This is a marina near the entrance to Cowichan Bay. I heard a casual reference online to someone diving a barge wreck here. There's a dive shop in Duncan that often leads recreational dives at this marina. The sidescan image of Cowichan Bay shows a 100-foot-long object about 150 meters from the beach near the marina. This isn't the barge wreck which is supposed to be shallower and closer to shore. The object looks tapered at both ends and it's proportions suggest a small ship. I didn't think it was likely to be a rock since there are no other rocks on this side of the bay. It was hard to tell the depth by comparing the satellite image, the sidescan image and the marine chart, but It seemed to be between 100 and 150' deep.
        I came up for a dive on Jan. 2, 2017. I wasn't sure where the barge wreckage was, but my plan was to swim out underwater along the right-hand side of the marina and then follow my compass down the slope and maybe run into whatever the deeper object was. I parked in the large gravel lot and walked over to a small sandy beach next to the marina.
        Visibility was about 20'. I soon started seeing debris from the sunken barge. It started about 20' deep and went down to 60' deep. The deeper I went, the more intact it was, but it was still a jumble of collapsed wood and metal. There were lots of orange and white plumose anemones and schools of perch. This barge wreck ran parallel (and partially under) the floating breakwater on the right side of the marina. Like most barges associated with marinas, it was probably originally a floating breakwater. On a clear day like today, I can see that this area would be a nice, shallow dive with easy access.
        The barge wreckage ended about 60' deep and I followed my compass out towards where I was hoping the deeper object was. At 95' deep, I saw some very deteriorated wreckage from some kind of wood vessel, probably a barge. It didn't stick up from the bottom very high. I followed it down to about 105' deep, where it ended in more mud. This was about the right size to be the object on the sidescan. The sidescan image was created in 2007 so I thought maybe this wreckage used to be more in one piece 10 years ago which would account for the more solid object shown on the sidescan.
        The sidescan image also shows a smaller, 20-foot-wide object just West of the main object. I swam out West from the wreckage and soon came across a cement mooring block about 100' deep. It was only about 5 feet across so it was too small to be the object in the sidescan image. The chain (and another one nearby) led up the slope and to the surface. I assume these are the mooring chains for the marina's current floating breakwater structures. The sidescan image also shows a less-distinct object about the same size closer in to the marina. At the time, I assumed that this object was too shallow and close to the marina to be what I found out there, but in hindsight it better matches what I saw. The presence of the mooring blocks and chains also makes me think I was closer to the marina than I thought. If so, the 100-foot-long ship-like object would be out farther, maybe 150' deep.
        I swam back up the slope towards the marina. When I reached it, there was another sunken barge about 60' deep. At least I think this is a different barge from the one I saw at the beginning of the dive. They seem to be at right angles to each other. I think this barge shows up on the side-scan image as well.
        Near the barge(s) under the docks there were 2 large hollow concrete boxes with plumose anemones and ochre stars on them. On the beach there were similar concrete boxes. They were all probably grounded/sunken floats.
        There were swarms of perch everywhere around the pilings. I gradually made my way back along the East side of the marina (past the original barge wreckage) to shore.
        I'm not sure what this place would be like on a dark day with bad visibility, but today I thought it was quite a decent dive. I'm still tempted to try again for that deep, ship-shaped object. I'm pretty sure it's either a lost WW2 Japanese submarine or a miraculously-preserved early Spanish galleon full of cannons.
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