Location: Quatsino Narrows, Coal Harbour, west coast Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Comments: Day 2 of waiting out the storm and spirits are high among our guests and crew. I had previously spent a total of 3 days diving Quatsino Sound but never before ventured so far up the inlet. So every dive yesterday and today is exploratory. But I have lucked out so far and each dive has been very well received. Our last scuba dive yesterday was on a superb wall in Quatsino Narrows with fantastic topography, loads of invertebrate life and nooks and crannies and caves and cracks packed with anemones and fish.
It didn’t take much convincing for me to stage another dive there today. Finished the day off with a shore visit to the old whaling station at Coal Harbour on the far side of the Narrows. Coal Harbour was originally a coal mining town (go figure huh!!). It became a coastal defense station during World War 2 with large hangars, over 700 personnel and a fleet of Stranraer flying boats and Canso (aka PBY or Catalina) amphibious aircraft as well as fleet of high speed RCAF air-sea rescue boats (the dinner charter boat Malecite which still works out of Granville Island was one of these air-sea rescue boats and somewhat famous for trying to rescue the crew of a Stranraer that crashed in open ocean in 1944).
In 1947, a fishing company turned the gigantic seaplane hangars into a whaling station. Somewhere I have photos of whaling ships anchored off the base and dead whales being hauled up the seaplane ramp tail flukes first. Coal Harbour was the last remaining whaling station when it closed down in 1967 because of dwindling numbers of whales. Our strategy was to dive the remains of the whaling station in the hopes of finding whale bones. But we recce’d everything out shoreside and spoke with a number of very friendly locals who told us that, yes, there are whale bones in the bay but they are buried under a couple of feet of gelatinous muck. Which is not exactly the kind of muck dive we were looking for. So we staged an afternoon dive under the town dock instead which turned out to be pretty good with lots of invert life as well as bikes, fishing nets, a propellor and an amazing number of Orange Crush bottles!