Between Maude and Quadra island lays the wreck of the HMCS Columbia in just over 30m or so of water, sunk as an artificial reef. She was sunk in 1996 by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia, is 111m long and lays with a 35˚ list to port on the bottom. The tower is at 15m, and there are buoys moored to the tower and stern (the bow one has wandered off). While enterable, it requires the proper equipment and training to do so, as divers have died during unsafe penetrations in the past on this wreck. The water is a chilly 6˚C, more noticeable at the depth of the deck, around 21m, particularly in a wetsuit. Currents were mild to non-existant while we were on the wreck, and visibility was around 6m or so. Even during a day dive, a primary type dive light is a good call on this wreck, as the waters are quite dark at depth.
The decent to the wreck was easy, following the buoy mooring line to the tower, then it’s a simple question of headed to the bow or stern. Both are enjoyable. The wreck has become a home to the ubiquitous Plumose anemone, Cabazon, Longfin Sculpin, Swimming Scallops, various rockfish, White-spotted anemones and more! This is where a light comes in handy, as spotting marine life in the dark green waters can be difficult. We also found it handy for illuminating marine life for pictures! The local dive school, DiveSafe International, has begun a new tradition on the wreck as well, hanging a flag decorated with a poppy and the phrase “Lest We Forget” each Remembrance Day from the forward “guns” (the originals were pulled and heavy pipes substituted). It’s a kind gesture to the those who have served and those who are currently serving in the Canadian Forces.
Overall, the wreck is a good one to dive and I look forward to penetrating it at some point in the future! It’s in good condition, has a good amount of life, and whether you’re training or having fun, if you’re in Campbell River area, it’s not to be missed!