Just desserts after illness kept me out of the water for a long time...
Ogden Point Breakwater
Ogden Point is an excellent shore dive. Given the diversity of life, accessibility and proximity to Victoria it is definitely worthy of being in the top ten Victoria dive sites. I'm personally not fond of the walk out to dive flag 4 or 5, but if you are after a quick, easy and diverse site, Ogden point is a great choice.
Nestled in Sansum Narrows, I'm guessing few have been diving here before. Although a bit of an environmental nightmare left over from commercial fishing in the past, the wall is exceptional given that you can dive it virtually any time despite current tables. Nudibranchs and a dense array of fish and anemones cover this very steep wall, but the most interesting part is the huge nets draped along the wall. As mentioned it is horrifying to think about the quantity of life that was likely once caught under these massive nets. However, they bring a really eery and cool feel to the site.
Great Race (Race Rocks)
Sea lions, sea lions, sea lions! If you're after big interactive life, Great Race should be on your list! Although you will still see lots of other cool life, this dive is non-stop sea lions. Nothing quite like staring a sea bear in the eyes, while others are right behind you likely making faces.
The big draw to Swordfish is the swim through, which is a cavern of sorts. Swimming through the tunnel is truly amazing. There are few sites locally that have the color diversity found in the Swordfish swim through. It doesn't hurt that the wall along the island is also great - often visited by sea lions, huge Puget sound king crabs, octopus and wolf eels. There is no wonder Swordfish is a great dive to accompany a Race Rocks charter.
At 366' long, the McKenzie is massive, has a serious cool factor, and is packed with life. It's subjected to a lot of current so you need to be cautious on when you plan your dives, but the wreck has a lot of life - anemones, big cabezon, tube worms, barnacles and much more. It would be higher on my list, but the current and highly variable vis drop it a notch or 2 for me.
Senanus Island Glass Sponges
The sponges hold an mysterious allure for most divers. Found at over 100'/30m of depth, the sponges are homes to crab, squat lobsters, and lots of jeuvenile rockfish in a dark eery setting. The inlet often has exceptional visibility and tends to be even better down at the sponges. Nothing quite like seeing a big white sponge the size of a smart car appear out of the darkness.
Nestled in the middle of Sansum Narrows, Burial Islet is a macro haven. This high current area is like diving over rolling hills covered in freshly fallen snow given the coverage of so many white short plumose anemones. Although not a lot of seals or sea lions, the density of smaller critters is impressive.
Ten Mile Point
Ten Mile Point is the best shore dive I have done anywhere. Although you don't see a lot of big life (except octopus and the odd wolf eel...oh yeah, and the big cabezons), the macro life here is exceptional. Warbonnets, grunt sculpins, anemones, scallops and so much more in only a square foot or .25m. The locals love Ten Mile, and will hit the water at any time of day or night to catch a good slack. It's no wonder you find lots of divers at the nearest local pub comparing photos on the quarter moon each month.
As you push out towards open ocean, the sea life changes. The density of life on this island is impressive, but the diversity is even better. The west wall at Secretary is still my favorite especially with good visibility. You almost always get a visit from sea lions, and you can dive on or off slack! Strawberry anemones, pacific sea nettles, orange peel nudibranchs and much more can be seen here.
West Race (Race Rocks)
West Race is truly a world class dive site. I can only think of a few dives on the planet I would consider to be better than West Race. Lots of sea lions (but not so many that it is distracting), octopus, wolf eels, basket stars, strawberry anemones, Puget sound king crabs and more anemones than you can imagine. The diversity and density of critters make this dive amazing, but when you throw in several sea lion visits on a single dive - in my opinion, it is the best dive off Greater Victoria, in the top five (5) in British Columbia, and the top ten (10) in the world!
Beechy Head - I haven't done this site enough to experience its potential. It is very subjected to current, but as I was blowing across at a knot or so, the wall was packed with life - the 6 or 7 pacific sea nettles didn't hurt either (I avoided the sting, but they were incredible to see)!
McCurdy Point - a Saanich Inlet favorite, especially when the vis is poor in the inlet. For some reason, McCurdy always seems to have the best visibility when everywhere else is like soup. The boot sponges along this wall are very impressive.
Moon jelly dive - the Saanich Inlet near the mouth of Tod Inlet hosts millions of moon jellies in the summer into late fall. Accessible by shore or boat, diving with countless moon jellies is always good fun.
Lunch at Portland Island - There is nothing like stopping for lunch and a pee break after diving in the Southern Gulf Islands, especially sites including the GB Church, Arbutus Island or Schute reef. I love pulling up on the beach and picking fresh apples for a snack in late summer, and driving home as the sun sets with spectacular colours.
My list is never complete! Really, we could make this the top 20, or even 50, but you have to cap it somewhere. More extensive lists would definitely include:
- North Race (Race Rocks),
- Arachne Reef (Southern Gulf Islands),
- Church Islands (West Shore)
#RockfishDivers #DiveCharters #Scuba #HopeSpot #SaanichInlet #SouthernGulfIslands #WestShore #RaceRocks #SeaLions #MacroLife #Ocean #Charters #Diving #GreaterVictoria #VancouverIsland #BritishColumbia
For those of you that have ever been curious about the under water world, scuba diving is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the uncharted territory that the ocean provides. My first experience with diving was life changing, but admittedly, also challenging and a little scary. No one really ever prepares you for how you will react to being under water. Until you try breathing compressed air in full scuba gear below the surface. PADI offers a course that helps prepare you for more than just learning how to dive, it prepares you for the dangers of scuba diving. One of the biggest dangers of the sport is something we are all too familiar with: human error.
What causes emergencies anyway?
I recently took the PADI Rescue Diver course through Rockfish Divers. It is an amazing course and is of utmost importance if you want to seriously dive recreationally. One of the key points that the course drives home is that most emergencies occur as a result of poor judgement. I cannot agree with this more. I think that most people, when they think of trying scuba diving and think of the things that could go wrong, often come to the conclusion that accidents are the fault of what “lurks below” or things that are out of your control. What most people don’t realize is that most of the time, accidents are usually scenarios that were preventable by the diver. I used to think this way a bit too, prior to taking the course. I always knew the sport came with some risk, but still believed most of what happened when something went wrong was due to unfortunate coincidence. The biggest surprise for me was how many incidents that became emergencies where due to things like improper training, failing to perform all of your pre-dive checks, or being unprepared.
The best part of taking the course through Rockfish was how much hands-on training you receive. After learning all the ins and outs of emergency response in diving online, you can’t help but feel a bit nervous for actual water time. I am still fairly new to the sport, only getting back into the water again earlier this year, so most of the time I feel a bit anxious right before a dive. As soon as I am on the boat and going through the pre-dive briefing, I usually start to feel better. That is mainly due to the highly trained, qualified, and amazing staff, and the owners Alisa and Tyler. I had the pleasure of taking my course with Alisa, who guided our group expertly through concepts like self-rescue, search and recovery, and surface drills for how to deal with both conscious and unconscious divers in emergency situations. She makes you feel calm and confident under the water even when you are demonstrating difficult skills, like taking out your own regulator (which is your only source of air), and switching to a spare from another source. Knowing how to do this skill correctly without panicking could mean the difference between life and death, in an emergency scenario.
Does this course really change how you dive?
Without a doubt, my entire feeling and confidence about diving, and about my own skill level as a diver, has changed after this course. It highlights the importance of situational awareness, not only about yourself and your buddy but also about other divers around you and the environment. I still remember my first few dives, not having a clue what I was doing (let’s be honest, how many of us “fake it” when trying something new for the first time?) even though I read my Open Water manual carefully and studied every page. Even after ten or so dives and my Advance Open Water course, I still did not feel confident with diving. But the beauty and sheer awe of what I have seen under water keeps me coming back. After the Rescue Course, I finally felt for the first time that I had a grasp on what I was doing. I now feel comfortable with many of the aspects of diving that I was fairly clueless about when I started. I understand what I am looking for, and why, when performing my pre-dive safety check, and how certain, seemingly small things can lead to big problems under water if not paid attention to. For example, failing to realize that the buckle doesn’t quite work that snaps in your removable weights in your BCD. This can easily lead to an emergency under water, if you lose that weight without noticing, could send you into an uncontrolled ascent. I also can predict how certain decisions may result in emergency situations. Like not wearing enough insulation on a cold water dive, or deciding to dive when you are tired. These and many other scenarios are things I had very little awareness of when I started.
Scuba diving opens your world in ways you cannot explain without experiencing it yourself. Recreational diving is a fun, challenging, and rewarding sport. It can be scary and even cause panic at times, and in rare instances, can result in emergencies. With proper training and preparation, diving becomes seamless and relaxing. I look forward to the day I feel completely confident under the water. Thanks to this course, I am one step closer to that goal. Anyone considering diving, new divers, or those with years of experience, can all benefit from taking this course. And who else better than Rockfish Divers? Thanks to their amazing team, I am a better, safer, and more confident diver.
#RockfishDivers #Scuba #ScubaDiving #Rescue #Safety #PADI #Emergencies
Dear Deco....We've missed you!
While Deco is a true character and co-mascot with Kody, Briggs and Stratton for Rockfish Divers, his name is a pseudonym for the dive professionals who truly respond to your questions. We strive to provide the best guidance or information for any questions address to Dear Deco. Please submit your best scuba related questions or concerns below for our future issues - your anonymity is guaranteed and there are no silly questions.
Fishy - This is a very interesting question that has lead to many discussions over the years that we've been diving. Spear fishing is well known to be one of the most sustainable forms of fishing. This style of fishing allows the diver the opportunity to chose prey that are amongst healthy fish populations, avoid undersized catch, and reduce by-catch. As with any fishing or hunting technique, procedures for safe spear fishing must be followed, and it is in the best interest of the diver to research the species of interest and practice technique to ensure humane treatment of the animal. Divers in the Caribbean in particular have turned to spear fishing Lion Fish not only as a source of food, but for preventative measures to address the introduction of this invasive species that is drastically impacting the tropical reefs.
When we consider local fish species that would be targeted for spear fishing, it is very sad that some of the best and easiest fish to catch have been badly affected by over fishing (Lingcod and Rockfish are very slow to reach sexual maturity, often reaching 25 years of age or more before being considered an adult. As such, their populations are mere shadows of what they once were). Even though there are fishing season openings, as divers we value the few large examples of these fish and the local consensus is often to let these reproduce to encourage stronger populations that not only support a healthy ecosystem, but ensure fishing is available for future generations to come. If divers choose to spear fish locally, our only request would be they choose to dive in areas away from common dive sites that are confirmed to be outside of marine protected areas (MPAs). Check out the Provincial Ministry of Environment website to learn more about MPAs and always ensure you have a license to fish and follow the regulations outlined by the Government of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Come and talk to us at Rockfish anytime for further input. ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Diving with Beards and Mustaches
Well Whiskers, there are a few cheap and easy options and as with anything in life there are expensive hard core solutions as well. The easy answer would be to apply a bit of soft wax, vaseline or lip balm/chap stick in the areas where you are noticing leaks (under the nose especially). Another alternative would be to trim your fine facial hair just beneath the nose and elsewhere that may cause your mask to leak. The extreme answer would be to switch to a full face mask that seals away from your beard. Our Divemaster Nick is an expert at preventing leaks with elaborate facial hair, so you can ask him the next time you join us for a drop-in dive! ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Planning Dives Around Tidal Exchanges
Dear Almost Washed - There is much research that goes into making tidal charts, and Canada is know as a leader in producing this information for worldwide access; however, at the end of the day all tidal charts are predictions and other environmental factors can play a big role. Barometric pressure, El Niño events, and even climate change can effect tidal phenomena. It is highly recommended that you continue to refer to the best recommended tidal charts, but always use your discretion and local expertise in making these decisions.
~Deco and the RFD Staff
Buying Used Regulators
Dear Sea Bargain: The regulator may be a great find; however, it is highly recommended to get the regulator serviced. Over time the seals and o-rings lose their lubrication and harden, which causes a higher chance of the regulator free flowing. Another issue to consider if whether replacement parts to support servicing are still available. Outside of the warranty offered to the original purchaser, this may be costly and counter the "good deal" on the reg in the first place. Feel free to contact us and we can provide direction on how best to move forward.
Diving Is The Sport Of Love
Dear Cuddlefish - Yes, we are firm believers that diving is the "sport of love". When a couple shares a passion that is as exciting as diving, it certainly can bring two people even closer together. However, yes, we can appreciate the need for personal space, especially if something like holding hands could impede access to equipment and the motor skills to follow safe diving practices. So how about this for a suggestion? Consider introducing some new techniques to your dives, such as wreck diving, where you need to focus on technique skills such as laying line to penetrate a ship. Or you can work as a team taking turns using a camera while the other acts as a spotter for critters or even an underwater model. You could even consider getting into scientific diving where you work together on a project requiring the use of slates, quadrats, transect tapes and more where hand holding isn't practical. Now all of these may bring more fun to your dives, but what about the sexy part? Consider cuddling on shore to warm up after a long dive, pointing out and laughing at the "nudibranches" on each others face, or sharing the excitement of reviewing the pictures together that you've taken after a dive. (This might be a better time to hold hands!) ~Deco and the RFD Staff
Finning Techniques: Moving Forwards and Backwards
Thanks Trim, these techniques take the right equipment and lots of practice. It is a good goal to strive for because you can save energy, improve air and protect the environment.
When most people purchase fins, they typically are not at a level where they are thinking about advanced finning techniques. Going backwards in particular requires a very stiff blade that can slice through the water without creating turbulence. The Scubapro Jet Fins are one of the most popular fins for backing up, doing helicopter turns and the like.
Rockfish Divers often puts on clinics to focus on finning techniques and try various styles of fin to see what you like best. Contact us in store if you are interested in learning more. ~Deco and the RFD Staff.
The Best Time for Kids To Start Diving
Dear Pelagic, 8 year olds always seem so small! When compared to standard adult sized equipment, it's hard to imagine them getting into their gear and into the pool. While it almost seems too young to have kids being introduced to diving at such a young age, there are many factors that help keep children safe in a Bubblemaker Course: shallow maximum depth, low instructor to student ratios, properly fitting equipment for little people, and strict standards on how to present the performance requirements in a manner so young participants understand the key rules of diving (i.e. never hold your breath). This is a very clinical sounding response to your question. Now let me speak to what I have observed in kids who have started diving at an early age. In a shallow pool, it provides a unique, fun, and safe environment for children to practice the dexterity and skills for finding neutral buoyancy and balance. It allows kids to work as buddy teams, building friendships that extend beyond diving together. I have seen kids who are initially worried change their expression to glee as they catch an underwater dart and redirect it to another child. There are building blocks from diving that can extend to many other parts of life...yes, all from one initial pool session.
Please note that training agencies such as PADI require children to be at least 10 years old before they can scuba dive outside of a confined environment (i.e. moving from the pool to the ocean). It is also absolutely up to the discretion of the instructor in consultation with the parents to determine if a child is truly ready (considering maturity and physical ability) to move to the next stages of a scuba diving program. However, the Bubblemaker Course is one of the most fun programs: both for the instructor and the students. Kids often absorb and apply the rules of diving faster then their parents and we love watching their enthusiasm! ~Deco and the RDF Team
Surface Interval Cookie Break
Yikes Choco - haven't you ever heard "never insult the chef"? No matter, we'll see what we can do to provide a little more variety in the treats provided between dives. Tomorrow we'll be serving home-made banana bread (baking now as I type), and the follow day we'll have gingerbread bundt cake. Yum! ~Deco and the RFD Staff
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