High Current, High Vis! Diving the May Island Ferry

May Island Ferry

Sun, clear water, current and a wreck are a recipe for an amazing dive! After conducting some measurements on the wrecked tug Lil’Ed, we had a chance to hit the water for fun on the wreck of the May Island Ferry, which sank in poor weather after snapping free sometime in the distant past. She’s little more than a skeleton now, but is an amazing wreck and life dive for a diver with moderate experience!

The wreck itself is in shallow water, I maxed out at 9.2m on my dive, but during high tide You could easily get up to 15m by moving along the rock shelves below the wreck. Access is by boat only, and the main hazards you’ll face are the over abundance of urchins and the high current you encounter outside of the protective “bowl” area the wreck itself is in. The latter wasn’t as big an issue for us, we were on surface supply gear, but you wouldn’t go far wrong to have a surface signal device if you were on scuba. The wreck is non-penetratable, but offers amazing photo opportunities at low tide on the surface and all time underwater! Visibility was astounding, I can only compare it tropical conditions! But with emerald green as the background colour instead of cerulean blue. The wreck is 54m long and 12m wide, laying on its port side on a rocky bottom, debris is strewn in areas around it, so watch out for metal edges!


Life is everywhere on this wreck, with numerous greenlings, perch and lingcod all found in, on or around the wreck. The ubiquitous plumose anemone has serious competition from the local red, purple and green urchins that carpeted the seafloor on the rock shelves around us. The wreck has no enterable points for divers, but makes an excellent home for many vertebrates and invertebrates. Take your time and explore!

Around the wreck are stepped rock ledges swept by the current. After your done exploring around the wreck, it’s well worth checking the area around the wreck. The clarity in the water is astounding, and the visibility during our dive there was in excess of ≤9m with only a thick thermocline to distort things further away. The rocks are not entirely bare, and have numerous hidden nooks and crannies to hunt through, looking for micro life and some of the odder crustaceans that inhabit the straits.

All in all, the May Island Ferry isn’t the best wreck you’ll ever dive, but it is unique, challenging, and the conditions are unique; the clarity of the water, life and the fact that few divers visit it with any regularity makes it a good dive. We did it on surface supply, and I wouldn’t hesitate to return on scuba. If you’re in the area, if you’re up for a dive, hook up with one of the experienced dive charters in the area and check out this unusual and fun location! Next time I’m there, I plan to shoot some video, so stay tuned to the Youtube Channel!

About the author

Graeme Barber is a professional diver, qualified as a PADI and SDI Divemaster, DCBC 40m Unrestricted Commercial Scuba Diver, 30m Restricted Surface Supply diver, and CAUS Scientific Diver Lv.2. In addition to being the head of Cold Water Diver, he's a full time student working on a degree in Archaeology.