Sunday, September 17, 2006 

Low & Dry in Blaine Marina

Blaine and Semiahmoo Marina boaters have been left low and dry by recent events. Trillium Corp, a developer and land owner over at Semiahmoo Resort, has decided to not renew Blaine Marine Services lease for their boatyard and gas dock. The land has gotten to be more valuable for condos with even the area for the gas storage tanks in too prime an area. From what I've heard the gas lines are pretty old and corroded as well.

This leaves area recreational boaters pretty much without a gas dock and yard. Blaine Marine Services does have a small yard, but it is limited and you can't DIY your boat there. There is a more commercial yard and gas dock at the end of the peninsula, but they are oriented to larger fishing boats and vessels.

Large power boats that need several hundred gallons of fuel at a time probably won't have too much trouble. But I fill up Maggie May's 20 gallon tank about 3 times a year whether it needs it or not. They aren't going to be very interested in passing down a small line to pump 10 gallons of gas.

There are several yards in Bellingham, one, Padden Creek is changing hands. Point Roberts has a small yard, again you can't do you own work. More distant are some up in the South Fraiser River, Sidney or Anacortes.

So what's a poor boater to do? It's all well and good to make the most of the land, but the recreational attractions that make it valuable in the first place need infrastructure. I guess the developers just want the boats to sit there and look pretty.

Scuttlebutt and a conversation with Blaine Marina office workers revealed a couple of interesting goings-on. The first is that the Port of Bellingham, who runs Blaine Marina, is conducting meetings and starting to work the problem. The second is that all of the tenants out on the end of the peninsula, mostly warehouses and seasonal crab processing plants, want out of their leases. That would open up a lot of land for the port to develop. So there may be space available in the future and an obvious business opportunity for someone to open a yard and fuel dock oriented to recreational boaters with smaller wallets. This is all a new problem and the port understands boaters' concerns and is doing their best to get a handle on the problem.

Hopefully the port can come up with quick ideas to deal with the immediate fuel issue, while they work a more long-term solution. The closing of yards, gas docks and other services, is hurting the marine industry and traditional recreational opportunities.

Have you lost a marine service in your area? Leave a comment below.

Friday, September 15, 2006 

Flying on Boeing 125' Down

Four of us went out on Steve Lodge's boat out of Edmonds this evening for a dive out on Puget Sound. The other two guys who joined us are sort of new to the dive club, Eric and Carl. I got up there at 5:45 and we departed shortly thereafter for Boeing Creek Reef just south of Pt Wells. Steve dives here pretty often, it was my second time, although lord knows I've spun my sailboat over it as a race mark about a million times. It was a beautiful evening with the sun out and very calm. Almost no current to speak of.

We let the other guys get in and then the three of us, Steve, Scooter and myself, jumped in and descended in rather good viz conditions. Steve and my dive plan was to scooter over to the south reef area that's deeper. We played around with the scooter for a few minutes then mounted up and I drug Steve along behind over towards the other reef. Problem was that I forgot my compass, as I was using a backup computer, my Oceanic is fried. So we sort of went in a loop out into deeper water a ways. Ok quite a ways. Lot of nice sand, and actually some nice Snakelock anemones and a couple of other deep varieties I hadn't seen before, as normally I don't go about a mile along 125' deep contour.

We stopped and figured out what direction the slope was. Ok, Steve figured out where the slope was. I'm just the driver. Then we motored back up shallower to 75' and found the deeper wall of the reef for a while, and continued back up and enjoyed the fish life at the top. Most of the fish were juvenile rock fish, and we did see 3-4 larger vermillion rockfish, and the other guys they saw some too.

We continued back along the shallow slope north towards the boat, and after doing a mid water safety stop, we surfaced and found the boat a short distance away, very short in scooter distance. So all in all, an adventurous dive that covered a lot of distance. Would of been better if I'd had some idea of where I was going, but why start now.

We pulled the hook and motored back to Edmonds, enjoying the light show put on by distant lightening over the San Juans, and were packed up and in our cars by 9 pm.

it was really nice to get out on the water mid-week and enjoy an evening boat dive.

Monday, September 11, 2006 

OpticalOcean Offers Discounted Fantasea Line Products

I get a lot of email asking what P&S camera people should buy and how to put it together and use. Or they'd like to get into a DSLR system at a reasonable price.

When I tell people I use a fairly cheap Fuji camera, but relatively expensive Inon lenses and strobes, they usually can't afford them. Fantasea Line seems to be the answer for those folks wanting to improve their photography at a reasonable price.

I am branching the site into new areas to help support my habit and help others to afford and enjoy underwater photography. I have been an authorized dealer for Fantasea Line photography products for a few months. They have greatly improved and expanded their products recently and added some cool new accessories.

Fantasea products seem to fill a gap in what's available today and have some innovative accessories as well. I am happy to offer these to my readers at dicounted pricing (around 10-15% off on most, but not all, items). You'll notice a new link on the right to for directly ordering a few items that I think people might be interested in.

As well please feel free to peruse the Fantasea Line website and then email me a list of what items you need, or what system you are interested in for my recommendations and advice. Note, that I have a $99 minimum order, and flat rate postal shipping of $25 per order. You probably will do better going to one of the mail order houses for 1 or 2 small items, I'm more into selling systems and helping people with their questions.

A few new products that we have:
New Olympus 330 DSLR housing, MSRP: $1099, Only $965
Nano Strobe Set 1, cool, small adjustable strobe, tray, fiber optic cord and flex arm. MSRP: $206, $174
New aluminum B&J arm sets, various lengths of arms are available, as well as connectors, etc. Order individually, or as a set. Medium B&J Arm set MSRP: $117.60, $101
. Prices subject to change.
I am also interested in hearing what things you'd like me to carry on the website, I will be expanding my direct offerings as time permits and reviewing them here. Please add your comments below.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 

Inon Artist of the Month

InonAmerica, the US distributor of Inon (Japan) underwater photo gear, invited me to be their Artist of the Month for September. It's actually quite a nice honor as the roster of past artists includes some pretty good shooters.

From their site:

"I enjoy any type of photography and find it very relaxing, but in shooting underwater I have found my art. The ocean’s ever-changing mystery and colorful life forms are a constant challenge to capture.

After making the switch to digital 2 years ago, I wasn’t ready to give up being able to switch lenses underwater. Inon’s great range of external lenses; stackable macro, wide angle and ultra wide angle dome, combined with my Fuji E900, gives me a complete range to capture the wide variety of subjects I enjoy shooting.

Having shot 3 different companies’ strobes extensively, I have found that the compact Inon Z-240 and D-2000 are powerful and high-tech lighting solutions, allowing much faster camera cycling and several automatic functions that work with my compact digital camera very well.

Overall, I have found Inon products to be extremely well engineered, rugged and very reliable, whether shooting in the warm waters of Indonesia or cold waters of the Pacific Northwest."

See: InonAmerica
Inon Gallery: Jack Connick - Artist of the Month

About Jack

  • 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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