North AmericaScubaSightseeing

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 – Vancouver Island

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 – Vancouver Island

Dive #1: Pearse Island

The dive at Pearse Island was cold, cold, cold. There were loads of nudibranches, some crazy-looking crab, and heaps of kelp forests – which I now love. Come to mention it, I’ve learned to like cold water diving all together. I don’t particularly love the shivering and the numbness in my fingers, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I just didn’t have enough thermal wear underneath. I’ve become entirely comfortable with donning the dry suit, diving with it, and managing my gear and my buoyancy (when I don’t have a camera in my hand). So a full and complete turn-around from dive #1 a week before when I would rather kayak than dive through the cold. Now I wonder if I should buy my own dry suit. Christmas, anyone?

Having said that, I was happy with this being my last dive. Though the skiff would go out for a second dive we had the choice of going with them or doing an excursion on Vancouver Island, so I opted for a dry, warmer outing with Shannon.

Land Excursion on Vancouver Island

After lunch a small group of us headed to Vancouver Island to the tiny town of Telegraph Cove. This was a port that popped up in the 1930s and the town has maintained its quaintness. The first stop was The Whale Interpretive Center – a place entirely devoted to whales, seals, otters, and dolphins. Inside is a fully constructed skeleton of a fin whale that was once impaled by a cruise ship that had no idea it had a fin whale on its bow until it reached port in Vancouver. The wife of the man who founded the Center bought the whale and made sure its bones were carefully reconstructed to be displayed for education. A sad but interesting story, and even more sad because – four days before we arrived – the same thing happened again on a Princess Cruise ship that docked in Vancouver. Again. WTH? That has to be a big ship to (a) kill a fin whale, and (b) not notice that they’ve run into the second largest living animal on the planet.

Fin Whale Ribcage
Interesting tidbit: sea lions have a similar skeletal structure as bears. The skulls are very much the same, as are the forearm structure. Our guide, Emma, made the interesting point that a sea lion teeth structure could do as much harm as a bear.

Sea Lion Skeleton

Sea Lion head – just like a bear

Another “wow” moment for me was that whales have phalanges – also known as fingers. They’re inside the flipper, but they’re definitely fingers. That’s something I didn’t know.

Check out the bottom right, where the whale’s fin ends – those are fingers
I was distracted in the center by a portion of a video that featured the Sardine Run, so naturally I had to sit and watch for a bit. But eventually the sun drew me outside and I spent the rest of the excursion wandering around Telegraph Cove, checking out the handful of shops, and taking fun pictures.

Cool rusty car

Telegraph Cove

Pretty garden, with netting

Gone Fishin’

We returned to the Nautilus before the skiff and the boat took off for the trip to Vancouver. Soon after the skiff arrived behind us for a “hot pick” – the opposite of a “hot drop” – both vessels are moving while they tug the skiff back on board the Nautilus. As I mentioned earlier, it’s very James Bondish.

Hot Pick

Captain Mike, master pilot of the skiff


One of the best part of traveling – aside from seeing things you’d never seen otherwise – are the people you meet. And as always happens on live-aboard trips, people settle into their own seats and routines at mealtime. At our table was the NY crew of Peter, Robin, Anat, David, me, and Shannon, and occasionally Andrew and Allisan. But also we had Lynn and Michael from San Francisco. They quickly became two of my favorite new people because of their witty banter and fascinating conversation. Michael owns five dogs, two hamsters, and eight tarantulas – one is a pink-toed tarantula called “Horrible Spider” which he’s memorialized with a tattoo on his arm. Michael’s also an author – Michael Thomas Ford – and I’ve made a note to get his latest What We Remember when I get home. Lynn, Michael and I have a list of all the other places we want to dive, including Crystal River, Indonesia, and The Maldives.

Spider Lover
Film Show

After dinner we snuggled into the lounge area for series of shows: First was the DVD Dano put together as part of the pictures we submitted. It was a lot of fun to see other peoples’ pictures of similar sights. And then Guido had burned a number of his beautiful images onto a DVD for us to enjoy. They were truly wonderful to watch.

Finally, we saw a video of the 1958 Ripple Rock Project. Ripple Rock was a twin-peaked mountain in the Seymour Narrows in BC which caused quite a few marine accidents and boat damage so the government decided to blow it up. The impressive engineering feat involved tunneling under the water and up into the mountains, where 1,270 metric tons of Nitramex 2H was strategically placed to displace not only the 350,000 tons of rock but also the 300,000 tons of water above it. A pretty impressive initiative, and there’s nothing quite as fun as watching real, planned explosions on TV

Well, unless it’s diving with jellyfish or sea lions. Or almost having your kayak tipped by a humpback. Or playing on an iceberg. Those are more fun.

Ripple Rock explosion in 1958