Staines Point is the Southern tip of Trial Island. It's an exposed, current-swept, bare-rock point of land sticking out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A lighthouse sits on top of the point. This is a place I've been wanting to dive for over 10 years. Unfortunately, I've been too intimidated by the strong and unpredictable current (the chart threatens 6 knots) and the swells that are usually crashing against the point. It's not a place that I feel comfortable tying up my small boat and going for a dive. I've always seen this place as being the ultimate "Holy Grail" of potential Victoria dive sites. There's an impressive amount of colourful invertebrate life in Enterprise Channel on the other end of Trial Island, and Staines Point is supposed to have double the current. The chart shows a presumably-rocky drop down to around 80' deep at the point. Who knows what sort of invertebrates could be found here. I've never heard of anyone diving here recreationally, but I've heard of commercial urchin divers visiting occasionally. I was looking for somewhere to dive on Oct. 18, 2015 and the forecast promised no wind. My usual way of predicting slack in Enterprise Channel coincided with the Trial Island current table so I figured I'd show up at least an hour before that. When I left Oak Bay in my boat, the water around Trial Island was unusually calm. There was still a tiny swell smacking against the rocks at the tip of the point so I tied up around the Eastern corner where it was sheltered. There was a slight ebbing current flowing, but I hoped it was slowing down and I swam out towards the tip of the point. The current was still pretty strong and I didn't dare to swim out very far from the side of the island. I made it down to around 30' deep, where the rocks were mostly covered with stalked kelp. I didn't see many invertebrates on the rocks. It seemed sort of like the top 30' at Ten Mile Point. Visibility was 20-30'. I reached the bull kelp bed at the tip of the point. I didn't feel any current here. Either slack had arrived or the area was sheltered from the current by a shallow reef that stuck out from the point. There were small walls and pinnacles in the kelp bed. I saw some patches of hydrocoral on the walls, but for the most part, there was pink branching coralline algae on the rocks. I swam out farther past the kelp and the rocky bottom dropped off in ledges and walls to about 65' deep. From there, there was a rubble slope covered with urchins. My maximum depth was around 70'. There was a disappointing lack of colourful marine life here. There was more hydrocoral, but I saw almost no anemones. There were very few fish as well. There were a few kelp greenlings, a cabezon and a small group of quillback rockfish. Other than the urchins, the most common invertebrates on the walls were hydroids, giant barnacles and an area with tiny grey burrowing cucumbers. I saw a single fish-eating anemone on my way back up to the kelp bed. There still wasn't any current in the bull kelp, but when I swam around the corner in the shallows back towards my boat, I was hit by a wall of current flowing around the point. It was too strong to swim against and even too strong to hold on to the rocks without being swept backwards. I swam back down the slope hoping that the current would be less a bit deeper. I didn't feel any current until I swam around a corner and then the current swept me back. So during most of my dive, the current wasn't at slack after all. I was just being protected by a reef that sticks out from the point. The predicted slack was over an hour too late. There was now no way I could swim back to my boat. I drifted back around the point and climbed out onto the steep rocks on the West side of Trial Island. I wouldn't be able to do this on a normal day with the swell crashing up the cliffs. I hiked back across the island to my boat. Most of the island is an ecological reserve and you're not even allowed to land, but the end with the lighthouse isn't part of the reserve.
       This is a dive I don't think I'll dare do again. It probably wouldn't be a big deal to dive here with a live boat hovering around waiting to pick you up, but for me the disappointing marine life isn't worth the risk of tying up a boat and expecting to be able to get back to it after the dive.
Staines Point
During the trip out from Cattle Point, the water was like glass.
kelp bed at the tip of the point
lighthouse dogs
brooding anemones on stalked kelp
bull kelp
under the kelp forest
urchins and hydrocoral under the kelp
side of the rock under the kelp forest
kelp greenling and cloud of shrimp
urchins at the edge of the kelp
cloud of shrimp
urchins 60' deep
nudibranchs on hydroids
wall of urchins
urchins 65 feet deep
urchins and quillback rockfish
giant barnacles
wall of urchins
crab and hydrocoral
tunicate colony
60' deep
hermit crab on a sponge
nudibranch eating a sponge
fish-eating anemone
snails on kelp
grey burrowing cucumber
back in the kelp forest
brooding anemone
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