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Dive Review of Porpoise Bay Charters/Strongwater Retreat in
Canada/Sechelt Inlet

Porpoise Bay Charters/Strongwater Retreat, Aug, 2012,

by Mr. Peter Telkins, OR, US ( 1 report). Report 6662.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Great Lakes, FL Keys, CA coast, OR coast, WA coast, Cozumel, Caymans, Bay Islands, Philippines, Red Sea, Nanaimo BC, HI Islands, Palau, Chuuk, Flower Garden Banks, Revillagigedos, Fiji
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy, dry Seas calm, currents, no currents
Water Temp 50 to 54 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 20 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Camera buckets provided on dive boat as needed. Picnic tables and large tables in rooms are fine for setup, maintenance, charging.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Porpoise Bay Charters and Strongwater Retreat are a small diving operation based just outside Egmont, BC. Getting to Egmont typically involves a ferry ride out of Vancouver Canada if driving, but seaplane access from Vancouver is also possible. It's fairly remote, and a beautiful wooded fjord area. Bring everything you think you'll need as Egmont is a tiny town with very limited shops.
Cal and Ann, the owners/operators, are a great team that outdo themselves with quality cold water diving and hospitality. Cal is a highly experienced waterman who's expert local knowledge makes diving the Sechelt Inlet possible, as the Skookumchuck Narrows has the 2nd-greatest tidal currents in the world second only to Norway. The tidal exchange brings in the rich nutrients that make the Sechelt Inlet so special, but can generate dangerous currents so a dive operator must know the local conditions VERY well to safely dive the area and find sites that have the best vis. Vis can vary immensely from site to site and hour to hour, and Cal knows the area so well that he can change a site last minute to seek out the best possible conditions. Cal in fact has 'founded' many of the local dive sites.
Dives are conducted as live-boat drifts, and most diving is conducted at near-slack tides in order to best enjoy the underwater scenery. We did manage as much as a 2-knot drift on one dive, but it's up to the group to decide how much current they want to dive. It's also possible to get very deep very fast on some of the walls; the inlet itself is thousands of feet deep. Good buoyancy skills and comfort in cold water gear is mandatory to enjoy the area. Drysuits are a really good idea, as water is typically in the low 50s and 3 dives a day are possible. Cal has lots of large HP steel tanks, but divers not bringing their own lead should set this up in advance. The custom aluminum dive boats have plenty of elbow room for gearing up, and feature great ladders (which makes a big difference when re-boarding in cumbersome cold water gear).
The Strongwater Retreat is a mix of cabins and (very nice) yurts, and can sleep up to 14 guests. Three hot meals are served daily buffet-style; food was delicious and plentiful. Cal typically returns to the resort between dives, allowing the opportunity to recharge divers and their camera gear. There are rinse tanks, a gear drying hut, a hot tub, and lots of hot water for showers.
This was my second trip to the Sechelt Inlet diving with Porpoise Bay, and it certainly won't be my last. The sheer amount of life that the rich, cold tidal currents support is nothing short of spectacular.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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