text and photos
Flag Pole Point West
- by Nicolle Pratt (Dive date: November 2002)
After two great dives earlier in the day at The Pinnacle and Wolf Eel Reef, Bryan, Lance and I decided to dock at Mike's Beach Resort and wait for the sun to go down to do a Hood Canal night dive! Our destination: Flag Pole Point. Flag Pole Point actually holds a bit of humorous history for Bryan who had the opportunity to meet the Fish and Wildlife department after a dive there earlier in the week sent courtesy of a local resident (for no good reason!).
The Dive Site: Flag Pole Point is a short distance from Mike's Beach Resort and can be seen from the dock looking South. This picture is of the dive site taken from the dock. The site itself is identified by a large rock exposed above water a short way out from the point marked with residential homes. The rock has a flag pole on it, thus the name (once again another creative dive site name). It is actually the underwater portion of the large rock that makes up the dive site.
So after changing out our gear under the dock lights, we boarded the boat and excitedly headed to the point. There is always a thrill I get when embarking on a night dive. It always seems quieter and divers move silently with purpose checking and rechecking their gear. Then there is the doubling up of dive lights and dive plans are much more focused, especially when night diving from a boat that you need to be able to easily return to. Navigating incorrectly on a night dive can be much worse than doing so during the day as above water visibility is obviously reduced and with only shore lights not being distinguishable, it can be a very disorienting experience.
This site is a good choice for a night dive from a boat because it is close to shore and it is shallow. We dropped anchor directly out from the rock in the maximum depth we intended to dive, 60'. As with almost every dive site on the Western shore in Hood Canal, shore is to the West and the dive site usually runs parallel to shore. So depending on which end of a site you start at, you are either heading directly North or directly South. It does make navigating a little easier to do.
On this site we decided to conduct our dive toward shore and North of the boat. We'd then plan to return to the anchor depth and follow it back South to locate the boat. So to start our dive we descended down the anchor line, confirmed our depth at the bottom and made sure the anchor was secure. We then took a compass heading and moved West toward shore. We started coming across rock formations in about 40' of water and turned zigzagging amongst the rock formations moving North.
Sea Life: The smaller rocks at the base and the larger rock itself created many ledges and crevices which were excellent homes to large rockfish and lingcod. As we came across a large very dark and almost black lingcod (I later found out that there are a variety of lingcods that are completely black), it made me realize that unlike other fish like rockfish and perch, lingcods have very distinct and noticeable markings. Their markings differ greatly including lots of spots, few spots, light coloring, or almost black like the one on this dive. This lingcod sort of resembled a black sea bass.
As this was a night dive, the only fish we did see were safely tuck away in the crevices. What was out and about within the folds of the shotgun kelp covering the rocks were feisty shrimp, crabs, and a periodic nudibranch. An exciting treat was turning and seeing what looked like a tiny 3-5' silver fish swimming alone. It was when thinking about its movements later and how it was the only thing swimming, I highly suspect what I actually saw was a squid. I only wish there had more time to study it, but as soon as I laid eyes on it, it was gone.
Halfway through my dive, I did my tradition of covering my dive light and enjoying the bioluminescence. Besides, Bryan has the best dive light, or should I say flood light. So it makes it easy to keep track of him when I am covering my light. But as Bryan would likely say, what's the point of covering up my little pen light anyway?
Important Dive Site Notes: The site is relatively easy to locate by being directly out from the exposed rock. I did not, however, find it listed in any of my dive site books, so I do not have specific coordinates. Because the shoreline is a residential area, this site is not accessible via shore. Although I view all sights as marine sanctuaries, this site actually is protected. So for those of you with spear guns and goodies bags, please leave them at home when diving this site.
Unexpected visits from the Fish and Wildlife Department....