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Hornby Island Diving :
A Home Away From Home

By Ab Kurk

Hornby EntranceOne thing everybody talks about after a trip to the Hornby Island Dive lodge is that it feels like home. They have created perfection in cold water dive comfort. The business has been in operation for over 30 years, and before Rob and Amanda took over, Rob’s dad was running the business.

 

 

 

 

 


The Lodge

Zebra LeafSlugThe best description of the lodge is a laidback easy feeling. This does not happen automatically though.  This takes hard work and experience and a sprinkle of Hornby magic.  The lodge has two levels.  Each level has guest rooms, bathrooms, and a common area. The upper common area has a sitting room with comfy couches, books and a TV to watch videos. The lower level has the dining room and kitchen where home cooked meals are prepared and you can hang out to discuss your dive adventures. The lodge has a combination of rooms that have queen size, double occupancy single beds, and single rooms.


Zebra LeafSlugYour wet dive gear like wet suits and dry suits get hung on a covered outdoor porch to dry. They have a bathtub to rinse your camera gear, your bcs and personal gear remain safely on the boat. A feature that every lodge should have is a heated drying room for undergarments, glove liners, and damp socks. They have a humidity sensor in this room that will remove excess moisture from the air to reduce the drying time of your damp undergarments.

Food

Hungry is not a word that you hear at all. There is always enough healthy and delicious food.  This is because the lodge has cooks that create amazing home cooked meals. Amanda and rob have a beautiful garden in which they get some of their seasonal produce from.  In the morning when you crawl out of bed the coffee is ready and you slowly wake up to the smell of breakfast being prepared. After breakfast you put on your gear and go for a dive.


After your morning dive lunch is ready. After lunch you take a nap and then go for another dive. Then dinner is ready. For the hardcore divers there is always a shore night dive. When you come back from that dive you might feel a little peckish. There are always leftovers from the days meals in the guest fridge.

 

In between all the meals there are always cookies or other baked wares on the counter. You bring your own pop and alcoholic beverages to keep cool in the guest fridge. Tea, coffee, apple and orange juice are provided.  There is also a quaint local convenience store and art gallery a two min walk down the driveway at the docks for any last minute purchases you may need

The Diving

The aluminum dive skiff comfortably holds 12 divers. There is a sturdy railing in the middle to help you walk to the large exit to giant stride into the water. On pickup they remove your fins so you can enter the boat on a sturdy ladder that reaches deep into the water.  Most dive sites are only a 10 to 15 minute boat ride away, and there are a variety of different types of dives both shallow and deep for technical divers.


Each time of the year there are different attractions. During January-April you can dive with Sea Lions and during the summer months you can see a wide range of jelly fish and nudibranches. There are lots of dive sites with sandstone over hangs where you can find carpets of strawberry anemones. You will always find the other suspect like wolfeels, grunt sculpins and of course the octopus.


Most dives are what we call live pickups. This makes it easy for divers as they don’t have to find their way back to a specific point when they want to finish the dive. Most dives start by following the anchor line down. Rob drives the boat and is knowledgeable about the area and what to find. There is always a deckhand to help you with your gear.


Nitrox is available, and if you want to do technical dives let them know ahead of time so they can make sure they have plenty of O2. Although Rob has a well stocked tool shed, they don’t have a scuba repair shop. Also they do not rent gear, and the closest dive shop is about 2.5 hours away. So it is smart to bring some spare gear if you do not want to miss any dives.

 

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Hornby June 2011 from Ab Kurk on Vimeo.

Non Diving activities

For non divers there is tons of stuff to do. There are nice nature hikes available or a walk along the beach even during winter time is nice. During the summer Hornby has tons of markets, including a beautiful medieval like market in the woods.  If you ask Rob and Amanda, they can help you set up a visit to Middle Mountain Meadery which produces wine made from honey. The yard is a nice place to catch some rays, or just relax with nice flowers and some of Rob’s world famous sculptures. During the spring there are always young animals around, or you can just watch the bold eagles catching fish and perching in the top of the trees with your binoculars.

Epilogue

I have been visiting Hornby Island Diving for about 8 years now. Rob and Amanda are some of the nicest people you are ever going to meet, and their dive operation in top notch. I believe many other dive operators can learn a lot from them. They make this look easy, but I know that it takes lots of hard work and experience. For example, they have staff that takes care of the cleaning and food preparation so they can take care of you. Their dive skiff is always in perfect running order. The number one reason though is their willingness to make your stay a memorable experience.