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Monday, January 16, 2006 

Chemainus, We Have Touchdown!

CBC: A Boeing 737 made its final descent on Saturday – 20 metres deep into the waters off the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Cranes slowly lowered the decommissioned plane into the ocean off Chemainus, about 70 kilometres north of Victoria, slightly more than a month after Environment Canada gave final approval to a plan dreamed up by diving fans.

The sunk the plane to create an artificial reef in an area that doesn't have much marine life.

The society expects the new reef to be home to dozens of species of sea life within a couple of years, which it hopes will, in turn, lure more divers... More: CBC Story

The Artificial Reef Society deserves congratulations for persevering on this project. They had to get a massive amount of government permissions and no less than eight "First Nations", aka tribal, permissions to do this sinking. It was delayed several times with political wrangling. They had hoped to avoid a lot of problems by sinking a rather clean plane that had never had very much in the way of oil or contaminants aboard. Didn't happen.

The plane and site are even named "Xihuw Reef" after the Sea Urchins they hope to promote the growth of.mask

The dive shops in the area now actually have a dive site to promote, and it may be an interesting stop over for divers on their way to the wonderful diving in Port Hardy and Campbell River, BC.

I know first-hand how frustratingly slow government bodies move on these ideas. I've been working with the City of Seattle on safety buoys and dive site markings for Seacrest Park in West Seattle. Now after nearly two years, we are still awaiting USCG approval for dive site marking buoys.

But as a PNW diver who's dove many of the ARSBC's projects, this one is dubious, and the site selection less so. Chemanius is is a backwater area, not subject to the good tidal flush that other projects in Nanaimo have. The smooth aluminum skin of the plane is not conductive to critters and plants taking hold. I'm beginning to work on an artificial reef utilizing Reef Balls for Seacrest that are much more scientifically engineered to promote growth, even down to certain additives in the cement and placement techniques to promote growth. I fail to see this as as an artificial reef, but more as a diving attraction, which is ok.

And while the ships they have sunk are interesting to explore (however a bit "clean" for me after Truk), I'm afraid I've spent too much time in the back of 737s to be that intrigued. But it's something new and should be fun for a dive at some point.

More: Chemanius Area 737 Project

Great story. Just discovered your blog. Looking forward to reading more ...

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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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