Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Tell us your tale of coming nose-to-nose with a 6 gill [--this big--], or about your vacation to turquoise warm waters. Share your adventures here!
Post Reply
User avatar
Grateful Diver
I've Got Gills
Posts: 5321
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 7:52 pm

Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Grateful Diver » Sun May 09, 2010 2:58 pm

Yesterday's dives were classic springtime in the P N Dub ... gorgeous weather, lousy vis. I hooked up with Uncle Pug at the Lowe's in Everett at 9:30 in the morning and headed for Rosario Beach, just a couple miles northwest of Deception Pass. Our destination ... Northwest Island ... a tiny island about a quarter-mile offshore from the beach. We had four 130's, a pair of Sierra's, and a plan ... and the weatherman had promised us a beautiful, sunny day with highs in the low '70's ... perfect.

Got to the dive site around 10:30 ... reconnoitered the area, and got ready for our first dive ... which we'd decided would be Urchin Rocks, a small spit of boulders that juts out into the south part of the little bay formed by the arc of the beach. Neither one of us had done this dive before, so it was a bit of an exploration dive. The Northwest Shore Dives book described it as a shallow reef.

Geared up, took a heading, and dropped down right off the beach for what should have been a scant few minutes run across the bay to the rocks. Vis was on the order of maybe 10 feet, but we had no difficulty seeing where we were going. After about 9 minutes I was beginning to get the idea that maybe we missed it ... by now we were at 45 fsw, and according to the book it wasn't supposed to be that deep. So I stopped and signaled to Ron that we should ascend to see where we were. Two minutes later we were on the surface, looking back at the bay ... and Urchin Rocks ... we'd skimmed right past the end of the reef and were on our way to Lopez Island. No problem, take a heading, drop back down and ... about 30 seconds later stumble onto a submerged reef that was just covered in clown dorids and vermillion and white sea cucumbers ...

Image

Image

We spent the next 40 minutes or so slowly making our way back along the boulders and ledges that comprise the reef. I also found out how the reef got its name ...

Image

Just before heading back I discovered what I at first took for a nudibranch ... but what proved to be some kind of flatworm ... or is that two flatworms? Or is it just some kind of confused worm with his head up his ... ???

Image

Ron's suit was leaking, so after a while he signaled it was time to go ... and off we went, back to the beach. Oddly, we didn't have any trouble navigating back ... we surfaced right in front of the trail we took from the car to the beach.

Surface interval ... a time to dry out, lounge around in the sun, eat lunch, kibbitz with some friendly people, and thoroughly enjoy being in the PNDub on a perfect spring day. Life is definitely good. But tides wait for no one, and before long it was time to head out to our prime destination of the day ... Northwest Island ...

Image

The bay going across in this direction is a bit more interesting than on the previous dive ... crabs, sea pens (LOTS of sea pens), and other critters made for an interesting 10-minute scoot out to the island. We arrived on the north side, which is shallow and rocky ... clipped the scoots off, pulled out our cameras, and started kicking out along the east side of the island, getting progressively steeper and deeper as we went.

This is a gorgeous reef, that gets prettier as you approach the south end of the island ... which is exposed to the currents that flush daily into and out of Deception Pass. I could feel the tug of current increasing as we got closed to the island's south end, and before long it was work to be able to stop and take a picture. But I was looking, in particular, for the colorful snakelock anemones that, in this region, often provide a home for candy-striped shrimp. And although the anemones were in abundance, I only found one candy-stripe shrimp ... and it was far too small for a picture in those conditions.

I did, however, find a rather large scaly lithodid crab guarding one of those anemones ... and it didn't seem interested in letting me in for a closer inspection ...

Image

But the prize of the day ... for me, at least ... was an abundance of tiny white dendronotid nudibranchs ... barely a centimeter or two in length ... clinging to the tips of hydroids waving furiously in the current.

Image

Image

At about 50 minutes, Ron signaled he was getting cold. Ah, I thought .... his suit's still leaking. We put away the cameras, unclipped the scoots, and headed back across the bay ... this time dead-reckoning mid-water as we stepped slowly shallower ... 3 minutes at 40, 3 minutes at 30, 3 minutes at 20 and suddenly there's the bottom. We followed the contours in only to discover we'd overshot our entry ... ah, but there's another trail. Hiking back up it proved more effort than we bargained for, but we managed to make it back to our picnic table, unload the gear and go back for the scooters.

Turned out Ron had a bit more than a leak ... he took off his suit, dumped the water out, peeled out of his Weezle, squeezed about two quarts of water out of it, and gave thanks for the fact that it was a warm, sunny day.

Overall though, a great day of diving ... and although I had done Northwest Island from a boat before, this was the first ... and definitely not the last ... time from shore by scooter. I can see a bunch of trips to Rosario in my future. All I'll need is a buddy with a scooter ... this has become my new favorite scooter shore dive in the P N Dub ...

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Threats and ultimatums are never the best answer. Public humiliation via Photoshop is always better - airsix

Come visit me at http://www.nwgratefuldiver.com/

User avatar
nwscubamom
I've Got Gills
Posts: 2307
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 11:13 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by nwscubamom » Sun May 09, 2010 7:09 pm

California Berthella!!Your weird "worm" is a nudi.
Their branchial plume goes out to the side, instead of poofing out the top of this nudi. Great sighting!

- Janna
Janna Nichols
My underwater photo galleries
REEF Citizen Science Program Manager
Seen any cool critters lately?
><((((°>
-----------------------------

User avatar
Grateful Diver
I've Got Gills
Posts: 5321
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 7:52 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Grateful Diver » Sun May 09, 2010 8:16 pm

California Berthella, you're one of us ... a little different ... :bday:

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Threats and ultimatums are never the best answer. Public humiliation via Photoshop is always better - airsix

Come visit me at http://www.nwgratefuldiver.com/

User avatar
Tom Nic
I've Got Gills
Posts: 9327
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:26 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Tom Nic » Sun May 09, 2010 9:06 pm

Great report, great pictures, as always Bob! Thanks for taking the time to post.

Except... :angryblue:

**This continual peddling of scooter crack on the board is starting to make me crazy! Just when I have myself talked out of remortgaging my house and selling my kids into slavery to pay for more dive equipment on comes a post like this... sheesh, what's a poverty stricken PNW diver to do?

:pills:

**Which brings me to my last beef. Just when I think I have a little bit of diving cool down you spring a new one. PNDub?!? You're kidding, right? I got used to calling Redondo "The Dond", and now I have to go from PNW to PNDub?!? Next thing you know I'll be all like BTDub instead of BTW, and I'll have to get a whole new set of literature or do more research just to say somewhat current with the communication skills of the time.

It's entirely too much work to be cool now days... :rawlings:

Sigh... :bored:
More Pics Than You Have Time To Look AT
"Anyone who thinks this place is over moderated is bat-crazy anarchist." -Ben, Airsix
"Warning: No dive masters are going to be there, Just a bunch of old fat guys taking pictures of fish." -Bassman

User avatar
spatman
I've Got Gills
Posts: 10881
Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 7:06 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by spatman » Sun May 09, 2010 9:11 pm

awesome report, bob! thanks for the great description of the sites. i need to borrow a scooter someday and do those with you!
Image

User avatar
whatevah
Aquanaut
Posts: 665
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 12:54 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by whatevah » Sun May 09, 2010 10:13 pm

spatman wrote:awesome report, bob! thanks for the great description of the sites. i need to borrow a scooter someday and do those with you!


You don't need the scooter for Northwest Island. You can either surface swim out to it or if you have adequate breathing gas just venture on out underwater - take a bearing and be aware of current on the south and west sides of the island in particular.

gcbryan
Submariner
Posts: 517
Joined: Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:25 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by gcbryan » Mon May 10, 2010 3:03 am

Nice report Bob. I've been to Urchin Rocks and all I can remember is that it was shallow and it had a lot of Urchins. With Skyline just around the corner I haven't been back. I have always wondered about Northwest Island however. Good to see a report.

User avatar
Nwbrewer
I've Got Gills
Posts: 4502
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2006 10:59 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Nwbrewer » Mon May 10, 2010 6:17 am

Excellent report Bob! I've only gotten to meet Ron once, but he Lynne Fishstiq and I had a nice dive at Mukilteo. Is this still the suit that looks like it's more aquaseal than suit? I think one of the pockets was held on by 2 corners the day we dove with him. It's seen some bottom time for sure.
"Screw "annual" service,... I get them serviced when they break." - CaptnJack (paraphrased)


"you do realize you're supposed to mix the :koolaid: with water and drink it, not snort the powder directly from the packet, right? :smt064 " - Spatman

User avatar
H20doctor
I've Got Gills
Posts: 4034
Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:13 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by H20doctor » Mon May 10, 2010 10:00 am

Good stuff, I did that as a boat dive with Pensacola and the Dash Meister ... We did our safety in the kelp beds while hanging on ...
NWDC Rule #2 Pictures Or it didn't Happen

User avatar
airsix
I've Got Gills
Posts: 3049
Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:38 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by airsix » Mon May 10, 2010 2:05 pm

Great report & pics, Bob! :smt038
"The place looked like a washing machine full of Josh's carharts. I was not into it." --Sockmonkey

User avatar
Uncle Pug
Getting To Know Folks
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:55 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Uncle Pug » Mon May 10, 2010 3:40 pm

Nwbrewer wrote:Is this still the suit that looks like it's more aquaseal than suit? I think one of the pockets was held on by 2 corners the day we dove with him.

Not on this dive... I moved my exhaust valve over to the suit with the pockets held on by 3 corners and dove it instead. Less aquasel but more leaks. That wasn't a good choice.
I sure liked the looks of Bob's new Santi suit. From now on I'm calling him Santi Claus.

Image

User avatar
Pez7378
I've Got Gills
Posts: 3256
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:09 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Pez7378 » Mon May 10, 2010 4:27 pm

Uncle Pug wrote:
Nwbrewer wrote:
GratefulDiver wrote:Ron's suit was leaking, so after a while he signaled it was time to go

Is this still the suit that looks like it's more aquaseal than suit? ......

Not on this dive... Less aquasel but more leaks....



UP with a leaky drysuit?!?! Shocking!

Awesome report Bob!

User avatar
Ranbal
Just Settling In
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:30 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Ranbal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:29 am

Thanks for the nice report. My girlfriend and I did this dive from our kayaks yesterday. Anchored on the East side of Northwest Island. Nice and calm on this side. We ventured to the North side which was quite shallow but with lots to look at and then drifted along East side past the anchor point then on to the South side. Quite a nice dive. Vis was pretty good in the 15 to 20 foot range. Current was very mild (Ebb). Looks like this is home to a couple of nice size PGOs due to the clutter of crab shells all over. However, with the countless den opportunities here we were not able to actually see any Octopus. Great dive from a kayak. Could spend hours here with a camera.

Randy

User avatar
Jaksonbrown
Amphibian
Posts: 846
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:58 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Jaksonbrown » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:12 pm

I was actually on the shore watching you guys get in and out. I had my parents and grand parents in town and we were doing the tourist thing...

I watched a solo diver surface swim all the way out to Northwest Island and I thought that he had to be crazy... That is a LOOOOOONNNGGGG surface swim...

Id love to take the cuda and go do it though....
Last edited by Jaksonbrown on Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Ranbal
Just Settling In
Posts: 24
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:30 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Ranbal » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:28 pm

I wish I had the $$$ to get myself a scooter. I would rather scoot over to these sites rather than paddle. Not that I mind the paddle that much (works great) but the thought of flying through the water would make the journey as cool as the destination.

( "my kingdom for a 'cuda" )

Randy

User avatar
Dashrynn
I've Got Gills
Posts: 1873
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Dashrynn » Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:22 pm

Bob anytime u wanna scoot in my area give me a call or pm

User avatar
Grateful Diver
I've Got Gills
Posts: 5321
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 7:52 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Grateful Diver » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:25 pm

Dashrynn wrote:Bob anytime u wanna scoot in my area give me a call or pm

I'd love to scoot this one with ya ... but gotta warn ya that once we're out there, you're gonna be spending a lot of time waiting for me to take pictures. The outer side of this island has an impressive reef ...

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Threats and ultimatums are never the best answer. Public humiliation via Photoshop is always better - airsix

Come visit me at http://www.nwgratefuldiver.com/

User avatar
Dashrynn
I've Got Gills
Posts: 1873
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Dashrynn » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:33 pm

I think I can manage, I have one of those picture taking things also :taco: !

User avatar
Tubesnout23
Submariner
Posts: 585
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:24 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Tubesnout23 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:02 am

Dashrynn wrote:Bob anytime u wanna scoot in my area give me a call or pm


So I guess you must have a scooter now, Dashrynn...

Glad to read that you had a good time at Rosario Beach, Bob! Too bad that I don't have a scooter... I am not planning to get one any time soon. My only option to dive sites like Northwest Island would be to find a buddy who doesn't mind long surface swims...

User avatar
Grateful Diver
I've Got Gills
Posts: 5321
Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 7:52 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Grateful Diver » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:04 am

Tubesnout23 wrote:
Dashrynn wrote:Bob anytime u wanna scoot in my area give me a call or pm


So I guess you must have a scooter now, Dashrynn...

Glad to read that you had a good time at Rosario Beach, Bob! Too bad that I don't have a scooter... I am not planning to get one any time soon. My only option to dive sites like Northwest Island would be to find a buddy who doesn't mind long surface swims...

There are two other options ...

1. Find a buddy with a scooter who doesn't mind towing you
2. Get a bigger scuba cylinder and kick across along the bottom ... it doesn't get any deeper than about 50 fsw, and there's a gazillion sea pens along the way

Personally, option #1 is very doable ...

... Bob (Grateful Diver)
Threats and ultimatums are never the best answer. Public humiliation via Photoshop is always better - airsix

Come visit me at http://www.nwgratefuldiver.com/

User avatar
Dashrynn
I've Got Gills
Posts: 1873
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Dashrynn » Tue Jun 08, 2010 11:49 am

I wouldn't mind towing you so long as I get some training first, some things I can't learn by myself

User avatar
Tubesnout23
Submariner
Posts: 585
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 11:24 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Tubesnout23 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:13 pm

Dashrynn wrote:I wouldn't mind towing you so long as I get some training first, some things I can't learn by myself

Thanks!

What about keep it simple for the time being and go diving at Langley tomorrow, Wednesday June 9 if you have time?

User avatar
Dashrynn
I've Got Gills
Posts: 1873
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:24 am

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Dashrynn » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:28 pm

Sadly work normally stops about 2 am and I work at 330pm so that leaves me with very little time to work with, so in short I can't sorry.

User avatar
Dusty2
I've Got Gills
Posts: 6388
Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:04 pm

Re: Urchin Rocks/Northwest Island with Uncle Pug

Post by Dusty2 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:26 pm

Nice shots Bob as usual. The next to the last white nudie is Dendronotus Albus, the last is dendronotus frondosus

Post Reply