Dock Island is the Eastern-most of the Little Island group off Sidney. I've been here before in a boat and was impressed (and a little intimidated) by the currents swirling around the rocks and islands. The chart shows 3 knots off Dock Island and the Current Atlas promises a few knots as well. Needless to say, I made sure to check the current predictions before planning a dive here. There's a navigational light on Dock Island with a narrow, steep-sided cove below it. I figured this would be a good, sheltered spot to beach a boat and dive the Eastern tip of the island from shore. I tried it on a sunny calm day (May 24, 2009). Once again, the current was ripping around the Little Island group. There were small whirlpools and around the reefs and  channels between the islands it looked like river rapids. It seemed like more than 3 knots to me. As I approached the East side of Dock Island, I realised that I was going to have a hard time even getting my boat into the cove. I was going full throttle in my Zodiac, but I was still going backwards. I'd say the current was at least 5 knots. I ended up having to go far offshore from the island where the current was weaker so I could go past the cove. I then motored closer to the island and let the current push me (backwards) until I was close to the cove.  I pointed the boat towards it and drifted in. As soon as I was in the cove and out of the current, the engine started to have an effect again and I practically took off towards the beach, almost falling backwards as I frantically tried to stop the engine and tilt it up to avoid smashing the prop on the rocks. Now that the drama was over I settled down at the top of the island to watch for the current to slow down. I was a bit worried, since my boating adventure happened only 1 hour before slack. I expected it to be much slower at that point. I ended up waiting for 2 hours (an hour past slack) and the current was still obvious. I gave up, loaded my gear back in the boat and motored out again to try somewhere else. As I left the cove, I realised that the current was nowhere near as bad as it was before. It was still swirling around a bit, but I could go against it in the boat without a problem. I turned around and went back into the cove to give this place a try after all. I swam out underwater to the left and slowly poked out into the open. The cliff-like side of the cove carried on underwater, dropping down to about 30 feet deep. From there a steep-sided reef poked out from the point. Visibility was a green 10-15 feet. Even before I left the bay, I could see that the rock was covered with multicoloured tunicates and cup corals. Out in the open, the reef was even more colourful and crowded. Most of it was covered with cemented tube worm colonies, which had more of those tunicates, cup corals, burrowing cucumbers, etc. growing on top of them. I didn't see many anemones, just a  few solitary plumose. At the base of the reef there was a sloping sandy bottom with boulders, urchins and encrusting sponges. There was a nice variety of fish here too. The most common were quillback rockfish. There was a school of black rockfish over the reef. There were also copper rockfish, yellowtail rockfish, Puget Sound rockfish, kelp greenlings, painted greenlings and small lingcod. I saw a tiger rockfish in a deep crack. I made it down to about 60 feet, where the main reef seemed to end, but I didn't explore too far around the corner (because of the current). After feeling a downdraft flowing over the reef that seemed to gently pin me against the sand, I decided not to push my luck and swam back up into the cove. Even up near the surface, there were cup corals clustered on the rocks. Large mats of tiny green anemones covered some of the rock faces above the surface. At high tide, these would make an unusual, green-covered little wall. Later in the day, after another dive on another island, I passed the Little Group islands again on my way back to Sidney. The current was ripping again and my little boat was spun almost completely around a few times in the eddies. Despite the hassle, this is a colourful place I'll definitely return to (preferably when the visibility is better and the current is weaker).
Dock Island Light and small cove after dive.
tunicates, etc. on reef
black rockfish over reef
quillback rockfish
quillback rockfish
quillback rockfish
over reef
urchins at base of reef
anemone, etc
quillback rockfish and urchins
tiger rockfish in crack
quillback rockfish
painted greenling
copper rockfish and painted greenling
kelp greenling
quillback rockfish at base of reef
puget sound rockfish at base of reef
sponge and burrowing cucumbers at base of reef
black rockfish
next to reef
black rockfish
copper rockfish
plumose anemone, etc.
black rockfish above reef
puget sound rockfish in crack
stuff on reef
looking at reef
next to wall
plumose anemones in shallows
painted greenling
boat beached in cove
beached in cove under light
boat in cove
looking out from top of island
looking down at cove from light
green anemones
looking from top of island back towards Sidney after dive