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Diving the West Coast

Now that I’m living close to water, I’m back into the diving scene here on the west coast. Two weekends in a row and 6 dives later I’m happy to report that cold water diving is just as fun as the tropics. Sure, there isn’t a ton of coral or load of colourful fish but there is lots to see and an incredible amount of wildlife.

We went to 2 sites: Porteau Cove and Whyte Cliff. Porteau Cove is a man made dive park with a couple wreaks and interesting man made structures (think steel I beams underwater). Lots of fish, anemones and sea slugs. We were really spoiled. Whyte Cliff is pretty much a sea wall with a sandy bottom. I wouldn’t say it was as fun as Porteau Cove but there was still quite a bit to see. Tons of starfish and a couple crabs led the way. Check out the pics at the bottom of the post. They were taken with a Canon SD1400 in an Ikelite underwater case. I don’t have strobes (large underwater camera flashes) but the results are still good.

There is a lot of gear involved but what I feel is essential for cold water ocean diving is a dry suit. It does exactly what it sounds like, keeps you dry. Although tight, form fitting wetsuits are synonymous with scuba diving, dry suits are where’s it’s at. A wet suit traps water next to your body, which you have to warm using your body heat, to insulate against the elements. Unfortunately, when you move around, this “warmer” water escapes and cold water rushes in, giving you the chills and forces your body to pump out more heat. In the end, you expend a lot of energy warming yourself and eventually get cold. A dry suit is like a big plastic bag you put over your body and stops any water from touching you. Stick some sweatpants, fleece jackets or whatever underneath that plastic bag and you’re toasty warm. Who wouldn’t want that? Diving with a drysuit is a little more complicated and requires an extra course (dry suit specialty) but it’s well worth it.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and get wet!

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