On June 3rd and 4th, 2011 we dove with Sundown Divers of Nanaimo. The air temperature couldn't have been better at 70 and 72 degrees F. However, the water temperatures were 47 and 46 respectively. Though we are dry suit certified, the shop recommended 7mm wet suits - big mistake; much too cold.
Very little communication from the boat operator and dive shop owner. Unless you asked, you got no information. We had booked a divemaster, but none was provided.
Our first dive, 3 of us new to the area took a wrong turn at Clark Rock and while we saw some cool stuff, didn't see the wolf eels and octopus that are residents there. The dive operator was providing an advanced open water course at the same time to two others on the boat so we had no direction. The second dive of the day was a sunken tug boat. Between sea cucumbers, jelly fish, sea stars and many other small and large fish, it was a very nice dive. And because of all the little jelly fish in the water eating plankton, the visibility was good for this time of year 40 to 45 feet.
Day two was very rough water. The initial plan was to dive the Saskatchewan artificial reef and out of two boats and 8 people, only 2 or 3 could have even made it down. The dive shop owner said it was the worst he's seen, but he still took a group of intermediate divers and a group getting their advanced open water dives in to a very advanced dive on that particular day. Once we were all back in the boats, we returned to the sunken tug boat though we were all tired and cold from being in the water too long.
Lesson learned, if you aren't feeling it when you meet the dive operator and visit the shop, cancel and go with someone else. This was by far the worst dive operator we've been with in the 6 years of diving and he came highly recommended so we are at a loss as to an explanation. Next time, a different dive operator and a dry suit!
Nanaimo is great, but you will see different things in cold water versus warm. Be prepared, do a cold water refresher and feel comfortable with your dive operator.
Wayne and Teena Calkin, Eagle River, AK