Started off the morning with a slanted wet snow, very different from the 70 degrees Christmas two days before. The site seemed somewhat different when we entered, the rocks bigger and steeper. The phone automatically adjusted the time to the local tower … Canadian one, which is an hour earlier then US tide chart, therefore we went in at 11:50 to experience a brisk current, the worst we had at Steamship Pier.
The nudibranchs were few and far between for the first 20 minutes. We had to brace our bodies to take pictures due to the strong current. There was an abundance of sculpin, tomcod and the crabs (green, decorator, hermit, and rock) аnd then we started finding nudibranchs. We believed we found at least 8 species during our first dive. When we were low on the air we returned to shore spending 74 min in 46-degree water with moderate 10ft visibility.
The second dive began at 4:20 pm at low tide. It was a night dive. As usual, the 60 yards walk down to the water was exhausting and treacherous with the slippery rocks. We stayed up close to the wall. After 1000 psi neither of us were finding the nudibranchs we had seen 4 hours earlier. We came to the shallows to discuss if we should continue the dive. We both agreed to give another shot. On the way back in I saw some sand lances, Timur saw a big Sea Raven and then we found five species of nudies on a single frond of kelp. We found more things to photograph. Visibility was a little better than before we exited after 84 min. All in all, it was a good day.
We did only one afternoon dive. Even it was a high tide, we decided to explore the furthest reef, so we strapped our 120s and took the compass reading. We always have an apprehension of wasting a dive and not be able to find the Deep Reef. But 10 minutes later at the depth of 60 feet, Matt swam to its base. We liked this spot because it has an abundance of marine life, plus it looks more natural then man built wall. We found large orange, yellow and red sponges. Decent size of northern red anemones were scattered all over the reef. At least 5 species of nudibranchs were spotted at this place.
In-between exit point and Deep Reef there are no solid bottom strictures to keep you from being swept away, hence during high tide one should be mindful of the changing of tide. After 40 minutes we turned around and got back to the shore.
On the third day, we made 2 dives – low tide – Deep Reef – in the morning and high tide – Steamship Pier – in the afternoon. On the second dive, we found two species of sea slugs that we did not see on this trip – Atlantic ancula and Palio dubia. I may exaggerate a bit, but as we resurfaced our masks were almost blown away by the gusts of wind and snow. In fact, Matt removed his mask after we returned into our hotel room.
At this time of the year, Eastport looked more like a ghost town than a bustling summertime vacation destination. A few eateries, that should’ve stayed open, were closed or closed earlier than advertised. So we were forced to discover a new place to eat – New Friendly Restaurant – located about 8 miles away from the motel. The food was inexpensive and tasty. However, next day we came back for more, but, we guessed due to the stormy weather, it was also closed. As we were driving through the town, we counted at least 18-20 deer.
It’s kinda has become our ritual to spend a week after the Christmas diving in Eastport. It was out 4th year as we keep this tradition going. Hopefully next trips are going to be equally fruitful and as enjoyable as previous ones. Eastport – see you soon – a drinking town with a fishing problem.
Matt Wills at Old Steamship Pier
me at Old Steamship Pier