As early as the 1870's, Genoa Bay was the site of a lumber mill. By the 1920's, there was a large mill here. Ships from around the world came to load lumber. By the late 1930's, the mill went out of business and was demolished. The property was converted into a resort and is now the site of the Genoa Bay marina.
From the Cowichan Valley Museum Archives:
The reason I wanted to dive here was to look for the wreck of the M.R. Cliff (originally the Annacis), a 63' tug built in 1910. It sank in Genoa Bay in 1995. I wasn't sure where exactly it sank. The Nauticapedia website says it sank "at the floats". I guessed it sank while tied up somewhere at the Genoa Bay marina. All of the info and photos of the tug are from the Nauticapedia website: Stitt, Robert (2016) M.R. Cliff. Nauticapedia.ca 2016. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/Cliff.php
I dove here on Jan. 3, 2017. I parked at the East end of the property and entered the water down a steep pile of riprap (boulders). My plan was to investigate a shape near shore that showed up on a sidescan image. I didn't think this was the tug, but I thought it might be the remains of an old barge that might have been used as a breakwater. After I visited that area, I wanted to swim around the corner into the marina and see if I could find the sunken tug under one of the docks.
It was a cold day and most of Genoa Bay was frozen over, but the area where I wanted to dive was ice-free.
I swam straight out East from the rocks. Visibility was 20'. I soon came across some old wooden wreckage in the area shown on the sidescan that I think is the remains of an old barge. This area was mostly around 20' deep.
The farther North I swam along this wreckage, the more intact it became. I think this was the remains of a second barge. The maximum depth here was about 30'.
When I reached the end of the barge wreckage I saw a strange, rounded shape right next to it. I realized it was the bow of a vessel about the right size to be an old tug. It was lying on its side about 35 or 40' deep.
I swam around the point of the bow and saw the winch (anchor capstain).
I swam along the side of the wreck. The decking was mostly rotted-away. I could see right through the hull in places. I was surprised that the superstructure was completely gone. I didn't notice remains of it lying on the bottom. Maybe it was removed or it has completely rotted away.
The funnel still stuck out from what used to be the deck. The M.R. Cliff was originally steam powered, but was eventually converted to diesel.
Just past the funnel I could see the engine still mounted in the hull. The structure of the tug is so rotted, I'm surprised that heavy objects like the engine are still being held in place. The whole wreck looks pretty unstable. I was hesitant to swim close to it, expecting it to collapse at any moment.
A bit farther along, the remains of the head (bathroom) were on the bottom next to the sideways deck.
Towards the stern, it became darker. I was under a floating dock that blocked much of the light. Some pilings ran up to the surface next to the stern. Swarms of perch were swimming around here.
The rudder post was also still in place at the stern.
I swam around the stern to what used to be the bottom of the hull. The rudder and propeller were still in place. The rudder was propped up by some wooden beams, maybe from the nearby barge wreck.
I finished off my tour of the tug wreck by swimming along the starboard side of the bottom of the hull.
At first I wasn't sure that this was the wreck of the M.R. Cliff. I felt like I found it too easily and that it might have been some other old vessel sunk here. After the dive, when I looked at the John MacFarlane Nauticapedia.ca photos again, I think I'm now sure that this is the M.R. Cliff. In the old photos, there was some kind of white structure near the winch on the bow. I'm not sure what it's called, but it covers an entry hatch. In my underwater photos there was one side of this white structure next to the winch. The surface photos also showed two whistles mounted on a bracket on top of the funnel. These were also mounted on the wreck's funnel.