At the end of Sea Cliff Road (in the Silver Spray development in the East Sooke area) there's a small turnaround in front of a farm gate. The large farm is not part of the Silver Spray property (there's a large sign informing you of this fact). It's full of sheep, peacocks and 2 large, white, woolly, and very vocal guard dogs. This farm occupies most of Simpson Point. Simpson Point is supposed to be the location of the wreck of the schooner Surprise which hit the point in 1874. The Underwater Archaeological Society of B.C. say that they found the wreck in the '80s. There's not much left except for a "row of exposed frames" sticking out of the pebbles. Most of the area around the point is pretty shallow. Off the Northern side of the point (facing Whiffin Spit), the marine chart shows a reef sticking out just below the surface. At the tip of this reef, there's a steep drop to about 40 feet. I wanted to have a look at this "wall" since it's close to the open Strait of Juan de Fuca and up to 4 knots of current flow past the tip of Whiffin Spit near Simpson Point. The zoning map shows one of the public access lanes to the water just before the farm gate so I drove down here on Mar. 18, 2011. The access lane was choked with trees and shrubs, but there was an open, well-used trail running next to it down one of the subdivided lots up for sale. Once the lot is sold and built on, this trail will obviously be inaccessible. The trail ends in a narrow, steep, slippery, muddy drop to the pebble beach. Fortunately, there is a chain link fence surrounding the farm that I could hold on to as I slipped down. After finding part of a sealion skull on the beach I descended and swam out towards the reef. Visibility was about 15 feet. I was diving on the Sooke high tide slack, but the current seemed to be ebbing. I swam across a plain of eel grass 15 feet deep and reached the rocky reef. It seemed mostly grey, silty and "fuzzy". The far side of the reef dropped to about 35 feet deep. This wall had a few small, yellow sponges, but it was, again, mostly grey. I assumed it was clay, as at nearby Whiffin Spit. I poked at it with my dive knife in a couple of places, but it was actually solid rock. There were also lots of nudibranchs and cup corals, a variety of tunicates/bryozoans/hydroids on the vertical surfaces and a few small, mangy-looking black and yellow-tail rockfish in the cracks. I didn't see a single anemone on the reef. At the base of the wall there was a muddy area with a few seastars and sand anemones. I swam out for a while and reached a depth of 40 feet, but didn't see any more reefs. I came back for some close-up photos 2 days later. I showed up about an hour after low tide and the current seemed to be flowing in different directions in different places. It was strange to see 2 pieces of kelp racing towards me from opposite directions. When the currents met, they seemed to flow together straight up the reef. Visibility this time was only 6-10 feet. There seemed to be lots of shimmery fresh water mixed in (probably from Sooke harbour). I saw a few grunt sculpins and lots of decorator crabs.
I think I've seen enough of this reef, although I might be back to try and surface-swim for the wreck around the point.