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Port Hardy (British Columbia) aboard the Nautilus Swell

It wasn’t until Wayne and I were actually leaving Port Hardy aboard the new liveaboard dive boat, the Nautilus Swell, that I realized how much I missed this area of British Columbia. The beauty of a calm ocean at sunset with fresh air all around and the tranquility of stillness allowed the hustle and bustle of city life to simply melt away. Only the sounds from squawking seagulls taking flight and the chattering of bald eagles could be heard.
Port Hardy (British Columbia) aboard the Nautilus Swell
Published in X-Ray Issue: 43 - July 2011
Authored by: Barb Roy | Photography: Barb Roy | Translation:
With the smell of dinner baking in the oven and a warm hot coco in hand, we rested against the boat’s wooden rail enjoying the scenery. I was smiling because I could hear no ringing cell phones, no emergency vehicle sirens racing by and no worries to clog my brain with irrelevant particulars. A full week of escape from work is what Wayne looked forward to—especially the eating, sleeping and diving parts live-aboards seem to specialize in!

Al Spilde, a seasoned mariner for over 25 years and very familiar with this region, was our captain for the journey and predicted fair weather and good underwater visibility ahead. The rest of the crew included Chris and Belinda Miller, also longtime BC divers who have worked in the liveaboard industry for years. And our hostess, Claire Brosser, was determined to make everyone’s adventure a memorable one.
Hussar Point. Of the three dives listed for the day, our first was a checkout dive at Hussar Point, just around the corner from the world-famous Browning Wall. Now most of you might think a checkout dive would be barren and sandy, hosting little to no life with plenty of room to once again become familiar with buoyancy skills. In Port Hardy, this is not the case. Here, every site is an awesome dive, chocked full of reefs, beautiful walls and something to see at each site.
From the 38-foot aluminum dive skiff, Inde, we all peered down into the water in anticipation, as Al moved closer to the wall. White and orange anemones clung to the rocks just below the surface and the schooling rockfish seemed to be in the hundreds, as they gathered in the boat’s shadow.
Although the Swell will accommodate 12 divers comfortably, our group had nine, but only eight were diving. Needless to say, we divided up the 12 dive stations on Inde and had plenty of room for pony bottles, camera gear, video systems and so much more!

Everyone entered the water and descended into a lush forest of kelp. It was easy to follow the fronds down to the main part of the reef where everyone went in different directions. Wayne and I swam along a wall at 60 feet, admiring the colourful anemones, small darting gobies (fish) and beautiful brightly colored orange-peel nudibranchs. Wayne thought the large white basket stars were exceptionally cool to watch, as they slowly unraveled their branch-like arms in the mild current to feed.

Continuing on, we came across a tiny juvenile Puget Sound king crab sitting on a piece of kelp which was gently flowing in the current. The little crab, about the size of a person’s hand, was a photographer’s delight, boasting colours of red, yellow and splashes of radiant purple.
I have always found that it is captivating experiences like this—watching basket stars open up or a tiny crab surfing the current that makes dives like this so rewarding.

Other divers in the group enjoyed grunt sculpins, red Irish Lords and crimson anemones with candy-striped shrimp using the base of the anemones for ...

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Port Hardy (British Columbia) aboard the Nautilus Swell