The ruins of the Lake Washingon Ship Yard remains just under the surface of the new Yarrow Bay Marina. In this image you can see two barges, three work boats, and the very large shadow on the right is the remains of the City of Tacoma.
This image is of Target 420. It is located in 200' of fresh water and is in the area where we are looking for a historically significant wreck. Despite a close pass with a towfish in the top image the shadow is not as strong as hoped. There is clearly deck structure but the layout is not fully clear. The image is showing a hard roof remains intact and is reflecting strongly. Significant erosion at the stern is evident from the gently lake currents moving the mud.
The other two images were taken to show other structural components. The second image shows a hull shape similar to a large sailboat and the bottom image shows what may be a mast that has collapsed forward.
This image is of a very shallow barge located in Lake Washington. This small barge is located on the West shoreline south of the 520 bridge and is listed on the NOAA AWOIS database. This wreck is one of more that 50 that Scott Boyd of Emerald Sea Photography has imaged and confirmed the location of in just the last month.
The Houghton Bay area of Lake Washington is a literal junk yard from the old Lake Washington Ship Yards. This area is the site of several burned wrecks and scuttled vessels. It was originally thought that is area was reasonably well described but recent forays into the area have consistently turned up more wrecks.
Our team has scanned the entire area and has identified more than 30 wrecks for eventual exploration. This last week Scott Boyd of Emerald Sea Photography worked in the area and obtained images of two wrecks tucked into some of the natural geography that were previously unidentified. This solid work by Scott demonstrates the exceptional capabilities of his sidescan unit for shallow area survey.
Our team was recently conducting a series of dives on the PB4Y and PV2 Harpoon and during surface intervals imaged two low priority targets described as planes on NOAA Charts. The Northern most target was originally thought to be a small barge on long range side scan imagery and this assessment was confirmed by Scott Boyd, co-author of Northwest Wreck Dives.
Initial imagery attempts of the Southern most wreck site showed returns that were difficult to interpret from long range and transom mount sidescan. This weekend Puget Sound Divers imaged this site using a high resolution towfish from Scott Christopher's boat. Two two seperate areas of interest were evaluated. The first was the Scorption site and a target just 130' North. The Northern target orginally gave an interesting return (see below) but more detailed imagery shows what appears to be a tight configuration of clay an rocks (also below).
The below images are of the site currently referred to as Scorpion due to is uncanny resemblance to a Scorpion. This site is listed by NOAA as a plane but appears to be natural formation. Two historically significant planes are within one mile of this site. Images were taken with equipment from Scott Christopher and Sound Aquatics. Resolution is limited with web publication. Actual location was identified by Scott Boyd of Emerald Sea Photography.
Target #185 is located North of the the Seattle NOAA offices in 154' of fresh water and is in the same area in which the PV2 Harpoon is located. The exploration of this site has been a joint effort between Puget Sound Divers and Scott Boyd of Emerald Sea Photography and a co-author of Northwest Wreck Dives. The image on the right is a sidescan image taken by Scott Boyd.
This is one of several barges in the area and while it is the second largest it may be the most intact. Addtionally, since this wreck is listed in AWOIS it is possible that this site is one that is well described by another exploration team. In the next few weeks we will reach out to that team to see if this indeed the site that they have already well described.
This past weekend Scott Boyd, Jeff Carr, and Michael Fitz dove on a series of targets located at the South end of Lake Washington. While the finds were not real exciting this active group of divers is quickly identifying unknown targets.
This weekend several targets were dove and imaged by side scan.
Target #072 – This is a battery sitting in a big crater. This end of the lake has water movement and it appears this has caused the erosion of the large crater. This site also confirms the ability of our long range mapping efforts and data sets to identify small targets.
Target #075 – The wreck of a square wood barge – Scott describes the wreck as “very square, very boring”.
Target #085 – This is a wood hulled barge much like the nearby wreck Target #074 "Hauled Barge"
Target #087 – This site is a pontoon work barge/raft lying upside down exposing its corrugated steel pontoons. The wreck is approximately 20’ long.
Target #089 – This target is an 18’ deck boat with fiberglass hull. The wreck was obviously scuttled.
This image is of Target #072 – The hard return in the middle is a battery sitting in what appears to be an eroded trench.
The below image taken by Scott Boyd of Emerald Sea Photography is of Target #089, an 18' deck boat.
Scott Boyd and Jeff Carr, authors of the acclaimed Northwest Wreck Dives, have generously shared their research and hard work with Puget Sound Divers. This group has spend a great deal of time and effort searching the Northwest for fun and interesting wrecks. We all sat down and reviewed data sets to see if we could work together and minimize duplication of efforts. Scott and Jeff were able to identify a series of targets our group has marked on long range side scan but has not explored. Puget Sound Divers has 47 unexplored wrecks and debris fields located in the extreme South end of Lake Washington. This area is of interest due to its proximity to the end of Boeing's Renton Runway. John Sharps of Jaws Marine has also contributed heavily to the exploration of these sites.
- Target #073 - "Atlantic City Scow" is a deteriorating wreck and described on page 91 of Northwest Wreck dives.
- Target #074 - "Hauled Barge" is a wooden barge described with drawings on page 39 of their book.
- Target #076 - Is another barge called "PA-d3 Barge". This is a steel hulled barge with "PA-d3" written on the transom. This wreck is described on page 38 of Northwest Wreck Dives.
- Target #079 - Is the wreck of the "Sonny". This wreck has some amazing photographs located on Scott's Emerald Sea Photographysite. Images like these are very rare in Lake Washington. This wreck is described on page 142 and 143 of Scott and Jeff's book.
- Target #081 is the wreck of the "Boot", a small double ender and described on page 45.
- Target #082 and #083 are the scattered remains of an old barge whose largest body of wreckage is lying sideways.
- Target #086 is the wreck of the "Diamond Girl", a 35' motor sailor with diamond plat on the bow. Wreck is described on page 66.
- Target #241 - the wreck "Bloody Mary" a small wooden boat with mud up to it side rails. I had originally discounted this as debris from a nearby wreck, hence its 200 series number usually used to describe wrecks to the west of Mercer Island.
The book Northwest Wreck Dives can be purchased here.
Last Sunday Shaun Gardner and Ben Griner dove on Target 077. Long range sidescan imagery had indicated this was a tall vessel approximately 40' in length. We were both surprised by the vessels actual size and pleased to see some of the object remaining on the vessel. Target 077 appears to be a working vessel and possess a large crew cabin with kitchen that is separate from the large (for this size of vessel) bridge. The wooden helm, brass compass, and cabin glass remain in tact. We did not conduct significant penetration on this dive so access to the engine room was not attempted. The exhaust is mid ship and based on the location of the prop and shaft we believe the engine is located under the mess area.
This image is a long range side scan of the target. Note the presence of another vessel just to the South. This wreck is located in the South end of Lake Washington and rests in approximately 110' fresh water. Overall the wreck is 40' in length with a 14' beam and sits upright approximately 15' off the bottom.
The helm wheel is laying on the floor.
This image shows the the square bow with a single perpendicular section of wood that continues around the bow and joins with the keel.
This image shows the shadow of the prop. One of the first areas investigated, the was much larger than anticipated for this size of vessel.
This image is of a unique series of rock formations located in 190' fresh water. The formation was unique enough that Shaun Gardner and Bob Bailey dove the areas to further explore.
Upon reaching the linear wall like sections they observed that these are made up of uniformly stacked rocks in linear lines. The rocks are covered by a layer of silt as are most of the objects in the lake. This is the only formation of this type we have encountered in the lake. The formation is obviously different from the surrounding geology or the geology of other areas in the lake. On long range imagery this area clearly stands out.
This image is of an unknown wreck. It apprears that this is an emply hull of a vessel measuring 60' in length and sitting in 125' of fresh water. We are unaware of any one who has explored this site.
This is the first of more than 10 unexplored wrecks in the area.
This second image was taken from a deeper towfish depth and shows a stepped side rail and an uneven hull line.
This image shows what may be the wreck of a barge in Lake Washington. One section appears to have split while the intact section seems to be resting on a section of clay bottom. The clay bottom gives a hard white return and makes reading the image more difficult.
This wreck is sitting in just 110' fresh water and has a width of 30' and length of 70'-80'.
Sitting in 125’ of fresh water this vessel appears to be a 1940’s era sailboat. This 25’ boat has been stripped and scuttled. Some lettering appears to be present on the stern but we were unable to make it out.
This image is a long range scan. The boat sits approximately 5' above the mud.
This last Thursday Shaun Gardner and Ben Griner dove on a new target resting upright in 170' ffw North of 520 in Lake Washington. This dive was to survey the vessel and determine it approximate age and type. Our drop was excellent today with the ball landing in the mud just to the south of the vessel. Shaun tied the drop line in and we began to swim around the vessel. This ship is just over 40' in length with a beam of approx 12'. The vessel was obviously scuttled with most objects of value having been removed. The engines, screw, and other equipment have been removed.
This side scan image gives a good representation of the vessel we dove today. What originally appeared as equipment on the front deck was really loose railing and bow structure.
Shaun Gardner crawls into the cabin area. This is a back-up drysuit for Shaun as his first one experienced a failed zipper just prior to the dive. This wreck is now labeled "zippy" until we can determine its real naming.
The construction is all wood with limited electrical wiring added after construction. There is a name physically engraved on the stern but we were unable to make it out on this dive. Remnants of the Washington State registration number are present on the bow. Unfortunately these identifiers are of little value as the State of Washington DOT has refused to assist with the identification of these shipwrecks.
A total of 25 minutes was spent on this wreck followed by a two bottle decompression. Decompression was uneventful with Scott Christopher acting as captain and picking us up after the dive.
Puget Sound Divers is actively evaluating several potential targets in Lake Washington. This weekend our team obtain side scan imagery of what appears to be an intact vessel. Below are the side scan images of the wreck.
This image is looking down on the vessel. Note the open hatches on the stern. I am guessing that this was cut to access the engines prior to scuttling the vessel.
This image was taken from the side of the vessel. The shadowing shows the main cabin area and pilot house. The forward railing is visible with some type of boom or equipment item on the forward deck. Looking closely at the stern mud line you will see the side scan passed under the vessel suggesting is largely rests above the bottom.
Survey dives will be conduced on the vessel over the next week. Based on the side scan imagery obtain the vessel is estimated to be 55-62 feet in length and standing just shy of 25' above the mud layer. Resting in 167' of fresh water this vessel is resting upright and appear to have the majority of its keel above the bottom.
On Monday we dove an unknown wreck north of the 520 Bridge. We had been getting very odd side scan imagery with little to no ability to cast shadowing that would make much sense or give us an idea of what was located in the area. With that in mind we decided to dive the site and conduct a preliminary survey.
It turns out that this wreck is a flat deck work barge that had a large structure built on the upper deck. When it sank it tipped on its side and nosed down into the muddy bottom of the lake. This all steel barge appears to have hit quite hard as it is standing on its side with and at a 45 degree angle out of the mud.
This picture shows a similar looking barge. Note the flat bottom.
This large barge (75'+ in length, 35' wide) has it highest point in just 140’ of fresh water sloping down to the mud line at 196’. The flat bottom is vertical in the water column and easily navigated. Unfortunately the other side of the wreck had the exposed remains of the structure protruding. Divers having to search for the wreck and approaching from the Northeast will quickly find themselves either under the elevated stern section or swimming into the structural remains before they realize where they are in relation to the wreck.
This picture shows a structure built on a flat deck work barge. The structure on this wreck was constructed of corrugated tin roofing materials, wood framing, and thin metal walls.
On today’s dive we were working with multiple coordinates obtained from our side scan imagery and were able to place our drop line exactly where we intended. This allowed the search to be conducted in green water at 150’ rather than on the bottom. Our impression of the wreck as potentially hazardous was correct and, while more difficult, this approach potentially saved us a bunch of grief. Ben Griner and Shaun Garder dove this wreck with an average depth of 180' and max depth of 196'. A total of 25 minutes was spent conducting the survey. Scott Christopher acted as captain and picked us up after our decompression.I strongly recommend that this site not be dove. The potential of inadvertently entering into an overhead situation is high and complicated by the instability of the overhead structure. Most of the structure is very fragile and what penetration was conducted during the survey resulted in heavy percolation and dislodgement of debris from our bubbles. There is little to see at this site and with so many great wrecks in the lake this one could be ignored.