Unidentified Wreck (Hamilton Cove, Catalina — 160 fsw)

This was my first dive in 2022.

I had planned on doing more research to identify the wreck before publishing but I have quite a few other projects I’m working on so I decided to publish it without an ID.

I was with Ray and Kyaa on the Sundiver Express for my first dive of 2022. Our plan was to go look at a few sites at Catalina to see if we could find something new. Tyler had found a newspaper article about a plane crash and found a small anomaly on the bathymetry data in the area. We looked in the area on the sonar and couldn’t find anything worth diving. We next went to the location of a known Grumman Goose that is about 240′ deep but requires a scooter and I didn’t have one with me so we tried to see if we could detect in on the sonar so that we could just put a downline on it. We had a couple possible locations but decided to wait.

Next we went over to the Hamilton Cove area of Catalina. We know there are a few different wrecks over by the H-36 buoy. I had previously done a dive in that general area with the Sundiver in December but didn’t find a wreck. Tyler had also dove a sailboat back in 2008 and Ray knew there was a sailboat in the same area.

Tyler was able to take a quick look at the bathy data and send coordinates where he saw a small anomaly. We saw something on the sonar and so I decided to dive it to see what it was — assuming it would be the sailboat Tyler had been on.

The Wreck

The water was cold and a beautiful dark, deep blue color. There was a lot of plankton in the water, but the visibility was 40+ feet. As I made my way down the line, I could start to see a shape and shadow on the bottom and dropped off the line straight down onto it.

Below is a natural light photo I took from about 30 feet above the wreck:

The first think I noticed is that it didn’t look like a typical sailboat and that it was shorter than the wreck that Tyler had described. I estimated the length at 25-30 feet. Also, I didn’t see any mast or rigging and that the wreck was pretty “flat” without a lot of relief.

I spent some time taking pictures and then did a short deco schedule since I was only on the wreck for a short time.

After I returned, I started sending pictures to Tyler to get his opinion on it. He knew immediately that it wasn’t the sailboat that he had dived back in 2008. Here are some additional closeup pictures:

Looking towards the stern
View from the stern looking towards the bow
Port side prop and wood section (note that the wreck is laying on the starboard side)

Note the wreck appears to be laying on the starboard side with the port side facing upwards. If I rotate a different photo of the same area on the stern to vertical, you can see that there was likely two props with the one on port side being visible.

Note the prop on the left

It also appears that the wreck had a “pirate ship” looking stern section with steeply ascending lines that come together at the back.

General shape of the stern of the ship with prop location noted
Wood section (with burn marks?)

Wreck Identification

We spent some time trying to figure out the identification of this wreck but couldn’t find anything that matched the photos and the size/location of the wreck. I’m hoping that somebody else might have some clues. At this point, given other projects and priorities, I don’t plan to go back to dive it again.

2 thoughts on “Unidentified Wreck (Hamilton Cove, Catalina — 160 fsw)

  1. Super cool, Brett! Thanks for posting. All your pics and details on what you’re showing is always so fun to check out. Oh, Victoria loves it too!

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