Channel Dive

Channel Dive - September 26, 2009

By Brian Baker

The last Saturday in September seemed like a good time to dive the channel one more time. (How many times does that make it this year?) It was a sunny warm day for late September, with the temperature getting up to 68 degrees. The day started with Everyone meeting at Columbia Point Marina at 10:00 AM (Or, there abouts), to prepare their gear. Then we carpooled up to the entry point, near the Hampton Inn in Richland. After a few minor weight adjustments, and waiting for one diver to run back to the marina to retrieve his dry suit, we submerged and made our way to the river bottom eventually finding the channel that took us down to seventy feet.

At 66 degrees, the water temperature was nearly as warm as the air. The dive lasted about forty minutes but the current wasn't quite fast enough to get us back to the marina in that time so we ended up floating or swimming part of the way back. This dive featured two new Ducks - B.J. and Steve - who both showed up for the dive with their membership applications in hand ("Welcome new members!"). This was also Steve's first low-vis cold water current dive. Hopefully B.J. and Steve enjoyed diving the cold murky waters of the Columbia and we'll see them around on a lot of future dives. Divers were B.J., Brent, Brian, Bryan, George, Lee, and Steve.

Afterward, we met at Rosy's Ice Cream & Diner for a post dive briefing and bull session. Over lunch, the conversation drifted to the Yakima River and a few of us thought, "Hey, why not do a drift dive down the Yakima?"

Yakima Drift Dive:

This dive started out a lot like the first one... It was still September 26th, and it was still a sunny Saturday... We dropped a vehicle off at the Chamna Natural Preserve parking lot, then carpooled up to the entry point at the boat landing on Duportail Street. The water was slightly warmer than the Columbia at about 68 degrees - same as the air temperature. But, at 11 feet maximum depth it was quite a bit shallower. In some areas it was so shallow that it was difficult to stay under water without scrubbing the algae off the rocks with your chest. At one point I drifted too far out of the channel and ended up taking off my fins and walking 50 yards back to deeper water. What was surprising to all of us, and made the dive so memorable, was the sheer number of fish we saw. We passed a school of, literally, hundreds of walleye salmon and/or northern pikeminnow (none of us seem to be experts at fish identification), several suckers hiding out beneath the river grass, a few carp, and a nightcrawler wrapped around a fishing hook. Divers for this second dive of the day were Brent, Brian, and Lee.

Atomic Ducks Dive Club