|Date Reviewed:||April, 2002|
|Location:||Just west of Salt Creek State Park|
|Site Description:||Boat Wreck|
|Main Attraction:||Big, deep very impressive boat|
When I started diving, the Wreck of the Diamond Knot was one of those dives that most of the people I dove with had never done, but always wanted to. So for almost ten years now, I've been half afraid, and half anticipating diving this wreck.
The Diamond Knot (for those of you who don't know the history of the wreck) was a container ship, bringing down a large portion of the Alaskan salmon catch (canned) in 1946. It rammed another boat out in the middle of the channel, and while it didn't immediately sink, in the process of towing it to shore, it sank in about 130fsw. Lucky for us.
The salvage operation consisted of cutting big holes in the hull (the wreck rests on her starboard side), and vacuuming the salmon cans out. The rest of the boat was left for the currents and the saltwater to have their way with her.
As part of a charter through SoundWave Scuba (Vashon Island), we spent an hour and 15 minutes or so getting to the site from Port Angeles. I didn't get an exact location, but the wreck is just west of Salt Creek State Park (Tongue Point), maybe 500 yards offshore (?). There is nothing to mark the wreck, so finding it is probably best left to GPS co-ordinates, which I didn't get. Next time.
Where the port side of the hull at the stern meets the deck sits in about 70-80fsw. If you drop over the lip of the deck and drop down to the sandy/rocky bottom, you'll be in about 125 feet of water. Covering the structure of the boat are metridium giganteum (giant plumose anemones) Ling Cod, Red Irish Lord, decorator crab, Sharpnose Crab, sponges, corals, and all sorts of invertebrate life. Schools of Black Rockfish, Yellowtail Rockfish, and assorted Quillback Rockfish hang motionless in the water column, or swim lazily by.
The structure of the vessel has been completely engulfed in marine life, and recognizing parts of the ship on your first dive can be tricky, or at least it was for me. It's pretty obvious it's a manmade structure, but sort of hard to piece together, especially if you are prone to getting narced, which I am. Then when you throw in the fact that she's on her side, and staircases run left to right instead of up and down, it makes things very disorienting. For my first dive on this wreck, I gave up trying to sort out the various structures and just enjoyed the dive.
We dove this site right around 1pm or so, and the ambient light, even at 120fsw was more than enough to see everything on the wreck. My light only served to bring out the colors in the invertebrate life covering the boat.
I'm usually drawn to the marine life found on a dive, but this dive was a bit different. The structure of the boat, and the size of the boat were so impressive, that I found myself just swimming several feet off so that I could take in sweeping views (well, the vis was about 25-30 feet) of as much of the boat as I could see. It's big. A center section has recently (last five years or so) collapsed, leaving the stern and the bow connected only by a rubble field. We spent out 30 minutes or so of bottom time (running 29% nitrox) exploring the stern part of the wreck, and never got to the bow. I guess we'll have to do another (10) dive(s) there. What a shame.
The wreck of the diamond knot is an absolutely stunning dive, and one that every experienced diver should do. This is not for beginning divers, however. Most of the other divers on board the charter had twins, I was one of the few who was diving a single and pony bottle setup, and almost everyone was diving nitrox. This is a deep and potentially (if you miss slack by too much) dangerously currentswept site. Know yer limits.
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