Emerald Sea Photography
Diamond Knot has achieved the status of legend amongst divers in the Pacific
Northwest, as one of the most difficult, yet rewarding dives in the cold waters
off of Washington State. The massive 326 foot wreck lies off of
tongue point in the current swept Straits of Juan de Fuca, where it sank in 1947
after colliding in the fog with the SS Fen Victory. When she went to the
bottom, she carried 154,000 cases of Alaskan canned salmon with her.
The cargo was then valued at over four million dollars and represented ten
percent of the Alaska salmon catch that year!
For divers, the nutrient rich currents can be tricky, but oh so rewarding when you time the tides and weather right and drop down the line to the Knot. Every square inch of her massive structure is covered with huge billowy white Metridium Anemones. Warbonnets and Wolf eels slither across the decks and companionways in search of their next meal. Huge schools of Black and Yellowtail rockfish duck out of the current behind bits of the wreckage, along with an occasional Canary or colorful China rockfish.
The back section of the wreck is most often visited by divers and is the shallower section of the ship, which lies on its starboard side. The wheelhouse, lifeboat winches and much of the aft deck structure are still in place and are covered with colorful sponges and spectacular marine growth. The forward section of the shipwreck is rarely visited, but just as rewarding. Large wolf eels and octopus are found throughout the wreckage along with many colorful grunt sculpins and gunnels.
The wreck was salvaged in 1947 for its cargo of canned salmon, using an innovative water vacuum to suck up the cans. Large holes were cut in the side of the ship to access the cargo holds, which eventually caused the middle section of the wreck to collapse. This makes navigating from the front section of the ship to the stern section a “leap of faith” across a rubble strewn field that is scattered about the bottom of the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
The Diamond Knot isn’t really that deep. The port side of the hull on the aft section is only about 80’ deep, which the bottom only about 125’ deep. What makes the Diamond Knot so alluring for divers is the 60 years of growth, and the extremely challenging conditions that divers can face when diving this magnificent site. The surface conditions in the Straits are often very choppy on top of a large ocean swell coming in from the Pacific Ocean. Add to that a fickle, but strong current that frequently changes direction, and you’ll understand why the wreck is considered a very advanced dive.
When you time the currents and weather just right, dropping down onto the deck of the Diamond Knot is a dream dive. There is so much color and life to see everywhere you look. The history of the salvage and the amazing hard hat divers that worked the ship pervades the ghost like appearance of the remaining structure. Leaving the ship at the end of your dive is hard to do and very sad.
There is almost always some current on the wreck, and you’ll find yourself hiding out in the lee of a piece of wreckage, admiring a vase sponge or warbonnet. Suddenly, the current will swap directions and shoot you up over the hull and out into the emerald green waters of the straits. This can happen very fast and catches even the most experienced divers by surprise. I know several divers that made a free ascent in green water after being blown off of the wreck, and have then spent several hours drifting in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, waiting for the boat to pick then up. The boat often can’t see them drifting away due to the very rough surface conditions that frequent this site. Drifting in the straits all alone isn’t the best way to spend an afternoon, and even the large nine foot tall surface marker buoys can often be very hard to spot in the large swell and chop that seem to come up so quickly.
Should the Diamond Knot be on your list of “must do” dive sites in the Pacific Northwest? Absolutely! It is, without a doubt one of the very best dives in the area. Just be comfortable with your dive skills before venturing out to dive the legendary wreck of the Diamond Knot, enjoy he history surrounding the wreck and have a great dive! More information on this stunning wreck can be found in Northwest Wreck Dives.
More images of this wreck can be seen in our Diamond Knot Wreck photo gallery!