Archive for July, 2013

Summer Diving in Tuwanek

After a long few weeks of moving and business travel keeping me out of the water, Josh and I hopped on the early ferry this morning for a couple of rewarding dives up in Tuwanek. The weather was fantastic, and the viz down below 15 meters was epic. It must have opened up more than 20 meters in visibility. As always, lots of life to see in Tuwanek, which is why it truly is one of the local gems.

Unfortunately, however, I had to do this dive without a strobe on my camera. While doing some equipment checks last night, I discovered my strobe wasn’t working. This is the second time I’ve had strobe issues at Tuwanek. Of course, I have the internal camera flash completely masked off in my case, so it was of no use this time around.  (The internal flash triggers my external strobe, however to avoid back scatter the internal flash needs to be fully masked off). Not to be deterred, I decided to bring the camera along anyways and try taking some ambient light photos anyways. I figured I could even use my newly upgraded LED can light to illuminate some things too.

Was it ever worth it!

Red Gilled Nudibranch

A Red Gilled Nudibranch

Although I didn’t manage a lot of great shots, I did get some okay shots. I also managed to get the above shot of an Red Gilled Nudibranch*. For this shot, I used my LED canlight to side-illuminate the nudibranch.  It produced a rather nice effect focusing light and attention on the Nudi, almost like a snoot.  This has to be one of my favorite nudibranch photos I’ve taken so far.

Grunt Sculpin

Grunt Sculpin

Shortly later, I saw a Grunt Scuplin, which have to me my favorite type of scuplin. Something about their colouring, shape, and the way they sort of hop around makes them interesting to watch and look at. I only had one chance to take a photo, as right after it decided it no longer wanted to be party to photo taking and turned around to face a rock. Regardless, I got a fun picture, again using my can light to illuminate the fish from the side. It could have turned out better, but I like it regardless.

Early into our second dive, Josh got my attention and pointed out a swimming  giant nudibranch! I tried taking a video, but it had stopped swimming by the time I got the camera set up. Some photos are in the gallery at the bottom of this post.


A Typical Seascape at Tuwanek

The amazing thing about Tuwanek is just how much life is packed into the area. It truly is like diving in a fishtank. The small tides, sheltered conditions, amazing visibility and warm water temperatures all combine to make it one of my favorite BC dive sites. The Sunshine Coast in general is fantastic as well. At least the ferry ride is relatively quick to get out there for day-trips!

I don’t have a RAW editor installed at the moment, so I’ve only tried touching up a few of the ambient light photos. My camera doesn’t have the best low light performance, but I got some interesting shots anyways. Perhaps later I may fiddle with processing some more of the RAW images to see if any are worth recovering and posting.

The rest of the photos I have processed are below;

*Note: I initially miss-ID’d this as an Opalescent Nudibranch (Hence the jpg filename). Upon checking my handy reference book, it is in fact a Red Gilled Nudibranch.

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Diving the Sechelt Inlet


Steffy in Amazing Viz

My lovely dive partner and I had the opportunity to spend a night with family up in the Sechelt Inlet, at a beach house Steffy’s parents had rented south of Tuwanek. (Luckily the Ferrets were feeling much better after their bout of illness on the weekend, otherwise we would have had to cancel on this short but fun trip!)

The beach house  had a dock, which made for an easy giant-stride entry right from where we set up and put on our gear. Quite a treat compared to huffing gear all the way down to the water at Whytecliff.

A lot of new stuff in this dive, including my upgraded dive-light (which worked amazingly), my new Heser backplate, simple fleece undergarments instead of my thick Mk3 (The water was very warm) and the first time taking my camera out in nearly a year! It took a bit of shaking out, but we got a couple of great dives in. The Viz below the first few meters was incredible, as always in the Sechelt inlet.

Unfortunately, my camera got bumped on sometime during the trip out and the battery was nearly dead by the time we got into the water. Nonetheless, I got a few nice shots. Not some of my greatest photos, but not bad for being out of practice with the camera!


A Couple of Nudibranch

The new dive light worked phenomenally well, but in some of my photos I realised I had developed a bad habbit. Since the old HID had been fairly dim in comparison, I used it as an aiming light. Usually I’d point it away as I released the shutter, but sometimes would leave it since it barely effected my photos. Not so much with the bright LED. You can clearly see my little mistake with the Grunt Scuplin photo. I think it’s time to invest in a proper focus light.

The Heser plate was amazing as well, being able to do away with the weight belt completely with lighter insulation was very liberating. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so free while cold water diving!

I borrowed Steff’s Dad’s GoPro camera for the dive and had it mounted on my goodman handle, but unfortunately the video seems to have become corrupted. I’m trying to recover it, and if I’m successful I’ll post a video in the coming days.

A few more pictures below:

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A New Backplate

I apologize in advance for another gear related, non-dive-photo post, but I had to cancel out on diving today to stay home to watch over a couple of sick ferrets. (They are improving, so no worries there.)

Ralphie inspecting my Backplate

Ralphie inspecting my Backplate

Since I’m at home, I have been using the time to fiddle with dive gear, including finishing setting up my new Heser Tauchtechnik backplate and making a sheath for my super hi-tech IKEA dive knife.

A little while back I ordered a Heser backplate through my LDS. Shipping from Germany took a little while, so I just got it this past week. This backplate weighs in at a whopping 5kg (11lbs), and replaces my current aluminum plate which weighs in at a minuscule 2lbs. The original motivation for getting an aluminum plate was predicated on the assumption that I would be traveling a lot to dive when I lived in Alberta, and I didn’t want to carry a steel plate on an airplane and or dive with it in the tropics. An Al plate made perfect sense, back then. Moving to the west coast, with it’s epic diving, changed things somewhat and I suffered for years with a huge amount of lead — Sinking a Whites Mk3 undergarment takes quite a bit of weight. I’ve experimented with integrated weight pockets on the harness, and eventually settled to a heavy weight belt. Now with this plate, I get to take most of the weight off my belt – Quite a win. When I transition to doubles, I’ll only need to have a keel weight to keep me properly weighted.

The machining and workmanship on the plate itself is rather quite impressive, and the Project Baseline webbing looks swift. I’m happy with this purchase.

IKEA Dive Knife

IKEA Dive Knife. Cheap, effective.

With the excess webbing, I finally made myself a proper sheath for my super-fancy, ultra-hi-tech IKEA dive knife. Now, a snapped-off steak knife is somewhat ultra-DIR, but I’ve found it to be a cheap and very effective solution. The motivation for this is that if the knife is dropped, there won’t be the same compulsion to go after it while in a nitrogen-narcosis induced stupor. At $2 a piece, they are cheap too. Not to mention the objective need for an over sized, pointed dive knife is somewhat debatable. So far I’ve found the IKEA stainless steel to be of high quality as well, with no rust after a lot of diving in salt water and minimal rinsing.  I carry a Benchmade rescue hook and EMT shears as well when I dive.

Sewing the sheath in the stuff webbing worked easier than I thought it would. I just used a regular needle and thread, and used the weave of the webbing to my advantage when poking through.

Stay tuned, I should have some actual dive photos up again soon. I’m planning on (finally) taking the camera out next time I go scuba or free-diving.