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Topography: Wreck dive on two wooden barges in mid to advanced stages of decay situated on a steeply sloping soft substrate.
Puget Sound marine life rating: 3
Puget Sound structure rating: 2
Diving depth: 70-105 feet.
Highlight: Off-slack dive in a well protected area. Vermilion rockfish often school near the barges.
Skill level: Intermediate
GPS coordinates: N48° 01.210’ W122° 19.270’
Access by boat: Gedney Island is only accessible by boat or seaplane. It is located near the junction of Possession Sound and Saratoga Passage. The island is situated west of Everett. A marina with a wooden breakwater is located on the northwest corner of the island. Two sunken barges were sunk end-to-end at the entrance of the marina.
Shore access: Realistically, none. It might be possible to catch the ferry to Gedney Island and lug gear to the beach, but it would be a lot of work.
Dive profile: I am not a big fan of barge dives, but I enjoy occasionally diving these barges. I usually end up diving this site when a strong south wind picks up and makes less protected areas an unappealing option.
Two barges run downslope in front of the entrance of the marina, starting in about 50 feet of water and continuing down to about 105 feet. These wooden barges are in moderate to advanced stages of decay. Some of the openings in the barges are large enough for a diver to penetrate, although I would strongly advise against it. The unstable rotting wood has left an arsenal of pointy metal nails, fitting, screws, and other sharp protrusions just waiting to snag an unsuspecting diver.
I anchor in 20 feet of water to the right of the entrance of the marina. I take a compass bearing from my anchorage that sends me 100 feet directly in front of entrance. I follow my compass bearing downslope until I reach the wreck or one of the massive anchor blocks or chains that keeps the barges tethered to the bottom. I then circumnavigate the barges. The tops of the barges are now well decayed. I spend most of my time examining the sides and bases of the barges, which is where most of the marine life prospers.
I complete my route around the barges and head back upslope to the boat on the reverse compass heading. A third barge is located near the anchorage spot, which I explore to pass time during my safety stop. Poor visibility normally plagues this shallow area. This shallow barge is in a much more advanced state of decay than the two deeper barges. It resembles an old lumberyard more than a barge. Wooden planks and debris are scattered everywhere. This barge runs parallel to shore and lies in about 20 feet of water.
My preferred gas mix: EAN 33
Current observations: The Gedney Island barges are tucked away in a relatively protected area. I have not encountered any significant tidal current diving this location, even off-slack on moderate to heavy exchanges. A strong wind out of the north could generate surface current.
Mukilteo State park boat ramp. Approximately 5 miles from the dive site. Note that the docks are typically pulled from this facility during the off-season.
Boat traffic: This site is located at the entrance of a marina. Performing an emergency free ascent from the barges could be very risky. I carry a finger spool and signal marker buoy just in case such an emergency arises.
Snagging hazards: These decomposing wood wrecks have countless exposed rusty metal nails, screws, and other snagging hazards.
Marine life: Although not overwhelmingly diverse, the marine life that calls these barges home is substantial. Small rockfish regularly haunt these wrecks. Quillback, Puget Sound, copper and brown rockfish are most common, although I have seen juvenile yelloweye and schools of vermilion rockfish as well. Lingcod and kelp greenling lurk around the wrecks. Resident lingcod tend to be rather small. Dungeness crabs scamper about the perimeter of the wrecks while rock and English sole lie patiently on the bottom. As with most Puget Sound dive sites, ratfish leisurely patrol the area.