Possibly Headed to PNW

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ktuli
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Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

Hello all!

My name is Will, I've been doing the digital nomad thing for a little while now exploring the country while I work remotely. My first round was almost 3 months in Florida diving the Blue Heron Bridge as much as possible. I am currently in Colorado getting my hiking fix and I'm looking at my next options and exploring the PNW is high on the list. I'd be arriving around mid-October and would likely stay at least a couple months. I've been diving for over 11 years with just under 400 dives, certified to PADI Dive Master level and I have taken a Drysuit specialty course (though amusingly I took the course to dive in the UK and when I got there they just gave me a semi-dry to rent and said I'd be fine so I've only got a couple pool sessions and a couple afternoons of diving in a lake in WV in a drysuit). I'm also an avid underwater photographer and want to add a bunch of the unique cold water species to my collection.

Anyway, my questions are...

1. Is now a good time to dive in the PNW? Are folks still actively diving for the next few months?
2. As I'm on my own, is this site good for scheduling dive buddies? If so, what are the main areas where people live/dive regularly so I can target finding a place to stay nearby to maximize my diving (including mid-week diving if folks are doing that)?
3. Any recommendations on places to rent or buy a good drysuit for a few months?
4. Any other local knowledge you can share?

Thanks a ton!

Will
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

Hi Will!
Welcome!

That sounds like a pretty cool lifestyle!

1) Most of us here dive year around! September and October are probably the best times to dive in Washington. November and December are good too but there can be wind which can limit options. If you're a wide angle photographer, the days are fairly dark in the winter, but at the same time if there's not too much rain, visibility can be better.

2) We post dives here for every Thursday night at Redondo. Come join us, we have a lot of photographers in the group and often plan weekend diving at these events.

Different divers with different goals like different areas. The group of photographers I hang out with typically like to go to Keystone (on Whidbey, wind dependent), Skyline (up in Anacortes), Sunrise (Gig Harbor), Salt Creek (by Port Angeles, wave dependent), Point Hudson, Redondo (macro site, Des Moines), The Alki Junkyard (macro site). Sund Rock can be good too. Bottle hunters or wreck junkies or tech divers would go elsewhere. These sites are pretty spread out, maybe somewhere near seattle is most central.

There's also a few other dive clubs that have regularly scheduled dive events. Marker Buoy Dive club is one of them.

3) I suspect your best option might be to buy a drysuit (and sell it when you're done if need be). Suits are typically $1200-3500 new depending on what you're looking for. Some people don't do well with latex, so a silicone seal can be nice. Some like a pee valve. If you're doing shore diving, I recommend sturdy built in boots. Front zip is good for self-donning if you think you'll end up going solo from time-to-time. For extra warmth, consider dry gloves, a weezle extreme+ undergarment, or a suit heater.

4) Local knowledge. This website has a wealth of info. I also started a website pnwdiving.com that has a ton of info and links and visibility reports.

-Eric
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ktuli
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

Thanks for the info Eric!

If I wanted to stay outside of the city - preferably to be somewhat closer to the diving options as well as good hiking opportunities, would you recommend any other areas other than around Seatle? Also since I'm mobile I can switch it up and hit multiple places... as long as I have a place to eat, sleep, and hit wifi so I can work during the day, I'm pretty much set.

Also - any recommendations on dive shops to deal with for the drysuit and maybe a refresher drysuit dive or two?

Thanks!

Will

PS: This is one of the downsides of the digital nomad lifestyle... for someone who is not a huge fan of flying by the seat of his pants but also doesn't enjoy the decision making process of making plans and weighing the pros and cons of different options, this is a challenge to figure out the plan for the next place to go...
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

Hi!

If you wanted to dive real close to where you live, yet away from the city, options might be to live on Whidbey or Hood Canal.

Whidbey has Keystone which is great for photography. Hood canal is less exposed to winds/currents/tides and you can dive it almost any day. It has nice octos and wolfeels but is not as colorful though.

The following web site has great info on hiking
https://www.wta.org/

The best hiking tends to wrap up mid october, but there are a lot of lower elevation options year around, including on whidbey and Hood canal.

One suburban option is Issaquah. It has good foot hills, and it is somewhat central if you plan to visit a variety of dive sites as I do (I try to go to the best site the wind/tides allow for a given day)

Dive shop -- most any will do, I suggest whatever is close and convenient.
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ktuli
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

Thanks for all the great info.

Out of curiosity, why does all the good hiking wrap up mid-October?
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

The best-of-the-best hiking, the high alpine hikes with beautiful meadows, golden larches, blueberries, alpine lakes, wildflowers etc will be inaccessible due to snow.

There's still great hiking year around in the low lands.
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

Forgot to mention that different shops carry different drysuits with different characteristics so you may want to shop around.
Try to buy off-the-shelf if you can as delivery times can be high these days.
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Gdog
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by Gdog »

Hey, Eric did a great job of covering it. Welcome to the board! Lets dive!
ktuli
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

Hey guys - sorry for so many questions...

When you say about meeting at "the Dond" - do you mean Redondo Beach dive site? Also, when you say 6, do you mean 6PM? It looks like you aim for that every Thursday. Are there other days you normally dive? Is the diving tide dependent or do you basically go whenever you feel like?

Finally - would staying in Tacoma make sense? I know you mentioned Issquah, but it looks like that is over an hour drive to most of the dive sites, Tacoma looks like it might be much more convenient.

Thoughts?

And thanks a ton for all the advice, I really appreciate it!
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

Hi
Haha, yes, the Dond is shorthand for Redondo. Yes, 6pm. It would be great to have you some time!

Tacoma can be good. It really depends where you like to dive. Tacoma or the Federal Way is great for South Sound dives, and is closer than many areas to hood canal. You'll find plenty of buddies in the area.

It's a long haul to Keystone from Tacoma though, and Keystone is way more colorful. Issaquah/Seattle aren't particularly close to any great dive site but its a happy medium. Not too far from Redondo (probably the best South Sound dive you can do on near any day) and not too far from Keystone.

Maybe come visit for a while and see where to settle.

Many of our dives are current dependent. The following is a list of some of the best photography sites in the sound, and only the last 3 aren't very current dependent. You'll still want to likely check the tide level and the wind of each of them.

Keystone
Point Hudson
Skyline (hard to predict)
Deception Pass (super advanced)
Sunrise
Day Island
A bunch of dives in the San Juans (private boat required)
Salt Creek (more tide height dependent)
Sekiu (more tide height dependent)
Sund Rock
Flagpole
Redondo

Pnwdiving.com provides slack predictions and slack strength evaluations of many of these sites at the bottom of the homepage. There's also a training video on slack planning in the resources section, and you can see where all the sites are on the map.

-Eric
Last edited by YellowEye on Mon Sep 27, 2021 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ktuli
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

Thanks again for all the info.

So I'm basically "just passing through"... I'm looking to do an extended visit (maybe 1-3 months or so). So it is starting to sound like maybe I split time between north and south of Seattle?
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

A couple other things to keep in mind: Sund Rock is closed at night and has a fee unless you make a long swim (not practical without a scooter really).
Keystone you need a permit for night diving.

If it was me, I'd probably try to stay somewhere between Federal Way and Seattle (or slightly east like Issaquah). Avoid west seattle/alki due to ongoing bridge repair. You can dive Redondo, Three Tree, Cove2, Junkyard, Mukilteo and a few others easily after work. You won't find beautiful kelp forests or colorful reefs but it can be good diving with lots of buddies. You'll find pacific spiny lumpsuckers, stubby squid, warbonnets, nudibranchs and much to keep you happy.

Sometimes you'll have a 2 to 5 day streak when some of the further sites are doable. Take a weekend and multi day trip there.

-Eric
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ktuli
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

That sounds like good advice. I'll see what I can find that reasonable.

Thanks so much! Looking forward to meeting you and hitting the water!
ktuli
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by ktuli »

Ok - it is booked! My first AirBNB in the area is set for 10/13 thru 10/30. It is in the Burien area which looked like a good location, close to Redondo Beach and has a couple parks nearby and views of Puget Sound, so hopefully it was a good choice.

Thanks again for all the helpful info - I really appreciate it!

Will
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YellowEye
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Re: Possibly Headed to PNW

Post by YellowEye »

Sounds great! Congrats! Close to three tree and the b town brewery!

I personally will be out of town much of that time due a dive trip to Canada. I'm sure you'll find some great buddies!
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