WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. - A private underwater contractor is fighting some angry waves and barely-the-hand-in-front-of-your-face visibility to protect an old wreck on the bottom of Puget Sound.
Jim Arnold of Alpha Marine Installations will take an air compressor-powered auger 70 feet down to install a system that will replace boat anchors with buoys.
"This is a piece of history down here that is deteriorating fairly quickly. Anyway, we don't need any more damage than we already have," explains Arnold.
He is referring the wreck of the State Ferry Kehloken that burned up in the 1970s. Its huge metal frame is now a dive favorite because it's home to a large population of interesting fish. But Arnold says fishermen and dive groups are damaging the wreck and the ocean floor each time they drop anchor.
He has installed several of the Helix Mooring Systems that anchor buoys deployed around Puget Sound to protect natural and man-made reefs from anchor damage.
Today he's getting help from diver Jim Trask of the Washington Scuba Alliance, and the support of the Puget Sound Partnership and Washington Department of Natural Resources who all believe anchors damage the surface of Puget Sound.
Boaters can simply tie on the clearly marked buoys while they fish or dive at the site, then untie when finished without their anchors ever leaving the boat.