By Stephen Pearce. Another installment of our series on scuba diving near Vancouver. This time Stephen explores the Coast Guard Canada ship CGC Ready.
Coffee and carbs – the breakfast of champions…and scuba divers.
Our return to Britannia Beach began with a happy return to the Galileo Coffee Company. We were plotting where we were going to enter the water to explore our new target – the Coast Guard Canada ship CGC Ready.
The CGC Ready was a search and rescue ship built in North Vancouver in 1963. It was acquired by the Maritime Heritage Society and relocated to Britannia Beach, near Squamish, BC. On January 17, 2011, it sank under mysterious circumstances, coming to rest on her starboard side in shallow water, less than 30 meters from the dock to which she was tied.
And now that final resting place beckoned directly outside the window of the restaurant in which we were sitting.
We decided to retrace our route south on the Sea to Sky Highway, travelling half a kilometer past the coffee shop to park on the side of the road adjacent to a billboard. Gearing up at our cars, we went through a well-trodden trail in the woods to arrive at a point of land just south of the CGC Ready’s resting place.
Entry was easy, conditions were perfect, and twenty minutes into the dive had us on top of the wreck in a shallow twelve meters of water.
And the ship was in excellent condition, portholes and windows largely intact, with vegetation just starting to take hold.
The biggest surprise was that although the ship was on its side in a gentle slope, further slippage had been prevented by a much older ship underneath that had obviously been there for some time. The older wreck was a wooden fishing boat that was now in a significant state of decay. Plant and animal life had taken a more serious foothold with colonies of plumose anemone dotting the hull and frame.
Unfortunately, as time and gravity press on, the CGC Ready will inevitably one day displace the older ship. Knowing that, we gingerly explored, conscious of the shifting equilibrium of the new wreck supported by the old.
We didn’t find the final surprise until we returned to our original point of entry at the end of the dive.
Surfacing, we looked back to shore and realized that an artist had been inspired to use a large piece of driftwood as a canvas. And now the work of art looked out over the water as a sentinel – noticed only by errant beachcombers and divers who happened to glance shoreward. We hadn’t seen it originally when we had entered the water.
Awesome – a treasure that only a few of us will ever get a chance to experience. A little like the spectacular scuba diving on the BC coast…
For more information about the CGC Ready, and for wrecks in general, check out the Shipwreck Exploration and Conservation Society (SEC) at www.secsociety.com/britannia.html.
And to find additional information about Britannia Beach, check out www.tourismsquamish.com/attractions/britannia-beach