Sechelt, British Columbia, January 2003
Our latest trip to Canada ( January, 2003 ) was up to Sechelt, in British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. We dove with Anne and Kal at Porpoise Bay Charters, and had a great trip. They absolutely spoil you rotten. They have Three bright and warm, new cabins on their property that the divers stay in, while Anne cooks and serves meals to the divers in the Main House. Kal has dedicated one bay of his garage as a Drying room for wet gear, which is really nice. It has a heater and a dehumidifier in it, so you get to put nice dry gear on every morning.
The waters around Porpoise Bay are clear, cold and full of colorful marine life. The group of divers we went with were great fun as well! There were Three resident eagles hanging out right at the edge of Kal's property that entertained us while we were loading or unloading boats.
Kal typically takes 3 boats with him for a full day of diving. His new boat is dry and warm inside ( no wet gear allowed ), and serves as a base of operation for the dives. The skiff is towed behind the main boat, then tied up alongside to serve as a diving platform. The Catamaran also serves as a diving platform.
We arrived Friday, late in the afternoon, and geared up for a night dive on Snake Bay Wall. The Air temperature was well below freezing, which added a little difficulty in staying warm while gearing up, but the nice, clear water made for a fun check-out dive.
Saturday, we were up early, had breakfast at the house ( blueberry pancakes and sausage ) and headed out for 3 dives. Our first dive was Stag Wall, which is deep and beautiful. We dropped down below 100' to admire the cloud sponges ( pictured here ) and slowly worked our way up the wall. (All of the underwater photos on this page were taken at Stag Wall, please click on any picture for a larger version)
Our second dive was in Tazoonie Narrows, with a brisk current that made for an interesting ride through the colorful channel. Near the end of the Narrows, there were hoards of huge Lings and Cabezon sitting and waiting for the current to bring their dinner to them. When you dive this sit, watch the upwelling as the current passes over the shallower rock sections. Several divers lost their neutral buoyancy here, and made an unplanned ascent.
The third dive of the day was Sakinaw Rock, basically a pinnacle of rock sticking out of the water about 100 yards offshore with two submerged pinnacles to either side. This was a pleasant site, but the low air temperature ( still below freezing ) and short winter day, turned this into a Cold Night Dive.
Sunday morning, we were up early again, for Anne's egg's benedict, and then off to Skookumchuck rapids. We arrived at observation wall, and discovered there was too much current, so dove Skookumchuck reef instead, which was stunningly beautiful! All hard surfaces are just covered with Marine Life here.
For our last dive, we dropped on the HMCS Chaudiere, sank here as an artificial reef 10 years ago. The Chaud lays on here side with the stern relatively shallow and the bow deep. We were expecting this to be very similar to the many dives we have done on the HMCS Saskatchewan in Nanaimo, but perhaps with more growth. However, there actually seems to be more growth on the Saskatchewan, and we prefer that dive to the Chaud.
There does seem to be an abundance of these beautiful Light bulb tunicates ( pictured to the right ) covering many parts of the Wreck. they are also found below the 100' depth line on the wall dives that we did. We also saw a lot of nudibranchs, including the golden dirona nudibranch ( below), as well as at least a dozen different species of beautifully colored nudibranchs, including Giant nudis, Sea Lemons, Odner's dorid, Yellow edged cadilina, Nanaimo dorid, Hudson's dorid and others.
Then it was time for the long drive back home ( Yuck ), we crossed the border at Lynden going both ways, which was very quick, with no lines and few questions. Including the ferry crossing, it takes about 5.5 to 6 hours to make the trip from Sechelt to Olympia.
The biggest question we always ask when we return for a new location like this is, "would you go back"? Yes, I think we will go back again. It's hard to beat the price and Anne and Kal are truly wonderful hosts, running a safe and comfortable operation. However, I do like the diving better in Nanaimo, and hope to start working my way North on Vancouver Island until I make it up to God's Pocket!
To read another perspective on diving with Porpoise Bay Charters, there is an excellent trip report posted at NorthWest Diver.