Unknown Sport Fishing Vessel (San Diego, CA — 240 fsw)

Dive Plan

Tyler had been looking at an anomaly in the data for a while but it was pretty deep and looked to be about 50 feet long. He had been planning to dive it for years but it just never worked out….until a couple days ago (15 Nov 2021).

We weren’t sure what it was but Tyler said to me “There is something there 100%” and “It could be a plane or smaller boat.” When Tyler is 100% confident it is a valid target, I’m ready to breathe down some precious Helium to go check it out! So, we booked a day aboard the Marissa with Lora, Chris, Captain & Scout.

The Dive

It was an amazing day with perfect surface conditions. Tyler wasn’t feeling well so I was going to have to dive this one alone.

I dropped down the line and then at about 180 feet deep, the downline took a elbow bend and slanted off into the horizon. Uh oh.

That means that there is some current but it also means that instead of dropping straight down, I would have a swim along a slowly descending line that would be increasing my decompression obligation before I even got to the target (and after)! At those depths, a few minutes turn into much longer deco obligations. At this point, I was really wishing I had my scooter with me.

After the long, slow descent, I saw some white metridiums off in the distance and instantly knew that Lora and Chris had a perfect drop with the downline. Now it was time to find out what it was. I had good visibility but it was definitely dark.

Here was my first picture and I instantly knew it was some kind of boat:

First view of the boat

The Wreck

I did a quick survey of the wreck (the deco clock is ticking at 240+ feet) and took a few pictures. Some specific things to note:

  1. Two engines are still in the boat along with other debris but it does look like it was somewhat cleaned out before it sank
  2. It seemed to be stripped of anything valuable (other than the engines mentioned above)
  3. It is a fiberglass construction
  4. Based on the general shape of the back end, I believe it was sport fishing boat
  5. My estimate of the length is 30-40 feet
  6. The deck is “removed” from the hull (hence the ability to see the engines) and attached to the cabin that sits off to the side (this is likely due to an air pocket and pressure)

I did a little bit of searching for a name but nothing was obvious and I hadn’t brought my scrub brush with me to start cleaning things looking for a CF number or a name. It is hard to judge whether or not it was purposefully sunk or if it started taking on water or something else. There weren’t any signs of a fire.

When I was younger, my dad would take my brother and I and a bunch of other guys sport fishing down in Los Barriles in Baja Mexico (about an hour north of Cabo San Lucas) . I ended up spending the trips diving instead of fishing, but the boat that we found reminded me a lot of the style of boat for sport fishing. Below is a photo I snapped a while ago. That boat is probably 28 feet long or so. Keep that shape in mind when you see the photos of the wreck posted below.

Typical sport fishing boat


Below are some photos that highlight the above notes. I didn’t have my 15k lumen lights with me and instead took the VTL lights since they have a combo spot beam that is better for searching for new sites. So, the colors aren’t as good and the lighting isn’t as bright.

Stern – usually you would see the name of the boat on the stern

Twin engines (looking stern to bow). Usually the deck would obscure these.
Bow (note no deck)
Starboard side of the bow. Usually the name would be painted here and is probably below all the growth.
Cabin sitting off to the port side of the bow (sometimes the name of the boat would also be painted on the upper portion)
Port side view of the cabin
Looking towards the stern from the top of the cabin. Note that this is the exact style of a sport fishing boat. I’m guessing that center post was used for a chair when fighting a fish.
Captains Chair (note that the steering wheel and instruments are gone)
Starboard side view of the cabin and stern area
Close up of the two engines (looking bow to stern)

Next Steps

Given the depth, I probably won’t go dive the wreck again (I have other projects at similar depths and I’d rather go do those). We have provided the coordinates for the site if anybody else wants to dive the wreck to try to identify it.


A big thanks to Tyler Stalter for, as usual, finding new targets!

Thanks to Lora, Chris, Captain, and Scout for a great day on the boat. We had great weather and a fun time and the down-line was placed perfectly (as usual).

6 thoughts on “Unknown Sport Fishing Vessel (San Diego, CA — 240 fsw)

  1. This is my “2017 target.” I’m glad you identified it. Note that it could be a Penn Yan, based on the clinker or overlapping plank design, a feature that Penn Yans had on their fiberglass boats. My last boat was a 26’ Penn Yan (see attached). They were manufactured in NY and there aren’t too many around in SoCal. Note the flybridge looks similar and other details, down to the blue stripe on the side of the hull just below the deck. The flybridge design is different and this could be a larger 30’ model. I believe the two blue posts on the stern are the tops of the rudders, which were mounted on the transom. The Penn Yans had a “tunnel hull” design, where the props were tucked up into cavities in the hull, so they were above the hull line. Many places on the East Coast have shallow sand bars and reefs. You could beach a Penn Yan with no damage to the props, struts or rudders.


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