Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dive Report - Wreck of the HMCS Yukon 10/23/10

Date: 10/23/10
Location: HMCS Yukon
Time in: 12:03 pm
Time under: 48 min
Max depth: 97
Avg temp: 57 F
Mix: 29%
Vis: 40+
Swells/surge: Minimal
Buddies: Mikey, Dave H., NOAA Jim

Time in: 2:02 pm
Time under: 41 min
Max depth: 84 ft
Avg temp: 59 F
Vis: 30+
Swells/surge: Minimal
Buddies: Dave H.

More/larger Photos: http://underpressurephoto.com/Dive-Reports/2010-10-23-Scuba-Yukon/

The forward guns of the HMCS Yukon
The forward guns of the HMCS Yukon

Highlights: Great visibility, great company and good topside conditions. Saw my first mola mola, even though I didn't get a photo of it.

We motored out under drizzly skies to the wreck of the HMCS Yukon. When we got there, the dive charter boat Humboldt was tied up at the bow line. Fortunate for me, they left while we were suiting up, so we moved the Scuba Do over to the bow of the Yukon. I was hoping to get some more photos of the forward guns. As the Humboldt was leaving, they were kind enough to warn us that the conditions were terrible at about 5 ft vis and that it probably wasn't worth diving. Jim convinced me to ignore them and stick with a wide angle lens for the first dive. After all, I could always switch to macro on the second dive and get a few shots.

A diver hovers near the forward guns on the HMCS Yukon
A diver hovers near the forward guns on the HMCS Yukon

When we got in the water, we could see a nice blue tint and very good visibility on the surface. Dipping my head under, I could see Jim's legs underwater 20+ feet away, where he was waiting at the buoy. That didn't mean it would be good 80 feet below us. As we dropped down the line, we could see the bow of the Yukon from about 50 ft, coming out of the darkness. It was going to be a good dive.

A pair of divers near the crows nest on the HMCS Yukon
A pair of divers near the crows nest on the HMCS Yukon

My first target was the forward guns. I found a small patch of large white metridiums to anchor the photo and took a few photos. After that I got a closeup on the barrels of the guns and lined up another shot with a metridium. Fortunately, Dave H. swam into my shot, giving me a nice model as he swam through the frame. We all proceeded to head towards the stern of the ship, passing the crows nest and the boiler exhaust. I saw NOAA Jim flashing his lights at Mikey, but didn't think clearly enough to go investigate. Apparently, he'd found a large mola mola hanging out at the stern. I was at my turn around air pressure, so I started heading back to the bow line. On the way back up, there was a depth that you could clearly make out the bow of the Yukon and see the Scuba Do on the surface.

Club-tipped Anemone (Corynactis californica) and blacksmith (Chromis punctipinnis) on the wreck of the HMCS Yukon
Club-tipped Anemone (Corynactis californica) and blacksmith (Chromis punctipinnis) on the wreck of the HMCS Yukon

After hearing about the large mola mola and seeing Jim's video footage, Dave and I agreed to take one for the team and do a second dive. Mikey was kind enough to be lending me his other tank and wasn't feeling completely better from last weekend, so he and Jim sat it out. I was on air for the second dive, so I knew it was going to be a limited bottom time dive. The plan was to head straight to the stern of the ship and look for mola molas. We headed back along the Yukon, trying to stay towards the 'top' of the ship. The visibility wasn't quite as good as the first dive, but still better than normal. After passing the crows nest, boiler exhaust and the radio tower, I was the first to the large cargo opening. Sure enough, as I'm peering into the dark rectangular opening, I see a thin, frisbee like fish swimming straight towards me. It was much smaller than the one that Jim saw, but still the first mola mola I've seen underwater. As it swims by me, it heads towards Dave, who's still over by the radio tower. I got a nice blurry photo of the mola mola swimming towards Dave, who's taking a photo of it. With the low lighting and only seconds to shoot, my camera didn't find anything to focus on. I think Dave got a good photo and will hopefully share it.

White-plumed Anemones (Metridium farcimen) and the radio tower of the HMCS Yukon
White-plumed Anemones (Metridium farcimen) and the radio tower of the HMCS Yukon

At this point, I had about 7 minutes of no-deco time (and about 2000 psi) left. I gave Dave the turnaround signal and started heading back to the bow. As I swam, I had to keep heading up to prevent going into mandatory decompression time. Fortunately, vis was really good and there wasn't a current above the wreck. Usually, the wreck shelters you from any strong ocean currents and surge, but in this case I was able to swim above the wreck without a problem. Back at the bow line, I hung out at about 25 feet until I saw that Dave was heading up as well. Since I had plenty of air left, I took my time coming up, admiring the view from the below the Scuba Do. Even after that, I still managed to get the skin bends on my now 'usual spot', covering my left shoulder.

Dave Hershman photographs the boiler exhaust
Dave Hershman photographs the boiler exhaust

Back on the surface, the Humboldt was back with a fresh set of divers moored near us, loudly explaining how they had hot showers, compressors to refill tanks and food waiting. We just smiled and waved from the Scuba Do. While we were getting our gear stowed, a large bait ball was being attacked by sea birds nearby. We noticed that it was drifting closer, until suddenly we saw dolphins leaping out of the water and herding the fish around the Scuba Do and the Humboldt. Many divers from the Humboldt were still in their wetsuits and jumped in with masks and snorkels to look for dolphins.

It was a great day out on the water with beautiful conditions on the Yukon.

Scott

Diver Mike Bear with NOAA Jim and the Scuba Do visible on the surface
Diver Mike Bear with NOAA Jim and the Scuba Do visible on the surface