Waterman's Wall

Date Reviewed:April, 2002
Location:Port Orchard area, just south of Bainbridge Island
Access:Boat dive
Site Description:Expansive rock wall
Main Attraction:Marine life encrusted wall

Waterman's Point. Waterman's Wall. Waterman's Lighthouse. What ever you call this place, it is a very cool dive site. In fact, I would say it is one of the best in the state. It is located just south of Bainbridge Island and Point Glover and north of Port Orchard. By boat, it is about nine miles west of Seattle. Because of depth, boat traffic, and potential currents, I would rate this an advanced dive.

This is a boat dive only, as far as I know. There APPEARS to be a public dead-end road visible from the water, and a beautiful small crescent shaped beach area near the road just begging for shore divers. However, I have no idea how to get to this road or if the beach is publicly accessible. With all the exclusive homes in this area, I doubt that this beach is a public access. As I have a boat, I am not about to find out either! :-)

Finding this site is easy. When rounding Point Glover, you will see a very prominent navigational marker on a large concrete foundation on the shore to your left (obviously mistaken for a lighthouse by some). We find the wall with our depth sounder on a straight line between this navigational marker and a little red house on the far shore that is situated all by itself. This puts us just south of the marker, with the wall starting in about 75 yards off shore. I usually anchor in about 40 feet of water on the shelf above the wall, about 10 yards from the wall. The wall starts in about 50 feet of water.

The wall here is huge and very rugged. It is comparable to the Sunrise Wall with regards to structure. However, it is MUCH more expansive and runs very deep. At 102 feet, I can look down and see no end to the wall in sight. I believe it bottoms out at around 140 fsw, but I am not certain. Some people have told me it bottoms out at 200 feet in places.

The wall consists of some shear faces, lengthy ledges, boulders, rock piles, huge cracks and crevices, and lots of verticality. On this wall, you will find most of the famous marine creatures that make Puget Sound the marine-life Mecca that it is. Scallops are everywhere - little Pink Scallops and some big Rock Scallops that make me think I am in Port Hardy. Giant Barnacles also thrive here in the intense currents. A wide assortment of sea stars cruise the wall and ledges in search of prey, including Leather Stars, Vermillion Stars, Pink Short Spined Stars, Morning Stars, and Sunflower Stars. Brown Rockfish can be readily found hiding amongst the structure, as can an occasional Copper or Quillback Rockfish. Lingcod are also easily found at this site, boldly sitting on ledges and surveying the surroundings. Buffalo Sculpins also frequent this site in great abundance, blending in perfectly with the purple and pink encrustations readily found on the rock. Orange, purple, and yellow sponges dot the seascape here, as do bright yellow Sea Lemons nudibranchs. I have heard reports that there are Wolf-eels here too, but am yet to find one myself. I have found Giant Pacific Octopus here, however. This is a very fun site to explore, so make certain to bring a very good light.

Above the wall is a shelf consisting of silt and kelp. The shelf works its way up to the surface as you head east towards the shore. Poking around these kelp leaves makes for an entertaining safety stop.

As Waterman's Wall is located in a relatively narrow channel, it can offer some good wind protection. However, this is a very busy channel as there can be a lot of the boat traffic coming and going from Bremerton and Port Orchard. In addition, the ferry runs through here on a very regular basis. When you are in the water, you can FEEL the ferry go by, it is so loud. I don't know how the fish stand it day in and day out. If you dive here, by very wary of boat traffic.

The other big gotcha for this site is current. From what I hear, currents can rally rip at this site. With wall depths that far outstrip maximum depths for safe recreational advanced diving, a waterfall current here could be disastrous. I only dive this site at slack before ebb on a very minor exchange. My last dive here was during corrected slack on a 0.3 knot flooding current turning to a 2.4 knot ebbing current (Admiralty Inlet). We noted no current at all during our entire dive. Again, we always check the current at the site once we anchor. If the water is hauling on the surface, we don't expect things to be better underwater. We then descend the anchor line, check the anchor, and check the currents on the shelf. If there is no water movement, we then go to the wall. It is always better to play it safe and abort the dive if things look questionable or conditions start to change for the worse while on the dive.

This is definitely one of the best wall dives in Puget Sound. It is massive, well encrusted with marine life, and offers some striking structure. This site definitely makes my top 10 sites list for Puget Sound. If you do not have a boat and are looking for a charter, you may want to give Alan Gill with the "Spirit Diver" a call. The first time I dove here was with Alan Gill, and we had a fantastic dive.

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