from North to North East we came across the wreck again. I realized this time that it was a different boat from the one I had seen sunk at the docks. There was no way that we had covered that distance away from the break water. This time I got a photo. Not a big thing, but still neat.

This picture was looking up through the dock pilings.

We also found more large shag mouse nudibranchs.

Heading back, we moved over the eel grass beds to the west and found another parallel breakwater, but the top was cut off below the waterline. Later Heather's relative's would confirm that it was indeed an older breakwater. Over the years many things had come and gone in the harbor. Apparently there were several old cars lost out there too! The pilings were coated with even more giant plumose anemones. They reminded me of the Capilano wreck, where they looked like fringes or halos.

In the eelgrass we were surprised to come across a large number of crescent gunnels. Neat!

Also, I'm pretty sure I found either a juvenile sailfin sculpin, or a silverspotted sculpin in the eelgrass too. There were an endless number of kelp crabs, snails and other critters in there tool Eelgrass certainly was productive.

The dive itself was almost 50 minutes so we did pretty good for wet suits. My computer said the water temperature was 10 degrees.

I could now say with confidence that I preferred dry suits over wet suits. You could do it, and I might do it again in a pinch, but for cold water, give me my dry suit!

Finally, here was the video compilation that I put together.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Alert Bay Old Breakwater 22/05/2016

Another Island weekend, this time to visit Heather's family in Alert Bay. We had talked about doing a dive there, and this time we made good on that. We brought our gear up, and did a dive just outside the U'Mista Cultural Center, along the old breakwater. The car was packed.

First we checked out the breakwater and the nearby dock. There was a replica war canoe tied up there. Very cool!

The water from the end of the dock looked very promising, bull kelp and nice and clear.

Finally, it was kind of funny to see a boat that had sunk while tied up at the dock. I guess there were shipwrecks too!

But enough dock pictures, on to the dive! The entry was nice and easy. There was boat traffic between the breakwater and the beach, so we did plan to ensure not to surface there.

I will put the video compilation here. Read on for more details.

After having some bad visibility in Vancouver, it was so nice to have good viz again.

There were a surprising number of painted anemons. Heather was lucky to find a candy stripe shrimp on this one.

The painted anemones really were everywhere.

And there were some truly enormous ones.

As expected, there was a lot of junk on the bottom too. We saw old sinks, boots, bottles, cans, and I couldn't resist mugging for the camera with a can of Lucky Lager!

The junk was very interesting, providing neat photo opportunities.

The breakwater pilings were often completely covered in giant plumose anemones.

And there were beautiful nudibranchs too!

We came across the biggest shag mouse nudibranch we had ever seen. I had to move it to get a good picture, sorry nudibranch!

Here is a picture of Heather looking good.

And there were some interesting pictures pointing up toward the surface. The bubbles and sunbeams were incredible.

We also came across some new and interesting shrimp.

I was very surprised to find a Red Irish Lord. We actually found two of them.

At the end of the dive, we floated over huge beds of eel grass, and bull kelp. Magical!

Some folks on the dock asked us to check out the "wreck" that I mentioned above, to recover a pump that was on it. I said we'd do what we could. We did come across the wreck, but it was too far into the dive, and we needed to make our way back to shore. So, unfortunately their pump would have to stay where it was.

All in all, I would highly recommend this dive to anyone. Easy entry, 30 foot average depth, easy navigation, and plenty to see. Excellent dive! Our stuff dried out great in the nice weather...

Neck Point 15/05/2016

Heather and I went over to the Island for a weekend getaway, and squeezed in a dive at Neck Point in Nanaimo. The visibility had been pretty bad in Vancouver, so we were looking forward to some Island viz. Unfortunately the viz wasn't any better! I guess it's not always better on the island.

Heather did find an amazing clown nudibranch. It was bigger than your index finger, and was probably the biggest one we had ever seen. Very pretty!

On a previous dive at Neck Point, we also found a lewis moonsnail. I had hoped to see another one, and lucky enough, we did find one at the end of the dive. It was a really nice one too. Here was the video I got of it. All in all, a great dive!

Lewis Moonsnail at Neck Point in Nanaimo May 2016 from Anton North on Vimeo.