Emerald Sea Photography
Flagpole point is just South of Mike’s Beach Resort and is one of my favorite dives in Hood Canal. We used to do this site as a shore dive, from the access road owned by the resort, but the long surface swim was always tiring and you had to reserve quite a bit of gas for the trip back to the beach.
Now we dive this site from our dive boat, anchoring in about 60’ of water at 150° from the flagpole (330° from the boat) that gives this site its name. From the anchor, swim down slope to about 75’, turn left, and within a few fin kicks, you’ll run right into “the Knuckle”, which rises from a base that drops from 75’ to 100’ as you go East to a depth of about 70’ on top. GPS coordinates are N 47° 33.825' W 123° 00.847' to the Knuckle itself, although the anchorage is better in 60’ of water as described above.
Swimming with the wall on your left shoulder (East), you will run into clusters of cloud sponges along the Southern and Eastern base of the wall. These delicate creatures may be hundreds of years old, so be very careful with your fin kicks so as not to damage these beautiful sponges.
Above the clouds sponges divers will find huge colonies of Zoanthids, which cover the rocks and numerous crevices that hide many pairs or trios of Wolf Eels. Large ling cod survey their kingdom from atop the zoanthid covered rocks, and large rockfish greet you at every turn. Beautiful Crimson Anemones can be found on the West side of the Knuckle. On top of the knuckle, you’ll usually find a large resident Octopus, sitting out in the open as if sunning himself. He doesn’t seem to mind posing for a few pictures (the ham). The site is also littered with cushion stars and many different types of colorful encrusting sponges. Take your time and explore the many nooks and crannies created by the large cluster of rocks on top of the knuckle. We often see a dozen or more wolfies of all sizes and colors hiding in amongst the rocks on top of the Knuckle.
Visibility is almost always good at the knuckle as it is deeper and further from shore than most dives in the canal. This site is a little current sensitive, but it is part of what keeps the visibility good as well. As you return to the boat (or shore if you did the surface swim), you’ll find a shallow reef to explore (this “little knuckle” should be right under the boat) while you slowly let your body decompress and adjust once more to the world of ambient pressure.
Both photos above were taken using a wide angle (12-24mm) lens, so the camera is less than 2' from the octopus above. Click on either photo for a larger version of the picture.
Another excellent review of this site by Nicole Pratt can be found at the Pacific NW Scuba site.