This is a small island at the Eastern entrance to the channel between Discovery Island and the Chatham Islands. I didn't have several hours to spend out on the water and driving, but I wanted to pull off a quick dive. The Oak Bay area is close and convenient for me so I launched at the Cattle Point ramp and went out on July 24, 2009. Last time I had tried for this spot (about a week before) , the marine forecast for this area promised light winds, but when I made it out from shore a bit, the wind went crazy. The current was flowing against the wind so the waves were tall and steep. I was soaked before I even got to the dive site and the boat was filling with water. When I reached Griffin Island, the wind was too strong to safely get near the beach so I gave up and white-knuckled it back to Cattle Point.
This time, the weather report said there were strong winds and a small craft warning so I figured conditions would be good. Sure enough, when I reached Cattle Point, I could see that the water was dead calm, there was barely a breeze and it was a sunny, hot day. I motored through the channel between Discovery and Chatham Islands and went to the North side of Griffin Island. It was a bad day for current. The tidal exchange was about as big as it gets. Instead of trying to time my dive for some minimal period of slack current, I chose the North side of Griffin because it seemed to be on the lee side of the flooding current. The chart shows a slope down to about 30 feet along this side of the island and there's an obvious bull kelp forest so I was hoping for a cathedral-like dive under the canopy surrounded by rockfish, seals and a carpet of anemones. I anchored my boat in a small bay with a pebble beach and swam out and down. There was about a 1/2 knot current running along the island out towards the Strait of Juan De Fuca so I swam against it towards the Chatham Islands. The first slap in the face was the horrid visibility. It was less than 10 feet and in some places it was less than 6 feet. The water was full of sediment/plankton bits and there were large areas swarming with mysid shrimp. The rocky slope was covered with huge, silty "leaves" of bottom kelp. They looked like piles of large, dusty tarps draped over everything. There were a few small windows to the rock below and it looked silty as well, although there were a few patches of orange colonial tunicates. The slope ended in a sandy plain at about 30 feet deep. I went back up a bit and continued swimming along the slope. It was one of those dives where you see a vague, dark mass coming up in front of you and you can't tell if it's a pile of kelp, a boulder or a seal until you're almost on top of it. I saw a single plumose anemone and a fish-eating anemone. I gave up and turned around, drifting back with the current to have a look at the area West of my anchorage. This is the area with the kelp forest and when I reached it the visibility improved to about 15 feet. I followed the slope down again to about 30 feet where there was a small area of uncovered rock with urchins, an anemone and a few copper rockfish. I saw a dogfish shark in the distance, but it quickly swam off. I went back up to the kelp forest. I didn't see any fish schooling around here. When I was on the surface, I could see 10-15 seals splashing around in this area, but, like all Victoria seals, they were terrified of divers so I didn't see any underwater. Some of the visible rocks in the shallows were covered with pink coralline algae and white encrusting sponge. Back in the shallow bay, I saw a great sculpin only 5 feet deep. I don't think I'll be back. This was probably one of the most disappointing places I've visited so far.