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Diving in Victoria: Race Rocks March 23, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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March 29, 2008 was not a warm day, with a high of only 5 degrees Celsius. It was also overcast. I had arranged with Ogden Point Dive Centre for a two-tank dive on both the Saturday and Sunday of that weekend, and headed over there early. Too early, as a matter of fact, as the place was a bit late in opening. I waited around for 20 minutes or so before the owner showed up, being joined by others in the same predicament.

The wait did give some time to inspect the Ogden Point Breakwater, a well known shore dive. Next time I’m there I’m definitely going to try it, although I’ll need to find myself a buddy.  It is 800 metres long with depths to 35 metres (about 115 feet).

The Ogden Point Breakwater

The Ogden Point Breakwater

Once we were in, I set about getting weight (I tried 30 pounds, 6 pounds more than my fresh water weight) and tanks. The dives would be neither particularly deep nor long so Nitrox wasn’t considered. I rarely use Nitrox for single tank dives, although I find it useful occasionally. The next problem I had to deal with was somehow my computer (an Apeks Quantum) had set itself to metric. The guy behind the counter pulled the manual from the Internet and I figured out the right sequence to set it back to Imperial (hold buttons A and B down for 5 seconds while in DIVE mode).

There were 4 divers I think. The boat was trailered right in the parking lot and we got in, then were driven very slowly about half a kilometre to the launching ramp. That was a first for me, but it made sense logistically as we were ready to go as soon as the pickup truck was parked. It was a reasonably long boat ride to Race Rocks, as we were the better part of the way into US waters, heading south from Victoria to Washington State.

Last Canadian Outpost with Washington State in the Background

Last Canadian Outpost with Washington State in the Background

We were in the water at 9:30, which was slightly warmer than the air at 7C (33F). I had my trilaminate dry suit with various fleece things underneath, thick gloves and a hood. The big difference from cold water diving I’d done in the Lake of Ontario was the lack of thermocline. At least here you feel fairly warm on descent and on the safety stop, but there’s no relief in the ocean in winter.

I hadn’t really know what to expect on the dive, and was pleasantly suprised with the abundance of life on the bottom. There were fish, for sure, but the scallops, star fish, and anemones were amazingly plentiful.

A White Plumose Anemone

A White Plumose Anemone

With the cold water, a moderate current, thick gloves and a dry suit, taking pictures wasn’t that easy, and many of them were taken with the subject partially out of the frame. Fortunately some of them turned out pretty well, although this Scallop was just barely in there.

vicd1a-scallop

Scallops look really funny when they’re swimming – opening and closing to propel themselves along in an ungainly fashion.

Starfish surrounded by Sea Urchins

Starfish surrounded by Sea Urchins

There were all kinds of Starfish on the bottom. I’d like to get more information on identifying the various types and their habits. I wonder if they eat the Sea Urchins.

vicd1a-urchin-starfish

I thought this anemone was quite beautiful.

vicd1a-anemone-and-shell

On our safety stop, we were surrounded by Kelp. Our bottom time was a mere 35 minutes, even though we didn’t get deeper than 53 feet. The extra weight and equipment, but especially the cold, increases the rate of breathing quite a lot. It takes practice to get used to it, and this being my first dive in 4 months I was a bit rusty.

vicd1a-kelp

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