Dive Plan: Pinnacle on the Hood Canal, WA

Interested in diving a premier site for wildlife on the Hood Canal? Check out our article to dive Pinnacle from Pallin' Around Charters!

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Why dive Pinnacle on the Hood Canal?

It’s no secret that Pinnacle is not the easiest dive site to access! Unless you have a private boat, book a Dive & Dine Charter with Pallin’ Around out of Pleasant Harbor Marina (2 dives for $125 + tax including meal, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages & guide with a max of 4 divers- non-divers welcome). Pleasant Harbor Marina is beautifully situated in remote Brinnon about a 2-hour drive west of Seattle. However, that means Pinnacle is a wonderfully unspoiled hotspot for wildlife!

What other wildlife can I expect to see?

Fun facts about some of these mostly commonly seen creatures:

  1. Sunflower sea star (Pycnopodia helianthoides)
    • Among the largest and fastest sea star in the world with 16-24 arms.
    • Eat mostly urchins, clams, sea snails, other small invertebrates.
    • Although their population appears to be on the rebound, they are still listed as Critically Endangered after the sea star wasting disease in the 2000s.
  2. Giant pacific octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini)
    • Can grow up to 110lb with a radial span of 20ft.
    • Largest suckers on tentacles can be 2.5in and lift 35lb each.
    • At the end of their 3-5 year lifespan, females lay eggs in a den and maintain them until their death- hopefully after the young have hatched.
  3. Vermilion rockfish aka red snapper (Sebastes miniatus)
    • Can grow up to 15 lbs in their 60 year lifespan.
    • Pinnacle is one of the most dependable sites to see these fish at recreational scuba depths (usually 165-495 ft deep).
    • Pregnant females extrude up to 1.5 MILLION larvae from September-December.

What other wildlife can I expect to see? (Part 2)

  1. Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus)
    • Grows up to 60in and 130lb.
    • About 20% of lingcods have a blue-green flesh (destroyed by cooking), which is assumed to be due to biliverdin.
    • Males actively defend eggs in a nest from March through April.
  2. White-lined dirona aka alabaster nudibranch (Dirona albolineata)
    • As simultaneous hermaphrodites, both individuals in a mating pair use a penis to penetrate the body of the other and produce offspring during spawning seasons in winter and summer.
    • Although adorable, it is a hungry predator that cracks the shells of snails with its jaws for a tasty meal.
  3. Lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata)
    • One of the largest known jellyfish (seeing a trend here?)- the record had a bell of 7ft with tentacles 120ft long!
    • Although they typically remain shallow, lion’s mane jellyfish are most often seen in late summer/early autumn when they reach their max size.
    • Stings are relatively common among divers- especially for exposed body parts like the cheeks and lips. Stings tend to be mild and easily tamed with vinegar.

I’m hooked! What does a dive plan look like for this site?

Thanks to a buoy placed by Washington Scuba Alliance at coordinates 47° 43.423′ N, 122° 52.535′, this site just south of Jackson Cove and 4 miles north of Pleasant Harbor Marina is easy to locate. The buoy locates the site, helps to maintain the pristine nature of the site by limiting needs to anchor, and helps divers safely descend/ascend to the site. As you may imagine, the general shape of the Pinnacle is of a seamount rising from the depths of the Hood Canal.

Depending on tides, the top of the Pinnacle is roughly 20-30′ deep. The top of the Pinnacle provides an excellent landing spot for divers to prepare to descend and, later, ascend. The north side of the slope gently slopes to around 60′ while the southern/eastern side drops more quickly to 100′ before evening out. While visibility on the Hood Canal can be limited (primarily depending on the season and recent weather), sometimes navigating to a different side of the Pinnacle can yield better results. The same is true for current! Navigating back to the boat for an ascent, simply decrease your depth and swim towards the south end of the Pinnacle until you find the mooring line.

Typically, a day of diving on Pinnacle with Pallin’ Around starts with planning for a morning or afternoon departure. Are tides better for hauling gear down the dock in the morning or would you prefer to see the sunset on your cruise back to the marina? As a relaxed dive charter, we plan two leisurely dives at Pinnacle- perfect for photographers, non-diving friends to take a paddle, and those getting back into the water after an extended break! Once you have explored to your heart’s content, return to our comfortable cabin for hot tea (add your own adult beverage if you’d like!) and a nice meal.

What do divers have to say about this site and charter?

Ashley Paterson from Brinnon, Washington

“What a fun day trip on the water! And under the water too! Captain Kelly took myself and 3 other divers to a dive site called Pinnacle, Katherine guided us on the dive & then made a scrumptious lunch and served a killer delicious dessert too. Never felt so spoiled on a dive charter. I look forward to going out again on Pallin’ Around. Book your trip now, you won’t regret it. Great people, amazing scenery, good times.”

LeAnn Adam from Portland, Oregon:

“Go and take a cruise with your new best friends Katherine and Captain Kelley! I grabbed my non-diving partner and two dive buddies for a SCUBA charter on Pallin’ Around. First of all, this is a great option for a group with divers and non-divers. There is plenty to see and do (and eat!) for everyone, including a kayak, SUP, binoculars, books, and the spectacular views. Katherine and Kelley took us out to the Pinnacles dive site where Katherine expertly guided us on a dive on the seamount.

We saw rockfish, lingcod, nudibranchs, sunflower sea stars, and lots and lots of wolf eels, including one outside its den. The three of us did the second dive solo while Katherine prepared an incredible meal of shrimp, risotto, and panna cotta for dessert. The food was plentiful and comforting after cold water dives, something Katherine knows so well. The boat ride was very smooth (I probably didn’t need the Dramamine I took in advance . . .), with attention to safety as well as fun. Best of all, you will love spending time with Katherine and Kelley. Get curious! Ask them questions–they are some of the most talented and interesting people I have ever met. I’ll definitely be back.”

Ashley from Key West, Florida:

“This was the BEST dive trip I have ever been on in Washington. I am the ONLY diver in my group. So it was important that Everyone in our group would have something to do, while I was underwater.
From the boat we spotted harbor seals, a porpoise, & the view was absolutely spectacular! 💙
Katherine is a GREAT dive leader. She pointed out so many critters that I wouldn’t have spotted on my own! The life below the surface is incredible! Washington is just as beautiful below the surface, as it is above it!!”