Long ass dive in Porteau

By Greg Von Waldburg |

I finally got Travis out for a Dive. Being a very busy business owner, Travis Stewart has become one of the most difficult people to go diving with… Yet on February 27th I finally managed to drag him away from his baby, that is Sea to Sky Scuba, to remind him why he runs this amazing business.

Truck

As I usually do, I showed up unannounced at around 4pm at the shop. “Travis, I’m ready when you are.” We get our stuff together and start loading up the Defender. This is the first time I’m trying it out as a dive-mobile; I’m very excited! (It did its job quite nicely, I must say.) The Defender is loaded and the excitement is taking a hold of both of us. It is time to go on a long, epic dive to forget the day!

Travis has his Hollis SMS Katana, a side-mount BCD, and I myself am rocking a somewhat gimcracky twin back mount setup that cannot really be claimed by any one brand. Equipped as we are, we should have plenty of air to do a long dive. We decide on Porteau Cove as our destination! It is an easy, shallow, fun dive, with hopefully plenty to see!

We make it to a calm Porteau Cove. The sea is flat at high tide, the air is quiet and the park deserted. This truly is shaping up to be a pretty good dive! We start getting ready. It doesn’t take too long, and here we go, into the water.

If you have already dove at Porteau Cove, you know that the first section, before getting to the “attractions” is not very exciting: a shallow sandy bottom, falling lazily into the depth of the abyss. As night is settling in, navigation becomes somewhat tricky and we end up taking more time than we would like to admit, to find the fireman’s hose that will lead us to the wrecks. We end up finding it, and suddenly here we are, at the first wreck, an overturned sailboat hull. Travis is in his element. He immediately darts for the inside of the hull. A quick glance inside, nothing to report, and onto the next wreck we go.

As we start making our way to the next adventure, we stop. I start shaking my flashlight at his beam, as if possessed by some kind of demon. I frantically start pointing at something on the ground and as soon as Travis sees what I am so hectically pointing out to him, I can see the spark of excitement reaching him too. A stubby squid (Rossia pacifica), eating a shrimp. Why the HELL did I not bring my camera?! After a good minute of observation, we let the poor guy eat in peace and make our way to the tugboat. On the way, we see a hermit crab (Paguroidea) with a broken shell, probably on the lookout for a new home. A couple of egg masses indicate the presence of lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus).

The next wreck is a pretty well maintained tugboat. Sitting in its entirety at 30 feet below the surface, it is very accessible recreational wreck. It still has a little driver’s cockpit on the deck, making it a pretty fun wreck to play around in. So that is exactly what we did! I really saw the advantage of a side-mount system when Travis glided effortlessly through the narrow opening of where the windshield used to be. I had to try my luck through the more vertical opening were the door used to be. In, under, and back out, and onto the next attraction.

The so-called Jungle Gym is a big pile of iron girders that have been sunk as an artificial reef for the ever-present Plumose anemone (Metridium senile). For divers, it doubles as a good place to practice your buoyancy control. Up, down, left and right, we snake our way to the other side. As I make my way through the ominous girders, I take a quick glance back to see what Travis is up to. Instead of looking into his light beam though, I find myself looking into absolute darkness. Did I lose Travis? Was this dive taking a turn for the worst? I start pondering the implications, imagining all sorts of scenarios and start working on an action plan, when suddenly I am blinded by, what seems to be, a collapsed sun. Turns out he was just playing around with bioluminescent algae…

One more stop, and we have completed our run of the shallow Porteau Cove attraction tour. From the Jungle Gym it is only a short little stretch, and very soon we hit the Grant Hall. The massive hull of the old Herring Packer, spiked with an army of Plumose anemone (Metridium senile) which gives it a ghost ship like vibe, is always a very impressive sight to behold. At this point we have just passed the 54min marker. Temperature is starting to become a limiting factor of this dive. With more than enough air left, we decide to make a rapid tour of the boat, and head back into the shallows. With a somewhat disguised haste we make our way along the hose, back into the bay.

One surprise does still await us though. We stumble upon a Purity Snailfish (Liparis catharus). Apparently, a rare sight. Travis is really excited! I attempt to make a drawing, to remember to look it up, and help identify it… with frozen fingers it looks more like something a 3rd grader would draw in arts and crafts… we’ll have to rely on memory.

We surface; cold, but deeply satisfied. Both of us have a comfortable 2000psi left. Twin back mount/side-mount definitely allows for a different perception of a dive site. In 77min I was able to appreciate a very single one of the Porteau Cove “attraction” like I have never done before!

Now it’s time to throw the gear back into the car, and cruise, deeply relaxed, black to the city. Travis and I share little words on the way home, but we both know the other person is just as happy about the adventure that just went down.

Onto the next adventure!

Greg