Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the sinking of the Yukon as part of the ship-to-reef project in San Diego Bay. I played hooky for the day and spent some quality time with my 14 yr. old son and friends on the Lois Ann charter boat. We had a beautiful, calm sunny day but there was a healthy swell even at the mouth of the harbor. Many of us were battling seasickness until we were in the water diving the Yukon wreck.

Josh and Mom Yukon

This was my son’s first open sea and wreck dive – so I was his dive buddy and stayed close. We descended down a bow line into the murky water (visibility was about 25 feet) and spied Moon Jellies and a huge, rare Fried Egg Jelly fish just a few feet away.

The water was frigid (about 50 degrees) which meant it’d be a short dive in our layers of wetsuit. As the huge ship materialized below us, the cold was almost forgotten. It sits on its side on the 100 foot sandy bottom but we hovered about 60 feet near the Captains’ lookout. The midsection of the football field length ship was covered in strawberry anemone blooms and taller white feathered anemones, which blanketed every surface. Nearly-still schools of Wrasse watched us calmly and a few curious Sheepshead swam close. There were huge starfish, a few large crabs and a sea lion swirled in close to see what we were investigating!  We began our ascent after only about 15 minutes. If it hadn’t been quite so cold we’d have stayed longer. As we paused for our safety stop swirling schools of sardines flashed past us, disappearing and zooming into view again.

While my slender boy climbed out of the water shivering, he said he was glad to have made his first wreck dive and asked if we could do more in tropical waters someday. Still, I’d recommend diving the Yukon wreck to any (hearty!) family and also recommend diving the kelp forests off Catalina Island, where the water is usually warmer. A love and respect of the ocean blossoms naturally when you dip below the waves to visit Nemo’s neighborhood.

Copyright July 2010, Elaine Masters, RYT, diver and author of Drivetime and Flytime Yoga.