A guide to the underwater relics in Okanagan Lake | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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A guide to the underwater relics in Okanagan Lake

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

- This story was originally published July 22, 2019.

KELOWNA - Those who aren't experienced scuba divers may be surprised to learn that Okanagan Lake is actually a pretty popular spot for fresh cold-water diving.

There are many sites to explore, and there's a lot of stuff to see at the bottom of the lake.

Some of it isn't overly remarkable. 

“The golf balls I find in the lake, it’s like constant," says Freeda Wilson, an instructor at Serpent Aquatics in West Kelowna. "People are whacking their golf balls into the lake."

Wilson also sees fish and lots of garbage.

However, in some places, there are some really cool artifacts and old wrecks.  

Here's a guide to finding the relics sitting on the bottom of Okanagan Lake.

The milk truck at Wilson's Landing

Milk Truck Site
Milk Truck Site
Image Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

South of Lake Okanagan Resort, about 100 feet underwater, divers will find an old milk truck on the lake bottom. According to information from divers at Serpent Aquatics, there is no frame or engine and the truck is pretty much open to access.

Divers enter the water from the public beach access off of Bancroft Road in West Kelowna.

To get to the truck, drop straight down and follow a cut in the rock face until the milk truck comes into view. To see more, come up to 50 to 40 feet, turn to the right and follow the rock face.

Divers will find some interesting artifacts along this rock face but are urged not to disturb the site.

The William R. Bennett Bridge

The William R. Bennett bridge was under construction from 2005 to 2008.

Divers can find tools, materials and other construction artifacts at the lake bottom under the bridge and may even be able to hear the traffic driving above them.

Because this area under the bridge is used for boat crossing, divers are encouraged to use a scuba flag to indicate they are below water in that location and to watch out for boat traffic when resurfacing. 

The barge at Fintry Provincial Park

The Barge at Fintry Park
The Barge at Fintry Park
Image Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

This is an easy dive to do, and very accessible.

"You can access it from the park, you can access it by boat, either-or,”  explains Wilson, "The barge lies parallel to the shore, it's not deep."

Divers can access this site using Fintry Delta Road off of Westside Road and launch from the beach, swimming out to the 15-foot dropoff and following it west. After a few minutes of swimming, divers will find the debris field.

There lies the sunken Canadian Pacific Railway barge. One end is 25 feet underwater and the other end is around 70 feet underwater. The vessel is 190 feet in length and 30 feet across and was once used to transport commercial cargo around the Okanagan.

"The visibility is usually not too bad, and there's usually fish there on the barge," said Wilson. 

This site has been surveyed by the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, and a plaque is located on the deck towards the eastern end of the barge.

Caesars Landing car wreck

Caesar's Landing
Caesar's Landing
Image Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

This site off Westside Road was named after early Okanagan pioneer Henry Northcote Caesar in 1893. At this site, divers will find a car wreck 40 feet down. There is a large rock wall divers can use as a guide to swim along.

According to Wilson, the visibility here is pretty good, and it's a decent spot to dive. 

Ogopogo statue and boat wrecks at Paul's Tomb 

Paul's Tomb
Paul's Tomb
Image Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

Divers can only access the site by boat. 

The rocky bottom drops off very quickly, about three to four meters from the shoreline. There is an Ogopogo statue sunken 25 feet down, and two small boat wrecks to the north.

Wilson explains that this is an easy dive, with decent visibility and no currents, with moderate to minimal boat traffic. 

Boat wrecks at Lake Okanagan Resort

Lake Okanagan Resort
Lake Okanagan Resort
Image Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

The site can be accessed off the service road that runs north from the boat launch at the resort.

The boating entrance to the marina and docks is marked by two yellow buoys.

Because all boat traffic passes through these buoys, drivers should stay close to shore until they've swum north of the two markers.

The use of a dive flag is recommended here, due to heavy boat traffic.

At this site, divers can find a submerged boat wreck, an old outboard motor, and a small plastic craft along a large rock wall.

Otter Bay

Ellison Provincial Park's Otter Bay.
Ellison Provincial Park's Otter Bay.
Image Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

Otter Bay near Vernon is a popular point for divers, as it is officially designated as an underwater dive park.

There are a number of items sunk at this site, including a rowboat at about 26 feet, a Boston Whaler at about 58 feet, a truck cab at the bottom of a wall at 75 feet and a tugboat wreck, the Bobby McKenzie, which lies on a slope between 48 and 68 feet deep. 

Commando Bay

Commando Bay
Commando Bay

According to Serpent Aquatics, this bay was used by the British forces as a training ground for a special unit of commandos during World War Two, and that is why divers can find a plethora of artifacts on the lake bottom.

When the news of the special army operations at the bay became public knowledge, Dunrobin's Bay was renamed Commando Bay.

This site is best accessed by boat and has three mooring buoys. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 801-9235 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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