From Kelowna to Kamloops, Interior lakes hold underwater mysteries | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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From Kelowna to Kamloops, Interior lakes hold underwater mysteries

A sunken boat at Kickininee Provincial Park.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kevin Aschhoff
July 28, 2021 - 6:20 PM

Deep beneath the waves of the Interior’s many lakes are secrets only divers can explore.

Kevin Aschhoff, owner of Oceantech Scuba has a few favourite dive sites but diving has led to more than that. The Interior area diver once helped solve a missing person's case.

In 2010, Aschhoff and other divers found a car had gone off the road in the 1970s and the young woman who was driving it, from Keremeos, had been presumed missing the whole time. Her skeleton was still in the vehicle and police were able to use the evidence to connect it to the missing case, he said.

“It wasn’t an actual dive site, we were checking out some neat features along the KVR trail in Kaleden area and happening upon the vehicle,” he said.

“Checking out places that aren’t designated dive spots can always lead to something.”

READ MORE: A guide to the underwater relics in Okanagan Lake

Here are some interesting sites Aschhoff recommends as well as dives that have been featured in Diving British Columbia, an underwater adventure guide:

Squally Point, the Ogopogo’s home

“One of my favourite points to go diving in Okanagan Lake is Squally Point across from Peachland and it’s a really nice wall dive,” he said. It's located across Okanagan Lake, southeast of the town.

There’s a rock bluff that continues into the lake and there’s a small overhang in the rock face that’s supposed to be the home of the Ogopgo at about 35 to 40 feet down, he said.

“There’s lots of fish that hang around that wall, we haven’t seen the Ogopogo in there but I do like to take people there so they get that experience of searching for the Ogopogo.”

Commando Bay

“There’s always the chance of finding artifacts out at Commando Bay because they did a lot of training with soldiers out there, so there have been people that have found ammunition,” he said. Commando Bay is located across Okanagan Lake from the Okanagan Lake Provincial Park.

The most common way to get there, like most things around sprawling Okanagan Lake, is by kayak. Armed with a good paddle and a decent sense of direction, you can set out from Okanagan Lake Provincial Park and find the bay on the other side of the water.

The bay was used as a training ground for Chinese-Canadians during the Second World War.

READ MORE: The secret history of Okanagan Lake's Commando Bay

There’s also a rumour about a tank being buried about 48 m in the water near the bay, but no one has been able to find it, Aschhoff said.

The barge at Fintry Provincial Park

Dozens of large steamships, mostly tugboats and sternwheels made their way across Okanagan Lake in the 19th Century, according to Okanagan Lake expert Raphael Nowak, in his book Okanagan Lake, an illustrated Exploration Above and Below the Waters.

When the floating bridge connecting Westbank and Kelowna opened in the 1950s decreased the demand for passenger and cargo transportation using ships, these vessels were largely decommissioned.

The Federal Department of Public Works attempted to sink decommissioned Canadian Pacific Railroad Barges on the westside of the lake. One of these includes the barge protected by the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia.

Divers can access this site using Fintry Delta Road off of Westside Road and launch from the beach, swimming out to the 4.5 m and following it west. After a few minutes of swimming, divers will find the debris field.

There lies the sunken Canadian Pacific Railway barge. 

Underwater at Pavilion Lake
Underwater at Pavilion Lake
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kevin Aschhoff

Pavilion Lake

This lake’s freshwater coral isn’t coral at all, but the microorganisms have been studied by NASA. The lake is located west of Cache Creek, along Highway 99.

"The microbes that form the so-called corral, they don’t start until about 60 feet (18 m) of water depth… it is a very cool lake, it’s super unique,” Aschhoff said.

“They almost look like stalagmites in a cave and there are some fairly large ones that are 20 to 30 feet tall."

There are only two spots in the lake where divers can see them.

READ MORE: The freshwater 'coral' this B.C. lake is famous for is not actually coral

The Ogopogo statue near Paul's Tomb
The Ogopogo statue near Paul's Tomb
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kevin Aschhoff

Paul’s Tomb

A beginner-level dive leads adventures face to face with the Ogopogo in Okanagan Lake.

It's easiest to access by boat, hiking is possible but it is a long way to carry gear.

If you choose to hike drive around Knox Mountain Park on Poplar Point Road. Drop off starts three to four meters from the shore. In the bay, at around 7.5 metres, you'll find an Ogopogo statue, according to Diving British Columbia.

North of this are two small boat wrecks that can also be down at nine metres down.

Cinnemousun Narrows’ tug boat

There are several interesting dive sites in Shuswap Lake, according to Diving British Columbia.

The best tug boat wreck in the Main Arm of Shuswap Lake is in the Cinnemousun Narrows. The deep dive is 30 metres, according to the book.

The tug boat, called the Alvera, is burnt to the waterline but the hull, engine and transmission have been preserved for exploration. This requires an advanced-level diver.

Copper Island’s sunken houseboat

Copper Island on Shuswap Lake is located in the opposite direction of Blind Bay.

A sunken houseboat sits on the northeast side of the island about 40 metres north of the island’s eastern point, waiting for divers to explore.

Exploring Johnson Lake northeast of Kamloops.
Exploring Johnson Lake northeast of Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Kevin Aschhoff

Johnson Lake's underwater labyrinth

A small landslide about 25 metres east of the dock along the north shore of Johnson Lake, northeast of Kamloops, has created an underwater labyrinth for divers.

Thanks to this lake's clear waters, schools of trout can be spotted amongst the trees and rock walls.

"At the far end of the landslide the lake begins to deepen to about 15 m and the fallen trees give way to large boulders along the sloping banks," according to Diving British Columbia.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 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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