Gulf Islands, January 2010, Mamro

Posted on 20. Jan, 2010 by Greg Mossfeldt in West Coast

The winter blahs ... were weighing on myself and a number of divers. Our local group was looking to get a taste of the underwater environment and it was very prevalent.

January is not usually a month associated with adventure dive excursions in the Northwest Pacific but we had to get out nonetheless. I had talked to Ken Thate and John Hilario on various occasions and they had put the teaser in my ear to head out to the Gulf Islands in January. The plan was to dive with our trusted steadfast Captain Dan Ferris of the MV Mamro.

Greg and Leigh-Ann McCuaig have also become very enthusiastic participants and would not hear of being left behind. Greg and Leigh-Ann made some quick last minute adjustments on their schedule and they do were ready for underwater adventure !

In the past we have been greeted by calm weather and clear diving conditions in January but more often than not the toss up lands on rain, wind and poor visibility. We have braved the mountain conditions that Golden and Revelstoke could pass our way all in the name of dive comradeship so on this trip we were not to be deterred.

Near Revelstoke, British Columbia the road was closed down due to avalanche danger. Greg, Leigh-Ann, Ken, Gayle and John were all in vehicles this posed a barrier too. The stop was over two hours in length so the arrival time to board the Mamro was in question spilling into the following day. Greg and Leigh-Ann made it for boarding day well in advance while Ken's group arrived later in the day. These are the perils of traveling over the Rocky Mountains to dive in the winter months.

The Mamro was now moored in the Ladysmith Fishing Dock so most of us boarded the Tsawassen Ferry and headed over to Duke Point just on the edge of Nanaimo. I am not sure about the others but I found getting to the Ferry Terminal from the Trans Canada Highway quite convoluted. I'm sure there is a straight forward way to get to the Tsawassan terminal but it eluded both me and my GPS. I have most often taken the Horseshoe Bay Ferry to Departure Bay in Nanaimo and it is quite direct and intuitive.

The rain was coming down on us and did not let up while we loaded the Mamro. Everyone was sporting the latest rain gear fashion so we were warm and dry throughout the process. It is pretty easy to disregard any hardships when the goal of diving is on the forefront of any thought.

Captain Dan found the most fantastic cook I had yet to experience on the Mamro or any other Pacific vessel for that matter. Madeline was the gem Captain Dan had recruited for our adventure and ultimately the cooking she provided brought spirits soaring. The wind, rain and poor visibility of this time of year was soon forgotten when the gang sat down at the table for her serving. A query has gone out to Dan that Madeline's presence is requested on all the MossMan Adventures!

First on our agenda was balancing the underwater gear for the upcoming week. We splashed in a bay with minimal current so our focus was the inwater equipment characteristics and fine tuning.

Now we were ready to dive and we lined the bow of the skiff up with the marine filled ecosystem on Gabriola Wall in the Pass. The Gabriola Wall dive is one of my favorites in the Gulf Islands along with Dodd Narrows. Marine life adorns every crack and cranny so the diving today started out with one of the best. The group went down together to discover the beauty and we had a great dive but some fine tuning was still prevalent. When we surfaced from Gabriola we went back into our corners, fine tuned a little more and decided we would all like to see this dive once again.

This time my dive buddy was John Hilario and we spent a great time exploring all this wall has to offer. John was diving his Evolution rebreather and myself on a rEvo CCR so the silence and tranquility just added to our great experience.

This dive is current swept which is of course essential to the marine life of this magnitude as the current transports the wealth of nutrients to the organisms. The general turbidity in the entire area was increased due to the rain experienced but not so poor we could not visualize the marine life the vast scenery allowed. The wall runs jagged with rocks and ledges but there are few bare spots not adhered with marine life. It is really a jewel to the dive enthusiast.

More to come ...