William Head sticks out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the North side of Pedder Bay. The whole peninsula is the site of a federal minimum-security prison. Diving here from shore would obviously be not allowed. I've wanted to try diving here for awhile, but even tying up my small boat to the shore wouldn't be allowed. The only way to realistically dive here is with a live boat. Even then, you can probably expect a visit or radio call from the prison staff inquiring what you are doing. I ended up coming here on a Rockfish Diver's dive charter as a second dive (after Race Rocks) on Sept. 16, 2018. The boat dropped me in on the North side of the point.
I descended to the bottom about 40' below the boat. Visibility was about 20'. Considering this site's semi-exposed location, I was surprised by the grey-brown coating of silt covering the rock slope. The rock slope met the silty sand at about 60' deep. There were a few canary rockfish and some clusters of urchins.
I started swimming towards the tip of the point. The base of the rock slope gradually began to get deeper. It was still pretty silty, but the marine life started to increase. There were several rockfish (yellowtail, black and copper) and an octopus in its den.
So far, the rocky area was a gentle slope with scattered boulders. Eventually, in the distance I saw a higher rocky area topped with plumose anemones. This was about 80' deep. Beyond this, there was a steeper rock dropoff going down to below 100' deep. My maximum depth was 100'. I'm guessing this area is at or close to the tip of the point. I could feel a fairly-strong current. I was diving off-slack when the Race Passage current table was showing a 2.5-knot ebb. There was a lot more marine life here compared to the start of the dive. The most abundant invertebrate species were swimming scallops and black clusters of cemented tube worms. What really impressed me were the rockfish. They were swarming everywhere. I saw black, yellowtail, copper, quillback, brown, vermilion and even a few rare Deacon rockfish. This is only the second place around Southern Vancouver Island that I've seen Deacon Rockfish (the other place was Ogden Point). If anyone wanted to create a new Rockfish Conservation Area that actually was home to a good variety of rockfish, William Head would be a great candidate.
I had been down between 80-100' long enough to have built up 15 minutes of decompression so I started the swim back up the slope. I think I was quite far from shore since the swim was pretty long. There was a nice school of black and yellowtail rockfish and then I was back up into the silty kelp-covered shallows. I spent the decompression time swimming back about 10-15' deep.
I surfaced right next to the prisoners' (inmates?) salmon fishing dock. There were a few prisoners on the dock, but they completely ignored me. Maybe there is some kind of prisoner's code where if they see someone in the water swimming away from the prison towards a waiting boat, they pretend they don't see them. I didn't hear any alarm sirens going off. Anyway, I think this was a pretty good dive out near the tip of the point, but the rest of it wasn't anywhere near as good as many other dives in the area.