Last week one of my diver friends Scott Mexiner was in the shop telling me one of the local boat diving sites North Bouyer’s Mooring Buoy was accidentally run over by a boater, cut free from the sea floor and lost. He was putting together a dive team for the the weekend to install a new buoy and invited me to join. Curious, I had never installed a mooring buoy before and local visibility reports had been great, I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity. I dove the site several times before, many would consider it to be one of our “House Reef” boat dives in Howe Sound and I felt obligated to do what I could to get it back up and running. (Mooring Buoys protect the reef as they eliminate the need for boaters to drop anchors, which in high traffic areas and over time can reduce the reefs health greatly).
Arriving at the boat Saturday morning I was excited. The boat captain was local diver legend Glen Dennison, who is responsible for the installation and maintenance of all the recreational diving mooring buoys in Howe Sound, and has been for the past 20 years. The Dive Team was made up of 4 divers. Team 1, Scott and Myself, were responsible for tying up the boat with a temp line to the shackle from the previous mooring anchor while the new line was fed down to us so we could secure it permanently. Team 2 was responsible for setting the mid point float, which aids in the line placement with the changing of the tides. We descended beneath the surface, everything going to plan, with the superb visibility and Glen’s placement we were easily able to locate and tie the boat off to the site of the mooring anchor. As the permanent mooring line was lowered down to us we started to encounter problems, with strong surface winds picking up, the buoy was being pulled away on the surface. Only with the combined strength of Scott and myself, pulling hand over hand, were we able to pull the end of the line the remaining 15ft to the sea floor. Exhausted we managed to hold the line down long enough to link it to the shackle.
Thinking we were successful, we were about to take some time to explore the surrounding area when Scott and I noticed under closer examination the pin that locks the lines together was not totally secure. With all the commotion of pulling down the mooring line we didn’t realize it got partially tangled on the temporary line we used to tie off the boat and with the tension on the line, it was not possible to secure the pin fully. Unsure of the whereabouts of our mid point team and the happenings of the boat on the surface we were wary of cutting free the boat and relieving the tension. We continued to try to relieve the tension and secure the pin by hand. 30 minutes in, working hard, breathing heavy and starting to get low air we realized we needed to change our plan if we were to be successful. With some patience and persistence we hammered out the pin with a pipe and wrench we had brought down with us, removing the line and untangle it. We reconnected the line to the shackle and secured the pin. Two zap straps to hold the locking pin in place the new mooring line was securely installed. Looking at Scott we pounded fists in celebration. The force startled the surrounding fish, fuck yeah. Low on air and time to ascend we cut the boat and the remanence of the old lines free, shooting away as the last threads were cut. Reaching our safety stop we were pleased to see team 2 was successful setting the mid point float. Pulling myself back onto the boat my arms felt weak, “wow, that took a bit more effort then I thought” I told myself as I dropped my gear.
After a much needed Lunch break Glen drove us to the other side of Bouyer Island for a fun leisure dive. Scott and I hopped in the water to start our decent. Floating down the wall the visibility was amazing. Unlike on land, building up the courage to peaking off the side of a cliff to get the view, underwater you simply kick and allow yourself to float off. A master of flight, of space, you get the best view. A crack along the wall reveals itself to be an octopus’s home. The smartest and with the most well developed eyes of all invertebrates, it saw us right away. This one was shy, squeezing itself deeper in the crack until it disappears into the wall as soon as it realizes we were coming in for a closure look. As we start to ascend back up the wall to finish our dive I felt relaxed. 60 minutes underwater, my time to myself, I find peace viewing the creatures of the sea, floating, a master of space. Another crack along the wall reveals another octopus’s home. Bigger then the one before, it sees us, though this one was not afraid. I was curious. Grasping the edge of the crack I push my mask in for a closer look. Looking into its eyes, it looking into mine, I get a sense of a shift in its body language. I feel a connection, a mutual curiosity for this strange creature. It slowly extended a tentacle, reaching out, it touched my finger. I crack a smile as I push off and ascend to the surface.
The next day I awake with some soar muscles from the previous day’s work. A soreness I wear with pride. Knowing I earned it, an effort in helping to protect the often unknown and unseen world which gives me so much. A place where I can be a master, master of space, my own space. A place where I can find peace.
Our North Bouyer Mooring buoy installation was a success. My connection to this site has found new depth. A reminder that preserving the marine environment doesn’t happen on its own, it takes effort. With my small contribution I am in awe of the people who put in so much for the preservation of what gives back so much, people like Glen Dennison and organizations like the Underwater Council of BC who have maintained this network of Mooring Buoys.
For more information on Boat Diving and Mooring Buoys in Howe Sound you can purchase Glen’s Book below. All of the proceed from his book sales goes back into funding the Howe Sounds Mooring Buoy project.
Mooring Buoy Install Team with Mooring in background (from Left to Right) Me, Alan Wong, Julian Goss, Scott Mexiner
Click Here to purchase Diving Howe Sound Reefs & Island