I've always wanted to try diving this place, but never got around to it until now. At the end of Bevan Ave. there's a "recreational" pier for fishing, etc. About 10 years ago(1996), they sunk a bunch of "Reef Balls" (3-foot diameter hollow cement balls with large holes) near the end of the pier as an artificial reef. I was curious to see how they were getting along, but never bothered until I took a close look at a chart of the area. On the chart, about halfway between the end of the pier and the fish market dock, there are the magic letters "Wk" (wreck). I've never heard of a wreck in the area, so I had to check it out. According to a shipwreck map of B.C. included in Fred Rogers' old classic "Shipwrecks of British Columbia", there's a wreck listed in this spot as the "BCP #1" (whatever that means), 7 tons (pretty small), burned 1928. I decided to do a quick tour of the reef balls and then swim off to try and find the wreck. I went in mid-March 2005. I wouldn't come here in the summer because everything would be covered with kelp (this whole area is not much deeper than 30 feet). I entered on the right side of the pier and swam out to the reef balls. Visibility wasn't very good; around 10- 15 feet and the current was pretty strong (even though I was diving at slack). I was disappointed by the reef balls. There was hardly any life on them except for some reddish sea weed and a few sea stars. The reef balls on the northern side of the pier seemed to have a bit more life on them (including a few plumose anemones). I didn't see a single fish near the reef balls which is kind of ironic. When I reached the end of the pier (around 20 feet deep at low tide), I could see that throwing shopping carts must be a popular sport in Sidney. They were all over the place. I saw a buffalo sculpin nearby (the only fish anywhere near the pier). I figured I'd seen enough and swam North across the spongy mud bottom to find my wreck. Even with my compass, I had to surface a couple of times to get my bearings. Finally when I was sure I was just in the right place (about 30 feet deep), I came across a mess of wood about 20 feet long and 10 feet wide. The wood was broken up in little bits (about 1 foot long) and there was all kinds of junk (bottles, a sole from a shoe, golf balls, a plastic distributor cap, an empty wallet, etc.) mixed in. If a small boat burned and sank 80 years ago, this is all I'd expect to find, except I don't know how all the other junk fit in (-A plastic distributor cap? Did they have those back then?). I also don't think this mess would justify putting "Wk" on a modern chart. About 30 feet away, there was a bashed-up outboard motor. I gave up and started to swim back to shore. When I was about 20 feet deep, A big, dark shape popped up in front of me and I found a much better wreck. It was a cement sailboat lying on it's port (left) side with a big hole through the starboard (right) side. I swam through a hole in the upper deck and came out near the bow. It seemed to be about 40 feet long, but I'm terrible with things like that. It rose about 8-10 feet off the bottom. There were a lot of colourful little invertebrates on the wreck. -Orange and green colonial tunicates, nudibranchs, crabs, and an anemone under the bow. I'm guessing that this is the wreck on the chart. It's big enough to foul an anchor and probably be a hazard to navigation. I wonder if it was intentionally sunk years ago by the old local dive shop to create a more interesting diving experience than mud. I'll just pretend that it was a desperate smuggling vessel sunk a hundred years ago by cannon fire. I hear there's still a secret chest of gold bars that was never recovered.
I know I said that I wouldn't come here in the summer, but I did anyway in late June, 2007. An extension has been added to the end of the pier since I was last here and more reef balls have been placed as well. Visibility was only 3-10 feet and most of the reef balls were covered with bottom kelp. I went to the ballast-stone reef that runs parallel to the pier on the South side, but it was covered with kelp as well and I couldn't see anything there either. I went back to the pier and the reef balls. There were quite a few crabs (dungeness and red rock) under the pier. Some of them were fighting each other to get inside a crab trap. I still didn't see many fish, just a few small copper rockfish and a tube snout. I swam out North to try and find the cement sailboat wreck again. There was a rope a few feet off the bottom that was obviously placed as a guide to somewhere, so I followed it, hoping it would lead to the wreck. It ended not at the wreck, but at another group of reef balls. These were mostly covered with kelp as well, but there were a few more copper rockfish around them. I decided to use my secret technique (swimming around aimlessly) to find the wreck. After a bit of swimming, I found it. As before, this was my favorite part of the dive. The copper rockfish here were proper-sized. The anemone was still under the bow. I saw 8 buffalo sculpins (or Irish lords? -their bodies looked like Irish lords, but their eyes looked like buffalo sculpins). in the wreck. The structure seemed to be a bit more collapsed in the middle, but my memory might be off. I'm still of the opinion that, given 100-foot visibility, this might be a decent dive (I guess anyplace would). Unfortunately, I find swimming through the murk over mud to be more character-building than memorable. If I lived across the road and my car was out of gas, I might dive here again.