On July 18 & 19, 2015, I ventured across the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the MV Choho from Victoria to Port Angeles. Marc Pyle of Spartan Diving picked me up on the other side and we spent 2 days with Gordon diving in Lake Crescent.
The first day was a long but shallow recreational dive so I could get accustomed to using the Magnus scooter. Because I have limited experience using scooters, it was important that we take this time to review some emergency procedures such as towing a diver with a failed scooter, gas sharing and stuck props before our deeper dives on the cars the following day. Using a scooter may appear to be simple; however, because a hand that you are used to doing most simple tasks with (equalizing, adding gas to your wing and other minor adjustments) is now exclusively tasked with managing the scooter, it adds a significant amount of task loading.
The visibility was a generous 70′ and the water was so warm, we were able to remove our hoods during the dive. Because the water was so warm and our 32% nitrox granted us a generous bottom time, we were able to spend a good amount of time in the lake so I could get accustomed to the scooter and have some fun. It’s hard not to smile when you are playing with a DPV.
Sunday morning we convened at Ambulance Point in Lake Crescent for a dive on the Warren Car and the Steele Dodge Car. Because it is a grave site, a permit must be obtained from the National Park Service before diving the Warren Car. On July 3, 1929, Russell & Blanch Warren were traveling back from Port Angeles to their home at Bogachiel River. They had promised their 12 and 14 year old sons, Charles & Frank, that they would be back for the 4th of July celebrations. Russell & Blanch Warren were last seen in Port Angeles when they made two months of payments on their 1927 Chevrolet. And then, the Warrens were never seen again.
At the time, the road that ran along Lake Crescent was dirt and had a very small guardrail. Search teams spent 6 weeks scouring the forests and roadsides surrounding Port Angeles and the Bogachiel River before broken glass, skid marks and a cap, identified by Frank Warren to be his father’s, were found near a location of Lake Crescent known as “Madrona Point”. Sounding and diving operations were commenced but were without any success of locating the 1927 Chevrolet.
72 years passed before a Park Services Dive Team would locate the Warren Car at 170′ near Ambulance Point in Lake Crescent. A detailed account of the searches and the discovery can be viewed on John Rawling’s site here.
On January 24, 1960, Ambulance Point claimed another vehicle. On this cold winter day, Dan Steele’s 1950 Dodge sedan slid off the icy roads and into Lake Crescent. This time, all 4 passengers were able to swim ashore safely. Beverly Sherman was a passenger in the car at the time. After hearing about the Warren car discovery, 44 years later, she contacted the dive team and implored them to attempt to locate the Steele car and retrieve her suitcase from the trunk. In 2004, the Steele Car was located, not far from the Warren car, in almost 200′ of water. Beverly’s suitcase was recovered.
Below is a short video of our Saturday scooter shenanigans and some photos of our Sunday dive on the Warren and Steele cars. The warm surface layer made our Sunday decompression pleasant and the clear water allowed for plenty of ambient light even from the deepest point of the Steele car. Scooters are definitely required to access these cars from Ambulance Point. Please remember to obtain a permit from the National Parks Service if you intend to dive the cars.
Please enjoy and dive & drive safely!