St. Margaret's Bay
Certification Level: Open Water/Great training site
Paddy's Head is an excellent site for all levels of certification, its a fantastic site for open water courses . It is located in Indian Harbour off of Paddy's Head Road in St. Margaret's Bay. It is just a short drive from Tantallon on highway 333 heading towards Peggy's Cove. Due to its' location and topography, Paddy's Head has an abundance of sea life ranging from lobsters to many fish such as sculpins, flounders, sea ravens and torpedo rays. Paddy's Head faces Northwest, so the best days to dive the site are on a East, Southeast or Northeast wind. Winds from the West can create large waves and surge.
Paddy's Head has ones of the easiest entry/exit. The depth ranges from 5ft/5m to 60ft/18.29m, the average depth is 20ft/6.1m. The deeper areas take good gas management to reach or surface swim. The bottom composition is mostly gentle sloping sand bottom bordered by rocky shoreline, with various areas covered with eel grass or kelp. From the entry at the beach, if you head on a bearing of 330 degrees you will reach the training block in a depth ranging from 18ft/5.49m to 22ft/6.71m depending on the tides, great location to attach a diver float (approx 33m/100ft from shore). Upon departing from the training block if you swim straight for approx 25ft/7.62m you'll hit a large boulder, take a slight 15 degree turn to the left and you will see the lobster habitats at a depth ranging
from 25/7.62m-30ft/9.14m; the habitats were placed there by DFO for a study on habitat replacement. The left side of the cove yields big patches of eel grass that follow the cove out to depths that can reach 60ft/18.29m and over. On the North end of the cove, there are many large boulders linear to the training block at a similar depth of about 20ft/6.1m where you can find many large lobsters that have made their homes there. Once you get around the bend and swim over a rock wall, the depth can easily reach 60ft/18.29m and greater.
Items to note/hazards
1) This site is surrounded by people's homes, so diver's are stressed not to be excessively loud and to not park in front of the mailboxes in the parking lot. These are their homes and we are blessed that the people of the community allow us to dive there.
2) Beware of Boat traffic due to lobster fishing, kayakers (when in season)
3) Rough seas can throw you against the large rocks on the coastline, be cautious when diving and enter the water as quickly as possible to avoid injury.
4) Fishing nets and Fishing line can be present and can cause entanglement. Watch for fishing buoys and always dive with a knife to cut yourself free.
5) There are no washroom facilities, and the residents do not appreciate divers "disappearing" under the bridge or behind one of the large rocks (They do monitor!).
Emergency Plan and Contact
Before diving any site, make your own safety plan. Know your buddies important information. In case of emergency know what to do. Plan ahead. There is cell phone coverage in the area. There is several houses nearby.
Divers should familiarize themselves with the following situations and course of actions.
Low -air / out of air situation - It can easily happen at this site if divers get distracted and forgot get to check air. In case this happens, ascend to the surface immediately in a safe manor using the standard surfacing techniques. Ascend slowly looking up to see any boats that might be in the area. Surface swim back to the entry / exit point at a slow but steady pace.
Buddy separation -If this happens stay down and look for 1 minute then proceed to the surface with a controlled ascent looking up and around for anything over head you might run into. Make yourself positively buoyant wait a short time, if your buddy doesn't return to the surface, proceed to the entry / exit point and contact emergency assistance.
Injured diver -If your buddy receives a marine life injury, return to the shore immediately then assess the situation and contact medical assistance. If injury is due to marine life make sure you take the steps to avoid being hurt yourself and ask your buddy questions about what happened.
4. Near -drowning situation, Lung injury, or decompression illness -Get the injured party to shore and have someone contact Emergency assistance immediately.
Call 911 for Police, Fire and Ambulance services. You're diving Paddy's Head off of Paddy's Head Road (Indian Harbour) in St. Margaret's Bay
OTHER EMERGENCY SERVICES NUMBERS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1) RECOMPRESSION CHAMBER:
Dickson Building of The Victoria General
2) OTHER NON-EMERGENCIES:
3) Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (Emergency only - 24hrs) 902-427-8200 (local) or 1-800-565-1582
4) DIVERS ALERT NETWORK (DAN) 1-919-684-4DAN (4326) (collect calls accepted)
5) MARINE VHF: Channel 16
When we tell new divers about the Reef Balls at Paddy's Head a lot of divers ask who put them there or how long have they been there? Do lobster really go inside? Yes! We are very please to be able to share Bob Semple's photos from 2004. Bob, Glyn Sharp and son worked very hard to safely place these reef balls. When we take new divers to this site we always try to show them the reef balls and clean off the plaque
A view of the site Entry/Exit. Shut In Island in the background.
Another shot of Paddy's Head
If you take a moment to watch the ocean floor you'll see it come alive! So much marine life to enjoy
Lobster in the eel grass