Ten Mile Point Freedive

Mon 17 July 2017 by Tom Lightfoot

My next opportunity to get over to Victoria for a freedive was on July 17. Looking at the tides for that day, things looked ideal for diving Ten Mile Point. That location is one of the most current-exposed shore dive spots in the Victoria area. As a result of that current, there is LOTS of marine life stuck on the rocks, feeding on all of the plankton as it floats by. The down side of all of that current is that the visibility is never that great.

In the negotiations with Rick and Jaime, it was a choice between Ten Mile Point and Henderson Point (Saanich Inlet). Jaime was leaning towards Saanich Inlet because it is a more reliable dive but I talked her into Ten Mile Point because tide windows like this don't come every day. The conditions would be about as good as they can get in the summer.

I left the house before 6 am so that I could catch the 8 am ferry and then bus into town to meet Rick so that we could be at the dive site for 11 am. All connections worked but it's a big time committment to get to Victoria without a car.

According to my 1980's era current atlas and an online lookup table, the current would be moving slowly to the north at around 11:30 and then swinging to the south at around 12:30. However, when we got there at 11 am, the current was already heading south. Time to get into the water. There's only so much that you can read into an old mathematical model that covers the entire Georgia Basin.

The dive itself was a combination of good and bad. The weather was excellent and the marine life were amazing but the visibility was predictably so-so. I was also having troubles with the camera strobe.

In the shallows, there is a fringe of sturdy bottom kelp. Below that, the rock is covered with burrowing sea cucumbers, chitons, rock scallops, and plumouse anemones. In several places, the rock is encrusted with a variety of colonial tunicates and bryozoans, some of which look like coral. I also saw a baby wolf eel, a couple of buffalo sculpins and some kelp greenling. Past 15m things got pretty dark.

The current got progressively stronger over time. We had quite a workout and our bottom times became progressively shorter. Most dives would involve swimming down the slope to about 10 to 12m, drifting down current for half a minute and then cruising back up the slope. Upon surfacing, we'd immediately swim towards shore and then back up current to our starting point. To get a decent bottom time on the next dive, we'd stand up and rest near shore for a few minutes.

Despite my challenges with the camera, the photos showed an enticing variety of small marine life, much of which I hadn't really noticed while in the water. Sure, I may have noticed the blob of tunicates but maybe not the plumes of the tube worms or the tiny little crab nearby. Breath-hold time is limited so it is nice to re-live the dive in detail afterwards with a photo.

Without a camera or a dive light, Jaime was not as impressed with the dive. Shortly after I got back home, she sent me a text saying that she had heard that the visibilty at Henderson Point that same day was 'phenomenal'. We'll have to hit that spot soon.