the scuba zone - west coast diving 2018
West Coast Diving - 2018
This is a log of my dives and pictures from Vancouver Island for 2018.
Maple Bay (2018-05-12 11:00) *Open Circuit*

Great dive today. Visibility was much reduced from last week (10-15ft) but there was still lots to see. An excellent dive.

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Maple Bay (2018-05-05 10:30) *Open Circuit*

Great dive today. Visibility was over 25ft and there was lots to see. An awesome dive.

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Maple Bay (2018-04-29 11:20) *Open Circuit*

After a hot and sunny week, the weekend brought colder temperatures and showers. We weren't certain what the viz at Maple Bay would be like, but were pleasantly surprised to find it in the 15+ft range. There was "whale snot" in the water, but it didn't affect photography too much.

I took the big camera and the 4K go-pro clone on a tray, and it proved to be too much gear to comfortably juggle. I guess it's back to the helmet cam next time. Overall a great dive.

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Maple Bay Video Maple Bay Video 

Chemainus (2018-04-22 11:30) *Open Circuit & Piranna Scooter*

The day was sunny and a bit windy, and we were hoping for better visibility than we got, but we dove the Chemainus dry docks with a couple of goals today. After gearing up, we headed out. Vis was really crappy - 3ft in the shallows. At the docks it opened up to maybe 5 ft on the bottom, but top of the docks was again 3 ft. We had to keep really close when scootering.

After the ususal quick tour of 1-4, we headed off dock 2 to the reef. There I went up from 45ft to the surface to see how close the red can was... it's not all that close, further out from the reef by a ways. Once back down, we headed to the other end of the reef where I ascended from 25ft to the surface. I could make out hospital point and the boat ramp as well as the red can much farther away (at the other end of the reef), but could not see the red buoy for the 737. All I could see clearly was the lighthouse that's about halfway between boat ramp and 737. Definitely not 'within reach' distances.

After that we headed back to dock 1 and then in. Overall a good dive even if vis was poor.

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Chemainus Video Chemainus Video 

Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck (2018-04-15 12:00) *Open Circuit & Piranna Scooter*

Deciding to try something completely different, we headed down to Mill Bay to find the wreck of the Lord Jim. The Lord Jim is a smaller tug that sunk over 10 years ago just off shore near Mill Bay in 25-30 feet. Access to the dive site is via a fairly long set of stairs from a single car parking area to the gravel beach. Shore entry is decent, but there are several large rocks to keep you on your toes.

After taking stuff like the scooters and cameras down to the beach, we geared up and headed down ourselves. The day was cool and a bit windy, but entry wasn't too bad. You do have to walk out a fair ways to get deep enough to put on fins, but again it's not terrible.

Once ready we started out, and almost immediately came back up. Just too many weeds and rocks to just head out underwater, so we surface swam until we were in water just over 10 feet deep. The great thing is that vis in the shallows was so bad we were about to call the dive, but once we submerged in 10ft it was OK. So we headed towards the marina at 25-30 ft and kept our eyes peeled.

At just about the point you want to give up and head back, we found the wreck, exacly as described 25-30 ft. deep. It's much deteriorated from the videos posted by Mark H. in 2006 and 2013. The swim-thru at the rudder is gone now as the aft deck has collaped. However, there's still a discernable wreck to be explored. Not much life on the wreck this time of year, but still a lot of fun. After 50 min we headed back to our entry point and the long trek back up the stairs. Overall, an awesome dive worth repeating in better vis.

Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck Mill Bay - Lord Jim Wreck
Chemainus (2018-04-08 10:30) *Open Circuit & Piranna Scooter*

Quite good dive today on the dry docks. Visibilty was significantly poorer than last week, but still around 5-10 ft on the docks.

Testing my own (new) large compass on the scooter as well as new gopro mount on the scooter. Both worked really well, though the compass mount system needs work.

Chemainus (2018-04-02 11:00) *Open Circuit & Piranna Scooter*

Very good dive today on the dry docks. It was cold and very windy when we arrived, with whitecaps on the water. The wind also stirred up the shore muck, making visibility in the shallows effectively zero. Once deeper the vis improved somewhat, but nowhere near recent levels. Still, an excellent dive.

Tried out buddy's large compass on the scooter as well as new gopro mount, also on the scooter. Both worked really well.

Maple Bay (2018-03-31 11:15) *Open Circuit*

Visibility was really excellent today at Maple Bay. Some good critter photos and an overall excellent dive.

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Maple Bay (2018-03-25 11:40) *Open Circuit*

We received word the vis had improved dramatically during the week, so geared up in anticipation. We weren't disappointed. The vis was excellent. Both head-cam and on-cam video were pretty good. Lots of lovely macro photos as well. Overall an awesome long dive.

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Maple Bay (2018-03-18 11:15) *Open Circuit*

The day was pleasant while we geared up, but the vis turned out to be crappy. I tried out a go-pro clone on top of my camera as well as one strapped to my head. The head-cam was OK but the camera video was just crud in the water. Some decent macro photos, so the day wasn't a complete blowout.

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Chemainus (2018-03-11) *Prism Topaz Rebreather & Piranna Scooter*

We decided to dive Chemainus again today as the weather was nice and I wanted to dive my rebreather. After gearing up in the sunshine, we headed out. Initial viz was terrible - under 5ft in the eel grass, but cleared up substantially once we got deeper.

We headed from dock 1 over to 2, then 3 and 4 following our usual route. Once back at 2, we headed over to where the reef starts. Meredith headed to the surface to locate the red can marker, which we figure is somewhere near the start of the reef. It is and it isn't. It's further into the channel and not really that close.

We then headed along the reef to the other end, well past our line to dock 1. Again Meredith headed up to check the bearing to the boat ramp and judge the distance. It's 30degrees, but quite far away. It would be possible to loop from 1 to the reef and back to shore, but there's likely nothing to see on the way back. Once done we headed back in from dock 1. Overall an excellent dive.

Chemainus (2018-03-04) *Open Circuit & Piranna Scooter*

My FLX Extreme came back from getting a new (metal) zipper, so we decided to dive the dry docks again to try it out. I also decided to try the second HP130 tank. Overall a very nice dive, though my 400ft reel managed to snag on dock #4, which took some time to rewind once caught. Otherwise an excellent dive, though the visibility has reduced by about half from the best viz days of February.

Chemainus (2018-02-25) *Open Circuit & Piranna Scooter*

I borrowed a pair of PST high pressure 130cf tanks from my buddy to try out. We're hoping to dive the 737 airplane that has been sunken as an artificial reef at Chemainus, and it seems a large tank may be better than the rebreather for that dive. They needed a hydro, but were otherwise in excellent shape. After filling them both, I decided it best course of action was to do a few test dives with them to see how they perform in known dives before heading to the plane.

Today's dive was quite routine, in that no other gear changes were made except using the huge tank instead of my HP100. It really is huge, but buoyancy characteristics are pretty much the same as my HP100.

After gearing up, we headed out to our usual route. The only negative was a leak in my right heel that was pretty bad. Other than that we had a great dive, and I came back with 1200psi of air after our normal long dive. Very nice.

Maple Bay (2018-02-17 11:05) *Open Circuit*

What a great dive today. We chose to dive Saturday as it's supposed to get cold and snow tonight. It started rainy but the sun came out while gearing up, so it was really nice.

After gearing up, we headed in. I had aquasealed my 2009 TLS350 heel, and I was delighted to find it didn't leak.

After last time's frustrating photo dive using Av with the Inon in TTL mode, I realized the problem was Av and Tv both pick exposures for the low light conditions, not considering flash. So after some land tests this week using M (manual) mode and the popup flash plus the Inon strobe in TTL mode, I realized that manual exposure was the way to go. The results this week speak for themselves - about 75% 'keepers' vs. 30% from last time. The new strobe is wonderful, and using the ring light as focus light is also great.

We found a small octo as well as a cool worm or two, plus other nudibranchs and other critters. Overall an awesome, long dive.

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Chemainus (2018-02-12 11:15) *Prism Topaz Rebreather & Piranna Scooter*

Really great dive today on the dry docks and reef. I used the 2009 TLS350 suit to test the new plastic zipper, and that went well. There's a leak in the right heel but I'll fix that this week. The actual dive was great; we used the scooters most of the dive and the P1 worked perfectly. I looked in a couple of the dock hatches but there's no room to turn around so did not venture inside. I did take some video though. The reef was nice; we started off dock 2 and traversed the entire main reef. Overall a great dive.

Maple Bay (2018-02-10 11:15) *Open Circuit*

Good dive today, taking the Canon 7D, ring light (no strobe cable) and the Inon Z240. Again the TTL optical strobe worked well, but using Av mode (aperature priority) led to half the pictures being out of focus due to very slow shutter speeds (1/15, 1/40). Next dive I'll try Tv (shutter priority) mode with 1/125 and see how that goes. The alternative is to change the "minimum flash speed" to 1/60 or 1/125 and try P (program) mode. It's always a learning curve when you change gear.

Diving the 2009 TLS350 suit today with wheezles underneath. This suit also has a new T-Zip plastic zipper, so I decided it's better to find out now if it fails (the FLX extreme failed with only 16 dives!). Other than a very small leak in the right heel, the suit was dry and comfortable, but being larger there was a bigger bubble of air in the feet than the FLX, which took a bit of adjustment. Overall a very good dive with decent vis.

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Chemainus (2018-02-04 11:30) *Prism Topaz Rebreather & Piranna Scooter*

Long but wet dive on the dry docks today. Right from the very start the FLX Extreme started flooding from the bottom of the plastic zipper (T-Zip). By staying horizontal throughought the dive I was able to keep all dry except my middle, but as soon as I stood up at the end of the dive my legs and feed flooded completely.

The dive was over 70min, and I was on the P1 trigger most of the dive. In the end it quit (less than 30V) just in front of the boat ramp, so a very good run time. I also managed a few higher speed (85% power) runs so it was lots of fun today in spite of the flood. Overall a great dive.

In the week following I took the suit in and found there's an issue with the T-Zip. The suit has gone back for a warranty new zipper, which will be metal again this time. It's too bad as I loved the flexibility of the T-Zip getting into the suit.

Maple Bay (2018-01-27 10:50) *Open Circuit*

Today was a double check-out dive for me. After consulting with Shirley on the probable causes of my suit flood last week, as well as a complete inspection of the suit, especially the zipper, the current conclusion is that the zipper didn't close properly. I did forget to lube the close after the suit flood two weeks ago, so I tried lubing it this week and it seemed OK - so time for a check-out dive.

I also received some Inon Z240 strobes and strobe arms and other bits this past week from Vancouver, so during the week I tested them and rigged the Canon 7D housing to test one on today's dive. The plan was to use the ring light as focus light and the storbe in TTL mode for the photos.

The great news is both check-outs were a success. The suit was totally dry after the dive, and the Inon Z240 is an awesome strobe. Best of all, it's a true optical sync TTL strobe! The combination of ring light for focus and lighting plus the Z240 for strobe was perfect. It also allowed me to keep the lens stopped down to a given value (I used f8) and set the camera in Av mode with auto ISO and let the camera and strobe pick the proper exposure. It worked like a charm.

The actual dive was very nice. Vis was poorer than the past few weeks, probably due to all the storm activity. The day was calm and barely spitting rain on land, but decent underwater. Lots of small critters today as well, including one bold painted greenling, probably on eggs. Overall an excellent dive.

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Chemainus (2018-01-21 11:30) *Prism Topaz Rebreather & Piranna Scooter*

Short but good dive on the dry docks today. I had a massive suit flood almost from the start of the dive. Eventually it just got too cold to continue, so we headed in. Vis was OK but not as great as the last few weeks. The P1 again performed flawlessly the entire dive, though I think I'll rebalance the prop blades for the higher speeds.

Chemainus (2018-01-14 11:30) *Prism Topaz Rebreather & Piranna Scooter*

Great dive on the dry docks today. Some issues with gear getting into the water, but still an awesome dive. The P1 performed flawlessly and continued to run the entire dive.

Maple Bay (2018-01-06 11:10) *Open Circuit*

Pretty awesome first dive of 2018! Maple Bay was cold but visibility was pretty good; not the best ever but very decent. Not much life yet, but starting to see the babies of a few critters showing up. Overall an excellent, if cold dive.

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