Howe Sound

Sea Dragon Charter’s Howe Sound location is a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver.  We’re located at Sewell’s Marina near the main ferry terminal in Horseshoe Bay.

Our Howe Sound dive boat is the Topline. This is a boat custom designed by divers, for divers.   She’s safe, fast and comfortable.

FEATURES:

  • 40 feet long, 16′ beam (wide)
  • Twin diesel engines
  • Cruises at 15 knots, top speed 26 knots
  • Standing or seated tank racks for easy donning of equipment
  • Walk-through transom for easy entries and exits
  • Dive ladder for easy boarding
  • Trail and tag lines to be used in case of current
  • On-board compressor – to fill tanks between dives
  • Spacious decks
  • Roomy interior for warmth between dives in winter
  • On board head, first aid, oxygen, VHF, GPS, stereo, heater
  • emergency life raft
  • Fire safety equipment
  • CSI inspected
  • Groups or individuals

Topline is moored at Sewell’s Marina, 6409 Bay Street, in Horseshoe Bay.

During the winter months. from November until March, you’ll find us near the Sewell’s fuel dock, on the west side of the marina (closest to the Boathouse Restaurant).

Important: Please read this pdf file regarding parking at Horseshoe Bay.

From our base in Howe Sound, some of the sites we visit are:

  • Worlcombe Island
  • Bird Islet
  • Boyer Island
  • Gambier Island
  • Bowen Island
  • Passage Island

Some of our favourite dive sites in Howe Sound include:

THE CANYONS (Boyer Island South)

Marked with a mooring buoy for divers which was installed by the Underwater Council of BC, this is a dive that can range from beginner with nice areas to explore in the 30-60’ range, to advanced with deep walls.  Called “The Canyons” because this is a large reef area with many canyon-like roads through it.

We tie the boat up to the mooring buoy, and divers can descend at their leisure down the line to the dive site.  A pair of wolf eels inhabits this reef not far from the descent line.  We also see octopus here, and lots of ling cod, kelp greenling, and rock fish.  Covered in plumose anemones in shallower depths, as well as many varieties of star fish (the bottom is literally crawling with brittle stars), and a wide variety of nudibranchs – especially many giant dendronotids.  The deep walls can go well over100’, and have beautiful cloud sponge and chimney sponge.  Be sure to shine your light into the sponges to see the critters who hang out inside – shrimp, decorator crabs, etc.

Well protected in winter months from the Squamish winds, this is an all around great dive for all levels of divers that never fails to charm.  The reef area is very large, so you can dive it many times going in different directions from the mooring buoy, and never cross the same areas.

PAM ROCKS

Pam Rocks is a grouping of large and small rocks in central Howe Sound.  Beautiful both above and below the water, and a nice location for any non-divers on the boat as well.

This is a wonderful dive site, known for having an abundance of harbour seals lying on the rocks that are exposed at low tide sunning themselves and staring at humans.  It is our best seal dive!  These mammals have amazing speed and grace underwater.  Sometimes the seals will join divers underwater and come right up to them wanting to play and frolic, and sometimes they are a bit more shy, take a look at the divers, then swim past.

The bottom, is a mixture of rock outcroppings, walls, sandy slopes with boulders, and ledges. There are very large plumose anemones (over a meter high in some areas), sea peaches, transparent tunicates, tube dwelling anemones, crabs, flounders, octopus, and orange dead man’s fingers.  On deeper ledges are zoanthid colonies, purple and red sea urchins, quillback and copper rockfish, ling cod, and kelp greenlings.  Also some splendid cloud sponge starting at 80-90ft.

CHRISTIE ISLET

There are hundreds of birds here as this is a bird sanctuary, so it is interesting above water as well as below.  We often see bald eagles here on the top of the islet.

This dive has a UCBC mooring buoy installed on it, as well, so we can tie up and let divers descend down the line to the site at their leisure.  It is about 45-55 ft to the rock the mooring buoy is tied up to.

This dive can be classified as beginner through advanced.  Much of the life is at less than 60 ft, but there is a deep wall as well that goes to depths of over 100 ft for those divers looking for a more advanced experience.  In the shallower sections closer to the islet there are boulder fields on the sandy bottom.

We commonly see octopus here, orange, white, and grey plumose anemones, red, purple and green sea urchins, sea pens, sculpins, tube dwelling anemones, crimson anemones, shrimp, nudibranch, sponge, copper rockfish, painted greenling, ling cod, and gobies.

THE PINNACLE

 This is an underwater pinnacle that rises from the ocean floor to within 10 feet of the surface at low tide.  This is a dive for all levels of divers. Also known to some as “Wedding Cake”, as it has layers that a diver can explore at whatever depth they are looking to stay within, and a flat top at 10-15 feet from the surface.

The geography is a mixture of boulder strewn sand, to terraced rock, crevices, and sheer walls well over 100 feet deep. There is a huge plumose anemone bed on one side of the pinnacle, and bright orange zoanthids covering the rocks in many areas.  Lots of crabs – Puget Sound king crabs, Heart crabs, Red Rock crabs, Hairy Lithode crabs, and Dungeness crabs.  Look into the cracks and under boulders with your light to find octopus and wolf eels, wherever you see broken up crab shells telling you that our friends have had a wonderful meal of crab!  For fish, we see Red Irish Lords. Long cod, kelp greenlings, buffalo sculpins, grunt sculpins, copper and quillback rockfish.  Occasionally our divers get a visit from a seal here who is out fishing on the Pinnacle.

BIRD ISLET

 Marked by a white tower with a red top, and a red flashing light at night, this picturesque location has much to see. One of our crew’s favourite dives, this can be intermediate through advanced.  There is an underwater wall that goes south from the islet, and where depth is limited only by experience.  A diver can also stay shallow if they like, staying on the upper portions of the wall.

Huge anemone fields cluster these rocks and overhangs. Also beds of green urchins, nudibranchs, swimming scallops, and rock scallops.  The largest ling cod our crew has ever seen is in a vertical crevice in the rock at about 70’. We nicknamed this ling “Old Hitler”, in reference to a huge legendary shark there were tales of in the south.  Shine your light on his big mug down there and your adrenaline will spike!  In the shallower water near the end of the dive while doing your safety stop, look for signs of octopus, as we have seen some very large ones here.

Lots of giant barnacles, starfish of all kinds, ling cod, striped perch, and rockfish.

PASSAGE ISLAND REEF

This is a magnificent underwater mountain rising to within 20-30 feet of the surface.  It lies in current-swept Queen Charlotte Channel, so all of the water flowing between Bowen Island and West Vancouver pours over this large reef area.  The dive has flat rocky plains, steep drop-offs, and miniature canyons – an extremely varied site!  Divers can choose their depth according to their training and experience.

This dive can be tricky, as there is often lots of current, and in the spring and early summer,  the visibility can be low if there is a lot of run-off from the Fraser River (It can be great one day and not great the next day!)

Piles of white and orange plumose anemones are everywhere, and ling cod abound looking at you out of their rocks crevices.  Be sure to bring a light – many octopus here!  Giant barnacles, zoanthids, calcareous tube worms, green sea urchins, and yellow boring sponges coat the rocks.  Sea pens, swimming scallops, rock scallops, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, lampshells, sea peaches, and glassy sea squirts reside here.  On the deeper walls, there are cloud sponge, chimney sponge, Puget Sound king crabs, large purple urchins, and coonstripe shrimp.  At the south end of the reef there is a garden of tall slim sea whips curling up from the flats.