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Scuba diving deep on the wreck of the State of California

June 28, 2009 Written by

 Location: Wreck of the State of California, Admiralty Island, southeast Alaska
It’s been a funny start to this trip. The last trip was absolutely smashing with flat calm seas, gorgeous weather, loads of animals and superb visibility on the Alaska portion of our travels. This trip got off to a tougher start with wind and rain and big seas on the outside. Even the dive visibility has been lower. It’s funny how a site like Sergius rock could be 50 feet visibility a couple days ago and now it’s down to 20 feet! We have been dogged by two different fronts coming in and the weather on the second one is being pretty extreme for Alaska at this time of year IE 5 miles off Wooden Island the seas were in 19 feet to 27 feet. My plan was to run and hide and stay in sheltered water which worked out fine except the  diving isn’t as good inside as as on the outer coast. Anyways, we are still having some lovely dives and topped today off with a deep dive on the wreck of the State of California. This wreck is an old steamship approximately 300 feet in length that was built in the late 19th century. After service in the Klondike Gold Rush it was pressed into coastal steamship service and one of its many stops was a cannery. The trouble with operating steamships in the days before loran, GPS, depthsounders, radar and all the other newfangled gadgets is that navigation was much tougher and more risky. The Captain of the State of California paid the ultimate price when he backed away from the cannery onto an uncharted rock.  The ship quickly filled with water and sank as they ran for the beach 1000 feet away. Unfortunately as many as 30 cannery workers/passengers drowned during the sinking… The neat thing for us is that the site is a large drainage with lots of current in and out of the entrance. The wreck is sitting perpendicular to the flow of water and provides a safe haven for loads of interesting fish and marine invertebrate life. The inside of the wreck has is loaded with cloud sponges, rockfish of  every description  — both juvenile and adult — a prowfish or two, anemones and all the other goodies that you see in beautiful Alaska diving. My task on this particular dive was to accompany a film crew who are traveling with us on a deep dive to the bottom of the wreck. I did the dive on my evolution closed circuit rebreather and it was magnificent. Beautiful clear water and loads of stuff to look at. Easy navigation. Just an all around great dive. My biggest surprise was to see  wooden deck railings still intact midship. Very surprised that they hadn’t rotted out over the last hundred years. There were even some deck planks intact. All in all a great dive in a super place to hide out from 40 knot winds and driving rain. Captain Mike
Surface Conditions: Temperature in the mid-50’s, very windy, heavy rain, choppy seas affording our guests the rare opportunity to “storm watch” in Alaska. How often do you get to do that!!!!
Underwater Conditions: Water temperature 45 – 46 degrees.  Visibility 10 
feet in the  shallows, 75 foot plus below 30 feet.



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