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Friday, April 22, 2005 

Deception Pass Bridge


Deception Pass Bridge
Originally uploaded by Pixel Letch.
Sunday, April 17th, my dive club (Marker Buoy Dive Club) dove the grand daddy of all PNW dives; Deception Pass.

It's located at the north end of Whidbey Island and the narrow cut has some of the highest currents around, up to 8 knots easily. We, of course, dove it at a slack flood with a light exchange, something that only happens a few times a year. The site is accessed from North Beach and that parking lot is open only in the spring - fall.

We had a large group over 20 divers and all came in a serious frame of mind. There were no mishaps, even with such a large group, which speaks for the quality of the divers and organization. Another group was diving and they had a large support RIB boat which was nice to see, even if it wasn't tasked directly to us.

Brian and I dove together and kept to a fairly conservative dive profile as this was our first time there. Everyone got in the water after watching the current slacken. We swam out to a rocky corner and waited for the current to lessen to our comfort level. By sticking your head out you could see what it was doing without commiting.

When some others had gone, we went also. Descending while the bottom rushed by, we kicked down to 70' along a steep boulder field and flew along in the current. You had to keep you head up to make sure you didn't slam into a barnacle-encrusted boulder. I guess I hit 85' at one point, but probably not for long. Everything was covered in life and there were tons of intriguing nooks, crannies, caves, overhangs and notches to explore. We saw whole fields of finger sponges, cold water encrusting corals, tube worms and anemones of every hue. Lots of large ling cod cruising around and kelp greenlings everywhere. I also saw one black rockfish, maybe a couple of other small ones, but I don't think they liked the swift currents there in general. I also saw several grunt sculphins and lots of nudibranchs.

The viz was sort of murky (15-20’) and Brian and I kept in contact with our lights a lot of time. Boy, I can't say enough about having a bright HID or other light that pierces the murk and keeps buddies together, while allowing for individual exploration. The viz in the overhangs and so forth was quite good.

We traveled quite a distance and the current slacked, but never really turned during the dive. We eddied out into a large notch that Randy told us about and explored that more leisurely while waiting for the return current. It was so slow that we could swim either direction pretty easily. We decided to play hide and seek amongst the notches and easily swam our way back at around 40-50'. I'd say an easy optimum dive depth was 40-70', there wasn't anything really different down deeper.

We easily navigated our way back to the beach after rounding the corner. Site navigation is pretty apparent. Good gas management is critical.

I have to say that the divers were serious and came prepared for more difficult conditions, which made the dive easy. Talking with veterans of the site, it can be a lot more difficult with not only currents, but weather to be contended with (it's very exposed to the west, I've seen 6-8' braking waves there, even at slack).

I'm ready for the next time!
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I've walked around the entirety of Fidalgo Island and have wondered what's underneath. The currents seemed so quick I didn't think diving there was possible.

Thanks for proving me wrong. Seems like you had a wonderful time.

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  • Adventurer, diver, sailor, photographer, writer and sometimes graphic designer. Proprietor of Optical Ocean Sales, LLC. Enjoy the blog, check back and please leave comments!
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