Lake Washington: The Phoenix

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peo
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Lake Washington: The Phoenix

Post by peo » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:48 pm

This afternoon, SCRET dove the third of three new targets we've located in the area just north of the 520 bridge in Lake Washington.

The side-scan sonar images we had provided all information we had on the wreck before the dive, and hinted that it was an intact wreck, about 50' long, with a superstructure in the rear half, some equpiment on deck towards the bow, and a somewhat broken up stern.

We dove in two teams of two.

The first team to enter the water was John Sharps and I. We did our usual bubble and gear checks on the surface before deflating our wings and beginning the descent down to the bottom. The top 20' had poor visibility, but then it opened up to excellent visibility until we came down to the depth of 150'. We slowed down our descent to avoid crashing into the wreck, and carefully monitored our depth gages as we continued our descent. At a depth of 190', the roof of the superstructure came into view. A few feet deeper, and we were next to it.

We dropped down on the port side, and noticed that the window panes were still in place in the rear cabin. We found a cabin door which stood ajar. Peeking in, there was quite a bit of lose debris inside the wreck, and mysteriously what appeared as a pair of hydraulic cables coming out from the doorway.

Continuing further towards the bow, we noticed two hatches on deck, the forward one covered by a small superstructure. Two chain plates had earlier held the shrouds in place of some kind of rigging - the rig itself was nowhere to be found.

I swam out over the bow, and we just started turning back again to follow the starboard side back when I saw a piece of chain still attached to the bow. I flashed John, and dropped down to see where the chain went. Mysteriously, the chain was cut off after about 2 feet.
I shone my light on the side of the hull, hoping to see a name painted on the side. While there were only parts left of the white paint that apparently had covered the ship in her days no the surface, she still gave the impression of not having been down there for too long. I hoped to see the name of the boat painted on the side, but, alas, nothing was there to see on the port side.

Suddenly, I heard Sharps say something that sounded like "PHOENIX!" through his regulator. He was hovering just outside the starboard side of the hull, slowly circling something on the other side of the hull out of my view. I swam over, and sure enough, there I could still read the word "PHOENIX". A positive ID!

We continued towards the stern, checking out the cabin on the port side, again stopping to look in through all the windows. We carefully opened the cabin door on the port side too, noticing the beautiful brass door handles still in place. I tried squeezing in, but would have to remove my two decompression tanks under my left arm to be able to fit in, and we hadn't discussed that as part of our dive plan, so I decided not to proceed, even if it was very tempting.

Continuing aft, we found parts of the stern missing. The rudder with an attached zinc anode was still there to be seen. I dropped down into the debris, since I saw a small opening where I could look into the area below the cabin. However, I couldn't see anything resembling an engine; the thing I was mainly looking for.

Checking our bottom timers, we still had plenty of time before our planned visit of this time capsule would come to an end, so we decided to do another round, looking a bit more carefully at things now that we had the general lay of the land clear in our heads.

I noticed that the roof of the cabin had glassfiber reinforced plastic laid on top of a plywood sheet - all clues to help estimate when this boat could have been built and subsequently went down.

The forward hatch was far too small to fit into, but I decided to check out what's inside the center hatch since that was at least large enough to fit my head and shoulder inside, even if my double 104s and deco tanks wouldn't come through. I also wanted to avoid stirring up any silt, since the second team was planning on shooting video of the wreck.

There was some kind of tarp or possibly and sail concealing something down there, but, in the name of not reducing visibility, I didn't check underneath the tarp.

Looping back again, we came back to our bright white upline which we had followed during our descent and thumbed the dive after a bit over twenty minutes on the bottom.

Our first decompression stop was at 150', just when we entered the part of the water column with good visibility. We completed our gas switch at 70', and were happy when we a while later got up to the thermocline at 40' when the temperature suddenly rose from a chilly 45' to the mid 50s, and then subsequently up to the low 60s up in the shallows -- really nice and comfy during our longer 20' stop after switching to pure oxygen.

After a total dive time of 65 minutes, we surfaced and gave the OK signs to the two SCRET divers who were on the boat, and then switched roles so they could complete their dive, documenting the wreck on video, while Sharps and I talked about the dive and fended off boats who have no idea what a dive flag means on the surface for another hour.

What a wonderful way to spend a Thursday afternoon!

More about the many wrecks of Lake Washington and their history will be revealed at the Pacific Northwest Tech Diving Conference in September (http://www.pnwtdc.com), and more information will also be posted on the SCRET web page (http://www.scret.org).
Last edited by peo on Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Aquanautchuck
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Post by Aquanautchuck » Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:54 pm

Great report. Cool finding a new wreck. Can't wait for the video.

Charles

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BASSMAN
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Post by BASSMAN » Fri Jun 08, 2007 10:22 am

Wow! 190 feet?

What was your max depth on that dive?

Thanks for the report, when and where can we see the video?

Or even just a clip of it?

What was the estimated total legth of this Boat/Ship?


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Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Jun 08, 2007 12:35 pm

That sounds like an awesome dive. Any info on what the Phoenix was, why and when it sank, etc? I'd love to see pics and video, too!
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Post by BASSMAN » Fri Jun 08, 2007 1:42 pm

I see whats happening...

This is a teaser to get us to buy the $39.00 tickets for the
Pacific Northwest Tech Diving Conference in September. (http://www.pnwtdc.com)

Well it works for me, if this is even a sample of what these guys are doing I want to be there to hear more!

Is there going to be some sort of big slide show / film presentation there?

Any chance of getting a special nwdiveclub special price?

Are Non-Tech divers welcome or encouraged to attend?
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Curt McNamee
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Tech Conference

Post by Curt McNamee » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:05 pm

If this is the type of stuff you are interested in then you should go to the conference which is open to anyone.

There will be alot of interesting presentations and you will get a very good feel for what tech diving is all about.

Sign up and enjoy the experience, I'm sure you will not be disappointed.

Peo is very talented and will put on a first class event.
Last edited by Curt McNamee on Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by BASSMAN » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:08 pm

Great! Thanks!
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Post by Joshua Smith » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:17 pm

Of course, if you don't know the secret handshake, everyone's gonna know right out of the gate that you're not a tech diver. Not to mention the decoder ring! :bootyshake:
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Post by peo » Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:33 pm

I didn't mean this as a direct teaser for the conference.

This was the first dive on the wreck. Up until you actually dive a new wreck, it is very hard to get an ID of the wreck, which means it is also very hard to figure out the history.

It it seldom we actually find the name on the wreck in a way like we did this time. We're now beginning to go through the records, trying to find any details about this boat and any clues as to why she sank in the Lake. This is a lengthy process, and sometimes you never ever get the full story of what actually happened.

The first wreck we dove of the new series of three is a wreck we think we have a pretty good ID on too, but several things that we saw on the wreck doesn't line up very well with what we can find in the records.

As you asked about the conference (I hope Calvin won't be mad at me :-)), I'm expecting the audience to be about 2/3 divers and 1/3 non-divers, and of the divers I'm expecting a fair amount of non-technical divers too.

I know there's a lot of interest in both the wrecks and the kind of technical diving being done on these wrecks, so I hope the conference can give a good insight into both what it is like diving these wrecks, the history that can be perceived through these wonderful time capsules, and what it involves to do this kind of diving in a relatively safe way.

Oh, and my max depth on this particular dive was 197 feet.

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Lake WA

Post by Curt McNamee » Fri Jun 08, 2007 3:00 pm

197 ft is about as deep as it gets unless you go into the mud. I have heard that there is one spot ( like a hole ) over by one of the floating bridges that does get a little deeper, but not much more.
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Post by peo » Fri Jun 08, 2007 3:41 pm

Bassman, answering some of your questions explicitly:

BASSMAN wrote:I see whats happening...

This is a teaser to get us to buy the $39.00 tickets for the
Pacific Northwest Tech Diving Conference in September. (http://www.pnwtdc.com)

Well it works for me, if this is even a sample of what these guys are doing I want to be there to hear more!

Is there going to be some sort of big slide show / film presentation there?


Expect both film and slides.


BASSMAN wrote:Any chance of getting a special nwdiveclub special price?


I'm looking into that as we speak.


BASSMAN wrote:Are Non-Tech divers welcome or encouraged to attend?


Very much encouraged to attend.

peo
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Northwest Dive Club member rebate

Post by peo » Fri Jun 08, 2007 7:54 pm

This conference is run on a tight budget, and as a non-profit, but going over the numbers and thinking a bit about our goals, we decided to do the following:

Northwest Dive Club members get a $2 rebate. Furthermore, for every ticket sold to a Northwest Dive Club member before July 1, Pacific Northwest Tech Diving (the legal entity behind the conference) will donate $3 to the Northwest Dive Club through Calvin.

There are also some other exciting things happening soon - keep an eye on the conference website over the next couple of days.

To get the rebate (and the donation to Northwest Dive Club), go to http://www.pnwtdc.com/nwdiveclub.html when you are ready to buy your tickets.

For those of you who are members here and already have bought tickets -- send me a PM and I'll make sure you get the rebate retroactively.

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Re: Lake WA

Post by lamont » Fri Jun 08, 2007 8:26 pm

Curt McNamee wrote:197 ft is about as deep as it gets unless you go into the mud. I have heard that there is one spot ( like a hole ) over by one of the floating bridges that does get a little deeper, but not much more.


http://www.scriptkiddie.org/bath/

the light blue in the lake is all about 200 fsw... the middle of the white color is 264 and i don't see any of that in the lake...

been meaning to try to get contours onto that map and/or to have clicks reveal the depth at the location clocked on, but haven't had the time lately...

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Post by peo » Fri Jun 08, 2007 8:44 pm

Darn it Lamont, you're showing them EXACTLY where the Phoenix is now. <G>

Seriously, there are a few deeper spots (and of course some areas that are shallower), but otherwise much of the lake is actually almost exactly 200 feet deep.

/Peo

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Post by Dmitchell » Fri Jun 08, 2007 9:56 pm

So. Peo what is it? Are you talking cabin cruiser, skiff or something of decent size?

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lamont
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Post by lamont » Sat Jun 09, 2007 1:05 am

peo wrote:Darn it Lamont, you're showing them EXACTLY where the Phoenix is now. <G>

Seriously, there are a few deeper spots (and of course some areas that are shallower), but otherwise much of the lake is actually almost exactly 200 feet deep.

/Peo


you should see the quality of the bathymetry data which is behind an awful lot of the lake washington bathymetry...

i don't think you're finding anything smaller than a football field on it...

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Post by peo » Sat Jun 09, 2007 6:55 am

Lamont: I have a copy of that bathymetry data, even though I haven't bothered with creating a TIN out of it. Pretty impressive work you've done, Lamont! I was jokingly referring to that when everyone knows which area of the lake is 200' deep, it'll be easier to find the Phoenix. But of course the area is super-big. Just weird Swedish humor. ;-)

Dave: It's somewhat like a cabin cruiser, 50' long.

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Post by peo » Sat Jun 09, 2007 9:03 pm

Did a second dive on the Phoenix this morning, this time penetrating the cabin to check out the interior of the wreck. As is often the case on these small boats, the doors are pretty narrow, so I had to tilt over 90 degrees to be able to squeeze through the doorway. The double 104s are simply too wide to fit.

Anyhow, there was another thread about the interesting challenges and surprises with varying visibility in the lake. Today, the excellent visibility we had from 40' to 150' on Thursday followed us all the way down to the bottom. The bottom cloudy layer was totally gone.

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Post by lamont » Sun Jun 10, 2007 1:53 pm

peo wrote:Lamont: I have a copy of that bathymetry data, even though I haven't bothered with creating a TIN out of it. Pretty impressive work you've done, Lamont! I was jokingly referring to that when everyone knows which area of the lake is 200' deep, it'll be easier to find the Phoenix. But of course the area is super-big. Just weird Swedish humor. ;-)


oh, i'm 50% swedish so i got it... just trying to outdo you in deadpan...

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