text and photos
- by Nicolle Pratt (Dive date: January 2003)
How many times can Randy exaggeratedly say in a gravelly voice, "The Bosssssss" you wonder? I luckily stopped count after I hit the water and couldn't hear him any longer. Don't even get him started on The Anna Foss, the sister ship to The Bosssssss either.
The Dive Site: This site, located inside Blakely Harbor, is protected from current and its maximum depth is approximately 55' - 60' and that is with sticking your head into the sand. Oh wait, I think I did that a few times getting a closer view of some of the smaller critters, like the oogie Slime Feather Duster! OK, oogie is not a word, but wait until you read about the Slime Feather Duster below.
Using dive site information we researched in advance, we knew the site was marked by a yellow mooring buoy (apparently courtesy of Captain Alan Gill, owner and operator of the charter boat "Spirit Diving"). Upon locating the buoy, we found it to be in about 50' of water and tied off to it. As there was no current, Bryan, Randy, Lance and I were able to dive at the same time. Bryan and Randy entered the water first, giving Lance and I more room on the boat to gear up and follow them shortly thereafter. We descended using the mooring line and found it to be anchored to one end of the boat.
The boat lies about parallel to shore in a slight West-East direction. There is no need to navigate as the wreck is the only structure in the immediate area to dive. The wreck itself was interesting as it appears to be lying on its side and some what twisted. The portion closest to the mooring line is angled less on its side and the deck has eroded away giving divers the opportunity to drop in and have a closer look at the remnants inside which include among other things, bathroom fixtures. The sink had an interesting square pattern around the bowl and the toilet would have made for fun photos....photos require a camera. Must get camera!
Rising out of that portion of the wreck and moving on, divers will notice the middle of the wreck is almost gone and then the back half of the wreck rises up again and is lying almost completely sideways with its top deck still intact. There are holes large enough to peer into, but not large enough to penetrate. I would caution the idea of penetration even if the holes were large enough as the wreck is riddled with nails and other sharp points that might poke the wetsuit diver, but could quite possibly rip a drysuit or at least make a drysuit diver really cranky if they were to get a little wittle tear in their glovies.
Sea Life (vertebrates): There were quite a number of larger Copper Rockfish hanging in and out of the shards of wood making up the hull of the wreck. Lying down inside the front portion of the wreck and in many spots tucked far up under the wreck itself were huge Lingcods. Collectively, they were easily some of the larger lings we had seen in one spot. Most averaged 4' with big fat heads. I don't think I even saw what must have been the biggest one that the guys were describing after we surfaced. Probably because I was cruising through the sand around the wreck looking for little unusual things, or because they were exaggerating since I had likely seen the largest Lingcod ever at Sund Rock when I wasn't diving with them. While perusing the sand I did happen upon a tiny Speckled Sanddab and when I occasionally looked up from the sand I was treated to large schooling dark Striped Seaperch, with a confused Pile Perch tagging along, every so often.
Sea Life (invertebrates): I had fun trying to spot new invertebrates on this site. It was a great location to do so because the site is not large (you're swimming around a 70' wreck repeatedly), and there is no current to speak of. When I first started coming into view of the wreck along the line, it was because of the brilliant white and orange Plumose Anemones covering the wreck. Dropping down just below the mooring anchor, I also saw two beautiful huge clusters of Northern Feather Duster Worms attached to the side of the wreck. Continuing along the sides, I saw Scallops!!!! Then, inside an exposed cubby area in the back half of the wreck I saw these interesting shiny silver shells. They looked like polished insides of oyster shells, but shaped like a clam. Some were whole and others were ring-like with a teardrop shaped hole in the middle. When looking through my Whelks to Whales marine life book later that night, I learned these are called Green False-Jingles or more commonly referred to as Rock Oysters. So they were oysters!
Moving away from the wreck and focusing on the sand underneath the wreck and the surrounding area, I saw many many crabs shells and parts, but not a single moving crab. It appeared that predators must move off the wreck, find crabs, and take them back to the wreck to feed. There were of course your occasional Sunflower Stars (smaller ones), Spiny Pink Stars and I spotted the siphon tops of a few Geoducks. While getting a closer look of them, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. At first I just thought it was the tiny Coonstriped Shrimp jumping around, but then I noticed a blob of gel stuff shaking on the sand like something had just been in that spot. So I moved back and after some time and patience, slowly this brownish circular fan looking thing folded out inside the glob of gel. I moved, and *bloop* it sucked back down through the gel into the sand. It never stayed long enough for a good look, so I made a mental note of it and checked my book when I got home discovering these things were called Slime Feather Dusters, which are worms. That gel I saw is actual its transparent mucous-like tube....mucous? Oogie. An interesting fact about these worms I read in another of my marine books is that this type of worm has one of the largest nerve fibers in the animal kingdom allowing scientists to make electric measurements of the speed of nerve conduction. Share that around the office water cooler and impress your coworkers.
Important Dive Site Notes: As with almost all the shoreline in Washington, the shoreline directly out from the dive site is private access only. Were Washington people not taught to share when they were children? Mine mine mine! So ranting aside, this is a boat (or dive kayak) dive only. I mention kayak because the harbor provides protection from current and there is the marker mooring buoy that dive kayaks could easily be secured to alleviating the need for a depth finder to locate the wreck.
As mentioned above there are sharp objects all over the wreck. Also as
with diving any wreck, please use caution to avoid any kind of entanglement
or diving into a confined space without proper training, equipment, and
do not have specific coordinates for this site as we were able to identify
the site by way of a brightly colored yellow buoy. The site is about
midway in the harbor along the Southern shoreline with the buoy anchored
directly to the wreck in a bout 50' of water. The coordinates for Blakely
Rock are: 47-35-38 N 122-28-49 W and the coordinates for Manchester Tamp
are: 47-33-21 N 122-32-29 W.
One last thing, I noticed that the fish on this wreck on average were large, but the other sea life like the stars (in particular Sunflowers which can get quite big), the shrimp were tiny, and there were no midsize fish at all. It seems this wreck is a good place for the small and big to coexist. I suspect the wreck is used as a sort of nursery for some species and while small they are not considered food or worthwhile food, so they are protected while on or around the wreck and allowed to mature. Then once the life grows midsize it smartly moves on and takes residence elsewhere away from the larger species. The larger species have made their home here again for the protections the wreck provides and the many nooks and crannies serve as great dens. The wreck is additionally close to shore, thus the shallows provide for crabs and such to munch on.