|KING5 EVENING MAGAZINE - Best Northwest Escapes winner for Best Scuba Diving|
The Edmonds Underwater Park is located just north of the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry Landing at the foot of Main Street. The Park includes more than 27 acres of tide and bottom lands of which approximately half have been developed with features and trails specifically for divers.
The Park was established at Brackett's Landing in 1970 by city ordinance as a Marine Preserve and Sanctuary. It is the most popular of 10 underwater parks that make up Washington’s underwater park system.
About 25,000 scuba divers visit the Edmonds park each year. Most are among the state's 250,000 trained divers, though 15 percent come from out of state, mostly from Portland and Vancouver, B.C. Click here to watch a video of the park made by local diver and volunteer Jim Middleton.
The Underwater Park provides convenient parking, restrooms, a dry changing area, as well as a shower and foot-wash station. Charts, maps and information to assist with developing a dive plan are on display near the Park restroom.
|Air can be purchased several blocks south of the Park at Edmonds Underwater Sports. Brackett's Landing Park, on the adjacent beach, provides pathways, picnic areas, and interpretive information in addition to spectacular mountain and marine views.|
Brackett’s Landing Park is open from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. May through September, and 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. October though April. Parking in the lot is limited to 4 hours. Additional parking is available at private lots south of Main Street and east of Railroad Avenue.
The Underwater Park itself is a series of man-made reef structures interspersed with sunken vessels in various states of decay, which together create an extensive artificial habitat for a wide variety of marine life. These features are connected by an extensive network of fixed guide ropes anchored to the bottom which make it easy for divers to get around the Park. All 2.5 miles of trails have been constructed, maintained and replaced using the process illustrated by the video entitled Edmonds Underwater Park Construction Replacing an Old Trail 2013.
The man-made reefs are made from concrete blocks, tractor tires, PVC pipes of various sizes, sunken navigation buoys, an old tree trunk, sunken boats & ships, old pieces of the 520 floating bridge and much much more. There is even a cash register and the bed of a pick up truck.
In 2007, in acknowledgement of his outstanding work as volunteer dive coordinator and the main force behind the ever expanding list of submerged features and trails, the City named the trail system the "Bruce Higgins Underwater Trails." Thank you Bruce for all your hard work. The park itself remains named the Edmonds Underwater Park.
Residents of Edmonds often comment that they have no idea what can be found below the surface in the underwater park. To this end, a public information map of the underwater park was produced. It reflects the features present as of November 2001, and is located here. It should not be used for dive planning as underwater features and enhancements change often.
THE DRY DOCK:
The park's original feature was the 325-foot De Lion Dry Dock, which was sunk in 1935 next to the ferry dock to act as a current buffer. It remains a popular dive destination within the park. It is an enormous structure that has created a beautiful artificial reef and attracted an abundance of sea life. Divers are able to swim in among the ribs of the structure. The sidewalls of the dry dock rise 34 feet above the inner deck, are 80 feet apart, and 325 feet in length. Halfway between the two walls is a low concrete ledge that marks the halfway point for divers swimming between the walls. The ledge once served as a keel support for ships being worked on.
During extreme low tides the top of the dry dock is visible from the surface. Since the dry dock is at the south end of the park adjacent to the active Washington State Ferry, divers must use extra caution to avoid wandering into the ferry terminal area. Divers must obey all posted security notices and restrictions in effect for the areas around the Washington State Ferries. Check currect postings and signage for the most up to date information.
Good navigation and an awareness of depth will help divers from wandering into the wrong area. It is important to remember that the dry dock is made of steel, which interferes with compass readings.
In 1972, a 94-foot tug, the Alitak, was placed northeast of the dry dock, and since 1977 other features have been added north of the dock to encourage divers away from the Ferry Landing. These include the ships Fossil in 1982, the Molly Brown in 1996, and the 70-foot Triumph in 1999. About two wooden boats per year have been sunk in the park because wooden boats last only about two years before lost to decay.
Protected from heavy coastal surges, the nutrient-rich inland waters of Washington support an abundance of sea life. Man-made features in the Underwater Park provide habitat for a stunning variety of life. These include: enormous lingcod, cabezons, spotted ratfish, various greenlings and rockfish, seaperch, gobys, sculpins, flounders, sole, eelpouts , Dungeness, red rock, kelp and hermit crabs, horse clams, geoducks, scallops, heart cockles, moon snail, giant pacific & red octopus, sea cucumbers, and numerous species of anemones, sea stars, urchin, nudibranchs, shrimp and seaweed.
Click to watch videos of:
Ling Cod preparing to spawn
Horse Clams spawning
* All divers and snorkelers must dive with a buddy.
* All divers must be certified or in training.
* All divers must wear buoyancy compensators.
* No fish or marine organisms may be removed from the park.
* No night diving without a permit. (Permits issued at the Parks and Recreation Office.)
* No boats (including submersibles) allowed inside the park.
Divers should prepare a dive plan based on currents, depth, visibility and ability. Plan to end the dive near the beach to minimize the surface swim. Divers must be realistic about their physical conditions and diving ability.
|Always reserve enough energy and air to end the dive safely. Make sure to take a compass reading from shore: the bottom slopes very gradually and there are no obvious hints as to the direction of shore.
Take the time to consult a map and plan your dive well. In addition to the map posted on the wall of the restrooms, up-to-date plastic dive maps of the Park can be purchased at Edmonds Underwater Sports, with all profits going to maintenance and improvements of the Underwater Park.
Currents at the Underwater Park are dictated by three factors:
1) WIND: Surface wind can dominate other factors depending on the directions and fetch;
2) TIDAL CURRENTS: Based on tidal exchange - the larger the tidal range the stronger the currents. It is recommended to dive near the slack tide. Currents and tides should be planned for using the predictions for Admiralty Inlet with the appropriate corrections (subordinate station 1090 – See below);
3) THE FERRY: Propellers are used to stop the ferry’s approach to the dock and are always turning to hold the boat against the dock. The ferry propellers always produce a current.
Look up the daily current predictions for Admiralty Inlet and apply the following time corrections to calculate slack current times: Minimum current before flood: +44 minutes. Minimum current before ebb: +13 minutes.
TEMPERATURE: The water temperature ranges between 48 to 52 degrees year-around.
DEPTH: The deepest part of the park is 45 feet at high tide, and is on the south end, near the Ferry.
VISIBILITY: Visibility ranges between two and 40 feet, therefore divers must use a compass and the trail system as a guide. Many features have buoys to mark their location. Follow the buoy line to the bottom to find the feature located near the anchor. Try to dive the high slack tide for best visibility.
N 47° 48.778'
W 122° 22.936'
The underwater park is located immediately next to the Edmonds terminal of the Kingston ferry. Take I-5 to Edmonds and follow the signs towards the ferry. Don't get in the ferry lanes. Turn left towards the ferry at the intersection at the front of the ferry lane. Turn right into the Brackett's Landing parking lot immediately across the railroad tracks.