San Juan Island shore dives?

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Ryan Nelson
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San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by Ryan Nelson » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:27 am

Does anyone know of any shore accessible/kayak accessible dive sites on San Juan Isand? I tried searching the internet but only came up with a few boat only dives. We have dove around Orcas Island many times and it seems hard to believe that there aren't any dives further west given the abundance of life on Vancouver Island.

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CaptnJack
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by CaptnJack » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:15 am

There are several listed in the Fischnaller shore dives book and in Betty Pratt's book.

Lime kiln point,
Deadman bay south of Lime Kiln,
the beaches north and south of American camp,
Reube Tarte County Park, and
Smallpox bay are all shore dive sites.
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fmerkel
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by fmerkel » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:56 am

Seems Fischnaller shore dives book Betty Pratt have been lost to the internet and new divers. Too bad, lots of good info there.
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Jeremy
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by Jeremy » Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:44 pm

Ryan Nelson wrote:Does anyone know of any shore accessible/kayak accessible dive sites on San Juan Isand? I tried searching the internet but only came up with a few boat only dives. We have dove around Orcas Island many times and it seems hard to believe that there aren't any dives further west given the abundance of life on Vancouver Island.


Eagle cove and Reuben Tarte are both good. Lime Kiln is good if you are on singles and the exchange is small. Die Bay is decent.

For the most part San Juan shore diving means shallow, crappy viz, long walks, and lots of kelp.

Some friends and I did 10 different shore dives in one epic weekend last summer.

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GearHead
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by GearHead » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:12 pm

Did a boat dive off Lime Kiln point about a month ago. That looked like it would be a difficult walk in heavy gear from the parking area down to the water.
Cool thing was that there were bigs schools of bait fish in the shallows, being eaten by salmon, which were in turn being fed upon by a pod of Orcas father out. It was quite the show.

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CaptnJack
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by CaptnJack » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:37 pm

GearHead wrote:Did a boat dive off Lime Kiln point about a month ago. That looked like it would be a difficult walk in heavy gear from the parking area down to the water.
Cool thing was that there were bigs schools of bait fish in the shallows, being eaten by salmon, which were in turn being fed upon by a pod of Orcas father out. It was quite the show.


Its customary to enter in Deadman's bay to the south then swim out along the north shore of the bay. Still a bit of a hike and best done in a single tank.
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Ryan Nelson
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by Ryan Nelson » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:42 pm

What would be considered "good" conditions in terms of exchange of knots for Lime Kiln?

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Jeremy
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by Jeremy » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:49 pm

Ryan Nelson wrote:What would be considered "good" conditions in terms of exchange of knots for Lime Kiln?


I only did it once as a shore dive. We hit it at slack on a 2 ft exchange out of an abundance of caution. There was zero current durring our dive.

As gearhead said....a very cool experience diving Lime Kiln. Eerie having the orca right there, the lighthouse is iconic (it's the cover photo of Northwest Shore Dives), and much better viz than most of the other San Juan shore dives.

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Jeremy
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by Jeremy » Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:01 pm

Jeremy wrote:Over the last weekend dwinslow1, coulterboy, Doug, Michael, and I spent some time time diving Fischnaller's San Juan dives. The truck was filled with 16 tanks and we set off at about 5:00AM Friday morning for San Juan Island.

San Juan County Park: our first dive of the trip. The park was filled with curious campers who all wanted to chat with the divers about what we see down there. Entering the water near the kayak launch we stuck to the north wall working our way around to the open sea before hitting our turn pressure. Boulders, kelp forests, 6 ft eel grass, and tons of hatched shrimp greeted us. A fantastic way to start the morning.

Lime Kiln State Park: Long walk and tricky entry with plenty of sharp basaltic rock to navigate. The ranger asked if we knew what we were doing. "Yes"', I lied. She said "good, because we have 8kt currents here that move in different directions and drag you straight down the wall for hundreds of feet. A diver was here 3 weeks ago and said he would never dive here again." Ooookaaayyyy!!! I picked a low exchange day so was willing to go for it and BOOOMMMM!!!! Zilch for current and a thoroughly enjoyable dive on the wall. Orca sightings had been made a few hours earlier but alas they were gone for our dive. We had a great lunch there at the park.

Deadman Bay: it was quickly becoming apparent that Fischnaller doesn't mind lengthy hikes to his dives. Sporting a set of doubles on this dive is health enhancing! Once at the bay we made our way through kelp forests and eel grass until opening up to a large boulder field and giant urchins full of color. This dive just kept getting better and better!! We had to turn it eventually though and made our way back. A magnificent dive!!

Eagle Cove: ahhhh....the longest hike to a dive site yet! No matter. We donned our tanks and entered the water. All I can say is that the next 80 minutes were some of the best diving I've ever had. A puget sound king crab nearly 2 ft across, a second puget sound king crab, octos, wolfies, lings, urchins, it went on and on. Magic, that's what it was. At the end of our hike back up to the cars, the lady with a house next to the park even offered to let us sleep in her house as we seemed like "reasonable people". Island life....pretty sweet!

South Beach: dive 5 of the day was surftastic! The south side of the island is exposed to wind related waves so we battled through the surf to see an expanse of sand such as one might expect if one imagined miles of flat sand. Here and there we saw a flounder. Perhaps a bed of eel grass. We exited crawling for our lives giving all our gear a nice sandy rinse to end the day.

Dinner and sleep!

Day 2

Reuben Tarte Picnic Area: what a frigging great dive. We headed north along the wall, had some fun mini canyons to pull through and had a great 70 min in the water. Reminded me a lot of Z's reef. All natural, plus some great walls. Definitely would like to do this again.

Ferry to Orcas Island then,
Brown Rock: after visiting the 80 year old resort owner we made the fitness improving 30 min surface swim out to Brown Rock in Obstruction Passage. Dropping at the rock we dove clockwise eventually reaching walls and boulders at 50fsw+. The current toyed with us back and forth as we inspected all the hiding spots in the purple boulders and wall. We headed back after having a great dive.

Doe Bay: here we crashed a wedding. Again, the divers were the talk of the event. Everyone wanted to know what we see under the water. We looked for some lost item from a sailboat and then traveled along the south wall to see kelp forests. There are actually plenty of deer here - the bay is well named! An especially scenic dive site. Would be fun to stay here with the family.

We stopped in Eastsound for dinner. Roasted pig on a spit was being served free of charge and was unbelievably delicious. Pizza, IPA, roasted pig. Holy smokes. Then we overnighted at the Golden Tree Hostel where we slept in the oft of a barn. This had a clothing optional sauna and hottub - fun fact.

Day 3

Ferry to Lopez Island. Then,
Odlin County Park: horses greeted us as we dropped into the water near the fishing pier. Moving north next to the wall we experienced strong current and called the dive somewhat early. The wall was impressive but it looks like you would want to only do this dive near slack. Saw alexit's reserved campsite....sorry we missed you!!

Agate Beach County Park: with Shark Fin rock in the distance we submerged in this protected bay to again see endless shrimp hatchlings. They were everywhere! Unfortunately the viz soon turned to milky white so we didn't get to see much...could barely see our own buddies. Very scenic dive site....Canada is visible in the distance.

Checked out Spencer Pit State Park but the 800 yard+ hike was too much to do in doubles which is all we had left. A very doable dive...but next time I will bring a red wagon as Mr Fischnaller suggests. :)

Such was the weekend, 10 dive sites in all. Fantastic time, I recommend it! :)


And video:
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scooby branch
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Re: San Juan Island shore dives?

Post by scooby branch » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:59 am

So sounds like Rueben Tarte was the most worthwhile and reasonalby easy dive? Has anybody done the Rosario wall by the hotel? We swam to it and dove it right in front of the building, cool but nothing to write home about. Later we were told to swim to the point and dive there instead. We intend to launch the kayak off the boat ramp and tie it off somewhere close to the point. Lime Kiln does not seem to be worth the effort to me....
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