Years ago I did a few dives off the site of the old Youbou Lumber Mill. This time I wanted to dive across the small bay from the mill along the shoreline of what used to be the townsite for the mill workers. Old pictures from the Vancouver Archives show docks, boats and floathomes along the shore.
I parked and entered the water at Arbutus Park. Near the parking lot there was a sign with a long list of rules for the swimming beach. One of the rules was "no scuba equipment". It didn't say anything about rebreathers, so I guess they are allowed, except you would have to use it without a mask or fins since the rules banned them too (and snorkels). Reading down the rule list, I realized that the rules weren't meant to be taken seriously since they also included no running on the beach, no running into the water and no flotation devices. I decided to play the semantics game and entered the water a few feet next to the beach in a treed area. Technically, my terribly-reckless use of scuba gear (and a mask! And fins!) didn't take place on the beach and therefore didn't violate the beach rules. I was careful not to run though. I didn't even engage in horseplay.
The chart shows this point to have a steep slope to around 80' deep. A few feet out from the beach the bottom dropped down in this steep slope. The long list of seemingly-random rules made more sense now. Since it's inevitable that children will drown here, the legal-minded parks people prominently display lots of rules so when the bereaved parents try to take legal action they can say that they obviously take safety seriously. "Just look at all the rules on the sign". Visibility was about 30'. The steep slope was covered with leaves and I didn't see much except for some crayfish. I went down to just over 80' deep and the slope seemed to keep going down.
I ascended back up to 30' deep and swam North along the shoreline into the bay. The cover of leaves ended and the bottom was silty with lots of wood debris and logs. This seemed to end below 30' deep so I stayed mostly between 15-30' deep. I didn't see as much old junk as expected. Maybe these residents were extra tidy and frowned on throwing their garbage off the docks like everyone else did at the time. The most dramatic find was a small wooden rowboat upside-down and half-buried in the sediment. I saw a shape in the distance that looked just like the bow of a tug-sized wreck and I almost got excited, but it turned out to be a huge log. In a few areas there were several trout. I'm always surprised when I dive in Cowichan Lake by how curious the trout seem to be. They often come charging up and swim around me in circles before swimming away.
The bottom gradually shallowed as I swam towards the head of the bay. Eventually it was only 10' deep. I turned around and swam back along the shoreline. This time I swam along closer to shore about 10-15' deep.
I made it back to the steep slope off the swimming beach. The rain must have kept the Beach Rules SWAT team away since they weren't waiting for me on the shore.