Steve Lawson had invited me to go looking at targets with him and Chris Gilmartin on the Sunday of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. We set out from the boat launch at Huntington Harbor and had some great conditions that morning. Steve had a list of about 7 or 8 targets he wanted to check out.
The process was that we would get to the area of the target and then look for the signature on the sonar. If it looked good, we would then send down a small drop-cam to see if we could identify if it was man-made and worth diving or just rocks.
The first target had a very large return so we sent down the camera and started looking around. At first, we didn’t see anything but then we started to see a bunch of shells and other things but still couldn’t identify any structure. At one point, we saw some flat areas that looked like something but nothing specific (more on that in a bit). Then, during one of the passes, we saw what looked like large wood beams and decided to dive it.
I dropped in first and, sure enough, it was a very large wooden barge. I would estimate 150-200′ long. It was clear that it was originally built from wood and at one end it seemed to have a loading/unloading “ramp” area. I didn’t see any sign of charring or anything to indicate it had burned.
Also, there didn’t appear to be any cargo, rocks, or anything else that would indicate why it was there or why it sank. Given the condition, this one will likely remain a mystery.
Below are a series of photos of the wreck.
In one of the photos, you might notice that it looks like “sand” on the top of the barge structure. This “feature” actually confused us because when we viewed the site on the drop cam, it did look just like sand but it turns out that it was the top part of a portion of the wreck.
There were also a lot of big ling cod and rock fish on the wreck and very little fishing lines or equipment so I’m assuming that most fisherman have not found this one yet. We also had really nice visibility on this deep dive – I would estimate in excess of 30-40′.
I didn’t see any machinery, engines, winches, etc. on the wreck. About the only thing I saw that was mechanical looking was this piece:
Back End Loading Area (?)
Not sure, but this area sloped downwards and had some structures that looked like it might be for a load ramp.
This is the part of the structure that looked like a sandy bottom of the ocean that we first saw when we were looking at the drop cam.
A few pictures of fish on the wreck. I especially like the orange and white fish which I generally only see on deeper wrecks. According to Lauren Martin, they are “flag rockfish” or “Sebastes rubrivinctus.” Yeah, that. This was one of the largest ones I have seen. You can also see the size of the ling cod compared to the anchor.
In addition, I took a couple natural light photos as I was leaving the wreck and I have a link to a few videos I uploaded from the GoPro mounted on top of my camera.
Two videos I took from the GoPro mounted on top of my camera:
A big thanks to Steve Lawson and Chris Gilmartin for the invite to dive some new targets with them.